Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO TIMOTHY PICKERING, SECRETARY OF STATE. [CONFIDENTIAL.] - The Writings of George Washington, vol. XIV (1798-1799)
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TO TIMOTHY PICKERING, SECRETARY OF STATE. [CONFIDENTIAL.] - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. XIV (1798-1799) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890). Vol. XIV (1798-1799).
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TO TIMOTHY PICKERING, SECRETARY OF STATE.
Mount Vernon, 3 March, 1799.
The unexpectedness of the event communicated in your letter of the 21st ultimo did, as you may suppose, surprise me not a little. But far, very far indeed was this surprise short of what I experienced the next day when, by a very intelligent Gentm, immediately from Philadelphia, I was informed, that there had been no direct overture from the government of France to that of the United States for a negotiation; on the contrary, that M. Talleyrand was playing the same loose and roundabout game he had attempted the year before with our envoys; and which, as in that case, might mean any thing or nothing, as would subserve his purposes best.
Had we approached the ante-chamber of this gentleman when he opened the door to us, and there waited for a formal invitation into the Interior, the Governments would have met upon equal ground, and we might have advanced or receded according to circumstances, with commitment. In plainer words, had we said to M. Talleyrand, through the channel of his communication; “We still are, as we always have been, ready to settle by fair negotiation all differences between the two nations upon open, just, and honorable terms, and it rests with the Directory (after the indignities with which our attempts to affect this have been treated, if they are equally sincere), to come forward in an unequivocal manner, and prove it by their acts;” such conduct would have shewn a dignified willingness on our part to negotiate, and would have tested their sincerity on the other. Under my present view of the subject, this would have been the course I should have pursued; keeping equally in view the horrors of War, and the dignity of the Government.
But, not being acquainted with all the information and the motives, which induced the measure, I may have taken a wrong impression, and therefore shall say nothing further on the subject at this time. With sincere esteem and regard, I am, dear Sir, &c.