George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Thomas Jefferson, 28 April 1792

To Thomas Jefferson

[Philadelphia] Saturday ’forenoon 28th April 1792

In strict confidence the President of the U.S. sends the enclosed letter for the perusal of the Secretary of State.1 No other person has seen, or been made acquainted with the contents. It is necessary the Secretary should be informed of the circumstances related in the letter—’Tis possible, these politics may have contributed to the change in the Spanish Ministry. I wish Mr Short was, or soon would be, at that Court.2 I think also Mr Morris should be urged to embrace every favourable moment to relieve this Country from the impositions laid by France on our (Tobacco) trade &ca.3

AL, DLC: Jefferson Papers.

1The enclosure was Gouverneur Morris’s letter to GW of 4 Feb. 1792, which describes the growing political power of the Jacobins and the resulting change in French foreign policy that occurred when Jean-Marie-Antoine-Claude de Valdec de Lessart succeeded Louis-Philippe, comte de Ségur, as foreign minister. The new ministry sent a diplomatic mission to Great Britain that proposed to cede France’s Caribbean possessions as well as the Spanish-held island of Tobago in return for an alliance against the Holy Roman Empire and Prussia.

2For the appointment of William Short and William Carmichael as commissioners to negotiate a treaty with Spain, see GW to the U.S. Senate, 11 Jan., and Jefferson to GW, 18 Mar. 1792. Short received his instructions in November 1792, left The Hague in mid-December, and arrived at Madrid in early 1793 (see GW to Jefferson, 29 June 1792, n.2).

3For the background to the French trade restrictions and the administration’s desire to negotiate a new commercial treaty with France, see Jefferson to GW, 18 Jan., 30 July 1791, note 1, Lafayette to GW, 7 Mar. 1791, note 1, Louis XVI to GW, 28 May 1791, n.2, and GW to Jefferson, 9 Dec. 1791, n.3.

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