George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Edmund Randolph, 1 February 1792 [letter not found]

Letter not found: from Edmund Randolph, 1 Feb. 1792. In a letter of 2 Feb. to Randolph, Tobias Lear mentioned “the Atty Genls note of last evening” to the president.1

1Tobias Lear informed Edmund Randolph: “the President thinks it proper that the Atty Genl should proceed in Cottrell’s case in the manner mentioned in the Atty Genls note of last evening as the result of the conference between him & the Secy of the Treasy” (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters). The previous summer the federal collector for the port of Newport, R.I., had seized and sold the sloop Betsy, owned by Thomas Cotterell, for his illegal landing of goods in order to avoid paying duties. After the federal district court at Providence, R.I., found him guilty and fined him $400 and court costs in November 1791, Cotterell fled the state. By 7 Feb. 1792 he had either given himself up or been captured and was committed to the jail at Newport. The attorney general apparently wrote GW on 1 Feb. concerning a pardon for Cotterell, as William Ellery informed Alexander Hamilton on 19 Mar.: “The President has pardoned . . . Thomas Cottrell late Owner of the Sloop Betsy, and remitted . . . the fines of four hundred Dollars, recovered against [him], . . . so far as the United States have any claim, title or Interest therein. . . . Mr. Cottrell is not yet discharged from Gaol, no advice having yet been received from the Informer against him” (Syrett, Hamilton Papers, description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends 11:153–54).

Index Entries