George Washington Papers

From George Washington to the United States Senate, 19 January 1791

To the United States Senate

United States January 19th 1791.

Gentlemen of the Senate

I lay before you a representation of the Chargé des Affaires of France, made by order of his Court, on the Acts of Congress of the 20th of July 1789, and 1790 imposing an extra tonnage on foreign Vessels, not excepting those of that Country; together with the Report of the Secretary of State thereon: and I recommend the same to your consideration, that I may be enabled to give to it such answer as may best comport with the justice and the interests of the United States.

Go: Washington

LS, DNA: RG 46, First Congress, 1789–1791, Records of Executive Proceedings, President’s Messages—Foreign Affairs; LB, DLC:GW; copy, DNA: RG 46, First Congress, 1789–1791, Records of Legislative Proceedings, Committee Reports and Papers.

For the background to this document, see Thomas Jefferson to GW, 18 Jan. 1791.

GW enclosed a copy of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce, 1778, with an English translation, a letter from Claude-Guillaume Lambert to Jefferson, 29 Dec. 1787, with an English translation, the Arrêt du Conseil d’État du Roi, 29 Dec. 1787, with an English translation, the Arrêt du Conseil d’État du Roi, 7 Dec. 1788, with an English translation, Jefferson’s report to GW, 18 Jan. 1791, an extract of a letter from William Short to Jefferson, 21 Oct. 1790, and Louis Guillaume Otto’s letters to Jefferson, 13 Dec. 1790 and 8 Jan. 1791. Copies of these are in DNA: RG 46, First Congress, 1789–1791, Records of Executive Proceedings, President’s Messages—Foreign Relations. See also DHFC, description begins Linda Grant De Pauw et al., eds. Documentary History of the First Federal Congress of the United States of America, March 4, 1789-March 3, 1791. 20 vols. to date. Baltimore, 1972—. description ends 2:389–423.

The letter and accompanying papers were received by the Senate on 19 Jan. 1791 and referred to a committee consisting of Robert Morris, Rufus King, Ralph Izard, Caleb Strong, and Oliver Ellsworth. The committee reported on 27 Jan. 1791, and on 26 Feb. 1791 the Senate considered the report and resolved “that the fifth Article of the treaty of amity and commerce between the United States, and his Most Christian Majesty, is merely an illustration of the third and fourth Articles of the same treaty, by an application of the Principles comprized in the last mentioned Articles, to the case stated in the former. Resolved, that the Senate do advise that an answer be given to the Court of France, defending in the most friendly manner, this construction, in opposition to that urged by the said Court” (ibid., 104–12, 122).

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