George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas Jefferson, 6 April 1784

From Thomas Jefferson

Annapolis [Md.] Apr. 6. 1784.

Dear Sir

I am obliged to you for your query as to the distance from New York to Cayahoga, as it has occasioned my reexamination of that matter & detection of an error of 150 miles. the distances from New York to Niagara I collect from information as follows.

from N. York to Albany  164 miles
Oneida  165
Oswego  171
Niagara  180
from Niagara to Cayahoga 140

This last distance [from Niagara to Cayahoga] I collect by measuring on Hutchins’s map & reducing that proportionably by the known distance from Niagara to Detroit which is 250 miles.1

The public papers confirm the resignation of mr Pitt & his friends. a ship arrived here, & some others in Philadelphia have brought us a riddle without a key. they received their bounties & drawbacks on clearing out from London as they used to do while we were colonies without any public act authorising it being visible. the custom house officers tendered them, & they were not so rude as to refuse them. the prohibitory proclamation they say is eluded & connived at by government.2 we have 11 states in Congress & hope by the middle of May to adjourn to November. if any thing prevents this it will be the representation of 8 states of the 11 by 2 members each, who frequently dividing retard business extremely. the inclosed letter was put into my hands with a request to forward it to you. this will be delivered you by Monsr de Hogendorff, a relation of mr Van Berckel’s. a very particular acquaintance with him here has led me to consider him as the best informed man of his age I have ever seen. nature & application seem equally to have concurred in fitting him for important business. he returns to Holland, his native country, in the summer, and cannot deny himself the satisfaction of paying his tribute of respect to you.3 I have the honor to be with great esteem & attachment Dr Sir your most obedt & most humble servt

Th: Jefferson

P.S. The Minister of France arrived here to-day. I beleive he is on a tour through Virginia. but I have not yet learned when he sets out.

Since writing this I learn that the Minister has declined his tour through Virginia, but thinks to go as far as your house: perhaps within a fortnight.4


1In his letter to GW of 15 Mar., Jefferson wrote that “to proceed on to N. York” from Cuyahoga would be 970 miles, and in a postscript to his letter of 29 Mar., GW asked Jefferson had he not made the distance “too great.” Jefferson is referring to Thomas Hutchins’s A Topographical Description of Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and North Carolina (London, 1778).

2In the spring of 1783, the Fox-North ministry began its efforts to reestablish Britain’s trade with its former American colonies in a series of orders relaxing the restraints placed upon that trade in 1775 by Parliament’s Prohibitory Act. An order in council of 26 Dec. 1783 summed up what had been done to admit items from the United States at lowered duties and also listed additional items. William Pitt the Younger became prime minister on 19 Dec. 1783 at the age of 25.

3Gijsbert Karel van Hogendorp (1762–1834), a 21–year-old Dutchman, landed in Boston in November 1783 and sailed from there back to Holland in July 1784. His purpose in coming to America was to study the republic, or republics, being formed in the New World. He arrived at Mount Vernon on 8 April (see GW to Jefferson, that day) and was back at Annapolis no later than 17 April (Boyd, Jefferson Papers, description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 41 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950–. description ends 7:82). For a sketch of Hogendorp’s life and for references to his writings, see Howard C. Rice’s introduction to Hogendorp’s The College at Princetown, May 1784 (Princeton, N.J., 1949).

4La Luzerne came to Mount Vernon before GW left for Philadelphia on 26 April. See GW to La Luzerne, 5 May 1784.

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