George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Timothy Pickering, 2 August 1799

From Timothy Pickering


Sir,Philadelphia August 2. 1799.

A letter from Mr Murray of May 17 received this week, covers a letter from Talleyrand, dated May 12th, assuring him that the Executive Directory will receive the Envoys of the U. States in their official character; and that they shall enjoy all the prerogatives attached to it by the law of nations; and that one or more ministers shall be duly authorized to treat with them.1

These papers I have sent to the President. The day before, I had sent to him a letter from Mr King, informing that Russia, otherwise ready to enter into a commercial treaty with us, had suspended it, because we were about to treat with France.2

Govr Davie of No. Carolina has been appointed, and consents to serve, in the room of the late Govr Henry, as one of the Envoys.

Mr Adams has agreed on the terms of a treaty with Prussia.3

I believe I have before mentioned, that the mission of Mr Smith to Constantinople has been suspended: It will now be more than ever necessary previously to ascertain whether he would be received. Mr King will make the inquiry.4 I am with great respect Sir yr obt servt

Timothy Pickering

ALS, DLC:GW; copy, in Pickering’s hand, MHi: Pickering Papers.

1William Vans Murray’s copy of Talleyrand’s letter of 12 May and Murray’s covering letter of 17 May are both in MHi: Pickering Papers.

2Rufus King wrote from London on 5 June that Count Woronzow had told him “that the success of the negotiation must in his opinion at least for the present depend upon our situation with France. If we were about a negotiation with France, it would, in his opinion be advisable for us to suspend further proceedings with Russia . . .” (King, Life and Correspondence of King, description begins Charles R. King, ed. The Life and Correspondence of Rufus King. 6 vols. New York, 1894–1900. description ends 3:29–30). The italicized words were in code. Count Semeon (Semen, Simon) Romanovich Vorontsov (Woronzow) was the Russian ambassador to Great Britain.

3John Quincy Adams, the American minister to Prussia, wrote Pickering from Berlin on 10 May 1799: “we are fully agreed upon the tenor of the treaty” (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 2:268); and on 13 July he sent the secretary of state copies of the text of a treaty of “amity and commerce between His Majesty the King of Prussia, and the United States” (ibid., 244–49, 269).

Index Entries