George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Edmund Randolph, 20 June 1794

From Edmund Randolph

Philadelphia June 20. 1794.


I do myself the honor of inclosing to you a copy of the rule (no. 1.), prescribed to hostile vessels, sailing from our ports, and of my letter (no. 2) to the different foreign ministers. Mr Hammond was of course addressed; and he returned an answer (no. 3). I immediately replied as in no. 4; and this morning he wrote to me again, as in no. 5. From the whole texture of his correspondence, he seems to be exceedingly petulant; exposes many weak sides; does his cause an injury; thinks that it is something to say the last word, howsoever unimportant it may be; and endeavours to keep up a fog, until he sees the course, which his court may take.

At the same time I have the honor of forwarding the answers (no. 6 & 7), given to the letters, soliciting the application of certain private contributions from Boston and Norfolk; and to be, sir with the highest respect and sincere attachment yr mo. ob. serv.

Edm: Randolph

ALS, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; LB, DNA: RG 59, GW’s Correspondence with His Secretaries of State; LB, DNA: RG 59, Domestic Letters.

In addition to the seven enclosures mentioned in this letter, Randolph enclosed copies, certified by George Taylor, Jr., of George Hammond’s letter to Randolph of 25 Feb., and of Randolph’s note of 17 June to the secretaries of treasury and war and the attorney general, and Alexander Hamilton’s undated reply, approved by Henry Knox and William Bradford (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters). The former includes the quotation given by Randolph in enclosure IV. The latter two are deliberations for the responses given in enclosures VI and VII. Randolph pointed out that when the citizens of Philadelphia had considered a subscription, they had asked "how far such measures might interfere with the operations of Government, and whether the Government desired these exertions." The answer was "that the steps, pursued by the President, were not to be disclosed on such an application, and that the money of individuals being at their own disposal, the President did not mean to check them in the subscribing of it, as they should think proper. It is suggested therefore, that the substance of the answer to Boston and Norfolk be, that the only connection, which the executive can have with the Algerine subject, is that, which is required by Law; and that it possesses no authority to appropriate private money to such objects." Hamilton replied that he agreed "in the substance of what is proposed—The Answer may be

"’That however great the interest which the President takes in the object of these contributions he is of opinion that he ought to decline any other agency concerning it than that which is provided for and prescribed by the Laws.’

"If these contributions have been set on foot by any political societies, a point which ought to be well understood, a mode of proceeding less respectful would be deemed adviseable—This is a matter in my opinion that would demand the utmost circumspection."

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