George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas Jefferson, 30 November 1793

From Thomas Jefferson

Nov. 30. 1793.

Th: Jefferson presents his respects to the President & incloses him some letters just received.1

Mr Pinkney’s & mister Morris’s information relative to the doing & undoing the decrees of the National assembly, in the case of the ship Lawrence and some other expressions in mister Morris’s letter seem to render it proper to lower the expression in the message purporting the just & ready redress of wrongs on the high sea afforded by that government, which Th: J. will accordingly attend to.2

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

1According to GW’s journal for this date, the enclosures were Gouverneur Morris to Jefferson, 25 June, “enclosing a correspondence with Mr. Le Brun, respecting an outrage committed by the crew of a french privateer, upon that of an American vessel called the little Cherub and the repeal of the Decree of the Nationl. Conven. of 9 May 93 exempting American vessels from seizure &c.”; and Richard Söderström to Jefferson, 30 Nov., “covering a copy of one to him from the Consul General of Sweden, at Algiers, dated 7 augt. 93 mentioning the miserable situation of some American captives there, and expressing a willingness to endeavour to have them released” (JPP description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends , 260). For the texts of these letters, see 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 , 26:363–69, 27:466.

2The French national convention on 9 May 1793 had passed a decree authorizing the seizure of “merchant vessels which are wholly or in part loaded with provisions, being neutral property, bound to an enemy’s port, or having on board merchandise belonging to an enemy.” A protest from Morris, however, produced a decree of 23 May “that the vessels of the United States are not comprised in the regulations of the 9th of May” (both, ASP, Foreign Relations description begins Walter Lowrie et al., eds. American State Papers. Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States. 38 vols. Washington, D.C., Gales and Seaton, 1832–61. description ends , 1:244). Morris’s letter to Jefferson of 25 June discussed Morris’s protest of a subsequent decree of 28 May, repealing the decree of 23 May. The Laurens left Charleston at the end of January, bound for London, and was seized by a French privateer in March and taken into Le Havre, where a court voided the seizure (City Gazette & Daily Advertiser [Charleston], 1 Feb., 28 May, 13 July). Morris wrote that the object of the decree of 9 May and subsequent decree of 28 May was “to effect the Confiscation of a large Cargo belonging to Citizens of the State of South Carolina, and which has been sometime since acquitted at Havre . . . . The Captors then declar’d that they would obtain a Decree for the Confiscation” (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 , 26:364).

Thomas Pinckney’s letter to Jefferson of 27 Sept., which Jefferson had enclosed in his letter to GW of 29 Nov., included a letter from the English consignees of the Laurens that added decrees of 1 and 27 July to the three mentioned by Morris and asked Pinckney’s assistance in recovering the ship for its American owners (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 , 27:158; for the decrees of 28 May [misdated 29], 1 July, and 27 July, see Daily Advertiser [New York], 9 Dec.).

Jefferson did revise his first draft for GW’s message to Congress on relations with France and Great Britain, 5 Dec., to eliminate the reference to “ready redress” (see note 1 to that document).

Index Entries