Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from William Short, 13 November 1793

From William Short

Sn. Lorenzo Nov. 13. 1793

Dear Sir

A letter from Mr. Donald informs me you had written to him that you were to leave Philadelphia the 1st. of Jany. As this is much later than you had mentioned to me it gives me some hope the President will be able under the present important circumstances both foreign and domestic to induce you to prolong the epoch of your resignation. There certainly never could be a time when it were more necessary for you to sacrifice your own wishes for retirement and tranquillity to those of the publick.

My late private letters to you have been Oct. 7th. Nov. 7th. and Nov. 11th. In them I said nothing of the delay in not having sent my account stated as usual up to the 1st. of July last, because I did not suppose my letters would find you at Philadelphia. I mentioned it in my letter to Mr. Hamilton. As I was in constant hopes of my present situation here coming to an end in a short time I thought it would be better to comprize the expences thereof to the end in the same account. In the mean time the sums paid me on account of my standing salary and those expences are regularly sent by the bankers to the Sec. of the treasury and the particular articles of expence with their vouchers shall be sent at the close of the joint1 commission here. In the charges I make for these expences I follow of course the rule prescribed by you as to those allowed when sent on a particular2 commission to Amsterdam.3

You will have seen by our joint letters and mine separately the awkward situation4 in which I have been since my arrival in this country finding it impossible to advance under our joint commission and not knowing how to retire from hence. I had hoped that long ere this the president would have terminated our joint commission one way or another. It has been from the beginning infinitely disagreeable from various causes and particularly those with respect to which I have forced myself to be silent though perhaps in this my delicacy pushed me further than was consistent5 with duty. Government must certainly have been ignorant of them though I cannot concieve how this can have been the case for so long a time.

I think it proper to mention here that Gardoqui6 told us outright in a late conference that the king desired to form an alliance with the United States7 offensive and defensive or if that was not agreeable defensive. His idea was to purchase this alliance by yielding us our rights as to limits and navigation and commercial advantages.8 He begged us and with much warmth to communicate this desire of the king immediately to the president and farther that it was the desire of the king9 that ministers plenipotentiary should be named by the two countries to reside with each other. In whatever light the United States chuse to consider this overture or in whatever light they chuse to consider Spain10 they should lose not a moment in sending a minister plenipotentiary here for various reasons. The disadvantage of not having had one here is [demonstrable]11 and particularly in the present crisis of Europe and the situation of our navigation12 and commerce in Spain under the new system it is and will be severely felt.13

In the beginning of the war a considerable14 number of Danish vessels were stopped by the armed vessels and detained15 in the ports of this country16 under the same pretext with ours. The Danish minister obtained their release a long time ago—and a promise, which has been fully kept that the cruisers belonging to private people should not be allowed17 to stop or bring in any other. He obtained also damages for those18 which by chicane were not immediately released after the orders recieved in the ports19 to that effect. It would have taken an chargé des affaires20 three times as long to have obtained the same21 even if he had succeeded at last.22

The answer from the duke is in statu quo. Carmichael returned here the day before yesterday but he had such a nervous trembling in the hand with which he is much afflicted23 like our friend Paradise24 that he could not notwithstanding every effort he made sign his name to the letter I had written to the duke [to]25 remind him of the delay. Still he persisted in returning last evening to Madrid and I was obliged therefore as he had desired disagreeable as such a step is and in such a case to imitate his hand and sign it for him. Your friend & servant

W: Short

RC (DLC); written partly in code (see note 4 below), with minor anomalies; at head of text: “Private”; at foot of first page: “Thos. Jefferson—&c &c &c.”; endorsed by TJ as received 31 Mch. 1794 and so recorded in SJL. PrC (DLC). Dft (DLC: Short Papers); heavily emended en clair text, only the most significant revisions being recorded below.

My letter to Mr. Hamilton: Short to Alexander Hamilton, 17 Oct. 1793 (Syrett, Hamilton description begins Harold C. Syrett and others, eds., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, New York, 1961–87, 27 vols. description ends , xv, 368). rule prescribed by you: see TJ to Short, 28 July 1791 (second letter). For a discussion of the Spanish overture for an Alliance with the United States, which Short and William Carmichael never officially reported to the American government and which therefore was never acted on, see Bemis, Pinckney’s Treaty description begins Samuel Flagg Bemis, Pinckney’s Treaty: America’s Advantage from Europe’s Distress, 1783–1800, rev. ed., New Haven, 1960 description ends , 190–4. the Duke: Manuel Godoy Alvarez de Faria, Duque de la Alcudia, the Spanish minister in charge of foreign affairs.

1Preceding two words interlined in Dft in place of “my.”

2Preceding three words interlined in Dft in place of “on a separate.”

3In Dft Short inserted a bracket at the beginning of the following paragraph and wrote next to it in the margin “from hence cyphered in part.”

4These and subsequent words in italics were written in code by Short and have been deciphered by the Editors using partially reconstructed Code No. 10, the decipherment being verified against the Dft.

5Preceding two words interlined in Dft in place of “such duty required.”

6Preceding two words interlined in Dft in place of “what we shall write about more fully by Mr. Blake.”

7Remainder of sentence interlined in Dft in place of “He had no objection it should be offensive and defensive—but was he authorized to go that length—we told him our full powers were not to that effect and referred him to them.” Above the first half of this canceled passage Short interlined and then canceled “and if the […] kind. He asked essentially whether we were the.”

8Preceding sentence interlined in Dft.

9Dft: “the wish of H.M.”

10Remainder of sentence interlined in Dft in place of “believe me it is for their interest that a Min. Ple. should be sent here immediately.”

11Word supplied from Dft, being incorrectly enciphered by Short.

12Word interlined in Dft in place of “vessels.”

13In Dft Short here canceled “If you think that European ministers are as far removed from prejudices as the Prest. and yourself and that they do business in the same manner with you, as you do with foreign agents without regard to the agent or the grade and have minds sufficiently enlarged to consider the country, you are much mistaken.”

14Word interlined in Dft in place of “great.”

15Preceding two words interlined in Dft in place of “of this country—and others.”

16Remainder of sentence interlined in Dft.

17Remainder of sentence interlined in Dft in place of “<in future> to <detain> stop or detain any other on any similar pretext whatever.”

18Word interlined in Dft in place of “a few.”

19Preceding fifteen words interlined in Dft in place of “those which had been detained after the order given for their release, under the.”

20Preceding four words interlined in Dft in place of “an inferior character,” the first word being “a.”

21Remainder of sentence interlined in Dft in place of “and perhaps he would not have succeeded at last.” After it Short also canceled an incomplete sentence: “You will know whether our vessels have been.”

22In Dft Short here canceled the following paragraph (some of the intermediate cancellations being restored): “Notwithstanding we have not yet received the answer from Ministry on the subject of Mr. Blake’s despatches Mr. C. <returned to Madrid the 5th. inst.> <refused to wait longer> left this place the 5th. inst. to return to Madrid.<I wished before his departure at least to write a second letter to the Duke which he declined.> <He said he would return here when necessary.> He returned here the day before yesterday <alone> on account of the gala of yesterday. I prepared a letter for us to send to the Duke reminding him of the delay of Mr. Blake and our anxiety to despatch him—but a nervous trembling in the hand with which Mr. C. is often afflicted in the same manner that Paradise was, disabled him absolutely from signing the letter in the morning notwithstanding every effort he made—he hoped he should be able to sign it after dinner and <therefore desired me to meet him at his lodging for that purpose and at> if he should not desired I would imitate his writing and sign it for him as he had determined to return to Madrid. By his request I went to meet him at his lodging <immediately> after dinner <as he determined to set out immediately after and to my great> and to my astonishment found he had sat off for Madrid, so that I was obliged either to sign the letter for him, or not send it. I therefore signed it notwithstanding my aversion <to the step> to do it which I expressed to him. <I see at present no probability of Mr. Carmichaels returning here, and as it is necessary that we should be together for our joint commission I find myself obliged to follow him to Madrid, notwithstanding the court and all the corps diplomatique who have business with them are still here—and notwithstanding my own idea often repeated to Mr. C. of the propriety of our remaining here.> I hope our last letter to the Duke will procure us an answer soon so as to enable us to despatch Mr. Blake. Notwithstanding the <possibility> manifest propriety of our waiting here for the answer, yet as it is necessary that we should be together to act under our joint commission, and as Mr. C. has persisted in quitting the sitio and going to fix himself at Madrid I find myself under the necessity of following him there against my inclination. The court and all the corps diplomatique who have business with them are still here. And it is possible our answer may be such as to oblige us to return here for further explanation.”

23Short here canceled “in the extreme.”

24In Dft Short first wrote “like Paradise was” and then altered it to read as above.

25Word supplied from Dft, being incorrectly enciphered by Short.

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