Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO TIMOTHY PICKERING, SECRETARY OF STATE. [PRIVATE.] - The Writings of George Washington, vol. XIII (1794-1798)
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TO TIMOTHY PICKERING, SECRETARY OF STATE. [PRIVATE.] - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. XIII (1794-1798) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890). Vol. XIII (1794-1798).
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TO TIMOTHY PICKERING, SECRETARY OF STATE.
Mount Vernon, 25 July, 1796.
Your private letters of the 19th and 20th instant have been duly received.
The request of Mr. J. Jones, to forward his letter to Colo. Monroe, is opposed to the speedy departure of Mr. D[awson] for France, and yet the Gentleman who gave me the information spoke of it as a matter not doubtful; but added indeed (a circumstance I did not mention in my former letter) that it was on Mr. Swan he leaned for money; and possibly, if that gentleman is at Boston, this may be the occasion of Mr. Deas1 journey to that place, under the pretext of contracting for arms.
Was Colonel Monroe requested to engage a cannon-founder in behalf of the United States? If so, on what terms? To remove a person with his family will be attended with considerable expense, and, unless with condition to secure his services, it will be done under great uncertainty. With respect to the engineers, policy requires a further developement of the unfavorable disposition, with which we are threatened, before any encouragement ought to be given to the measure. But, even if that objection was fully removed, there are no funds, within my recollection, that would enable the executive to incur the expense. Therefore, as a law must precede in this case any executive act, the answer to the query is quite easy and plain.
I am continuing and extending my enquiries for a fit character to fill the office of Surveyor-General, without any great prospect of doing it to my satisfaction. Mr. Ludlow, besides what is mentioned in your letter (which requires attention) has not, according to my ideas of him, celebrity of character; and is of too short standing in the community to fill an office of so much importance from its trusts, and the ability and integrity which is required, tho’ deficient in compensation; unless by means which ought to be prevented.
It is much to be regreted that you did not discover the broken seal of Mr. Monroe’s letter to you, before the departure of the bearer of it; that an attempt at least might have been made to trace the channel through which it had passed; and thereby, if proofs could not have been obtained, to have found ground for just suspicion. You confine the postmark of Alexandria to his letter of the 8th of April; had you included that also of the 2d of May, I would have caused enquiry to have been made at that office with respect to the appearance of the letters when they went from thence.
I am glad to find, that more smoke than fire is likely to result from the representation of French discontents on account of our treaty with Great Britain. Had the case been otherwise, there would have been no difficulty in tracing the effect to the cause; and it is far from being impossible, that the whole may have originated in a contrivance of the opposers of the government, to see what effect such threats would work; and, finding none that could answer their purpose, and no safe ground to stand on, if they pushed matters to extremity, the matter may terminate in gasconade. Be this as it may, the executive has a plain road to pursue, namely, to fulfil all the engagements, which his duty requires; be influenced beyond this by none of the contending parties; maintain a strict neutrality, unless obliged by imperious circumstances to depart from it; do justice to all, and never forget that we are Americans, the remembrance of which will convince us that we ought not to be French or English,1 With great esteem and regard, I am, &c.
[1 ]A possible error for Dawson.
[1 ]“If the answer which you returned to the minister of the French Republic to his inquiry relative to the prohibition of the sale of prizes brought by French armed vessels into the ports of the United States, should, as it ought, preclude any reply, it would be very agreeable; but it has not been found, that, where the interest or convenience of that nation is at stake, the minister thereof can be satisfied with reasons, however cogent, which are opposed to their views. But in this case, as in all others, the executive must be governed by the constitution and laws, and, preserving good faith and an unbiassed conduct, leave the rest to the good sense of our own citizens, and the justice of the nations with whom we have intercourse.”—Washington to Timothy Pickering, 25 July, 1796.