George Washington Papers

Tobias Lear to Thomas Jefferson, 10 January 1793

Tobias Lear to Thomas Jefferson

[Philadelphia] Thursday January 10th 1793

The President orders T. Lear to return to the Secretary of State the letter from Mr Pinckney—the one from Mr Johnson and that from Mr Livingston, which have been submitted to the President’s perusal;1 and to observe that the President thinks it is to be regretted2 that Mr Pinckney does not say anything in his letters relative to certain matters which he was instructed to be particularly attentive to.3

AL, DLC: Jefferson Papers; ADf, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters (mistakenly filed under 16 Jan. 1793); LB, DNA: RG 59, George Washington’s Correspondence with His Secretaries of State; LB (photocopy), DLC:GW. Jefferson docketed the AL as received on 10 Jan. 1793.

1The enclosed letters included Thomas Pinckney to Jefferson, 5 Oct. 1792, Joshua Johnson to Jefferson, 9 Oct. 1792, and Henry Walter Livingston to Jefferson, 5 Oct. 1792. Jefferson received these letters on 9 Jan. and presented them for GW’s review later that same day (see Summary Journal of Public and Private Letters in DLC: Jefferson Papers; JPP description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends , 5). Pinckney’s letter concerns his recent interview with Lord Grenville, British foreign secretary, on the subject of British impressment of American seamen. Pinckney did not receive a satisfactory answer to American complaints, but he did obtain Grenville’s promise that “he would consider the business more fully and the result shoud be the subject of a future conference to take place at an early period” (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 24:441–43). Joshua Johnson, the U.S. consul for London, was displeased with the financial terms of his appointment and indicated in his letter to Jefferson his desire to resign, agreeing only to stay in the post “until the President shall be pleased to appoint some other person to take my place” (ibid., 453–55). The letter from Henry Walter Livingston, secretary to Gouverneur Morris at Paris, has not been identified, but GW’s executive journal contains a summary of its contents: “gives a statement (by Mr. Morris’ order) of the propositions which took place between Genl. Demouriez & the King of Prussia—wh. statement is essentially different from what has been received through other channels.” This summary, as well as GW’s notes on Pinckney and Johnson’s letters, is in JPP, description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends 5.

2In the draft this phrase reads: “is much to be regretted.”

3Lear may be referring to the instructions in Jefferson’s letter to Pinckney of 14 June, which Jefferson repeated in his letter to Pinckney of 30 Dec. 1792, to find skilled artisans willing to come to the United States in order to work at the newly established U.S. Mint (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 24:74–76,802–4). Lear, however, may be alluding to Jefferson’s latest letter to Pinckney, written at Philadelphia on 1 Jan. 1793, in which Jefferson wrote, in code: “I have it in charge from the President of the United States, to desire you to be very attentive to the embarkation of troops from the British dominions in Europe, to those in America, and particularly to Quebec—and to give us the earliest advice of their numbers, destination, object and other material circumstances” (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 25:6). For GW’s directive to Jefferson, see his first letter to him of 31 Dec. 1792. GW may have hoped that Pinckney would include information on British troop movements in his letter, even before receiving specific instructions to do so.

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