George Washington Papers

From George Washington to the Supreme Court Justices, 23 July 1793

To the Supreme Court Justices

Philada July 23d 17931


The circumstances which had induced me to ask your counsel on certain legal questions interesting to the public, exist now as they did then: but I by no means press a decision whereon you wish the advice & participation of your absent brethren. Whenever therefore their presence shall enable you to give it with more satisfaction to yourselves, I shall accept it with pleasure.2 with sentiments of high respect I am Gentlemen Your most Ob. St.

Df, in Thomas Jefferson’s writing, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; Df (letterpress copy), in Thomas Jefferson’s writing, DLC: Jefferson Papers; LB, DLC:GW. Tobias Lear added the dateline and closing line to Jefferson’s draft at DNA. He also added an internal address that reads, “John Jay Chief Justice James Wilson James Iredell William Paterson Associate Judges of the Sup. Court of the U.S.”

1Jefferson enclosed the draft in his letter to GW of 22 July, and he added the date of “July 22. 93” to the letterpress copy of the draft. The letter-book copy is dated 23 July and includes Lear’s closing line.

2On the decision to seek advice from the Supreme Court justices on a variety of issues relating to the U.S. position of neutrality during the war in Europe, see Cabinet Opinion, 12 July, and note 4. For the initial request sent to the justices and their response, see Jefferson to GW, 19 July, and note 1; see also the justices’ letter to GW of 20 July, to which GW is now replying. For the questions that GW and the cabinet sought to submit to the justices, see those enclosed in Thomas Jefferson to GW, 18 July 1793. For the justices’ refusal to consider these questions, see their letter to GW of 8 Aug. 1793.

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