George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Edmund Randolph, 25 June 1794

From Edmund Randolph

Philadelphia June 25. 1794.


I do myself the honor of inclosing to you a copy of a letter from Mr G. Morris, dated March 7. 1794; concerning the Algerine business.1 Immediately upon receiving it, I sent a copy to Colo. Hamilton, requesting him to prepare the money, voted by congress; in order that a plan might be concerted, to give effect to the object, and prevent Mr Humphries from clashing with Mr Morris.2

Mr Morris has written another letter of the 6th of March 1794. The summary of it is, that he has demanded Payne as an American citizen, but that the minister holds him to be amenable to the French laws; that the forced loans will not succeed, but are the only resources for foreign supplies; that there is a great scarcity of food; and that the embargo was taken off, altho’ the captains were not satisfied. He expresses a suspicion, that his recal has been already required.3 I have the honor, sir, to be with great respect and 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.

1The enclosed copy of Gouverneur Morris’s letter of 7 March, addressed to Thomas Jefferson as secretary of state, announced that "Shortly after the intelligence of hostility by the algerines I applied to the Minister of foreign affairs as being interested in putting a stop thereto in order to cover the arrival of provisions in our ships," and "It was agreed that this Republic should in conformity to our treaty endeavor to obtain a treaty with the algerines." However, because of uncertainty over "whether the Dey would negociate such treaty with the agents of France," Morris had been asked to name an American agent and had "agreed to make the appointment of a person who should come forward in case of necessity." That agent was instructed "to aid in obtaining the best possible treaty for the smallest possible sum; to confine the duration thereof to one year, unless approved of by the President; and to procure the liberation of our captivated fellow citizens." Morris added, "The french commissioners are not yet gone tho it is now two months since everything was agreed on. Such are the delays which result from the disorganized state of affairs in this country" (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters).

2See Randolph to Alexander Hamilton, 24 June (Hamilton Papers description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends , 16:520-21). Randolph was referring to the money voted by Congress in "An Act making further provision for the expenses attending the intercourse of the United States with foreign nations; and further to continue in force the act intituled ’An act providing the means of intercourse between the United States and foreign nations’" (Stat description begins Richard Peters, ed. The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, from the Organization of the Government in 1789, to March 3, 1845 . . .. 8 vols. Boston, 1845-67. description ends . 1:345). The potential for a clash arose because David Humphreys had been commissioned to negotiate a treaty of amity and commerce with the Dey of Algiers (see GW to the Dey of Algiers, 21 March 1793, and n.1 to that document).

3Morris’s letter to Jefferson of 6 March is in DNA: RG 59, Despatches from U.S. Ministers to France (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 , 1:404-5). Thomas Paine had been arrested in late December 1793 under a French law providing for the imprisonment of citizens of countries at war with France (in Paine’s case, Great Britain).

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