George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas Jefferson, 4 June 1793

From Thomas Jefferson

[Philadelphia] June 4. 1793.

Th: Jefferson has the honor to inclose to the President a letter from mister Pinckney covering proposals from a mister Holloway to come over as engraver to our mint. it does not appear that mister Holloway was very eminent, as far as we can judge from the expressions in mister Pinckney’s letter:1 his idea of making it a kind of appointment for life seems inadmissible; and the delay to which his appointment would subject the commencement of our coinage of silver & gold, would be injurious. it therefore appears adviseable to decline his proposition by the packet now about to sail.2 Th: J. has indeed received information from mister T. Digges on the subject of coining which to him appears interesting. he has put it into the hands of mister Rittenhouse; if he should find in it any thing which can be useful, Th: J. will have the honor of laying it before the President.3

AL, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; AL (letterpress copy), DLC: Jefferson Papers; LB, DNA: RG 59, George Washington’s Correspondence with His Secretaries of State.

1For Thomas Pinckney’s letter to Jefferson of 6 April 1793, see 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 , 25:512–13. British engraver Thomas Holloway (1748–1827) acquired acclaim for the more than eight hundred engravings included in Henry Hunter’s English translation of Johann Caspar Lavater’s Essays on Physiognomy: Designed to Promote the Knowledge and the Love of Mankind, 3 vols. in 5 (London, 1789–98). Volume 3 of Lavater’s Essays, following page 434, contains Holloway’s 1796 engraving of George Washington, after Gilbert Stuart’s first portrait of GW (1795). For Holloway’s application for appointment as the engraver for the U.S. Mint and his request that he should receive an income for life, see the copy of Holloway’s letter to Pinckney of 2 April, which was enclosed in Pinckney’s 6 April letter to Jefferson (DNA: RG 59, Despatches from U.S. Ministers to Great Britain).

2On behalf of GW, Tobias Lear wrote Jefferson later this date to return the letters from Pinckney and Holloway and to inform Jefferson that GW found Holloway’s proposals “inadmissible” (DLC: Jefferson Papers; see also JPP description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends , 160). Jefferson rejected Holloway’s application in a letter to Pinckney of 4 June, apparently expecting Pinckney to inform Holloway of the decision (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 , 26:191–92).

3For the information on coinage sent by Thomas A. Digges, see his letters written from Birmingham, England, to Jefferson, 10 Mar., and to Pinckney, 21 Mar., 6 April (all three in DLC: Jefferson Papers; printed in Robert H. Elias and Eugene D. Finch, eds. Letters of Thomas Attwood Digges [1742–1821] [Columbia, S.C., 1982], 441–56; the letter to Jefferson also is in 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 , 25:347–51). Director of the U.S. Mint David Rittenhouse apparently found the three letters from Digges useful because Jefferson enclosed them with a brief cover letter to GW of 12 June, in which he wrote that they “contain some interesting information on the subject of our coins” (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters). GW returned the letters to Jefferson on 13 June (JPP description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends , 171).

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