Thomas Jefferson Papers

Memorandum to George Washington, [29 November 1790]

Memorandum to George Washington

[29 Nov. 1790]

A note of subjects, some of which the President may think proper to be mentioned to Congress.

  • Announce the location of the Federal seat, and measures taken in consequence of it.

  • The act of Independence of Kentucky, should it be authentically communicated to the President.

  • The ratifications of the amendments to the constitution by Jersey and Virginia (which last1 may be expected before the meeting of Congress) which making three fourths of the states, consequently establishes them.

  • An Execution law is wanting to complete our compliance with the treaty of peace.

  • A law to regulate the exercise of jurisdiction permitted by foreign nations to our Consuls established within their dominions, and ascertaining their fees.

  • A law making the auxiliary provisions stipulated in the Consular convention with France.

  • Encouragement to American vessels and seamen. [with an eye to Gr. Britain.]

  • Protection to our navigation on the ocean. [with an eye to Algiers.]

The extreme want of a coin: and necessity of pursuing the establishment of a Coinage, and of uniformity in measures, weights and coins.

PrC (DLC: TJ Papers, 59: 10131); entirely in TJ’s hand; undated; brackets in original. Recorded in SJPL under 29 Nov. 1790: “Subjects of speech to Congress.”

In his 8 Dec. 1790 message at the opening of the third session of the First Congress, the President mentioned all of the subjects suggested by TJ except the location of the Federal seat, which he chose to announce on 24 Jan. 1791 in a separate message drafted for him by TJ, and the ratifications of the Bill of Rights by New Jersey and Virginia, the first of which Washington had already transmitted to Congress on 6 Aug. 1790 and the second of which was not in fact completed until late in 1791 (Fitzpatrick, Writings, description begins John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington, Washington, D.C., 1931–44, 39 vols. description ends xxxi, 164–9; President to the Senate and House of Representatives, [24 Jan. 1791], in Vol. 19:64; JS description begins Journal of the Senate of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1820–21, 5 vols. description ends , i, 201, 340, 361). Washington obtained a similar list of suggested topics from Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton (Syrett, Hamilton, description begins Harold C. Syrett and others, eds., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, New York, 1961–87, 27 vols. description ends vii, 107–8, 172–3).

In an earlier volume the Editors mistakenly identified the SJPL entry for this document as Jefferson’s Draft of Items for the President’s Message to Congress, which is printed conjecturally under 29 Nov. 1790 in Vol. 18: 99–100, but actually listed separately in SJPL under 3 Dec. 1790 as “paragraphs proposed for speech.” Washington had elicited these two draft paragraphs in a missing letter to TJ of 3 Dec. 1790 (see Vol. 18: 100n).

1Word interlined.

Index Entries