George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Thomas Jefferson, 13 October 1789

To Thomas Jefferson

New York Oct. 13th 1789


In the selection of characters to fill the important offices of Government in the United States I was naturally led to contemplate the talents and disposition which I knew you to possess and entertain for the Service of your Country. And without being able to consult your inclination, or to derive any knowledge of your intentions from your letters either to myself or to any other of your friends, I was determined, as well by motives of private regard as a conviction of public propriety, to nominate you for the Department of State, which under its present organization, involves many of the most interesting objects of the Executive Authority. But grateful as your acceptance of this Commission would be to me, I am at the sametime desirous to accomodate to your wishes, and I have therefore forborne to nominate your Successor at the Court of Versailles until I should be informed of your determination.

Being on the eve of a journey through the Eastern States, with a view to observe the situation of the Country,1 and in a hope of perfectly re-establishing my health, which a series of indisposition has much impaired, I have deemed it proper to make this communication of your appointment in order that you might lose no time should it be your [wish]2 to visit Virginia during the recess of Congress, which will probably be the most convenient season, both as it may respect your private concerns and the public service.

Unwilling as I am to interfere in the direction of your choice of Assistants, I shall only take the liberty of observing to you that, from warm recommendations which I have received in behalf of Roger Alden Esqr., Assistant Secretary to the late Congress, I have placed all the Papers thereunto belonging under his care.3 Th⟨ose⟩ Papers which more properly appertain to the Office of Foreign-Affairs are under the Superintendance of Mr Jay, who has been so obliging as to continue his good-offices; and they are in the immediate charge of Mr Remson.4 With sentiments of very great esteem & regard—I have the honor to be Sir—Your Most Obedt Hble Servt

Go: Washington

I take this occasion to acknowledge the receipt of your several favors of the 4th and 5th Decr of the last—and 10th of May of the present year and to thank you for the communications therein.5 G.W.

ALS, DLC: Jefferson Papers; LB, DLC:GW; DfS, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters.

2This word is missing from the ALS and has been supplied from the draft.

3For Alden’s recommendation for a public post, see Charles Thomson to GW, 23 July 1789, especially note 1.

4Henry Remsen, Jr., son of Henry Remsen, a New York merchant, served as under secretary for foreign affairs during the Confederation. Under the new government he became chief clerk of the Department of State.

5According to the endorsement on this letter, Jefferson received it at Eppington, Va., on 11 Dec. 1789.

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