George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Mason, 26 April 1793

From John Mason

George Town 26th April 1793


Having lately heard from France it was probable that, that Government Would make Application to You, to Supply them with the different products of this Country in payment of the American Debt;1 Embolden’d by a persuasion that my Situation in Commerce (having a House there & another here, & a good experience in Negotiations with that Country) may in the present Juncture enable me to Serve the Public to as much advantage as most Merchants, I take the liberty to Sollicit your consideration in the choice of an Agent, Should any Commissions be given to purchase & Ship from Patomac or James River. I flatter myself from the line of Business I have been engaged in for Several Years I have an entire Knowledge of the produce of Virginia & Maryland; & Should I be so fortunate as to Obtain Your Confidence, I beg leave to assure You Sir of my greatest exertions to prove myself worthy of the trust.2 I have the honor to be, with the most Profound respect yr Mo. Ob. very Hbl. Servt

J: Mason

ALS, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters.

1On the administration’s decision to pay in commodities and provisions a portion of the U.S. debt to France, see Jefferson to GW, 8 Feb. 1793, nn.1–2.

2Mason was a partner in the trading firm of Fenwick, Mason, & Company, based in Georgetown and Bordeaux, France. On 6 May, Tobias Lear wrote Mason: “The President of the U.S. directs me to acknowledge the rece[ip]t of your letter to him of the 26th ultimo—and to inform you, that it is not the intention of the Governmt of the U.S. to have any agency in supplying the French with the productions of this country further than to furnish such agent or agents, as may be duly authorized by the French Governmt therefor, with the means of making the purchases, out of the debt due from the U.S. to France.

“You will therefore see, Sir, that however willing the President might be to give due attention to the offer of your agency in making purchases & Shipments, he cannot comply with your wishes under the present circumstances of the case” (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters).

Index Entries