Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from George Washington, 7 October 1793

From George Washington

Mount Vernon Oct 7th: 1793

Dear Sir

It appearing to me that the public business will require the Executive Officers to be together some time before the meeting of Congress, I have written to the Secretaries of the Treasury and War to meet me at Philadelphia or vicinity—say Germantown—by the first of November, and should be glad to see you there at the same time. The Attorney General is advised of this also.

In a letter from General Knox of the 24th. Ulto. who was then at Elizabeth Town performing quarantine before he could be admitted into New York is the following paragraph. “The french fleet is still in New York, in a wretched state of disorganization, which prevents its Sailing. Mr. G———t has been low spirited for ten days past. The fleet have been told by him that the Executive of the United States prevent their selling their prizes, and citizen Bompard who belongs to a Club in France as well as all his Sailors, say that they shall represent the matter1 in its proper colours. I do not find that Mr. G———t has promulgated the last letter of the Secretary of State, excepting as to the effect of the measures with the Consuls, which prevent their selling their prizes—Would to God it had been thought proper to publish the letter to Mr. Morris—The minds of our own people would have been convinced of the propriety of the measures which have been adopted, and all caval at the meeting of Congress prevented.”

I should be of this opinion likewise if there is danger of the public mind receiving unfavourable impressions from the want of information on one hand, whilst the insiduous attempts to poison it are so impudently and unweariedly practiced on the other.

In another letter from Genl. Knox dated the first instant at the same place after having lain quarantine from the 19th. of September to that date, he says “The french fleet excepting the Ambuscade will sail to morrow from New York upon some cruise unknown. The Surviellant sailed on the 29th. ult. for France with dispatches from Mr. G———t and such is his desire that they should arrive safely, that he will in a day or two dispatch the Ceres, an armed Brig with duplicates.”

If our dispatch boat should fail, and duplicates are not sent, he will play the whole game2 himself.

General Knox expects to be back by the 25th. of this Month.

We are sustaining at this Moment, a drought, which if of much longer continuance, will I fear, prove fatal to the Wheat now in the ground—much of3 which is come up badly, and is diminishing every day for want of Rain. I am sincerely & Affectionately yours

Go: Washington

PS. The enclosed from Mr. Leslie you will know best what to do with—and say to him. G W—n

RC (DLC: TJ Papers, 94:16089–90); at foot of first page: “Mr. Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as received 15 Oct. 1793 and so recorded in SJL. Dft (DNA: RG 59, MLR); dated 6 Oct. 1793, with day added in different ink, but endorsed by Washington as a letter of 7 Oct. 1793; only the most signifiant variations and emendations are noted below. FC (Lb in same, SDC); dated 6 Oct. 1793; wording follows Dft. Recorded in SJPL. Enclosure: Robert Leslie to Washington, London, 24 July 1793, reporting that he expects to stay in London three or four years; that before leaving Philadelphia he was unable to complete the clock and pendulum he had proposed to him but brought it to London and expects to complete the necessary experiments this winter for fixing a standard of weights and measures; that although TJ’s report proposes a rod vibrating seconds in latitude 45, the United States has no convenient place in that latitude and at 51 London is as close to it as Philadelphia; that he therefore proposes to adjust the rod here, Greenwich’s latitude being universally known, and he can use some of the best timekeepers to regulate it and send it over ready for immediate use; and that if Washington approves he may be able to complete the work by the time Congress passes the act regulating weights and measures (RC in DLC; addressed: “The President of the United States Philadelphia”).

Washington’s letters to the secretaries of the treasury and war were dated 25 Sep. 1793, that to the Attorney general 30 Sep. 1793; he had notified the Secretary of State of the date he wished the Cabinet to reassemble during TJ’s 22 Sep. 1793 visit to Mount Vernon (Fitzpatrick, Writings description begins John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington, Washington, D.C., 1931–44, 39 vols. description ends , xxxiii, 102, 103–4, 107–9). Washington edited the paragraph from the letter from Henry Knox of the 24th. ulto. to remove a report that French sailors in New York intending to massacre Laurent François Le Noir, Marquis de Rouvray, and his son had attacked the nobleman’s house and fled to Elizabethtown (DLC: Washington Papers). Last letter: TJ to Edmond Charles Genet, [7 Sep. 1793]. Letter to Mr. Morris: TJ to Gouverneur Morris, 16 Aug. 1793.

1Dft and original Knox letter cited above here add “upon their return.”

2In Dft Washington wrote “will have the game” before altering the phrase to read as above.

3Preceding two words interlined in Dft.

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