George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Thomas Jefferson, 10 March 1792

To Thomas Jefferson

Saturday Morning [10 March 1792]1

My dear Sir,

I was informed last Night by Mr Izard that a Comee of three, of which he was one, were to be with me on Monday Morning upon the Subject of the Algarene business. The Senate do not know how to get money for the purpose without the Agency of the Reps. & they are afraid to make the Comn.2

I wish you to consider this matter—& if not before, to let me see you by half-after 7 Oclock on Monday Morng.3

Genl Knox is to be with me on the appointments of the Officers at ten to day & will keep me employed most of the day—the forenoon I mean. Yrs &ca


1Jefferson endorsed this letter as having been received on 10 Mar. 1792.

2For GW’s meeting with senators Ralph Izard, Rufus King, and Robert Morris, see Conversation with a Committee of the U.S. Senate, 12 March.

3Jefferson met with GW on 11 Mar. according to the secretary of state’s Memorandum of a Conference with the President on a Treaty with Algiers of that date: “Consulted verbally by the President on whom a committee of the Senate (Izard, Morris & King) are to wait tomorrow morning to know Whether he will think it proper to redeem our Algerine captives & make a treaty with the Algerines on the single vote of the Senate without taking that of the Represent.

“My opinions run on the following heads.

“We must go to Algiers with the cash in our hands.

“where shall we get it?—by loan?—by converting money now in the treasury?

“probably a loan—m[igh]t be obtd on the Presid.’s authority but as this cd nt be repd without a subseqt act of legislature, the Represent. m[igh]t refuse it.

“so if convert money in treasury, they may refuse to sanction it.

“The subseqt approbation of the Sen. being necessary to validate a treaty they expect to be consulted before hand if the case admits.

“so the subseqt act of the Repr. being necessary where money is given—why shd nt they expect to be consulted in like manner where the case admits?

“a treaty is a law of the land. but prudence will point out this difference to be attended to in making them, viz.

“where a treaty contains such articles only as will go into execution of themselves, or be carried into execution by the judges, they may be safely made:

“but where there are articles which require a law to be passed afterwds by the legislature, great caution is requisite.

“e.g. the Consular convention with France required a very small legislative regulation. this convention was unanimously ratified by the Senate, yet the same identical men threw by the law to enforce it at the last session—& the Repr. at this session have placed it among the laws which they may take up or not at their own convenience, as if that was a higher motive than the public faith.

“therefore against hazarding this transaction without the sanction of both houses.

“The Pres. concurred. The Senate express the motive for this proposition to be a fear that the Repr. wd not keep the secret. he has no opinion of the secrecy of the senate. in this very case mister Izard made the communication to him setting next to him at table on one hand, while a lady (mistress Mclane) was on his other hand and the Fr. minister next to her, and as mister Izard got on with his communication, his voice kept rising, & his stutter belting the words out loudly at intervals, so that the minister might hear if he would. he sd he hd a great mind at one time to have got up in order to put a stop to mr Izard” (DLC:Jefferson Papers).

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