George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Jay, 13 October 1789

From John Jay

New York 13th October 1789.

Mr Jay has the honor of informing the President of the United States, that yesterday afternoon he received a letter from Sir John Temple1 in the following words, vizt

“New York 12th of October 1789, Sir. I beg leave to submit in the most respectful manner, the enclosed memorial to the consideration of the Government of the United States. The memorialist informs me he hath in his possession all necessary and proper vouchers and documents to establish fully the facts set fourth in his said memorial. I am with very great respect, Sir, your most obedient and most humble Servant. John Temple.”

The memorial mentioned in this letter is herewith enclosed, No. 1.2

That considering the informality of the measure, he thought it best to give Sir John an opportunity of reconsidering it, especially too as the propriety of any application to Government on the subject was at least doubtful, he therefore wrote this morning to Sir John as follows.

“New York 13th October 1789. Mr Jay presents his compliments to Sir John Temple and returns herewith enclosed the memorial which accompanied the letter Sir John did him the honor to write yesterday.

Mr Jay takes the liberty of advising Sir John to consult some able and discreet Councellor as to the measures proper to be taken on the occasion; unless the intention of his letter is merely to convey intelligence of the facts stated in the memorial, in which case Mr Jay on its being returned will immediately lay it before the President.”

That he has just received from Sir John Temple a letter herewith enclosed, No. 2.3

As Sir John requests nothing of Government it does not appear to Mr Jay necessary that the President should at present do any thing on the subject.

Mr Jay would have waited on the President with these papers, but he really finds himself too much indisposed to go out, having just returned from a ride with a severe head ache.

LB, DNA: RG 59, Domestic Letters; LB, DNA: RG 59, Correspondence with the Secretaries of State; LB, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; LB, DLC:GW.

1Sir John Temple (1732–1798), a Loyalist from Boston, had been British consul general at New York since 1785.

2The enclosure was a memorial from Thomas Moore Savage, a British sea captain and master of the sloop Sally out of Kingston, Jamaica. Savage had sailed from Norfolk on 27 Aug. 1789 bound for Jamaica and carrying British colors, when, off Cape Henry, he was deliberately rammed by the French public ship L’Active, nearly destroying the sloop and damaging its cargo. Officers from the French frigate boarded the sloop, demanding its colors and making “use of much abusive and ungenteel Language.” Unable to continue its voyage the sloop returned to Norfolk. The French frigate also put into Norfolk, and Savage, conceiving “the Injury done to him and the said Vessel, is against the Laws of Nations, against the Peace established between the Courts of Great Britain & France, and against the Protection due to british Vessels in the Ports, and within the Jurisdiction of the United States of America,” appealed to Temple for assistance (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters).

3Enclosure no. 2 is a letter, 13 Oct. 1789, from Temple to Jay, asking the secretary to lay the matter before the president (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters).

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