George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Thomas Jefferson, 12 August 1793

To Thomas Jefferson

Philadelphia Augt 12th 1793.

Dear Sir,

I clearly understood you on Saturday.1 And, of what I conceive to be two evils, must prefer the least—that is—to dispense with your temporary absence in autumn (in order to retain you in Office ’till January) rather than part with you altogether at the close of September.2

It would be an ardent wish of mine, that your continuance in office (even at the expence of some sacrifice of inclination) could have been through the whole of the ensuing Session of Congress,3 for many—very many weighty reasons which present themselves to my mind: one of which, and not the least is, that in my judgment, the affairs of this Country as they relate to foreign Powers—Indian disturbances—& internal policy—will have taken a more decisive, & I hope agreeable form, than they now bear, before that time—When perhaps, other public Servants might also indulge in retirement.4 If this cannot be, my next wish is, that your absence from the Seat of Government in autumn, may be as short as you conveniently can make it.5 With much truth & regard I am—Yr Obedt & Affecte Servt

Go: Washington

ALS, DLC: Jefferson Papers; ADfS, PP: Jay Treaty Papers, William M. Elkins Collection; LB, DNA: RG 59, George Washington’s Correspondence with His Secretaries of State. Jefferson’s docket on the ALS reads: “recd Aug. 12. 93.”

1Jefferson discussed his impending resignation with GW on Saturday, 10 August. Jefferson then further defined his plans in a letter to GW of 11 Aug. 1793.

2Jefferson’s letter of resignation to GW of 31 Dec. 1793 was effective that same date (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 , 27:656).

3The first session of the Third Congress convened on 2 Dec. 1793 and ended on 9 June 1794.

4GW expected Alexander Hamilton to resign as Secretary of the Treasury at the end of the first session of the Third Congress (Hamilton to GW, 21 June 1793).

5Jefferson departed Philadelphia for Virginia on 17 Sept. and by 22 Sept. was at Mount Vernon, where he conferred with GW before heading to Monticello (Jefferson to GW, 15 Sept. 1793, and Jefferson to Moses Cox, 17 Sept., to George Hammond, 22 Sept., to Robert Gamble, 26 Sept. 1793, 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 , 27:125–26, 143–44, 152). He left Monticello in late October and arrived at Germantown, a town located northwest of the city of Philadelphia, on 1 Nov. 1793 (Jefferson to James Madison, 2 Nov. 1793, ibid., 297–98). Concern that the recent yellow fever epidemic had not yet abated in Philadelphia prompted Jefferson and other government officials, including GW, to lodge in Germantown while preparing for the opening of the first session of the Third Congress on 2 Dec. 1793 (GW to Edmund Randolph, 30 Sept., 23 Oct., Randolph to GW, 22 Oct. 1793).

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