From Timothy Pickering
Department of State Feby. 25. 1799.
Since I had the honor of seeing you, I have conversed with the Secretary of the Treasury, from whom I learn that the suit against Mr. Randolph is still pending—that he claims a credit for the nine thousand dollars which Mr. Short desired him to lay out in the purchase of public Stock, saying it was a private transaction; and that as the issue depends on the judgement of the court, it will be improper and unsafe for the United States to make an immediate payment—or until the judgement of the court shall be rendered.
If any mode can be devised in which Mr. Short’s interest may be promoted, consistently with that of the public, it will give me pleasure to adopt it; & the more because from the view I took of his claim, the public appeared to me to be eventually responsible.
I have the honor to be respectfully sir your obt. servt.
RC (DLC: Short Papers); at foot of first page: “Honble. Thos. Jefferson Esqr.”; endorsed by TJ and recorded in SJL as received on the same day as written. PrC (MHi: Pickering Papers). FC in Lb (DNA: RG 59, DL).
Using a new statute, in 1797 the U.S. government filed suit against Edmund Randolph in federal circuit court in Virginia over expenditures from Randolph’s tenure as secretary of state that he could not verify to the satisfaction of the comptroller of the treasury, John Steele. The matter was finally settled by arbitration in 1804 (John J. Reardon, Edmund Randolph: A Biography [New York, 1974], 355–6).