George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Jay, 6 March 1792

To John Jay

Philadelphia Mar. 6th 1792.

My dear Sir,

Your favor of the 27th of Jany came safely to hand (but not by Judge Cushing)1 as did your letter of the 23d of September for which I thank you.

It is with pleasure I congratulate you on the increase of your family and the restoration of health to Mrs Jay—both of wch events we have heard.2

Mr B——’s motion, alluded to in your letter of the 27th of Jany, is only the prelude, I conceive to what is intended to follow as occasions shall present themselves.3

I am persuaded your goodness will excuse my not having acknowledged the receipt of your letters of the above dates at an earlier period. Many matters of a public nature have pressed upon me—some of them not very pleasant ones.

My best wishes, in which Mrs Washington cordially unite, are presented to Mrs Jay and yourself—and with affectionate esteem & regard I am always Your Obedient Servant

Go: Washington

ALS, NNC: Jay Collection; LB, DLC:GW. GW marked the addressed cover of the receiver’s copy “(Private).”

1William Cushing (1732–1810), who before the Revolutionary War had served as a private attorney, land company lawyer, and occasional land speculator in his native Massachusetts, joined the new state Superior Court of Judicature in 1775. Upon John Adams’s resignation in February 1777, Cushing was named chief justice. In addition to his duties on the Massachusetts high court, Cushing served in the state’s constitutional convention in 1779, was elected vice-president of the convention called to ratify the U.S. Constitution in 1788, and voted as a federal elector in the first presidential election. In September 1789 GW appointed Cushing to the U.S. Supreme Court. While Jay traveled overseas on his mission to Great Britain in 1794 and 1795, Cushing, as senior associate justice, served as acting chief justice. Although GW wished to promote him to chief justice in January 1796, Cushing refused on the grounds of ill health. He continued to serve as an associate justice, however, until his death at the age of 78 in September 1810.

2Sarah Livingston Jay (1756–1802), whom Jay had married in 1774, recently had given birth to their fifth child, a daughter (see John Jay to GW, 27 Jan. 1792, note 1). Since February, Jay had been a candidate in the increasingly bitter New York gubernatorial election, attempting to unseat the incumbent, George Clinton.

3On 16 Jan., in the midst of the Senate debate concerning GW’s ministerial appointments, Aaron Burr of New York had presented a motion arguing that no reason then existed for the dispatch of a U.S. minister to The Hague (see Executive Journal, description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America: From the commencement of the First, to the termination of the Nineteenth Congress. Vol. 1. Washington, D.C., 1828. description ends 1:96–98; see also GW to the U.S. Senate, 22 Dec. 1791, and the Controversy over Diplomatic Appointments to Great Britain, France, and the Netherlands, 3 Jan. 1792, editorial note).

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