George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Edmund Randolph, 20 January 1794

From Edmund Randolph

Monday afternoon. [20 Jan. 1794]

E. Randolph has the honor of informing the President, that the message of to-day, appears to have given general satisfaction. Mr M-d——n in particular thinks, that it will have a good effect. He asked me, whether an extract could not have been given from Mr Morris’s letter; and upon my answering, that there were some things interwoven with the main subject, which ought not to be promulged, he admitted, that the discretion of the President was always to be the guide.1

I have received a letter from Galbaud; insisting that he should be brought to trial upon the accusation of Genet, that he was concerned in a conspiracy in the U.S. The mail, which brought his letter, brought a paper, in which it was published.2

I am told, that a message is to be sent to the President, for a letter, which has been omitted from the correspondence between Mr Genet and Mr Jefferson.3

Hauterive, the french Consul, at N. York, has written to Mr Jefferson, to know, whether it was with his permission, that Bache’s paper assigned the cause of his resignation to be, that he was compelled to sign dispatches, which he disapproved: and particularly to ask, whether a particular letter, which related to himself, was among the number of things, disapproved by him.4

AL, DLC:GW.

1For the message, see GW to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, this date. The specific letter from Gouverneur Morris, U.S. minister to France, to which Virginia congressman James Madison referred, may be his first letter to Thomas Jefferson of 10 Oct. 1793, in which Morris wrote that the French government had agreed to recall Edmond Genet “immediately” as its minister to the United States. A letter to Jefferson of 19 Oct. 1793, however, offered more details on Genet’s recall and the assignment of his successor (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 , 1:372, 374–75).

2On former French minister Edmond Genet’s charges against Galbaud, the former governor-general of the French colony of Saint Domingue, see Cormeille, Sr., to GW, 3 Jan. 1794. On Genet’s denouncement, his attempts to have Galbaud arrested by New York officials, and the administration’s response, see n.2 of Jefferson to GW, 15–16 Sept. 1793. Galbaud’s letter to Randolph of 17 Jan., which has not been identified, was written at New York City. In the published, English version, Galbaud wrote: “I am publicly accused, by Mr. Genet, of having intended to disturb the tranquility of the United States, in devising a complot which would compromit the good understanding which subsists between them and France. Such a conduct would be a crime against your laws; the accusation is too serious to be overlooked. Since Mr. Genet offers to prove this accusation to the people of America, I demand then to be made a prisoner, that a process be instituted, and I may be judged by the tribunals of the United States, in which a decision shall be had of the crime” (Universal Daily Advertiser [Philadelphia], 21 Jan. 1794). Genet made public his accusation by publishing, in English, his letter to Thomas Jefferson of 6 Sept. 1793 (Daily Advertiser [New York], 16 Jan. 1794; see also 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 , 27:41–43, and translation, 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 , 1:77). After acknowledging receipt of Galbaud’s 17 Jan. letter in a reply of 7 Feb., Randolph wrote: “No order can be given by the President on this occasion. Any person within the United States, who wishes voluntarily to surrender himself for examination or trial, must apply to the magistrates within the State” (DNA: RG 59, Domestic Letters).

On 10 Feb., Galbaud wrote Randolph, in French and from Philadelphia, that he intended to leave shortly for France from New York City upon the St. Honoré and that he needed a letter stating that he had broken no American laws. He believed that having such a letter upon his return to France would help clear his name with officials there (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters). Randolph replied on 11 Feb.: “I had written to you on the 7th instant . . . and as it is probable, that you were on the road, when my letter was on its way, I do myself the honor of now enclosing to you a copy. This morning I laid before the President of the United States your letter, dated yesterday. He cannot interfere in the business, in which you seem to be so much interested, farther than the rules of duty permit, and those rules will not suffer him to go beyond what is said in my letter of the 7th instant” (DNA: RG 59, Domestic Letters).

3Copies of correspondence between Jefferson and Genet were submitted with GW’s letter to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives of 5 Dec. 1793. For those enclosures, see 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 , 1:142–246. Any written request to GW for additional Genet correspondence has not been found, but a request was made for copy of a letter from Jefferson to British minister George Hammond (U.S. House of Representatives to GW, 20 Jan. 1794).

4French consul Hauterive inquired about Jefferson’s resignation as secretary of state in his letter to him of 15 Jan. 1794 (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 , 28:7–8). The editorial commentary about the cause of Jefferson’s resignation appeared in the 6 Jan. issue of Benjamin Franklin Bache’s General Advertiser (Philadelphia). The letter that Hauterive suspected Jefferson disapproved may have been the circular letter written to the French consuls and vice-consuls of 7 Sept. 1793 (see Cabinet Opinion on Relations with France and Great Britain, 7 Sept. 1793, and n.1 to that document; 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 , 27:51). For Jefferson’s response to these speculations, see his letter to Randolph of 3 Feb. (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 , 28:15–16).

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