George Washington Papers

Cabinet Opinion on Granting a Passport, 2 April 1794

Cabinet Opinion on Granting a Passport

[Philadelphia] 2 April 1794

We are of the opinion, that a passport ought to be granted for a vessel under the above restrictions.1

Edm: Randolph

Alex. Hamilton

I am inclined to think the vessel ought sail not only by the permission, but in consequence of the directions of the President.2

Wm. Bradford

The same opinion.3

H. Knox

DS, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters.

This opinion appears at the bottom of a letter from Philadelphia merchant Thomas FitzSimons to Edmund Randolph of 2 April, in which he wrote: “I am among the unfortunate Merchts of the U.S. who has suffered by the depredations of the British Cruizers, a Vessell of mine with a Very Valuable Cargo having been Carryd into Bermuda on the 7th Last Month. as a No. of Vessells as well as mine were Carryd in under the instructions of the 6th November and it is more than probable those of the 8 January may not be sent there officially to prevent this Condemnation, I submit it to your Consideration Sir Whether it may not be proper to send an Express-boat to that Island for the purpose of Carrying that information . . . for if the Cargoes & Vessells are Condemned and Restitution should hereafter be decreed, the Captors will have possession of the property and will only account for it at a Valuation Less than half the Real Cost. . . . There is a further Reason which I hope may have its Weight, the Necessity the American Seamen are under of entering onboard the British privateers for want of Subsistence.” To support this contention, FitzSimons enclosed a letter from a Mr. P. Hayes that was written at Bermuda the previous month. He then continued: “If permission will be given, for sending a Small Pilot boat the most satisfactory Security will be given, that no goods Wares or Merchze of any Kind or nature, Will be sent, and the boat so permitted shall bring back any American Seamen that are there. I beg the favor of you Sir to Lay this Subject before the President.” For the British orders in council of 6 Nov. 1793 and 6 Jan. 1794, 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 , 1:430–31.

1This sentence is in Randolph’s handwriting.

2This sentence is in Bradford’s handwriting.

3This sentence is in Knox’s handwriting. Randolph enclosed this opinion and the letter from FitzSimons in his first letter to GW of 2 April.

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