Thomas Jefferson Papers

Notes on a Conversation with Samuel Smith, 12 January 1800

Notes on a Conversation with
Samuel Smith

12. Genl. Sam. Smith says that Pickering, Wolcott & Mc.Henry wrote a joint letter from Trenton to the President then at Baintree, dissuading him from the mission to France. Stoddard refused to join in it. Stoddard says the instructions are such as that if the Directory have any dispositions to reconciliation, a treaty will be made. he observed to him also that Elsworth looks beyond this mission to the Presidential chair, that with this view he will endeavor to make a treaty & a good one. that Davie has the same vanity & views. all this communicated by Stoddard to S. Smith.

MS (DLC: TJ Papers, 108:18558); entirely in TJ’s hand; on same sheet as Notes on a Conversation with Benjamin Rush, 10 Jan. 1800.

On 11 Sep. 1799 Pickering informed Adams from Trenton that the department heads had concluded that the government should seriously consider “suspending the mission” to France. Wolcott and McHenry concurred with Pickering, but Secretary of the Navy Benjamin Stoddert conveyed to Adams on 13 Sep. his opinion that peace could be maintained with both France and England. He urged the president to come to Trenton to secure the proper preparations for the French mission. Upon receipt of Stoddert’s letter, Adams decided to proceed there and requested Attorney General Charles Lee, who supported the mission to France, and commissioners Oliver Ellsworth and William R. Davie to join him there (Adams, Works description begins Charles Francis Adams, ed., The Works of John Adams, Boston, 1850–56, 10 vols. description ends , 9:23–9, 33–4; Page Smith, John Adams, 2 vols. [Garden City, N.Y., 1962], 2:1010–14; Notes on a Conversation with Benjamin Rush, 10 Jan.).

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