George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Edmund Randolph, 25 June 1795

From Edmund Randolph

June 25. 1795.

E. Randolph has the honor of suggesting to the President, whether it may not be expedient to take the opinion of the gentlemen in writing on the following points: 1. Is not the resolution of the senate, respecting the treaty between the U.S. and G. Britain, intended to be their final act; or do they expect, that the new article shall be submitted to them, before the treaty takes effect?1 2. Does the constitution permit the President to ratify the treaty, without submitting the new article, after it shall be agreed to by the British King, to the advice and consent of the senate?2

Upon these points E.R. has satisfied himself. But he knows, that it is contemplated to embarrass the treaty, by objecting to the course, which may be observed in its ratification; and therefore is anxious, that the President be supported in his measures upon it, by the best advice, which is at hand.3

Mr Adet has proposed a conference with E.R. tomorrow morning.4 The hour proposed is 9 o’clock. Whatever has been lying in his breast, will no doubt then appear.


1For the Senate resolution of 24 June, see Notes from Edmund Randolph, c.24 June, n.2.

2Article II, section 2, of the U.S. Constitution describes the president’s power to make treaties.

3On 29 June, GW sent his cabinet officers a letter that contained questions similar to those suggested by Randolph (LS, to Oliver Wolcott, Jr., CtHi: Oliver Wolcott, Jr., Papers; L, unsigned letterpress of the LS to Wolcott with a note that “the same” was sent to the other cabinet members, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; LB, addressed “To The Secretaries of State, Treasury & War, and Atty General,” DNA: RG 59, GW’s Correspondence with His Secretaries of State).

4Pierre-Auguste Adet (1763–1834) had replaced Jean-Antoine-Joseph Fauchet in Philadelphia as French minister to the United States. Adet, who had held a number of diplomatic positions before this appointment, served as French minister to the United States until 1797 and continued to hold office under Napoleon. His letter of credence (Committee of Public Safety of France to GW, [26 Dec. 1794]) is dated “le six Nivôse, l’an troisième” (LS, DNA: RG 59, Communications from Heads of Foreign States, Ceremonial Letters), but he did not arrive in the United States until 2 June, at Newport, R.I. (Philadelphia Gazette & Universal Daily Advertiser, 8 June).

On 27 June, Randolph recorded the following memorandum concerning the new French minister: “On the 8th of June 1795. Mr Fauchet wrote to me, among other things requesting, that I would communicate to the President of the U.S. how desireable it would be, that the final vote of the Senate on the treaty with Great Britain should be suspended, until his successor, Mr Adet, should arrive, and have time to impart his instructions, relative thereto, which he doubtless had. I did communicate Mr Fauchet’s letter, to the President, on the same 8th of June; and it did not seem adviseable to take any measures upon that subject then. On Saturday the 13th of June in the evening Mr Adet arrived and took lodgings in Philadelphia On Monday, the 15th of June, at 11 o’clock in the morning, Mr Fauchet accompanied him to my house, and introduced him to me; when he delivered to me a copy of his letters of credence. These were that day shewn to the President, who, having approved them, authorized me to inform Mr Adet, that he would be received next day at 2 o’clock P.M. I accordingly informed him. On the next day, the 16th of June, I returned Mr Adet’s visit; and as we were walking together in the garden at Oellers’s hotel, about a quarter before two, he informed me, that he should send me th⟨e⟩ next day some act of the French government, relative to commerce. I deemed it improper to ask any explanations; as the development was to follow so soon. But I heard nothing from Mr Adet on the next day which was wednesday, thursday, friday, or saturday. On Sunday the 21st of June, I received a packet from Mr Adet, inclosing copies of the commissions of the consul-general, and three consuls, and requesting exequaturs. On Monday the 22d of June I visited Mr Adet again; and in conversation I referred to some late letters, which I had sent him⟨.⟩ He said, that he would answer such as required answers soon. I told to him, that I had at first supposed the packet, which I had received the day before, was what he had Expressed on the 16th of June his intention of sending to me the next day. He said that it was copying, and gave me reason to suppose, that he should forward it on that day the 22d of June. Nothing was forwarded to me on that day by him. On tuesday the 23d of June I accompanied Mr Adet to the President’s room; when a fair occasion offered, in speaking of the senate, to inform him, that the senate would rise on the next day, the 24th of June. I told Mr Swann the same thing on the same day in the President’s room. But I have not at this moment received from Mr Adet any other communication of business, than what is stated above” (ADS, DLC:GW; LB, DNA: RG 59, Domestic Letters).

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