Thomas Jefferson Papers

Notes of Cabinet Meeting on the President’s Address to Congress, 23 November 1793

Notes of Cabinet Meeting on the President’s Address to Congress

Nov. 23. At the President’s. Present K. R. and Th:J. Subject, the heads of the speech. One was, a proposition to Congress to fortify the principal harbors. I opposed the expediency of the general government’s undertaking it, and the expediency of the President’s proposing it. It was amended by substituting a proposition to adopt means for enforcing respect to the jurisdiction of the US. within it’s waters.—It was proposed to recommend the establishment of a military academy. I objected that none of the specified powers given by the constn. to Congress would authorize this. It was therefore referred for further consideration and enquiry. K. was for both propositions. R. against the former, but said nothing as to the latter. The Presidt. acknowledged he had doubted of the expediency of undertaking the former, and as to the latter, tho’ it would be a good thing, he did not wish to bring on any thing which might generate heat and ill humor. It was agreed that Rand. should draw the speech and I the messages.

MS (DLC); entirely in TJ’s hand; partially dated; written on the third side of two sheets containing “Anas” entries for 8, 15, 18, and 21 Nov. 1793, those of 8 and 18 Nov. being printed under the latter date. Included in the “Anas.”

The basis of discussion at this Cabinet meeting, from which Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton was absent due to illness (Washington, Journal description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed., The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797, Charlottesville, 1981 description ends , 257), was Attorney General Edmund Randolph’s consolidated outline of topics for the President’s annual speech to Congress distilling the essence of earlier outlines and drafts prepared by Washington and members of the Cabinet. For these documents and the sources of the proposals to fortify the principal harbors and establish a Military Academy, see note to Materials for the President’s Address to Congress, [ca. 22 Nov. 1793]).

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