George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Jay, 23 June 1794

From John Jay


Dear SirLondon 23 June 1794

on Sunday the 15th of this month I arrived here. the next Day I made Inquiries for Mr Lear, and was informed that he had gone to Liverpool to embark for america. I asked whether it was probable that Letters sent by the post would find him still there—the answer was, that it was highly improbable. under these Circumstances & well knowing the jealous Attention now paid to Letters passing thru the post office, I thought it most adviseable to forbear making the Experiment, and to return that Letter to You.1

My letter of this Date to Mr Randolph contains an exact Account of the present State of the affairs of my mission here.2 I shall be disappointed if no good should result. as yet the Minister stands entirely uncommitted. From some light Circumstances I incline to believe that our mercantile Injuries will be redressed, but how, or how far, I cannot conjecture. My next Conference will doubtless place Things in more particular, and in clearer points of view.

Doctr Gordon has Information which he relies upon, that the Posts will not be surrendered, and he authorizes me to tell you so in Confidence—His Information does not make so strong an Impression on my mind as it does on his—it merits attention, but in my opinion is not conclusive.

The observations I have hitherto made induce me to believe that the war with France is popular; and that a War with us would be unpopular. The word Jacobin is here a Term of Reproach, & used as such among the common people—They who wish the Reform of this Government do I apprehend wish a certain Degree of Success to the present french Cause, not because they like it, but because they think such Success would promote their favorite Objects. I often hear Gentlemen converse on these Subjects, but think it prudent to be reserved—as to their internal Parties and Divisions, I make it a Rule to remain silent.

Your administration is greatly commended. The Idea entertained by some of applying private Debts to compensate public Injuries, alarms and disgusts, and empairs Credit. I am anxious to have it in my power to communicate something decisive. as yet I am entirely satisfied with the minister3—I ought to add, that Mr Pinckney’s Conduct relative to me, corresponds with my Ideas of Delicacy and propriety. with perfect Respect Esteem and Attachment I am Dear Sir your obliged and obedt Servt

John Jay

P.S. The enclosed Copies of a note of the 19th Inst: from Lord Grenville and of my answer, afford Indications of his present Temper, that will not escape you.4 It is always useful to communicate such papers, but seldom useful to publish them.5 publications unnecessarily and frequently made naturally encrease Reserve and Circumspection to such a Degree, as in real measure to exclude Confidence and Conversation, and to confine negociation to the slow and wary mode of written Communications—written too under the Impression & Expectation of publication.


1Jay was referring to GW’s letter to Tobias Lear of 6 May. GW enclosed the returned letter with his letter to Lear of 28 August.

2Jay’s letter to Edmund Randolph of 23 June is in DNA: RG 59, Despatches from U.S. Ministers to Great Britain (see also 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 , 1:476).

3On the draft, Jay initially completed this sentence with the words "and may not be amiss that Mr Hammond should know that I am" and continued with his complimentary closure. The sentence following was written below and marked for insertion at this point.

4The British secretary of state for foreign affairs, William Wyndham Grenville, Baron Grenville (1759-1834), wrote to Jay on 19 June: "Lord Grenville presents his Compliments to Mr Jay. He had the Honor to lay before the King yesterday, the Copy of Mr Jay’s letter of credence. as wednesday is the usual Day for his majesty’s giving audience to foreign ministers, and as there will be no Levee next wednesday, on account of his Majesty’s Journey to portsmouth, His Majesty has fixed wednesday Sev’nnight for receiving Mr Jay—but if Mr Jay, under the Circumstances of his special Commission, should be desirous of having his audience sooner, His Majesty has been graciously pleased to authorize Lord Grenville to say, that his Majesty will permit Lord Grenville to introduce Mr Jay after the Levee Tomorrow—In which Case Lord Grenville would wish to see Mr Jay in the morning at Eleven, instead of twelve as they had before fixed" (DLC:GW).

Jay replied on the same date: "Mr Jay presents his respectful Compts to Lord Grenville. His majesty having been graciously pleased to permit Lord Grenville to introduce Mr Jay tomorrow, is a Mark of Friendship and attention to the united States which they will recieve with Sensibility. Wednesday Sev’nnight being, for the Reason mentioned by Ld Grenville, the Day most convenient to his Majesty for recieving Mr Jay, He thinks he ought rather to submit to the Delay of that Honor, than omit this Occasion of manifesting his Respect and attention to whatever may be interesting to his majestys convenien[c]e or wishes. Mr. Jay percieves and thanks Ld Grenville for his Kindness on this occasion. By a Gentleman who expects to set out on Sunday next for falmouth & thence to Pha, Mr Jay will communicate these agreable Circumstances to the President" (DLC:GW).

5On the draft, Jay initially wrote, "they ought not to be published" and wrote above that sentence (whether as an addition or replacement is uncertain) the words: "these papers shd I think remain private." He then struck out both sentences and added the preceding sentence.

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