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1791. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. XII (1790-1794) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890). Vol. XII (1790-1794).
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TO ARTHUR ST. CLAIR, GOVERNOR OF THE NORTHWESTERN TERRITORY.
Philadelphia, 2 January, 1791.
In the journals of the proceedings of the executive in the Northwestern Territory, there appear to be certain regulations made by the executive, under the articles of the 25th of April, 6th, 28th, and 29th of June last, which can with propriety only be established by laws.
In noticing these, my mind naturally recurred to your letter to me, dated at Cahokia on the 1st of May last, wherein you observe, that the absence of the judges had embarrassed you a great deal, and after waiting for them as long as possible, that you had been under the necessity of directing by proclamation certain regulations suited to the peculiar circumstances of the country. These you had no doubt would be soon confirmed by law, and the necessity of the case offered an excuse for having exceeded your proper powers.1
The imperfect state in which the legislation of the Northwestern Territory is, the want which the executive has often felt of the necessary coadjutors to adopt even the most urgent laws, and the peculiar situation of a frontier country, are circumstances which may not strike every one, who will observe that the executive has gone beyond its proper powers. It therefore becomes a matter of high importance, that the utmost circumspection should be observed in the conduct of the executive; for there are not wanting persons, who would rejoice to find the slightest ground of clamor against public characters; and, paying no regard to the absolute necessity of the case, which caused a momentary stretch of power, nor the public good which might be produced by it, they would seize the occasion of making impressions unfavorable to government, and possibly productive of disagreeable effects.
I have therefore thought it best to give you this intimation in a private and friendly letter, that by circumspection malice itself may be disarmed. With the compliments of the season, and great esteem and regard, I am, dear Sir, &c.
TO BEVERLEY RANDOLPH, GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA.
Philadelphia, 13 January, 1791.
The various and important business, which required my particular attention in the beginning of the present session of Congress, will, I presume, sufficiently apologize to your Excellency for this late acknowledgment of your letter of November last.
I have attentively considered the request, which your Excellency has made by desire of the legislature, that I would again open the business of establishing a woollen manufactory in Virginia; and it is with infinite regret, that I must decline any further agency in it, at least so far as relates to carrying on a correspondence with the person in Great Britain, who has proposed to establish the manufactory. I am persuaded, that your Excellency and the legislature will see, upon reflection, the impropriety of my appearing in this business, while I remain in my present situation; for I am told that it is felony to export the machines, which it is probable the artist contemplates to bring with him, and it certainly would not carry an aspect very favorable to the dignity of the United States, for the President in a clandestine manner to entice the subjects of another nation to violate its laws.
I have communicated the subject of your letter to the secretary of state and the attorney-general, who are both of the same sentiment which I have expressed, and for the reason mentioned.
I am however happy, that my agency is not absolutely necessary to the completion of this object; for the project has been announced to Virginia, and the original letter from the artist has been transmitted to your Excellency. This communicates every thing on the subject of which I am possessed, and leaves it with the State of Virginia to do whatever may be thought best in the affair.
Impressed as I am with the utility of such an establishment, I shall ever be ready to give it every aid that I can with propriety; and I am certain that your Excellency and the legislature will impute my conduct on this occasion to its true motive. With due consideration, I have the honor to be, &c.
TO HENRY KNOX, SECRETARY OF WAR.
Philadelphia, 14 January, 1791.
On as full a consideration of the last speech made to me by Cornplanter, Halftown, and the Great-tree, chiefs of the Seneca nation, as my comprehension of their meaning enables me to give, I am led to the following conclusions, which, if there is any propriety in discussing their request, or yielding the land asked for, I wish you to consider as the basis of the communications to be made to these people.
In the first place, it appears to me, that Cornplanter and the other chiefs now in the city of Philadelphia do not constitute a representation of their nation; and to undo, or perhaps even to enter on the revision of treaties, which have been deliberately and formally concluded, but under circumstances of equal deliberation and form, would be to open a door to certain inconvenience, and probable difficulty, by encouraging applications, which the Indians would not fail to make to the United States; that it is a matter, which requires mature consideration, how far any assurances regarding the restoration of lands, which have been ceded by treaty to the United States, can be made without the participation of the Senate, and that no assurance should be given, which may involve a dispute with any individual State, respecting its claim to the land applied for; that they be informed, that no agent for Indian affairs will be authorized to dispose of their lands.
Not comprehending the precise meaning of the clause respecting children, I do not remark upon it.
In reply to the last clause of their speech, I have to observe, that such expense cannot be incurred. What is made will be for objects the most beneficial. The enclosed letter from Colonel Pickering contains some good ideas of improvement, and, if necessary, may be useful in framing the answer to the Cornplanter, and the other Indians who are with him. I am, &c.
TO EDWARD RUTLEDGE.
Philadelphia, 16 January, 1791.
My Dear Sir,
I can but love and thank you, and I do it sincerely, for your polite and friendly letter of the 11th of November, which came to my hands the day before yesterday only. The sentiments contained in it are such as have uniformly flowed from your pen, and they are not less flattering than pleasing to me.
The present Congress can sit no longer than the 4th of March, and should it not be found expedient to convene the new one immediately upon the rising of it—and should not the old one, by Acts of the present session cut out work for the Executive, which may render my absence from the seat of government (soon after the adjournment) incompatible with my public duties; I shall most assuredly indulge myself in a tour thro’ the Southern States in the Spring. But it will readily be perceived that this event must depend upon the time I shall be able to commence the journey, for I do not hesitate to acknowledge, that I am not inclined to be in the southernmost States after the month of May; and my journey must, on many accounts be made slow and easy.
It was among my first determinations when I entered upon the duties of my present station to visit every part of the United States in the course of my administration of the government, provided my health and other circumstances would admit of it. And this determination was accompanied with another: viz.—not, by making my head quarters in private families, to become troublesome to them in any of these tours. The first I have accomplished in part only, without departing in a single instance from the second, although pressed to it by the most civil and cordial invitations. After having made this communication you will readily perceive, my dear Sir, that it is not in my power (however it might comport with my inclinations,) to change my plan, without exposing myself to the charge of inconsistency, if not something more exceptionable—especially too, as it is not more than ten days since I declined a very kind and friendly invitation from my namesake and kinsman Colonel W. Washington of your State to lodge at his house when I should visit Charleston.
With affectionate esteem and regard, I am, &c.
ADDRESS OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES TO CORNPLANTER, HALFTOWN, AND GREAT-TREE, CHIEFS OF THE SENECA NATION OF INDIANS.
I have maturely considered your second written speech.
You say your nation complain, that, at the treaty of Fort Stanwix, you were compelled to give up too much of your lands; that you confess your nation is bound by what was there done, and, acknowledging the power of the United States, that you have now appealed to ourselves against that treaty, as made while we were angry against you, and that the said treaty was therefore unreasonable and unjust.
But while you complain of the treaty of Fort Stanwix in 1784, you seem entirely to forget that you yourselves, the Cornplanter, Halftown, and Great-tree, with others of your nation, confirmed by the treaty of Fort Harmar upon the Muskingum, so late as the 9th of January, 1789, the boundaries marked at the treaty of Fort Stanwix, and that in consequence thereof you then received goods to a considerable amount.
Although it is my sincere desire, in looking forward, to endeavor to promote your happiness by all just and humane arrangements, yet I cannot disannul treaties formed by the United States before my administration, especially as the boundaries mentioned therein have been twice confirmed by yourselves.
The lines fixed at Fort Stanwix and Fort Harmar must therefore remain established.
But Halftown and others, who reside upon the land you desire may be relinquished, have not been disturbed in their possession, and I should hope, while they continue to demean themselves peaceably, and to manifest their friendly dispositions towards the people of the United States, that they will be suffered to remain where they are.
The agent, who will be appointed by the United States, will be your friend and protector. He will not be suffered to defraud you, or to assist in defrauding you, of your lands, or of any other thing; as all his proceedings must be reported in writing, so as to be submitted to the President of the United States.
You mention your design of going to the Miami Indians, to endeavor to persuade them to peace. By this humane measure you will render those mistaken people a great service, and probably prevent their being swept from off the face of the earth. The United States require only, that those people should demean themselves peaceably. But they may be assured, that the United States are able, and will most certainly punish them severely for all their robberies and murders.
You may, when you return from this city to your own country, mention to your nation my desire to promote their prosperity, by teaching the use of domestic animals, and the manner that the white people plough and raise so much corn; and if, upon consideration, it would be agreeable to the nation at large to learn these arts, I will find some means of teaching them at such places within their country as shall be agreed upon.
I have nothing more to add, but to refer you to my former speech, and to repeat my wishes for the happiness of the Seneca nation.
Given under my hand, and the seal of the United States, at Philadelphia, this 19th day of January, 1791.
TO TIMOTHY PICKERING.
Philadelphia, 20 January, 1791.
I have had the pleasure to receive your letters of the 8th and 15th of this month. I feel myself much obliged by the trouble you have taken, in the former, to detail your ideas with respect to introducing the art of husbandry and civilization among the Indians. I confess that your plan, or something like it, strikes me as the most probable means of effecting this desirable end; and I am fully of opinion with you, that the mode of education, which has hitherto been pursued with respect to those young Indians, who have been sent to our colleges, is not such as can be productive of any good to their nations. Reason might have shown it, and experience clearly proves it to have been the case. It is perhaps productive of evil. Humanity and good policy must make it the wish of every good citizen of the United States, that husbandry, and consequently civilization, should be introduced among the Indians. So strongly am I impressed with the beneficial effects, which our country would receive from such a thing, that I shall always take a singular pleasure in promoting, as far as may be in my power, every measure which may tend to ensure it.
I should have been very glad, if it had comported with your interest and inclination to superintend the northern Indians, as I am persuaded that nothing would have been wanting on your part to attach them to the United States, and to cultivate that spirit for civilization, which now begins to dawn among them.1 Whoever undertakes this business must be actuated by more enlarged views, than his individual interest, or he can never accomplish the wished for end.
With very great regard, I am, &c.
TO WILLIAM DEAKINS, JR. AND BENJAMIN STODDERT.
Philadelphia, 3 February, 1791.
In asking your aid in the following case, permit me, at the same time, to ask the most perfect secresy.
The federal territory being located, the competition for the location of the town now rests between the mouth of the Eastern branch and the lands on the river below and adjacent to Georgetown. In favor of the former, nature has furnished powerful advantages: In favor of the latter, is its vicinity to Georgetown—which puts it in the way of deriving aids from it in the beginning, and of communicating in return an increased value to the property of that town. These advantages have been so poised in my mind as to give it different tendencies at different times. There are lands which stand yet in the way of the latter location and which if they could be obtained for the purposes of the town, would remove a considerable obstacle to it, and go near indeed to decide what has been so long on the balance with me.
These are first, the lands on the Southwest side of a line to be run from where the Road crosses Goose creek (in going from Georgetown to the Eastern branch,—to the corner of Beatty’s lot, including by the Plat, of Beatty and Orme the house of William Pearce) or, if the whole of this parcel cannot be obtained then, secondly, so much as would lie within a line to be run from the said ford, or thereabouts, to the middle of the line of cession which extends from the corner of Beatty’s lot as above mentioned to its termination in Goose creek. Thirdly, the lands of Mr. Carrol, between Goose creek, the river, and Mr. Young’s, to the same ford of the creek.
The object of this letter is to ask you to endeavor to purchase these grounds of the owners for the public, particularly the second parcel, but as if for yourselves, and to conduct your propositions so as to excite no suspicion that they are on behalf of the public.
The circumstances of the funds appropriated by the States of Virginia and Maryland will require that a twelve month’s credit be stipulated, in order that they may cover you from any inconvenience which might attend your personal undertakings. As the prices at which the lands can be obtained would have its weight also with me, I would wish that, in making your bargains you should reserve to yourselves a fortnight’s time to consider, at the end of which you should be free to be off or on but the seller not so: This will admit your writing to me and receiving my definitive answer.
A clear purchase is so preferable to every other arrangement, that I should scarcely think any other worthy attention.1
I am obliged to add that all the despatch is requisite which can consist with the success of your operations, and I shou’d be glad to hear by post of your progress, and prospect of the accomplishment of this business in whole or in part. I am, &c.
P. S. That my description of the lands required in the foregoing letter may be more clearly understood, and my wishes further explained, I enclose you a rough, and very rough indeed it is, copy of the ceded tracts, roads, &c., of Messrs. Beatty and Orme’s survey, adding thereto lines of augmentation.—To obtain the lands included within the lines A B & C is my first wish,—and next to that the lands within the lines D E & F; but those within the lines D. E and along the creek to C are indispensably necessary; and being not over 250 acres might, I suppose, be easily obtained.
It ought to be the first essay; and I wish to know the result of it before any others are directly attempted.
TO JOHN ARMSTRONG.
Philadelphia, 6 February, 1791.
Acknowledging the receipt of your letter of the 29th of December, and offering to you my best thanks for the interest it expresses in my behalf, I beg you to be persuaded, that neither my late silence nor my present brevity is in any degree the consequence of diminished regard. Your friendship receives from me the same grateful and affectionate return, which I have ever made to it; but the multiplied duties of my public station allow me little or no leisure for the cultivation of private regards; and the necessity of a prior attention to those duties cannot fail, my dear Sir, to excuse me to you.
Having in all cases of application for appointment to office prescribed as an invariable rule to myself, the right of remaining to the last moment free and unengaged, I did not find myself at liberty, even in your regard, to deviate from that rule, which you will be so good as to assign as the reason why I did not answer your letter of last spring.
I have the best disposition to serve the person, whom you then recommended, and, in whatever may comport with circumstances and public propriety, I shall be happy to do so. At present I know not what offices may be created, and applicants multiply with every new office, and some of them come forward under such fair pretensions and pressing wants, that preference is difficult and painful to a degree. In a word, to a man, who has no ends to serve, nor friends to provide for, nomination to office is the most irksome part of the executive trust.
The concern which you take in my health, enhances the pleasure I have in assuring you, that it is now perfectly reëstablished. It will add greatly to my enjoyment to hear that yours is also improved.
I am, dear Sir, &c.
TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON, SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY.
Philadelphia, 16 February, 1791.
“An act to incorporate the subscribers to the Bank of the United States” is now before me for consideration.
The constitutionality of it is objected to. It therefore becomes more particularly my duty to examine the ground on which the objection is built. As a mean of investigation I have called upon the Attorney General of the United States, in whose line it seemed more particularly to be, for his official examination and opinion. His report is, that the Constitution does not warrant the act. I then applied to the Secretary of State for his sentiments on the subject. These coincide with the Attorney General’s, and the reasons for their opinions having been submitted in writing, I now require, in like manner, yours, on the validity and propriety of the above recited act: and that you may know the points on which the Secretary of State and the Attorney General dispute the constitutionality of the act; and that I may be fully possessed of the argument for and against the measure, before I express any opinion of my own—I give you an opportunity of examining and answering the objections contained in the enclosed papers. I require the return of them, when your own sentiments are handed me (which I wish may be as soon as is convenient), and further, that no copies of them be taken, as it is for my own satisfaction they have been called for.
TO DAVID HUMPHREYS.
Philadelphia, 16 March, 1791.
My dear Sir,
As this letter is wholly of a private nature, I refer you to Mr. Jefferson’s official communications for every thing relative to your appointment at the court of Lisbon, &c., and shall confine myself to acknowledging your two letters, viz. one from London of October 31 and the other from Lisbon of November 30, 1790, and to such general observations as may occur in the course of my writing.
The desponding accounts of our public affairs, which you mention to have been transmitted to Europe by a person high in office here, are happily contradicted by facts too stubborn to be overturned; and, although it is to be regretted, that such gloomy relations should be given by a man, who, it may be supposed, is perfectly acquainted with our political situation, yet there is some pleasure in knowing, that his better half has asserted things quite contrary.1
The remarks of a foreign Count are such as do no credit to his judgment, and as little to his heart. They are the superficial observations of a few months’ residence, and an insult to the inhabitants of a country, where he has received much more attention and civility than he seems to merit.2
It gives me pleasure to hear, that Mr. Paine is likely to succeed with his bridge, and Rumsey in his ingenious projects.1
Congress finished their session on the 3d of March, in the course of which they received and granted the applications of Kentucky and Vermont for admission into the Union2 ; the former after August, 1792, and the latter immediately. They made provision for the interest on the national debt, by laying a higher duty than that which heretofore existed on spirituous liquors, imported or manufactured; they established a national bank; they passed a law for certain measures to be taken towards establishing a mint; and finished much other business of less importance, conducting on all occasions with great harmony and cordiality. In some few instances, particularly in passing the law for higher duties mentioned above, and more especially on the subject of the bank, the line between the southern and eastern interests appeared more strongly marked than could have been wished; the former against, and the latter in favor of, those measures. But the debates were conducted with temper and candor.
The convention between Spain and England seems once more to have composed the European powers, except the Empress and the Turks, and the Emperor appears to have settled matters pretty thoroughly in his dominions. Of the state of things in France we can form no just idea, so various and contradictory are our accounts from thence; but we most devoutly wish a speedy and happy termination of the struggle, which has for some time past convulsed that kingdom.
Peace and tranquillity pervade the territory of the United States, except on the N. W. side of the Ohio, where the frequent depredations of the Indians made it necessary to form an expedition against them last fall. But that has not been productive of the consequences, which were expected from it. The Indians still continue their hostilities, and measures are now taking to convince them, if they do not see the folly of their ways before they can be carried into effect, that the enmity of the United States is as much to be dreaded, as their friendship is to be desired. Our public credit is restored, our resources are increasing, and the general appearance of things at least equals the most sanguine expectation, that was formed of the effects of the present government.
I am about to set out to-morrow or next day on a tour through the southern States. I am under the necessity of commencing my journey with very bad roads, in order that I may take such advantage of the season as to be leaving the southern extremity before the travelling shall be rendered disagreeable, and perhaps dangerous by the heat. I expect to return to this city in the latter end of June, or early in July. Since the rising of Congress I have been, and shall be till my departure, very busily engaged in making such arrangements with the several departments as will enable me to be absent for several months, without interrupting public business; and if I have not said every thing in this letter that I intended, or that you might expect, it must be imputed to the hurry of the moment. But at any rate there is one thing I must not omit, which is to tell you, that I am very sincerely your affectionate friend.
TO M. LAFAYETTE.1
Philadelphia, 19 March, 1791.
Renewing to you, my dear Sir, assurances of the most perfect esteem and affection, I desire to refer the interruptions, which our correspondence has lately sustained on my part, to causes which I am persuaded you will readily admit as excusable. To the fulfilment of public duties, too interesting to be neglected, and too multiplied to allow me much leisure, I am forced to sacrifice the wishes of friendship and the pleasures of private life. This reason to you, who suffer the same privations, will apologize for the abridgment of an intercourse, ever grateful to my feelings and conducive to my happiness.
The tender concern, which you express on my late illness, awakens emotions, which words will not explain, and to which your own sensibility can best do justice. My health is now quite restored, and I flatter myself with the hope of a long exemption from sickness. On Monday next I shall enter on the practice of your friendly prescription of exercise, intending at that time to begin a journey to the southward, during which I propose visiting all the southern States.
Our country, my dear Sir, (and it is truly yours) is fast progressing in its political importance and social happiness. The last session of Congress has been occupied in additional arrangements of finance, to establish the public credit, and provide for the expenditures of government. A small increase of our military establishment has also been judged necessary to reclaim, if possible, and to chastise, if required, the irregularities of some Indian tribes on the western waters. Your friend, General St. Clair, resumes his functions as major-general.1
The laws of the United States, adapted to the public exigencies, are framed with wisdom and moderation, and acquiesced in with cheerfulness. The administration of them, aided by the affectionate partiality of my countrymen, is attended with no unnecessary inconvenience, and every circumstance is auspicious to the felicity of your fellow-citizens in this section of the globe. They are not less so, I devoutly hope, in that country which is more immediately the object of your patriotic attentions.
The distance, which separates us, joined to the delicacy of the subject, has always suspended my opinion on your national affairs. I am well aware, that it is impossible to judge with precision of measures, the motives of which are sometimes unknown, and the necessity of them not always understood; but there is one circumstance on which I find it difficult to suppress an anxious wish; that the present National Assembly may not protract their own existence so long, as to beget any uneasiness on that score. The confirmation of their decrees will be best made by a second representation of the people; and that representation, to act efficiently as a legislative body, may possibly be required to be reorganized. My affection for the French nation, my sincere wish that their government may be respectable and the people happy, will excuse the disclosure of this sentiment, the only one, I believe, that I have ventured to offer on the subject of the revolution.
Like you, my dear Sir, I sighed for retirement; like me, I am afraid you must continue the sacrifice. I have obeyed your request in communicating your remembrance to the friends mentioned in your letter of the 26th of August. Mrs. Washington joins me in respectful compliments to Madame de Lafayette, and I entreat you to be assured of the inviolable respect and esteem with which I am, my dear Sir, &c.
P. S. Your old aid-de-camp, George Augustine Washington, has got another son, to whom he has given your name.1
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE.
Mount Vernon, 31 March, 1791.
Having been so fortunate as to reconcile the contending interests of Georgetown and Carrollsburg, and to unite them in such an agreement as permits the public purposes to be carried into effect on an extensive and proper scale, I have the pleasure to transmit to you the enclosed proclamation, which, after annexing the seal of the United States, and your countersignature, you will cause to be published.1
The terms entered into by me, on the part of the United States, with the landholders of Georgetown and Carrollsburg are, that all the land from Rock Creek along the river to the Eastern Branch, and so upwards to or above the Ferry, including a breadth of about a mile and a half, the whole containing from three to five thousand acres, is ceded to the public on condition, that, when the whole shall be surveyed and laid off as a city (which Major L’Enfant is now directed to do), the present proprietors shall retain every other lot; and for such part of the land as may be taken for public use, for squares, walks, &c., they shall be allowed at the rate of twenty-five pounds per acre, the public having the right to reserve such parts of the wood on the land, as may be thought necessary to be preserved for ornament; the landholders to have the use and profits of all the grounds until the city is laid off into lots, and sale is made of those lots, which, by this agreement, become public property. Nothing is to be allowed for the ground, which may be occupied as streets or alleys.
To these considerations all the principal landholders, except the purchaser of Slater’s property, who was not present, have subscribed; and it is not doubted, that the few, who were not present, will readily come into the measure, even the obstinate Mr. Burns.
The enlarged plan of this agreement having done away the necessity, and indeed postponed the propriety, of designating the particular spot on which the public building should be placed, until an accurate survey and subdivision of the whole ground is made, I have left out that paragraph of the proclamation.
It was found on running the lines, that the comprehension of Bladensburg within the district must have occasioned the exclusion of more important objects; and of this I am convinced, as well by my own observation, as Mr. Ellicott’s opinion. With great regard and esteem, I am, dear Sir, &c.
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE.
Mount Vernon, 1 April, 1791.
I have had the pleasure to receive your letter of the 27th ultimo, with the papers which accompanied it. Referring to your judgment, whether a commission similar to that intended for Mr. Barclay1 may be given without the agency of the Senate, I return both papers to you signed, in order that the one you deem most proper may be used.
Your opinions respecting the acts of force, which have already taken place, or may yet take place, on our boundaries, meet my concurrence as the safest mode of compelling propositions to an amicable settlement; and it may answer a good purpose to have them suggested in the way you mention. Should this matter assume a serious aspect during my absence, I beg you to communicate particulars with all possible despatch.2
The most superb edifices may be erected, and I shall wish their inhabitants much happiness, and that too very disinterestedly, as I shall never be of the number myself.1
It will be fortunate for the American public, if private speculations in the lands still claimed by the aborigines do not aggravate those differences, which policy, humanity, and justice concur to deprecate.2
I am much indebted to your kind concern for my safety in travelling. No accident has yet happened, either from the high hanging of the carriage, or the mode of driving. The latter I must continue, as my postilion is still too much indisposed to ride the journey. It occurs to me that you may not have adverted to Judge Putnam’s being in the western country at present. Perhaps General Knox can furnish you with the maps you want, or they may be found among those that are in my study at Philadelphia.
I expect to leave Mount Vernon, in prosecution of my southern tour, on Tuesday or Wednesday next. I shall halt one day at Fredericksburg and two at Richmond; thence I shall proceed to Charleston by the way of Petersburg, Halifax, Tarborough, Newbern, Wilmington, and Georgetown, without making any halts between Richmond and Charleston, but such as may be necessary to accommodate my journey. I am sincerely and affectionately yours.
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE.
Mount Vernon, 3 April, 1791.
You will readily agree with me, that the best interests of the United States require such an intimation to be made either directly or indirectly to the Governor of Canada, as may produce instructions to prevent the Indians receiving military aid or supplies from the British posts or garrisons. The notoriety of this assistance has already been such, as renders inquiry into particulars unnecessary. Major Beckwith seems peculiarly designated to be the channel of an indirect intimation. Referring the mode and extent of communicating with him to your own discretion, I wish it may be suggested, in such manner as to reach Lord Dorchester, or the officer commanding in Canada, that certain information has been received of large supplies of ammunition being delivered from British posts to the hostile Indians, about the beginning of last campaign; and as the United States have no other view in prosecuting the present war against the Indians, than, in the failure of negotiation, to procure, by arms, peace and safety to the inhabitants of their frontier, they are equally surprised and disappointed at such an interference by the servants or subjects of a foreign state, as seems intended to protract the attainment of so just and reasonable an object.
These are my sentiments on this subject at the present moment; yet so unsettled do some circumstances appear, that it is possible you may see a necessity either to treat it very delicately, or to decline acting on it altogether. The option is therefore left to your judgment, as events may make the one or the other the part of propriety.1 The enclosed paper is transmitted, and referred to you in the state I received it. I am, &c.
TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON.
Mount Vernon, 4 April, 1791.
Your letter of the 27th ultimo came duly to hand. For the information given in it, and for the notes which accompanied the same, I thank you.
Every expedient, as I believe you know, is tried to avert a war with the hostile tribes of Indians, and to keep those who are in treaty with us in good humor; but I am almost thoroughly convinced, that neither will be effected, or, if effected, will be of short duration, whilst land-jobbing, and the disorderly conduct of our borderers, are suffered with impunity; and while the States individually are omitting no occasion to intermeddle in matters, which belong to the general government.
It is not more than four or five months since the Six Nations, or part of them, through the medium of Colonel Pickering, were assured, that henceforward they would be spoken to by the government of the United States only, and the same thing was repeated in strong terms to the Cornplanter at Philadelphia afterwards. Now, as appears by the extract from Mr. King, the legislature of New York were going into some negotiations with these very people. What must this evince to them? Why, that we pursue no system, and that there is no reliance on any of our declarations. To sum the whole up into a few words, the interference of States, and the speculations of individuals, will be the bane of all our public measures. Sincerely and affectionately yours.1
TO THE SECRETARIES OF THE DEPARTMENTS OF STATE, TREASURY, AND WAR.
Mount Vernon, 4 April, 1791.
As the public service may require, that communications should be made to me during my absence from the seat of government by the most direct conveyances, and as, in the event of any very extraordinary occurrence, it will be necessary to know at what time I may be found in any particular place, I have to inform you, that, unless the progress of my journey to Savannah is retarded by unforeseen interruptions, it will be regulated, including days of halt, in the following manner. I shall be on the 8th of April at Fredericksburg, the 11th at Richmond, the 14th at Petersburg, the 16th at Halifax, the 18th at Tarborough, the 20th at Newbern, the 24th at Wilmington, the 29th at Georgetown, South Carolina; on the 2d of May at Charleston, halting there five days; on the 11th at Savannah, halting there two days. Thence, leaving the line of the mail, I shall proceed to Augusta; and, according to the information which I may receive there, my return by an upper road will be regulated.
The route of my return is at present uncertain, but in all probability it will be through Columbia, Camden, Charlotte, Salisbury, Salem, Guilford, Hillsborough, Harrisburg, Williamsburg to Taylor’s Ferry on the Roanoke, and thence to Fredericksburg by the nearest and best road.
After thus explaining to you, as far as I am able at present, the direction and probable progress of my journey, I have to express my wish, if any serious and important cases (of which the probability is but too strong) should arise during my absence, that the Secretaries for the Departments of State, Treasury, and War, may hold consultations thereon, to determine whether they are of such a nature as to demand my personal attendance at the seat of government; and, should they be so considered, I will return immediately from any place at which the information may reach me. Or should they determine, that measures, relevant to the case, may be legally and properly pursued without the immediate agency of the President, I will approve and ratify the measures, which may be conformed to such determination.
Presuming that the Vice-President will have left the seat of government for Boston, I have not requested his opinion to be taken on the supposed emergency; should it be otherwise, I wish him also to be consulted. I am, Gentlemen, your most obedient servant.
TO THOMAS JEFFERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE.
Richmond, 13 April, 1791.
Your letter of the 2d came to my hand at this place. Part of it did, as you supposed, and might well suppose, astonish me exceedingly. I think it not only right, that Mr. Carmichael should be furnished with a copy of the genuine letter to Mr. Morris, but that Mr. Morris should know the result of his conferences with the Count Florida Blanca1 at the court of Madrid.2 The contents of my public letters to him, you are acquainted with. My private ones were few, and there was nothing in any of them respecting England or Spain. How it comes to pass, therefore, that such interpretations, as the extracts recite, should be given, he best can account for.
Being hurried, I shall only add, that I shall proceed on my journey to-morrow, and, from good information, have a dreary one before me in parts of it. * * *
TO MESSRS. JOHNSON, STUART, AND CARROLL.1
Charleston, 7 May, 1791.
I have received your letter of the 14 of last month—It is an unfortunate circumstance, in the present stage of the business, relative to the federal city, that difficulties unforeseen and unexpected should arise to darken, perhaps to destroy the fair prospect, which it presented when I left Georgetown—and which the instrument, then signed by the combined interest (as it was termed) of Georgetown and Carrollsburg, so plainly describes—The pain which this occurrence occasions me is the more sensibly felt, as I had taken pleasure, during my journey through the several States, to relate the agreement and to speak of it, on every proper occasion, in terms, which applauded the conduct of the Parties, as being alike conducive to the public welfare, and to the interest of individuals, which last, it was generally thought would be most benefitted by the amasing encrease of the property reserved to the Landholders.
The words cited by Messrs. Young, Peters Lingan, and Forrest and Stoddert, may be nearly what I expressed. But will these Gentlemen say this was given as the precise boundary, or will they, by detaching these words, take them in a sense unconnected with the general explanation of my ideas and views upon that occasion or without the qualifications, which, unless I am much mistaken were added of running about so and so—for I had no map before me for direction. Will they not recollect my observation that Philadelphia stood upon an area of three by two miles, and that if the metropolis of one State occupied so much ground, what ought that of the United States to occupy? Did I not moreover observe that before the city could be laid out, and the spot for the public buildings be precisely fixed on, the water courses were to be levelled, the heights taken &c., &c—
Let the whole of my declaration be taken together, and not a part only and being compared with the instrument then subscribed, together with some other circumstances which might be alluded to, let any impartial man judge whether I had reason to expect that difficulties would arise in the conveyances.
When the instrument was presented I found no occasion to add a word with respect to boundary, because the whole was surrendered upon the conditions which were expressed. Had I discovered a disposition in the subscribers to contract my views, I should then have pointed out the inconveniences and the impolicy of the measure.
Upon the whole I shall hope and expect that the business will be suffered to proceed; and the more so, as they cannot be ignorant that the farther consideration of a certain measure in a neighboring state, stands postponed—for what reason is left to their own information or conjectures. I expect to be with you at the time appointed, and should be exceedingly pleased to find all difficulties removed. I am, &c.—
TO JAMES SEAGROVE.
Augusta,Georgia, 20 May, 1791.
The confidence, which your character inclines me to place in you, has induced me to commit the enclosed letter from the Secretary of State to Governor Quesada,1 and the negotiation, which will be consequent thereon, to your care and management. The letter, which is under a flying seal, to be closed before it is delivered, will inform you of the import, and serve to instruct you in the mode of conducting the object of your mission. Delicate in its nature, it will require the greatest address and temper in its treatment. Nor must any proposition or declaration be made, which in its consequence might commit the government of the United States.
The enclosed copy of a letter, written by my direction from the Secretary of State to the Governor of Georgia, which is now confidentially communicated to you, is another source, whence some information may be drawn; but, as my ideas of your personal acquaintance with this business, combined with my opinion of your character and talents to transact it, have determined me to appoint you, it is from your own knowledge, and the circumstances which may arise, that you must decide on the best means to accomplish the negotiation. Your first care will be to arrest the farther reception of fugitive slaves; your next to obtain restitution of those slaves, who have fled to Florida, since the date of Governor Quesada’s letter to Mr. Jefferson, notifying the orders of his Catholic Majesty; and your last object, which may demand the greatest address, will be to give a retrospective force to the orders of the court of Spain, beyond the date of that letter, and to procure the Governor’s order for a general relinquishment of all fugitive slaves, who were the property of citizens of the United States. This last instruction will require peculiar delicacy, and must be entered on with caution and circumspection, or not be taken up at all, as appearances of compliance may justify the one or the other.
If your collectorate cannot furnish money to defray your expenses, in which you will observe due economy, and of which you will transmit an account to the Secretary of State, you will supply yourself from the collector of Savannah. I am, Sir, &c.
TO CHARLES COTESWORTH PINCKNEY AND EDWARD RUTLEDGE.
Columbia,South Carolina, 24 May, 1791.
An address to you jointly, on a subject of the following nature, may have a singular appearance; but that singularity will not exceed the evidence, which is thereby given of my opinion of, and confidence in you, and of the opinion I entertain of your confidence in and friendship for each other.
The office lately resigned by the Honble. Mr. John Rutledge, in the supreme judiciary of the Union, remains to be filled. Will either of you two gentlemen accept it? And, in that case, which of you? It will occur to you, that appointments to offices in the recess of the Senate are temporary; but of their confirmation in such a case there can be no doubt.
It may be asked why a proposition similar to this has never been made to you before. This is my answer. Your friends, with whom I have often conversed on like occasions, have always given it as their decided opinion, that no place in the disposal of the general government could be a compensation for the relinquishment of your private pursuits, or, in their belief, would withdraw you from them.1 In making the attempt, however, in the present instance, I discharge my duty, and shall await your answer (which I wish to receive soon) for the issue. Of my sincere esteem and regard for you both, I wish you to be persuaded, and that I am, Gentlemen, &c.
TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON, SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY.
Mount Vernon, 13 June, 1791.
My dear Sir,
I am arrived at this place, and just in time to acknowledge (in a hasty manner by this day’s post, the first opportunity that has offered of writing to Philadelphia since I left Savannah,) the receipt of your private letter of the 17th of April, by Mr. Smith, who lodged it at Camden, through which it was known my route would be on my return to the seat of the government.
Mr. Wolcott may be informed that it is my intention to appoint him to the office of comptroller.1 With respect to his successor as auditor, I shall suspend my determination, if no manifest inconvenience will result from it, until my arrival in Philadelphia, which, however, is not likely to happen before the 5th or 6th of July, as, by appointment at the last meeting, I am to meet the commissioners under the residence act, on Monday the 27th instant at Georgetown, and may, for aught I know to the contrary, be detained there several days; and afterwards must move slowly, on account of the exhausted condition of my horses.
No letters from the northward or eastward of this, bearing date between the 15th and 30th of May, have come to my hands; and having abundant evidence, before I reached Charleston, of the slow movements of the mail through the three southernmost States, I did, before I left that place, on the 9th of that month, direct that all letters, which might be for and following me, to be returned to Fredericksburg, as the first place I should touch the post line upon my return. But, these directions not arriving in Richmond in time, as I conjecture, the letters of that interval agreeably to the superscriptions which I am informed were on them, were forwarded from that place to Taylor’s Ferry, in expectation of meeting me there. But to this circumstance, which was unknown to me, and to finding from better information than I set out with, that it would be more convenient to cross James River higher up than at Taylor’s, is to be ascribed my missing the communications, which were made between the 15th and 30th of May as mentioned before. These despatches I may be long without, and perhaps never get; for there are no cross posts in those parts, and the letters, which will have to pass through many hands, may find some who are not deficient in curiosity.
My return to this place is sooner than I expected, owing to the uninterruptedness of my journey by sickness, from bad weather, or accidents of any kind whatsoever. Having obtained, before I left Philadelphia, the most accurate account I could get there of the places and roads through and by which I was to perform my tour, and the distances between the former, I formed my line of march accordingly, fixed each day’s journey and the day to halt; from neither of which have I departed in a single instance, except staying from a particular circumstance two days in Columbia, and none at Charlotte, instead of one at each, and crossing James River at Carter’s Ferry in place of Taylor’s, as was the original intention. But the improbability of performing a tour of seventeen hundred miles (I have already rode more) with the same set of horses without encountering any accident, by which a deviation would be rendered unavoidable, appeared so great, that I allowed eight days for casualties, and six to refresh at this place when I should have returned to it. None of the former having happened, accounts for the fourteen days I shall remain here before the meeting with the commissioners; one of whom, Mr. Johnson, Chief Justice of the State of Maryland, and living at a pretty considerable distance from Georgetown, having made his arrangements agreeably thereto, would not be able to meet me sooner.
I mention this matter, that, if there is any thing pressing in either of the departments, it may be known where I am. With affectionate regard, I am sincerely yours.
TO CATHARINE MACAULAY GRAHAM.
Philadelphia, 19 July, 1791.
At the same time that I acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 1st of March, with which I have been honored, let me request you to accept my thanks for your polite attention in sending me the pamphlet.1 which accompanied it. The importance of the subject, which has called forth your production and numerous others, is so deeply interesting to mankind, that every philanthropic mind, however far removed from the scene of action, cannot but feel anxious to see its termination; and it must be the ardent wish of every good man, that its event may increase the happiness of the human race.
I often regret, that my public duties do not allow me so much time as my inclination requires, to attend to my private correspondences, especially, with you, Madam. But I persuade myself, your goodness will lead you to place the brevity of this letter to its proper account, particularly when I add, that I am but just returned from a tour of near two thousand miles through the southern States, to perform which took me more than three months. I shall only further add to it, what I know must give you great pleasure, that the United States enjoy a scene of prosperity and tranquillity under the new government, that could hardly have been hoped for under the old, and that, while you, in Europe, are troubled with war and rumors of war, every one here may sit under his own vine, and none to molest or make him afraid. I am, &c.1
TO DAVID HUMPHREYS.
Philadelphia, 20 July, 1791.
My dear Sir,
I have received your letters of the 16th of February and 3d of May, and am much obliged by your observations on the situation, manners, customs, and dispositions of the Spanish nation. In this age of free inquiry and enlightened reason, it is to be hoped, that the condition of the people in every country will be bettered, and the happiness of mankind promoted. Spain appears to be so much behind the other nations of Europe in liberal policy, that a long time will undoubtedly elapse, before the people of that kingdom can taste the sweets of liberty, and enjoy the natural advantages of their country.
In my last I mentioned my intention of visiting the southern States, which I have since accomplished, and have the pleasure to inform you, that I performed a journey of eighteen hundred and eighty-seven miles without meeting with any interruption by sickness, bad weather, or any untoward accident. Indeed, so highly were we favored, that we arrived at each place, where I proposed to make any halt, on the very day I fixed upon before we set out. The same horses performed the whole tour; and although much reduced in flesh, kept up their full spirits to the last day.
I am much pleased that I have taken this journey, as it has enabled me to see with my own eyes the situation of the country through which we travelled, and to learn more accurately the disposition of the people than I could have done by any information.
The country appears to be in a very improving state, and industry and frugality are becoming much more fashionable than they have hitherto been there. Tranquillity reigns among the people, with that disposition towards the general government, which is likely to preserve it. They begin to feel the good effects of equal laws and equal protection. The farmer finds a ready market for his produce, and the merchant calculates with more certainty on his payments. Manufacturers have as yet made but little progress in that part of the country, and it will probably be a long time before they are brought to that state, to which they have already arrived in the middle and eastern parts of the Union.
Each day’s experience of the government of the United States seems to confirm its establishment, and to render it more popular. A ready acquiescence in the laws made under it shows in a strong light the confidence, which the people have in their representatives, and in the upright views of those, who administer the government. At the time of passing a law imposing a duty on home-made spirits, it was vehemently affirmed by many, that such a law could never be executed in the southern States, particularly in Virginia and North Carolina.1 As this law came in force only on the 1st of this month, little can be said of its effects from experience; but, from the best information I could get on my journey, respecting its operation on the minds of the people, (and I took some pains to obtain information on this point,) there remains no doubt but it will be carried into effect, not only without opposition, but with very general approbation in those very parts where it was foretold, that it would never be submitted to by any one. It is possible, however, and perhaps not improbable, that some demagogue may start up, and produce and get signed some resolutions declaratory of their disapprobation of the measure.
Our public credit stands on that ground, which three years ago it would have been considered as a species of madness to have foretold. The astonishing rapidity, with which the newly instituted bank was filled, gives an unexampled proof (here) of the resources of our countrymen, and their confidence in public measures. On the first day of opening the subscription, the whole number of shares (twenty thousand) were taken up in one hour, and application made for upwards of four thousand shares more than were granted by the institution, besides many others that were coming in from different quarters.
For some time past the western frontiers have been alarmed by depredations committed by some hostile tribes of Indians; but such measures are now in train as will, I presume, either bring them to sue for peace before a stroke is struck at them, or make them feel the effects of an enmity too sensibly to provoke it again unnecessarily, unless, as is much suspected, they are countenanced, abetted, and supported in their hostile views by the British. Though I must confess I cannot see much prospect of living in tranquillity with them, so long as a spirit of landjobbing prevails, and our frontier settlers entertain the opinion, that there is not the same crime (or indeed no crime at all) in killing an Indian, as in killing a white man.
You have been informed of the spot fixed on for the seat of government on the Potomac; and I am now happy to add, that all matters between the proprietors of the soil and the public are settled to the mutual satisfaction of the parties, and that the business of laying out the city, the grounds for public buildings, walks, &c. is progressing under the inspection of Major L’Enfant with pleasing prospects.
Thus much for our American affairs. And I wish I could say as much in favor of circumstances in Europe. But our accounts from thence do not paint the situation of the inhabitants in very pleasing colors. One part exhibits war and devastations, another preparations for war, a third commotions, a fourth direful apprehensions of commotions; and indeed there seems to be scarcely a nation enjoying uninterrupted, unapprehensive tranquillity.
The example of France will undoubtedly have its effects on other kingdoms. Poland, by the public papers, appears to have made large and unexpected strides towards liberty, which, if true, reflects great honor on the present King, who seems to have been the principal promoter of the business.
By the by, I have never received any letter from Mr. Littlepage, or from the King of Poland, which you say Mr. Carmichael informed you were sent to me last summer.
I yesterday had Mr. Jaudenes,1 who was in this country with Mr. Gardoqui, and is now come over in a public character, presented to me for the first time by Mr. Jefferson. Colonel Ternant is expected here every day as minister from France.
I am glad to learn, that the air of Lisbon agrees so well with you. I sincerely hope you may long, very long, enjoy the blessing of health, accompanied with such other blessings as may contribute to your happiness. I have been in the enjoyment of very good health during my journey, and have rather gained flesh upon it. Mrs. Washington desires her best wishes may be presented to you. You are always assured of those of, my dear Sir, your sincere and affectionate friend.
TO GOUVERNEUR MORRIS.
Philadelphia, 28 July, 1791.
I have not before me your favors of the 22 of November, 1 and 24 of December, 1790, and of the 9th of March, 1791.
The plateaux which you had the goodness to procure for me arrived safe and the account of them has been settled as you desired with Mr. Robert Morris. For this additional mark of attention to my wishes you must accept my thanks.
The communications in your several letters, relative to the state of affairs in Europe, are very gratefully received; and I should be glad if it was in my power to reply to them more in detail than I am able to do. But my public duties, which are at all times sufficiently numerous, being now much accumulated by an absence of more than three months from the seat of government, make the present a very busy moment for me.
The change of systems, which have so long prevailed in Europe, will, undoubtedly, affect us in a degree proportioned to our political or commercial connexions with the several nations of it. But I trust we shall never so far lose sight of our own interest and happiness as to become, unnecessarily, a party in their political disputes. Our local situation enables us to keep that state, with them, which otherwise could not, perhaps, be preserved by human wisdom. The present moment seems pregnant with great events; but, as you observe, it is beyond the ken of mortal foresight to determine what will be the result of those changes, which are either making, or contemplated, in the general system of Europe. Although, as fellow men, we sincerely lament the disorders, oppressions, and incertitude, which frequently attend national events, and which our European brethren must feel, yet we cannot but hope, that it will terminate very much in favor of the rights of man. And, that a change there will be favorable to this country, I have no doubt. For under the former system we were seen either in the distresses of war, or viewed after the peace in a most unfavorable light through the medium of our distracted state. In neither point could we appear of much consequence among nations. And should affairs continue in Europe in the same state they were, when these impressions respecting us were received, it would not be an easy matter to remove the prejudices imbibed against us. A change of system will open a new view of things, and we shall then burst upon them, as it were, with redoubled advantages.
Should we, under the present state of affairs, form connexions other than we now have with any European powers, much must be considered in effecting them, on the score of our increasing importance as a nation; and, at the same time, should a treaty be formed with a nation, whose circumstances may not at this moment be very bright, much delicacy would be necessary in order to show that no undue advantages were taken on that account. For unless treaties are mutually beneficial to the parties, it is in vain to hope for a continuance of them beyond the moment when the one, which conceives itself overreached, is in a situation to break off the connexion. And I believe it is among nations as with individuals, that the party taking advantage of the distresses of another will lose infinitely more in the opinion of mankind, and in subsequent events, than he will gain by the stroke of the moment.
In my late tour through the southern States, I experienced great satisfaction in seeing the good effects of the general government in that part of the Union. The people at large have felt the security which it gives, and the equal justice which it administers to them. The farmer, the merchant, and the mechanic have seen their several interests attended to, and from thence they unite in placing a confidence in their representatives, as well as in those in whose hands the execution of the laws is placed. Industry has there taken place of idleness, and economy of dissipation. Two or three years of good crops, and a ready market for the produce of their lands, has put every one in good humor; and in some instances they even impute to the government what is due only to the goodness of Providence.
The establishment of public credit is an immense point gained in our national concerns. This, I believe, exceeds the expectation of the most sanguine among us. And a late instance, unparalleled in this country, has been given of the confidence reposed in our measures, by the rapidity with which the subscriptions to the bank of the United States were filled. In two hours after the books were opened by the commissioners, the whole number of shares was taken up, and four thousand more applied for than were allowed by the institution. This circumstance was not only pleasing, as it related to the confidence in government, but as it exhibited an unexpected proof of the resources of our citizens.
In one of my letters to you, the account which I gave of the number of inhabitants, which would probably be found in the United States on enumeration, was too large. The estimate was then founded on the ideas held out by the gentlemen in Congress of the population of their several States, each of whom (as was very natural) looking through a magnifier, would speak of the greatest extent, to which there was any probability of their numbers reaching. Returns of the census have already been made from several of the States, and a tolerably just estimate has been formed now in others; by which it appears, that we shall hardly reach four millions; but this you are to take along with it, that the real number will greatly exceed the official returns of them; because, from religious scruples, some would not give in their lists; that it was intended as the foundation of a tax, the fears of others induced them to conceal, or diminished theirs; and from the indolence of the mass, and want of activity in many of the deputy enumerators, numbers are omitted. The authenticated number will, however, be far greater, I believe, than has ever been allowed in Europe; and will have no small influence in enabling them to form a more just opinion of our present growing importance, than has yet been entertained there.
This letter goes with one from Mr. Jefferson, to which I must refer you for what respects your public transactions; and I shall only add to it the repeated assurances of regard and affection, with which I am, dear Sir, your obedient and obliged, &c.
TO M. LAFAYETTE.
Philadelphia, 28 July, 1791.
My dear Sir,
* * * * * *
The decrees of the National Assembly, respecting our tobacco and oil, do not appear to be very pleasing to the people of this country; but I do not presume, that any hasty measures will be adopted in conse quence thereof; for we have never entertained a doubt of the friendly disposition of the French nation toward us, and are therefore persuaded, that, if they have done any thing, which seems to bear hard upon us, at a time when the Assembly must have been occupied in very important matters, and which perhaps would not allow time for a due consideration of the subject, they will, in the moment of calm deliberation, alter it and do what is right.
I readily perceive, my dear Sir, the critical situation in which you stand, and never can you have greater occasion to show your prudence, judgment, and magnanimity.
On the 6th of this month I returned from a tour through the southern States, which had employed me for more than three months. In the course of this journey I have been highly gratified in observing the flourishing state of the country, and the good dispositions of the people. Industry and economy have become very fashionable in these parts, which were formerly noted for the opposite qualities, and the labors of man are assisted by the blessings of Providence. The attachment of all classes of citizens to the general government seems to be a pleasing presage of their future happiness and respectability.
The complete establishment of our public credit is a strong mark of the confidence of the people in the virtue of their representatives, and the wisdom of their measures; and, while in Europe wars or commotions seem to agitate almost every nation, peace and tranquillity prevail among us, except on some parts of our western frontiers, where the Indians have been troublesome, to reclaim or chastise whom proper measures are now pursuing. This contrast between the situation of the people of the United States, and those of Europe, is too striking to be passed over, even by the most superficial observer, and may, I believe, be considered as one great cause of leading the people here to reflect more attentively on their own prosperous state, and to examine more minutely, and consequently approve more fully of the government under which they live, than they otherwise would have done. But we do not wish to be the only people, who may taste the sweets of an equal and good government. We look with an anxious eye to the time, when happiness and tranquillity shall prevail in your country, and when all Europe shall be freed from commotions, tumults, and alarms.
Your friends in this country often express their great attachment to you by their anxiety for your safety. Knox, Jay, Hamilton, Jefferson, remember you with affection; but none with more sincerity and true attachment than, my dear Sir, your affectionate, &c.
TO THOMAS JOHNSON.
Philadelphia, 7 August, 1791.
I have been duly favored with your letters of the 27th and 30th of July, the last of which came to hand while the judges of the Supreme Court were with me on an invitation to dinner.
I took this opportunity of laying your letter before the Chief Justice (as you mentioned your having written to him and to Mr. Wilson on the subject), in order that it might be communicated to the other judges. After a few minutes’ consultation together, the Chief Justice informed me, that the arrangement had been, or would be, so agreed upon, that you might be wholly exempted from performing this tour of duty at that time. And I take the present occasion to observe that an opinion prevails pretty generally among the judges, as well as others, who have turned their minds to the subject, against the expediency of continuing the circuits of the associate judges, and that it is expected some alterations in the judicial system will be brought forward at the next session of Congress, among which this may be one.
Upon considering the arrangements of the judges with respect to the ensuing circuit, and the probability of future relief from these disagreeable tours, I thought it best to direct your commission to be made out and transmitted to you, which has accordingly been done; and I have no doubt but that the public will be benefited, and the wishes of your friends gratified, by your acceptance. With sentiments of very great regard, &c.1
TO M. DE LA LUZERNE.2
Philadelphia, 10 September, 1791.
In acknowledging the receipt of your letter of the 15th of May, which reached me but a few days ago, I cannot forbear to express the sensibility with which I receive those warm effusions of personal attachment and respectful remembrance, which are contained in it; and at the same time I beg you will be assured, that I reciprocate them with truth and sincerity.
As the happiness of the French nation cannot be indifferent to the people of this country, when we remember the aid which we received therefrom in an hour of distress, you will readily believe, that we view with no small anxiety the troubles, which for some time past have agitated that kingdom; and the suspense in which we are held as to what may be the consequence of a late important event, which has taken place there, deprives us, in some measure, of the full enjoyment of those feelings, which would naturally result from a reflection on the prosperous situation of the United States. But, however gloomy the face of things may at this time appear in France, yet we will not despair of seeing tranquillity again restored; and we cannot help looking forward with a lively wish to the period, when order shall be established by a government, respectfully energetic and founded on the broad basis of liberality and the rights of man, which will make millions happy, and place your nation in the rank which she ought to hold.
In a tour, which I made last spring through the southern States, I confirmed by observation the accounts, which we had all along received of the happy effects of the general government upon our agriculture, commerce, and industry. The same effects pervade the middle and eastern States, with the addition of vast progress in the most useful manufactures. The complete restoration of our public credit holds us up in a high light abroad. Thus it appears, that the United States are making great progress towards national happiness; and, if it is not attained here in as high a degree as human nature will admit of its going, I think we may then conclude, that political happiness is unattainable. But, at the same time, we wish it not to be confined to this country alone; and, as it expands through the world, our enjoyments will expand with it, and that you may find it in your nation, and realize it yourself, is the sincere prayer of, Sir, &c.
TO M. LAFAYETTE.
Philadelphia, 10 September, 1791.
The lively interest, which I take in your welfare, my dear Sir, keeps my mind in constant anxiety for your personal safety amidst the scenes in which you are perpetually engaged. Your letter of the 6th of June by M. de Ternant gave me that pleasure, which I receive from all your letters, which tell me you are well. But, from the account you there gave, it did not appear, that you would be soon relieved from your arduous labors; and, from the information we have received of an important event, which has taken place since that time, it does not appear likely, that the clouds which have long obscured your political horizon will be soon dispersed. As yet we are in suspense as to what may have been the consequences of this event; and feeling, as we do in this country, a sincere regard for the French nation, we are not a little anxious about them. Opinions we are not able to form here; therefore none can be given on the subject. But at any rate, you may be assured, my dear Sir, that we do not view with indifference the happiness of so many millions.
I am glad of M. de Ternant’s appointment to this country; for I have a good opinion of his abilities, discretion, and proper views; and, as you observe, as he seems to belong to both countries, there is no doubt but this, joined to the good information which he possesses of the relative and particular interests of both, will enable him to render as much service, and be as acceptable to each, as any man can be.1
I shall next week set off for Mount Vernon with Mrs. Washington and the children, where I shall, if possible, enjoy a few weeks of retirement before the meeting of Congress in the last of October. Indeed, my presence there, (as it will not at this time interfere with my public duties,) is necessary for my interest, as George, your old aid, has for some time past been too much indisposed to pay attention to my concerns, and is now over the mountains for his health. The last account from him was favorable. He had received benefit from his journey. I sincerely wish, my dear Sir, that the affairs of your country were in such a train as would permit you to relax a little from the excessive fatigues to which you have of late been exposed; and I cannot help looking forward with an anxious wish, and a lively hope, to the time when peace and tranquillity will reign in your borders, under the sanction of a respectable government, founded on the broad basis of liberality and the rights of man. It must be so. The great Ruler of events will not permit the happiness of so many millions to be destroyed; and to his keeping I resign you, my dear Sir, with all that friendship and affectionate attachment, with which you know me to be, &c.
TO GOUVERNEUR MORRIS.
Philadelphia, 12 September, 1791.
Your letter of the 27th of May with its enclosures came duly to hand.1
During my absence on my late Southern tour the proposals of Messrs. Schweizer and Jeannerett made their appearance here, as well through Mr. Otto, Chargé des Affaires of France, to the Secretary of State, as through Mr. Short, to the Secretary of the Treasury.
In pursuance of certain arrangements, made previous to my departure, an answer was given: which answer was in substance, that it did not appear to be for the interest of the United States to accept those proposals.
The reasons which have been assigned to me as having dictated this answer are as follows.
First, That the rate of interest to be stipulated in the new contract, as well upon the part of the debt which had not fallen due, as upon that which had fallen due, was 5 p. cent.—It was a question whether a contract stipulating such a rate of interest with regard to the first mentioned part of the debt, was fairly within the meaning of that clause of the law which requires that the payment of it should be made upon “terms advantageous to the United States.” And while there was no reason to apprehend that it would be necessary to allow a higher interest than 5 p. cent. on any loans, which might be made to discharge the arrears of principal and interest, it did not appear expedient to forego the chance of a lower rate.
2nd. The commission or premium of 5 p. ct. demanded in the proposal is one p. ct. more than is given up on the loans going on in Holland—This would amount to a loss of one p. ct. on the part, which the United States were bound immediately to pay; and in respect to that, which had not become due, would be an unnecessary sacrifice of 5 p. cent.
3rd. The immediate proposers are understood to be a House not of primary consequence themselves, and though they alledged, they did not prove, that they were supported by others who could be deemed Capitalists equal to the undertaking. From the difference of exchange between Holland and Paris they could afford sacrifices in the sale of the bonds of the United States; and if there was not great force of capital among those engaged in the undertaking, such sacrifices were to be expected. A great quantity of bonds, thrown suddenly into the market, by persons who were pressed to raise money from them, could not but have effects the most injurious to the credit of the U. S.
4th. Paris being the stipulated place of payment, if, from the state of exchange, payment could be made there in gold and silver with a saving to the United States, there could be no good objection to profiting by the circumstance—but this advantage, and more, even to the full extent of the depreciation of the Assignats, would be transferred by the proposed bargain to the undertakers.
5th. The single advantage which the proposals held out, of a prolonged period of reimbursement, would be obtained of course by loans in the ordinary way—and as to the effect of the measure upon loans for the redemption of the domestic debt, this would be good or bad according as the undertakers might or not have occasion to bring the bonds of the United States to market.
The foregoing reasons appeared to me to have so much weight that I saw no ground for directing any alterations in what was done.
It appears in their letter to you that the gentlemen in question are willing to wave the claim of premium or commission on the part of the debt not yet due; but this obviates only one of the objections which have been stated.
You observe also that they had given you proofs that persons of the first fortune were connected with them in the business—They were deficient in not having given the like proof to Mr. Short, whose enquiries had been directed to this object.
The observations you make concerning the views, which ought to govern the United States in their reimbursements to France, are founded in propriety—You may conclude that no unequitable advantage will be taken; and it is hoped that the measures now in execution will be more conducive to the real interests of that country than would have been an acceptance of the proposals of Messrs. S. & J., who, it is presumable, founded their speculation chiefly upon the idea of availing themselves of the full benefit resulting from the depreciation of the Assignats.
Thanking you for the communication you have made me on the subject, I assure you that I do justice to the motives which dictated it. * * *
TO GEORGE CLINTON, GOVERNOR OF NEW YORK.
14 September, 1791.
Your letter of the 7th instant, with its enclosure, did not reach me till yesterday. The intelligence it communicates is of a nature both serious and important. Indeed, the step it announces, as about to be taken by the British, would be one so extraordinary in every view, as to justify a question, whether the indications, which are alleged to have been given, have not rather proceeded from some indiscreet levity on the part of the officers alluded to, than from any real design of doing what appears to have been threatened. A little time, however, will explain the true state of the matter.
Your Excellency need not, I am persuaded, be assured, that, in connexion with the more general considerations, which are involved in the circumstance, I feel a due concern for any injury, inconvenience, or dissatisfaction, which may have arisen or may arise, in respect to the State of New York, or any part of its inhabitants, in consequence of the detention of the posts, or the interferences which may have grown out of it. Nor has the matter failed to receive from me the degree of attention to which it is entitled. Yet in a point of such vast magnitude, as that of the preservation of the peace of the Union, particularly in this still very early stage of our affairs, and at a period so little remote from a most exhausting and affecting, though successful war, the public welfare and safety evidently enjoin a conduct of circumspection, moderation, and forbearance. And it is relied upon, that the known good sense of the community ensures its approbation of such a conduct.
There are, however, bounds to the spirit of forbearance, which ought not to be exceeded. Events may occur, which may demand a departure from it. But if extremities are at any time to ensue, it is of the utmost consequence, that they should be the result of a deliberate plan, not of an accidental collision, and that they should appear, both at home and abroad, to have flowed either from a necessity, which left no alternative, or from a combination of advantageous circumstances, which left no doubt of the expediency of hazarding them. Under the impression of this opinion, and supposing that the event, which is apprehended, should be realized, it is my desire, that no hostile measure be in the first instance attempted.
With a view, nevertheless, to such ultimate proceedings as the nature of the case may require, and that upon the ground of well authenticated facts, I have concluded to send a gentleman to the spot, who will be charged to ascertain and report to me whatever may take place, together with the general situation of the part of the country immediately affected by the vicinity of the British posts. An additional motive to this measure is the desire of obtaining information, in reference to the establishment of the custom-house in the State of Vermont, which is also connected with the position of those posts.
I have the honor to be, &c.
TO EDMUND RANDOLPH, ATTORNEY-GENERAL.
Mount Vernon, 10 October, 1791.
* * * * * *
It is my wish and desire, that you would examine the laws of the general government, which have relation to Indian affairs, that is, for the purpose of securing their lands to them, restraining States or individuals from purchasing their lands, and forbidding unauthorized intercourse in their dealings with them; and, moreover, that you would suggest such auxiliary laws, as will supply the defects of those, which are in being, thereby enabling the executive to enforce obedience.
If Congress expect to live in peace with the neighboring Indians, and to avoid the expenses and horrors of continual hostilities, such a measure will be found indispensably necessary; for, unless adequate penalties are provided, that will check the spirit of speculation in lands, and will enable the executive to carry them into effect, this country will be constantly embroiled with and appear faithless in the eyes not only of the Indians, but of the neighboring powers also. For, notwithstanding the existing laws, solemn treaties, and proclamations, which have been issued to enforce a compliance with both, and some attempts of the government southwest of the Ohio to restrain their proceedings, yet the agents for the Tennessee Company are at this moment, by public advertisements under the signature of a Zachariah Cox, encouraging by offers of land and other inducements a settlement at the Muscle Shoals, and is likely to obtain emigrants for that purpose, although there is good evidence, that the measure is disapproved by the Creeks and Cherokees; and it is presumed it is so likewise by the Chickasaws and Choctaws, unless they have been imposed upon by assurances, that trade is the only object in view by the establishment. I am, Sir, &c.
COMMUNICATION OF SENTIMENTS TO BENJAMIN HAWKINS.1
Errors of Government toward the Indians:—Have not these been repaired by the subsequent treaties and purchases from those who claimed the soil? Some of the Tribes it is said would not attend the treaty at Fort Harmar, because they expect’d a relinquishment of their right to the land would be demanded. May it not rather be said that while they could War with impunity, they were better pleased and found it more profitable to plunder than to hunt, especially as they were stimulated to the first by the B[ritish] traders and the withholding of the Western Posts from the U. States.
But we are involved in actual war! is it just? or is it unjust? Mr. H. cannot believe fully in the latter because he is for providing in part the means for carrying it on. Is this to be done by offensive or defensive operations? Defensive ones I say, and I speak it boldly, from experience, and from the nature of things, are not only impracticable against such an enemy, but the expence attending them would be ruinous both to our finances and frontier settlements.
If offensive measures are to be carried on, must not troops advance into the enemy’s Country? What possible objection then can there be to the establishing of Posts there, when these posts answer the double purposes of annoyance and security? Cannot these posts, if peace should be concluded, be either demolished, or retained merely for the protection of our trade with these people, and to restrain settlements on the Indian lands? Without which it would be no easy matter. This experience has proved—and Mr. H. is not to be told that the Miami Village is a considerable distance from the B— garrison at Detroit. What cause then for alarm? True it is, pacific overtures were to have preceded hostile measures last campaign—and as true it is they did so. Though all the avenues thro’ which they were intended could not be opened, yet enough were opened to inform the Indians of the disposition of Government towards them;—and the obstacles in the others are strong evidences of the difficulties this government has to encounter.
The Kaskaskias is a circuitous, if not a dangerous rout by which to communicate with the Indians with whom we are at War. The Canadian French, subject to G. B. are not to be relied upon, unless particular characters could be selected, and that is hardly to be done with certainty and precision.
The defeat of the 4th of November may be ascribed to several causes; perhaps to none more justly than to the short enlistment of part of the force.—Mr. H—s’s ideas and mine with respect to the force, the composition of the troops, and the time for which they are to be engaged, differ very widely indeed—reasons to be assigned. The number of hostile Indians according to Mr. H— is under rated; the Estimate last year was 1200, when confined to the Miami and Wabash Tribes—now we have good reasons to believe that the Delawares, Wyandots and others were in the action with Genl. St. Clair.
Plan of the Secretary of War having passed thro’ the hands of the P—. and remaining in them (as will appear by a recurrence to dates) ten or more days, is a strong presumption of its having been considered and approved by him. Motives of delicacy have uniformly restrained the P— from introducing any topic which relates to Legislative matters to members of either House of Congress, lest it should be suspected that he wished to influence the question before it.
A Committee, from either house, would in his opinion (so far as the business related to legislative matters) have been new and embarrassing. If it did not mean to be governed by the sentiments which were drawn from the P—, why ask his opinion? as the official application for and disregard of them could not fail to wound his feelings. A free communication to a friend on any matter depending, when asked, he would have no scruple to make.
The sentiments of members of Senate or their views are unknown to the P— and what may be the object of the Secretary of War, or others, he knows not—his own are not concealed nor can he see more danger in raising men for three years than for three months, when withholding their pay and subsistence will discharge them at any time. but he can see an immense difference between the advantages of the one over the other, they are too numerous and self-evident to need detail—a few only will suffice. Short enlistments will, nay must, have an uncontroulable influence upon all the operations—long enlistments enable one to take advantage of time and circumstances. In the first case, before men become acquainted with their duty or the service they are destined for, their term expires, and there is to be a second edition of them. In the other case they grow more valuable every month and at half the expense of new men. In the first case too it is impossible to retain a man an hour beyond the term of his engagement. In the other he is bound for three years and may be discharged in three months or three days, if the service will admit of it. No man wishes less than the P— to see a standing army established; but if Congress will not enact a proper Militia Law (not such a milk and water thing as I expect to see—if I ever see any)—Defense and the Garrisons will always require some troops—it has ever been my opinion that a select militia properly trained might supercede the necessity for these,—but I despair on that head.
TO ROBERT LEWIS.
Mount Vernon, 15 October, 1791.
Enclosed is a letter for Mr. Muse,1 requesting him to put my papers into your hands, and to give you such information with respect to the business, as is necessary to bring you acquainted with the present state of it. After you have read the letter, and noticed the contents, seal and deliver it to him.
Receive from Mr. Muse all the blank leases, with which I have furnished him, as well as those which have been filled up and executed. It will be indispensably necessary for you to get the precise state of the rents, which are due on each tenement, the ability of the tenants, and the prospect of receiving the rents. Make yourself master, also, of the disputes, if any there be, to which the tenements are subject.
From long experience I have laid it down as an unerring maxim, that to exact rents with punctuality is not only the right of the landlord, but that it is also for the benefit of the tenant that it should be so, unless by uncontrollable events and providential strokes the latter is rendered unable to pay them. In such cases he should not only meet with indulgence, but in some instances with a remittal of the rent. But in the ordinary course of these transactions, the rents ought to be collected with the most rigid exactness, especially from my tenants, who do not, for most of the farms, pay a fourth of what the tenements would let for, if they were now in my possession. If it is found difficult for a tenant to pay one rent, it is more difficult for him to pay two. When three are due he despairs, or cares little about them; and if it runs to a greater number, it is highly [probable], that, to avoid paying any, he will leave you the bag to hold. For these reasons, except under the circumstances before mentioned, it is my desire that you will give all the tenants timely notice, that you will give no indulgences beyond those allowed by the covenants in the leases. If they find you strict, they will be punctual; if otherwise, your trouble will be quadrupled, and I can have no dependence upon my rents, which are now my principal support, since, by the diligence of Mr. Muse, the tenants are brought into a proper way of thinking and acting respecting them, and my crops are almost continually failing me.
As there have been many transfers, and some without any privity of mine, although it is contrary to a covenant in the leases, it is a matter which will claim your particular attention. And, as I have already observed, as the leases of old date are given for less than one fourth of their present value, it is my particular request, that you will endeavor to investigate with great accuracy, and inform me of the result, what lives still remain in each lease; throwing the proof (unless you are advised by able counsel that it cannot be done), where the lessees are not to be produced, upon the tenant to show that they are actually in existence.
As all the rents become due on or before the first day of January in every year, and distrainable at the expiration of a certain number of days thereafter, I shall expect, that, in some short and reasonable time after the days of grace expire, the amount of your collection will be paid into the hands of Major George A. Washington, my present attorney, or whosoever hereafter may have the superintendence of my business in this State, during my absence in the service of the public.
Although I flatter myself, that there is no occasion for the admonition, yet I will accompany this appointment with suggesting to you, that business is rarely well executed, that is not diligently pursued, and that the same consequences of neglect will happen to you, that would to any idle, inattentive, or deficient collector, if any of these should appear in your conduct; and the more so, as it is owing to the attentive and close watchings of Muse, that this resource has been productive and useful to me, and that many rents have been recovered, which appeared to be desperate, by his activity and perseverance.
If they are admitted in the first instances, you will have a thousand pleas to forbearance; but, considering the low and easy rents, at which my tenants stand, I know of none which ought to be admitted, except losses by fire, by storms, or such droughts as are apparent and well attested; for bad crops, proceeding from idleness, may and will be a constant plea, as they ought to be inadmissible.
It is of essential consequence, that you should examine accurately, whether the covenants in the leases, with respect to the buildings to be erected, orchards to be planted, meadows to be made, and woods to be preserved, have been complied with. These were important objects with me at the time the leases were granted, and are so still—well knowing how much they would contribute to enhance the value of the lots, at the expiration of the term for which the leases were given. My best wishes attend Mrs. Lewis and yourself, and I remain your affectionate uncle.
P. S. If as I have heard, you should not conceive the collection of my rents, to be an object sufficient to engage your attention, the letter for Mr. Muse is not to be given him.
SPEECH TO BOTH HOUSES OF CONGRESS OCTOBER 25TH, 1791.
FELLOW-CITIZENS OF THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:
I meet you upon the present occasion with the feelings, which are naturally inspired by a strong impression of the prosperous situation of our common country, and by a persuasion equally strong, that the labors of the session which has just commenced will, under the guidance of a spirit no less prudent than patriotic, issue in measures conducive to the stability and increase of national prosperity.
Numerous as are the providential blessings, which demand our grateful acknowledgments, the abundance, with which another year has again rewarded the industry of the husbandman, is too important to escape recollection.
Your own observations, in your respective situations, will have satisfied you of the progressive state of agriculture, manufactures, commerce, and navigation. In tracing their causes, you will have remarked, with particular pleasure, the happy effects of that revival of confidence, public as well as private, to which the constitution and laws of the United States have so eminently contributed; and you will have observed, with no less interest, new and decisive proofs of the increasing reputation and credit of the nation. But you, nevertheless, cannot fail to derive satisfaction from the confirmation of these circumstances, which will be disclosed in the several official communications, that will be made to you in the course of your deliberations.
The rapid subscriptions to the Bank of the United States, which completed the sum allowed to be subscribed in a single day, is among the striking and pleasing evidences which present themselves, not only of confidence in the government, but of resource in the community.
In the interval of your recess, due attention has been paid to the execution of the different objects, which were specially provided for by the laws and resolutions of the last session.
Among the most important of these, is the defence and security of the western frontiers. To accomplish it on the most humane principles was a primary wish.
Accordingly, at the same time that treaties have been provisionally concluded, and other proper means used to attach the wavering, and to confirm in their friendship the well-disposed tribes of Indians, effectual measures have been adopted to make those of a hostile description sensible, that a pacification was desired upon terms of moderation and justice.
These measures having proved unsuccessful, it became necessary to convince the refractory of the power of the United States to punish their depredations. Offensive operations have, therefore, been directed; to be conducted, however, as consistently as possible with the dictates of humanity. Some of these have been crowned with full success, and others are yet depending. The expeditions, which have been completed, were carried on, under the authority and at the expense of the United States, by the militia of Kentucky; whose enterprise, intrepidity, and good conduct are entitled to peculiar commendation.
Overtures of peace are still continued to the deluded tribes, and considerable numbers of individuals belonging to them have lately renounced all further opposition, removed from their former situations, and placed themselves under the immediate protection of the United States.
It is sincerely to be desired, that all need of coercion in future may cease; and that an intimate intercourse may succeed, calculated to advance the happiness of the Indians, and to attach them firmly to the United States.
In order to this, it seems necessary, that they should experience the benefits of an impartial dispensation of justice; that the mode of alienating their lands, the main source of discontent and war, should be so defined and regulated as to obviate imposition, and, as far as may be practicable, controversy concerning the reality and extent of the alienations which are made; that commerce with them should be promoted under regulations tending to secure an equitable deportment towards them, and that such rational experiments should be made for imparting to them the blessings of civilization, as may from time to time suit their condition; that the executive of the United States should be enabled to employ the means, to which the Indians have been long accustomed, for uniting their immediate interests with the preservation of peace; and that efficacious provision should be made for inflicting adequate penalties upon all those, who, by violating their rights, shall infringe the treaties and endanger the peace of the Union.
A system corresponding with the mild principles of religion and philanthropy towards an unenlightened race of men, whose happiness materially depends on the conduct of the United States, would be as honorable to the national character as conformable to the dictates of sound policy.
The powers specially vested in me by the act laying certain duties on distilled spirits, which respect the subdivisions of the districts into surveys, the appointment of officers, and the assignment of compensations, have likewise been carried into effect. In a matter, in which both materials and experience were wanting to guide the calculation, it will be readily conceived, that there must have been difficulty in such an adjustment of the rates of compensation, as would conciliate a reasonable competency with a proper regard to the limits prescribed by the law. It is hoped that the circumspection, which has been used, will be found in the result to have secured the last of the two objects; but it is probable, that, with a view to the first, in some instances a revision of the provision will be found advisable.
The impressions, with which this law has been received by the community, have been, upon the whole, such as were to be expected among enlightened and well-disposed citizens, from the propriety and necessity of the measure. The novelty, however, of the tax, in a considerable part of the United States, and a misconception of some of its provisions, have given occasion in particular places to some degree of discontent. But it is satisfactory to know, that this disposition yields to proper explanations and more just apprehensions of the true nature of the law. And I entertain a full confidence, that it will, in all, give way to motives, which arise out of a just sense of duty and a virtuous regard to the public welfare.
If there are any circumstances in the law, which, consistently with its main design, may be so varied as to remove any well-intentioned objections that may happen to exist, it will consist with a wise moderation to make the proper variations. It is desirable, on all occasions, to unite with a steady and firm adherence to constitutional and necessary acts of government, the fullest evidence of a disposition, as far as may be practicable, to consult the wishes of every part of the community, and to lay the foundations of the public administration in the affections of the people.
Pursuant to the authority contained in the several acts on that subject, a district of ten miles square, for the permanent seat of the government of the United States, has been fixed, and announced by proclamation; which district will comprehend lands on both sides of the river Potomac, and the towns of Alexandria and Georgetown. A city has also been laid out agreeably to a plan which will be placed before Congress; and, as there is a prospect, favored by the rate of sales which have already taken place, of ample funds for carrying on the necessary public buildings, there is every expectation of their due progress.
The completion of the census of the inhabitants, for which provision was made by law, has been duly notified (excepting in one instance, in which the return has been informal, and another, in which it has been omitted or miscarried); and the returns of the officers who were charged with this duty, which will be laid before you, will give you the pleasing assurance, that the present population of the United States borders on four millions of persons.
It is proper also to inform you, that a further loan of two millions and a half of florins has been completed in Holland; the terms of which are similar to those of the one last announced, except as to a small reduction of charges. Another, on like terms, for six millions of florins had been set on foot, under circumstances that assured immediate completion.
GENTLEMEN OF THE SENATE:
Two treaties, which have been provisionally concluded with the Cherokees, and Six Nations of Indians, will be laid before you for your consideration and ratification.
GENTLEMEN OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:
In entering upon the discharge of your legislative trust, you must anticipate with pleasure, that many of the difficulties, necessarily incident to the first arrangements of a new government for an extensive country, have been happily surmounted by the zealous and judicious exertions of your predecessors in coöperation with the other branch of the legislature. The important objects, which remain to be accomplished, will, I am persuaded, be conducted upon principles equally comprehensive, and equally well calculated for the advancement of the general weal.
The time limited for receiving subscriptions to the loans proposed by the act making provision for the debt of the United States having expired, statements from the proper department will as soon as possible apprize you of the exact result. Enough, however, is known already to afford an assurance, that the views of that act have been substantially fulfilled. The subscription in the domestic debt of the United States has embraced by far the greatest proportion of that debt; affording at the same time proof of the general satisfaction of the public creditors with the system which has been proposed to their acceptance, and of the spirit of accommodation to the convenience of the government with which they are actuated. The subscriptions in the debts of the respective States, as far as the provisions of the law have permitted, may be said to be yet more general. The part of the debt of the United States, which remains unsubscribed, will naturally engage your further deliberations.
It is particularly pleasing to me to be able to announce to you, that the revenues which have been established promise to be adequate to their objects, and may be permitted, if no unforeseen exigency occurs, to supersede for the present the necessity of any new burthens upon our constituents.
An object which will claim your early attention is a provision for the current service of the ensuing year, together with such ascertained demands upon the treasury as require to be immediately discharged, and such casualties as may have arisen in the execution of the public business, for which no specific appropriation may have yet been made; of all which a proper estimate will be laid before you.
GENTLEMEN OF THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:
I shall content myself with a general reference to former communications for several objects, upon which the urgency of other affairs has hitherto postponed any definite resolution. Their importance will recall them to your attention; and I trust, that the progress already made in the most arduous arrangements of the government will afford you leisure to resume them with advantage.
There are, however, some of them, of which I cannot forbear a more particular mention. These are, the militia; the post-office and post-roads; the mint; weights and measures; a provision for the sale of the vacant lands of the United States.
The first is certainly an object of primary importance, whether viewed in reference to the national security, to the satisfaction of the community, or to the preservation of order. In connexion with this, the establishment of competent magazines and arsenals, and the fortification of such places as are peculiarly important and vulnerable, naturally present themselves to consideration. The safety of the United States, under divine protection, ought to rest on the basis of systematic and solid arrangements, exposed as little as possible to the hazards of fortuitous circumstances.
The importance of the post-office and post-roads on a plan sufficiently liberal and comprehensive, as they respect the expedition, safety, and facility of communication, is increased by the instrumentality in diffusing a knowledge of the laws and proceedings of the government; which, while it contributes to the security of the people, serves also to guard them against the effects of misrepresentation and misconception. The establishment of additional cross posts, especially to some of the important points in the western and northern parts of the Union, cannot fail to be of material utility.
The disorders in the existing currency, and especially the scarcity of small change, a scarcity so peculiarly distressing to the poorer classes, strongly recommend the carrying into immediate effect the resolution already entered into concerning the establishment of a mint. Measures have been taken, pursuant to that resolution, for procuring some of the most necessary articles, together with the requisite apparatus.
A uniformity in the weights and measures of the country is among the important objects submitted to you by the constitution; and, if it can be derived from a standard at once invariable and universal, must be no less honorable to the public councils, than conducive to the public convenience.
A provision for the sale of the vacant lands of the United States is particularly urged, among other reasons, by the important considerations, that they are pledged as a fund for reimbursing the public debt; that if timely and judiciously applied, they may save the necessity of burthening our citizens with new taxes for the extinguishment of the principal and that, being free to discharge the principal but in a limited proportion, no opportunity ought to be lost for availing the public of its rights.1
TO HARRIOT WASHINGTON.2
Philadelphia, 30 October, 1791.
I have received your letter of the 21st instant, and shall always be glad to hear from you. When my business will permit, inclination will not be wanting in me to acknowledge the receipt of your letters; and this I shall do more cheerfully, as it will afford me opportunities at those times of giving you such occasional advice, as your situation may require.
At present I could plead a better excuse for curtailing my letter to you, than you had for shortening of yours to me, having a multitude of occupations before me, while you have nothing to do; consequently you might with equal convenience to yourself have sat down to write your letter an hour or two or even a day sooner, as to have delayed it until your cousin was on the point of sending to the post-office. I make this remark for no other reason, than to show you it is better to offer no excuse than a bad one, if at any time you should happen to fall into an error.
Occupied as my time now is, and must be during the sitting of Congress, I nevertheless will endeavor to inculcate upon your mind the delicacy and danger of that period, to which you are now arrived under peculiar circumstances. You are just entering into the state of womanhood, without the watchful eye of a mother to admonish, or the protecting aid of a father to advise and defend you; you may not be sensible, that you are at this moment about to be stamped with that character, which will adhere to you through life; the consequences of which you have not perhaps attended to, but be assured it is of the utmost importance that you should.
Your cousins, with whom you live, are well qualified to give you advice; and I am sure they will, if you are disposed to receive it. But, if you are disobliging, self-willed, and untowardly, it is hardly to be expected that they will engage themselves in unpleasant disputes with you, especially Fanny, whose mild and placid temper will not permit her to exceed the limits of wholesome admonition or gentle rebuke. Think, then, to what dangers a giddy girl of fifteen or sixteen must be exposed in circumstances like these. To be under but little or no control may be pleasing to a mind that does not reflect, but this pleasure cannot be of long duration; and reason, too late perhaps, may convince you of the folly of misspending time. You are not to learn, I am certain, that your fortune is small. Supply the want of it, then, with a well cultivated mind, with dispositions to industry and frugality, with gentleness of manners, obliging temper, and such qualifications as will attract notice, and recommend you to a happy establishment for life.
You might, instead of associating with those from whom you can derive nothing that is good, but may have observed every thing that is deceitful, lying, and bad, become the intimate companion of, and aid to, your cousin in the domestic concerns of the family. Many girls, before they have arrived at your age, have been found so trustworthy as to take the whole trouble of a family from their mothers; but it is by a steady and rigid attention to the rules of propriety, that such confidence is obtained, and nothing would give me more pleasure than to hear that you had acquired it. The merits and benefits of it would redound more to your advantage in your progress through life, and to the person with whom you may in due time form a matrimonial connexion, than to any others; but to none would such a circumstance afford more real satisfaction, than to your affectionate uncle.
TO DAVID STUART.
Philadelphia, 20 November, 1791.
I had heard before the receipt of your letter of the 29th of October, and with a degree of surprise and concern not easy to be expressed, that Major L’Enfant had refused the map of the Federal City, when it was requested by the commissioners for the satisfaction of the purchasers at the sale. It is much to be regretted, however common the case is, that men, who possess talents which fit them for peculiar purposes, should almost invariably be under the influence of an untoward disposition, or are sottish, idle, or possessed of some other disqualification, by which they plague all those with whom they are concerned. But I did not expect to have met with such perverseness in Major L’Enfant as his late conduct exhibited.
Since my first knowledge of the gentleman’s abilities in the line of his profession, I have received him not only as a scientific man, but one who added considerable taste to professional knowledge; and that, for such employment as he is now engaged in, for prosecuting public works, and carrying them into effect, he was better qualified than any one, who had come within my knowledge in this country, or indeed in any other, the probability of obtaining whom could be counted upon.
I had no doubt, at the same time, that this was the light in which he considered himself, and, of course, that he would be so tenacious of his plans as to conceive, that they would be marred if they underwent any change or alteration; but I did not suppose, that he would have interfered further in the mode of selling the lots, than by giving an opinion with his reasons in support of it; and this perhaps it might be well always to hear, as the latter would stamp the propriety or show the futility of it. To advise this I am the more inclined, as I am persuaded that all those, who have any agency in the business, have the same objects in view, although they may differ in sentiment with respect to the mode of execution; because, from a source even less productive than L’Enfant’s may flow ideas, that are capable of improvements; and because I have heard, that Ellicott, who is also a man of uncommon talents in his way, and of a more placid temper, has intimated that no information had been required either from him or L’Enfant on some point or points (I do not now particularly recollect what), which they thought themselves competent to give.
I have no other motive for mentioning the latter circumstance, than merely to show, that the feelings of such men are always alive, and, where their assistance is essential, that it is policy to honor them, or to put on the appearance of doing it.
I have, however, since I have come to the knowledge of Major L’Enfant’s refusal of the map at the sale, given him to understand through a direct channel, though not an official one as yet, (further than what casually passed between us, previous to the sale, at Mount Vernon,) that he must in future look to the commissioners for directions. They having laid the foundation of this grand design, the superstructure depended upon them; that I was perfectly satisfied his plans and opinions would have due weight, if properly offered and explained; that, if the choice of commissioners was again to be made, I could not please myself better, or hit upon those who had the measure more at heart, or better disposed to accommodate the various interests and persons concerned; and that it would give me great concern to see a goodly prospect clouded by impediments, which might be thrown in the way, or injured by disagreements, which would only serve to keep alive the hopes of those, who are enemies to the plan. But, that you may not infer from hence, he has expressed any dissatisfaction at the conduct of the commissioners towards him, it is an act of justice I should declare, that I never have heard, directly or indirectly, that he has expressed any. His pertinacity would, I am persuaded, be the same in all cases and to all men. He conceives, or would have others believe, that the sale was promoted by withholding the general map, and thereby the means of comparison; but I have caused it to be signified to him, that I am of a different opinion, and that it is much easier to impede than to force a sale, as none who knew what they were about would be induced to buy, to borrow an old adage, “a pig in a poke.”
There has been something very unaccountable in the conduct of the engraver, yet I cannot be of opinion the delays were occasioned by L’Enfant. As soon, however, as a correct draft of the city is prepared, the same or some other person, shall be pressed to the execution. I say a correct draft, because I have understood that Mr. Ellicott has given it as his opinion, it was lucky that engravings did not come out from the first plan, in as much as they would not have been so perfectly exact, as to have justified a sale by them. It is of great importance, in my opinion, that the city should be laid out into squares and lots with all the despatch that the nature and accuracy of the work will admit. And it is the opinion of intelligent and well-informed men, now in this city, who are friends to this measure, that for this purpose, and to accommodate the two great interests of Georgetown and Carrollsburg, it would be advisable, rather than delay another public sale till the whole can be completed, to lay all the ground into squares, which shall be west of the avenue leading from Georgetown to the President’s house, thence by the avenue to the house for Congress, thence by a proper avenue (I have not the plan by me to say which) to the Eastern Branch, comprehending the range of squares next to and bounding on the said avenues on the east side, and to appoint as early a day for the sale as a moral certainty of their completion will warrant.
When I speak of the importance of despatch, it does not proceed from any doubt I harbor, that the enemies to the measure can shake the establishment of it; for it is with pleasure I add as my opinion, that the roots of the permanent seat are penetrating deep, and spreading far and wide. The eastern States are not only getting more and more reconciled to the measure, but are beginning to view it in a more advantageous light, as it respects their policy and interests; and some members from that quarter, who were its bitterest foes while the question was pending in Congress, have now declared in unequivocal terms to various people, and at various times, that, if attempts should be made to repeal the law, they would give it every opposition in their power. These sentiments of the eastern people, being pretty well known, will, I am persuaded, arrest the design, if a repeal has been contemplated; but it will not prevent those, who are irreconcilable, from aiming all the side blows in their power at it; and the rumor, which was spread at the sale, that Congress never would reside there, is one of the expedients, that will be exerted in all its force, with a view to discourage the sales of the lots, and the buildings thereon, that the accommodations may be unfit for the government when the period shall arrive that the removal is to take place.
When I see Major L’Enfant, who it is said will shortly be here, I shall endeavor to bring him to some explanation of the terms on which he will serve the public; and will also impress upon him the necessity of despatch, that as early a sale as circumstances will admit may ensue.1 * * *
With very great esteem and regard, I am, &c.
TO M. LAFAYETTE.
Philadelphia, 22 November, 1791.
My dear Sir,
Mr. John Trumbull, with whom you are acquainted, is engaged in painting a series of pictures of the most important events of the revolution in this country, from which he proposes to have plates engraved. I have taken peculiar satisfaction in giving every proper aid in my power to a subscription for supporting this work, which has been likewise patronized by the principal people of this country. In the hope of meeting the patronage of the French nation, to whose honor, as well as that of America, this plan is directed, Mr. Trumbull informs me he has ordered a subscription to be opened in Paris. And the object of this letter is to engage your support to the subscription in that city, and other parts of the nation where it may be offered. I should not, however, do justice to Mr. Trumbull’s talents and merits, were I barely to mention his views and wishes on this occasion.
His pieces, as far as they are executed, meet the warm applause of all, who have seen them. The greatness of the design, and the masterly execution of the work, equally interest the man of a capacious mind and the approving eye of the connoisseur. He has spared no pains in obtaining from the life the likenesses of those characters, (French as well as American,) who bore a conspicuous part in our revolution; and the success with which [his] efforts have been crowned will form no small part of the value of his pieces.
To you, my dear Sir, who knew Mr. Trumbull as a man and as an artist, it would perhaps have been hardly necessary to say so much as I have done on this occasion. But I could not in justice say less of him, when I believe, in his profession, he will do much honor to the liberal art of painting, as well as credit to this his native country.
I cannot conclude this letter without congratulating you most sincerely on the King’s acceptance of the constitution, presented to him by the National Assembly, and upon the happy consequences, which promise to flow upon your country as well as to mankind in general from that event. The prayers and wishes of the friends of the human race have attended the exertions of your nation; and when your affairs are completely settled, under an energetic and equal government, the hearts of good men will be gratified, and no one will rejoice in your felicity, and for the noble and disinterested part you have acted, more than your truly affectionate, &c.
TO THE COMMISSIONERS FOR THE FEDERAL DISTRICT.
Philadelphia, 18th December, 1791.
It gave me much pleasure to find by a late letter of yours to Mr. Jefferson, that the dispute between Major L’Enfant and Mr. Carroll is likely to terminate more favorably than might have been expected from the nature of it; and that you are disposed to take no further notice of his late unjustifiable proceedings.
You will perceive by the enclosed copy of a letter which I have just written to him that I have placed it beyond a doubt (if he had any before, from an opinion that the Commissioners were appointed for one purpose and himself for another, and that they were to act independent of each other) that his powers and instructions are to flow from you.
His aim is obvious—It is to have as much scope as possible for the display of his talents—perhaps for his ambition.—A copy of his letter of the 7th instant herewith sent, not only evinces this, but shows the extent to which he wishes to carry it. If however he will bear the curb which is put upon him by the letter of which you have the copy (and which will admit of no misinterpretation) I submit to your consideration whether it might not be politic to give him pretty general and ample powers for defined objects, until you shall discover in him a disposition to abuse them.
His pride would be gratified and his ambition excited, by such a mark of your confidence. If for want of these, or from any other cause he should take miff and leave the business, I have no scruple in declaring to you (though I do not want him to know it) that I know not where another is to be found who could supply his place.
His conduct in the dispute with Mr. Carroll of Duddington, I will readily acknowledge is no inducement to entrust him with extensive powers; because after your interference his proceedings was unwarrantable; and previous to it (in the last act) it was imprudent. Having said this, I must go farther and declare, that under the statement I received of this matter when I was at George town (not only from Major L’Enfant, but from another on whom I could depend) I think Mr. Carroll of Duddington is equally to blame, and without entering far into the detail of the dispute between these two Gentlemen; the following will comprise in my opinion, and bear solution of the motives which influenced the former. The work of Maj. L’Enfant (which is greatly admired) will show that he had many objects to attend to, and to combine, not on paper merely, but to make them correspond with the actual circumstances of the ground. This required more time than the patience—perhaps the convenience,—of Mr. Carroll would admit, and therefore, notwithstanding the assurances of the other, that he was using all the despatch in his power to ascertain the principal Streets and objects, and that he, Mr. Carroll, should not suffer by the delay; the latter proceeded after a while to the completion of his buildings.
This excited resentment in L’Enfant; and, more than probably gave birth to expressions which begat mutual warmth; and conceiving (without adverting to, or perhaps even knowing the formalities which are required by our laws) that, by the Deeds of cession, houses, and every other impediment which might happen to stand in the way were to be removed (paying the value thereof)—he took the determination to demolish, without ceremony, the house of Mr. Carroll; and having proceeded to the execution, his pride (however false) would not permit him to recede. This in my opinion, is a true state of the case;—to which a reserve, and an unwillingness to answer enquiries respecting his plan, has given disgust. But how far a compliance on his part, in an unfinished stage of the work would have been consistent with his duty, is a matter worthy of consideration. If this reserve &c. proceeded from self importance, and the insolence of office, the motives were unworthy.—If from a conviction of the impropriety of developing his designs to the public before they were matured and approved; they were good;—at any rate not condemnable.
These sentiments being the result of my reflections upon this subject, I communicate them for your private information; and for that reason request that this letter may not be mixed with other papers that respect your public transactions.—An imprudent use made of them might sow the seeds of discord, whilst reconciliation ought to be promoted, and discontents of every sort ought to be buried, by all those who have any concern or interest in the business. I am, &c.
[1 ]See The St. Clair Papers, ii., 163, 164.
[1 ]From Colonel Pickering’s Letter: “General Knox informed me, that it would be agreeable to you that I should undertake the superintendency of the northern Indians; I mean particularly the Six Nations. I answered, that, by the new constitution of Pennsylvania, a Continental appointment was declared to be incompatible with the appointments I held under the State: and I supposed the nature of such superintendency would not warrant any considerable emolument. In a subsequent conversation I intimated a willingness to perform the necessary services respecting the Six Nations, without any formal appointment; but this idea seems not to have been approved. Afterwards I found, that all the Indians north of the Ohio were already arranged under one department, of which General St. Clair was the superintendent, who, with your permission, might appoint a deputy. General Knox seemed to wish, that the matter might be suspended until the arrival of General St. Clair, who was daily expected. Since that time I have reflected on the subject, and, upon the whole, would beg leave to decline taking the superintendency proposed; though not without expressing the real pleasure I feel in the favorable sentiments you entertain concerning me, and assuring you of my readiness to perform any occasional services in that line, which your wishes for the public good may require.”—Philadelphia, January 15th.
[1 ]“Major L’Enfant comes on to make such a survey of the grounds in your vicinity as may aid in fixing the site of the federal town and buildings: his present instructions express those alone which are within the Eastern branch, the Potowmac, the Tyber, and the road leading from Georgetown to the Ferry on the Eastern branch. He is directed to begin at the lower end and work upwards, and nothing further is communicated to him. The purpose of this letter is to desire you will not be yourselves misled by this appearance, nor be diverted from the pursuit of the objects I have recommended to you. I expect that your progress in accomplishing them will be facilitated by the presumption which will arise on seeing this operation begun at the eastern branch; and that the proprietors nearer Georgetown who have hitherto refused to accommodate, will let themselves down to reasonable terms.”—Washington to Deakins and Stoddert, 2 March, 1791.
[1 ]This relates only to a rumor, which had come to the ears of Colonel Humphreys, that the Vice-President had written to Europe despondingly of American affairs, but that letters from his wife were in a different tone.
[2 ]“The Count Andriani has written things monstrously absurd and ill-founded; such, in respect to their import, as follows: That the United States are divided into two factions, Mr. Jefferson and the northern States in favor of France, the southern States and New York in favor of Great Britain; that Congress had done nothing but quarrel about the seat of government, and that this circumstance was what probably gave you the air of anxiety, which he had remarked; that there was no man in Congress, but Mr. Madison, who argued in a gentlemanlike and solid manner, nor, in short, any man out of it in America but Colonel Hamilton, who possessed abilities; with a great deal about American parade and luxury, not worth repeating.”—Humphreys to Washington, 31 October, 1790.
[1 ]Mr. Rumsey had gone to Europe to seek encouragement for his inventions. Of Paine’s bridge Colonel Humphreys said: “It is an arch of one hundred and fifteen feet on the upper side, and has the most beautifully light appearance I ever beheld. The truth of the principles, and the extent of the utility of the invention, are demonstrated.” This bridge was constructed of iron. Mr. Rumsey was engaged in constructing a steamboat, but died suddenly in London.
[2 ]“I never doubted but that the operations of this government, if not perverted by prejudice or evil designs, would inspire the citizens of America with such confidence in it, as effectually to do away those apprehensions, which, under the former confederation, our best men entertained of divisions among ourselves, or allurements from other nations. I am therefore happy to find, that such a disposition prevails in your part of the country [Kentucky], as to remove any idea of that evil, which a few years ago you so much dreaded.
[1 ]The abolition of the Noblesse in France, by a decree of the National Assembly, took place on the 19th of June, 1790. Afterwards the title of Marquis was dropped in Washington’s letters to Lafayette.
[1 ]Congress directed the raising of one regular regiment, two regiments of levies for six months, and such a proportion of levies as may be thought necessary. To St. Clair was given the command in chief; to Richard Butler, the levies; and to Charles Scott the militia.
[1 ]According to the intimation given in this letter, the President commenced his tour through the Southern States. He proceeded by way of Richmond, Wilmington, and Charleston as far south as Savannah; thence to Augusta and Columbia, and returned through the interior of North Carolina and Virginia. His journal of this tour has been published under the editorship of Benson J. Lossing.
[1 ]“Finding the interests of the Landholders about Georgetown and those about Carrollsburgh much at variance, and that their fears and jealousies of each were counteracting the public purposes, and might prove injurious to its best interests, whilst if properly managed they might be made to subserve it—I requested them to meet me at six o’clock this afternoon at my lodgings, which they accordingly did.
[1 ]Going on a mission to Morocco, but with the commission of a consul only.
[2 ]Difficulties had arisen among the settlers on the eastern and northwestern boundaries. It was reported that acts of force had been committed. “The impossibility,” said Mr. Jefferson, “of bringing the court of London to an adjustment of any differences whatever, renders our situation perplexing. Should any applications from the States, or their citizens, be so urgent as to require something to be said before your return, my opinion would be, that they should be desired to make no new settlements on our part, nor suffer any to be made on the part of the British, within the disaffected territory; and, if any attempts should be made to remove them from the settlements already made, that they are to repel force by force, and ask aid of the neighboring militia to do this and no more. I see no other safe way of forcing the British government to come forward themselves, and demand an amicable settlement.”—March 27th.
[1 ]It was from this sentence, probably, that Jefferson drew the inference that Washington “meant to retire from the government ere long.”—Anas.
[2 ]Alluding to the large purchases of new lands, situate in the western part of New York, which had recently been made by Robert Morris of Gorham and Phelps. The quantity as stated by Mr. Jefferson, was one million three hundred thousand acres at five pence an acre; with an additional tract, for the gross sum of one hundred thousand pounds.
[1 ]Beckwith had already assured Hamilton that nothing more had been given to the Indians than the annual present at the usual time. Jefferson thought an opportunity presented itself of forcing the British to come forward and demand an amicable settlement. He would forbid settlements in the disputed territory, and in case of conflict, which was inevitable, to resort to arms.—Jefferson to Washington, 27 March, 1791. He asked Madison, who lodged in the same house with the British agent, to meet Beckwith and to represent, that while an annual present might be innocent in time of peace, it might be otherwise in a period of war; that it was a violation of neutrality to furnish arms to either power at war. This meeting was held on the evening of April 7th.—Writings of Madison, i., 530. Jefferson to Washington, 17 and 24 April, 1791. One of the first acts of the British Minister, George Hammond, was to give an explicit disclaimer that the government of Canada had supported or encouraged the hostility of the Indians in the west.—Jefferson to Hammond, 2 February, 1792.
[1 ]The letter from Mr. King to the Secretary of the Treasury contained the following passage, after mentioning that danger was apprehended from the Indians in the western parts of New York.
[1 ]The manuscript reads Duke of Leeds, a manifest error.
[2 ]Mr. Carmichael, the chargé d’affaires from the United States to the court of Spain, had informed the Secretary of State that he had seen in Madrid extracts from the President’s letter to Gouverneur Morris (dated October 13th, 1789), authorizing him to enter into a private negotiation for certain objects with the British Cabinet. He supposed these extracts to have been sent secretly by the British Minister to the representative from that court in Spain, to have an influence on a discussion then pending between England and Spain. Mr. Carmichael supposed the extracts were mutilated or forged. Mr. Jefferson recommended that a genuine copy of the letter should be sent to him, with permission to use it as he should think proper. The history and particulars of this negotiation may be seen in Ford, The United States and Spain in 1791.
True; but I observe in the American edition, that the Secretary of State has given a most unequivocal sanction to the book, as Secretary of State; it is not said as Mr. Jefferson.“Lear.—
I have not seen the American, nor any other edition of this pamphlet, but I will venture to say, that the Secretary of State has not done a thing, which he would not justify.“Beckwith.—
On this subject you will consider, that I have only spoken as an individual, and as a private person.“Lear.—
I do not know you, Sir, in any other character.“Beckwith.—
I was apprehensive, that you might conceive, that, on this occasion, I meant to enter the lists in more than a private character.
“At this moment the gentlemen of the Cincinnati, who are here at the general meeting, entered the room in form, to pay their respects to Mrs. Washington. This broke off the conversation; and, as Major Beckwith did not afterwards seek an occasion to renew it, nothing more passed on the subject. Yesterday the attorney-general and Mrs. Randolph dined, in a family way, with Mrs. Washington, and after dinner, the subject of Mr. Paine’s pamphlet coming on the carpet, I related to the attorney-general the substance of my conversation with Major Beckwith.
“Soon after I had finished my relation to the attorney-general, a person called for him at the door, with whom he went out upon business. In the evening I saw him again, when he informed me, that, upon being called upon after dinner, he went to Mrs. House’s with the person who called him. While he was there, Major Beckwith came in, and in the course of conversation the subject of Mr. Paine’s pamphlet was introduced, when Major Beckwith made the same observations, which I had before related. Upon leaving Mrs. House’s, the attorney-general said, he went to Mr. Jefferson’s, to know from him if he had authorized the publication of the extract from his note, which appeared prefixed to the American edition of Mr. Paine’s pamphlet. Mr. Jefferson said, that, so far from having authorized it, he was exceedingly sorry to see it there; not from a disavowal of the approbation, which it gave the work, but because it had been sent to the printer, with the pamphlet for republication, without the most distant idea that he would think of publishing any part of it. And Mr. Jefferson further added, that he wished it might be understood, that he did not authorize the publication of any part of his note.
“This publication of Mr. Jefferson’s sentiments respecting Mr. Paine’s pamphlet will set him in direct opposition to Mr. Adams’s political tenets; for Mr. Adams has, in the most pointed manner, expressed his detestation of the book and its tendency. I had myself an opportunity of hearing Mr. Adams’s sentiments on it one day soon after the first copies of it arrived in this place. I was at the Vice-President’s house, and while there Dr. and Mrs. Rush came in. The conversation turned upon this book, and Dr. Rush asked the Vice-President what he thought of it. After a little hesitation, he laid his hand upon his breast, and said in a very solemn manner. ‘I detest that book and its tendency, from the bottom of my heart.’ ”—Philadelphia, May 8th.
[1 ]Thomas Johnson, David Stuart, and Daniel Carroll, Commissioners of the Federal District.
[1 ]Spanish governor of Florida. By order of his court, he was inviting foreigners to settle in that territory. “This is meant for our people,” said Mr. Jefferson April 2d; “debtors take advantage of it, and go off with their property. Our citizens have a right to go where they please. It is the business of the States to take measures to stop them till their debts are paid. This done, I wish a hundred thousand of our inhabitants would accept the invitation. It will be the means of delivering to us peaceably what may otherwise cost us a war. In the meantime we may complain of this reduction of our inhabitants just enough to make them believe we think it very wise policy for them, and confirm them in it.”
[1 ]In a joint reply, Mr. Pinckney and Mr. Rutledge declined accepting the proposed appointment. They placed their objection chiefly on private grounds; “but others,” they added, “of a more general and more powerful nature have influenced our resolution. We think we can be of more real advantage to the general government, and to our own State government, by remaining in the legislature, than we could possibly be by accepting any office under either, which fills the public eye with the appearance of being lucrative. Under this opinion you will be in sentiment with us, that it is our indispensable duty to continue in the station we are, so long as we possess the confidence of the public. But as we devoted a large portion of our early years to the service of our country, so, whenever her honor, or her interest, shall seem to require our aid, we shall cheerfully lay aside all private or partial considerations, and imitate as far as may be in our power the best and brightest of examples.”—Charleston, June 12th.
[1 ]He had been recommended for the appointment by Colonel Hamilton, in terms expressive of the highest opinion of his character and qualifications.
[1 ]Observations on Mr. Burke’s “Reflections on the French Revolution.”
[1 ]Mrs. Graham died on the 22d of June, 1791, and consequently before the letter was written.
[1 ]In his southern tour he recorded, on reaching Richmond: “I cannot discover that any discontents prevail among the people at large at the proceedings of Congress. The conduct of the assembly respecting assumption he [Carrington] thinks is condemned by them as intemperate and unwise—and he seems to have no doubt but that the Excise law—as it is called—may be executed without difficulty—nay more, that it will become popular in a little time. His duty as marshall having carried him through all parts of the State lately, and of course given him the best means of ascertaining the temper and disposition of its inhabitants—he thinks them favorable towards the General Government—and that they only require to have matters explained to them in order to obtain their full assent to the measures adopted by it.”—12 April 1791.
[1 ]He was associated with Viar in the management of Spanish interests in the United States.
[1 ]Mr. Johnson was appointed one of the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States, in the place of John Rutledge, who had resigned.
[2 ]By the abolition of the Noblesse in France, M. de la Luzerne had lost his title of Marquis. He died before this letter reached him.
[1 ]“To M. de Ternant I refer for more particulars. Mr. Jefferson and myself had long thought that Ternant was a very proper man to act as French minister in America. He in a great measure belongs to both countries. He is sensible, honest, well informed, and has a plain and decisive way of doing business, which will be very convenient. He has long been an officer under your command, feeling and acting in an American capacity. He is personally much attached to you, and I have had in this revolution many instances of his friendship for me. He might have been a minister in the Council, but was rather backward on the occasion, and behaved as a prudent, not an ambitious man.
[1 ]While France was greatly pressed for ready money, there were many suggestions thrown out that the debt due from the United States might be realized upon, either by a direct transfer to a number of bankers, or by a loan raised upon the security of that debt. Morris had been active in some scheme of this nature, and had at last submitted a definite proposal to the President. The reply was doubtless inspired by Hamilton, and the decision was based more upon political than financial reasons.
[1 ]A senator from North Carolina. Although these sentiments were delivered at a later date than the letter to Randolph, I have inserted them here as expressive of Washington’s ideas on Indian affairs. The letter of Hawkins has been lost.
[1 ]Battaile Muse, who had acted as Washington’s agent in leasing his lands and collecting his rents.
[1 ]“How far, in addition to the several matters mentioned in that letter would there be propriety, do you think, in suggesting the policy of encouraging the growth of cotton and hemp in such parts of the United States as are adapted to the culture of them? The advantages, which would result to this country from the encouragement of these articles for home manufacture, I have no doubt of; but how far bounties on them come within the powers of the general government, or it might comport with the temper of the times to expend money for such purposes, is necessary to be considered, and without a bounty I know of no means by which they can be effectually encouraged. The establishment of arsenals in convenient and proper places is, in my opinion, a measure of high national importance, meriting the serious attention of Congress; and is one of those measures, which ought to be brought to their view.”—Washington to Hamilton, 14 October, 1791.
[2 ]An orphan niece, who had resided for some time in General Washington’s family, and to whom he continued to extend his care and aid.
[1 ]“It having been found impracticable to employ Major L’Enfant about the federal city, in that degree of subordination which was lawful and proper, he has been notified that his services are at an end.”—Jefferson to the Commissioners, 6 March, 1792.