George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas Jefferson, 12 November 1792

From Thomas Jefferson

[Philadelphia] Nov. 12. 92.

Th: Jefferson has the honor to inclose to the Presidt a letter from mister Pinckney.1 he will have that of waiting on him to-day to know what to say to the Commrs of the Federal seat about the order for money on Virginia.2

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

1Jefferson had received the previous day a letter from Thomas Pinckney, the U.S. minister to England, written from London on 8 Sept. 1792, in which Pinckney wrote that he had declined a request from fellow American Stephen Sayre to be “appointed my secretary (if only nominally) whereby he would be entitled to the privilege of freedom from arrest and urged it as a protection due from the Minister of the United States to a man suffering on their account” (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 24:346–48). The British briefly had imprisoned Sayre, a banker in London at the beginning of the Revolutionary War, for his active support of the colonies. After the war, and upon his return to London, the authorities jailed him again, this time for failure to pay his debts. Sayre repeatedly petitioned Congress for compensation for his various activities on behalf of the United States during the war, and in 1807 Congress granted him payment for his time as secretary to diplomat Arthur Lee while in Berlin.

2The Virginia legislature had approved on 27 Dec. 1790 a grant of $120,000 for the construction of public buildings in the federal district, to be made in three equal payments (see Hening description begins William Waller Hening, ed. The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619. 13 vols. 1819–23. Reprint. Charlottesville, Va., 1969. description ends , 13:125). After meeting with Jefferson, GW sent a letter to Virginia treasurer Jaquelin Ambler on 13 November, in which he requested payment of Virginia’s second installment. Jefferson enclosed a copy of GW’s letter to Ambler in his next letter to the D.C. commissioners, also dated 13 Nov. (see 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 24:612–13).

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