George Washington Papers

From George Washington to the U.S. Senate, 21 November 1794

To the United States Senate

United States November the 21st 1794

Gentlemen of the Senate,

In the negotiation between the United States and his Catholic Majesty, I have received satisfactory proofs of attention and ability, exerted in behalf of the United States, to bring it to a happy and speedy issue. But it is probable that by complying with an intimation, made to the Secretary of State by the Commissioners of his Catholic Majesty, much further delay in concluding it may be prevented.1 Notwithstanding, therefore, I retain full confidence in our Minister Resident at Madrid, who is charged with powers, as Commissioner Plenipotentiary, I nominate,

Thomas Pinckney, to be Envoy Extraordinary of the United States to his Catholic Majesty, for the purpose of negotiating of and concerning the navigation of the river Mississippi, and such other matters relative to the confines of their territories, and the intercourse to be had thereon, as the mutual interests and general harmony of neighbouring and friendly nations require should be precisely adjusted and regulated; and of and concerning the general commerce between the said United States, and the Kingdoms and Dominions of his said Catholic Majesty.2

It is believed that by his temporary absence from London in the discharge of these new functions, no injury will arise to the United States.

I also nominate,

John Miller Russell, of Massachusetts, to be Consul of the United States of America for the port of St Petersburg in Russia; and for such other places as shall be nearer to the said port than to the residence of any other Consul or Vice Consul of the United States, within the same allegiance.3

Joseph Pitcairn, of New York, to be Vice Consul of the United of America, at Paris;4 vice Alexander Duvernet, superceded; and

Nathaniel Brush, of Vermont, to be Supervisor for the United States in the District of Vermont; vice Noah Smith, who has resigned.5

Go: Washington

LS, DNA: RG 46, entry 38; LB, DLC:GW. The Senate confirmed these appointments on 24 Nov. (Senate Executive Journal description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America: From the commencement of the First, to the termination of the Nineteenth Congress. Vol. 1. Washington, D.C., 1828. description ends , 164).

1On 16 Aug. the Spanish commissioner José de Jaudenes wrote to Edmund Randolph that the Spanish king was ready to treat with the United States, but that it was impossible to conclude anything important with the current commissioners, William Short and William Carmichael. The king requested that the United States send another person or persons “whose Characters & abilities will insure them a kind reception on the part of the King” (DNA: RG 59, Notes from the Spanish Legation).

2Following Senate approval, GW signed a letter of credence for Pinckney to Charles IV of Spain on 24 Nov.: “The importance of the Subjects, which remain unadjusted between the United States of America and your Majesty, together, with a representation from Mr Jaudenes, your Commissioner, has occasioned the choice of Thomas Pinckney, to repair to your Majesty in the quality of their Envoy Extraordinary. He has been for some time past, and now is Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States near his Britannic Majesty. But the hope, arising from the assurance of your Commissioner, that the several points in contest may be accommodated without further delay, has induced me to spare him for a convenient interval from his functions in London. From a knowledge of his fidelity, probity, and good conduct, I have entire confidence, that he will render himself acceptable to your Majesty, and will contribute, to the utmost of his power, to preserve and advance the interest and happiness of the two Nations. I beseech your Majesty, therefore, to give full credence to whatsoever he shall say on the part of the United States, and most of all, when he shall assure your majesty of their friendship and their wishes for your prosperity. And I pray God to have your Majesty in his safe and holy keeping” (copy, DNA: RG 59, entry 33, Credences).

3On 25 Oct. the merchant Thomas Russell of Boston wrote Robert Morris that his son John Miller Russell (1768–1840) would be traveling to Saint Petersburg and would like to be appointed consul. He requested, “if you think it likely he will succeed—I wish you to mention my Son to His Excellency the president—for his Approbation” (DLC:GW). When Russell arrived at Saint Petersburg in 1795, however, Catherine II refused to receive him, giving as her reasons that she had not acknowledged the independence of the United States and that no prior negotiation relative to consuls had taken place (John Miller Russell to Rufus King, 5 Aug. 1795, in Nina N. Bashkina et al., eds., The United States and Russia: The Beginning of Relations, 1765–1815 [Washington, D.C., 1980], 291–92).

4Joseph Pitcairn (1764–1804) continued as vice-consul at Paris until 1797, when he was appointed consul at Hamburg, a post he retained until 1802. In his later life he was involved with land development in St. Lawrence County, N.Y.

5Nathaniel Brush (1741–1803) was best known for his service as a militia officer at the Battle of Bennington in 1777. He remained a supervisor of the revenue until his death. Noah Smith (1755–1812), whom GW appointed to be supervisor of the revenue for the Vermont district in March 1791, sat on the Vermont Supreme Court from 1789 until January 1791 and again from 1798 to 1801.

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