George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Charles Carroll (of Carrollton) and Charles Thomson, 23–31 January 1793

To Charles Carroll (of Carrollton) and Charles Thomson

Philadelphia Jan: [23–]31st1 1793.

Dear Sir,

The Western Indians having proposed to us a conference at Sandusky2 in the ensuing Spring, I am now about to proceed to nominate three Commissioners to meet and treat with them on the subject of Peace. What may be the issue of the conferences is difficult to foresee, but it is extremely essential that, whatever it be, it should carry with it the perfect confidence of our Citizens that every endeavor will have been used to obtain peace which their interests would permit.

For this reason it is necessary that characters be appointed who are known to our citizens for their talents & integrity, and whose situation in life places them clear of every Suspicion of a wish to prolong the War, or say rather whose interest, in common with that of their country, is clearly to produce Peace. Characters uniting these desiderata do not abound, some of them too are in Offices inconsistent with the appointment now in question—others under impediments of health or other circumstances so as to circumscribe the choice within a small circle.

Desirous in the first instance that you should be in this Commission, I have mentioned these difficulties to shew you, in the event of your declining, how serious they are, and to induce you to come forward and perform this important service to your country—a Service with which its prosperity and tranquility are intimately connected.

It will be necessary to set out from this place about the first of May:3 The route will be by the North River & Niagara.4 It will be safe, and the measures for your comfortable transportation & subsistence taken as effectually as circumstances will admit.

Will you then permit me, Sir, to nominate you as one of the Commissioners, with a certain reliance on your acceptance?5 your answer to this6 will oblige Dear Sir Your Most Obedt and Very Hble Servant

Go: Washington

ALS, DLC: Charles Thomson Papers; ALS (letterpress copy), DLC:GW; Df, in Thomas Jefferson’s writing, DLC:GW; Df (letterpress copy), DLC: Jefferson Papers; LB, DLC:GW.

1Jefferson’s draft and the letter-book copy are dated 23 Jan. 1793. The letter-book copy, which is addressed to Charles Carroll of Carrollton, has a note at the bottom of the document that reads: “The same to Charles Thompson Esqr.” The receiver’s copy of the letter sent to Thomson, however, is dated 31 Jan. 1793.

2Instead of “at Sandusky,” Jefferson’s draft reads, “at Au Glaise”; GW inserted the phrase “not far distant from Detroit” above the line next to the word “Glaise.” The letter-book copy, in consequence, reads, “at Au glaise, not far distant from Detroit.” Israel Chapin, Jr., had met with representatives of the Indians of the Northwest Territory at Buffalo Creek, N.Y., in November 1792. At that time he received speeches requesting that negotiations be held “at the rapids of Miami next spring, or at the time when the Leaves are fully out” (Henry Knox to GW, 6 Dec. 1792, note 2). For the administration’s favorable response to this overture, see Tobias Lear to Knox, 11 Dec. 1792, note 1.

3In the draft Jefferson had originally left the date blank, writing “——of ——”; GW inserted “1st” and “May” at the appropriate places on the draft manuscript.

4Jefferson had originally written “the lakes” at this place in the draft; GW crossed out these words and inserted “Niagara” above the line. The North River was an alternative name for the Hudson River.

5Both Carroll and Thomson declined GW’s offer (Carroll to GW, 28 Jan., Thomson to GW, 31 Jan. 1793). GW ultimately nominated Benjamin Lincoln, Timothy Pickering, and Beverley Randolph as the U.S. commissioners (GW to U.S. Senate, 1 Mar. 1793 [second letter]).

6At this place in the draft, Jefferson originally wrote “by the first or second post”; GW underlined the word “first” and crossed out the words “or second.” The letter-book copy, in consequence, reads, “by the first post.”

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