George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Henry Knox, 23 June 1793

To Henry Knox

Philadelphia June 23d 1793


Under cover with this note, you will receive two letters and an enclosure from Govr. Mifflin, wch are sent to you for your information.1 Also the Journal of a Mr Ewing’s Voyage down, & his observations respecting the posts, Settlements &c. on the Mississipi. It is my earnest desire that you would prosecute these enquiries with assiduity.2

It merits investigation in order to decide whether the call upon Govr. Mifflin to secure the Prize of the Citizen Genet, released by the Marshall of the District of Pennsylvania, in conseqe. of the Admiralty Courts refusing to take cogn⟨izance⟩3 will require the number of Militia ordered on this Service by him. After having made this enquiry—you will give orders accordingly.4

G: W——n


1For these enclosures, see Thomas Mifflin’s second and third letters to GW of 22 June 1793.

2For GW’s instructions to Knox to obtain information from Ohio residents who had recently “passed down” the Mississippi River, see GW to Knox, 14 June 1793. The enclosed journal, which has not been identified, may have belonged to Revolutionary War veteran and New Jersey native George Ewing (1754–1824). At this time Ewing and his family lived in the Northwest Territory, near the settlement of Waterford on the Muskingum River in present-day Ohio (William C. Ewing et al., George Ewing, Gentleman, A Soldier of Valley Forge [Yonkers, 1928], 74, 86–88).

3The letter-book copy reads “cognizance of the affair.”

4For the instructions sent to Mifflin to secure the British ship William and Mifflin’s calling up of a number of militiamen, see Mifflin to GW, 22 June 1793 (third letter), and notes. On the capture on 3 May 1793 of the William by the French privateer Citoyen Genet and its seizure by Clement Biddle, the U.S. Marshall for the District of Pennsylvania, see George Hammond to Thomas Jefferson, 5, 21 June 1793, Jefferson Papers description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 41 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950–. description ends , 26:199–201, 335–36. On the unsuccessful suit for restitution of the ship that was filed in the U.S. District Court of Pennsylvania and the ruling by Judge Richard Peters on 21 June 1793 that the ship be released from federal custody because the court was not authorized “to decide in a matter growing out of the contests between belligerent powers,” see Federal Cases description begins The Federal Cases: Comprising Cases Argued and Determined in the Circuit and District Courts of the United States from the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Federal Reporter. 30 vols. St. Paul, 1894–97. description ends , 9:57–62, 17:942–48. No written order from Knox has been identified. On 24 June, Mifflin ordered that the William be delivered to François Dupont (d. 1793), the French consul at Philadelphia, “withdrawing the detachment of the Militia.” Dupont was “to be responsible for the safe custody of the Ship William until it shall be determined whether she was taken within the limits of the protection of the United States” (“Executive Minutes of Governor Thomas Mifflin,” Pa. Archives description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds. Pennsylvania Archives. 9 ser., 138 vols. Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949. description ends , 9th Ser., 1:599).

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