George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas Jefferson, 20 June 1792

From Thomas Jefferson

[Philadelphia] June 20. 92.

Th: Jefferson, with his respects to the President, incloses him a publication by mister Knox an Under-secretary of state in England, who seems to have been the true parent of the British system with respect to our commerce. he asks the favour of the President to read the paper No. 18—page 60—as it shews the expectation of what would be done on our part, & an acknolegement of the injury it would do them, could we enforce it. papers 12. & 13. are also interesting: but not so pointedly so.1

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

1William Knox (1732–1810) was British undersecretary of state for American affairs between 1770 and 1782. In 1789 he published in London a two-volume work entitled Extra Official State Papers . . . by a Late Under Secretary of State. Knox’s “paper No. 18,” while supporting the placement of restrictions on U.S. trade with the British West Indies, concludes that a trade war with the Americans would be very damaging to British commerce. In “papers 12. & 13” Knox argues that the United States’s role in the British economy should be that of a mere supplier of raw materials and that once Britain and Canada could adequately supply the needs of the British West Indies, trade between the United States and those islands should be cut off.

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