Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES J. MSS. - The Works, vol. 8 (Correspondence 1793-1798)
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TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES J. MSS. - Thomas Jefferson, The Works, vol. 8 (Correspondence 1793-1798) 
The Works of Thomas Jefferson, Federal Edition (New York and London, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904-5). Vol. 8
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TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATESJ. MSS.
December 2, 1793.
Th: Jefferson, with his respects to the President, has the honor to send him the letters & orders referred to in mr. Morris’s letter, except that of the 8th of April, which must be a mistake for some other date, as the records of the office perfectly establish that no letters were written to him in the months of March & April but those of Mar. 12. & 15. & Apr. 20. & 26. now enclosed. The enigma of Mr. Merlino is inexplicable by anything in his possession.
He encloses the message respecting France & Great Britain. He first wrote it fair as it was agreed the other evening at the President’s. He then drew a line with a pen through the passages he proposes to alter, in consequence of subsequent information (but so lightly as to leave the passages still legible for the President) and interlined the alterations he proposes. The overtures mentioned in the first alteration, are in consequence of its having been agreed that they should be mentioned in general terms only to the two houses. The numerous alterations made the other evening in the clause respecting our corn trade, with the hasty amendments proposed in the moment had so much broken the tissue of the paragraph as to render it necessary to new mould it. In doing this, care has been taken to use the same words as nearly as possible, and also to insert a slight reference to mr. Pinckney’s proceedings.
On a severe review of the question, whether the British communication should carry any such mark of being confidential as to prevent the legislature from publishing them, he is clearly of opinion they ought not. Will they be kept secret if secrecy be enjoined? certainly not, & all the offence will be given (if it be possible any should be given) which would follow their complete publication. If they could be kept secret, from whom would it be? from our own constituents only, for Great Britain is possessed of every tittle. Why, then, keep it secret from them? no ground of support of the Executive will ever be so sure as a complete knolege of their proceedings by the people; and it is only in cases where the public good would be injured, and because it would be injured, that proceedings should be secret. In such cases it is the duty of the Executive to sacrifice their personal interests (which would be promoted by publicity) to the public interest. If the negotiations with England are at an end, if not given to the public now, when are they to be given? & what moment can be so interesting? If anything amiss should happen from the concealment, where will the blame originate at least? It may be said, indeed, that the President puts it in the power of the legislature to communicate these proceedings to their constituents; but is it more their duty to communicate them to their constituents, than it is the President’s to communicate them to his constituents? and if they were desirous of communicating them, ought the President to restrain them by making the communication confidential? I think no harm can be done by the publication, because it is impossible England, after doing us an injury, should declare war against us merely because we tell our constituents of it: and I think good may be done, because while it puts it in the power of the legislature to adopt peaceable measures of doing ourselves justice, it prepares the minds of our constituents to go cheerfully into an acquiescence under these measures, by impressing them with a thorough & enlightened conviction that they are founded in right. The motive too of proving to the people the impartiality of the Executive between the two nations of France and England urges strongly that while they are to see the disagreeable things which have been going on as to France we should not conceal from them what has been passing with England, and induce a belief that nothing has been doing.
CABINET DECISIONSJ. MSS.
December 7, 1793.
At a meeting of the Heads of Departments and Attorney-General at the President’s, on the 7th of December, 1793.
Mr. Genet’s letter of Dec. 3, questioning the right of requiring the address of consular commissions to the President, was read. It is the opinion that the address may be either to the United States or to the President of the United States, but that one of these should be insisted on.
A letter of James King was read, dated Philadelphia, Nov. 25, 1793, complaining of the capture of his schooner Nancy by a British privateer and carried into New Providence, and that the court there has thrown the onus probandi on the owners, to show that the vessel and cargo are American property. It is the opinion that Mr. King be informed, that it is a general rule that the government should not interpose individually, till a final denial of justice has taken place in the courts of the country where the wrong is done; but that, a considerable degree of information being shortly expected relative to these cases, his will be further considered and attended to at that time.
The Secretary of State informed the President that he had received a number of applications from Mr. Genet, on behalf of the refugees of St. Domingo, who have been subjected to tonnage on their vessels and duties on their property, on taking asylum in the ports of this country, into which they were forced by the misfortunes of that colony. It is the opinion that the Secretary of State may put the petitions into the hands of a member of the legislature in his private capacity, to be presented to the legislature.