George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas Jefferson, 6 November 1793

From Thomas Jefferson

[Germantown, Pa.] Nov. 6. 1793.

Th: Jefferson has the honor to inclose several letters for the perusal of the President.1 when he wrote to the Governor of Kentuckey, on a former intimation from the Spanish representatives, there was no probability that the intervention of military force would be requisite, and as far as illegal enterprizes could be prevented by the peaceable process of law, his writing was proper.2 it is proper now, so far as the same means may suffice. but should military coercion become necessary, he submits to the President whether a letter from the Secretary at war should not go, Th: J. having avoided any order of that kind in his letter.3

AL, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; LB, DNA: RG 59, George Washington’s Correspondence with His Secretaries of State.

1Jefferson enclosed for approval four letters that he had written on this date: to Spanish representatives José Ignacio de Viar and José de Jaudenes, informing them that the governor of North Carolina was being written to about their protest of the seizure of a Spanish ship by the French privateer Vainqueur de la Bastille; to Henry Knox, directing him to give “proper instructions” to the governor “for executing the decisions of the government in cases of this description”; to Viar and Jaudenes, informing them that the governor of Kentucky was being directed to prevent the project of four Frenchmen who, Viar and Jaudenes had warned, were going to Kentucky “to procure some hostile enterprize from our territories against those of Spain”; and to Isaac Shelby, directing his attention to the Frenchmen, “that they may not be permitted to excite within our territories or carry from thence any hostilities into the territory of Spain,” the “coercion” to be peaceable if possible, by force if necessary (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 , 27:310–14). GW approved the letters and returned them to Jefferson (JPP description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends , 246–48).

2See Viar and Jaudenes to Jefferson, 27 Aug., and Jefferson to Shelby, 29 Aug. (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 , 26:771–73, 785–86).

3Jefferson wrote a second letter to Henry Knox on this date, enclosing his letter to Shelby of this date to be forwarded with instructions from Knox to Shelby about the use of military force (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 , 27:311). Knox wrote Shelby on 9 Nov. that if the “usual course of the laws . . . should be ineffectual, I am instructed by the President of the United States to request that your Excellency will use effectual military force to prevent the execution” of the Frenchmen’s plans (DNA: RG 46: Transcribed Reports and Communications Transmitted by the Executive Branch to the U.S. Senate, 1789-1819).

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