George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas Jefferson, 22 December 1793

From Thomas Jefferson

Dec. 22. 1793.

Th: Jefferson has the honor to return to the President Govr Clinton’s letter.1 also to send him a statement of mister Genet’s conversation with him in which he mentioned Gouvernr Morris. this paper Th: J. prepared several days ago, but it got mislaid which prevented it’s being sent to the President.2

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

2Jefferson’s statement, dated 11 Dec., reads: “The President doubtless recollects the communications of mister Ternant expressing the dissatisfaction of the Executive council of France with mister Morris our minister there, which however mister Ternant desired might be considered as informal: that Colo. Smith also mentioned that dissatisfaction, & that mister LeBrun told him he would charge mister Genet expressly with their representations on this subject; & that all further consideration thereon lay over therefore for mister Genet’s representations.

“Mr Genet, some time after his arrival (I cannot now recollect how long, but I think it was a month or more) coming to my house in the country one evening, joined me in a walk near the river. our conversation was on various topics, & not at all of an official complexion. as we were returning to the house, being then I suppose on some subject relative to his country (tho’ I really do not recall to mind what it was) he turned about to me, just in the passage of the gate, & said ‘but I must tell you we all depend on you to send us a good minister there, with whom we may do business confidentially, in the place of mister Morris.’ these are perhaps not the identical words, yet I believe they are nearly so; I am sure they are the substance, & he scarcely employed more in the expression. it was unexpected; &, to avoid the necessity of an extempore answer, I instantly said something resuming the preceding thread of conversation, which went on, & no more was said about mister Morris. from this I took it for granted he meant now to come forward formally with complaints against mister Morris, as we had been given to expect, & therefore I mentioned nothing of this little expression to the President. time slipped along, I expecting his complaints & he not making them. it was undoubtedly his office to bring forward his own business himself, & not at all mine to hasten or call for it; & if it was not my duty, I could not be without reasons for not taking it on myself officiously. he at length went to New York, to wit, about the [ ] of [ ] without having done anything formally on this subject. I now became uneasy lest he should consider the little sentence he had uttered to me as effectively, tho’ not regularly, a complaint. but the more I reflected on the subject the more impossible it seemed that he could have viewed it as such; & the rather because if he had, he would naturally have asked from time to time ‘Well, what are you doing with my complaint against mister Morris?’ or some question equivalent. but he never did. it is possible I may at other times have heard him speak unfavorably of mister Morris, tho’ I do not recollect any particular occasion: but I am sure he never made to me any proposition to have him recalled. I believe I mentioned this matter to mister Randolph before I left Philadelphia: I know I did after my return: but I did not to the President, till the reciept of mister Genet’s letter of Sep. 30. which from some unaccountable delay of the post never came to me in Virginia, tho I remained there till Oct. 25. (and received there three subsequent mails) and it never reached me in Philadelphia till Dec. 2.

“The preceding is the state of this matter, as nearly as I can recollect it at this time, & I am sure it is not materially inaccurate in any point” (ADS, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters).

Index Entries