George Washington Papers

From George Washington to the United States Senate, 16 April 1794

To the United States Senate

United States 16. April 1794.

Gentlemen of the Senate,

The communications, which I have made to you during your present session, from the dispatches of our Minister in London, contain a serious aspect of our affairs with Great Britain.1 But as peace ought to be pursued with unremitted zeal, before the last resource, which has so often been the scourge of Nations, and cannot fail to check the advanced prosperity of the United States, is contemplated; I have thought proper to nominate, and do hereby nominate,

John Jay, as envoy extraordinary of the

United States, to his britannic Majesty.

My confidence in our Minister plenipotentiary in London continues undiminished. But a mission, like this, while it corresponds with the solemnity of the occasion, will announce to the world a solicitude for a friendly adjustment of our complaints, and a reluctance to hostility. Going immediately from the United States, such an envoy will carry with him a full knowledge of the existing temper and sensibility of our Country; and will thus be taught to vindicate our rights with firmness, and to cultivate peace with sincerity.2

Go: Washington

LS, DNA: RG 46, Third Congress, 1793–95, Senate Records of Executive Proceedings, President’s Messages—Executive Nominations; copy, DNA: RG 46, Fourth Congress, 1795–97, Senate Records of Executive Proceedings, President’s Messages—Foreign Relations; LB, DLC:GW; copy, Nc-Ar: Governor’s Papers, Richard Dobbs Spaight.

1Thomas Pinckney was the U.S. minister plenipotentiary to Great Britain. Among the serious problems was Great Britain’s interference with American shipping. On this and other unresolved issues with Great Britain, see n.1 of Alexander Hamilton to GW, 23 April; and Instructions to Jay, 6 May (NHi: Jay Papers; 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 , 1:472–74).

2Although the Senate received this letter on 16 April, it did not immediately approve Jay’s nomination. On 18 April it approved a resolution “That the President of the United States be requested to cause to be laid before the Senate the reports of John Jay to Congress while Secretary of Foreign Affairs [1784–90], and in case the books in which the same are recorded are transmitted to the Senate, that the same be returned by the Secretary of the Senate [Samuel A. Otis, Sr.] to the office of the Secretary of State.” Edmund Randolph submitted the desired reports to the Senate on 19 April along with a cover letter of that same date, which has not been identified, and the Senate approved Jay’s nomination on 19 April by a vote of 18 to 8 (U.S. Senate Executive Journal, 1:150–52).

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