George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Thomas Jefferson, 19 August 1793

To Thomas Jefferson

[Philadelphia] August 19th 1793


I send, for the consideration & opinion of the Heads of the Departments and the Attorney General of the U.S. a communication from the Governor of Pennsylvania respecting the Privateer Citizen Genet—together with copies of two letters from the French Consul to the Governor on the same subject, and a Report of two persons who had examined the Aforesaid Privateer by the Governor’s order.1

The Gentlemen will decide whether the circumstances reported respecting the unfitness of the said Privateer to proceed to sea, are such as would make it proper to depart from the rules already adopted, and allow a longer time for her to prepare to depart than is granted by the Governor—or whether the orders given by him on this head shall be executed.2

It will be seen that this Subject requires dispatch—and the Secretary of War will inform the Governor of the result of your deliberations on this subject as soon as it is given.3

Go: Washington

LS, in Tobias Lear’s writing, DLC: Jefferson Papers; Df, in Tobias Lear’s writing, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; LB, DNA: RG 59, George Washington’s Correspondence with His Secretaries of State. Jefferson’s docket on the LS reads “recd Aug. 19. 93.”

2For the rules regarding privateers adopted by the administration and for Knox’s transmission of them to the state governors, see Cabinet Opinion on the Rules of Neutrality, 3 Aug. 1793, and note 3. These rules prompted Mifflin’s orders for the Citoyen Genet to depart within twenty-four hours (Mifflin to Françoise Dupont, 19 Aug. 1793 [first letter], PHarH: Executive Correspondence, 1790–99).

3For the cabinet deliberations on this date, see JPP description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends , 224. Knox, in his second letter to Mifflin of 19 Aug., wrote: “In answer to your letter of this day to the President concerning the reparation of the privateer Schooner the Citizen Genet, I am instructed by him to say to Your Excellency That she may be permitted to have all necessary repairs to fit her for Sea as a merchant vessel, upon condition that she will put herself into that State and dismiss her arms and other military equipments. But this vessel having been before required to depart from the United States, in consequence of her having been originally fitted out in one of our ports, contrary to the laws of neutrality, it is requisite that the matter should be well and speedily understood, so that there may be no undue procrastination” (PHarH: Executive Correspondence, 1790–99). Mifflin then informed François Dupont, the French consul at Philadelphia, of the administration’s decision in a letter of 19 Aug. (Mifflin to GW, 19 Aug. 1793 [second letter], n.3).

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