George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas Jefferson, 27 May 1793

From Thomas Jefferson

[Philadelphia] May 27—1793.

Th: Jefferson has the honor to inclose to the President, (among other papers,) those relating to a commercial treaty with France, and to the reimbursement of the French debt, being translations of the communications of mister Genet on those subjects.1

AL, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters.

1On 24 May, Jefferson had submitted to GW Edmond Genet’s third letter to him of 22 May (JPP, description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends 148). Three of the documents enclosed in Genet’s letter concerned repayment of the U.S. debt to France and the fourth contained Genet’s instructions regarding the reorganization of French consular affairs in the United States (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 26:82–87). At the same time Jefferson submitted Genet’s letter to him of 23 May (JPP, description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends 148). The enclosed decree of the French National Assembly of 19 Feb. 1793 liberalized U.S. trade with France and its colonies and announced suspension of a 15 May 1791 law that restricted American shipping with France. The letter proposed that the Americans extend the same favors to France and informed Jefferson that Genet had the power to negotiate a new commercial treaty with the United States (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 26:96–99). GW returned Genet’s letters and the enclosures to Jefferson that same date for translation (JPP, description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends 148). They are summarized ibid., 151–54, and the translations are printed in ASP, Foreign Relations, description begins Walter Lowrie et al., eds. American State Papers. Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States. 38 vols. Washington, D.C., Gales and Seaton, 1832–61. description ends 1:142–47. For recent French and American plans for paying the U.S. debt to France, see Jefferson to GW, 8 Feb. 1793, nn.1–2, and Hamilton to GW, 1 Mar., n.1, and 3 June. Jefferson later submitted copies of the French originals of Genet’s third letter to Jefferson of 22 May and its enclosures to GW for transmission to Alexander Hamilton (Jefferson to GW, 30 May). GW then forwarded these copies to Hamilton with a cover letter of 3 June 1793.

On 24 May Jefferson also submitted to GW a letter from Franco Petrus Van Berckel, the Dutch minister to the United States, of 22 May that reported on the recent Dutch embargo on foreign ships, which the Netherlands had adopted following France’s declaration of war against that nation on 1 Feb. (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 26:91–92; JPP, description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends 148). Apparently acting under GW’s directions, Jefferson drafted a reply of 25 May, which has not been identified, that he enclosed in this letter. On 30 May he submitted a second draft dated 29 May, which GW approved (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 26:143–44, Jefferson to GW, 30 May; JPP, description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends 155). For the Dutch embargo of American ships, see Rodolf Vall-travers to GW, 15–29 Mar., and notes 7–8.

The other papers enclosed in Jefferson’s letter of this date were: Henry Cooper to Jefferson, 1 May, David Clarkson to Jefferson, 11 May, Josè Ignacio de Viar and Josè de Jaudenes to Jefferson, 25 May, and enclosure, Edmund Randolph to Jefferson of 26 May, Jefferson to Benjamin Holland and Peter Mackie, 27 May (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 25:631, 26:3–4, 118–22, 132).

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