George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Edmund Randolph, 16 October 1794

From Edmund Randolph

Philadelphia October 16. 1794. 11 o’clock.


I do myself the honor of inclosing to you a letter from Mr Z. Hollingsworth, attorney for the district of Maryland, in favor of Mr Graybell, as successor to Mr Ramsay.1

The silver coin of the U.S. bears upon its face so much neatness and simplicity, that I cannot restrain myself from transmitting a dollar for your inspection.2

In a letter of the 29th of July from Colo. Humphreys, an extract of another from Gibraltar on the 7th of July is contained; by which it appears, that there is reason to fear, that the frigates and gallies, of which we have heard so often from Muley Soliman’s dominions, may be destined against the American shipping. The writer of the letter from Gibraltar speaks thus: “On what fated head the storm will fall, we cannot say; but hints have been dropped, that the English, Spaniards and Portuguese are very safe.”3

The French government is believed by Colo. Humphries to possess no small share of credit with the regency of Algiers.

The Spanish commissioners have made a violent complaint against a French privateer, said to be fitting out in this port. Upon inquiry it turns out to be as futile as Mr Bond’s some time ago.4 I have the honor sir to be; with the highest respect yr mo. ob. serv.

Edm: Randolph.

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

1In Zebulon Hollingsworth’s letter to Randolph of 13 Oct., he mentioned his previous recommendation of Jacob Graybell (d. 1800) for federal marshal and took notice that John Kilty also had been suggested for the post. Hollingsworth asserted “that the appointment will not be so well filled perhaps by any person in the district as by” Graybell and added, “I consider his appointment as highly and particularly interesting to the Judiciary department of the United States here from his mere personal character. Mr Graybells respectable connections and situation in life, his having had this office under the State and having obtained in it universal respect I have already stated to you” (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters).

On 10 Dec., GW nominated Graybell, who had been serving as deputy marshal, to become the federal marshal for Maryland. Graybell retained that post until his death.

2At least 1,758 new silver dollars were coined by the mint on 15 October. Designed by mint engraver Robert Scot, the coins featured a profile of the head of Liberty on one side and an eagle in a circle of branches on the other. It is known to collectors as the Flowing Hair Design dollar (Walter Breen, Walter Breen’s Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins [New York, 1988], 423–24).

3The letter from David Humphreys to Randolph of 29 July and the enclosed “Extract of a letter from Gibralter dated July 7, 1794 to D. Humphreys” are in DNA: RG 59, Despatches from U.S. Ministers to Portugal. The quoted passage appears in the extract as a quotation from a “friend” of the writer from Gibraltar. Humphreys added a note to explain, “The writer has given me, in confidence, & in a manner to elude the prying curiosity of the Post Offices, the name of his friend—The letter from which the above extract is made, appears (like most others) to have been detained & opened in the Post offices.”

4José de Jaudenes complained in his letter to Randolph of 13 Oct. about the fitting out of the ship Citoyen de Marseilles as a French privateer (DNA: RG 59, Notes from the Spanish Legation). Randolph replied to Jaudenes on 15 Oct. that after an investigation by the secretary of war he could “affirm the illegal equipment of this vessel to be a groundless alarm” (DNA: RG 59, Domestic Letters). Subsequently, seizures of prizes by that ship were reported in American newspapers beginning in December (Greenleaf’s New York Journal, & Patriotic Register, 20 Dec. 1794; The Philadelphia Gazette and Universal Daily Advertiser, 24 and 27 March 1795; City Gazette & Daily Advertiser [Charleston, S.C.], 8 May 1795). In a 1795 case about one of those prizes, the South Carolina district court concluded that the Citoyen de Marseilles had been illegally reinforced at Philadelphia (Bee, Reports of Cases description begins Thomas Bee. Reports of Cases Adjudged in the District Court of South Carolina . . .. Philadelphia, 1810. description ends , 292–99).

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