George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas Jefferson, 18 March 1792

From Thomas Jefferson

[Philadelphia] Sunday Mar. 18. 1792.

Th: Jefferson having received information that a vessel sails from New York for Amsterdam about Wednesday, is endeavoring to get ready the necessary papers for Messrs Short & Carmichael, to go by tomorrow’s post.1 he beleives it impossible; but in order to take the chance of it, he troubles the President to sign the Commission to-day, which mister Taylor now carries to him for that purpose.2

AL, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; LB, DNA: RG 59, George Washington’s Correspondence with His Secretaries of State; LB (photocopy), DLC:GW.

1The “necessary papers” that Jefferson was preparing included copies of his instructions to William Carmichael and William Short (see Jefferson to GW, 7 Mar. [second letter], and GW to the U.S. Senate, 7 Mar.), a letter covering their commission (see Jefferson to Carmichael and Short, 18 Mar., Jefferson Papers, description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 40 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950—. description ends 23:292–93), and a detailed report on negotiations with Spain, along with supporting documentation, to guide the commissioners. On 11 Mar., Jefferson reported: “I delivd to the Presid. my report of Instructions for Carmichl & Short on the subjects of navigation, boundary & commerce; & desired him to submit it to Hamilton. H[amilton] made several just criticisms on difft parts of it. but where I asserted that the U.S. had no right to alienate an inch of the territory of any state he attacked & denied the doctrine” (Jefferson’s Memoranda of Consultations with the President, 11 Mar.–9 April 1792, DLC: Jefferson Papers). Hamilton’s undated notes on Jefferson’s report of instructions to the treaty commissioners and Jefferson’s written comments on Hamilton’s notes are both in DLC:GW, and they are printed Jefferson Papers, description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 40 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950—. description ends 23:179–83, and Syrett, Hamilton Papers, description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends 11:68–73. Jefferson incorporated eight of Hamilton’s ten suggestions into his final report of this day, which is divided into three sections. Section I of the report reviews the history of the boundary between the United States and Spain’s North American possessions; Section II justifies America’s right to the free navigation of the Mississippi River and to deposit goods somewhere near its mouth; and Section III includes the text of Jefferson’s report to GW of 7 Mar. (DLC: Jefferson Papers). The report is printed and extensively annotated Jefferson Papers, description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 40 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950—. description ends 23:296–317.

2The commission for Carmichael and Short to settle outstanding differences between the United States and Spain was signed by GW and Jefferson on this date, according to a similarly signed and dated duplicate (ViW: William Short Papers). The unsigned commission was delivered to GW by State Department clerk George Taylor, Jr., who might also have delivered at the same time his own letter to GW of 17 March. Jefferson forwarded this day the commission, along with the other papers for Carmichael and Short, to Henry Remsen, Jr., for transmittal to the American bankers at Amsterdam, who were instructed to deliver them personally to Short (see Jefferson to Remsen, 18 Mar., and Report on Negotiations with Spain, 18 Mar., source note, both in Jefferson Papers, description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 40 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950—. description ends 23:295, 313).

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