George Washington Papers

Minutes of a Cabinet Meeting, 19 April 1793

Minutes of a Cabinet Meeting

[Philadelphia, 19 April 1793]

At a meeting of the heads of Departments & the attorney General, at the President’s april 19th 1793. to consider the foregoing questions proposed by the President: it was agreed by all on Quest. I—(to wit, “shall a proclamation issue” &ca) that a Proclamation shall issue forbidding our Citizens to take part in any hostilities on the seas with or against any of the belligerent Powers; & warning them against carrying to any such powers any of those articles deemed contraband according to the modern usage of nations, and enjoining them from all acts & proceedings inconsistent with the duties of a friendly nation towards those at War.1

Quest. II. (to wit—“Shall a Minister from the Republic of France be received”?) agreed unanimously that he shall be received.2

The remaining questions were postponed for further consideration.3

LB, DNA: RG 59, George Washington’s Correspondence with His Secretaries of State; Df, in Thomas Jefferson’s writing, DLC:GW.

1For GW’s thirteen questions, see GW to Cabinet, 18 April 1793, and source note. The president issued the Neutrality Proclamation on 22 April.

2Jefferson wrote at this place in the draft: “Qu. III. If received, shall it be absolutely &c.

“The Attorney general & Secretary of state are of opinion he shoud be received absolutely & without qualifications. The Secretaries of the Treasury & War?” (DLC:GW). He or someone else then crossed out the second and third of these sentences.

For earlier discussions of this question, see Jefferson’s Notes on the Opinions regarding the Reception of Genet, 30 March. Even with this decision to receive Edmond Genet, cabinet members continued to disagree over whether that recognition should entail qualifications (Jefferson to GW, 28 April, Alexander Hamilton and Henry Knox to GW, 2 May, Edmund Randolph to GW, 6 May 1793).

3The cabinet met again on 22 April to discuss these issues, but after approving the Neutrality Proclamation, they again postponed consideration of questions 3 through 13 (JPP, description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends 117). Eventually, all four men handed in written answers (GW to Cabinet, 18 April, source note).

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