George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Brown Cutting, 1 May 1790

From John Brown Cutting

London 1 May 1790


I take the liberty to inclose you an english newspaper wherein is inserted the copy of a treaty between the king of Prussia and the sublime Porte.1 This copy I am informed by a foreigner of veracity who perused the original at the house of the imperial minister, is a genuine translation. The terms of it are such that a war between the respective parties to it in conjunction with the kings of Sweden and Poland against the austrian and russian empires it is believed here must immediately and inevitably ensue.

Wishing You to possess the earliest intelligence of an ⟨illegible⟩ that menaces the peace of Europe I make no other apology for fulfilling ⟨illegible⟩ish than assuring you that it originated in a belief that such a communication might be useful to the United States and wou’d not be deemed improper or obtrusive, in Your respectful and most obedt sert

John Brown Cutting

ALS, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters.

1On 31 Jan. 1790 the Prussian minister at Constantinople signed a treaty with the Ottoman Porte providing for Prussia to enter the ongoing Russo-Turkish war in the spring of 1791. Two months later Prussia and Poland signed a treaty promising one another aid in case of attack by a third party. Prussia then prepared for war with Austria, which was allied with Russia. A broadening of the ongoing war between Russia and Austria on the one side and Turkey and Sweden on the other was widely anticipated, particularly in Great Britain, which had concluded an alliance with Prussia in 1788. The death of the Austrian emperor Joseph II on 20 Feb. 1790 and the accession of his brother Leopold II changed the situation. At Leopold’s initiative the differences between Prussia and Austria were settled by the Convention of Reichenbach, 27 July 1790, and a broader war was averted. The enclosure, providing an English translation of the treaty between the Ottoman Porte and Prussia, was clipped from an English newspaper (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters).

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