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George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. XIII (1794-1798) [1892]

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George Washington, 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). http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/2417

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About this Title:

Vol. 13 covers December 1794 to May 1798 and includes letters and papers.

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The text is in the public domain.

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This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.

Table of Contents:

Edition: current; Page: [i]
THE WRITINGS of GEORGE WASHINGTON
VOL. XIII.
1794-1798
Edition: current; Page: [ii]

Of this Letter-press Edition

750 Copies have been Printed for Sale

No._____

July, 1892

Edition: current; Page: [iii]
THE WRITINGS OF GEORGE WASHINGTON
COLLECTED AND EDITED by WORTHINGTON CHAUNCEY FORD
Vol. XIII.
1794-1798
NEW YORK AND LONDON
G. P. PUTNAM’S SONS The Knickerbocker Press
1892
Edition: current; Page: [iv]

Press of

G. P. Putnam’s Sons

New York

Edition: current; Page: [v]

CONTENTS OF VOL. XIII.

  • 1794.
    • To Tobias Lear, December 21st . . . . page 1

      The Virginia legislature and the navigation company—Weston and Claiborne on locks—His tobacco in the warehouses.

    • To Henry Knox, December 30th . . . . 5

      His retirement from office.

    • To William Pearce, January-December . . . 6

      Restoring lands—A break in the rotation—Meal and flour—Carpenters’ and Green’s unfitness—Increase of lambs—Neglect of overseers—The renting of the fisheries—Prices of provisions and the embargo—Green’s rascally conduct—Corn supply—Grasses—Drilled wheat—Sickness of the hands—Disappointments and losses—The care of lambs—Stuart’s conduct—Quarrying stone at Mount Vernon—Abuse of mules and horses—Death—His objects in conducting the plantation—Bonus to John—Deceit of the hands—Policy in caring for the land—Small results of carpenters’ work—A granny—Sale and rental of his lands—Erection of a still—A road through the estate—Green and his family—Serving wine at Mount Vernon—Matter of accounts—Clearing woodland—Consumption of corn on the estate.

  • 1795.
    • To Daniel Carroll, January 7th . . . . . 24

      Greenleaf’s purchases in the federal city intended as speculations—Is opposed to any more large sales—Profit should be reaped by the commissioners.

    • To Tobias Lear, January 12th . . . . . 26

      Finances of the navigation company—Measures to be taken for their adjustment—Claiborne’s engineers—His tobacco.

    • To Eleanor Parke Custis, January 16th . . . 29

      The Georgetown ball—A hint on assumed insensibility—Love not an involuntary passion—Questions to be asked—The declaration must proceed from the man—Marriage of her sister.

      Edition: current; Page: [vi]
    • To Edmund Pendleton, January 22d . . . 32

      His age and desire for retirement—The spirit of anarchy in Pennsylvania subdued—Ready response of the militia—Favorable aspects of Indian affairs—Policy towards the tribes—Land speculators, settlers, and traders at fault—Jay’s mission.

    • To the Commissioners of the Federal District, January 28th . . . . . . . . 36

      A university in the federal city—Objects to be attained by its institution—Offers his Potomac River shares—Why he writes to them on the matter.

    • To Alexander Hamilton, February 2d . . . 39

      Final words on his retirement from the Treasury.

    • To Robert Lewis, February 22d . . . . 40

      Collection of rents—Bad character of under-sheriffs—Mrs. Haynie—Purchase of leases—Leases for lives.

    • To Joseph Ceracchi, March 9th . . . . . 43

      His scheme for a national monument—His complaint of deception and ill-treatment—His bust of the President—Attitude of the President—Busts of Bacchus and Ariadne.

    • To Charles Carter, March 10th . . . . . 47

      Is not able to lend money—Conditions under which he will contribute.

    • To Thomas Jefferson, March 15th . . . . 48

      His idea of a national university—Reasons for selecting the federal city—A second institution to be in Virginia—As to importing professors—The plans may be united.

    • To Robert Brooke, March 16th . . . . . 52

      The James River shares offered for a Virginian institution of learning.

    • To Daniel Morgan, March 27th . . . . . 55

      Trial of John Mitchell—Good conduct of the army—Mere agent of the civil power.

    • To Alexander White, May 17th . . . . 56

      Desires his residence to be in the federal city—Comparison of the old board of commissioners with the new—Necessity for pressing on the work.

    • To the Secretaries of State, Treasury, and War, and the Attorney-General, June 29th . . . 59

      Resolution of the Senate advising that the treaty with Great Britain be ratified—Questions suggested by the resolution.

      Edition: current; Page: [vii]
    • To Alexander Hamilton, July 3d . . . . 61

      Publication of the treaty—Desires the opinion of dispassionate men upon it—Asks for his views.

    • To Alexander Hamilton, July 13th . . . . 63

      Has received his examination of the treaty—Articles twelve and three open to objection—The Hudson’s Bay Company—Restraints on traders—If twelfth article is suspended, will it be necessary to submit again to the Senate?—Query as to the fifteenth article.

    • To Alexander Hamilton, July 14th . . . . 67

      His opinion on re-submission of treaty in direct opposition to those of the Cabinet—Has called for new opinions.

    • To Edmund Randolph, July 22d . . . . 68

      Proceedings at Boston on the treaty—His opinion on the ratification—The French decrees.

    • To Edmund Randolph, July 24th . . . . 71

      His readiness to return to Philadelphia—Opinions on the treaty—Monroe’s introduction of Archibald Rowan Hamilton.

    • To Timothy Pickering, July 27th . . . . 72

      Conference with the Indians—Higginson on the Boston meeting—Fierceness of party disputes.

    • Address to the Selectmen of Boston, July 28th . 74

      His policy in the matter of the treaty.

    • To Alexander Hamilton, July 29th . . . . 76

      Wishes to know the real temper of the people towards the treaty—Difference in opinions displayed—Alleged violation of our engagements with France—The essays of Camillus—Activity of the opposition.

    • To Edmund Randolph, July 29th . . . . 79

      His intention to return to Philadelphia—Importance of the public papers on the treaty requires it—Serious aspect of the opposition in its relation to France—Never was a crisis so pregnant of interesting events—Reply to the Boston selectmen—Chancellor Livingston’s letter.

    • To Edmund Randolph, July 31st . . . . 82

      Return of some letters—His journey to Philadelphia—Prejudices against the treaty more extensive than is generally imagined—Ratification or rejection brings dangers—A full examination of the subject necessary—The memorial on the treaty.

      Edition: current; Page: [viii]
    • To Edmund Randolph, August 3d . . . . 85

      Interruption of the mails—Baltimore and Richmond resolutions—His determination unshaken.

    • To Oliver Wolcott, August— . . . . 87

      Questions on the intercepted despatch of Fauchet.

    • To Edmund Randolph, August 20th . . . 90

      The story of Fauchet’s despatch—Its contents will not be divulged by him—A copy of the despatch will be sent to him.

    • To John Adams, August 20th . . . . . 91

      Prospects of John Quincy Adams—Reply to the Boston remonstrance—Meetings in opposition to the constituted authorities useless, dangerous, and improper.

    • To Robert R. Livingston, August 20th . . . 93

      His objections to the treaty—Reasons of his polity.

    • To James Ross, August 22d . . . . . 94

      Opposition of the seaport towns to the treaty—Logical result of the meetings.

    • To Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, August 24th . 95

      An offer of the Secretaryship of State—Duty should impel him to accept.

    • To Alexander Hamilton, August 31st . . . 96

      The British provision order—No reply given to questions for information—Matters to be considered in a new negotiation—Wishes an expression of his views.

    • To John Jay, August 31st . . . . . 99

      Treaty ratified by him as far as is in his power—Unfortunate revival of the domineering spirit in Great Britain—What points should be covered in a future friendly negotiation.

    • To George Cabot, September 7th . . . . 100

      Arrival of young Lafayette and his tutor—Will be the friend of Lafayette—Regard for his official position will prevent an open recognition—Suggests his entrance to the university at Cambridge—Inclination to serve him will be evidenced by his conduct—An assumed name.

    • To Timothy Pickering, September 9th . . . 103

      Sailing of the French and English vessels—Interpretation that may be put upon the order—Necessity of counteracting the story to be told by Fauchet.

      Edition: current; Page: [ix]
    • To Henry Knox, September 20th . . . . 105

      His settlement in Maine—No infallible opinion among mortals—Upright intentions and close investigation his rule of conduct—Results of misrepresentation on the public view of the treaty.

    • To Timothy Pickering, September 27th . . . 106

      The Directorship of the Mint—Samuel Dexter and the office of Attorney-General—To bring into office one opposed to the measures of the government, a sort of political suicide.

    • To Edmund Randolph, September 27th . . . 108

      His signature necessary—Some questions on Fauchet’s despatch answered.

    • To Oliver Wolcott, October 2d . . . . . 109

      Delay in Randolph’s statement—Some correspondence that has passed between them—His questions framed with an insidious tendency—A hint that might be thrown out to him.

    • To Thomas Jefferson, October 4th . . . . 111

      Madame de Chastellux’s application misplaced—Difficulty of introducing a new crop—Agricultural matters—Buckwheat dressing—Potatoes as an improving crop—The weavil and rains.

    • To Edward Carrington, October 9th . . . . 114

      Difficulty met in filling the office of State—Where it has been offered—Reasons for not having offered it to Mr. Henry—Innes for Attorney-General—A letter to Henry—Marshall to be consulted—Contingency of Henry’s refusing to serve.

    • To Patrick Henry, October 9th . . . . . 118

      The office of State—Wishes him to take it—His wishes in the conduct of the foreign relations of the government—An American character.

    • To Timothy Pickering, October 12th . . . . 120

      Fatality attending Pinckney’s negotiations—An extraordinary inattention to ciphers—Undignified and insulting course of the Spanish court—His return to Philadelphia.

    • To Edmund Randolph, October 21st . . . 122

      His letter to the Philadelphia Gazette—Full permission to use private and confidential, written and oral communications—His conduct on the treaty—Will receive his vindication through the press—A request that this letter be included—The public will decide between them.

      Edition: current; Page: [x]
    • To Edmund Randolph, October 25th . . . 125

      No apprehension from any disclosure whatsoever—Posing as a martyr to partisan spirit—Motive for giving him the papers he requires—Can see no relation between the treaty with Great Britain and the intercepted letter of Fauchet—Has created no necessity for his disclosures.

    • To Alexander Hamilton, October 29th . . . 127

      Randolph’s publication daily expected—His conduct to be proved inconsistent—Papers in the department copied without his consent—Who shall be Secretary of State?—Rufus King suggested—The Attorney-General—Names of candidates reviewed—His message to Congress—The treaty with Great Britain—A firm, manly, and dignified conduct essential—The negotiations with Spain—The Barbary Powers—Peace with the Indians—The military establishment—The departments.

    • To Alexander Hamilton, November 23d . . . 136

      Young Lafayette and his tutor—His dilemma respecting them—The attitude of Adet.

    • To John H. Stone, December 6th . . . . 138

      Declaration of the Maryland Assembly—His attitude towards his calumniators.

    • Speech to Congress, December 8th . . . . 140
    • To Alexander Hamilton, December 22d . . . 146

      The matter of young Lafayette—Randolph’s Vindication.

    • To Gouverneur Morris, December 22d . . . 147

      A poor correspondent—Policy of Great Britain—Report of troubles in Kentucky—Outrageous behavior of British agents—Result of Remonstrances—Indifference of Great Britain to advances of commercial intercourse—Difficulty of maintaining neutrality—His policy has been one of peace—A liberal policy on the part of Great Britain the best one—Allowance should be made for imprudent expression of sentiments—Has received much abuse, but will not swerve—Cause of the opposition to the treaty.

    • To William Pearce, January-December . . . 154

      The need of oats for his visits—Real and pretended sickness of the hands—Planting of seeds—French Will—Donaldson’s son—Difficulty of training negroes—Re-survey of lands—The wheat crop—Idleness of his carpenters—Absconding of French’s Paul—Betty Davis’ ailments—The sowing of grasses—The market for flour—Death and ill-treatment of farm-hands—Lost lambs—Shirking of work—Hedging and cedar berries—General policy in farming.

    Edition: current; Page: [xi]
  • 1796.
    • To James McHenry, January 20th . . . . 163

      A tender of the office of Secretary of War—Samuel Chase suggested for a seat on the Supreme bench.

    • To Bushrod Washington, February 10th . . . 164

      His connection with the estate of Thomas Colvill.

    • To Dr. James Anderson, February 15th . . . 167

      Iron bridges—Wooden bridges in the United States—Renting and selling his lands—An offer to immigrants—Quality of tenants wanted.

    • To Thomas Pinckney, February 20th . . . 169

      His request to be recalled—The treaty he has negotiated with Spain—The situation of Lafayette, and his desire to secure his release—His neglect of abuse.

    • To Gouverneur Morris, March 4th . . . . 172

      Delay in receiving a ratification of the treaty—A change in the public sentiment—Causes for thanksgiving.

    • To Timothy Pickering, March 6th . . . . 174

      Instructions to the Minister in London—Should be accompanied with powers—Proclaiming treaties.

    • To the Cabinet, March 25th . . . . . 176

      The call of the House for papers on the treaty.

    • Message to the House of Representatives, March 30th, 177
    • To Alexander Hamilton, March 31st . . . 180

      The call for papers—Doubts upon the proper course to be pursued—Delay in replying—His own draft sent in.

    • To Henry Knox, April 4th . . . . . 182

      Nominated on the Boundary Commission—Abused for not giving the treaty papers.

    • To George Lewis, April 7th . . . . . 183

      Mr. Parks aspires to marry Harriot Washington—Desires to know something of his character.

    • To Edward Carrington, May 1st . . . . 184

      Public expression of opinions contrary to the utterances of the peoples’ representatives—The blow aimed at the fundamental principles of the Constitution—Purity of motive in the attack.

      Edition: current; Page: [xii]
    • To John Jay, May 8th . . . . . . 187

      Good intention of the people, and mal-conduct of their representatives—His concern and anxiety.

    • To Alexander Hamilton, May 15th . . . . 190

      Sending of the draft of address—What is to be done to it—Reasons for retaining the quotation—Anticipated criticism—Changes made—A successor to Pinckney—Inclosure.

    • To Thomas Pinckney, May 22d . . . . 208

      Influence working for the treaty—Ames’ speech—Rufus King to succeed him—The situation of Lafayette—Seeds from England.

    • To Cyrus Griffin, June 8th . . . . . 210

      No charge made—Considerations in making nomination to office.

    • To Timothy Pickering, June 9th . . . . 211

      Instructions for Rufus King—Compensation for an accomptant.

    • To David Humphreys, June 12th . . . . 212

      The attacks made upon him will not induce him to swerve from his policy—Has not been guilty of a wilful error—The private station.

    • To Timothy Pickering, June 24th . . . . 214

      The case of the Flying Fish—Information upon the intentions of France upon the commerce of America—The Cabinet to advise what measures should be taken.

    • To Alexander Hamilton, June 26th . . . . 217

      Measures towards France—Has the President authority to send a special envoy to France to demand explanations?—Convening the Senate—What is to be done with Monroe—Wishes his sentiments, and those of Jay—Regrets not having published his Valedictory Address—The best time for making it public.

    • To James McHenry, July 1st . . . . . 222

      The western posts and Indians—Charges against Wayne—Incroachments on Indian territory.

    • To Timothy Pickering, July 4th . . . . 224

      Arrival of the Spanish Minister—Quarantine regulations—Appointment of an Indian agent in the place of Blount.

    • To Gustavus Scott, July 4th . . . . . 225

      His residence as commissioner—Altered conditions—Reasons why he should be in the federal city.

      Edition: current; Page: [xiii]
    • To Thomas Jefferson, July 6th . . . . . 229

      Publication of a Cabinet paper—Attempts to weaken the confidence of the people in the administration—Truth and right decisions the sole objects of his pursuit—Not a party man—The charge of being the enemy of one nation and subject to the influence of another—The case of the Little Sarah—His Experience with clover—Field peas and winter vetch—Chicorium—A movable threshing machine.

    • To Charles Lee, July 6th . . . . . . 234

      As to the recall of Monroe—What is to be done under the circumstances.

    • To Timothy Pickering, July 8th . . . . 235

      On executing an act of Congress—Monroe’s recall determined upon—The question of his successor—An offer to General Pinckney—An error in dates.

    • To Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, July 8th . . 237

      Reasons for making a change in the mission to France—Greatest embarrassment experienced from home opposition—Qualities necessary in the appointee.

    • To James McHenry, July 13th . . . . . 240

      The frigate for the Dey of Algiers—No other alternative but to comply—The manner of carrying into effect the decision—Maxim for the executive officers.

    • To Timothy Pickering, July 13th . . . . 242

      Dawson’s journey to Philadelphia—Probable mission to Monroe.

    • To Timothy Pickering, July 18th . . . . 243

      What remains to be done towards fulfilling treaties—The Dey’s demand—Attacks on the administration—Necessity for giving the public a clear and comprehensive view of facts—Desires the whole of the transactions with France to be examined as critically as would have been done by Bache—The message for Congress.

    • To James McHenry, July 18th . . . . . 246

      Boundary lines with the Indians—Incommoded by a visit of Indians—Executing the acts relating to tribes—The frigate and materials.

    • To Timothy Pickering, July 25th . . . . 249

      Dawson’s mission once more—Obtaining a cannon-founder from France—Appointment of a surveyor-general—Broken seal on Monroe’s letter—Opposition to the treaty—Plain road for the executive to pursue.

      Edition: current; Page: [xiv]
    • To Timothy Pickering, July 27th . . . . 251

      French discontents—Origination of the charges and Monroe’s neglect—Recognition of Van Polanen.

    • To Timothy Pickering, July 27th . . . . 253

      Monroe’s version of French discontent always incomplete—Inconsistencies in his statements—Guarantee of the French West India Islands.

    • To the Duke de Liancourt, August 8th . . . 254

      Men in public life cannot be governed solely by the dictates of their own inclinations—Rumored discontent in France because of the countenance said to have been given by him to young Lafayette—His attitude towards the father.

    • To Timothy Pickering, August 10th . . . . 256

      Instructions for Pinckney—What facts on Monroe’s recall can be spoken of unofficially by the officers of government—Monroe should be apprized of the seasons for his recall.

    • To James Anderson, August 18th . . . . 257

      His want of a manager—Pearce’s character and conditions of service—General outline of his business—Requirements.

    • To James Monroe, August 25th . . . . 260

      His letter to Gouverneur Morris and the French Directory—Can see nothing exceptional in it—The notice of Col. Innes’ report—Ought not to have produced an ill-effect—One nation should not interfere with the concerns of another.

    • To Alexander Hamilton, August 25th . . . 264

      Draft of the Farewell Address—Notice of personal abuse—Returned for revision—How shall it be published.

    • To Alexander Hamilton, September 1st . . . 266

      Regrets having omitted a reference to education in the Address—Advantages to be derived from a university—Not a new idea with him—A personal contribution.

    • To John Quincy Adams, September 12th . . . 269

      Wishes information upon a sword—How it reached his hands.

    • To Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, September 12th . . 272

      Copies of letters sent to him—An answer intended to meet the eyes of Lord Grenville.

    • Farewell Address, September 17th . . . . 275 Edition: current; Page: [xv]
    • To Alexander Hamilton, November 2d . . . 326

      Publication of Adet’s letter—Its object—Should any difference be made in receiving him—No grounds for complaint on his part—Should the reply be published—Reasons for and against such a step—Bringing the subject before Congress—Sinclair’s letter—Government encouragement of agriculture—Jay’s opinion to be taken—Dignity of the country, not personal feelings, involved in Adet’s conduct—Inconsistency of the French government.

    • To Alexander Hamilton, November 3d . . . 330

      Publication of the reply to Adet—Reasons for it.

    • To Alexander Hamilton, November 12th . . 331

      Some intelligence of a French fleet—His speech to Congress—Criticism of McHenry’s recommendations—The Mediterranean commerce, and a navy.

    • To Charles Lee, November 14th . . . . 334

      His continued absence from the seat of government.

    • To George Washington Parke Custis, November 15th, 335

      Distinction of classes by dress—Some advice.

    • To Alexander Hamilton, November 21st . . . 337

      Anxiety as to papers—Adet’s letter a proof that the French government are disposed to play a high game—Bache’s agency and the full publication.

    • To George Washington Parke Custis, November 28th, 339

      A letter of advice.

    • To the Commissioners of the City of Washington, December 1st . . . . . . . 341

      Discontents irksome and disagreeable—Corachichi and his contract—Upon what the establishment of a university depends—Unreasonableness of his demands.

    • Speech to Congress, December 7th . . . . 344
    • To George Washington Parke Custis, December 19th 354

      His correspondence and course of reading—Consequence of inconstancy and want of steadiness.

    • To John H. Stone, December 23d . . . . 355

      Resolutions of the Maryland House of Delegates—The aims of his military and civil endeavor.

    Edition: current; Page: [xvi]
  • 1797.
    • To Timothy Pickering, January 4th . . . . 357

      Laying the French matter before Congress—Care to be exercised in expression.

    • To David Stuart, January 8th . . . . . 358

      His first care on reaching Mount Vernon—Objects of Adet’s movements—Wish of French to influence the policy of the United States—Various steps to exert this influence—Paine’s letter—Is confident of being upheld.

    • To Timothy Pickering, January 9th . . . . 362

      Suggestions for his statement for Pinckney—Attitude of the government towards France.

    • To George Washington Parke Custis, January 11th . 363

      Advice.

    • To Benjamin Walker, January 12th . . . . 365

      Falsehoods of the Aurora—Republication of the spurious letters—Desires to learn the author’s name—Rivington may know.

    • Message to Congress on the Depredations of French Cruisers, January 19th . . . . . 368
    • To Alexander Hamilton, January 22d . . . 369

      The claim of M. de Neufville—Conduct of France towards the United States outrageous beyond conception—Wishes his views on the Pinckney statement—As to an envoy extraordinary.

    • To the Commissioners of the City of Washington, February 15th . . . . . . . 371

      Sentiments as to the public buildings.

    • To Henry Knox, March 2d . . . . . 374

      His losses—The attacks made upon him to destroy his influence—No wish to mix again in the world of politics—End of his service.

    • To Jonathan Trumbull, March 3d . . . . 376

      Pressure under which he writes—Foreign interference in politics to be reprobated.

    • To Timothy Pickering, March 3d . . . . 378

      The spurious letters—Object of the original publication—No part of his baggage and none of his attendants captured during the war—A solemn declaration of their being forgeries.

      Edition: current; Page: [xvii]
    • To James McHenry, April 3d . . . . . 381

      The gazettes confusing—Rejection of Pinckney by the French—Demonstrations on his journey—Much to be done at Mount Vernon.

    • To Oliver Wolcott, May 15th . . . . . 384

      Causes assigned for convening Congress—His labors for the coming years—Desires his correspondence.

    • To William Heath, May 20th . . . . . 385

      A former letter not misinterpreted—Threatening clouds on the political horizon—Idea of disinterested favors or friendship from any nation too novel to be calculated on—His forthcoming memoirs.

    • To Rev. Samuel Stanhope Smith, May 24th . . 388

      Disquieting information about young Custis—His indolence marked.

    • To Thomas Pinckney, May 28th . . . . 389

      Congratulations on his return to America—Danger in politics—The new President to work upon the old lines of foreign policy.

    • To James McHenry, May 29th . . . . . 391

      How he passes his days—Visits of curiosity.

    • To Oliver Wolcott, May 29th . . . . . 392

      The President’s speech an unequivocal expression of the public mind—Solicitude on the reply of the House—The situation in Europe.

    • To George Washington Parke Custis, June 4th . 394

      His sorrow and repentance acceptable—Must not be a momentary impulse—Advice.

    • To David Humphreys, June 26th . . . . 397

      Embarrassment occasioned by presents—The forged letters—Ought not to withdraw from public life—His marriage—Only a general peace in Europe will produce tranquillity in America—Buildings at Mount Vernon and the federal city—Alexandria.

    • To James McHenry, July 7th . . . . . 400

      The intercepted letter of William Blount—Enormity of the crime.

    • To Samuel Washington, July 12th . . . . 402

      No money at his command—Compelled to sell land to defray expenses of his station—Why he will accommodate him—Dangers of borrowing.

      Edition: current; Page: [xviii]
    • To William Strickland, July 15th . . . . 404

      His preoccupations—Tenants from Great Britain—Occupiers and proprietors—Grazing—Bad state of agriculture in America—Experiments in crops and in rotations—Fencing.

    • To Timothy Pickering, August 4th . . . . 412

      The opinion of the Attorney-General on the recall of Monroe—Is unable to find it among his papers.

    • To James McHenry, August 14th . . . . 413

      The affair of Senator Blount—Monroe has opened his batteries—Table coolers and other articles—Porcupine’s Gazette.

    • To Timothy Pickering, August 29th . . . . 415

      Col. Monroe did not call in his passage—A change of sentiment in France towards America—The tone will be lowered by degrees—Has never been alarmed by any fears of a war with France.

    • To George Washington Parke Custis, August 29th . 417

      The approaching end of the term—Vacation and advice.

    • To General Lafayette, October 8th . . . . 419

      Return of his son—Congratulations upon his release—His delicate situation—Conduct of young Lafayette—His own occupations—Domestic politics.

    • To Bushrod Washington, October 9th . . . 422

      A suit which interests him—Evidence of Grafton Kirk—Some points to be examined.

    • To Rev. William Gordon, October 15th . . . 425

      Why his correspondence has slackened—Difficulties in keeping workmen to their tasks—Publication of the Epistles—Has never sought a vindication—The Carey compilation.

    • To John Langhorne, October 15th . . . . 428

      Reply to a friendly letter.

    • To Bushrod Washington, November 3d . . . 430

      Wants a housekeeper, and specifies requirements.

    • To John Marshall, December 4th . . . . 432

      Wishes success to his embassy—A change in the public mind—Inconsistency of American upholders of the French Directory—The summit of despotism—Severity of the winter and crops—Young Lafayette.

    Edition: current; Page: [xix]
  • 1798.
    • To George Washington Parke Custis, January 7th . 436

      System and daily conduct.

    • To James McHenry, January 28th . . . . 438

      His lands in the Northwest—Harmony in Congress—Silence of the envoys—Monroe and Fauchet.

    • To Timothy Pickering, February 6th . . . 439

      Monroe’s view—The Aurora’s attack upon his honesty—His relations with Talon—The publication of his letter to Morris and charges brought against him.

    • To William Augustine Washington, February 27th. 442

      Death of his wife—Mr. Ashton’s wish—Has engaged a clerk—Education of sons—His distillery business—Inquiries about the Washington family.

    • To Alexander White, March 1st . . . . 446

      The memorial to Congress—Disappointed in the attitude of parties towards France—Monroe’s work.

    • To Bushrod Washington, March 8th . . . . 448

      Attempt of Nicholas to draw him into a correspondence—Who Nicholas is.

    • To John Nicholas, March 8th . . . . . 449

      Sincerity of Jefferson’s friendship for him—Attacks upon character becoming systematized—The letter of John Langhorne—Monroe’s view and the propriety of publishing it.

    • Remarks on Monroe’s “View of the Conduct of the Executive of the United States” . . . 452
    • To James McHenry, March 27th . . . . 491

      Rumored treasonable correspondence between a member of Congress and the French Directory—Trusts and believes machinations will recoil on the heads of the plotters.

    • To Alexander White, March 25th . . . . 492

      Proprietors of Washington its worst enemies—The loan will inspire confidence—Sites of the buildings.

    • To Ferdinand Ferot, April 15th . . . . 494

      No gentleman has been treated by him with incivility or even with indifference.

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    • To Timothy Pickering, April 16th . . . . 495

      Corruption and profligacy in system of the French Directory must open the eyes of the blindest—No changes to be expected in the leaders of opposition.

    • To George Washington Parke Custis, May 10th . 496

      His suggested need for money.

    • To Mrs. Sarah Fairfax, May 16th . . . . 497

      Has never forgot the moments spent in her company—Trouble in store—Regret in seeing Belvoir in ruins—Why she should return to America—The great future of the federal city—Growth of Alexandria.

    • Mrs. Washington to Mrs. Fairfax, May 17th . . 500

      Assurances of undiminished affectionate regard—Personal intelligence.

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THE WRITINGS OF GEORGE WASHINGTON.

1794.

George Washington
Washington, George
21 December, 1794
Philadelphia
Tobias Lear
Lear, Tobias

TO TOBIAS LEAR.

My dear Sir,

Your letter of the 17th instant was received yesterday, and I am glad to find, that an act of the Virginia Assembly has been obtained for prolonging the term for the completion of the inland navigation of the Potomac. The like I hope has been or will be obtained this session in the Assembly of Maryland.

A good opportunity presenting itself on Thursday last, I embraced it to inquire of Mr. Morris if the directors of that company might entertain any hope of deriving aid from Mr. Weston’s opinion, respecting the lock-seats at the Great Falls of that river. His answer was; “Mr. Weston, from some peculiar circumstances attending their own concerns, had been prevented from visiting that spot, as was intended; but that he was now expected to be in this city in a few days (as I understood), when he would propose and urge his going thither.”

The plan of Mr. Claiborne’s engineer, as far as I understand it, is to avoid locks altogether. The vessels are received into a basket, or cradle, and let down by means of a lever and pulleys, and raised Edition: current; Page: [2] again by weights at the hinder extremity of the lever, which works on an axis at the top of a substantial post fixed about the centre of the lever. On this principle, but differently constructed, Mr. Greenleaf a few months ago showed me a model, the efficacy of which he seemed to entertain the most exalted opinion. My doubts of the utility of both arise, first, from the insufficiency of any machinery of this sort to bear the weight of the cradle, when charged with water and a loaded boat therein, and its aptness to get out of order by means thereof; secondly, I do not find that they are in general use; and thirdly, because, if I recollect rightly, Mr. Weston has told me, (but of this I am not certain,) that no method of raising and lowering boats had been found equal to that of locks. Still, as I observed in my last, I should be for hearing the opinions and explanations of any and every scientific and practical character, that could be easily got at, on this subject, and therefore would hear Claiborne’s engineer, as well as Mr. Weston; especially as he professes to be particularly well skilled in the application of them in propelling boats, (in an easy and cheap manner,) against the stream, and in conducting of water to cities or for any other purpose whatsoever.

The bill you allude to has not passed, nor do I know what shape it will take if it does, and therefore can say nothing more on the subject at this time, than that there will be no precipitancy in engaging either the agents or the means of carrying the law into effect. If the measure, which I have recommended, Edition: current; Page: [3] should be adopted, with the importance of it I am strongly impressed; consequently, if anything should be required of the President towards carrying it into execution, I shall feel it in a particular manner my duty to set it a going under the most favorable auspices.

I now have and for some considerable time have had, twenty five Hogshead’s Tobo. in the Warehouses in Alexandria, which at some times I have forgot, and at other times have been indisposed to take the prices which were given for Potomac Tobacco on the Virginia side. Originally this Tobacco was of the best sort put up dry—and the quality of it reported to be exceedingly good. If the latter is the case still it will in some respects, and for some purposes, have the advantage of New Tobacco—but what to do with it I know not. In Alexandria it might not bring me 18/ per 100—when in George Town (I mean in the Warehouses at these places) it might bring a guinea.—I have thought, but whether it be practicable to accomplish it without difficulty I am unable to decide, that if the Tobacco could be removed from the Warehouses in which it now is, to those in George Town, and be reinspected at the latter, that I might be a considerable gainer by it. But admitting that this can be done without encountering impediments which might involve inconveniences; or that would excite notice or remarks, neither of which I should incline to subject myself to; it would be previously necessary to know whether the Tobacco would pass at the Edition: current; Page: [4] latter place; for if it should be brought there and be condemned, I should lose the whole and sustain an expence besides, whereas in its present situation, it will, I presume, command the price currant in Alexa. If the suggestion here mentioned can be accomplished (without involving the consequences expressed above) the best expedient that occurs to me to effect it, is under the idea of its being purchased by, or rather offered for sale to a Maryland Merchant, to have it re-examined where it is, in presence of the George Town Inspectors, who should be paid for their attendance and who should declare to the supposed purchaser whether they would pass it, were it brought to the Warehouses in George Town. If in the affirmative, and there is no other impediment to the measure the whole business might be easily accomplished by the removal—reinspection—and issuing of new notes; either in my name, or in that of the supposed purchaser—the last of which for several reasons I think would have the best appearance. Whether this project can be carried into execution or not, is, to me, uncertain; but, to avoid delay, and in order to enable you to do it if it should be thought eligable, I send you the notes for this purpose, or to know what the Tobacco would sell for where it is, if it be not eligable to remove it. They may be kept, or returned, according to circumstances. In the Warehouses at George Town—I have—or ought to have by this time 9,000 lbs. of Crop Tobacco, as you will perceive by the enclosed letter to me, from Colo. Deakins; the same by this also.—

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I return Dr. Currie’s letter, with thanks for the perusal of it. The picture drawn in it of the state of things in his own country, and the details which he gives of those of the belligerent powers, are gloomy for them indeed. All here are well, and all join in best regards for you, with, dear Sir, your affectionate, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
30 December, 1794
Philadelphia
Henry Knox
Knox, Henry

TO HENRY KNOX, SECRETARY OF WAR.

Sir,

The considerations, which you have often suggested to me, and which are repeated in your letter of the 28th instant, as requiring your departure from your present office, are such as to preclude the possibility of my urging your continuance in it. This being the case, I can only wish that it was otherwise.1

I cannot suffer you, however, to close your public service, without uniting with the satisfaction, which Edition: current; Page: [6] must arise in your own mind from a conscious rectitude, my most perfect persuasion, that you have deserved well of your country.

My personal knowledge of your exertions, whilst it authorizes me to hold this language, justifies the sincere friendship, which I have ever borne for you, and which will accompany you in every situation of life; being, with affectionate regard, always yours, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
26 January, 1794
William Pearce
Pearce, William

LETTERS TO WILLIAM PEARCE, 1794.1

The reason why I preferred increasing the quantity of Corn ground in these fields is, that nothing might interrupt the manurings of one field, at each farm, every year with green manure; while the Cowpens, and dung from the farm yards would do the like to the poor parts of a second field, annually. By this means, and a judicious rotation, I am not without hope of bringing my land, in time, into a profitable state of cultivation; and unless some such practice as this prevails, my fields will be growing worse and worse every year until the crops will not defray the expence of the culture of them.

By the report of the week before last, it appeared that Stuart was plowing in No. 7; but as that field, according to the rotation which I have by me, was to remain this year in Pasture I could not account for it, otherwise than as a mistake in him, or a direction of mine which I had forgotten;—the reason however, of my mentioning the matter again, in this letter, is, that if that field is designed for oats and buck wheat, the part or such proportion thereof (as you like) which was designed for the latter, may go into corn in like manner as is allowed at the other farms; but if it has not been touched, nor intended to be touched this year, (and I again desire that you will not undertake more than you can execute well) then such part of No. 1 as you may deem proper: or you may do what Stuart suggested to me before I left Edition: current; Page: [7] home, namely, to plant all the good ground in both No. 1 and No. 3 with corn and sow all the broken and poor parts of them with buck wheat for manure. * * *

You may continue to eat of my meat, as the white people will take it after it goes from your table, until your family arrives, and afterwards also if it shall be found more convenient than to keep separate stocks, as I believe it will. I perceive Thomas Green draws fine flour from the mill, when the miller and others are content with middlings, and which I am sure is good enough for him. Does his agreement in this respect differ from others? * * * 26 January, 1794.

My intention, with respect to the repairs of my house in Alexandria and inclosing the lot, was, that every particle of the work, except putting it together, should be prepared at Mount Vernon, and carried thither by water; for sure I am if the whole was to be executed in town that four faithful workmen would do more there in one week than any four of mine would do in a month. I expected that Green, or some one that was a judge of work, would examine critically what was to be done, that the whole might be carried on in the manner I have just mentioned. This, as far as the dwelling house is concerned, has been done already, but not I believe with the accuracy that is necessary to prevent mistakes. * * *

I am so well satisfied of Thomas Green’s unfitness to look after my Carpenters, that nothing but the helpless situation in which you find his family, has prevailed on me to retain him till this time: but if you perceive more and more, as your opportunities encrease, that he is not to be entrusted, you had better be looking out in time to supply his place another year, if there should not be cause to turn him sooner off. * * *

I perceive my overseers are beginning to report the increase of lambs this year as they did last, by which I never know what they lose. Let them know it is my expectation, that every lamb that falls, and every one that dies in the week, and what are actually in being at the time, is to be precisely set down. It is from hence only I can form a judgment of their care and attention to them. According to their mode of rendering the account, I may, if an hundred lambs fall in a week, and fifty of them die, have an increase Edition: current; Page: [8] of 50 only in the report; and although this is true in fact, it is by no means a fair or satisfactory state of the case. * * * 16 February, 1794.

The insufferable neglects of my overseers in not plowing as they ought to have done in the fall, begins now to be manifest; for I perceive by the account given of the plowing, that I am driven to the alternative of putting my oats into ground not half plowed and prepared, and thereby little to expect from it;—or, in order to do this, be so late in sowing, as to hazard an entire loss of the crop, if the Spring is not very moist and dripping; for I have seldom succeeded with oats unless they were sown before the middle of March.

It did not occur to me in time, to advise running the rollers over your grass grounds, and even the wheat, after the frost had come fairly out of the earth; nothing would have recovered both more. The roots (even of that which had been thrown entirely out) would have been pressed in such a manner to the earth as to have shot forth fibers to restore the plant. Now, I presume, it is too late. * * *

Mr. Smith has, I believe, been furnished with fish from my landing, and if he will give as much as another, ought to have the preference;—but before you positively engage, enquire what the other fisheries are disposed to sell at. 4/ per thousand for Herrings, and 10/ per hundred for shad, is very low. I am, at this moment, paying 6 / a piece for every shad I buy. I am entirely against any waggons coming to my landing; but there is one thing which Mr. Smith, or any other with whom you engage, must perfectly understand, if they agree to take all (over what I want for my own use), that is, when the glut of fish runs, he must be provided to take every one I do not want, or have them thrown on his hands: the truth of the case is, that in the height of the fishery, they are not prepared to cure, or otherwise to dispose of them, as fast as they could be caught; of course the seins slacken in their work, or the fish lye and spoil, when that is the only time I can make anything by the sein; for small hauls will hardly pay the ware and tare of the sein and the hire of the hands. Your account of the deficiency of sein rope would have surprised me if it had not been of a piece with the rest of the conduct which Edition: current; Page: [9] has waisted everything I had, almost. Whatever is necessary must be got, and I shall depend upon your care and attention, now to guard me against destruction of my property, while it is entrusted to your management.

Secure a sufficiency of fish for the use of my own people from the first that comes, otherwise they may be left in the lurch, as has been the case heretofore, by depending on what is called the glut. * * * 23 March, 1794.

I have no doubt but that the late capture of our vessels by the British cruisers, followed by the embargo which has been laid on the shipping in our ports, would naturally occasion a temporary fall in the article of provisions; yet, as there are the same mouths to feed as before, as the demand consequently will be as great, and as the crops in other parts of the world will not be increased by these means, I have no doubt at all, but that, as soon as the present impediments are removed the prices of flour will rise to what it has been (at least); for which reason hold mine up to the prices mentioned in my last; and if they are offered, make a provisory agreement, to be ratified, or not, by me. * * *

The imposition with respect to the garden seeds is very unjustifiable; ’tis infinitely worse than simple robbery, for there you lose your money only; but when it is given for bad seed you lose your money, your labor in preparing for the reception of them, and a whole season. * * * 6 April, 1794.

I wish you had discharged Green without any ceremony, when you found him drinking and idling his time away; as to any reliance on his promise to amend, there can be no sort of dependance; for it has been found that he is growing worse and worse. The consequence of which is, that he dare not find fault with those who are entrusted to his care, lest they should retort, and disclose his rascally conduct; by which means work that the same number of hands would perform in a week, takes mine a month. Nothing but compassion for his helpless family, has hitherto induced me to keep him a moment in my service (so bad in the example he sets); but if he has no regard for them himself, it is not to be expected that I am to be a continual sufferer on this account for his misconduct.

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I never could get an account of the corn made on my estate last year, consequently can form no idea of the quantity now on hand, nor of the prospect there is of its carrying me through the year. At any rate it should be used with great care, but if it is likely to run short, as much parsimony should be observed as can comport with the absolute calls for it, on the farms, as I know not where to get more; and should find it inconvenient to pay for it if I did. * * * 4 May, 1794.

Whether you will depend upon the first or second crop of clover for seed, will be left to yourself; but I desire (if it be practicable) that of this, of buck wheat, timothy, and in short of every other seed which you may have occasion for next year, may be saved; as the cost of these things in the markets of this city falls too heavy upon me besides being bad very often. I also request you will be particularly careful in saving seeds from the several kinds of grass, which, from time to time, have been sown in (what is called) the Vineyard, and other places, for the purpose of experiments; or because they were given to me as curiosities, or for the real value of them. And I hope you have been, and will be attentive to such as I have sent you myself. Is that which I forwarded to you some time ago (directing it to be sown in some part of one of the meadows) come up well? It was given to me for a grass of more value than timothy. If so, all the seed that can ought to be raised from it; the same of St. Foin; which my gardener neglected last year until the seed was almost lost. If cattle or horses will eat the fancy grass in its green state, or made into hay, it certainly must be very valuable, as it grows rank, stands thick on the ground, does not require strong land, and will remain forever on it. Save what seed you can from this. Some grows in the vineyard inclosure, and some I believe in the little garden by the salt house. Several other grasses, of valuable sorts, which had been given to me, were sown in this place and the vine yard; but like most other things on my estate, have been lost for want of attention hitherto, but I hope your care will guard me against such neglects in future.

I presume you are well enough acquainted with clover to know how it is to be managed; both for seed and hay. Last year none of the first (or very little) was saved; and of the latter, Edition: current; Page: [11] that is hay, none was made good, and a great deal of it was entirely spoiled. It ought to be well cured before stacking, but not much stirred; especially in the sun, or it will lose the leaf. Let there be a hollow in the middle of each stack (by way of ventulater) occasioned by drawing a basket, or stuffed bag through the middle, whilst the stack is making. * * *

In what state of forwardness is the drilled wheat, when compared with the common wheat? from the character and description of it, it ought to be ripe for cutting by the 8th or 10th of June. You will have been told, or will have discovered, that there are two kinds of wheat in drills, at the Union farm. One is a double headed sort, whether of much value or not I am unable to say; nor do I know whether it ripens sooner or later than the common kind. Take care of the seeds of both, and cautiously guard against their mixing in the seed loft. As there will not be much of the double headed wheat, it might be well (in order to prevent this) to put it into tight casks, and head it up securely. The early wheat I set great value on, as it is an acquisition, in the farming line, of great magnitude in many points of view. * * *

I find by the reports that Sam is, in a manner, always returned sick; Doll at the Ferry, and several of the spinners very frequently so, for a week at a stretch; and ditcher Charles often laid up with a lameness. I never wish my people to work when they are really sick, or unfit for it; on the contrary, that all necessary care should be taken of them when they are so; but if you do not examine into their complaints, they will lay by when no more ails them, than all those who stick to their business, and are not complaining from the fatigue and drowsiness which they feel as the effect of night walking and other practices which unfit them for the duties of the day. * * *

As Congress have determined that the Embargo shall not be renewed, I expect the price of flour will be at least as high as it has been in Alexandria. In this city it has already risen to 50/ for superfine and 46/6 for fine. * * * 18 May, 1794.

I learn with concern from your letter of the 18th instant, that your crops are still laboring under a drought, and most of them very much injured. At disappointments and losses which Edition: current; Page: [12] are the effects of providential acts, I never repine, because I am sure the alwise disposer of events knows better than we do, what is best for us, or what we deserve. * * * 25 May, 1794.

The deception with respect to the potatoes (210 instead of 418 bushels) is of a piece with other practices of a similar kind by which I have suffered hitherto; and may serve to evince to you, in strong colors, first how little confidence can be placed in any one round you; and secondly the necessity of an accurate inspection into these things yourself,—for to be plain, Alexandria is such a recepticle for every thing that can be filched from the right owners, by either blacks or whites; and I have such an opinion of my negros (two or three only excepted), and not much better of some of the whites, that I am perfectly sure not a single thing that can be disposed of at any price, at that place, that will not, and is not stolen, where it is possible; and carried thither to some of the underlying shop keepers, who support themselves by this kind of traffick. * * * 1 June, 1794.

If lambs of any kind have been sold from my flocks of sheep, it has not only been done without my consent, but expressly contrary to my orders. And sure I am, the money for which they were sold never found its way into my pockets; nor is there credit for it in any accounts I have seen. So far has it been from my practice, or policy to sell off the forward ewe lambs, that, in order to prevent it, I would not suffer any lambs to be disposed of at all, unless it was the very latest runts. My plan, while it was in my power to attend to these matters myself was, to be sparing of the lambs even for my own table, and never to kill the females; to keep the ewe lambs (especially the latter ones) from the rams the first year—to separate the rams from the ewes at shearing time (to be returned at a proper season)—and, at shearing time also, to cull over, and remove to a pasture by themselves, all the sheep above a certain age, and all such as appeared to be upon the decline, that, after receiving the summer’s run, and such aid as could otherwise be afforded them, they might be disposed of to the butchers, reserving enough for the use of the family. If lambs have been disposed of contrary to this plan, it has been done by the knavery of those who have availed themselves of the opportunity my Edition: current; Page: [13] absence has afforded them, to do it. It might be well therefore for you to enquire by whom lambs have been sold; and as you will see by the written agreements with my overseers that they are not allowed to sell even a fowl, to charge them in explicit terms, not to depart from it. The granting them this indulgence was for their comfort on the farm; but they have no right to raise anything thereon, of any sort, or kind whatsoever, for sale. If therefore, as the practice of this sort is contrary to agreement, they presume to sell one thing, they may and will be suspected of selling every thing they can do with impunity. This reminds me of what has often been in my intention to write about, and that is Mr. Stuart’s selling butter. He is, I well remember, allowed a certain part of the butter that is made on the farm, [and] of course is entitled to the butter or the value of it; but to avoid suspicion he had better, both on his own account and mine, after taking out what he uses in his own family (and what he ought to account for) send all that is made besides to the Mansion house; and, as it will go from thence to market, let him be allowed for his proportion the price it sells at. Besides avoiding suspicion and evil reports, another good will be derived from this practice, and that is, that it will supercede the necessity of his wife’s, or any other person’s, running to Alexandria to dispose of this article, or to enquire into the price of it. That Mr. Stuart’s conduct in this business has not escaped censure you will see by the enclosed; but as I never entertained an unfavorable opinion of him, and always a very bad one of Green, I never mentioned the report to the former, although, when the latter gave the information, I told him to commit what he had to say to writing,—charging him at the same time to say nothing that he could not prove, as he might bring himself into a scrape if he did. I have no doubt of Mrs. Stuart’s having furnished butter for McKnight’s tavern, and if the quantity bears any proportion to what is asserted in the paper, that it has been fraudulently done. The account, I presume, is exaggerated, otherwise instead of being content with one fourth (which, if my memory serves me, is the part allowed him) he must have taken three fourths of it at least. But be the report true or false, it still shews the necessity of the measure I have advised; in the first case, to guard me against such impositions; Edition: current; Page: [14] and in the second, to secure his own character against suspicion and calumny. * * *

Mr. O’Neil, from Chester County in this State, will be at Mt. Vernon by the time, or soon after this letter will have reached you. He has a great opinion of a freestone quarry near my limekiln, but a little up the Branch called Hell hole; and I have authorised him to open it at his own expence; but have told him that if you have a hand or two that could be spared, and he would allow the same for them by the day, or month, that he gives to others, I had no objection to your doing it. I am to be at no expence or trouble with him, and he has assured me that the hands he takes from hence with him shall be sober, honest and well-behaved. If Tom Davis and Neuclus could be spared from necessary work, they had best go; for numbers will add nothing to the despatch of my work, whilst it is under the immediate inspection and direction of Thomas Green; who, it appears indispensably necessary to me, should be superceded the moment you can get a good workman in whom confidence can be placed, to overlook them; for the manner in which my carpenters idle away their time, is beyond all forbearance. Twelve carpenters in this city would have built every house which is on my lot in Alexandria (from the foundation) in less time than mine were employed in the few repairs they received; but from the habits of idleness which they have contracted, and the bad examples of Green, nothing better I am sure is to be expected from them while they are under his management. 8 June, 1794.

I either misunderstood Peter, or he told me that several of the mules which are returned in the Mansion House report, and which I did not intend should be used without previously communicating the matter to me, has actually been put to the plough; although no longer ago than last October I supplied every Farm with a complete set of plow beasts (horses or mules). If the mules are to be taken in this manner, I shall never raise them to be of any value—for to take them at two or three years old and work them until they can hardly walk alone, is ruining of them to all intents and purposes, and I desire a stop may be put to the practice. Especially as I see no prospect of keeping up my stock of them, notwithstanding the immense expence I have Edition: current; Page: [15] run myself to in providing mares for the purpose of breeding them. From Peter also, I was told (but this might be by way of excuse for his own neglect in not attending properly to them in the covering season) that almost all the mares had slunk their foals;—and he mentioned an instance of this happening to a valuable mare sent from the Mansion house to Dogue run, and rid by McKoy into the forest, doing it the night he quitted her back. My hurry the morning I left home (for it was just before that I received this information upon enquiring what prospect I had for colts this year) prevented my mentioning the matter to you. Night rides and treading wheat will forever deprive me of foals. But a few years ago I bought, and sent from Lancaster and other places in this State, &c., 27 large mares for the sole purpose of breeding mules—never intending that one of them should be put to work—having in the year 1789 before I left home for New York, compleatly stocked all my farms with work horses, and left many mares besides for breeding. Since that period (not more than five years) it has taken all the surplus of the old stock, just mentioned—the 27 mares bought for breeding, and for no other purpose, and all the mules (for at that time there was not one in use) to supply the deficiencies which have been occasioned by the rascally treatment I have experienced from my overseers; and the want of attention in my managers, during my absence from home since the period of 1789 above mentioned. This I know does not apply to you, and it is only mentioned to shew in what manner I have been abused, and how necessary it is that you guard me against the like in future. * * *

I hear with concern, but not unexpectedly, of the illness of your eldest daughter. That she could not without a change for the better survive the indisposition with which she has been afflicted long, was the opinion of all who saw her; and, in a degree, I presume must have been your own. So far then you must be prepared for the unfortunate event; and tho’ nature, at so awful a trial, must shrink for a time, reason and reflection will produce resignation to a degree, against which there is no control.

It is but justice to acknowledge to you, that so far as I was able, from the hurt which confined me whilst I was at Mount Edition: current; Page: [16] Vernon, to look into my business, I was well satisfied with your conduct, and I am persuaded I shall have no cause to complain of it in future. Good judgment and experimental knowledge properly exerted never can, when accompanied with integrity and zeal, go wrong. These qualifications you have the character of possessing, and I place confidence therein. My favorite objects, as I have often repeated to you, are to recover my land from the gullied and exhausted state into which it has been unfortunately thrown for some years back—To lay down all the low and swampy lands to grass, and be it little or much, to do it well—To have clover lots sufficient for soiling work horses and cattle, and for other purposes—To substitute as fast as possible hedges and live fences in place of dead ones, and of anything that will make them—To be attentive to my stock of all species and descriptions, taking care to improve and increase them to the full extent of your pasturage, beyond which, although you might raise food for their winter support, it would be folly to go—And lastly, to look as much as possible into the little, as well as ye greater concerns of ye farms; for more is wasted and lost from an omission in not doing the first than any one is aware of, when they examine the aggregate amount of trifles—To improve also every thing into manure that will make it—is among the considerations to be attended to. 13 July, 1794.

Remember to give John a dollar the last day of every month, provided he behaves well—letting him know that it is on that express condition he is to receive it. And if a suit of cloaths of tolerable good cloth, made to his own taste, will keep him in good humor, let him be indulged with them. If by his conduct he merits these things, I shall not begrudge them to him. * * * 20 July, 1794.

Is there anything particular in the cases of Ruth, Hannah and Pegg, that they have been returned sick for several weeks together? Ruth I know is extremely deceitful; she has been aiming for some time past to get into the house, exempt from work; but if they are not made to do what their age and strength will enable them, it will be a very bad example for others—none of whom would work if by pretexts they can avoid it. 27 July, 1794.

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If your corn ground has got foul by the rains which have fallen, or even if they are not perfectly clean, I had rather, although it will inevitably delay your seeding, put off sowing wheat—or any thing else indeed—until it is clean, bright and in good order for the reception of them:—for I never found anything but disappointed hopes from a contrary practice;—which has long decided me in an opinion that to aim at the cultivation of more ground than one can, under almost any circumstances, master completely is not the certain way to make sure, or even large crops; but an infallible one to destroy the land. I have long been convinced moreover, that if the same labor, and expense of manure, &c., (which is the common mode of management in Virginia) was bestowed of 50 acres of land, that is now scattered over 100, that the former would be more profitable and productive to the owner. What I would be understood to mean by this, is that a field not more than half prepared for a crop, the crop not more than half tilled, and the ground but indifferently manured, will not produce as much as the half of it would, if these were bestowed in full proportion to the requirements of the land. If one’s means is equal to the accomplishment of the whole there can be no doubt, in that case, but that the whole will double the half. All I mean to express is, that whatever is attempted, should be well executed as it respects crops, and as it respects meadows and other improvements, to complete and make good as one goes. It was not my intention to apply what I have here said to the state in which you have described your corn ground to be under from so much rain, or to any particular case; but as general observations which I am persuaded will hold good in all cases. An essential object with every farmer ought to be the destruction of weeds. His arable and pasture grounds should produce nothing but grain, pulse, if he raises them, vegitables of different sorts, according to his designs, and grasses. Nothing then but deep and frequent plowing, hoeing and hand weeding, can eradicate weeds, and such other trash as foul and exhaust the fields, and diminish the crops: and these, neither in season, in quantity, or quality can be given, if more is undertaken than the force and means are competent to. I am glad to hear that the young timothy is beginning to shew itself in the new meadows. It Edition: current; Page: [18] is an ardent wish of mine to have the whole well covered with grass, free from sprouts and weeds, and smooth for the scythe. * * *

It seems to me to be indispensably necessary that some person should be engaged in place of Thomas Green, to look after my carpenters; for in the manner they conduct [themselves] under his superintendency, it would be for my interest to set them free, rather than give them victuals and cloaths. James, by the reports, has been 9 days I perceive in plaining the floors of the house in town; Neuclus (besides what was done to it before) six days’ paving, and sanding the cellar which a man in Philadelphia would have done in less than as many hours; Davis, eight or nine days’ papering, and so on:—whilst Green himself, and the others, appear determined (as it would seem to me) to make the new house at Union farm a standing job for the summer, as the chimney and underpinning will more than probably be for Davis the same time. When this last work is done, that is, underpinning the house, it must be remembered that air holes is left in it, to prevent the sleepers from rotting.

It may not be amiss to say beforehand, that no trifling character (unless he means to tread in the footsteps of Green) will do for an overlooker of these workmen. Besides the usual requisites of skill, honesty, sobriety and industry, be must be a man of temper, firmness and resolution,—for it is not to be expected that men who have been in the habits of such extreme idleness so long, probably of a great deal of villainy, can be recovered from it without prudent management, and much resolution, properly tempered. * * * 3 August, 1794.

When I was at home, an application was made to me by Kate at Muddy hole (through her husband, Will) to serve the negro women (as a Grany) on my estate; intimating that she was full as well qualified for this purpose as those into whose hands it was entrusted; and to whom I was paying twelve or £15 a year; and why she should not be so, I know not; but wish you to cause some enquiry to be made into this matter, and commit this business to her, if thereupon you shall be satisfied of her qualifications. This service, formerly, was always performed by a negro woman belonging to the estate—but latterly, until now, none seemed disposed to undertake it. * * * 17 August, 1794.

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The land Mr. Gunnel speaks of, lyes in Loudoun County, although it is within 18 or 20 miles of Alexandria. But if the facts which he relates with respect to the trespass thereon can be clearly proved, request Col. Simms, of Alexandria, or any other who practices in Loudoun court, and is well recommended to you, to bring suit against them: for it is really shameful to be treated in the manner I am by people who take such liberties with my timber and wood during my absence—under a supposition they may do it with impunity.

You may inform Mr. Pierce Bailey that my selling, or not selling that tract, depends upon getting the terms of my asking complied with. These are fifteen hundred pounds (Virginia currency)—five hundred of which to be paid down, and interest on the other two thirds until discharged—the credit to be agreed on, which may be 3, four, or more years; provided the land and a bond is given as security for payment of the principal; and some unquestionable surety for the regular discharge of the interest on the day it becomes due. Mr. Gill of Alexandria came up to my price, but we differed with respect to the interest. There is about 300 acres of it, with two good mill seats on it—one wholly mine, the other on Difficult run, which divides my land from others. There is also a good deal of meadow land on the tract.

I have no objection to your putting up the still which is at Mount Vernon, if any advantage from it can be derived under the tax, which is laid upon it. * * * 31 August, 1794.

There cannot, in my opinion, be the smallest occasion for opening the new road, which under different circumstances than those which exist at present, was ordered by the Court at my particular request. Nor would it be, if opened, of the least benefit to any one except Mr. Thomson Mason, and very little to him, as he has the free use of all the roads (though with gates to them) that he ever travelled before that order was obtained. It is to be observed that, when I applied for, and the court granted that road, the design was to relieve me from a great hardship, without doing any injury to the public; for at that time the Ferry called Posey’s (where Crow lives) was a public one—of course, the road from the Gumspring to it, and from my mill to it, were public roads; and by the laws of Virginia gates were forbid on them. Edition: current; Page: [20] This prevented me from enclosing my land, as the expence of lanes on both sides those roads would have been too heavy for the advantage which would have resulted. Under this view of the case, and because very few who passed the ferry travelled the Alexandria road, I was led to form the plan of having but one public road through my Mount Vernon tract, which would have been from my mill, by the barn on Union farm, along the string of fence that divides the upper from the lower fields, until it came to the gate on the hill, by a lane, that distance. All, in that case, who would have crossed the ferry going to, or returning from Maryland, would pass the mill; at which place, if going down the country, they would take the road to Colchester; if going towards the Mountains or Alexandria, they would have to pass by Mr. Lund Washington’s. This was the real situation of things when the Court, on my petition, was pleased to afford me the relief I asked, by permitting me to stop up the old, and to open new public roads. But the thing has now taken an entire new shape; for finding after this permission was obtained that the Ferry had become so unproductive as not even to furnish the boats which were required, I petitioned the Assembly to discontinue it by law, as it was established by law; hence the roads to it, I presume, ceased to be public;—and the new ones unnecessary—at least for the present—as the old ones (with the difference of gates only) serve all the purposes they ever did. Upon this representation, which I am sure is a candid and just one, I persuade myself that the court will not compel me to open the road you say you have been required to do, when no person, half as much as myself, would be benefitted by it. In fact, with my force, the thing is impracticable this fall; for the greater part of two miles, from the levelness of the ground, and water (knee deep at times) standing thereon, would require a high causeway to render it passable in the winter. If this was done, I should derive more benefit from it than any other person, for there would be no pretext then for passing through my farms, and leaving the gates open for my own stock to get out and others in. These sentiments may be communicated to the Court, if the order with which you are served is positive—and to Mr. Mason, who I am confident is not disposed to run me to such an expence at this Edition: current; Page: [21] season, for so trifling (if any) an advantage to himself. 28 September, 1794.

The demand for workmen at the federal city is such, and their wages consequently so high, that if Donaldson,1 as an overlooker, should prove incompetent, I know not how, or where you will get supplied. If he understands what he professes to have been bred to, and is sober and industrious, he may prove a very useful man to me, although he is unfit to have the care of my carpenters. But what have you done with him, if Green’s family still occupy the house? By my agreement with him, he is entitled to the use of that house, and Garden, and may consider it as a breach of contract to be deprived of it. What then is to be done with the other family? I cannot bear the thought of adding to the distress I know they must be in, by turning them adrift; and it would be as disagreeable to let them come into that part of the Green house adjoining the shoemaker’s room;—their habits are not good;—and to mix them among the negros would be attended with many evils as it respected themselves, and no good as it respected me. It would be better therefore on all accounts if they were removed to some other place, even if [I] was to pay the rent, provided it was low, or make some allowance towards it. Donaldson and family will get disgusted by living among the negros, if he is still in the Green house. * * * 2 November, 1794.

Speaking of gentlemen’s servants it calls to my mind, that in a letter from Mrs. Fanny Washington to Mrs. Washington (her aunt) she mentions, that since I left Mount Vernon she has given out four dozen and eight bottles of wine. Whether they are used, or not, she does not say; but I am led by it to observe, that it is not my intention that it should be given to every one who may incline to make a convenience of the house in travelling, or who may be induced to visit it from motives of curiosity. There are but three descriptions of people to whom I think it ought to be given: first, my particular and intimate acquaintance, in case business should call them there, such for instance as Doctor Craik. 2dly, some of the most respectable foreigners Edition: current; Page: [22] who may, perchance, be in Alexandria or the federal city; and be either brought down, or introduced by letter, from some of my particular acquaintance as before mentioned; or thirdly, to persons of some distinction (such as members of Congress, &c.) who may be travelling through the country from North to South, or from South to North; to the first of which, I should not fail to give letters, where I conceive them entitled. Unless some caution of this sort governs, I should be run to an expence as improper, as it would be considerable;—for the duty upon Madeira wine makes it one of the most expensive liquors that is now used, while my stock of it is small, and old wine (of which that is) is not to be had upon any terms: for which reason, and for the limited purposes already mentioned, I had rather you would provide claret, or other wine on which the duty is not so high, than to use my Madeira, unless it be on very extraordinary occasions.

I have no objection to any sober, or orderly person’s gratifying their curiosity in viewing the buildings, gardens, &c., about Mt. Vernon; but it is only to such persons as I have described that I ought to be run to any expence on account of these visits of curiosity, beyond common civility and hospitality. No gentleman who has a proper respect for his own character (except relations and intimates) would use the house in my absence for the sake of conveniency (as it is far removed from the public roads), unless invited to do so by me or some friend; nor do I suppose any of this description would go there without a personal, or written introduction.

I have been thus particular, that you may have a full view of my ideas on this subject, and conform to them; and because the knowledge I have of my servants is such, as to believe, that if opportunities are given them, they will take off two glasses of wine for every one that is drank by such visitors, and tell you they were used by them,—without such a watch over them as the other business you are employed in, would not allow you to employ. * * * 23 November, 1794.

By mistake, the sum of £300 was omitted in the charges against my bond to Mr. Lund Washington; as you have discovered in the above letter. By my mode of settling the bonded Edition: current; Page: [23] account, he will be £7, 10, 8 in my debt, and by the mode he proposes, I shall be £51, 12, 11 in his debt. Which of these is the mode by which a court of law, or equity, would settle it, I neither know, nor shall try; all that I can say on the subject, I have already said in my letter to him, viz., that Mr. John Mercer settled my account with his father’s and brother’s estate by charging me interest on all his payments; and when I objected thereto, he said it was the method by which the Chancellor in Virginia settled matters of a like nature; which was confirmed by Mr. Randolph, who was well acquainted with the practice of that court. However, as I am determined to have no dispute on the subject, Mr. Washington may settle it by which account he pleases (both are enclosed), or by striking a medium between the two methods, as shall be most agreeable to his own ideas of justice. Take up my bond, and after tareing my name from it, send it to me;—Let all the accounts between him and me be finally closed, and unless there is an absolute occasion for it, do not run me to the expence of smiths’ work there, or elsewhere, in future.

After you have discharged this account, and such others as are known to be due, from me, place the surplus of the money in the bank of Alexandria, and give me the amount of the sum. But on second thoughts, there will be your own wages, the wages of the overseers, &c., which will be due in a very little time. Let all be paid, for I never like to be in debt to any one, or have any money in my possession that another has a right to call for. * * * 7 December, 1794.

I approve your idea of clearing up the wood between the fence and the road, and letting it lay over to another year; but quere, would it not be better, instead of cleaning the ground thoroughly, and exposing the earth to the rays of the summer’s sun, to have it well grubbed, and lye with all the brush on it until the proper period arrives for breaking it up for corn? In many places, this is the universal practice; and in the opinion of some, (especially in the Northern and Eastern States) an indispensable one. They have two ways of doing this.—The one is, by letting the brush lye on the ground until the leaves, and small twigs have fallen, and are beginning to rot; which, when plowed in, occasions putrefaction and fermentation, and of course more product, after these Edition: current; Page: [24] have happened. The other is, to let the brush lye (not in heaps by piling it up, but as it is cut off) until the spring—and then set fire to it; which spreading over the whole surface, equally warms the earth, while the ashes serve as manure. Which of these is the best, or whether either of them are better than to expose the soil to the sun (as it is of a cold and sour nature) deserves consideration. * * * 14 December, 1794.

The whole amount of the corn crop I perceive is 1639 barrels. I perceive also by the reports of last week, and I believe it has been as much for several weeks preceeding, your weekly consumption of this article is 22 barrels to the stock, and about 14 to the negros; amounting together to 36 barrels, which multiplied by 52, the number of weeks in a year makes 1872, and is 233 barrels more than is made. How far this extraordinary consumption has been occasioned by the hogs which have been fatting, and how far it is capable of reduction, it is more than I am able at this distance to determine. It would, if continued, be using considerably more than ever was expended on the estate; for which reason, as I observed in one of my late letters to you, at the same time that I wish nothing to be starved thereon, I would have the corn, and indeed every thing else, administered with the utmost œconomy; for hard indeed will it be upon me, if I can make no more from my estate, wheat alone excepted, than is consumed thereon; and from the produce of that article, overseers’ wages and every thing that is bought, is to be paid for. * * * 21 December, 1794.

1795.

George Washington
Washington, George
7 January, 1795
Philadelphia
Daniel Carroll
Carroll, Daniel

TO DANIEL CARROLL.

Dear Sir,

You will consider this letter as coming from me in my private capacity, at the same time I do not object to the communication of the sentiments to your colleagues in office.

You will recollect no doubt that I yielded my assent to Mr. Greenleaf’s first proposition to purchase a Edition: current; Page: [25] number of lots in the Federal City (altho’ I thought the price he offered for them was too low) because matters at that time seemed to be in a stagnant state, and something was necessary to put the wheels in motion again. To the second Sale which was made to him, my repugnance was greater, in as much as the necessity for making it was not so apparent to my view—and because another thing had become quite evident—Viz: that he was speculating deeply—was aiming to monopolize deeply, and was thereby laying the foundation of immense profit to himself and those with whom he was concerned.

Viewing the matter in this light, you will readily perceive, at the first glance, how much my sentiments are opposed to any more large sales, if there be any other resource by which money can be obtained to carry on your operations.

The sum which will be necessary to compleat the public buildings and other improvements in the City, is very considerable. You have already, if I mistake not, disposed of more than a moiety of the Lots which appertain to the Public; and I fear not a fourth part of the Money necessary for that purpose, is yet provided. The persons to whom you have sold are reselling to others (subjecting them to the conditions to which they are made liable themselves) and this they are doing to an immense profit. Lately, a Gentleman from England, has paid, or is to pay £50,000 for 500 Lots.—Will it not be asked, why are speculators to pocket so much money? Are not the Commissioners as competent to make bargains?

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The business, I conceive, is now fairly on its legs—to sell therefore by wholesale faster than is indispensably necessary to keep the machine in proper motion will, probably (as property is rising there), be deemed impolitic. And to part with the legal title to the lots (especially in large sales of them) on personal security, may be hazarding more than prudence will warrant.

For a variety of reasons, unnecessary to be enumerated, tho’ some of them are very important, I could wish to see the force of your means directed toward the capitol in preference to the other public buildings.

With great esteem &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
12 January, 1795
Philadelphia
Tobias Lear
Lear, Tobias

TO TOBIAS LEAR.

My dear Sir,

On friday last I wrote you a few lines and assigned reasons for not writing more fully.

In addition to what I then said, which was only to inform you that permission had been given by the Canal Company of this state for Mr. Weston to visit the falls of potomac, and that he might be expected at the federal city about the first of next month, I shall notice with concern it being contrary to the heretofore entertained opinion—that the funds for carrying on that navigation are from your view of them likely to fall short £10,000 Stg. of the object.

What expedient had best be adopted for supplying the deficiency, merits serious consideration under Edition: current; Page: [27] existing circumstances.—On an abstract view of the case I should give it as my opinion without hesitation, that the present stockholders ought to continue their advances until the final completion—and for this plain and interesting reason, with me—that no speculation to which money can be applied will be more productive with so much honor and so little risque. But how far the majority of the Company (many of whom probably never bestowed a thought on the subject) may be of this sentiment—or how far their inclination and abilities might induce the adoption of the measure if they were, is not for me to decide—and as individuals of the Company will be as free as others to become purchasers if the shares are increased, it does not appear to be a matter of much moment which of these modes is prefered, or whether by loan, if the money is to be obtained.

No doubt remains in my mind of what will be the productiveness of the tolls when the navigation is in full operation—To the best of my recollection they were calculated to amount (at the time of passing the Acts of incorporation) to 15 p ct on the capital, by an estimate which was then made of the several articles which from their contiguity, it was known, would be water borne. Since that period the population of the Counties bordering on the River, and of course, the produce arising therefrom, has encreased greatly, and when the Shenandoah is added thereto (which formed no part of the original estimate) it must be equal to the most sanguine expectation.

Mr. Claiborne’s Engineers (for it seems he has two Edition: current; Page: [28] for different purposes) are fixed in this City; either of which according to the use for which you want one might be had at any time; but as I am not strongly impressed with a belief that men of eminence would come to this Country in the manner and under the circumstances they have done (but this I say without having any knowledge of the real characters of these Gentlemen—and without design to injure them) might it not be politic to obtain the opinion of the most competent of them, before Mr. Weston, (who is known to be a scientific and experienced engineer gives his? He will not adopt their opinions contrary to his experience and judgment; but if his opinion is first taken, and transpires, it may be given into by them from the want of these in themselves, endeavoring thereby to erect a character on his foundation.

I am much obliged by the trouble of your enquiries respecting my Tobacco in the Warehouses at Alexandria and George Town; and as the disposal of it is somewhat out of my way at present, and in truth is a matter that rarely occurs to me, except when I am reminded of it by Mrs. Washington, you would add to the favor by making sale of it on such terms, and whensoever in your judgment the moment is favorable. I am in no hurry nor under any necessity to precipitate the sale; and to your judgment also it is left, to continue where it is, or to remove the Tobacco from Alexa. to Georgetown.

We are all tolerably well and join in good wishes, and the compliments of the season to you. With regard and affection I am, &c.

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George Washington
Washington, George
16 January, 1795
Philadelphia
Eleanor Parke Custis
Custis, Eleanor Parke

TO ELEANOR PARKE CUSTIS.

Your letter, the receipt of which I am now acknowledging, is written correctly and in fair characters, which is an evidence that you command, when you please, a fair hand. Possessed of these advantages, it will be your own fault if you do not avail yourself of them, and attention being paid to the choice of your subjects, you can have nothing to fear from the malignancy of criticism, as your ideas are lively, and your descriptions agreeable. Let me touch a little now on your Georgetown ball, and happy, thrice happy, for the fair who were assembled on the occasion, that there was a man to spare; for had there been 79 ladies and only 78 gentlemen, there might, in the course of the evening, have been some disorder among the caps; notwithstanding the apathy which one of the company entertains for the “youth” of the present day, and her determination “never to give herself a moment’s uneasiness on account of any of them.” A hint here; men and women feel the same inclinations towards each other now that they always have done, and which they will continue to do until there is a new order of things, and you, as others have done, may find, perhaps, that the passions of your sex are easier raised than allayed. Do not therefore boast too soon or too strongly of your insensibility to, or resistance of, its powers. In the composition of the human frame there is a good deal of inflammable matter, however dormant it may lie for a time, and like an intimate acquaintance of yours, when the torch Edition: current; Page: [30] is put to it, that which is within you may burst into a blaze; for which reason and especially too, as I have entered upon the chapter of advices, I will read you a lecture drawn from this text.

Love is said to be an involuntary passion, and it is, therefore, contended that it cannot be resisted. This is true in part only, for like all things else, when nourished and supplied plentifully with aliment, it is rapid in its progress; but let these be withdrawn and it may be stifled in its birth or much stinted in its growth. For example, a woman (the same may be said of the other sex) all beautiful and accomplished, will, while her hand and heart are undisposed of, turn the heads and set the circle in which she moves on fire. Let her marry, and what is the consequence? The madness ceases and all is quiet again. Why? not because there is any diminution in the charms of the lady, but because there is an end of hope. Hence it follows, that love may and therefore ought to be under the guidance of reason, for although we cannot avoid first impressions, we may assuredly place them under guard; and my motives for treating on this subject are to show you, while you remain Eleanor Parke Custis, spinster, and retain the resolution to love with moderation, the propriety of adhering to the latter resolution, at least until you have secured your game, and the way by which it may be accomplished.

When the fire is beginning to kindle, and your heart growing warm, propound these questions to it. Who is this invader? Have I a competent knowledge of him? Is he a man of good character; a man of sense? For, be assured, a sensible woman can never Edition: current; Page: [31] be happy with a fool? What has been his walk in life? Is he a gambler, a spendthrift, or drunkard? Is his fortune sufficient to maintain me in the manner I have been accustomed to live, and my sisters live, and is he one to whom my friends can have no reasonable objection? If these interrogatories can be satisfactorily answered, there will remain but one more to be asked, that, however, is an important one. Have I sufficient ground to conclude that his affections are engaged by me? Without this the heart of sensibility will struggle against a passion that is not reciprocated—delicacy, custom, or call it by what epithet you will, having precluded all advances on your part. The declaration, without the most indirect invitation of yours, must proceed from the man, to render it permanent and valuable, and nothing short of good sense and an easy unaffected conduct can draw the line between prudery and coquetry. It would be no great departure from truth to say, that it rarely happens otherwise than that a thorough-faced coquette dies in celibacy, as a punishment for her attempts to mislead others, by encouraging looks, words, or actions, given for no other purpose than to draw men on to make overtures that they may be rejected.

This day, according to our information, gives a husband to your elder sister, and consummates, it is to be presumed, her fondest desires. The dawn with us is bright, and propitious, I hope, of her future happiness, for a full measure of which she and Mr. Law have my earnest wishes.1 Compliments and congratulations on this occasion, and best regards are Edition: current; Page: [32] presented to your mamma, Dr. Stuart and family; and every blessing, among which a good husband when you want and deserve one, is bestowed on you by yours, affectionately.

George Washington
Washington, George
22 January, 1795
Philadelphia
Edmund Pendleton
Pendleton, Edmund

TO EDMUND PENDLETON.

Dear Sir,

From a long acquaintance with and sincere regard for you, I always feel pleasure in hearing from you and of you. Consequently your letter of the 30th ultimo was an acceptable annuity.1

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Notwithstanding you have passed your seventy-third year, whilst you enjoy tolerable health, and retain your faculties in the vigor they are, I wish, as well on public as on private account, that length of days may be added to those which you have already numbered. A month from this day, if I should live to see the completion of it, will place me on the wrong (perhaps it would be better to say on the advanced) side of my grand climacteric; and, although I have no cause to complain of the want of health, I can religiously aver, that no man was ever more tired of public life, or more devoutly wished for retirement than I do.

I hope and believe, that the spirit of anarchy in the western counties of this State, (to quell which the force of the Union was called for,) is entirely subdued; and although, to effect it, the community has been saddled with a considerable expense, yet I trust no money could have been more advantageously expended, both as it respects the internal peace and welfare of this country, and the impression it will make on others. The spirit with which the militia turned out in support of the constitution and the laws of our country, at the same time that it does them immortal honor, is the most conclusive refutation, that could have been given to the assertions of Lord Sheffield,1 that, without the protection of Edition: current; Page: [34] Great Britain, we should be unable to govern ourselves, and would soon be involved in confusion. They will see, that republicanism is not the phantom of a deluded imagination. On the contrary, that, under no form of government, will laws be better supported, liberty and property better secured, or happiness be more effectually dispensed to mankind.

The successes of our army to the westward have already been productive of good consequences. They have dispelled a cloud, which lowered very heavily in the northern hemisphere (the Six Nations); and, though we have received no direct advices from General Wayne since November, there is reason to believe, that the Indians, with whom we are or were at war in that quarter, together with their abettors, begin to see things in a different point of view. But what effect these favorable changes may have on the southern Indians, it is not easy at this moment to decide.

I accord fully in opinion with yourself, that the plan of annual presents, in an abstract view, unaccompanied with other measures, is not the best mode of treating ignorant savages, from whose hostile conduct we experience much distress; but it is not to be forgotten, that they in turn are not without serious causes of complaint, from the encroachments which are made on their lands by our people, who are not to be restrained by any law now in being, or likely to be enacted. They, poor wretches, have no press Edition: current; Page: [35] through which their grievances are related; and it is well known, that, when one side only of a story is heard and often repeated, the human mind becomes impressed with it insensibly. The annual presents, however, to which you allude, are not given so much with a view to purchase peace, as by way of contribution for injuries not otherwise to be redressed. These people are very much irritated by the continual pressure of land speculators and settlers on one hand, and by the impositions of unauthorized and unprincipled traders, who rob them, in a manner, of their hunting, on the other. Nothing but the strong arm of the Union, or, in other words, adequate laws can correct these abuses. But here jealousies and prejudices, (from which I apprehend more fatal consequences to this government, than from any other source,) aided by local situations, and perhaps by interested considerations, always oppose themselves to efficient measures.

My communications to Congress, at the last and present sessions, have proceeded upon ideas similar to those expressed in your letter, namely, to make fair treaties with the savage tribes, (by this I mean, that they shall perfectly understand every article and clause of them, from correct and repeated interpretations;) that these treaties shall be held sacred, and the infractors on either side punished exemplarily; and to furnish them plentifully with goods, under wholesome regulations, without aiming at higher prices than are adequate to cover the cost and charges. If measures like these were adopted, we might hope to live in peace and amity with these borderers; but not Edition: current; Page: [36] whilst our citizens, in violation of law and justice, are guilty of the offences I have mentioned, and are carrying on unauthorized expeditions against them; and when, for the most atrocious murders, even of those of whom we have the least cause of complaint, a jury on the frontiers can hardly be got to listen to a charge, much less to convict a culprit.

The madness of the European powers, and the calamitous situation into which all of them are thrown by the present ruinous war, ought to be a serious warning to us to avoid a similar catastrophe, so long as we can with honor and justice to our national character. What will be the result of Mr. Jay’s mission is more than I am able, at this moment, to disclose. Charged as he has been with all matters in dispute between the two countries, (not, as has been insinuated in some of the gazettes, merely with that of spoliation,) it may easily be conceived, that there would be a large field of discussion. But upon what principle (except that of piracy,) to account for the conduct of the Bermudian privateers, at this stage of the negotiation, is beyond my comprehension on any fair ground of conjecture, as it must swell the bill. With very great esteem and regard, I am, dear Sir, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
28 January, 1795
Philadelphia

TO THE COMMISSIONERS OF THE FEDERAL DISTRICT.

Gentlemen,

A plan for the establishment of an university in the Federal City has frequently been the subject of conversation; but, in what manner it is proposed to Edition: current; Page: [37] commence this important institution, on how extensive a scale, the means by which it is to be effected, how it is to be supported, or what progress is made in it, are matters altogether unknown to me.

It has always been a source of serious reflection and sincere regret with me, that the youth of the United States should be sent to foreign countries for the purpose of education. Although there are doubtless many, under these circumstances, who escape the danger of contracting principles unfavorable to republican government, yet we ought to deprecate the hazard attending ardent and susceptible minds, from being too strongly and too early prepossessed in favor of other political systems, before they are capable of appreciating their own.

For this reason I have greatly wished to see a plan adopted, by which the arts, sciences, and belles-lettres could be taught in their fullest extent, thereby embracing all the advantages of European tuition, with the means of acquiring the liberal knowledge, which is necessary to qualify our citizens for the exigencies of public as well as private life; and (which with me is a consideration of great magnitude) by assembling the youth from the different parts of this rising republic, contributing from their intercourse and interchange of information to the removal of prejudices, which might perhaps sometimes arise from local circumstances.

The Federal City, from its centrality and the advantages, which in other respects it must have over any other place in the United States, ought to be Edition: current; Page: [38] preferred, as a proper site for such an university. And if a plan can be adopted upon a scale as extensive as I have described, and the execution of it should commence under favorable auspices in a reasonable time, with a fair prospect of success, I will grant in perpetuity fifty shares in the navigation of Potomac River towards the endowment of it.

What annuity will arise from these fifty shares, when the navigation is in full operation, can at this time be only conjectured; and those, who are acquainted with the nature of it, can form as good a judgment as myself.

As the design of this university has assumed no form with which I am acquainted, and as I am equally ignorant who the persons are, that have taken or are disposed to take the maturation of the plan upon themselves, I have been at a loss to whom I should make this communication of my intentions. If the Commissioners of the Federal City have any particular agency in bringing the matter forward, then the information, I now give to them, is in its proper course. If, on the other hand, they have no more to do in it than others, who may be desirous of seeing so important a measure carried into effect, they will be so good as to excuse my using them as the medium for disclosing these intentions; because it appears necessary, that the funds for the establishment and support of the institution should be known to the promoters of it; and I see no mode more eligible for announcing my purpose. For these reasons, I give you the trouble of this address, and the assurance of being, Gentlemen, &c.

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George Washington
Washington, George
2 February, 1795
Philadelphia
Alexander Hamilton
Hamilton, Alexander

TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON.

Dear Sir,

After so long an experience of your public services, I am naturally led, at this moment of your departure from office (which it has always been my wish to prevent), to review them. In every relation, which you have borne to me, I have found that my confidence in your talents, exertions, and integrity has been well placed. I the more freely render this testimony of my approbation, because I speak from opportunities of information, which cannot deceive me, and which furnish satisfactory proof of your title to public regard.1

My most earnest wishes for your happiness will attend you in your retirement, and you may assure yourself of the sincere esteem, regard, and friendship of, dear Sir, your affectionate, &c.

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George Washington
Washington, George
22 February, 1795
Philad’a
Robert Lewis
Lewis, Robert

TO ROBERT LEWIS.

Dear Sir:

Your letter of the 17th Ult. came duly to hand—but the pressure of business in which I am always involved whilst Congress are in session has prevented my acknowledging the receipt of it at an earlier date; and now, I may not be so full as you might wish; but shall touch upon the several points of your letter and in the order they stand there.

If the tenants are not punctual in the discharge of their Rents, when they become due, destrain for them without delay, or hesitation; unless their disability to pay proceeds from some providential interposition, or from some other obvious cause which entitles them to indulgence, for it may be depended upon, if the failure proceeds from idleness, the man who is unable to pay one rent, will never pay two, willingly; and generally, when it goes beyond that the score is wiped out.

With respect to the Sheriffs, shew them no indulgence; of all descriptions of men in this Country, I think them (tho’ there may, and undoubtedly there are exceptions) the least entitled to favor; I mean to be understood as speaking of under sheriffs, and those who farm the office, merely to grind the people and get money into their hands, for speculative and other purposes of their own, instead of rendering it where due.

I shall expect the accounts of all the monies collected, and of the arrearages as soon as you can Edition: current; Page: [41] make it out, that I may know precisely how the matter stands on this and on the replevy bonds.

Mrs. Haney1 should endeavor to do what she can for herself—this is a duty incumbent on every one; but you must not let her suffer, as she has thrown herself upon me; your advances on this account will be allowed always, at settlement; and I agree readily to furnish her with provisions and for the good character you give of her daughter make the latter a present in my name of a handsome but not costly gown, and other things which she may stand mostly in need of.—You may charge me also with the worth of your tenement on which she is placed, and where perhaps it is better she should be, than at a great distance from your attentions to her.

I have already given you my ideas with respect to the purchasing of leases; but to these I will add, that if you can make advantageous bargains, conclude them; as far as you have means in your own hands to carry them into effect.—Beyond this, make them conditionally only leaving the ratification to me; that I may decide from the prospect I have of commanding money; whether to carry them into execution or not. In conducting this business, there are two things which you should never loose sight of. The first is, that the sum given to purchase in the lease, is fixed and certain; and the rent which can be had for the tenement is often uncertain. To go upon Edition: current; Page: [42] the supposition, therefore, that it will rent for this or that sum, is fallacious ground unless there is unequivocal evidence on which to form an opinion. The second thing is, that the rent, whatever it may be, must be more than will afford 6 pr. ct. interest for the sum advanced for the purchase, in addition to the rent—first, because 6 pr. ct. is the legal interest of the United States.—Secondly because any person who has money to lend, and will adopt the usual modes, may obtain much more; and thirdly because the rent which is received, and which I am entitled to without any advance, is equivalent to a certain principal—for instance, if I was to give an hundred pounds for a lease, the rent of which was £6, if I did not receive £12 rent, the deficiency would be lost upon legal ground, because the land is equal to £6, and the £100 paid by way of purchase is equal to £100 more. But those who possess money, can turn it (where they are disposed to do it) to more profit than lending it at 6 pr. ct.—I have no inclination however to fall into those practices—therefore after this explanation of my ideas, go on and purchase as far as you have means, absolutely; and conditionally, afterwards, for the reasons given.

I had no conception that at this day my leases were so full of lives as would appear from your account of them; I wish my confidence in placing blank leases signed into the hands of Mr. Muse may not have been abused. I have not to the best of my recollection, sanctioned more than the rental for lives of two leases—one to Mr. Aires; and another to a Edition: current; Page: [43] person who was formerly an overseer to my brother John; the rest were formed for a term of years which must have expired. I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
9 March, 1795
Philadelphia
Joseph Ceracchi
Ceracchi, Joseph

TO JOSEPH CERACCHI.1

Sir:

I am directed by the President of the United States to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 7th inst., and that of the present date;—and to express to you his regret at your despair of bringing your plan of a national monument to a fortunate issue.

Whether there are sufficient grounds for despair, or whether more time may not be necessary to give the subscription papers a fair trial, and to ascertain Edition: current; Page: [44] the result with more precision; you can decide with more accuracy than he, who has not taken and cannot take, any active part in this business. He has formed no Opinion thereon, much less is he enabled to offer you any advice on this subject.

But as you hold out strong indications of deception, and complain of ill treatment without pointing to the instances, he thinks it necessary that an explanation should be had between you and himself; that no charges hereafter may lie at his door.—To do this it requires nothing more than to draw your attention to circumstances which cannot have escaped your recollection.

Of your intention of coming to this Country originally, the President could have had no knowledge—and you had been in the City some time before he was informed of it.1 Whilst here your name was frequently mentioned to him in very advantageous terms.—He was told of a design you had projected for the erection of a National Monument;—that you were preparing the Busts of particular characters in this City; and that you had expressed an earnest desire to take his. This request being reiterated he, with the reluctance which he has always felt on these occasions, yielded his assent; and accordingly sat for you; without having any other motive than to accommodate your views, or without perceiving any other object on your part, than a desire to take copies from it, if, thereafter, any advantages were likely to result therefrom.

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What more (if any thing) might have passed between you and others, on this occasion he knows not;—and with respect to the public edifice, he does not now recollect whether a memorial, which you had prepared for congress, was ever presented; or if presented, what the reception of it was;—much less does he know of any specific encouragement that could have induced you to return to this country in expectation of prosecuting the plan.

As a public character he had no power to offer any, because the means of accomplishment were to flow from legislative authority; and as a private man he never could, or would have committed himself in this affair further than as a Subscriber.—Thus much relates to the first part of this transaction.—With respect to the subsequent part, that is, your return to this Country, and what has happened since; the President desires me to remark, that these are events which were adopted without any consultation with him or his knowledge, and he heard thro’ a variety of channels of the model of the proposed monument, the likenesses of the Busts, &c., &c.—before the pressure of business in which he was engaged, would permit him to see them;—or to comply with a second request that he would set for some alteration in the Bust which was intended for himself, and with which he complied, on the same principle which had produced the first sitting;—always conceiving it was for purposes of your own it was wanted, untill hints were given that it was designed to be presented to Mrs. Washington. Then for the first time he knew, [he] Edition: current; Page: [46] declared, that he could not, and would not accept it as a present.

The preceeding facts are necessary to acquit the President of having had any agency in your deception (if you have been deceived,) or of involving you in a situation which seems to have become irksome and inconvenient. What follows will shew the ground on which he declines to discharge the account which is inclosed in your letter of the 7th before mentioned.

You cannot have forgot, Sir, that when you sent the busts of Bacchus and Ariadne to the President in 1792, and requested his acceptance of them, that they were refused, and returned to you.—Upon which with earnestness (being on the point of your departure and not knowing what to do with them) you requested that they might be permitted to remain in his house.—To this he assented.—And supposing the object was that they might be exhibited as specimens of your abilities, as a sculptor, he had temporary pedestals made for them to stand on;—and always announced them as your workmanship and your property.

On Monday next they will be sent to you;—this would have been done to-day, but company will occupy the servants and prevent their being taken down.—The Bust intended for the P.— is also at your disposal.—Or if you incline to receive for it the highest value that the best artist, or the most skilful connoiseurs in the city will say is the intrinsic worth, he will, notwithstanding this true recital of the case, pay the amount: although it is just to observe, and it may well be supposed he would have been desirous Edition: current; Page: [47] of knowing the cost, and consulting his own inclination and convenience, before it was undertaken, if he had not conceived that it was intended for your own use, and not for his.—

He desires me to add, that it is with real concern he finds the abilities of our infant republic, will not afford employment for a person of your talents. The cause probably is that the United States are just emerging from the difficulties and expenses of a long and bloody war—and cannot spare money for those gratifications and ornamental figures,—as in the wealthy countries of Europe.—He is sorry also that you should quit them under any embarrassments or with discontent.—For myself, I am, &c.,

B. Dandridge.
George Washington
Washington, George
10 March, 1795
Philadelphia
Charles Carter
Carter, Charles

TO CHARLES CARTER.

Dear Sir,

Your favor of the 23d ulto. came duly to hand.—I wish, sincerely it was in my power to comply with your request in behalf of your son, but it really is not, to the extent of it.

My friends entertain a very erroneous idea of my pecuniary resources, when they set me down for a money lender, or one who (now) has a command of it. You may believe me when I assert that the bonds which were due to me before the Revolution, were discharged during the progress of it—with a few exceptions in depreciated paper (in some instances as low as a shilling in the pound.) That such has been Edition: current; Page: [48] the management of my Estate, for many years past, especially since my absence from home, now six years, as scarcely to support itself. That my public allowance (whatever the world may think of it) is inadequate to the expence of living in this City; to such an extravagant height has the necessaries as well as the conveniences of life arisen.—And, moreover that to keep myself out of debt; I have found it expedient now and then to sell Lands, or something else to effect this purpose.

These are facts I have no inclination to publish to the World, nor should I have disclosed them on this occasion, had it not been due to friendship, to give you some explanation of my inability to comply with your request. If, however by joining with nine others, the sum required can be obtained—notwithstanding my being under these circumstances—and notwithstanding the money will be to be withdrawn from another purpose—I will contribute one hundred pounds towards the accommodation of your son’s wants, without any view to the receipt of interest therefrom.

With very great esteem and regard, I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
15 March, 1795
Philadelphia
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas

TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.

Dear Sir,

I received your letter of the 23d ultimo1; but not at so early a period as might have been expected from the date of it. My mind has always been more Edition: current; Page: [49] disposed to apply the shares in the inland navigation of Potomac and James Rivers, which were left to my disposal by the legislature of Virginia, towards the endowment of an university in the United States, than to any other object it had contemplated. In pursuance of this idea, and understanding that other means are in embryo for establishing so useful a seminary in the Federal City, I did, on the 28th of January last, announce to the commissioners thereof my intention of vesting in perpetuity the fifty shares I hold under that act in the navigation of Potomac, as an additional mean of carrying the plan into effect, provided it should be adopted upon a scale so liberal as to extend to and embrace a complete system of education.

I had little hesitation in giving the Federal City a preference of all other places for the institution, for the following reasons. 1st, on account of its being the permanent seat of the government of this Union, and where the laws and policy of it must be better understood than in any local part thereof. 2d, because of its centrality. 3d, because one half (or near it) of the District of Columbia is within the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the whole of the State not inconvenient thereto. 4th, because, as a part of the endowment, it would be useful, but alone would be inadequate to the end. 5th, because many advantages, I conceive, would result from the jurisdiction, which the general government will have over it, which no other spot would possess. And, lastly, as this seminary is contemplated for the completion of education and Edition: current; Page: [50] study of the sciences, (not for boys in their rudiments,) it will afford the students an opportunity of attending the debates in Congress, and thereby becoming more liberally and better acquainted with the principles of law and government.

My judgment and my wishes point equally strong to the application of the James River shares to the same object at the same place; but, considering the source from whence they were derived, I have, in a letter I am writing to the executive of Virginia on this subject, left the application of them to a seminary within the State, to be located by the legislature.

Hence you will perceive, that I have in a degree anticipated your proposition. I was restrained from going the whole length of the suggestion by the following considerations. 1st, I did not know to what extent or when any plan would be so matured for the establishment of an university, as would enable any assurances to be given to the application of M. D’Ivernois. 2d, the propriety of transplanting the professors in a body might be questioned for several reasons; among others, because they might not be all good characters, nor all sufficiently acquainted with our language. And again, having been at variance with the levelling party of their own country, the measure might be considered as an aristocratical movement by more than those, who, without any just cause that I can discover, are continually sounding the bell of aristocracy. And, 3d, because it might preclude some of the first professors in other countries from a participation, among whom some of Edition: current; Page: [51] the most celebrated characters in Scotland, in this line, might be obtained.

Something, but of what nature I am unable to inform you, has been written by Mr. Adams to M. D’Ivernois. Never having viewed my intended donation as more than a part of the means, that were to set this establishment afloat, I did not incline to go too far in the encouragement of professors, before the plan should assume a more formal shape, much less to induce an entire college to migrate. The enclosed is the answer I have received from the commissioners; from which, and the ideas I have here expressed, you will be enabled to decide on the best communication to be made to M. D’Ivernois.

My letter to the commissioners has bound me to the fulfilment of what is therein engaged; and if the legislature of Virginia, in considering the subject, should view it in the same light I do, the James River shares will be added thereto; for I think one good institution of this sort is to be preferred to two imperfect ones, which, without other aid than the shares in both navigations, is more likely to fall through, than to succeed upon the plan I contemplate; which, in a few words, is to supersede the necessity of sending the youth of this country abroad for the purpose of education, (where too often principles and habits unfriendly to republican government are imbibed, and not easily discarded,) by instituting such an one of our own, as will answer the end, and associating them in the same seminary, will contribute to wear off those prejudices and unreasonable jealousies, which prevent Edition: current; Page: [52] or weaken friendships and impair the harmony of the Union. With very great esteem, I am, &c.

P. S. Mr. Adams laid before me the communications of M. D’Ivernois; but I said nothing to him of my intended donation towards the establishment of an university in the Federal District. My wishes would be to fix this on the Virginia side of the Potomac River; but this would not embrace or accord with those other means, which are proposed for the establishment.

George Washington
Washington, George
16 March, 1795
Philadelphia
Robert Brooke
Brooke, Robert

TO ROBERT BROOKE, GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA.

Sir,

Ever since the General Assembly of Virginia were pleased to submit to my disposal fifty shares in the Potomac, and one hundred in the James River Company, it has been my anxious desire to appropriate them to an object most worthy of public regard.

It is with indescribable regret, that I have seen the youth of the United States migrating to foreign countries, in order to acquire the higher branches of erudition, and to obtain a knowledge of the sciences. Although it would be injustice to many to pronounce the certainty of their imbibing maxims not congenial with republicanism, it must nevertheless be admitted, that a serious danger is encountered by sending abroad among other political systems those, who have not well learned the value of their own.

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The time is therefore come, when a plan of universal education ought to be adopted in the United States. Not only do the exigencies of public and private life demand it, but, if it should ever be apprehended, that prejudice would be entertained in one part of the Union against another, an efficacious remedy will be, to assemble the youth of every part under such circumstances as will, by the freedom of intercourse and collision of sentiment, give to their minds the direction of truth, philanthropy, and mutual conciliation.

It has been represented, that a university corresponding with these ideas is contemplated to be built in the Federal City, and that it will receive considerable endowments. This position is so eligible from its centrality, so convenient to Virginia, by whose legislature the shares were granted and in which part of the Federal District stands, and combines so many other conveniences, that I have determined to vest the Potomac shares in that university.

Presuming it to be more agreeable to the General Assembly of Virginia, that the shares in the James River Company should be reserved for a similar object in some part of that State, I intend to allot them for a seminary to be erected at such place as they shall deem most proper. I am disposed to believe, that a seminary of learning upon an enlarged plan, but yet not coming up to the full idea of an university, is an institution to be preferred for the position which is to be chosen. The students who wish to pursue the whole range of science, may pass with Edition: current; Page: [54] advantage from the seminary to the university, and the former by a due relation may be rendered cooperative with the latter.

I cannot however dissemble my opinion, that if all the shares were conferred on an university, it would become far more important, than when they are divided; and I have been constrained from concentring them in the same place, merely by my anxiety to reconcile a particular attention to Virginia with a great good, in which she will abundantly share in common with the rest of the United States.

I must beg the favor of your Excellency to lay this letter before that honorable body, at their next session, in order that I may appropriate the James River shares to the place which they may prefer. They will at the same time again accept my acknowledgments for the opportunity, with which they have favored me, of attempting to supply so important a desideratum in the United States as an university adequate to our necessity, and a preparatory seminary. With great consideration and respect, I am, Sir, &c.1

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George Washington
Washington, George
27 March, 1795
Philadelphia
Daniel Morgan
Morgan, Daniel

TO MAJOR-GENERAL DANIEL MORGAN.

Dear Sir,

The interest which you have taken in the safety of John Mitchell, as expressed in your letter of the 19th of January last, would be an inducement to me to go as far, in relieving him, as public propriety will admit. But, the attorney-general having made a report, of which the enclosed is a copy, I think it advisable to postpone the further consideration until his trial shall have taken place.

It has afforded me great pleasure to learn, that the general conduct and character of the army have been temperate and indulgent, and that your attention to the quiet and comfort of the western inhabitants has been well received by them. Still it may be proper constantly and strongly to impress upon the army, that they are mere agents of civil power; that, out of camp, they have no other authority than other citizens; that offences against the laws are to be examined, Edition: current; Page: [56] not by a military officer, but by a magistrate; that they are not exempt from arrests and indictments for violations of the laws; that officers ought to be careful not to give orders, which may lead the agents into infractions of law; that no compulsion be used towards the inhabitants in the traffic carried on between them and the army; that disputes be avoided, as much as possible, and be adjusted as quickly as may be, without urging them to an extreme; and that the whole country is not to be considered as within the limits of the camp.

I do not communicate these things to you for any other purpose, than that you may weigh them, and, without referring to any instructions from me, adopt the measures necessary for accomplishing the foregoing objects. With great regard and esteem, I am, dear Sir, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
17th May, 1795
Philadelphia
Alexander White
White, Alexander

TO ALEXANDER WHITE.
[PRIVATE.]

Dear Sir:

Your letter of the 11th inst. came to hand by the post of yesterday.

With pleasure I received your acceptance of the office of Commissioner of the Federal City. The commission will be forwarded to you from the department of State, and the sooner you can enter upon the duties of the trust, the more convenient and agreeable it will be.

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With the candor which I am sure will be agreeable to you, I shall intimate (for reasons which I shall not at this time enumerate, but which will appear evident after you have been there a while) that a residence in the City, if a house is to be had, will be more promotive of its welfare, than your abode in George Town.—I shall add, that the motives which induced a fixed salary (which the first commissioner did not receive) were, that they should reside on the spot;—that they were not only to plan and regulate the affairs of the City,—but to look to the execution of them also; to accomplish which with the greatest ease to themselves, and best advantage to the public; I presumed that after measures were decided on by the board they would have been so arranged as that each member would have attended to the execution of a particular part; or if found more convenient, that in rotation each would have superintended the whole.—I could not perceive however when in the City last, (the only time since the change in the Board) that any such arrangement had been adopted.—In short, the only difference I could perceive between the proceedings of the old and the new Commissioners resulted from the following comparison.—The old met not oftener than once a month, except on particular occasions; the new meet once or twice a week.—In the interval the old resided at their houses in the Country; the new resided at their houses in George Town. The old had too much of the business done by daily wages, and were obliged to trust to Overseers and Superintendants to look to Edition: current; Page: [58] the execution; the new have gone more into the execution of it by contracts, and piece work, but rely equally, I fear, on others to see to the performance. These changes (tho’ for the better) by no means apply a radical cure to the evils that were complained of; nor will they justify the difference of compensation from six dollars per diem for every day’s attendance in the City and sixteen hundred per annum.

My time will not permit me to go more into detail on this subject;—nor is it necessary; your own good judgment will supply all, and more than I could add.—

The year 1800 will be soon upon us; The necessity therefore of hurrying on the public buildings, and other works of a public nature, and executing of them with economy; the propriety of preventing idleness in those who have day or monthly wages, and imposition by others, who work by measure—by the piece, or by contract—and seeing that all contracts are fulfilled with good faith, are too obvious to be dwelt on,—and are not less important than to form plans, and establish rules, for conducting, and bringing to a speedy and happy conclusion this great and arduous business.1 I am, &c.

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George Washington
Washington, George
29 June, 1795
Philadelphia

TO SECRETARIES OF STATE, TREASURY, AND WAR, AND THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL.1

Sir,

I enclose to you a copy of the resolution of the Senate, advising that the late treaty with Great Britain be ratified. Upon this resolution two questions arise.

First, is or is not that resolution intended to be the final act of the Senate; or do they expect, that the new article which is proposed shall be submitted to them before the treaty takes effect?

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Secondly, does or does not the constitution permit the President to ratify the treaty, without submitting the new article, after it shall be agreed to by the British King, to the Senate for their further advice and consent?

I wish you to consider this subject as soon as possible, and transmit to me your opinion in writing, that I may without delay take some definitive step upon the treaty. I am, &c.1

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George Washington
Washington, George
3 July, 1795
Philadelphia
Alexander Hamilton
Hamilton, Alexander

TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON.
[PRIVATE AND PERFECTLY CONFIDENTIAL.]

My dear Sir,

The treaty of Amity, Commerce and Navigation, which has lately been before the Senate, has, as you will perceive, made its public entry into the Gazettes of this City.—Of course the merits, and demerits of it will (especially in its unfinished state), be freely discussed.

It is not the opinion of those who were determined (before it was promulgated) to support or oppose it, that I am sollicitous to obtain; for these I well know rarely do more than examine the side to which they lean; without giving the reverse the consideration it deserves;—possibly without a wish to be apprised of the reasons on which the objections are founded.—My desire is to learn from dispassionate men, who have a knowledge of the subject, and abilities to judge of it, the genuine opinion they entertain of each article of the instrument; and the result of it in the aggregate. In a word, placed on the footing the matter now stands, it is, more than ever, an incumbent duty on me to do what propriety, and the true interest of this country shall appear to require at my hands, on so important a subject, under such delicate circumstances.

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You will be at no loss to perceive from what I have already said, that my wishes are to have the favorable and unfavorable side of each article stated and compared together; that I may see the bearing and tendency of them;—and ultimately, on which side the balance is to be found.

This treaty has, I am sensible, many relations, which, in deciding thereon ought to be attended to;—some of them too are of an important nature.—I know also, that to judge with precision of its commercial arrangements, there ought likewise to be an intimate acquaintance with the various branches of commerce between this country and Great Britain as it now stands;—as it will be placed by the treaty,—and as it may affect our present, or restrain our future treaties with other nations.—All these things I am persuaded you have given as much attention to as most men; and I believe that your late employment under the General government afforded you more opportunities of deriving knowledge therein, than most of them who have not studied and practiced it scientifically, upon a large and comprehensive scale.

I do not know how you may be occupied at present;—or how incompatible this request of mine may be to the business you have in hand. All I can say is, that however desirous I may be of availing myself of your sentiments on the points I have enumerated, and such others as are involved in the treaty, and the resolution of the Senate; (both of which I send you, lest they should not be at Edition: current; Page: [63] hand) it is not my intention to interrupt you in that business; or, if you are disinclined to go into the investigation I have requested, to press the matter upon you: for of this you may be assured, that with the most unfeigned regard—and with every good wish for your health and prosperity

I am, Your Affectc. friend &c

P. S.—Admitting that his B: Majesty will consent to the suspension of the 12th Article of the treaty, is it necessary that the treaty should again go to the Senate? or is the President authorized by the resolution of that body to ratify it without.1

George Washington
Washington, George
13th July, 1795
Philadelphia
Alexander Hamilton
Hamilton, Alexander

TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON.
[PRIVATE.]

My dear Sir,

I have, in the regular course of the Posts, been duly favoured with your letters of the 9th, accompanying your observations on the several articles of the treaty, with Great Britain,—and of the 10th supplementary thereto.—

For both, I offer you my sincere thanks, as they have afforded me great satisfaction. Altho’ it was my wish that your observations on each article should be diffusive, yet I am really ashamed when I behold the trouble it has given you, to explore and to explain so fully as you have done, the whole of them.

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The most obnoxious article (the 12th) being suspended by the Senate, there is no occasion to express any sentiment thereon.—I wish, however, it had appeared in a different form.—And altho’ it is but fair to presume that, no further advantage could have been obtained in the 3d article, yet the exclusion of the vessels belonging to the United States from all the “Seaports, Harbours, Bays, or Creeks of His Majesty,” when theirs are admitted into all ours, to the highest Ports of entry, is not marked with reciprocity.—It may be urged and truly, that under the existing regulations of the B. government, we are not, at this time, allowed those privileges; except when they are made to subserve their own purposes: whilst from Quebec (but how we are to get there I know not,) and upwards,—the lakes, and the waters on their side of the line, are open to our commerce, and that we have equal advantages in the Indian trade on both sides; except within the limits of the Hudson’s bay company.

All this looks very well on paper; but I much question whether in its operation it will not be found to work very much against us.

1st. What are the limits of that company?—are they so defined, and so clearly understood, as that our traders when they are in the Wilderness can with precision say, thus far I may of right go, without let or hindrance?

2nd. Admitting the fact, will they not, having possession of the trade, and the Indians being in their interest, by every artifice of their traders, prevent Edition: current; Page: [65] ours from extending themselves into the country—sharing in the profit, and thereby bringing on disputes which may terminate seriously.—

3d. Does not the hitherto (I might add present) improper interference of the British, within our territory, and the sollicitude that that government has manifested upon all occasions to get a footing on the Mississippi; and on the waters and carrying places leading thereto, evince, in a most unequivocal manner, that disputes may be expected to arise within our territory as well as their own, from the attempts of their Traders to monopolize the trade; and from the overbearing support, or underhand countenance, they will give, not only in what is right, but in what is convenient, to its views also.—

My opinion of this article therefore is, that it would have been more for our peace, if not for our interest, to have restrained the traders of both nations to their own side of the line, leaving the Indians on each, to go to whichsoever their interest, convenience, or inclination, might prompt them. This would have thwarted the views of the British on the Mississippi, whilst all the doors into upper Canada, and the Western Country would have been as wide open then, as they are now made by the treaty;—and no difficulty I am persuaded would have been found by our people, of introducing goods across the line, after they had got them to it, and the Posts possessed by us, if this avenue should be found the most convenient and cheapest.

I wish too the 2nd article had been more definite Edition: current; Page: [66] with respect to the terms “Precincts or Jurisdiction.”—Except that the shortness of its duration for operation may afford a remedy, I should expect many disputes would arise therefrom.

I asked, or intended to ask in my letter of the 3d whether you conceived (admitting the suspension of the 12th Article should be agreed to by the B. government) there would be a necessity for the treaty going before the Senate again for their advice and consent? This question takes its birth from a declaration of the minority of that body, to that effect.

With much truth and sincerity
I am always your affectionate &c.

P. S. I was almost in the act of sending the enclosed letter to the Post Office when your favor of the 11th was put into my hands.

Query—Whether the passage, which you have quoted from the 15th article in your letter of the above date does not mean that no prohibition shall be imposed on the exportation or importation of any articles to or from the U. S. which shall not be also imposed on the like exportation or importation to or from other foreign nations? That is:—that the U. S. shall be under no other disability, than any other foreign nations.—If so, there would seem to be no privilege granted, but only an engagement, that other nations shall not be rivals to the U. S. by being freed from the prohibition.—For example—Your idea is, that whatever of its own produce Spain may carry from their territory; that is, they may re-export to Edition: current; Page: [67] England Spanish produce.—I wish this could be made clear; for I readily see the advantage of it in one sense; tho’ I am not sure that we can bring any Country, except the East Indies, into our own, the produce of it, and reexport it to England so as to make a profit from this circuitous voyage.

George Washington
Washington, George
14 July, 1795
Philadelphia
Alexander Hamilton
Hamilton, Alexander

TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON.

My dear Sir,

I received your favor of yesterday, this moment, when I am on the eve of a journey to Virginia.1

The opinion which you have given as to its being necessary to submit the new article to the Senate, being in direct opposition to that of the Secretaries and the Attorney-general, has occasioned some embarrassment with me.—For I always understood it to be the sense of the majority of the Senate, that they were not to pass their judgment upon the new article further than they have done.—But as I shall be absent, and Mr. Randolph has before him the bringing of this business to a close; I wish you to write to him your ideas, if upon mature reflection you shall think differently from the gentlemen around me; or you find the sense of the Senate to be different from what I have been led to expect.—I have told Mr. Randolph that your sentiments do not agree with those which I received from the Officers of government; and have desired him to revise them.—

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I have also told him that I have requested the favor of you to write to him on this subject.

Very affectionately &c.

P. S. Notwithstanding one great object of my visit to Mount Vernon, is relaxation; yet, to hear from you, the sentimts. entertained of the treaty—and in short on any other interesting subject, with which the public mind is occupied would be a considerable gratification.—The state of our pecuniary matters in Holland, at this time, is a bar to Mr. Adams’s leaving that country—but the next best step will be adopted.—

Yours as before.
George Washington
Washington, George
22 July, 1795
Mount Vernon
Edmund Randolph
Randolph, Edmund

TO EDMUND RANDOLPH, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Dear Sir,

Both your letters, dated the 17th instant, found me at this place, where I arrived on Monday. The letter from the commissioners to you, I return, as I also do the gazettes of Pittsburg and Boston. The proceedings at the latter place are of a very unpleasant nature. The result I forwarded to you from Baltimore, accompanied with a few hasty lines, written at the moment I was departing from thence; with a request that it might be considered by the confidential officers of government, and returned to me with an answer thereto, if an answer should be deemed advisable.1

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In my hurry, I did not signify the propriety of letting those gentlemen know fully my determination with respect to the ratification of the treaty, and the train it was in; but as this was necessary, in order to enable them to form their opinions on the subject submitted, I take it for granted that both were communicated to them by you as a matter of course. The first, that is, the conditional ratification (if the late order, which we have heard of, respecting provision vessels, is not in operation,) may, on all fit occasions, be spoken of as my determination, unless from any thing you have heard or met with since I left you, it should be thought more advisable to communicate further with me on the subject. My opinion respecting the treaty is the same now that it was, namely, not favorable to it, but that it is better to ratify it in the manner the Senate have advised, and with the reservation already mentioned, than to suffer matters to remain as they are, unsettled. Little has been said to me on the subject of this treaty along the road I passed, and I have seen no one since, from whom I could hear much concerning it; but, from indirect discourses, I find endeavors are not wanting to place it in all the odious points of view, of which it is susceptible, and in some, which it will not admit. * * *

As you have discovered your mistake, with respect to the dates of the French decrees, I shall add nothing on that, nor on any other subject at this time, further than a desire to know if you have heard any thing more from M. Adet on the treaty with Great Britain; and whether Mr. Jaudenes has replied Edition: current; Page: [70] to your letter to him on the score of his inconsistency. I am, &c.1

P. S. A Solomon is not necessary to interpret the design of the oration of Mr. Brackenridge.

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George Washington
Washington, George
24 July, 1795
Mount Vernon
Edmund Randolph
Randolph, Edmund

TO EDMUND RANDOLPH, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Dear Sir,

My letter from Baltimore, and the one written by Friday’s post, dated the 22d instant, renders it in a manner unnecessary for me to add more on the score of the treaty with Great Britain, or on the movements which are taking place thereupon in different parts, than to inform you, that, if circumstances should make it more eligible for me to repair to Philadelphia, than for you to come to this place, I can set out as well on a day’s as a month’s notice for the seat of government; where, if matters are peculiarly embarrassed, I should be on the theatre of information, with documents and other aids about me, that could not be had here.

I have not, as I mentioned to you in my last, heard much respecting the treaty since I left Philadelphia. At Baltimore I remained no longer than to breakfast. In Georgetown my whole time was spent on business with the commissioners; and in Alexandria I did not stop. Yet the same leaven, that fermented a part of the town of Boston, is at work, I am informed, in other places; but whether it will produce the same fruit remains to be decided.

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I shall expect, agreeably to the assurances you have given me, to be well and regularly advised of the pros and cons in this business, and the preponderancy thereof. * * *

The introduction of A. R. H.1 to you was, I conceive, more the effect of design, than of ignorance or inadvertency. The impropriety of the measure was too palpable, even if instances in abundance had not announced, that characters in the predicament that gentleman was could not be noticed by the officers of government without giving umbrage. The conduct of Mr. M. is of a piece with that of the other; and one can scarcely forbear thinking, that these acts are part of a premeditated system to embarrass the executive government. I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
27 July, 1795
Mount Vernon
Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy

TO TIMOTHY PICKERING, SECRETARY OF WAR.

Dear Sir,

On Saturday morning I received your letter of the 21st instant with its enclosures. The post of tomorrow from Alexandria is the first by which I could answer it.

If the meeting of the commissioners appointed to treat with the Onondaga, Cayuga, and Oneida Indians Edition: current; Page: [73] took place at Albany the 15th instant, as was expected, by the extract from General Schuyler’s letter to the Governor of New York, any further sentiment now on the unconstitutionality of the measure would be received too late. If it did not take place according to expectation, it is my desire that you would obtain the best advice you can on the case, and do what prudence, with a due regard to the constitution and laws, shall dictate.1

With respect to the meeting, which is proposed to be held with the St. Regis Indians, the proposition of Governor Jay is regular, and I can think of no better character than Colonel Wadsworth, or Mr. Boudinot, to attend it on the part of the United States. If both should decline the service, any other respectable and well-known disinterested character would meet my approbation equally.

The extract from Mr. Higginson’s2 letter, which you were so obliging as to send to me, places the proceedings of the town of Boston in a different point of view, from what might have been entertained from the resolutions, which were sent to me by express, accompanied with a letter from the selectmen of that place. But, much indeed to be regretted, party disputes are now carried to such a Edition: current; Page: [74] length, and truth is so enveloped in mist and false representation, that it is extremely difficult to know through what channel to seek it. This difficulty to one, who is of no party, and whose sole wish is to pursue with undeviating steps a path, which would lead this country to respectability, wealth, and happiness, is exceedingly to be lamented. But such, for wise purposes it is presumed, is the turbulence of human passions in party disputes, when victory more than truth is the palm contended for, that “the post of honor is a private station.” With much esteem and regard, I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
28 July, 1795
United States
Ezekiel Price
Price, Ezekiel
Thomas Walley
Walley, Thomas
William Boardman
Boardman, William
Ebenezer Seaver
Seaver, Ebenezer
Thomas Crafts
Crafts, Thomas
Thomas Edwards
Edwards, Thomas
William Little
Little, William
William Scollay
Scollay, William
Jesse Putnam
Putnam, Jesse

TO EZEKIEL PRICE, THOMAS WALLEY, WILLIAM BOARDMAN, EBENEZER SEAVER, THOMAS CRAFTS, THOMAS EDWARDS, WILLIAM LITTLE, WILLIAM SCOLLAY, AND JESSE PUTNAM, SELECTMEN OF THE TOWN OF BOSTON.

Gentlemen,

In every act of my administration, I have sought the happiness of my fellow citizens. My system for the attainment of this object has uniformly been to overlook all personal, local, and partial considerations; to contemplate the United States as one great whole; to confide, that sudden impressions, when erroneous, would yield to candid reflection; and to consult only the substantial and permanent interests of our country.

Nor have I departed from this line of conduct, on the occasion which has produced the resolutions contained in your letter of the 13th instant.

Without a predilection for my own judgment, I have weighed with attention every argument, which has at any time been brought into view. But the constitution is the guide, which I never can abandon. It has assigned to the President the power Edition: current; Page: [75] of making treaties, with the advice and consent of the Senate. It was doubtless supposed that these two branches of government would combine, without passion, and with the best means of information, those facts and principles upon which the success of our foreign relations will always depend; that they ought not to substitute for their own conviction the opinions of others, or to seek truth through any channel but that of a temperate and well-informed investigation.

Under this persuasion, I have resolved on the manner of executing the duty before me. To the high responsibility attached to it, I freely submit; and you, Gentlemen, are at liberty to make these sentiments known as the grounds of my procedure. While I feel the most lively gratitude for the many instances of approbation from my country, I can no otherwise deserve it, than by obeying the dictates of my conscience. With due respect, I am, Gentlemen, &c.1

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George Washington
Washington, George
29 July, 1795
Mount Vernon
Alexander Hamilton
Hamilton, Alexander

TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON.
[PRIVATE.]

My dear Sir,

Your letters of the 20th and 21st Instt. found me at this place, after a hot and disagreeable ride.

As the measures of the government respecting the treaty were taken before I left Philadelphia, something more imperious than has yet appeared, must turn up to occasion a change.—Still, it is very desirable to ascertain, if possible, after the paroxysm of the fever is a little abated, what the real temper of the people is, concerning it; for at present the cry against the Treaty is like that against a mad-dog; and every one, in a manner, seems engaged in running it down.—

That it has received the most tortured interpretation, and that the writings against it (which are very industriously circulated) are pregnant of the most abominable mis-representations, admits of no doubt;—yet, there are to be found, so far as my information extends, many well disposed men who conceive, that in the settlement of old disputes, a proper regard to Edition: current; Page: [77] reciprocal justice does not appear in the Treaty; whilst others, also well enough affected to the government, are of opinion that to have had no commercial treaty would have been better, for this country than the restricted one, agreed to; in as much, say they, the nature of our Exports and imports (without any extra, or violent measures) would have forced or led to a more adequate intercourse between the two nations without any of those shackles which the treaty has imposed. In a word, that as our exports consist chiefly of provisions and raw materials, which to the manufacturers in G. Britain, and to their Islands in the West Indies, affords employment and food; they must have had them on our terms, if they were not to be obtained on their own; whilst the imports of this country, offers the best mart for their fabrics; and of course, is the principal support of their manufacturers; but the string which is most played on, because it strikes with most force the popular ear, is the violation, as they term it, of our engagements with France; or in other words the predilection shown by that instrument to G. Britain at the expence of the French nation.

The consequences of which are more to be apprehended than any, which are likely to flow from other causes, as ground of opposition; because, whether the fact is, in any degree true or not, it is the interest of the French (whilst the animosity, or jealousies between the two nations exist) to avail themselves of such a spirit to keep us and G. Britain at variance; and they will in my opinion accordingly do it.—To Edition: current; Page: [78] what length their policy may induce them to carry matters, is too much in embryo at this moment to decide:—but I predict much embarrassment to the government therefrom—and in my opinion, too much pains cannot be taken by those who speak, or write, in favor of the treaty, to place this matter in its true light.—

I have seen with pleasure, that a writer in one of the New York papers under the signature of Camillus, has promised to answer,—or rather to defend the treaty—which has been made with G. Britain.—To judge of this work from the first number, which I have seen, I auger well of the performance and shall expect to see the subject handled in a clear, distinct and satisfactory manner:—but if measures are not adopted for its dissemination a few only will derive lights from the knowledge or labor of the author; whilst the opposition pieces will spread their poison in all directions; and Congress, more than probable, will assemble with the unfavorable impressions of their constituents. The difference of conduct between the friends and foes of order and good government, is in nothing more striking than that the latter are always working like bees, to distil their poison; whilst the former, depending often times too much and too long upon the sense and good dispositions of the people to work conviction, neglect the means of effecting it.

With sincere esteem & regard
I am, your Affecte.1
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George Washington
Washington, George
29 July, 1795
Mount Vernon
Edmund Randolph
Randolph, Edmund

TO EDMUND RANDOLPH, SECRETARY OF STATE.
[PRIVATE.]

My dear Sir,

Your private letters of the 24th and 25th instant have been received, and you will learn by the official letter of this date my determination of returning to Philadelphia after Monday, if nothing in the interim casts up to render it unnecessary.

I am excited to this resolution by the violent and extraordinary proceedings, which have and are about taking place in the northern parts of the Union, and may be expected in the southern; because I think that the Memorial, the Ratification, and the Instructions, which are framing, are of that vast magnitude as not only to require great individual consideration, but a solemn conjunct revision. The latter could not take place if you were to come here; nor would there be that source of information, which is to be found at, and is continually flowing to the seat of government; and besides, in the course of deliberation on these great objects, the examination of official papers may more than probable be found essential, which could be resorted to at no other place than Philadelphia.

To leave home so soon will be inconvenient. A month hence it would have been otherwise; and was, as I hinted to you before I left the city, in contemplation by me for the purpose of Mrs. Washington’s remaining here till November, when I intended to come back for her. But whilst I am in office, I shall Edition: current; Page: [80] never suffer private convenience to interfere with what I conceive to be my official duty.

I view the opposition, which the treaty is receiving from the meetings in different parts of the Union, in a very serious light; not because there is more weight in any of the objections, which are made to it, than was foreseen at first, for there are none in some of them, and gross misrepresentations in others; nor as it respects myself personally, for this shall have no influence on my conduct, plainly perceiving, and I am accordingly preparing my mind for it, the obloquy which disappointment and malice are collecting to heap upon me. But I am alarmed on account of the effect it may have on, and the advantage the French government may be disposed to make of, the spirit which is at work to cherish a belief in them, that the treaty is calculated to favor Great Britain at their expense. Whether they believe or disbelieve these tales, the effect it will have upon the nation will be nearly the same; for, whilst they are at war with that power, or so long as the animosity between the two nations exists, it will, no matter at whose expense, be their policy, and it is to be feared will be their conduct to prevent us from being on good terms with Great Britain, or from her deriving any advantages from our trade, which they can hinder, however much we may be benefited thereby ourselves. To what length this policy and interest may carry them is problematical; but, when they see the people of this country divided, and such a violent opposition given to the measures of their own government pretendedly Edition: current; Page: [81] in their favor, it may be extremely embarrassing, to say no more of it.

To sum the whole up in a few words, I have never, since I have been in the administration of the government, seen a crisis, which in my judgment has been so pregnant of interesting events, nor one from which more is to be apprehended, whether viewed on one side or the other. From New York there is, and I am told will further be, a counter current; but how formidable it may appear, I know not. If the same does not take place at Boston and other towns, it will afford but too strong evidence, that the opposition is in a manner universal, and would make the ratification a very serious business indeed. But, as it respects the French, counter resolutions, even would, for the reasons I have already mentioned, do little more than weaken, in a small degree, the effect the other side would have.

I have written and do now enclose the letter, the draft of which was approved by the heads of departments, to the selectmen of the town of Boston; but if new lights have been had upon the subject, since it was agreed to, or if upon reconsideration any alteration should be deemed necessary, I request you to detain it until I see you. Let me also request, that the same attention may be given to the draft of a letter to Portsmouth and the Chamber of Commerce at New York, as was recommended on that occasion. I am, &c.

P.S. I add to the paper sent, Chancellor Livingston’s letter,1 and wish, if it is best to give it an answer, Edition: current; Page: [82] that one may be prepared. Although this letter is a hurried as well as a private one, I have no objection to the confidential officers seeing it, and wish them to prepare their minds on the several subjects mentioned therein against I arrive.

George Washington
Washington, George
31 July, 1795
Mount Vernon
Edmund Randolph
Randolph, Edmund

TO EDMUND RANDOLPH, SECRETARY OF STATE.
[PRIVATE.]

My dear Sir,

On Wednesday evening I sent the packet, now under cover with this, to the post-office in Alexandria, to be forwarded next morning at the usual hour, four o’clock, by the Baltimore mail. But, behold! when my letter-bag was brought back from the office and emptied, I not only got those which were addressed to me, among which yours of the 27th was one, but those also which I had sent up the evening before.

I have to regret this blunder of the postmaster, on account of the enclosures, some of which I wished to have got to your hands without delay, that they might have undergone the consideration and acting upon, which was suggested in the letter accompanying them. On another account I am not sorry for the return of the packet to you, as I resolved thereupon, and reading some letters, which I received at the same time, to wait your acknowledgment of the receipt of my letter of the 24th instant, before I would set out; as I should thereby be placed on a certainty whether your journey hither, or mine to Philadelphia, Edition: current; Page: [83] would under all circumstances be deemed most eligible; or whether the business could not be equally well done without either: repeating now, what I did in my letter of the 24th, that I do not require more than a day’s notice to repair to the seat of government, and that, if you and the confidential officers with you are not clear in the measures which are best to be pursued in the several matters mentioned in my last, my own opinion is, and for the reasons there given, that difficult and intricate or delicate questions had better be settled there, where the streams of information are continually flowing in, and that I would set out accordingly.

To be wise and temperate, as well as firm, the present crisis most eminently calls for. There is too much reason to believe, from the pains which have been taken before, at, and since the advice of the Senate respecting the treaty, that the prejudices against it are more extensive than is generally imagined. This I have lately understood to be the case in this quarter, from men, who are of no party, but well-disposed to the present administration. How should it be otherwise, when no stone has been left unturned, that could impress on the minds of the people the most arrant misrepresentation of facts; that their rights have not only been neglected, but absolutely sold; that there are no reciprocal advantages in the treaty; that the benefits are all on the side of Great Britain; and, what seems to have had more weight with them than all the rest, and most pressed, that the treaty is made with the design to Edition: current; Page: [84] oppress the French, in open violation of our treaty with that nation, and contrary, too, to every principle of gratitude and sound policy? In time, when passion shall have yielded to sober reason, the current may possibly turn; but, in the mean while, this government in relation to France and England may be compared to a ship between the rocks of Scylla and Charybdis. If the treaty is ratified, the partisans of the French, (or rather of war and confusion,) will excite them to hostile measures, or at least to unfriendly sentiments; if it is not, there is no foreseeing all the consequences, which may follow, as it respects Great Britain.

It is not to be inferred from hence, that I am or shall be disposed to quit the ground I have taken, unless circumstances more imperious than have yet come to my knowledge should compel it; for there is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily. But these things are mentioned to show, that a close investigation of the subject is more than ever necessary, and that they are strong evidences of the necessity of the most circumspect conduct in carrying the determination of government into effect, with prudence as it respects our own people, and with every exertion to produce a change for the better from Great Britain.

The memorial seems well designed to answer the end proposed; and by the time it is revised and new-dressed, you will probably (either in the resolutions, which are or will be handed to me, or in the newspaper publications, which you promised to be attentive Edition: current; Page: [85] to,) have seen all the objections against the treaty, which have any real force in them, and which may be fit subjects for representation in the memorial, or in the instructions, or both. But how much longer the presentation of the memorial can be delayed without exciting unpleasant sensations here, or involving serious evils elsewhere, you, who are at the scene of information and action, can decide better than I. In a matter, however, so interesting and pregnant of consequences as this treaty, there ought to be no precipitation; but, on the contrary, every step should be explored before it is taken, and every word weighed before it is uttered or delivered in writing.

The form of the ratification requires more diplomatic experience and legal knowledge than I possess, or have the means of acquiring at this place, and therefore I shall say nothing about it. I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
3 August, 1795
Mount Vernon
Edmund Randolph
Randolph, Edmund

TO EDMUND RANDOLPH, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Dear Sir,

No mail at two o’clock yesterday had been received in Alexandria from Philadelphia since the 29th ultimo. I am sending up this afternoon to see if the expected mail of this day is in; although I have little hope of it, as the violence and continuance of the rains since Thursday last has been such, as to sweep every thing before them, and to do great damage to the gathered and growing grain, as well as other things. Of course, by swelling the waters and carrying Edition: current; Page: [86] away bridges, the intercourse between one place and another, where these were, has been entirely cut off. This circumstance, added to the inexcusable blunder of the postmaster in Alexandria, will prevent my despatches, which ought to have been in Philadelphia on Saturday last, from getting to your hands until Thursday next at soonest.

To these impediments is to be attributed, I presume, the non-reception of the Baltimore resolutions, for resolutions I am told have been passed at that place. And the like may be expected from Richmond, a meeting having been had there also, at which Mr. Wythe, it is said, was seated as moderator; by chance more than design, it is added. A queer chance this for the chancellor of a State.1

All these things do not shake my determination with respect to the proposed ratification, nor will they, unless something more imperious and unknown to me should, in the judgment of yourself and the gentlemen with you, make it advisable for me to pause. But let me again repeat my desire, that, as fast as these kind of resolutions or addresses (call them what you will) appear in the papers pro or con, answers if thought advisable may be drafted and sent to me, approved by all of you, without waiting for individual applications on each one separately; for this would Edition: current; Page: [87] occasion a considerable lapse of time, in the first place; and, in the second, would be saving me from some writing on this subject, which is an object, as I have no aid (Mr. Dandridge being with his friends in New Kent). I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
August, 1795
Oliver Wolcott
Wolcott, Oliver

TO OLIVER WOLCOTT, SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY.

At what time should Mr. F’s. letter be made known to Mr. R.?

What will be the best mode of doing it? In presence of the Secretaries and Attorney-General?

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If the explanations given by the latter are not satisfactory, whether, besides removal, are any other measures proper to be taken, and what?

Would an application to Mr. A. to see the paragraphs in Nos. 3 and 6, alluded to in Fauchet’s letter, be proper? These might condemn or acquit unequivocally, and if innocent, whether R. will not apply for them if I do not?

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If upon the investigation of the subject, it should appear less dark than at present, but not so clear as to restore confidence, in what light, and on what ground is the removal to appear before the public?

What immediate steps are necessary to be taken as soon as R. is resolved on, if that should be the case, with respect to the archives in that office?

If the letter of F. is the only evidence and that thought sufficient to the removal, what would be the consequence of giving the letter to the public without any comments, on the ground on which the measure of the Executive respecting the removal is founded? It would speak for itself; a part, without the whole, might be charged with unfairness. The public would expect reasons for the sudden removal of so high an officer, and it will be found not easy to avoid saying too little or too much upon such an occasion, as it is not to be expected that the removed officer will acquiesce without attempting a justification, or at least to do away by explanation the sting of the letter of accusation; unless he was let down easily, to do which I see no way; for if guilty of what is charged, he merits no favor, and if he is not, he will accept none; and it is not difficult to perceive what turn he and his friends will give to the act, namely, that his friendship for the French nation, and his opposition to a complete ratification have been the cause.1

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George Washington
Washington, George
20 August, 1795
Philadelphia
Edmund Randolph
Randolph, Edmund

TO EDMUND RANDOLPH.

Sir,

Your resignation of the office of State is received. Candor induces me to give you in a few words the following narrative of facts.

The letter from Mr. Fauchet, with the contents of which you were made acquainted yesterday, was, as you supposed, an intercepted one. It was sent by Lord Grenville to Mr. Hammond, by him put into the hands of the Secretary of the Treasury, by him shewn to the Secretary of War and the Attorney-General; and a translation thereof was made by the former for me.

At the time Mr. Hammond delivered the letter, he requested of Mr. Wolcott an attested copy, which was accordingly made by Mr. Thornton, his late secretary, and which is understood to remain at present with Mr. Bond. Whether it is known to others I am unable to decide.

Whilst you are in pursuit of means to remove the strong suspicions arising from this letter, no disclosure of its contents will be made by me; and I will enjoin the same on the public officers, who are Edition: current; Page: [91] acquainted with the purport of it; unless something shall appear to render an explanation necessary on the part of the government; of which I will be the judge.

A copy of Mr. Fauchet’s letter shall be sent to you. No. 6, referred to therein, I have never seen.

I am, &c.
George Washington
Washington, George
20 August, 1795
Philadelphia
John Adams
Adams, John

TO JOHN ADAMS, VICE-PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.

Dear Sir,

I have received your favor of the 10th instant with its enclosures. They contain a great deal of interesting matter, and No. 9 discloses much important information and political foresight. For this proof of your kindness and confidence, I pray you to accept my best and most cordial thanks.

Mr. John Adams,1 your son, must not think of retiring from the walk he is now in. His prospects, if he pursues it, are fair; and I shall be much mistaken if, in as short a time as can well be expected, he is not found at the head of the diplomatic corps, let the government be administered by whomsoever the people may choose.

The embarrassment into which he was thrown by the unforeseen events, which so soon took place in Holland after he had received his first instructions and had arrived in that country, have long since been removed, and he can be at no loss now as to the course to pursue.

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Long before this letter can have reached you, my answer to the Boston resolutions will, I presume, have been published in the gazettes of that place, notwithstanding the delays it met with in getting thither; first, from a mistake of the postmaster in Alexandria, who, mixing it with the despatches that were addressed to me, returned it by the messenger, who carried my letters to his office, which necessarily detained it three days; and the immense falls of rain and destruction of bridges which followed, and prevented all travelling for at least three days more.

Whether it was from the spark, which kindled the fire in Boston, that the flames have spread so extensively, or whether the torch by a preconcerted plan was lit ready for the explosion in all parts, so soon as the advice to ratify the treaty should be announced, remains to be developed; but, as the ratification thereof, agreeably to the advice of the Senate, has passed from me, the meetings in opposition to the constituted authorities are as useless at all times, as they are improper and dangerous.1 My best respects to Mrs. Adams, and, with sincere regard, I am, &c.

Edition: current; Page: [93]
George Washington
Washington, George
20 August, 1795
Philadelphia
Robert R. Livingston
Livingston, Robert R.

TO ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON.

Dear Sir,

I received your favor dated the 8th of July, on the subject of the treaty with Great Britain, the day preceding my departure for Mount Vernon, from whence I intended to have acknowledged the receipt of it; but so many letters of a public nature were poured upon me at that place, and the urgency of the business in which I have since been engaged, have prevented my doing it till now.

Aiming only to promote and secure the true interests of my country, I willingly receive information concerning those interests from my fellow-citizens. The opinions and reasonings of enlightened men are particularly acceptable; but, as it happens in other matters, so in this, they are extremely variant. You deem the treaty palpably defective and pregnant with evils; others think it contains substantial good. For myself, I freely own, that I cannot discern in it the mischiefs you anticipate. On the contrary, although it does not rise to all our wishes, yet it appears to me calculated to procure to the United States such advantages, as entitle it to our acceptance. My final act of course conforms to this opinion.

I feel myself greatly obliged by your expressions of respect, esteem, and attachment, and, if the unvarying integrity of my views have deserved them, they will not now be withdrawn; for I can merit your good opinion, and the general approbation of my Edition: current; Page: [94] fellow-citizens, only by a conscientious discharge of what I conceive to be my duty. With great esteem and regard, I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
22 August, 1795
Philadelphia
James Ross
Ross, James

TO JAMES ROSS.

Dear Sir,

I have been favored with your letter of the 3d instant. I am perfectly satisfied with all your transactions with Colonel Shreve, and will ratify them whensoever the papers shall be produced.

The seaport towns, or rather parts of them, are involved, and are endeavoring as much as in them lies to involve the community at large, in a violent opposition to the treaty with Great Britain, which is ratified as far as the measure depends upon me. The general opinion, however, as far as I am able to come at it is, that the current is turning.

The consequences of such proceedings are more easily foreseen than prevented, if no act of the constituted authorities is suffered to go into execution unaccompanied with the poison of malignant opposition. If one could believe that the meetings, which have taken place, spoke the general sense of the people on the measure they condemned, it might with truth be pronounced, that it is as difficult to bear prosperity as adversity, and that no situation or condition in life can make them happy. But, being hurried, I shall not dwell on this subject, and only add, that with much truth I am, dear Sir, yours, &c.

Edition: current; Page: [95]
George Washington
Washington, George
24 August, 1795
Philadelphia
Charles Cotesworth Pinckney
Pinckney, Charles Cotesworth

TO CHARLES COTESWORTH PINCKNEY.1

My dear Sir,

The office of Secretary of State has become vacant by the resignation of Mr. Randolph. Is the period yet arrived when the situation of your private concerns would permit you to accept it? As a preliminary mean of information, I have resorted to your letter of the 24th of February, 1794; and, though the time there allotted for arranging them is not quite accomplished, there is not much wanting of it. And I have heard, besides, that you were in a manner retiring from the pursuits of your profession.

It is unnecessary for me to repeat sentiments, which you have so often heard me express, respecting my wishes to see you in the administration of the general government; the sincerity of which you can have no doubt. Equally unnecessary is it for me to observe to you, that the affairs of this country are in a violent paroxysm, and that it is the duty of its old and uniform friends to assist in piloting the vessel in which we are all embarked between the rocks of Scylla and Charybdis; for more pains never were taken, I believe, than at this moment, to throw it upon one or the other, and to embroil us in the disputes of Europe.

I shall add nothing further, however, on this subject; for nothing, I am certain, I could say, would be new to a person of your observation and information. I will come, therefore, to the point at once. Can Edition: current; Page: [96] you, or can you not, make it comport with your convenience and inclination to accept the appointment of Secretary of State? If you answer in the affirmative, it will occur to you instantly, that an office of such dignity and high importance ought not to be without a head at such a crisis as this a moment, if it could well be avoided. If (which I should sincerely regret) your answer should be in the negative, the less there is said of the offer the better, (for reasons which will readily occur to you.) In either case, be so good as to favor me with an answer as soon as your mind is made up relative thereto. With very sincere esteem and regard, I am, &c.1

George Washington
Washington, George
31 August, 1795
Philadelphia
Alexander Hamilton
Hamilton, Alexander

TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON.
[PRIVATE.]

My dear Sir,

Since my return to this city, I have received a letter from you dated — August.

We know officially, as well as from the effects, that an order for seizing all provision vessels going to France has been issued by the British goverment; but so secretly, that as late as the 27th of June it Edition: current; Page: [97] had not been published in London: It was communicated to the cruisers only, and not known until the captures brought it to light.—By these high handed measures of that government, and the outrageous, and insulting conduct of its officers, it would seem next to impossible to keep peace between the United States and G. Britain.

To this moment we have received no explanation of Home’s conduct from their chargé des affaires here; altho’ application was made for it before the departure of Mr. Hammond; on the statement of Govr. Fenner, and complaint of the French Minister.—Conduct like this, disarm the friends of Peace and order, while they are the very things which those of a contrary description are wishing to see practiced.—

I meant no more than barely to touch upon these subjects, in this letter, the object of it being, to request the favor of you to give me the points on which, in your opinion, our new Negociator is to dwell; when we come into the field of negociation again,—agreeably to the recommendation of the Senate;—agreeably to what appears to have been contemplated by Mr. Jay and Lord Grenville at the close of the treaty subscribed by them; and agreeably also to what you conceive ought to Edition: current; Page: [98] be brought forward, and insisted upon, on this occasion.

I am sorry I have been so late in applying for this opinion; but a coincidence of unexpected events have involved me in more than usual business; and some of it not of a very pleasant nature. This has occasioned the delay:—but the pro’s and con’s relative to the Treaty that is and the treaty that ought to be, in the judgment of the opponents, are so much in your view, that if you wanted a remembrancer, you would be at no loss from these discussions to advert to them; and you will require but little time to furnish me with what I have here asked. This I press with more earnestness, inasmuch as circumstances will render it very inconvenient for me to remain here longer than the present week, (before I return to Mount Vernon for my family) but which I must do, until the Instructions for the new Negociator is compleated.

Altho’ you are not in the Administration—a thing I sincerely regret—I must, nevertheless (knowing how intimately acquainted you are with all the concerns of this country) request the favor of you to note down such occurrences, as in your opinion are proper subjects for communication to Congress at their next session; and particularly as to the manner in which this treaty should be brought forward to that body; as it will in any aspect it is susceptible of receiving be the source of much declamation; and will I have no doubt produce a hot session. With sincere regard I am, my dear Sir, your affecte. and obedt.

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George Washington
Washington, George
31 August, 1795
Philadelphia
John Jay
Jay, John

TO JOHN JAY.
[PRIVATE.]

My dear Sir,

You will have learnt from the public gazettes, and through other more authentic channels, that all that rested with me to do to give ratification to the treaty between this country and Great Britain is already accomplished. Mr. Pinckney’s absence from the court of London, the information and aids it was expected he would derive from Mr. Short’s presence and acquaintance with matters at that of Madrid, the pecuniary situation of our affairs in Holland requiring the attention of Mr. Adams in that country, and the little knowledge we had of the character and qualifications of Mr. Deas,1 have occasioned no little embarrassment in this business. However, a mode is adopted which I hope will be effectual.

It has not been the smallest of these embarrassments, that the domineering spirit of Great Britain should revive again just at this crisis, and the outrageous and insulting conduct of some of her officers should combine therewith to play into the hands of the discontented, and sour the minds of those, who are friends to peace, order, and friendship with all the world; but this by the by.

The object of this letter is to pray you to aid me with such hints, relative to those points, which you conceive to be fit subjects for the further friendly negotiations on the trade with Great Britain, agreeably to the recommendation of the Senate; and which appear Edition: current; Page: [100] to have been in contemplation by the concluding part of the treaty signed by yourself and Lord Grenville.

I intended to have asked this favor of you at an earlier day; but a coincidence of unexpected circumstances has involved me in so much business and perplexity, that it has been delayed from time to time, (since my arrival in this city), until the present moment. But as nothing is now asked, that you have not, I am sure, revolved over and over again during your negotiation, and since the decision of the Senate thereupon, I persuade myself it will require but very little time for the digest I ask, and which I beg to receive as soon as you can make it convenient to give it to me—Circumstances making it necessary for me to leave this place if possible on Monday next for Virginia, in order to bring back my family; but instructions for the new negotiation must be prepared before I go. With very great esteem and regard, I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
7 September, 1795
Philadelphia
George Cabot
Cabot, George

TO GEORGE CABOT.
[PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL.]

Dear Sir,

The enclosed letters, which, after reading, be so good as to return to me, will be the best apology I can offer for the liberty I am about to take, and for the trouble, which, if you comply with my request, it must necessarily give.1

Edition: current; Page: [101]

To express all the sensibility, which has been excited in my breast by the receipt of young Lafayette’s letter, from the recollection of his father’s merits, services, and sufferings, from my friendship for him, and from my wishes to become a friend and father to his son is unnecessary. Let me in a few words declare, that I will be his friend; but the manner of becoming so, considering the obnoxious light in which his father is viewed by the French government, and my own situation as the executive of the United States, requires more time to consider in all its relations, than I can bestow on it at present, the letters not having been in my hands more than an hour, and I myself on the point of setting out for Virginia to fetch my family back, whom I left there about the 1st of August.

The mode, which at the first view strikes me as the most eligable to answer his purposes and to save appearances, is, first, to administer all the consolation to the young gentleman, that he can derive from the most unequivocal assurances of my standing in the place of and becoming to him a father, friend, protector, and supporter. But, secondly, for prudential motives, as they may relate to himself, his mother and friends, whom he has left behind, and to my official character, it would be best not to make these sentiments public; and of course it would be ineligable, that he should come to the seat of the general government, where all the foreign characters (particularly that of his own nation) are residents, until it is seen what opinions will be excited by his arrival; Edition: current; Page: [102] especially, too, as I shall be necessarily absent five or six weeks from it on business in several places. Thirdly, considering how important it is to avoid idleness and dissipation, to improve his mind, and to give him all the advantages, which education can bestow, my opinion and my advice to him are, if he is qualified for admission, that he should enter as a student at the university in Cambridge, although it should be for a short time only; the expense of which, as also of every other means for his support, I will pay. And I now authorize you, my dear Sir, to draw upon me accordingly; and, if it is in any degree necessary or desired, that M. Frestel, his tutor, should accompany him to the university in that character, any arrangements which you shall make for the purpose, and any expense thereby incurred for the same, shall be borne by me in like manner.

One thing more, and I will conclude. Let me pray you, my dear Sir, to impress upon young Lafayette’s mind, and indeed upon that of his tutor, that the reasons why I do not urge him to come to me have been frankly related, and that their prudence must appreciate them with caution. My friendship for his father, so far from being diminished, has increased in the ratio of his misfortunes; and my inclination to serve the son will be evidenced by my conduct. Reasons, which will readily occur to you, and which can easily be explained to him, will account for my not acknowledging the receipt of his or M. Frestel’s letter. With sincere esteem and regard, I am, dear Sir, &c.

Edition: current; Page: [103]

P. S. You will perceive, that young Lafayette has taken the name of Motier. Whether it is best he should retain it, and aim at perfect concealment, or not, depends upon a better knowledge of circumstances than I am possessed of; and therefore I leave this matter to your own judgment, after a consultation with the parties.1

George Washington
Washington, George
9 September, 1795
Elkton
Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy

TO TIMOTHY PICKERING, SECRETARY OF WAR.
[PRIVATE.]

Dear Sir,

I had no time yesterday morning to look into the gazettes, nor did I know until the evening that the French frigate Medusa had slipped her cables, and put to sea on the 31st ultimo, and was followed in a few hours by the Africa.

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This circumstance, be the result what it may, I regret exceedingly, because the effect of the order for the departure of the latter will be the same, as to the British, as if she had been in the harbor of Newport, and we shall obtain no credit for it from the French and their partisans. For as the appearance, however false, is susceptible of the interpretation, so it will be said, that the order was never intended to be issued until it was known there would be nothing for it to operate upon.

The purpose, however, of my writing you this letter is to request, that Mr. Monroe may be immediately and fully informed of facts, and directed to represent them truly as they are; for it may be relied upon, if the Medusa escapes being captured, M. Fauchet (whose mind is ardent, and who does not leave this country with the most favorable impressions of the views of the government towards his own) will paint this transaction in very high colors; and among other things will say, that, after waiting in vain a month to see if the executive would take effectual notice of the indignity offered to him, and the insult to its own sovereignty, he was obliged to forego his passage, or run the hazards he did to accomplish it. Being in a hurry, and just upon the point of proceeding, I will only add, that, with sincerity and truth, I am, &c.1

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George Washington
Washington, George
20 September, 1795
Mount Vernon
Henry Knox
Knox, Henry

TO HENRY KNOX.

My dear Sir,

I received with great pleasure the letter you wrote to me from Boston, dated the 2d of this month, as I always shall do any others you may favor me with. This pleasure was increased by hearing of the good health of Mrs. Knox and your family, and the agreeableness of your establishment at St. George’s, in the Province of Maine. I may add, also, that the account given of the favorable disposition of the people generally in your hemisphere relatively to the treaty with Great Britain, contributed not a little to the satisfaction I derived in hearing from you.

Next to a conscientious discharge of my public duties, to carry along with me the approbation of my constituents would be the highest gratification my mind is susceptible of; but, the latter being a secondary, I cannot make the former yield to it, unless some criterion more infallible than partial (if they are not party) meetings can be discovered, as the touchstone of public sentiment. If any power on earth could, or the Great Power above would, erect the standard of infallibility in political opinions, there is no being that inhabits this terrestrial globe, that would resort to it with more eagerness than myself, so long as I remain a servant of the public. But as I have found no better guide hitherto, than upright intentions and close investigation, I shall adhere to those maxims, while I keep the watch; leaving it to those who will Edition: current; Page: [106] come after me, to explore new ways, if they like or think them better.

The temper of the people of this State, particularly the southern parts of it, and of South Carolina and Georgia, as far as it is discoverable from the several meetings and resolutions, which have been published, is adverse to the treaty with Great Britain; and yet I doubt much whether the great body of yeomanry have formed any opinion on the subject, and whether, if their sense could be fairly taken under a plain and simple statement of facts, nine tenths of them would not advocate the measure. But with such abominable misrepresentations as appear in most of the proceedings, it is not to be wondered at, that uninformed minds should be affrighted at the dreadful consequences that are predicted, and which they are taught to expect from the ratification of such a diabolical instrument, as the treaty is denominated. From North Carolina we hear little concerning it, and from Kentucky nothing. * * *

George Washington
Washington, George
27 September, 1795
Mount Vernon
Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy

TO TIMOTHY PICKERING, SECRETARY OF WAR.
[PRIVATE.]

Dear Sir,

Your private letter of the 21st instant did not reach me until yesterday. A late letter of mine to you will have fixed the directorship of the mint upon Mr. Boudinot. The application, therefore, of Major Jackson, however fit he may have been for the office, Edition: current; Page: [107] is too late. But, besides the reasons assigned in your letter against such an appointment at present, I should have preferred a character from another State, if one equally suitable could have been found, for the reasons you have often heard me mention, although they do not apply with the same force now as formerly.

With respect to Mr. D—1 for the office of attorney-general, although I have a very good opinion of his abilities, and know nothing in his moral character or connexions that is objectionable, yet the reason I assigned when his name was first mentioned to me has still weight in my mind; that is, after a long and severely contested election, he could not obtain a majority of suffrages in the district he formerly represented. In this instance, then, the sense of his constituents respecting him personally has been fairly taken; and one of the charges against me relative to the treaty, you know, is, that I have disregarded the voice of the people, although that voice has never yet been heard, unless the misrepresentations of party, or at best partial meetings, can be called so.

I shall not, whilst I have the honor to administer the government, bring a man into any office of consequence knowingly, whose political tenets are adverse to the measures, which the general government are pursuing; for this, in my opinion, would be a sort of political suicide. That it would embarrass its movements is most certain. But of two men equally well affected to the true interests of their Edition: current; Page: [108] country, of equal abilities, and equally disposed to lend their support, it is the part of prudence to give a preference to him, against whom the least clamor can be excited. For such a one my inquiries have been made, and are still making. How far I shall succeed, is at this moment problematical.

I have not relinquished my intention of being in Philadelphia about the middle of next month. With great esteem and regard, I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
27 September, 1795
Mount Vernon
Edmund Randolph
Randolph, Edmund

TO EDMUND RANDOLPH.

Sir,

I have lately received three letters from you, two bearing date the 15th instant, the other the 21st. One of the former came to hand the 19th, the other the 22d, and the last yesterday.

Your signature as Secretary of State to the ratification of the treaty having been given on the 14th of August, and your resignation not taking place until the 19th, it became necessary in order to be consistent, (the original being despatched,) that the same countersign should appear to the copies, otherwise this act would not have been required of you.

It is not in my power to inform you at what time Mr. Hammond put the intercepted letter of M. Fauchet into the hands of Mr. Wolcott. I had no intimation of the existence of such a letter until after my arrival in Philadelphia the 11th of August. When Lord Grenville first obtained that letter, and when Edition: current; Page: [109] the British minister here received it from him, are facts with which I am entirely unacquainted. I have never seen in whole or in part M. Fauchet’s despatches numbered 3 and 6; nor do I possess any document, or knowledge of papers, which have affinity to the subject in question.

No man would rejoice more than I should to find, that the suspicions which have resulted from the intercepted letter were unequivocally and honorably removed. I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
2 October, 1795
Mount Vernon
Oliver Wolcott
Wolcott, Oliver

TO OLIVER WOLCOTT, SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY.
[PRIVATE.]

Dear Sir,

Your letter of the 26th ultimo was received yesterday. It is not wonderful, that Mr. Randolph’s late conduct, and the publication of his letter to me, should have excited an anxious curiosity to know what his explanations will be; but it is wonderful, that so much time should be required to give them birth.

Embarrassed, as it is to be apprehended he is in this business, his object, I conceive, must be to gain time, to puzzle, and to try if he cannot discover inconsistencies in the conduct of others relative to it. On no other ground can I account for his letter to me, dated the 21st ultimo, which with his other two of the 15th, and my answer to the whole, I herewith enclose for the information of yourself and Colonel Pickering only.

Edition: current; Page: [110]

His letters of the 15th received no acknowledgment, and at first I hesitated whether to give any to that of the 21st. After a while I thought of referring him to you for information on those points, which it was evidently as much or more in your power than in mine to give him; but finally I conceived it most eligible to furnish him with no pretexts, and therefore wrote what you will see. I did it, because, if delay was his object, it would be promoted by my silence; and because (which probably would have answered his purposes still better), it might have afforded him some ground for saying he was doomed to be a victim, and, with a view to accomplish it, the means to his vindication were denied or withheld.

These reasons, added to a disposition to do him all manner of justice, induced me to give him concise answers to all his queries, as far as the means were within my knowledge, although fully convinced in my own mind of the insidious tendency of them.

Whether similar inquireies have been made of you of Colonel Pickering, or of both, by him, I know not. If they have, to see if he could involve inconsistency in the answers has been his aim. And to know what kind of superstructure he might build on information, he has, if any, obtained from M. Fauchet, it was necessary to ascertain in the first place, whether the government was in possession of any part of that gentlemen’s letters, numbered 3 and 6, by which this superstructure might be endangered. I was on the point once of hinting to him, that I hoped nothing in his vindication would render it necessary to publish Edition: current; Page: [111] the whole of M. Fauchet’s letter; but, on second thoughts I declined it, lest he should consider it as a threat, and make an improper use of it.

As I shall shortly be in Philadalphia, I will not add on this subject; but from you, if any thing more transpires, I should be glad to hear. The present enclosures may remain in your hands until my return to the city. I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
4 October, 1795
Mount Vernon
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas

TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.

Dear Sir,

Your letter of the 12th ulto. after travelling to Philadelphia and back again was received by me at this place, the 1st Instant.

The letter from Madame de Chastellux to me is short, referring to the one she has written to you, for particulars respecting herself and infant son. Her application to me is unquestionably misplaced, and to Congress it would certainly be unavailing, as the Chevalier Chastellux’s pretensions (on which her’s must be founded) to any allowance from this country were no greater than that of any and every other Officer of the French army who served in America the last war. To grant to one therefore would open a wide door to applications of a similar nature, and to consequent embarrassments. Probably the sum granted at the last session of Congress to the daughter of the Count de Grasse, has given rise to this application—that it has done so in other instances I have good reasons to believe.

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I am much pleased with the account you have of the succory. This, like all other things of the sort with me since my absence, from home, have come to nothing: for neither my Overseers, nor Manager will attend properly, to anything but the crops they have usually cultivated; and in spite of all I can say, if there is the smallest discretionary power allowed them, they will fill the land with Indian Corn, altho’ even to themselves there are the most obvious traces of its baneful effects.—I am resolved however, as soon as it shall be in my power, to attend a little more closely to my own concerns, to make this Crop yield in a degree to other grain,—to pulses—and to grasses.—I am beginning again with Chicory, from a handful of seed given to me by Mr. Strickland; which though flourishing at present, has no appearance of seeding this year. Lucern has not succeeded better with me than with you; but I will give it another and a fairer tryal before it is abandoned altogether. Clover, when I can dress lots well, succeeds with me, to my full expectation, but not on the fields in rotation. Altho’ I have been at much cost in seeding them,—this has greatly disconcerted the system of rotation on which I had decided;—I wish you may succeed in getting good seed of the winter Vetch;—I have often imported it but the seed never vegitated or in so small a proportion as to be destroyed by weeds—believe it wou’d be an acquisition if it was once introduced properly, in our farms.—The Albany pea which is the same as the field pea, of Europe, I have tried and found it will grow well, but is subject to the same bug which perforates the Garden pea, and Edition: current; Page: [113] eats out the Kernel;—so it will happen I fear with the pea you propose to import,—I had great expectation from a green dressing with Buck-wheat as a preparatory fallow for a crop of wheat; but it has not answered my expectation yet; I ascribe this, however, more to mismanagement in the times of seeding and plowing in, than any defect in the system. The first ought to be so ordered in point of time, as to meet a convenient season for ploughing it in while the plant is in its most succulent state, but this has never been done on my farms, and consequently has drawn as much from as it has given to the earth.—It has always appeared to me that there were two modes in which Buck wheat might be used advantageously as a manure.—One to sow early and as soon as a sufficiency of seed ripened, to stock the ground a second time, to turn the whole in, and when the succeeding growth is getting in full bloom, to turn that in also (before the seed begins to ripen) and when the fermentation and putrefaction ceases to sow the ground in that state and plow in the wheat.—The other mode is to sow the Buck wheat so late as that it shall be generally about a foot high, at the usual seeding of wheat, then turn it in, and sow thereon immediately, as on a clover lay, harrowing in the seed lightly to avoid disturbing the buried Buck wheat—I have never tryed the last method but see no reason against its succeeding.—The other, as I observed above, I have prosecuted, but the Buck wheat has always stood too long, and consequently had got too dry and sticky to answer the end of a succulent plant.

But of all the improving and ameliorating crops, Edition: current; Page: [114] none in my opinion, are equal to Potatoes on stiff and hard bound land (as mine is). I am satisfied from a variety of instances, that on such land a crop of potatoes is equal to an ordinary dressing. In no instance have I failed of good wheat, Oats or clover that followed potatoes;—and I conceive they give the soil a darker hue.—I shall thank you for the result of your proposed experiment relatively, the winter Vetch and pea; when they are made.

I am sorry to hear of the depredation committed by the Weavil in your parts, it is a great calamity at all times, and this year when the demand for wheat is so great and the price so high, must be a mortifying one to the farmer;—The rains have been very general, and more abundant, since the first of August than ever happened in a summer within the memory of man. Scarsely a mill dam or bridge between this and Philadelphia, was able to resist them and some were carried off a second and third time.

Mrs. Washington is thankful for your kind remembrance of her, and unites with me in best wishes for you. With very great esteem and regard, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
9 October, 1795
Mount Vernon
Edward Carrington
Carrington, Edward

TO EDWARD CARRINGTON.
[PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL.]

Dear Sir,

Your letter of the 2d instant came duly to hand, and I shall wait the result of the proposed inquiries.

One request frequently begets another, and that is the case at present. You know full well, that the Edition: current; Page: [115] office of State is vacant, but you may not know, that I find difficulty in filling it. In the appointments to the great offices of the government, my aim has been to combine geographical situation, and sometimes other considerations, with abilities and fitness of known characters. In pursuance of this system, I have tried to bring Judge Patterson, Mr. Johnson (of Maryland), and Charles Cotesworth Pinckney of South Carolina into this office, all have declined; the latter by the post of Wednesday.1 I would have made an offer of it to Mr. Henry in the first instance-but two reasons were opposed to it; 1st, ignorance of his political sentiments (for I should consider it an act of governmental suicide to bring a man into so high a office, who was unfriendly to the constitution and laws, which are to be his guide; and, 2d, be, cause I had no idea, that he would accept the office, until General (late Governor) Lee gave some reasons, which have induced me (in a degree) to draw a different conclusion, assuring me at the same time, that he believed Mr. Henry’s sentiments relative to the constitution were changed, and that his opinion of the government was friendly. Of these matters, however, (so important in their nature,) I wish to learn the opinion of others. And of whom can I inquire more likely to know than yourself?

Let me then come to the point. If, in the judgment of yourself and General Marshall, Colonel Innes is a fit character for Attorney-General of the Edition: current; Page: [116] United States, will accept the office, and enter upon the duties of it without delay, no application is to be made to Mr. Henry, be his sentiments what they may.1 If, on the contrary, that event does not take place, I impose upon you the task, and pray you to have the goodness to forward the enclosed letter to him by express (the cost of which I will pay), provided you accord in sentiment with General Lee, with respect to the political opinions of that gentle man, and have reason to believe, he has expressed no opinions adverse to the treaty with Great Britain, but is disposed to the adoption of it; for, otherwise, it would place both him and me in embarrassed situations.

From the instances, which have fallen within your own knowledge, you can form some idea of the difficulties I experience in finding out, and prevailing on, fit characters to fill offices of importance. In the case before us, I am sensible that I am imposing a delicate task upon you; but, from the peculiar circumstances thereof, it is in some measure a necessary one; and, having a high opinion of General Marshall’s honor, prudence, and judgment, I consent to your consulting him on this occasion, as you did in the case of Colonel Innes.

I have, I must confess, but little expectation that Edition: current; Page: [117] Mr. Henry will accept the offer if it gets to him, and therefore I must look forward to the consequence of his refusal. Let me ask, therefore, if another trial should be made, and a refusal ensue, and ultimately it should be found eligible to remove the present Secretary of War to the office of State, if it should be agreeable to himself, would you fill his place as Secretary of War?

You will, my dear Sir, perceive, that the whole of this letter is perfectly confidential, written perhaps with more candor than prudence; but I rely on your goodness and prudence to appreciate my motives. My letter to Mr. Henry is left open for your perusal, that the whole matter may be before you. If it goes forward, seal it; if not, return it to, dear Sir, your friend, &c.1

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George Washington
Washington, George
9 October, 1795
Mount Vernon
Patrick Henry
Henry, Patrick

TO PATRICK HENRY.

Dear Sir,

Whatever may be the reception of this letter, truth and candor shall mark its steps. You doubtless know, that the office of State is vacant; and no one can be more sensible, than yourself, of the importance of filling it with a person of abilities, and one in whom the public would have confidence.

It would be uncandid not to inform you, that this office has been offered to others; but it is as true, that it was from a conviction in my own mind, that you would not accept it, (until Tuesday last, in a conversation with General, late Governor, Lee, he dropped sentiments which made it less doubtful,) that it was not offered first to you.

I need scarcely add, that if this appointment could be made to comport with your own inclination, it would be as pleasing to me, as I believe it would be Edition: current; Page: [119] acceptable to the public. With this assurance, and with this belief, I make you the offer of it. My first wish is, that you would accept it; the next is, that you would be so good as to give me an answer as soon as you conveniently can, as the public business in that department is now suffering for want of a Secretary.

I persuade myself, Sir, it has not escaped your observation, that a crisis is approaching, that must, if it cannot be arrested, soon decide whether order and good government shall be preserved, or anarchy and confusion ensue. I can most religiously aver I have no wish, that is incompatible with the dignity, happiness, and true interest of the people of this country. My ardent desire is, and my aim has been, (as far as depended upon the executive department,) to comply strictly with all our engagements, foreign and domestic; but to keep the United States free from political connexions with every other country, to see them Edition: current; Page: [120] independent of all and under the influence of none. In a word, I want an American character, that the powers of Europe may be convinced we act for ourselves, and not for others. This, in my judgment, is the only way to be respected abroad and happy at home; and not, by becoming the partisans of Great Britain or France, create dissensions, disturb the public tranquillity, and destroy, perhaps for ever, the cement which binds the union.

I am satisfied these sentiments cannot be otherwise than congenial to your own. Your aid therefore in carrying them into effect would be flattering and pleasing to, dear Sir, &c.1

George Washington
Washington, George
12 October, 1795
Mount Vernon
Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy

TO TIMOTHY PICKERING, SECRETARY OF WAR.

Sir,

Your letters of the 2d and 5th instant came to my hands on Thursday last; but it was not in my power conveniently to acknowledge the receipt of them by Edition: current; Page: [121] the succeeding post.1 It is a very singular occurrence, that Mr. Pinckney should make use of a cipher to which there is no counterpart in the office of State. A kind of fatality seems to have pursued this negotiation, and, in short, all our concerns with Spain, from the appointment of Mr. Carmichael under the new government, as minister to that country, up to the present day. If the ciphers, which have been furnished Mr. Gouverneur Morris, Mr. Jay, Mr. Adams, and Colonel Humphreys, or any of them, are different from those, by which the letter of Mr. Pinckney has been tried, let them also be resorted to. Otherwise, as the business has commenced in error, the continuance therein is highly probable, until that gentleman is informed of this extraordinary inattention, and is thereby led to correct it, and of course the most material and interesting parts of his communications will be lost. Enough, however, appears already, to show the temper and policy of the Spanish court, and its undignified conduct, as it respects themselves, and insulting as it relates to us; and I fear will prove, that the late treaty of peace with France portends nothing favorable to these United States.

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I am glad to find, however, that matters are going on well in Morocco, but much concerned to hear of the unfavorable decision in the High Court of Appeals, on one of the spoliation cases in London.1

I shall (as mentioned in one of my last letters) set out for Philadelphia this day; but business with the commissioners of the Federal City will detain me in Georgetown to-morrow, and of course keep me a day longer from the seat of government than I expected. I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
21 October, 1795
Philadelphia
Edmund Randolph
Randolph, Edmund

TO EDMUND RANDOLPH.

Sir,

In several of the public gazettes I had read your note to the editor of the Philadelphia Gazette, with an extract from a letter, addressed to me, of the 8th instant; but it was not until yesterday that the letter itself was received.2

It is not difficult from the tenor of the letter to perceive what your objects are; but, that you may Edition: current; Page: [123] have no cause to complain of the withholding any paper (however private and confidential) which you shall think necessary in a case of so serious a nature, I have directed that you should have the inspection of my letter of the 22d of July, agreeably to your request, and you are at full liberty to publish without reserve any and every private and confidential letter I ever wrote to you; nay, more, every word I ever uttered to or in your hearing, from whence you can derive any advantage in your vindication. [I grant this permission, inasmuch as the extract alluded to manifestly tends to impress on the public mind an opinion, that something has passed between us which you should disclose with reluctance, from motives of delicacy with respect to me.]1

You know, Sir, even before the treaty was laid before the Senate, that I had difficulties with respect to the commercial part of it, with which I professed to be the least acquainted, and that I had no means of acquiring information thereon without disclosing its contents, not to do which until it was submitted to the Senate had been resolved on. You know, too, Edition: current; Page: [124] that it was my determination, previous to this submission, to ratify the treaty, if it should be so advised and consented to by that body; and that the doubts, which afterwards arose and were communicated verbally to Mr. Hammond, proceeded from more authentic information of the existence of what is commonly called the “Provision Order” of the British Government. [And finally, you know the grounds on which my ultimate decision was taken, as the same were expressed to you, the other Secretaries of departments, and the late Attorney-General, after a thorough investigation of the subject in all the aspects in which it could be placed.]1

As you are no longer an officer of the government, and propose to submit your vindication to the public, it is not my desire, nor is it my intention, to receive it otherwise than through the medium of the press. Facts you cannot mistake, and, if they are fairly and candidly stated, they will invite no comments.

The extract of your letter to me, dated the 8th instant, being published in all the gazettes, I request that this letter may be inserted in the compilation you are now making; as well to show my disposition to furnish you with every means I possess towards your vindication, as that I have no wish to conceal any part of my conduct from the public.2 That public will judge, when it comes to see your vindication, Edition: current; Page: [125] how far and how proper it has been for you to publish private and confidential communications, which oftentimes have been written in a hurry, and sometimes without even copies being taken; and it will, I hope, appreciate my motives, even if it should condemn my prudence, in allowing you the unlimited license herein contained. I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
25 October, 1795
Philadelphia
Edmund Randolph
Randolph, Edmund

TO EDMUND RANDOLPH.1

Sir,

Your letter of the 24th has been received. It is full of innuendoes. I shall, therefore, once more, and for the last time, repeat, in the most unequivocal terms, that you are at full liberty to publish any thing that ever passed between us, written or oral, that you think will subserve your purposes. A conscious rectitude, and an invariable endeavor to promote the honor, welfare, and happiness of this country, by every means in the power of the executive, and within the compass of my abilities, leaves no apprehension on my mind from any disclosure whatsoever.

To whom, or for what purpose, you mean to apply the following words of your letter, “I have been the meditated victim of party spirit,” will be found, I presume, in your defence; without which I shall never understand them. I cannot conceive they are aimed at me; because an hundred and an hundred times Edition: current; Page: [126] you have heard me lament, from the bottom of my soul, that difference of sentiments should have occasioned those heats, which are disquieting a country, otherwise the happiest in the world; and you have heard me express the most ardent wish, that some expedient could be devised to heal them. The disclosure to me, by an officer of government, of M. Fauchet’s intercepted letter, after the contents were communicated to him, was an act of such evident propriety, that no man of candor, entertaining a proper sense of duty, can possibly condemn. I do not see, then, how this will apply to the case, more than the first.

You have, Sir, entirely mistaken the principle, upon which (in contravention of the opinion of the gentleman, who is discharging the duties of Secretary of State,) I gave you the inspection of what you declared to be the only paper you were in want of, to complete your defence. My sole motive in furnishing it was, that it might not be imputed that any thing, which you conceived necessary to your vindication, was withheld; for, however differently the matter may appear in the sequel, I am free to declare, that I cannot, at this moment, see what relation there is between the treaty with Great Britain and the details and suggestions, which are contained in the intercepted letter of M. Fauchet. I am still more at a loss to understand the meaning of these other words in your letter: “But I shall disclose even what I am compelled to disclose, under the operation of the necessity, which you yourself have created.” Can these expressions allude to my having put M. Fauchet’s letter Edition: current; Page: [127] into your hands, in presence of the heads of departments, for explanation of the passages which related to your conversations with him? Or to the acceptance of your resignation, voluntarily and unexpectedly offered? Or to the assurance, given in my letter of the [20th] of August in answer to yours of the [19th] (and most religiously observed on my part), not to mention any thing of the matter, until you had had an opportunity of clearing it up; whilst you, on the other hand, were making free communications thereof in all quarters, and intimating to your friends, that, in the course of your vindication, you should bring things to view, which would affect me more than any thing, which had yet appeared? If neither of these, nor an expectation that I should have passed the matter over unnoticed, or in a private explanation only between ourselves, I know nothing to which the sentiment can have the least reference. But I do not write from a desire to obtain explanations; for it is not my meaning, nor shall I proceed any farther in discussions of this sort, unless necessity should call for a simple and candid statement of the business, to be laid before the public. I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
29 October, 1795
Philadelphia
Alexander Hamilton
Hamilton, Alexander

TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON.
[PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL.]

My dear Sir:

A voluminous publication is daily expected from Mr. R[andolph]. The paper alluded to in the extract of his letter to me of the 8th inst., and inserted Edition: current; Page: [128] in all the gazettes, is a letter of my own to him, from which he intends (as far as I can collect from a combination of circumstances) to prove an inconsistency in my conduct, in ratifying the Treaty with G. Britain, without making a rescinding (by the British government) of what is commonly called the Provision order, equally with the exception of the 12th article by the Senate, a condition of that ratification, intending thereby to show, that my final decision thereon was the result of party advice; and that that party was under British influence. It being a letter of my own which he has asked for, I did not hesitate a moment to furnish him therewith, and to authorize him to publish every private letter I ever wrote, and every word I ever uttered, if he thought they would contribute to his vindication. But the paper he asked for is but a mite of the volume that is to appear; for without any previous knowledge of mine, he had compiled every official paper (before this was asked) for publication, the knowledge of which can subserve the purposes he has in view; and why they have not made their appearance before this, I know not, as it was estimated in the published extract of his letter to me, that nothing retarded it but the want of the paper then applied for, which was furnished the day after my arrival in this city, where (on the 20th inst.) I found his letter, after it had gone to Alexandria, and had returned.1

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I shall now touch upon another subject as unpleasant as the one I have just quitted. What am I to do for a Secretary of State? I ask frankly, and with solicitude; and shall receive kindly any sentiments you may express on the occasion. That there may be no concealment, and that the non-occupancy of the office until this time may be accounted for, (I tell you in confidence that,) Mr. Patterson, of New Jersey; Edition: current; Page: [130] Mr. Thomas Johnson, of Maryland; General Pinckney, of South Carolina; and Mr. Patrick Henry, of Virginia; in the order they are mentioned, have all been applied to, and refused. Would Mr. King accept it? You know the objections I have had to the nomination, to office, of any person from either branch of the Legislature, and you will be at no loss to perceive, that at the present crisis, another reason might be adduced against this appointment. But maugre all objections, if Mr. King would accept, I would look no further. Can you sound, and let me know soon, his sentiments on this occasion? If he should feel disposed to listen to the proposition, tell him candidly, all that I have done in this matter; that neither he nor I may be made uneasy thereafter from the discovery of it; he will, I am confident, perceive the ground upon which I have acted, in making these essays; and will, I am persuaded, appreciate my motives. If he should decline also,1 pray learn with precision from him, what the qualifications of Mr. Potts, the Senator,2 are, and be as diffusive as you can with respect to others, and I will decide on nothing until I hear from you—pressing as the case is.

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To enable you to judge of this matter with more lights still; I add, that Mr. Marshall, of Virginia, has declined the office of Attorney General, and I am pretty certain, would accept of no other, and I know that Col. Carrington would not come into the War Department (if a vacancy should happen therein.) Mr. Dexter, it is said, would accept the office of Attorney General.1 No person is yet absolutely fixed on for that office. Mr. Smith of South Carolina, some time ago, would have had no objection to filling a respectable office under the General Government, but what his views might lead to, or his abilities particularly fit him for, I am an incompetent judge; and besides, on the ground of popularity, his pretensions would, I fear, be small.2 Mr. Chase, of Maryland, is, unquestionably, a man of abilities; and it is supposed by some that he would accept the appointment of Attorney-General. Though opposed to the adoption of the constitution, it is said, he has been a Edition: current; Page: [132] steady friend to the general government since it has been in operation. But he is violently opposed in his own State by a party, and is besides, or to speak more correctly, has been accused of some impurity in his conduct.1 I might add to this catalogue that Col. Innes is among the number of those who have passed in review; but his extreme indolence renders his abilities (great as they are said to be) of little use. In short, what with the non-acceptance of some,—the known dereliction of those who are most fit; the exceptionable drawbacks from others;—and a wish (if it were practicable) to make a geographical distribution of the great offices of the administration, I find the selection of proper characters an arduous duty.

The period is approaching, indeed is already come, for selecting the proper subjects for my communications to Congress at the opening of next session—and the manner of treating them merits more than the consideration of a moment. The crisis, and the incomplete state in which most of the important affairs of this country are at present, make the first more difficult, and the latter more delicate than usual.

The treaty with Great Britain is not yet concluded. After every consideration, however, I could bestow Edition: current; Page: [133] on it (and after entertaining very serious doubts of the propriety of doing it on account of the provision order), it has been ratified by me; what has been or will be done by the government of Great Britain, relative to it, is not now, and probably will not be known by the meeting of Congress. Yet such perhaps is the state of that business, as to make communication thereof to the legislature necessary; whether in the precise form, or to accompany it with some expression of my sense of the thing itself, and the manner in which it has been treated, merits deep reflection. If good would flow from the latter, by a just and temperate communication of my ideas to the community at large, through this medium, guarded so as not to add fuel to passions prepared to blaze, and at the same time so expressed as not to excite the criticisms or animadversions of European powers, I would readily embrace it. But, I would decidedly avoid every expression which could be construed into a dereliction of the powers of the President with the advice and consent of the Senate to make treaties,—or into a shrinking from any act of mine relative to it.—In a word, if a conciliatory plan can be assimilated with a firm, manly, and dignified conduct in this business, it would be desirable; but the latter I will never yield. On this head it may not be amiss to add, that no official (nor indeed any other) accounts have been received from France of the reception of the treaty with Great Britain, by the National Convention. Perhaps it is too early to expect any.

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Our negotiations with Spain, as far as accounts have been received from Mr. Pinckney (soon after his arrival there, but after a conference with the Duke de la Alcudia on the subject, before, however, the peace between France and that country was publicly known), stand upon the same procrastinating, trifling, undignified (as it respects that government), and insulting as it relates to this country, ground as they did at the commencement of them. Under circumstances like these, I shall be at a loss (if nothing more decisive shall arrive between this and the assembling of Congress) what to say on this subject, especially as this procrastination and trifling has been accompanied by encroachments on our territorial rights. There is no doubt of this fact; but persons have, nevertheless, been sent both by Gov. Blount and Gen. Wayne, to know by what authority it is done. The conduct of Spain (after having herself invited this negotiation, and throughout the whole of its progress) has been such, that I have, at times, thought it best to express this sentiment at once in the speech, and refer to the proceedings. At other times, to say only that matters are in the same inconclusive state they have been; and that if no alteration for the better, or a conclusion of it, should take place before the session is drawing to a close, that the proceedings will be laid fully before Congress.

From Algiers, no late accounts have been received; and little favorable, it is to be feared, is to be expected from that quarter.

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From Morocco, the first communications, after our agent arrived there, were pleasing; but the final result, if any has taken place, is yet unknown—and are more clouded.

Our concerns with the Indians will tell well. I hope, and believe, the peace with the Western Indians will be permanent, unless renewed difficulties with Great Britain should produce (as it very likely would do) a change in their conduct. But whether this matter can be mentioned in the speech with propriety, before it is advised and consented to by the Senate, is questionable; and nothing, I am sure, that is so, and is susceptible of cavil or criticism, will escape the anonymous writers, if it should go unnoticed elsewhere. It will be denominated by these gentry a bolster. All the hostile Indians to the southward have renewed the treaties of amity and friendship with the United States, and have given the best proof in their power of their sincerity, to wit, a return of prisoners and property; and peace prevails from one end of our frontier to the other. Peace also has been produced between the Creeks and Chickasaws by the intervention of this government; but something untoward and unknown here has occasioned a renewal of hostilities on the part of the Creeks.

The military establishment is of sufficient importance to claim a place in the general communication, at the opening of the session; and my opinion is, that circumstanced as things are at present, and the uncertainty of what they may be next year, it would Edition: current; Page: [136] be impolitic to reduce it, but whether to express any opinion thereon, or leave it entirely to their own decision, may be considered.

Whether a report from the Secretary of the Treasury, relative to fiscal matters, particularly on the loans of money, and another from the Secretary of War respecting the frigates, arsenals, military stores directed to be provided; and the train in which the trade with the Indians is, agreeably to the several acts of Legislature, may not be proper, and to be referred to in the speech.

Having desired the late Secretary of State to note down every matter as it occurred, proper either for the speech at the opening of the session, or for messages afterwards, the inclosed paper contains everything I could extract from that office. Aid me, I pray you, with your sentiments on these points, and such others as may have occurred to you relative to my communications to Congress.

With affectionate regard, I am always yours.

George Washington
Washington, George
23 November, 1795
Philadelphia
Alexander Hamilton
Hamilton, Alexander

TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON.

My dear Sir,

Enclosed are letters for Mr. de la Fayette, and his Tutor. I leave them open for your perusal; and notwithstanding the request in my letter of the 18th I shall cheerfully acquiesce in any measures respecting them which you (and others with whom you may be disposed to consult) may deem most eligable.—

As there can be no doubt, that the feelings of both Edition: current; Page: [137] are alive to every thing which may have the semblance of neglect or slight;—and indeed, expectant as they must have been, (without adverting perhaps to the impediments) of an invitation to fly to me without delay—and distressing and forlorn as the situation of one of them is—it is necessary that every assurance and consolation should be administered to them.—For these reasons I pray you to send my letters to them by Express, the expence of which I will repay with thankfulness.

The doubt which you have expressed of the propriety of an open and avowed conduct in me towards the son of Mr. de la Fayette, and the subject it might afford to malignancy to misinterpret the cause, has so much weight that I am distrustful of my own judgment in deciding on this business lest my feelings should carry me further than prudence (while I am a public character) will warrant.—

It has, however, like many other things in which I have been involved, two edges, neither of which can be avoided without falling on the other.

On one side, I may be charged with countenancing those who have been denounced the enemies of France;—on the other with not countenancing the son of a man who is dear to America.—

When I wrote to you last1 I had resolved to take both the pupil and Tutor into my own family, supposing it would be most agreeable to the young gentlemen, and congenial with friendship.—At the same time that it would have given me more command over him—been more convenient—and less Edition: current; Page: [138] expensive to myself than to board them out.—But now, as I have intimated before, I confide the matter entirely to your decision, after seeing, and conversing with them.—

Mr. Adet has been indirectly sounded on the coming over of the family of Fayette generally, but not as to the exact point—His answer was, that as France did not make war upon women and children, he did not suppose their emigration could excite any notice. The case, however, might be different, if one of them (with his Tutor, whose character, conduct and principles may, for aught I know to the contrary, be very obnoxious) was brought into my family, and of course, into the company that visited it.—But as all these things will be taken into consideration by you I shall not dwell upon them, and only add that with esteem, regard, and sincere affn. I am ever yours.

P. S. I have no doubt but that young Fayette and his Tutor might be boarded at German Town—or in the vicinity of this City, and would be at hand to receive assistance and advice as occasion might require although he might not be a resident under my roof.

George Washington
Washington, George
6 December, 1795
Philadelphia
John H. Stone
Stone, John H.

TO JOHN H. STONE, GOVERNOR OF MARYLAND.

Dear Sir:

By Thursday’s post I was favored with your letter of the 27th ultimo, enclosing a Declaration of the General Assembly of Maryland. At any time the Edition: current; Page: [139] expression of such a sentiment would have been considered as highly honorable and flattering. At the present, when the voice of malignancy is so high-toned, and no attempts are left unessayed to destroy all confidence in the constituted authorities of this country, it is peculiarly grateful to my sensibility; and, coming spontaneously, and with the unanimity it has done from so respectable a representation of the people, it adds weight as well as pleasure to the act.

I have long since resolved, for the present time at least, to let my calumniators proceed without any notice being taken of their invectives by myself, or by any others with my participation or knowledge. Their views, I dare say, are readily perceived by all the enlightened and well-disposed part of the community; and by the records of my administration, and not by the voice of faction, I expect to be acquitted or condemned hereafter.

For your politeness in making the unofficial and friendly communication of this act, I pray you to receive my thanks, and assurances at the same time of my being, with very great esteem and regard, dear Sir, &c.1

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SPEECH TO BOTH HOUSES OF CONGRESS, DECEMBER 8TH, 1795.1

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

I trust I do not deceive myself, while I indulge the persuasion, that I have never met you at any period, when, more than at the present, the situation of our public affairs has afforded just cause for mutual congratulation, and for inviting you to join with me in profound gratitude to the Author of all good, for the numerous and extraordinary blessings we enjoy.

The termination of the long, expensive, and distressing war, in which we have been engaged with certain Indians, northwest of the Ohio, is placed in the option of the United States, by a treaty, which the commander of our army has concluded provisionally with the hostile tribes in that region.

In the adjustment of the terms, the satisfaction of the Indians was deemed an object worthy no less of the policy, than of the liberality of the United States, as the necessary basis of durable tranquillity. This object, it is believed, has been fully attained. The articles agreed upon will immediately be laid before the Senate for their consideration.

The Creek and Cherokee Indians, who alone of the southern tribes had annoyed our frontier, have lately confirmed their preexisting Edition: current; Page: [141] treaties with us; and were giving evidence of a sincere disposition to carry them into effect, by the surrender of the prisoners and property they had taken. But we have to lament, that the fair prospect in this quarter has been once more clouded by wanton murders, which some citizens of Georgia are represented to have recently perpetrated on hunting parties of the Creeks, which have again subjected that frontier to disquietude and danger; which will be productive of further expense, and may occasion more effusion of blood. Measures are pursuing to prevent or mitigate the usual consequences of such outrages, and with the hope of their succeeding, at least to avert general hostility.

A letter from the Emperor of Morocco announces to me his recognition of our treaty made with his father the late Emperor; and, consequently, the continuance of peace with that power. With peculiar satisfaction I add, that information has been received from an agent deputed on our part to Algiers, importing, that the terms of a treaty with the Dey and Regency of that country had been adjusted in such a manner, as to authorize the expectation of a speedy peace, and the restoration of our unfortunate fellow-citizens from a grievous captivity.

The latest advices from our envoy at the court of Madrid give, moreover, the pleasing information, that he had received assurances of a speedy and satisfactory conclusion of his negotiation. While the event, depending upon unadjusted particulars, cannot be regarded as ascertained, it is agreeable to cherish the expectation of an issue, which, securing amicably very essential interests of the United States, will at the same time lay the foundation of lasting harmony with a power, whose friendship we have uniformly and sincerely desired to cultivate.

Though not before officially disclosed to the House of Representatives, you, Gentlemen, are all apprized, that a treaty of amity, commerce, and navigation has been negotiated with Great Britain; and that the Senate have advised and consented to its ratification, upon a condition which excepts part of one article. Agreeably thereto, and to the best judgment I was able to form of the public interest, after full and mature deliberation, I have added my sanction. The result on the part of his Britannic Majesty Edition: current; Page: [142] is unknown. When received, the subject will, without delay, be placed before Congress.

This interesting summary of our affairs, with regard to the foreign powers, between whom and the United States controversies have subsisted; and with regard also to those of our Indian neighbors, with whom we have been in a state of enmity or misunderstanding, opens a wide field for consoling and gratifying reflections. If, by prudence and moderation on every side, the extinguishment of all the causes of external discord, which have heretofore menaced our tranquillity, on terms compatible with our national rights and honor, shall be the happy result; how firm and how precious a foundation will have been laid for accelerating, maturing, and establishing the prosperity of our country.

Contemplating the internal situation, as well as the external relations, of the United States, we discover equal cause for contentment and satisfaction. While many of the nations of Europe, with their American dependencies, have been involved in a contest unusually bloody, exhausting, and calamitous; in which the evils of foreign war have been aggravated by domestic convulsion and insurrection; in which many of the arts most useful to society have been exposed to discouragement and decay; in which scarcity of subsistence has embittered other sufferings; while even the anticipations of a return of the blessings of peace and repose are alloyed by the sense of heavy and accumulating burthens, which press upon all the departments of industry, and threaten to clog the future springs of government; our favored country, happy in a striking contrast, has enjoyed general tranquillity; a tranquillity the more satisfactory, because maintained at the expense of no duty. Faithful to ourselves, we have violated no obligation to others. Our agriculture, commerce, and manufactures prosper beyond former example; the molestations of our trade (to prevent a continuance of which, however, very pointed remonstrances have been made) being overbalanced by the aggregate benefits which it derives from a neutral position. Our population advances with a celerity, which, exceeding the most sanguine calculations, proportionally augments our strength and resources, and guarantees our future security. Every part Edition: current; Page: [143] of the Union displays indications of rapid and various improvement; and with burthens so light as scarcely to be perceived, with resources fully adequate to our present exigencies, with governments founded on the genuine principles of rational liberty, and with mild and wholesome laws, is it too much to say, that our country exhibits a spectacle of national happiness never surpassed, if ever before equalled?

Placed in a situation every way so auspicious, motives of commanding force impel us, with sincere acknowledgment to Heaven, and pure love to our country, to unite our efforts to preserve, prolong, and improve our immense advantages. To coöperate with you in this desirable work is a fervent and favorite wish of my heart.

It is a valuable ingredient in the general estimate of our welfare, that the part of our country, which was lately the scene of disorder and insurrection, now enjoys the blessings of quiet and order. The misled have abandoned their errors, and pay the respect to our constitution and laws, which is due from good citizens to the public authorities of the society. These circumstances have induced me to pardon, generally, the offenders here referred to; and to extend forgiveness to those, who had been adjudged to capital punishment. For, though I shall always think it a sacred duty, to exercise with firmness and energy the constitutional powers with which I am vested, yet it appears to me no less consistent with the public good, than it is with my personal feelings, to mingle in the operations of government every degree of moderation and tenderness, which the national justice, dignity, and safety may permit.

Gentlemen, Among the objects, which will claim your attention in the course of the session, a review of our military establishment is not the least important. It is called for by the events which have changed, and may be expected still further to change, the relative situation of our frontiers. In this review, you will doubtless allow due weight to the considerations, that the questions between us and certain foreign powers are not yet finally adjusted; that the war in Europe is not yet terminated; and that our western posts, when recovered, will demand provision for garrisoning and securing them. A statement of our present Edition: current; Page: [144] military force will be laid before you by the department of war.

With the review of our army establishment is naturally connected that of the militia. It will merit inquiry, what imperfections in the existing plan further experience may have unfolded. The subject is of so much moment in my estimation, as to excite a constant solicitude, that the consideration of it may be renewed, till the greatest attainable perfection shall be accomplished. Time is wearing away some advantages for forwarding the object, while none better deserves the persevering attention of the public councils.

While we indulge the satisfaction, which the actual condition of our western borders so well authorizes, it is necessary that we should not lose sight of an important truth, which continually receives new confirmations, namely, that the provisions heretofore made with a view to the protection of the Indians from the violences of the lawless part of our frontier inhabitants are insufficient. It is demonstrated that these violences can now be perpetrated with impunity; and it can need no argument to prove, that, unless the murdering of Indians can be restrained by bringing the murderers to condign punishment, all the exertions of the government to prevent destructive retaliations by the Indians will prove fruitless, and all our present agreeable prospects illusory. The frequent destruction of innocent women and children, who are chiefly the victims of retaliation, must continue to shock humanity; and an enormous expense, to drain the treasury of the Union.

To enforce upon the Indians the observance of justice, it is indispensable that there shall be competent means of rendering justice to them. If these means can be devised by the wisdom of Congress, and especially if there can be added an adequate provision for supplying the necessities of the Indians on reasonable terms, (a measure, the mention of which I the more readily repeat, as in all the conferences with them they urge it with solicitude,) I should not hesitate to entertain a strong hope of rendering our tranquillity permanent. I add, with pleasure, that the probability even of their civilization is not diminished by the experiments which have been thus far made, under the auspices Edition: current; Page: [145] of government. The accomplishment of this work, if practicable, will reflect undecaying lustre on our national character, and administer the most grateful consolations that virtuous minds can know.

Gentlemen of the House of Representatives:

The state of our revenue, with the sums which have been borrowed and reimbursed, pursuant to different acts of Congress, will be submitted from the proper department; together with an estimate of the appropriations necessary to be made for the service of the ensuing year.

Whether measures may not be advisable to reinforce the provision for the redemption of the public debt, will naturally engage your examination. Congress have demonstrated their sense to be, and it were superfluous to repeat mine, that whatsoever will tend to accelerate the honorable extinction of our public debt, accords as much with the true interest of our country as with the general sense of our constituents.

Gentlemen of the Senate and House of Representatives:

The statements, which will be laid before you, relative to the mint, will show the situation of that institution, and the necessity of some further legislative provisions for carrying the business of it more completely into effect, and for checking abuses which appear to be arising in particular quarters.

The progress in providing materials for the frigates, and in building them; the state of the fortifications of our harbors; the measures which have been pursued for obtaining proper sites for arsenals, and for replenishing our magazines with military stores; and the steps which have been taken towards the execution of the law for opening a trade with the Indians, will likewise be presented for the information of Congress.

Temperate discussion of the important subjects, which may arise in the course of the session, and mutual forbearance where there is a difference of opinion, are too obvious and necessary for the peace, happiness, and welfare of our country to need any recommendation of mine.

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George Washington
Washington, George
22 December, 1795
Philadelphia
Alexander Hamilton
Hamilton, Alexander

TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON.

My dear Sir,

Have you seen or heard more of young Fayette since you last wrote to me on that subject? Where did he go to? Did you deliver him the letter I sent under cover to you for him? His case gives me pain, and I do not know how to get relieved from it.—His sensibility I fear is hurt, by his not acknowledging the receipt of my letter to him; and yet, if considerations of a higher nature are opposed to a more uncovert countenance, it must be submitted to.—If he wants money, I am ready to furnish it.

’Ere this, I presume you have seen the long promised vindication, or rather accusation. What do you think of it? and what notice should be taken of it. You are fully acquainted with my Sentiments relative to the rival and warring powers of F[rance] and E[ngland]; and have heard as strong sentiments from me with respect to both, as ever he did. His declaration that he was always opposed to the Commercial part of the Negociation is as impudent and insolent an assertion as it is false, if he means more than that it was contingent (as the Instructions to Mr. Jay declare), and to apply the knowledge of it to me. But if you have seen his performance, I shall leave you to judge of it, without any comments of mine.1

With much sincerity and truth
I am always and affect’ly Yours.
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George Washington
Washington, George
22 December, 1795
Philadelphia
Gouverneur Morris
Gouverneur Morris

TO GOUVERNEUR MORRIS.

My dear Sir,

I am become so unprofitable a correspondent, and so remiss in my correspondencies, that nothing but the kindness of my friends, in overlooking these deficiencies, could induce them to favor me with a continuance of their letters; which to me are at once pleasing, interesting, and useful. To a man immersed in debt, and seeing no prospect of extrication but by an act of insolvency (perhaps absolvency would be a better word), I compare myself; and like him, too, afraid to examine the items of the account, I will at once make a lumping acknowledgment of the receipt of many interesting private letters from you, previous to your last arrival in England, and will begin with those subsequent thereto of the 3d of July and 22d of August.

As the British government has repealed the order for seizing our provision vessels, little more need be said on that head, than that it was the principle, which constituted the most obnoxious and exceptionable part thereof, and the predicament in which this country was thereby placed in her relations with France. Admitting, therefore, that the compensation to some individuals was adequate to what it might have been in another quarter, yet the exceptions to it on these grounds remained the same.

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I do not think Colonel Innes’s report to the governor of Kentucky was entirely free from exceptions. But let the report be accompanied with the following remarks. 1, that the one, which Lord Grenville might have seen published, was disclaimed by Colonel Innes, as soon as it appeared in the public gazettes, on account of its incorrectness. 2, an irritable spirit at that time pervaded all our people at the westward, arising from a combination of causes (but from none more powerful, than the analogous proceedings of Great Britain in the north, with those of Spain in the south, towards the United States and their Indian borderers), which spirit required some management and soothing. But, 3d and principally, Lord Grenville if he had adverted to the many remonstrances, which have gone from this country against the conduct of his own, which I will take the liberty to say has been as impolitic for their nation, (if peace and a good understanding with this was its object,) as it has been irritating to us. And, that it may not be conceived I am speaking at random, let his Lordship be asked, if we have not complained,—That some of their naval officers have insulted and menaced us in our own ports? That they have violated our national rights, by searching vessels and impressing seamen within our acknowledged jurisdiction, and in an outrageous manner have seized the latter by entire crews in the West Indies, and done the like, but not so extensively, in all parts of the world? That the Bermudian privateers, or to speak more correctly, pirates, and the admiralty court of that island, have Edition: current; Page: [149] committed the most atrocious depredations and violences on our commerce, in capturing, and in their adjudications afterwards, as were never tolerated in any well-organized or efficient government? That their governor of Upper Canada has ordered in an official and formal manner settlers within our own territory, (and far removed from the posts they have withheld from us,) to withdraw, and forbid others to settle on the same? That the persons, to whom their Indian affairs are intrusted, have taken unwearied pains and practised every deception to keep those people in a state of irritation and disquietude with us; and, to the latest moment, exerted every nerve to prevent the treaty, which has lately been concluded between the United States and them from taking effect?

These complaints were not founded in vague and idle reports, but on indubitable facts; facts, not only known to the government, but so notorious as to be known to the people also, who charge to the last item of the above enumeration the expenditure of a million or more of dollars annually for the purpose of self-defence against Indian tribes thus stimulated, and for chastising them for the ravages and cruel murders, which they had committed on our frontier inhabitants. Our minister at the court of London has been directed to remonstrate against these things with force and energy. The answer, it is true, has been (particularly with respect to the interferences with the Indians) a disavowal. Why then are not the agents of such unauthorized, offensive, and injurious measures made examples of? For wherein, let me ask, consists the Edition: current; Page: [150] difference to us between their being the acts of government, or the acts of unauthorized officers or agents of the government, if we are to sustain all the evils, which flow from such measures?

To this catalogue may be added the indifference, nay, more than indifference, with which the government of Great Britain received the advances of this country towards a friendly intercourse with it, even after the adoption of the present constitution, and since the operation of the government; and, also, the ungracious and obnoxious characters, (rancorous refugees, as if done with design to insult the country,) which they have sent among us as their agents, who, retaining all their former enmity, could see nothing through a proper medium, and becoming the earwigs of their minister (who, by the by, does not possess a mind capacious enough, or a temper sufficiently conciliatory, to view things and act upon a great and liberal scale), were always laboring under some unfavorable information and impression, and probably not communicating them in a less exceptionable manner than they received or conceived them themselves.

I give you these details (and, if you should again converse with Lord Grenville on the subject you are at liberty, unofficially to mention them, or any of them, according to circumstances), as evidences of the impolitic conduct (for so it strikes me) of the British government towards these United States; that it may be seen how difficult it has been for the executive, under such an accumulation of irritating circumstances, to maintain the ground of neutrality, which had Edition: current; Page: [151] been taken; at a time when the remembrance of the aid we had received from France in the revolution was fresh in every mind, and when the partisans of that country were continually contrasting the affections of that people with the unfriendly disposition of the British government. And that, too, as I have observed before, while the recollection of their own sufferings during the war with the latter had not been forgotten.

It is well known, that peace (to borrow a modern phrase) has been the order of the day with me since the disturbances in Europe first commenced, My policy has been, and will continue to be, while I have the honor to remain in the administration of the government, to be upon friendly terms with, but independent of, all the nations of the earth; to share in the broils of none; to fulfil our own engagements; to supply the wants and be carrier for them all; being thoroughly convinced, that it is our policy and interest to do so. Nothing short of self-respect, and that justice which is essential to a national character, ought to involve us in war; for sure I am, if this country is preserved in tranquillity twenty years longer, it may bid defiance in a just cause to any power whatever; such in that time will be its population, wealth, and resources.

If Lord Grenville conceives, that the United States are not well disposed towards Great Britain, his candor, I am persuaded, will seek for the causes, and his researches will fix them, as I have done. If this should be the case, his policy will I am persuaded be Edition: current; Page: [152] opposed to the continuance or renewal of the irritating measures, which I have enumerated; for he may be assured, (though the assurance will not, it is probable, carry conviction with it from me to a member of the British administration,) that a liberal policy will be one of the most effectual means of deriving advantages to their trade and manufactures from the people of the United States, and will contribute, more than any thing else, to obliterate the impressions, which have been made by their late conduct towards us.

In a government as free as ours, where the people are at liberty, and will express their sentiments oftentimes imprudently, and, for want of information, sometimes unjustly, allowances must be made for occasional effervescences; but, after the declaration which I have here made of my political creed, you can run no hazard in asserting, that the executive branch of this government never has, or will suffer, while I preside, any improper conduct of its officers to escape with impunity, or will give its sanctions to any disorderly proceedings of its citizens.

By a firm adherence to these principles, and to the neutral policy which has been adopted, I have brought on myself a torrent of abuse in the factious papers in this country, and from the enmity of the discontented of all descriptions therein. But, having no sinister objects in view, I shall not be diverted from my course by these, nor any attempts which are, or shall be made to withdraw the confidence of my constituents from me. I have nothing to ask; and, discharging my duty, I have nothing to fear from invective. The acts Edition: current; Page: [153] of my administration will appear when I am no more, and the intelligent and candid part of mankind will not condemn my conduct without recurring to them.

The treaty entered into with Great Britain has, as you have been informed, undergone much and severe animadversion; and, though a more favorable one were to have been wished, which the policy perhaps of Great Britain might have granted, yet the demerits thereof are not to be estimated by the opposition it has received; nor is the opposition sanctioned by the great body of the yeomanry in these States. For they, whatever their opinions of it may be, are disposed to leave the decision where the constitution has placed it. But an occasion was wanting, and the instrument, by those who required it, was deemed well calculated, for the purpose of working upon the affections of the people of this country towards those of France, whose interests and rights under our treaty with them they represented as being violated; and, with the aid of the provision order, and other irritating conduct of the British ships of war and agents, as mentioned before, the means were furnished, and more pains taken, than upon any former occasion, to raise a general ferment with a view to defeat the treaty.1

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But knowing that you have other correspondents, who have more leisure, and equally capable of detailing these matters, I will leave you to them and the gazettes for fuller information there and a more minute account of the prevailing politics. And thanking you for the interesting intelligence and opinions contained in your letter of the 22d of August, I shall only add, that, with sincere esteem and regard, I am, dear Sir, your affectionate friend.

P. S. We have not heard through any other channel than your Letter, of the intended resignation of Mr. Skipwith and of the proposed recommendation of Mr. Montflorence.

George Washington
Washington, George
4 January, 1795
Philadelphia
William Pearce
Pearce, William

LETTERS TO WILLIAM PEARCE, 1795.1

* * * After getting out as many of your best qualified Oats for seed as the ground by the rotations, and such other as you shall allot for them, may require,—take care that the residue is not used so near as to disfurnish my horses when I may come to Mount Vernon; which, probably, will be twice between the adjournment of Congress on the 3d of March, and their meeting again in autumn.—The first for a flying trip (as soon as the roads will permit me to travel after the adjournment) with not more than five horses;—the other, during the hot weather, for a longer term; and with more than double that number of horses; as Mrs. Washington and the family will accompany me.—

What chimney has fallen, by which negro children were hurt, and how are they now?—Under real or pretended sickness, I perceive Doll, at the Ferry, rarely does any work;—it would be well to place her in a situation where her ways can be attended to—if she is really unable to work, none will be required of her; Edition: current; Page: [155] if she is able, deceitful complaints, which she is very capable of making, ought not to avail her. * * * 4 January, 1795.

* * * As it is my wish to plant many Irish potatoes this year, be sure to reserve enough for seed, by making ample allowance for thefts, waste, and rotting.—I shall send you by the first vessel a bushel and half of clean honey locust seed; which I would have raised in a nursery for the purpose of hedging.—By an experiment I have made a (large) quart contains 4,000 seed; this, allowing ten seed to a foot, would sow, or plant, four rows of 500 feet each;—at this rate, 40 quarts (which I think you may count upon, at least) would require 160 rows; ground for which I would have you prepare whenever you shall find most convenient, that the seed may be put in as soon as it arrives:—two feet apart will be enough for the rows, as to weed the plants until they are fit to transplant is all that will be required—and this will be done in two years.

I am sorry to hear that French Will is resuming his old tricks again.—The lye he tells, respecting my promise of freedom to him, after seven years of service, carries its conviction along with it;—inasmuch as I had no certainty of holding him an hour after Mrs. French’s death; which might have happened within the year I hired him; how then could I promise freedom to a person I held under such tenure?—Harsh treatment will not do with him; you had better, therefore, let him piddle, and in this way (though I believe little trust is to be placed in him) get what you can out of him. * * * 11 January, 1795.

* * * I never saw Donaldson’s son, but from what you have said respecting him, I am very willing to allow him his victuals and coarse cloathing:—but ascertain the quantum, and sort of both, in writing, to prevent mistakes and grumbling hereafter.—I am always ready, and willing, to fulfil every engagement I enter into;—and hating disputes, I wish always that contracts may be clearly understood;—for this reason also, it is necessary he should know that the boy must work duly and truely.—And whilst I am on this subject, I would repeat my expectation that he will take pains to teach those who work with him (especially Isaac and the boy Jem) in the principles of the several kinds of work they are employed in;—particular[ly] Edition: current; Page: [156] in carts, wheels, Plows, harrows, wheel barrows, and such kinds of implements as are used about a farm, or dwelling house.—I would also have him cautioned against an error which I have felt no small inconvenience from;—and that is, that rather than persevere in doing things right themselves, and being at the trouble of making others do the like, they will fall into the slovenly mode of executing work which is practiced by those among whom they are.—I have experienced this not only from European tradesmen,—but from farmers also, who have come from England; and from none in a greater degree than from Mr. Whiting, and one Bloxham, who preceeded him;—and who, tho’ perfectly acquainted with every part of a farmer’s business;—and peculiarly so (the latter, I mean) in the management and use of Oxen for the Cart or plow, double or single, with yokes or with harness; yet, finding it a little troublesome to instruct the Negros, and to compel them to the practice of his modes, he slided into theirs; and at length (which I adduce as a proof) instead of using proper flails for threshing the grain, I have found my people at this work with hoop polls—and other things similar thereto. * * * 25 January, 1795.

* * * It is my earnest wish to have my land on four-mile run re-surveyed, and the bounds thereof ascertained; that the pretence of not knowing the lines may no longer be an excuse for the trespasses which are committed thereon, to the great diminution of its value;—the wood being the more important, as the land is of a mean quality.—For the purpose of surveying, it was that I left the papers with you; and more than once have called your attention to this business.—It might be well to agree upon some day with Mr. [Lund] Washington and others, (amongst whom a Mr. Terret joins) that are knowing to the lines and interested in the business; that it may be effectually done if everything is clear, and no difficulties should arise with respect to title, or bounds.—If these, or either of them, should happen, enter into no agreement that will be obligatory on me.—I attempted, as will appear by some notes amongst the papers I left with you, to survey this land myself; but having no person with me who was acquainted with the lines, I was unable to find more than two or three of the corners.—A Moses Ball, if living, Edition: current; Page: [157] must have some knowledge of the lines:—Mr. Terret also, but as he is interested in this business, and is accused of being a pretty considerable trespasser on the part which joins him, it would not be strange if corner and line trees both are cut down; nor very strange, if it has not happened from entire ignorance, if he should not endeavor to perplex and mislead thereabouts.—As the survey is not in consequence of a law suit, and made by order of the court, there is no necessity of employing the County Surveyor, unless he possesses more skill than any other who can readily be got; and will do it upon as moderate terms, as any other.—Do not let my papers go out of your hands—or any copies be taken from them.—The Surveyor, if he is a man of science, will know what the variation of the compass is, and what allowance to make for it, if any difficulty should arise from the want of the corner and line trees. * * * 15 February, 1795.

I was afraid the open weather we have had, with frost, would have injured the Wheat.—A short crop of this article two years running, would fall heavy on me; as it seems to be the only thing, to any sort of amount, from which the means is derived, by which the various, and heavy expences of my estate, is borne.—If the Wheat is thrown much out of the ground, and the roots exposed, try the roller thereon—repeatedly—as soon as the earth is a little settled, and the roller will pass over it without its sticking thereto;—over the parts I mean (of the fields) that are injured. I tried this method one year with very good success; and it is a practice strongly recommended by all the Books on farming.—I have, myself, seen bunches of wheat the roots of which have been entirely out of the ground, take again by the Roller’s compressing them to the earth: and the chance of doing it is well worth the expence and time which is required by the Roller, drawn with Oxen. * * *

I am sorry my letter was so long getting to the hands of my nephew Colo. Washington;—for if I have not formed a very erroneous, and unjust opinion of the conduct of my negro carpenters—there is not to be found so idle a set of Rascals.—In short, it appears to me, that to make even a chicken coop, would employ all of them a week;—buildings that are run up here in Edition: current; Page: [158] two or three days (with not more hands) employ them a month or more. * * * 22 February, 1795.

* * * If the absconding of French’s Paul did not proceed from a quarrel with, or threats from, his overseer, it will be found, I expect, that he has been guilty of some piece of roguery; of the discovery of which he was afraid:—pains therefore ought to be taken to apprehend and bring him to punishment.

What sort of lameness is Dick’s (at D. Run); that he should have been confined with it for so many weeks?—and what kind of sickness is Betty Davis’s, that it should have had a similar effect upon her?—If pretended ailments, without apparent causes, or visible effects, will screen her from work, I shall get no service at all from her; for a more lazy, deceitful and impudent huzzy, is not to be found in the United States than she is. * * * 8 March, 1795.

* * * All grasses ought to be sown on clean and well prepared ground, especially those near a dwelling house, which attract the eyes of all visitors.—This observation applies to grain as well as grass;—for which reason, however desirable it might have been, to have got the oats in the ground soon, I had rather hear it was delayed than that it should be sown before every thing was in perfect order for it; for it is a fixed principle with me, that whatever is done should be well done. Unless this maxim is attended to, our labor is but in vain, and our expectation of a return, is always deceptious; whilst we are ascribing our disappointments to anything rather than the true cause, namely—not laying (by proper preparations) a good foundation on which to build our hopes.

I observe what you say of Betty Davis, &ct.—but I never found so much difficulty as you seem to apprehend, in distinguishing between real and feigned sickness;—or when a person is much afflicted with pain. Nobody can be very sick without having a fever, nor will a fever or any other disorder continue long upon any one without reducing them. Pain also, if it be such as to yield entirely to its force, week after week, will appear by its effects; but my people (many of them) will lay up a month, at the end of which no visible change in their countenance, nor the loss of an oz. of flesh, is discoverable; and their allowance Edition: current; Page: [159] of provision is going on as if nothing ailed them.—There cannot, surely be any real sickness under such circumstances as I have described; nor ought such people to be improperly endulged.—It should be made one of the primary duties of every Overseer to attend closely, and particularly to those under his care who really are, or pretend to be, sick; to see that they first receive aid and comfort in time, and before it is too late to apply them; and that the others do not impose upon him. In the first case you ought to be immediately notified, as delay is often dangerous; and in the second, where the matter is at all doubtful, you ought to be the judge, for I am as unwilling to have any person, in my service, forced to work when they are unable, as I am to have them skulk from it, when they are fit for it.—* * * 22 March, 1795.

* * * Considering the quality of my flour this year, and the smallness of the quantity, I am very well satisfied that you have got it off your hands at the prices it sold; altho’ flour at this market is at 12 dollars a barrel and rising.—In short, the scarcity of this article in Europe, and demand for it; added, to the failure of the last wheat crop in this Country will enable the holders to get any price they please.—Let me know the quantity of the midlings and ship-stuff you disposed of.—And tell Davenport to make out, and to have sent to me, the mill account for last year, that I may see what wheat has gone into, and what flour has come out of, the mill.—I have no reason to suspect that Davenport is otherwise than an honest man; but regular and fair accounts should be stated, and rendered by all men.—In doing this with him, the Overseers’ accounts of the wheat sent to, and his of what is received in the mill, should agree; so likewise ought his charges of the flour, Bran, &c., sent to Mansion House, the Overseers, &c., to agree with what is reported and credited.—This being done, and added to the different kinds of flour that are sold, and the shorts and Bran used, will (accounting also for the Toll Wheat) show the state of the manufacturing business—which is not only satisfactory, but absolutely necessary;—for I strongly suspect, notwithstanding it would appear by the experiments which have been made of an hundred bushels that the balance is in favor of flour,—that the case is Edition: current; Page: [160] otherwise on the aggregate quantity which is ground.—That it is so this year, can admit of no doubt;—it would be inconceivable otherwise that the [] of my last year’s crop of wheat, and [] that of the year before, should yield only [] barrels of flour, besides what was consumed in the family.

If the boy at the Mill is to go into the Garden, at Mansion house, the sooner it happens the better;—and I really (considering the little work my Mill does) see no reason why he should not.—I am sorry to find by your last reports that there has been two deaths in the family since I left Mount Vernon;—and one of them a young fellow.—I hope every necessary care and attention was afforded him.—I expect little of this from McKoy,—or indeed from most of his class; for they seem to consider a Negro much in the same light as they do the brute beasts, on the farms; and often times treat them as inhumanly. * * * 10 May, 1795.

* * * Davy’s lost lambs carry with them a very suspicious appearance;—and it will be to be regretted, if he betakes himself to Rogueries of that sort;—for in that case, nothing will escape, if he can avoid detection; and grain will be less liable to it than animals.—If the lambs had been poisoned, or had died a natural death, or their deaths had been occasioned by any accident, their bones would have been forth coming, and his not being able to produce them, is an argument, both of his guilt, and of his not expecting to be called upon for that evidence of the truth of his assertion, and fair dealing.—This circumstance will make it necessary to watch him a little closer.—He has some very sly, cunning and roguish negroes under him; among whom none has a greater disposition to be so, or who he can make a more useful agent of, than Nathan; his mother and father.— * * *

What is the matter with Ruth and Ben, (not the Ben that cut himself) at River farm, that week after week they are returned sick?—The first of them, Ruth, has been aiming, for some time, to get herself excused from work.—More than they are able to do in reason, I do not expect;—but I have no idea of their being totally exempted, whilst work proportioned, and adapted to their strength and situation, can be found for them.—The example is bad, and will be too readily (as is the case at present with several Edition: current; Page: [161] more of them) attempted; if, under the plea of pains, &c., &c., they find they can carry their point.— * * * 5 July, 1795.

* * * At the proper season let all the English thorn, in the vineyard, be transplanted (I do not care where, so it be) to places where the strongest inner fences are required.—Let the long string of fence from the gate at Union Farm (going into No. I) quite through to the branch be planted with the honey locust, if they are of a size proper for it.—Continue the Cedar hedge from the barn at that place, to the Mill road; or as far as you have plants for that purpose:—and then (on both sides of that lane) in ground properly spaded, or well hoed up, and formed into a bed, sow the Cedar berries in a single straight row; after rubbing off the skin, or glutinous substance which surrounds the seed, in the manner which has been mentioned to you; and which, it is said, is necessary to their vegitation.—But with respect to these, and other berries, the vegitation of which is said to be promoted by their passing through the body of an animal, I have often thought, that if they were put into a pot with water sufficient to moisten the whole mass of them, and kept warm (but not hot), from morning until night, and then to have the skin rubbed off as before mentioned, it would answer as well as the heat of the animal body.—The only danger would be from carelessness, in letting them get so hot as to destroy vegitation altogether. * * *

No hedge, alone, will, I am persuaded, do for an outer inclosure, where two, or four footed hogs find it convenient to open a passage; but I am equally satisfied, that any hedge will do for partition fences, where no hogs are suffered to run; consequently those that can be quickest raised, will answer my purposes best; if I am even obliged to have a double hedge, in the manner before mentioned, to be ready for the decline of the first. * * * 22 November, 1795.

I wish you to make the most you can of the materials you have within yourself, for hedging; for I do not believe you will get any berries of the white thorn from Newcastle; for the reason given in one of my letters after I arrived at this place from Mount Vernon last.—I hope the Cedar berries will prove better than you expect, that you may, as soon as possible, get the lane Edition: current; Page: [162] from the New barn (at Union farm) to the Mill road compleated with that kind of hedge on both sides.—Make good the hedges as you proceed, in this business; otherwise you will have incomplete ones, that will render no service.—Anxious as you perceive I am, to substitute hedges instead of dead fences, I have full confidence in your exertion to raise them;—and as I have observed in a former letter, those for inner and cross fences, where no hogs are suffered to run, may, in the first instance, be made of anything that suits the soil, and will grow quick,—altho’ they should be doubled hereafter.—When I speak of tilling too much land, and add that a less quantity would be more productive than the greater quantity, which is now tended in order to produce an adequate quantity of Corn; I would not be understood to mean that half of one of your fields in the condition they now are, would produce you as much corn (or other things) as the whole of it would do;—that would be absurd;—but for example, suppose ten hands are necessary to cultivate a field of 100 acres (more or less) and that this quantity, in common seasons, can be cultivated as well as usually is done, but will allow no spare time, or labor for any extra work—my idea then is, that by turning half that field out, or rather let it be enclosed, and nothing suffered to run upon it, (that all the grass and weeds it produces may fall, rot, and ameliorate the soil)—Cultivate the other half better than you could do the whole;—and bestow all the spare labor of the ten hands in raking—scraping,—collecting and carrying out all the manure that can be obtained from swamps, ponds, trash about the house, and in the lanes,—and even leaves and rotten trees from the woods; that more would be produced in a year or two from the 50 acres, than is now got from the hundred:—and by this means gullies might be filled up—and many other improvements made on the farms that are not, nor cannot be done with a full crop.—Is it not better to get 20 bushels of Wheat (and other things in proportion) from one acre of ground, than from two acres?—That worn land, undressed and unimproved will not produce the latter, that is 20 bushels, and when well cultivated and manured, will produce the former, is known to every man who has attended to these things;—and yet, such is the force of habit, that people will not quit the path their Edition: current; Page: [163] fathers have trod in.—Besides, I am so well persuaded of the injury land sustains from the growth of Indian Corn, I never desire to raise more than enough for my Negros (who cannot do without it;) substituting other species of food for Horses, Hogs, &c.—or even buying from the sales of other crops, if I cannot do this. * * * 6 December, 1795.

1796.

George Washington
Washington, George
20 January, 1796
Philadelphia
James McHenry
McHenry, James

TO JAMES McHENRY.
[PRIVATE.]

My dear Sir,

Let this letter be received with the same friendship and frankness with which it is written. Nothing would add more to the satisfaction this would give me, than your acceptance of the offer I am going to make you.

Without further preface then, will you suffer me to nominate you to the office of Secretary of War? That I may give evidence of the candor I have professed above, I shall inform you, that, for particular reasons, (more fit for an oral than a written communication,) this office has been offered to Genl. Pinckney of So. Carolina, Colo. Carrington of Virginia, and Govr. Howard of Maryland, and that it would now give me sincere pleasure if you would fill it.

After making this declaration, I can press you no farther; but I press for an immediate answer, as the public service is suffering much for want of a head to the department of War. If you consent to this nomination, prepare to come on as soon as it is made, (for the reason just mentioned,) altho’ at this season, and in the present state of the roads, you should not Edition: current; Page: [164] find it convenient to bring Mrs. McHenry and your family along with you.

Sound, I pray you, and let me know without delay, if Mr. Saml. Chase would accept a seat on the Supreme Judicial bench of the United States, made vacant by the resignation of Mr. Blair. If his decision is in the affirmative, he will at once perceive the necessity of being here by the first Monday (if possible) in next month, at which time that court is to sit in this city. Altho’ these subjects are both of an interesting nature, I will add no more on them at present; but assure you of the sincere friendship and affectionate regard of &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
10 February, 1796
Philadelphia
Bushrod Washington
Washington, Bushrod

TO BUSHROD WASHINGTON.

Dear Sir,

On Saturday last I received your letter of the 24th Ulto.

Presuming that Mr. Keith has sent you all the attested accounts of my Executorship of the Estate of Colo. Thomas Colvill, in which the affairs of John Colvill, his brother (to whom he was executor) were involved—together with the will of the former, and the claims originating from an extraordinary devise which you will find therein, I am at a loss to know, what more you require than is contained in those papers, when you wish I would give you the general out lines of the business; that you may be enabled thereby to frame the Bill.

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I have no papers now by me except copies of the accounts, which have been settled with the court, authentic copies of which I presume you have received;—and having very little knowledge in chancery proceedings I hardly know where to begin or end a story, that may subserve your purpose. I will however, attempt to detail some facts relative to the business, which has involved me in much unexpected vexation and trouble in order that I may as soon as possible be rid of it.

You must know then that in a visit to Colo. Thomas Colvill, on his death bed, (an unlucky one I have ever since deemed it) he informed me, that he had appointed me, one of his Executors. I told him that my numerous engagements, of a similar kind, would not permit me to discharge the duties of one.—He urged—I refused—he pressed again, assuring me that all the trouble would be taken off my hands, by his wife and Mr. John West (who married his niece) that he wished only for my name,—and that I would now and then only inquire how Matters were conducted by those first named. Unwilling to make the last moments of a worthy and respectable character uneasy, I yielded to his request; and having so done I would not be worse than my word, and qualified accordingly:—and when it suited my convenience, occasionally assisted; until my services were required by the county in which I lived, to attend the State convention, at Williamsburg and Richmond—by these conventions, to attend the Congresses which were held in this City,—and by Edition: current; Page: [166] the latter to take the command of the Army, which, and my continuance with the latter comprehended a period of more than ten years, at the expiration of which and my return to private life, I found that Mrs. Colvill, and Jno. West both were dead—that no final settlement of the Estate had been made. That every thing relative to it was enveloped in darkness, and that instead of being a mere auxiliary in the business I was compelled for my own security, to become the sole actor.

Under these circumstances, and knowledge of Mr. Keith’s fitness, from being a professional man;—from having been once, a clerk of a Court and well acquainted with proceedings of this kind; and from his knowledge of incidents; I employed him to collect, and digest the materials which were to be found among the papers of Mrs. Colvill, and West into a final settlement; and nothing short of his assiduity, and knowledge of the subject, cou’d have exhibited the accounts in the manner they have appeared. Sure I am that I could not have framed the accounts from the materials which were exhibited.

I ought to have mentioned in an earlier part of this detail, that one of the first acts of the Executors was—to publish in the English papers an extract of the Will of Colo. Thomas Colvill, making the nearest relations of his mother his residuary Legatees.—This bequest and publication raised a host of claimants, one of whom through the medium of General Howe, while he commanded the B. forces in America demanded in an open impudent and imperious letter, Edition: current; Page: [167] which passed through the hands of that officer, the restitution, of an Estate worth forty thousand pounds which he says was the surplus of the Estate and due to him,—altho’ the very clause under which he claimed expressed a doubt of there being any surplus at all.—

If this concise account is inadequate to the purposes of a Bill, I pray you to propound specific questions, and they shall receive immediate answers.—My objects, are, simply these,—1st, as the surplus after paying the debt and Legacies, is not precisely ascertained; after many law suits and much difficulty; I wish that those who have the best right to it, may receive the benefit of the donation;—and 2d, that I may know where and in what manner to dispose of the money; not being willing to hold it, nor to have anything to do with those who may claim it, I accordingly, as I have been advised turn the whole matter over to the Chancellor; who at the same time that he affords relief to me, will do justice to others. With sincere friendship I am

Your affectionate Uncle.
George Washington
Washington, George
15 February, 1796
Philadelphia
James Anderson
Anderson, James

TO DR. JAMES ANDERSON.

Sir:

Since my last to you in Decr. I have been favored with your letter of the 15th of Septr., on the subject of Iron Bridges.

The invention is ingenious, and if it answers as well in practice, as it appears in theory, it will be a valuable and useful discovery.—I see no reason why Edition: current; Page: [168] it should not, as the construction is upon mathematical principles.—I should fear however if you have not been correct in your estimates and comparison, that a Bridge formed of Iron must cost more than one of stone,—both having the same span. But as I have had no leisure to examine the matter accurately, this may be a very erroneous opinion of mine.

The mechanics of these United States, are in the practice of building bridges of wood, that are not exceeded any where, for span of arch, convenience, appearance and cheapness,—one lately erected over Piscataqua river in the State of New Hampshire, has a span of 244 feet in one arch,—but the want of durability in bridges built of such perishable materials, is a serious objection to them.

The more I have revolved the plan of renting the farms of my Mount Vernon Estate, the more inclined I am to the measure,—and that being my intention in this respect, as well as in the sale of certain lands which I possess on the western waters, may be known, I have caused a notification (as you will perceive by the enclosed hand bills, which are copies thereof) to be inserted in some of the public Gazettes of this Country;—but without much expectation of carrying it into effect the ensuing year.

Having taken the liberty of bringing you acquainted with the preliminary steps to this measure, I now offer the plan in a more advanced stage; but upon the same principle, and under the same restrictions contained in my last,—namely, that it may be communicated (not by way of public notification,—nor Edition: current; Page: [169] at all if it militates in any degree with the declared policy of the British Government) to any man or set of men, who you may have reason to believe are disposed to migrate to this Country; and would wish to avail themselves of the information therein contained.

As it relates to tenants, I should wish for peaceable, industrious and skilful farmers; to obtain such, I must resort to some other country than this, where little knowledge of husbandry is possessed, and less care used in the practice of it, to keep the land from a ruinous course.—For many reasons, the similarity of language not least,—I would prefer those of yours.

Numbers come daily by individual families; and more from habit, than any advantage I ever could discover, arrive at this city, and New York. But individuals who have not capitals equal to my undivided farms, would not answer my views, forasmuch as it would not be convenient, or agreeable to me, to let a part, and retain a part of the same farm. With esteem and regard, I am &c.

P. S. Enclosed also are the terms on which I propose to give leases.

George Washington
Washington, George
20 February, 1796
Philadelphia
Thomas Pinckney
Pinckney, Thomas

TO THOMAS PINCKNEY.

Dear Sir,

Your letter of the 10th of October from Madrid has been duly received.1 With regret I read the request, which is contained in it; but the footing on which Edition: current; Page: [170] you have placed the matter forbids opposition, or even persuasion on my part that you would recede from it; although the difficulty of supplying your place to my satisfaction, or to the satisfaction of your country, or of the court you will leave, will not be found easy.

Having heard through different channels, that you had concluded a treaty with Spain, and that the vessel which had it on board was spoke at sea, we are in daily and anxious expectation of its arrival. The information has diffused general pleasure, and will be soothing to the inhabitants of the Western waters, who were beginning to grow restive and clamorous to obtain the navigation.1

2Since the re-confinement of M. de Lafayette, (after the attempt made by Dr. Bollman and Mr. Huger, Edition: current; Page: [171] both of whom are now in this city, to effect his escape), we have heard nothing further respecting him, than that his confinement is more rigorous than before. We know, indeed, that Madame de Lafayette and his two daughters have been at Hamburg; that it was reported they were coming to America, but that instead of doing it, they went to Vienna to try the effect of personal solicitation to obtain his releasement. Newspaper accounts go farther and say they were permitted to proceed to Olmutz. But how far the latter information is to be depended upon, and, if true, what has or will be the result, is altogether unknown to me.

I need hardly mention how much my sensibility has been hurt by the treatment this gentleman has met with, or how anxious I am to see him liberated therefrom; but what course to pursue, as most likely and proper to aid the measure, is not quite so easy to decide on. As President of the United States, there must be a commitment of the government by any interference of mine; and it is no easy matter in a transaction of this nature for a public character to assume the garb of a private citizen, in a case that does not relate to himself. Yet such is my wish to contribute my mite to accomplish this desirable object, that I have no objection to its being made known to the Imperial ambassador in London, (who, if he thinks proper, may communicate it to his court,) that this event is an ardent wish of the people of the United States, in which I sincerely add mine. The time, the manner, and even the measure itself, I leave Edition: current; Page: [172] to your discretion; as circumstances, and every matter which concerns this gentleman, are better known on that, than they are on this side of the Atlantic.

I shall add no more on this, and but little on any other subject at present. The gazettes, which I presume you receive, will show you in what manner the public functionaries are treated here. The abuse, however, which some of them contain, has excited no reply from me. I have a consolation which no earthly power can deprive me of, that of acting from my best judgment; and I shall be very much mistaken, if I do not soon find, that the public mind is recovering fast from the disquietude into which it has been thrown by the most wilful, artful, and malignant misrepresentations that can be imagined. The current is certainly turned, and is beginning to run strong the other way. But I am proceeding farther than I intended, and will therefore conclude with assurances of the esteem and regard with which I am, dear Sir, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
4 March, 1796
Philadelphia
Gouverneur Morris
Gouverneur Morris

TO GOUVERNEUR MORRIS.

My dear Sir,

Altho’ I have but little expectation (from the information which I have received from your sister Mrs. Ogden) that this letter with a copy of my last to you, will reach London before you will have embarked for America, I have determined nevertheless to take the chance of it; and accordingly have put it under cover to Mr. Pinckney.

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Hitherto the business of the session tho slow in its progress, has been tranquil in discussion.—By some misconception of Mr. Deas,1 or some strange fatality attending his dispatches, the formal ratification of the treaty by his Britannic Majesty, has never yet been received; but having sufficient and official evidence of the fact, both from Mr. Deas and the British charge des affaires residing here; it was proclaimed on the 29th ulto. as the law of the land: and being before the House of Representatives, their proceedings thereon must soon appear.—The conjecture is that an attempt (how successful I am unable to inform you) will be made to censure it in several points; and for being disadvantageous to these United States on the whole; but will make provision for carrying it into effect.—The debates relative to this Treaty, will be I presume animated; and if heats are occasioned in the course of the session, they will proceed from this cause. But as it is not my intention to anticipate the debates or the votes, I shall say nothing further relatively thereto.

That a great change has been wrought in the public mind with respect to this Treaty within the last two months, is apparent to every one.

But in the body politic, as in the body natural, when one of its members are disordered (I confine it to members because I do not believe the whole mass has been at all attainted) it requires some time to effect a perfect cure; especially while there remains a morbid tumor always working and difficult to eradicate.

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If the people of this country have not abundant cause to rejoice at the happiness they enjoy, I know of no country that has. We have settled all our disputes, and are at peace with all nations. We supply their wants with our superfluities, and are well paid for doing so.—The earth generally, for years past, has yielded its fruits bountifully. No City, Town, Village, or even farm but what exhibits evidences of increasing wealth and prosperity; while Taxes are hardly known but in name. Yet by the second sight,—extraordinary foresight, or some other sight attainable by a few only, evils afar off are discovered by these, alarming to themselves; and as far as they are able to render them so, disquieting to others. * * *

George Washington
Washington, George
6 March, 1796
Philadelphia
Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy

TO TIMOTHY PICKERING, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Sir,

I have given your letter of instructions to our minister at the court of London attentive consideration, and approve them; unless the last clause but one should give rise to the negotiation of an article, which may not accord with the result of a motion pending in the House of Representatives, (introduced, if my memory serves me, by Mr. Smith of Baltimore,) of which, however, I have but an imperfect recollection.

I think, too, (even with the advantages proposed to be obtained by the reduction,) that our negotiator Edition: current; Page: [175] should adhere, even to the hazard of the treaty altogether, to vessels of one hundred tons’ burthen for the West India trade.

These things, and a general view of the subject as comprised in the instructions, added to matters which have been, and may yet be introduced into Congress, which may have relation to the proposed negotiation, incline me to think, that it would be better to forbear sending the despatches for Mr. Pinckney by the ship Favorite (as other conveyances will, no doubt, soon offer), and to take more time in consulting the most intelligent mercantile characters within your reach, on the principles and heads of the several articles, which are the subject of them.

The instructions ought, in my opinion, to be accompanied with powers. They may be offered or not, as occasion shall require. They can, with this alternative, do no harm; whereas the want of them, if called for, may occasion a suspension of the measure. Mr. Adams’s letter, and Lord Grenville’s propositions, relative to captured vessels of a certain description, and with respect to the pay of the commissioners, require immediate attention.

Proclamations of the treaties with Spain and Algiers should issue as soon as they can be prepared, and the ratification of the former despatched as soon as possible. Measures also for carrying these, and the other treaties which have been ratified and proclaimed, into effect, ought to meet with no delay that can be avoided.

And I request you would concert measures with Edition: current; Page: [176] the Secretaries of War and the Treasury, if necessary, for proceeding vigorously and securely with the arsenal at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah. I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
25 March, 1796
Philadelphia

TO THE SECRETARIES OF STATE, THE TREASURY, WAR, AND THE ATTORNEY GENERAL.

Sir,

The resolution moved in the House of Representatives, for the papers relative to the negotiation of the treaty with Great Britain,1 having passed in the affirmative, I request your opinion,

1. Whether that branch of Congress has or has not a right, by the constitution, to call for those papers?

2. Whether, if it does not possess the right, it would be expedient under the circumstances of this particular case to furnish them?

3. And, in either case, in what terms would it be most proper to comply with, or to refuse, the request of the House?

These opinions in writing, and your attendance, will be expected at ten o’clock tomorrow. I am, &c.

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MESSAGE TO THE HOUSE OF PEPRESENTATIVES.

Gentlemen of the House of Representatives:

With the utmost attention I have considered your resolution of the 24th instant, requesting me to lay before your House a copy of the instructions to the minister of the United States, who negotiated the treaty with the King of Great Britain, together with the correspondence and other documents relative to that treaty, excepting such of the said papers as any existing negotiation may render improper to be disclosed.

In deliberating upon this subject, it was impossible for me to lose sight of the principle, which some have avowed in its discussion, or to avoid extending my views to the consequences, which must flow from the admission of that principle.

I trust that no part of my conduct has ever indicated a disposition to withhold any information which the constitution has enjoined upon the President as a duty to give, or which could be required of him by either House of Congress as a right; and with truth I affirm, that it has been, as it will continue to be while I have the honor to preside in the government, my constant endeavor to harmonize with the other branches thereof, so far as the trust delegated to me by the people of the United States, and my sense of the obligation it imposes to “preserve, protect, and defend the constitution,” will permit.

The nature of foreign negotiations requires caution, and their Edition: current; Page: [178] success must often depend on secrecy; and, even when brought to a conclusion, a full disclosure of all the measures, demands, or eventual concessions which may have been proposed or contemplated, would be extremely impolitic; for this might have a pernicious influence on future negotiations, or produce immediate inconveniences, perhaps danger and mischief, in relation to other powers. The necessity of such caution and secrecy was one cogent reason for vesting the power of making treaties in the President, with the advice and consent of the Senate; the principle on which that body was formed confining it to a small number of members. To admit, then, a right in the House of Representatives to demand, and to have, as a matter of course, all the papers respecting a negotiation with a foreign power, would be to establish a dangerous precedent.

It does not occur, that the inspection of the papers asked for can be relative to any purpose under the cognizance of the House of Representatives, except that of an impeachment, which the resolution has not expressed. I repeat, that I have no disposition to withhold any information which the duty of my station will permit, or the public good shall require, to be disclosed; and, in fact, all the papers affecting the negotiation with Great Britain, were laid before the Senate, when the treaty itself was communicated for their consideration and advice.

The course, which the debate has taken on the resolution of the House, leads to some observations on the mode of making treaties under the constitution of the United States.

Having been a member of the general convention, and knowing the principles on which the constitution was formed, I have ever entertained but one opinion on this subject; and, from the first establishment of the government to this moment, my conduct has exemplified that opinion, that the power of making treaties is exclusively vested in the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and that every treaty, so made and promulgated, thenceforward became the law of the land. It is thus that the treaty-making power has been understood by foreign nations; and, in all the treaties made with them, we have declared, and they have believed, that, when ratified by the Edition: current; Page: [179] President, with the advice and consent of the Senate, they became obligatory. In this construction of the constitution, every House of Representatives has heretofore acquiesced; and, until the present time, not a doubt or suspicion has appeared, to my knowledge, that this construction was not the true one. Nay, they have more than acquiesced; for till now, without controverting the obligation of such treaties, they have made all the requisite provisions for carrying them into effect.

There is also reason to believe that this construction agrees with the opinions entertained by the State conventions, when they were deliberating on the constitution; especially by those who objected to it, because there was not required, in commercial treaties, the consent of two thirds of the whole number of the members of the Senate, instead of two thirds of the Senators present; and because, in treaties respecting territorial and certain other rights and claims, the concurrence of three fourths of the whole number of the members of both Houses respectively was not made necessary.

It is a fact declared by the general convention, and universally understood, that the constitution of the United States was the result of a spirit of amity and mutual concession. And it is well known, that, under this influence, the smaller States were admitted to an equal representation in the Senate with the larger States, and that this branch of the government was invested with great powers; for on the equal participation of those powers the sovereignty and political safety of the smaller States were deemed essentially to depend.

If other proofs than these, and the plain letter of the constitution itself, be necessary to ascertain the point under consideration, they may be found in the journals of the general convention, which I have deposited in the office of the Department of State. In those journals it will appear, that a proposition was made, “that no treaty should be binding on the United States, which was not ratified by a law”; and that the proposition was explicitly rejected.

As, therefore, it is perfectly clear to my understanding, that the assent of the House of Representatives is not necessary to the validity of a treaty; as the treaty with Great Britain exhibits, Edition: current; Page: [180] in itself, all the objects requiring legislative provision, and on these the papers called for can throw no light; and as it is essential to the due administration of the government, that the boundaries, fixed by the constitution between the different departments, should be preserved; a just regard to the constitution and to the duty of my office, under all the circumstances of this case, forbids a compliance with your request.

George Washington
Washington, George
31 March, 1796
Philadelphia
Alexander Hamilton
Hamilton, Alexander

TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON.
[PRIVATE.]

My dear Sir,

I do not know how to thank you sufficiently, for the trouble you have taken to dilate on the request of the House of Representatives for the papers relative to the British Treaty; or how to apologize for the trouble, (much greater than I had any idea of giving,) which you have taken to show the impropriety of that request.

From the first moment, and from the fullest conviction in my own mind, I had resolved to resist the principle, which was evidently intended to be established by the call of the Ho. of Representatives; and only deliberated on the manner in which this could be done with the least bad consequences.

To effect this, three modes presented themselves to me. 1st, a denial of the Papers in toto, assigning concise but cogent reasons for that denial; 2d, to grant them in whole; or, 3d, in part; accompanied with a pointed protest against the right of the House to controul treaties, or to call for Papers without Edition: current; Page: [181] specifying their object, and against the compliance being drawn into precedent.

I had as little hesitation in deciding, that the first was the most tenable ground; but, from the peculiar circumstances of this case, it merited consideration, if the principle could be saved, whether facility in the provisions might not result from a compliance. An attentive examination, however, of the Papers and the subject, soon convinced me that to furnish all the Papers would be highly improper, and that a partial delivery of them would leave the door open for as much calumny as the entire refusal—perhaps more so—as it might, and I have no doubt would be said, that all such as were essential to the purposes of the House were withheld.

Under these Impressions I proceeded, with the Heads of Departments and the Attorney-Gen. to collect materials and to prepare an answer, subject however, to alteration and revision, according to circumstances. This answer was ready on Monday, and proposed to be sent in on Tuesday; but it was delayed until I should receive what was expected; not doing it definitely on that day, the delivery of my answer was further postponed till the next, notwithstanding the anxious solicitude, which was visible in all quarters to learn the result of Executive decision.

Finding that the draft, I had prepared, embraced most if not all the principles, which were detailed in the paper I received yesterday, though not the reasonings; that it would take considerable time to copy the latter; and, above all, having understood, that, if Edition: current; Page: [182] the papers were refused, a fresh demand with strictures might be expected, I sent in the answer which was ready, reserving the other as a source for reasoning, if my information proves true.

I could not be satisfied without giving you this concise account of the business, to express again my sincere thanks for the pains you have been at to investigate the subject, and to assure you, over and over, of the warmth of my friendship, and of the affectionate regard, with which I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
4 April, 1796
Philadelphia
Henry Knox
Knox, Henry

TO HENRY KNOX.

My dear Sir,

Before this will have reached you, you must have seen in the gazettes, that I have taken the liberty (without a previous consultation) to nominate you the commissioner for ascertaining the true St. Croix and the Eastern boundary of the United States, agreeably to the fifth article of the treaty lately entered into with Great Britain. I hope it will be convenient and agreeable for you to accept the trust, the appointment having been confirmed by the Senate.

As the gazettes will give you in detail a resolution of the House of Representatives, calling upon the President for all the papers (excepting such as might respect pending treaties) relative to that treaty; also the debates thereupon, and my answer; it is unnecessary to repeat them. I am beginning to receive, what I had made my mind up for on this occasion, Edition: current; Page: [183] the abuse of Mr. Bache and his correspondents. The answer, which I have given, is referred to a committee of the whole House for Wednesday next, the probable result of which it is too early yet to predict or even to guess at. These are unpleasant things, but they must be met with firmness. Present me to Mrs. Knox and the family in acceptable terms, and be assured of the friendship and affectionate regard of, &c.

P. S. At a proper time, after knowing whether you accept the appointment or not, you will hear officially from the Secretary of State.1

George Washington
Washington, George
7 April, 1796
Philadelphia
George Lewis
Lewis, George

TO GEORGE LEWIS.

Dear Sir,

Tuesday’s post brought me a letter from a Mr. Andrew Parks, of Fredeg., covering one from your mother, both on the subject of overtures of marriage made by the former to your cousin Harriot Washington, which, it seems, depend upon my consent for consummation.

My sister speaks of Mr. Parks as a sober, discreet man and one who is attentive to business. Mr. Parks says of himself that his fortune at present does not much exceed three thousand pounds, but with industry and economy he has every expectation of rapidly improving his condition, being concerned with his brother-in-law, Mr. Th. Elderry, of Baltimore, in mercantile business.

Edition: current; Page: [184]

As I am an entire stranger to Mr. Parks, to his family connexion, or his connexions in trade, his mode of living, his habits, and to his prospects in trade, I should be glad if you would ascertain them with as much precision as you can, and write me with as little delay as you can well avoid.

Harriot, having little or no fortune of her own, has no right to expect a great one in a husband, but it is desirable she should marry a gentleman, one who is well connected and can support her decently, in the life she has always moved. Otherwise she would not find matrimony, with a large family perhaps about her and scanty means, so eligible a situation as she may have conceived.1

George Washington
Washington, George
1 May, 1796
Philadelphia
Edward Carrington
Carrington, Edward

TO EDWARD CARRINGTON.
[PRIVATE.]

Dear Sir,

With much pleasure I received your letter of the 22d ultimo; and, if the sense of the great body of citizens in Virginia should be expressed in the manner Edition: current; Page: [185] you seem to expect, it would give me and, I believe, every friend to order and good government throughout the United States very great satisfaction, more so than similar sentiments from any other State in the Union; for people living at a distance from it know not how to believe it possible, that its representatives, both in the General and State legislatures, can speak a language, which is repugnant to the sense of their constituents, especially too as they seem to give the tone to all the States south of them.1

Whatever my own opinion may be on this or any other subject interesting to the community at large, Edition: current; Page: [186] it always has been and will continue to be my earnest desire to learn, and, as far as is consistent, to comply with, the public sentiment; but it is on great occasions only, and after time has been given for cool and deliberate reflection, that the real voice of the people can be known.

The present, however, is one of those great occasions, than which none more important has occurred, or probably may occur again to call forth their decision; and to them the appeal is now made. For no candid man in the least degree acquainted with the progress of this business will believe for a moment, that the ostensible dispute was about papers, or whether the British treaty was a good one or a bad one, but whether there should be a treaty at all without the concurrence of the House of Representatives, which was striking at once, and that boldly, too, at the fundamental principles of the constitution; and, if it were established, would render the treaty-making power, not only a nullity, but such an absolute absurdity as to reflect disgrace on the framers of it. For will any one suppose, that they who framed, or those who adopted, that instrument ever intended to give the power to the President and Senate to make treaties, and, declaring that when made and ratified they should be the supreme law of the land, would in the same breath place it in the powers of the House of Representatives to fix their vote on them; unless apparent marks of fraud or corruption (which in equity would set aside any contract) accompanied the measure, or such striking evidence of national injury Edition: current; Page: [187] attended their adoption, as to make a war or any other evil preferable? Every unbiassed mind will answer in the negative.

Whence the source and what the object of all this struggle is, I submit to my fellow-citizens. Charity would lead one to hope, that the motives to it have been pure. Suspicions, however, speak different language, and my tongue for the present shall be silent. Such further information on this head, or any other similar important, which may come to your knowledge, and which your leisure and inclination may enable you to give, will be very acceptable to, dear Sir, yours, &c.1

George Washington
Washington, George
8 May, 1796
Philadelphia
John Jay
Jay, John

TO JOHN JAY, GOVERNOR OF NEW YORK.

Sir,

You judged very right when, in your letter of the 18th ultimo, you observed, “I can have but very little time for private letter-writing”; but, if my friends will put up with the hasty and indigested ones I can write under such circumstances, there are Edition: current; Page: [188] a few, (among whom permit me the gratification to place you,) with whom I should feel very happy to correspond, and, while I hold my present office, to learn their sentiments upon any of the important measures, which come before the executive of the United States.1

I am sure the mass of citizens in these United States mean well, and I firmly believe they will always act well whenever they can obtain a right understanding of matters; but in some parts of the Union, where the sentiments of their delegates and leaders are adverse to the government, and great pains are taken to inculcate a belief, that their rights are assailed and their liberties endangered, it is not easy to accomplish this; especially, as is the case invariably, when the inventors and abettors of pernicious Edition: current; Page: [189] measures use infinite more industry in disseminating the poison, than the well disposed part of the community to furnish the antidote. To this source all our discontents may be traced, and from it all our embarrassments proceed. Hence serious misfortunes, originating in misrepresentation, frequently flow, and spread, before they can be dissipated by truth.

These things do, as you have supposed, fill my mind with much concern and with serious anxiety. Indeed, the trouble and perplexities which they occasion, added to the weight of years, which have passed over me, have worn away my mind more than my body, and render ease and retirement indispensably necessary to both, during the short time I have to stay here. It would be uncandid, therefore, and would discover a want of friendship and confidence, (as you have expressed a solicitude for my at least riding out the storm,) not to add, that nothing short of events, or such imperious circumstances, (as I hope and trust will not happen,) and might render a retreat dishonorable, will prevent the public annunciation of it in time to obviate a misapplication of votes, at the election of President and Vice-President of the United States in December next, upon myself.

I congratulate you on the tranquil session just closed in your State, and upon the good dispositions generally, which I am informed prevail among the citizens therein. With most friendly sentiments I remain, dear Sir, &c.

Edition: current; Page: [190]
George Washington
Washington, George
15 May, 1796
Philadelphia
Alexander Hamilton
Hamilton, Alexander

TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON.

My dear Sir,

On this day week I wrote you a letter on the subject of the information received from G[ouverneur] M[orris],1 and put with it some other papers respecting the case of M. de La Fayette, under cover to Mr. Jay, to whom also I had occasion to write. But in my hurry (making up the despatches for the post-office next morning) I forgot to give it a superscription; of course it had to return from New York for one, and to encounter all the delay occasioned thereby before it could reach your hands.

Since then I have been favored with your letter of the 10th inst.,2 and inclose (in its rough state) the Edition: current; Page: [191] paper mentioned therein, with some alteration in the first page (since you saw it) relative to the reference at foot. Having no copy by me, except of the quoted part, nor of the notes from which it was drawn, I beg leave to recommend the draught now sent to your particular attention.

Even if you should think it best to throw the whole into a different form, let me request, notwithstanding, that my draught may be returned to me (along with yours) with such amendments and corrections as to render it as perfect as the formation is susceptible of; curtailed if too verbose; and relieved of all tautology not necessary to enforce the ideas in the original or quoted part. My wish is that the whole may appear in a plain style, and be handed to the public in an honest, unaffected, simple part.

It will be perceived, from hence, that I am attached to the quotation. My reasons for it are, that as it is not only a fact that such an address was written, and on the point of being published, but known also to one or two of those characters, who are now strongest and foremost in the opposition to the government, and consequently to the person administering of it contrary to their views, the promulgation thereof, as an evidence that it was much against my inclination that I continued in office, will cause it more readily to be believed, that I could have no view in extending the powers of the Executive beyond the limits Edition: current; Page: [192] prescribed by the Constitution; and will serve to lessen, in the public estimation, the pretensions of that party to the patriotic zeal and watchfulness, on which they endeavor to build their own consequence, at the expense of others who have differed from them in sentiment. And besides, it may contribute to blunt, if it does not turn aside, some of the shafts which, it may be presumed, will be aimed at my annunciation of this event; among which, conviction of fallen popularity, and despair of being re-elected, will be levelled at me with dexterity and keenness.

Having struck out the reference to a particular character in the first page of the address, I have less (if any) objection to expunging those words which are contained within parentheses, in pages 5, 7, and 8, in the quoted part, and those in the eighteenth page of what follows; nor to discarding the egotisms (however just they may be), if you think them liable to fair criticism, and that they had better be omitted, notwithstanding some of them relate facts which are but little known to the community.

My object has been, and must continue to be, to avoid personalities; allusions to particular measures, which may appear pointed, and to expressions which could not fail to draw upon me attacks which I should wish to avoid, and might not find agreeable to repel.

As there will be another session of Congress before the political existence of the present House of Representatives, or my own, will expire, it was not my design to say a word to the Legislature on this subject; but to withhold the promulgation of my intention, until the period when it shall become Edition: current; Page: [193] indispensably necessary for the information of the Electors (which this year will be delayed until the 7th of December). This makes it a little difficult and uncertain what to say, so long beforehand, on the part marked with a pencil, in the last paragraph of the second page.

All these ideas and observations are confined, as you will readily perceive, to my draught of the Valedictory Address. If you form one anew, it will, of course, assume such a shape as you may be disposed to give it, predicated upon the sentiments contained in the inclosed paper.

With respect to the gentleman1 you have mentioned as successor to Mr. P[inckney], there can be no doubt of his abilities, nor, in my mind, is there any of his fitness; but you know, as well as I, what has been said of his political sentiments, with respect to another form of government; and from thence can be at no loss to guess at the interpretation which would be given to the nomination of him. However, the subject shall have due consideration; but a previous resignation would, in my opinion, carry with it too much the appearance of concert, and would have a bad, rather than a good effect. Always and sincerely, I am yours, &c.2

Edition: current; Page: [194]

[INCLOSURE.]1

Friends and Fellow-Citizens:

The quotation in this Address was composed, and intended to have been published, in the year 1792, in time to have announced to the Electors of the President and Vice-President of the United States, the determination of the former, previous to the said election to that office could have been made; but the solicitude of my confidential friends * * *2 added to the peculiar situation of our foreign affairs at that epoch, induced me to suspend the promulgation, lest, among other reasons, my retirement might be ascribed to political cowardice. In place thereof, I resolved, if it should be the pleasure of my fellow-citizens to honor me again with their suffrages, to devote such services as I could render, a year or two longer, trusting that within that period all impediments to an honorable retreat would be removed.

In this hope, as fondly entertained as it was conceived, I entered upon the execution of the duties of my second administration. But if the causes which produced this postponement had any weight in them at that period, it will readily be acknowledged that there has been no diminution in them since, until very lately, and it will serve to account for the delay which has taken place in communicating the sentiments which were then committed to writing, and are now found in the following words:—

MADISON, 1792.

The period which will close the appointment with which my fellow-citizens have honored me being not very distant, and the time actually arrived at which their thoughts must be designating the citizen who is to administer the Executive Government of the U. S. during the ensuing term, it may be requisite to a more distinct expression of the public voice that I should apprize such of my fellow-citizens as may retain their partiality towards me, that I am not to be numbered among those of whom a choice is to be made.

I beg them to be assured that the resolution which dictates this intimation has not been taken without the strictest regard to the relation which, as a dutiful citizen, I bear to my country; and that in withdrawing that tender of my service which silence in my situation might imply, I am not influenced by the smallest deficiency of zeal for its future interests, or of grateful respect for its past kindness, but by the fullest persuasion that such a step is compatible with both.

HAMILTON’S ABSTRACT OF POINTS, 1796.

I. The period of a new election approaching, it is his duty to announce his intention to decline.

Edition: current; Page: [195]

II. He had hoped that long ere this it would have been in his power, and particularly had nearly come to a final resolution in the year 1792 to do it, but the peculiar situation of affairs, and the advice of confidential friends, dissuaded.

III. In acquiescing in a further election he still hoped a year or two longer would have enabled him to withdraw, but a continuance of causes has delayed till now, when the position of our country, abroad and at home, justify him in pursuing his inclination.

IV. In doing it he has not been unmindful of his relation as a dutiful citizen to his country, nor is now influenced by the smallest diminution of zeal for its interest or gratitude for its past kindness, but by a belief that the step is compatible with both.

The impressions under which I entered on the present arduous trust were explained on the proper occasion. In discharge of this trust, I can only say that I have contributed towards the organization and administration of the Government the best exertions of which a very fallible judgment was capable. For any errors which may have flowed from this source, I feel all the regret which an anxiety for the public good can excite; not without the double consolation, however, arising from a consciousness of their being involuntary, and an experience of the candor which will interpret them. If there were any circumstances which could give value to my inferior qualifications for the trust, these circumstances must have been temporary. In this light was the undertaking viewed when I ventured upon it. Being, moreover, still further advanced into the decline of life, I am every day more sensible that the increasing weight of years renders the private walks of it in the shade of retirement as necessary as they will be acceptable to me.

V. The impressions under which he first accepted were explained on the proper occasion.

VI. In the execution of it, he has contributed the best exertions of a very fallible judgment—anticipated his insufficiency—experienced his disqualifications Edition: current; Page: [196] for the difficult trust, and every day a stronger sentiment from that cause to yield the place—advance into the decline of life—every day more sensible of weight of years, of the necessity of repose, of the duty to seek retirement, etc. Add,

May I be allowed to add that it will be among the highest, as well as the purest enjoyments that can sweeten the remnant of my days, to partake in a private station, in the midst of my fellow-citizens, of that benign influence of good laws under a free Government which has been the ultimate object of all our wishes, and in which I confide as the happy reward of our cares and labors!

VII. It will be among the purest enjoyments which can sweeten the remnant of his days, to partake in a private station, in the midst of his fellow-citizens, the laws of a free government, the ultimate object of his cares and wishes.

Edition: current; Page: [197]

May I be allowed further to add, as a consideration far more important, that an early example of rotation in an office of so high and delicate a nature may equally accord with the republican spirit of our Constitution, and the ideas of liberty and safety entertained by the people.

[Here followed a paragraph of Madison that Washington omitted.]

VIII. As to rotation.

In contemplating the moment at which the curtain is to drop forever on the public scenes of my life, my sensations anticipate, and do not permit me to suspend, the deep acknowledgments required by that debt of gratitude which I owe to my beloved country for the many honors it has conferred on me, for the distinguished confidence it has reposed in me, and for the opportunities I have thus enjoyed of testifying my inviolable attachment by the most stedfast services which my faculties could render. All the returns I have now to make will be in those vows which I shall carry with me to my retirement and to my grave, that Heaven may continue to favor the people of the United States with the choicest tokens of its beneficence; that their union and brotherly affection may be perpetual; that the free Constitution, which is the work of their own hands, may be sacredly maintained; that its administration in every Department may be stamped with wisdom and with virtue, and that this character may be ensured to it by that watchfulness over public servants and public measures which, on the one hand, will be necessary to prevent or correct a degeneracy, and that forbearance, on the other, from unfounded or indiscriminate jealousies, which would deprive the public of the best services by depriving a conscious integrity of one of the noblest incitements to perform them; that, in fine, the happiness of the people of America under the auspices of liberty may be made complete, by so careful a preservation and so prudent a use of this blessing as will acquire them the glorious satisfaction of recommending it to the affection, the praise, and the adoption, of every nation which is yet a stranger to it.

IX. In contemplating the moment of retreat, cannot forbear to express his deep acknowledgments and debt of gratitude for the many honors conferred on him—the steady confidence, which, even amidst discouraging scenes and efforts to poison its source, has adhered to support him, and enabled him to be useful—marking, if well placed, the virtue and wisdom of his countrymen. All the return he can now make must be in the vows he will carry with him to his retirement: 1st, for a continuance of the Divine beneficence to his country; 2d, for the perpetuity of their union and brotherly affection—for a good administration insured by a happy union of watchfulness and confidence; 3d, that happiness of people under auspices of liberty may be complete; 4th, that by a Edition: current; Page: [198] prudent use of the blessing they may recommend to the affection, the praise, and the adoption of every nation yet a stranger to it.

[Here all similarity between the two papers ceases, and I give the suggestions of each writer:—]

MADISON.

“And may we not dwell with well-grounded hopes on this flattering prospect, when we reflect on the many ties by which Edition: current; Page: [199] the people of America are bound together, and the many proofs they have given of an enlightened judgment and a magnanimous patriotism?

“We may all be considered as the children of one common country. We have all been embarked in one common cause. We have all had our share in common sufferings and common successes. The portion of the earth, allotted for the theatre of our fortunes, fulfils our most sanguine desires. All its essential interests are the same; while the diversities arising from climate, from soil, and from other local and lesser peculiarities, will naturally form a mutual relation of the parts, that may give to the whole a more entire independence, than has perhaps fallen to the lot of any other nation.

“To confirm these motives to an affectionate and permanent union, and to secure the great objects of it, we have established a common government, which, being free in its principles, being founded in our own choice, being intended as the guardian of our common rights, and the patron of our common interests, and wisely containing within itself a provision for its own amendment as experience may point out its errors, seems to promise every thing that can be expected from such an institution; and, if supported by wise counsels, by virtuous conduct, and by mutual and friendly allowances, must approach as near to perfection as any human work can aspire, and nearer than any which the annals of mankind have recorded.

“With these wishes and hopes I shall make my exit from civil life; and I have taken the same liberty of expressing them, which I formerly used in offering the sentiments which were suggested by my exit from military life.

“If, in either instance, I have presumed more than I ought, on the indulgence of my fellow-citizens, they will be too generous to ascribe it to any other cause, than the extreme solicitude which I am bound to feel, and which I can never cease to feel, for their liberty, their prosperity, and their happiness.”

HAMILTON.

X. Perhaps here he ought to end. But an unconquerable solicitude for the happiness of his country will not permit him to Edition: current; Page: [200] leave the scene without availing himself of whatever confidence may remain in him, to strengthen some sentiments which he believes to be essential to their happiness, and to recommend some rules of conduct, the importance of which his own experience has more than ever impressed upon him.

XI. To consider the union as the rock of their salvation, presenting summarily these ideas:

Safety, peace, and liberty and commerce.1. The strength and greater security from external danger.

2. Internal peace, and avoiding the necessity of establishments dangerous to liberty.

3. Avoids the effects of foreign intrigue.

4. Breaks the force of faction by rendering combinations more difficult.

Fitness of the parts for each other by their very discriminations:

1. The North, by its capacity for maritime strength and manufacture.

2. The agricultural South furnishing materials and requiring those protections.

The Atlantic board to the western country by the strong interest of peace, and

The Western, by the necessity of Atlantic maritime protection.

Cannot be secure of their great outlet otherwise—cannot trust a foreign connection.

Solid interests invite to union. Speculation of difficulty of government ought not to be indulged, nor momentary jealousies—lead to impatience.

Faction and individual ambition are the only advisers of disunion.

Let confidence be cherished. Let the recent experience of the West be a lesson against impatience and distrust.

XII. Cherish the actual government. It is the government of our own choice, free in its principles, the guardian of our common rights, the patron of our common interests, and containing within itself a provision for its own amendment.

But let that provision be cautiously used—not abused; changing only in any material points as experience shall direct; neither Edition: current; Page: [201] indulging speculations of too much or too little force in the system; and remembering always the extent of our country.

Time and habit of great consequence to every government, of whatever structure.

Discourage the spirit of faction, the bane of free government; and particularly avoid founding it on geographical discriminations. Discountenance slander of public men. Let the departments of government avoid interfering and mutual encroachment.

XIII. Morals, religion, industry, commerce, economy. Cherish public credit—source of strength and security. Adherence to systematic views.

XIV. Cherish good faith, justice, and peace, with other nations:

1. Because religion and morality dictate it.

2. Because policy dictates it.

If these could exist, a nation invariably honest and faithful, the benefits would be immense.

But avoid national antipathies or national attachments.

Display the evils; fertile source of wars—instrument of ambitious rulers.

XV. Republics peculiarly exposed to foreign intrigue, those sentiments lay them open to it.

XVI. The great rule of our foreign policies ought to be to have as little political connection as possible with foreign nations.

Establishing temporary and convenient rules that commerce may be placed on a stable footing; merchants know their commerce: how to support them, not seeking favors.Cultivating commerce with all by gentle and natural means, diffusing and diversifying it, but forcing nothing—and cherish the sentiment of independence, taking pride in the appellation of American.

XVII. Our separation from Europe renders standing alliances inexpedient—subjecting our peace and interest to the primary and complicated relations of European interests.

Keeping constantly in view to place ourselves upon a respectable defensive, and if forced into controversy, trusting to connections of the occasion.

XVIII. Our attitude imposing and rendering this policy safe

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But this must be with the exception of existing engagements, to be preserved but not extended.

XIX. It is not expected that these admonitions can control the course of the human passions, but if they only moderate them in some instances, and now and then excite the reflections of virtuous men heated by party spirit, my endeavor is rewarded.

XX. How far, in the administration of my present office my conduct has conformed to these principles, the public records must witness. My conscience assures me that I believed myself to be guided by them.

XXI. Particularly in relation to the present war, the proclamation of the 22d of April, 1793, is the key to my plan.Touch sentiments with regard to conduct of belligerent powers. A wish that France may establish good government. Approved by your voice and that of your representatives in Congress, the spirit of that measure has continually guided me, uninfluenced by, and regardless of, the complaints and attempts of any of the powers at war or their partisans to change them.

I thought our country had a right under all the circumstances to take this ground, and I was resolved as far as depended on me to maintain it firmly.Time everything.

XXII. However, in reviewing the course of my administration, I may be unconscious of intentional errors, I am too sensible of my own deficiencies not to believe that I may have fallen into many. I deprecate the evils to which they may tend, and pray Heaven to avert or mitigate and abridge them. I carry with me, nevertheless, the hope that my motives will continue to be viewed with indulgence, that after forty-five years of my life devoted to public service, with a good zeal and upright views, the faults of deficient abilities will be consigned to oblivion, and myself must soon be to the mansions of rest.

XXIII. Neither interest nor ambition has been my impelling motive. I never abused the power confided to me—I have not bettered my fortune, retiring with it, no otherwise improved than by the influence on property of the common blessings of my country:—I retire with undefiled hands and an uncorrupted heart, and with ardent vows for the welfare of that country, which has been the native soil of myself and my ancestors for four generations.

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HINTS, OR HEADS OF TOPICS.

“Had the situation of our public affairs continued to wear the same aspect they assumed at the time the foregoing address was drawn, I should not have taken the liberty of troubling you, my fellow-citizens, with any new sentiment, or with a repetition more in detail of those, which are therein contained; but considerable changes having taken place, both at home and abroad, I shall ask your indulgence while I express, with more lively sensibility, the following most ardent wishes of my heart.

“That party disputes among all the friends and lovers of their country may subside, or, as the wisdom of Providence has ordained that men on the same subjects shall not always think alike, that charity and benevolence, when they happen to differ, may so far shed their benign influence, as to banish those invectives, which proceed from illiberal prejudices and jealousy.

“That, as the All-wise Dispenser of human blessings has favored no nation of the earth with more abundant and substantial means of happiness than United America, we may not be so ungrateful to our Creator, so wanting to ourselves, and so regardless of posterity, as to dash the cup of beneficence, which is thus bountifully offered to our acceptance.

“That we may fulfil with the greatest exactitude all our engagements, foreign and domestic, to the utmost of our abilities, whensoever and in whatsoever manner they are pledged; for in public, as in private life, I am persuaded that honesty will for ever be found to be the best policy.

“That we may avoid connecting ourselves with the politics of any nation, farther than shall be found necessary to regulate our own trade, in order that commerce may be placed upon a stable footing, our merchants know their rights, and the government the ground on which those rights are to be supported.

“That every citizen would take pride in the name of an American, and act as if he felt the importance of the character, by considering, that we ourselves are now a distinct nation, the dignity of which will be absorbed, if not annihilated, if we enlist ourselves, farther than our obligations may require, under the banners of any other nation whatsoever. And, moreover, that Edition: current; Page: [204] we should guard against the intrigues of any and every foreign nation, who shall endeavor to intermingle, however covertly and indirectly, in the internal concerns of our country, or who shall attempt to prescribe rules for our policy with any other power, if there be no infraction of our engagements with themselves, as one of the greatest evils that can befall us as a people; for, whatever may be their professions, be assured, fellow-citizens, and the event will, as it always has, invariably prove, that nations as well as individuals act for their own benefit, and not for the benefit of others, unless both interests happen to be assimilated, and when that is the case there requires no contract to bind them together; that all their interferences are calculated to promote the former; and, in proportion as they succeed, will render us less independent. In a word, nothing is more certain, than that, if we receive favors we must grant favors; and it is not easy to decide beforehand under such circumstances as we are, on which side the balance will ultimately preponderate; but easy indeed is it to foresee, that it may involve us in disputes, and finally in war, to fulfil political alliances. Whereas, if there be no engagements on our part, we shall be unembarrassed, and at liberty at all times to act from circumstances, and the dictates of justice, sound policy, and our essential interests.

“That we may be always prepared for war, but never unsheath the sword except in self-defence, so long as justice, and our essential rights and national respectability, can be preserved without it; for without the gift of prophecy it may safely be pronounced, that, if this country can remain in peace twenty years longer (and I devoutly pray, that it may do so to the end of time), such, in all probability, will be its population, riches, and resources, when combined with its peculiarly happy and remote situation from the other quarters of the globe, as to bid defiance, in a just cause, to any earthly power whatsoever.

“That, whensoever and so long as we profess to be neutral, our public conduct, whatever our private affections may be, may accord therewith; without suffering partialities on one hand, or prejudices on the other, to control our actions. A contrary practice is not only incompatible with our declarations, but is pregnant with mischief, embarrassing to the administration, tending Edition: current; Page: [205] to divide us into parties, and ultimately productive of all those evils and horrors which proceed from faction.

“That our Union may be as lasting as time; for, while we are encircled in one band, we shall possess the strength of a giant, and there will be none who can make us afraid. Divide, and we shall become weak, a prey to foreign intrigues and internal discord, and shall be as miserable and contemptible, as we are now enviable and happy.

“That the several departments of government may be preserved in their utmost constitutional purity, without any attempt of one to encroach on the rights or privileges of another; that the general and State governments may move in their proper orbits; and that the authorities of our own constitution may be respected by ourselves, as the most certain means of having them respected by foreigners.

“In expressing these sentiments it will readily be perceived, that I can have no other view now, whatever malevolence might have ascribed to it before, than such as results from a perfect conviction of the utility of the measure. If public servants, in the exercise of their official duties, are found incompetent, or pursuing wrong courses, discontinue them. If they are guilty of mal-practices in office, let them be more exemplarily punished. In both cases, the constitution and laws have made provision; but do not withdraw your confidence from them, the best incentive to a faithful discharge of their duty, without just cause; nor infer, because measures of a complicated nature, which time, opportunity, and close investigation alone can penetrate, for these reasons are not easily comprehended by those, who do not possess the means, that it necessarily follows they must be wrong. This would not only be doing injustice to your trustees, but be counteracting your own essential interests, rendering those trustees, if not contemptible in the eyes of the world, little better at least than ciphers in the administration of the government, and the constitution of your own choosing would reproach you for such conduct.”

CONCLUSION.

As this Address, fellow-citizens, will be the last I shall ever make you, and as some of the gazettes of the United States have Edition: current; Page: [206] teemed with all the invective that disappointment, ignorance of facts, and malicious falsehoods could invent, to misrepresent my politics and affections; to wound my reputation and feelings; and to weaken if not entirely destroy the confidence you had been pleased to repose in me; it might be expected at the parting scene of my public life, that I should take some notice of such virulent abuse. But, as heretofore, I shall pass them over in utter silence; never having myself, nor by any other with my participation or knowledge, written, or published a scrap in answer to any of them. My politics have been unconcealed, plain and direct. They will be found (so far as they relate to the belligerent powers) in the proclamation of the 22d. of April, 1793; which, having met your approbation, and the confirmation of Congress, I have uniformly and steadily adhered to, uninfluenced by and regardless of the complaints and attempts of any of those powers or their partisans to change them.

The acts of my administration are on record. By these, which will not change with circumstances nor admit of different interpretations I expect to be judged. If they will not acquit me, in your estimation, it will be a source of regret; but I shall hope notwithstanding, as I did not seek the office with which you have honored me, that charity may throw her mantle over my want of abilities to do better—that the gray hairs of a man who has, excepting the interval between the close of the Revolutionary War and the organization of the new government—either in a civil, or military character, spent five and forty years—all the prime of his life—in serving his country, be suffered to pass quietly to the grave—and that his errors, however numerous, if they are not criminal, may be consigned to the tomb of oblivion, as he himself soon will be to the mansions of retirement.

To err is the lot of humanity, and never for a moment, have I ever had the presumption to suppose that I had not a full proporportion of it. Infallibility not being the attribute of man, we ought to be cautious in censuring the opinions and conduct of one another. To avoid intentional error in my public conduct has been my constant endeavor; and I set malice at defiance to charge me justly, with the commission of a wilful one; or, with the neglect of any public duty, which in my opinion ought to Edition: current; Page: [207] have been performed, since I have been in the administration of the government,—an administration which I do not hesitate to pronounce—the infancy of the government, and all other circumstances considered—that has been as difficult, delicate, and trying as may occur again in any future period of our history; through the whole of which I have to the best of my judgment, and with the best information and advice I could obtain, consulted the true and permanent interest of my country without regard to local considerations—to individuals—to parties—or to nations.

To conclude, and I feel proud in having it in my power to do so with truth, that it was not from ambitious views; it was not from ignorance of the hazard to which I knew I was exposing my reputation; it was not from an expectation of pecuniary compensation, that I have yielded to the calls of my country; and that, if my country has derived no benefit from my services, my fortune, in a pecuniary point of view, has received no augmentation from my country. But in delivering this last sentiment, let me be unequivocally understood as not intending to express any discontent on my part, or to imply any reproach on my country on that account. [The first would be untrue—the other ungrateful. And no occasion more fit than the present may ever occur perhaps to declare, as I now do declare, that nothing but the principle upon which I set out, and from which I have in no instance departed, not to receive more from the public than my expenses, has restrained the bounty of several legislatures at the close of the war with Great Britain from adding considerably to my pecuniary resources.]1 I retire from the chair of government no otherwise benefitted in this particular than what you have all experienced from the increased value of property, flowing from the peace and prosperity with which our country has been blessed amidst tumults which have harrassed and involved other countries in all the horrors of war. I leave you with undefiled hands, an uncorrupted heart, and with ardent vows to Heaven for the welfare and happiness of that country in which I and my forefathers, to the third or fourth progenitor, drew our first breath.

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George Washington
Washington, George
22 May, 1796
Philadelphia
Thomas Pinckney
Pinckney, Thomas

TO THOMAS PINCKNEY.
[PRIVATE.]

Dear Sir:

To my letters of the 20th of February and 5th of March I beg leave to refer you for the disclosure of my sentiments on the subjects then mentioned to you. Very soon afterwards a long and animated discussion in the House of Representatives respecting the treaty of amity, commerce, and navigation with Great Britain, took place, and continued in one shape or another untill the last of April, suspending in a manner all other business, and agitating the public mind in a higher degree than it has been at any period since the revolution. And nothing, I believe, but the torrent of petitions and remonstrances, which were pouring in from all the eastern and middle States, and were beginning to come pretty strongly from that of Virginia, requiring the necessary provisions for carrying the treaty into effect, would have produced a division (fifty-one to forty-eight) in favor of the appropriation.

But as the debates, which I presume will be sent to you from the department of State, will give you a view of this business more in detail than I am able to do, I shall refer you to them. The enclosed speech, however, made by Mr. Ames at the close of the discussion, I send to you; because, in the opinion of most, who heard it delivered or have read it since, his reasoning is unanswerable.1

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The doubtful issue of the dispute, and the real difficulty in finding a character to supply your place at the court of London, has occasioned a longer delay than may have been convenient or agreeable to you. But as Mr. King of the Senate, who it seems had resolved to quit his seat at that board, has accepted the appointment, and will embark as soon as matters can be arranged, you will soon be relieved.

In my letter of the 20th of February, I expressed in pretty strong terms my sensibility on account of the situation of the Marquis de Lafayette. This is increased by the visible distress of his son, who is now with me, and grieving for the unhappy fate of his parents. This circumstance, giving a poignancy to my own feelings, has induced me to go a step farther than I did in the letter above mentioned, as you will perceive by the enclosed address (a copy of which is also transmitted for your information) to the Emperor of Germany, to be forwarded by you in such a manner, and under such auspices, as in your judgment shall be deemed best; or to arrest it, if from the evidence before you, derived from former attempts, it shall appear clear that it would be of no avail to send it.

Before I close this letter, permit me to request the favor of you to embrace some favorable occasion to thank Lord Grenville in my behalf, for his politeness in causing a special permit to be sent to Liverpool for the shipment of two sacks of the field peas, and the like quantity of winter vetches, which I had requested our consul at that place to send me for seed, Edition: current; Page: [210] but which it seems could not be done without an order from government; a circumstance which did not occur to me, or I certainly should not have given it the trouble of issuing one for such a trifle. With very great esteem, I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
8 June, 1796
Philada.
Cyrus Griffin
Griffin, Cyrus

TO CYRUS GRIFFIN.

Sir,

I am sorry, that, without being accused, you should think it necessary to go into a lengthy justification of your conduct and principles.

What the entire design of your letter of the 23d ulto. may be, I am at a loss to conceive, and, pressed as I have been, and still am, on all sides, in the discharge of my public functions, I have no leisure to enquire. If the object of it (among other things) is to intimate that you have been overlooked in some recent appointments, I can only say, that nominations are made from the view I am able to take of the cases which come before me; in doing which, I have often, if not always, where the appointments are not of a local nature, found it necessary to combine a variety of considerations none of which, however, have originated from a desire to serve a friend or relation; or a wish to oblige this or that man—or set of men; but from the information I can obtain (where I have no personal knowledge) of the fitness of characters to offices.—

That I may have erred, and in many instances made injudicious nominations, is highly probable,—wonderful Edition: current; Page: [211] indeed would it be, if the case was otherwise; but numerous, and chagreening as disappointments may have been to individuals (and abundant they are) I can defy malignancy itself to ascribe partiality, or interested motives to any of my nominations;—or omissions, to prejudice or dislike.—I have naught therefore, on this score, to reproach myself with.—

For the attachment you have professed for my person and administration, I pray you to accept my best thanks, and the assurances of the esteem & regard with which I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
9 June, 1796
Philadelphia
Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy

TO TIMOTHY PICKERING, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Sir,

The instructions for Mr. King, herewith returned, appear to me to be proper. To them, however, I think might be added a desire, that he should attempt to remove any doubts, which may arise in the construction of the article relative to our trade with the East Indies; and to get relieved, if it be practicable, from the restrictions on our vessels going from thence with their cargoes to China.

I shall not impede the forwarding of the other instructions to the accomptant for the British spoliations, as they are now drawn. At the same time, I cannot forbear observing, that I think £500 sterling would have been ample compensation for such a character.

1st, because no such officer was conceived necessary Edition: current; Page: [212] by the negotiators of the Treaty, nor provided for in the estimate to Congress.

2d, because, among other inducements to the appointment of Mr. Gore, his supposed knowledge of commerce was one, (a legal and commercial character being deemed necessary for the purposes of the commission.)—Why, then, it may be asked, seek for the latter character in an accomptant of new creation, uncontemplated by the treaty? And this question, more than probable, will be accompanied with the charge of favoritism to the wishes of the person designated and his friends.

And 3d, because our secretaries of legation are not allowed half what is proposed to be given as compensation to this accomptant. I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
12 June, 1796
Philadelphia
David Humphreys
Humphreys, David

TO DAVID HUMPHREYS.

My dr. Humphreys

I could not suffer Captain O’Brien to return without carrying along with him this evidence of my continued regard and friendship for you. In expressing of which I shall be concise, for a long and interesting session closed only the first day of this month—many laws which require immediate attention and execution; added to a preparation for a journey to Mount Vernon (tomorrow) for a little relaxation from the unpleasant scenes which have been and are continually presenting themselves to my view, will not, however well disposed I might otherwise be, permit me to be profuse.

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From the office of State you will receive every thing that relates to business; and the gazettes, which I presume accompany the despatches, will bring you pretty well acquainted with the state of politics and of parties in this country; and shew you in what manner I am attacked for a steady opposition to every measure which has a tendency to disturb the peace and tranquillity of it. But these attacks, unjust and unpleasant as they are, will occasion no change in my conduct; nor will they work any other effect in my mind, than to increase the anxious desire which has long possessed my breast to enjoy in the shades of retirement the consolation of having rendered my country every service my abilities were competent to, uninfluenced by pecuniary or ambitious considerations as they respected myself, and without any attempt to provide for my friends farther than their merits, abstractedly entitle them to—nor an attempt in any instance to bring a relation of mine into office. Malignity therefore may dart her shafts; but no earthly power can deprive me of the consolation of knowing that I have not in the course of my administration been guilty of a wilful error, however numerous they may have been from other causes. When you shall think with the poet that “the post of honor is a private station,” I may be inclined to enjoy yourself in my shades—(I do not mean the shades below where, if you put it off long, I may be) I can only tell you that you will meet with the same cordial reception at Mount Vernon that you have always experienced at that place, and that I am, &c.

Edition: current; Page: [214]
George Washington
Washington, George
24 June, 1796
Mount Vernon
Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy

TO TIMOTHY PICKERING, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Sir,

The information contained in a letter, of which the enclosed is a correct copy, (with a reservation only of names agreeably to the request of the writer,) may serve as a comment upon the conduct of the owner of the privateer Flying-Fish, and as a development also of the intentions of the French government, so far as it relates to the commerce of the United States with Great Britain.1 The communications in the last numbers of the Aurora, (that I have seen,) afford still further evidence of this system, and are calculated most evidently to prepare the public mind for this event, at the same time that they labor to make it appear, that the treaty with that country is the cause of such conduct in France.

The source from which the information comes cannot, as to its authenticity and knowledge of facts, be Edition: current; Page: [215] doubted; of course, if the persons through whom it has passed to the reciter are not mistaken in their details, the most entire credit is to be given to the account.

Under these impressions, and the serious aspect which they present, it is my request that you and the Secretaries of the Treasury and War would meet; consult the treaties, the laws of nations, and of the U. States, which have any relation to the subject; and, after mature deliberation, to report to me your opinions of the measures, which you conceive ought to be adopted under such information and circumstances particularly.

1. Whether immediate explanation should be asked on this subject from the minister of the French Republic in Philadelphia; and in that case, (which I am inclined to think is right,) to proceed, without the delay of sending to me, to make the requisition accordingly, unless, from the tenor of the answer to the letter you had drafted before I left Philadelphia respecting the capture of the Mount Vernon, it should in your judgment be unnecessary.

2. Whether there is power in the executive, and, in that case, whether it would be expedient in the recess of the Senate, to send an extra character to Paris to explain the views of this government, and to ascertain those of France; and, in the affirmative of these, to suggest for my consideration the names of such persons as in your opinions are best qualified to subserve these purposes.

I shall expect to hear fully from you on this interesting subject, and shall only add, that if, in the investigation Edition: current; Page: [216] of it, my presence in Philadelphia is deemed necessary, or if any other occurrence should require my return before the time I had allotted for it, I can and will set out for that place as soon as I am advertised of the necessity. I am, &c.1

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George Washington
Washington, George
26 June, 1796
Mount Vernon
Alexander Hamilton
Hamilton, Alexander

TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON.

My Dear Sir:

Your letter without date came to my hands by Wednesday’s post, and by the first post afterwards I communicated the purport of it (withholding the names) to the Secretary of State, with directions to bestow the closest attention to the subject, and, if the application which had been made to the Minister of France, consequent on the capture of the ship Mount Vernon had not produced such an answer as Edition: current; Page: [218] to supersede the necessity, then to endeavor to obtain such explanation of the views of the French government relatively to our commerce with Great Britain, as the nature of the case appeared to require.

That the fact is as has been represented to you, I have very little if any doubt. Many, very many circumstances, are continually happening in confirmation of it; among which, it is evident, Bache’s paper, which receives and gives the tone, is endeavoring to prepare the public mind for this event, by representing it as the predicted and natural consequence of the ratification of the treaty with Great Britain.

Let me ask, therefore, Do you suppose that the Executive, in the recess of the Senate, has power, in such a case as the one before us, especially if the measure should not be avowed by authority, to send a special character to Paris as Envoy Extraordinary, to give and receive explanations? And if there be a doubt, whether it is not probable, nay, more than probable that the French Directory would, in the present state of things, avail themselves of the unconstitutionality of the measure to decline receiving him? The policy of delay, to avoid explanations, would induce them to adopt any pretext to accomplish it. Their reliance upon a party in this country for support would stimulate them to this conduct; and we may be assured they will not be deficient in the most minute details of every occurrence and every opinion worthy of communication. If, then, an envoy cannot be sent to Paris without the agency of the Senate, will the information you have received, admitting Edition: current; Page: [219] it should be realized, be sufficient ground for convening that body?

These are serious things; they may be productive of serious consequences, and therefore require very serious and cool deliberation. Admitting, however, that the powers of the President during the recess were adequate to such an appointment, where is the character who would go, and unites the proper qualifications for such a mission, and would not be obnoxious to one party or the other? and what should be done with Mr. M[onroe] in that case?

As the affairs of this country, in their administration, receive great embarrassment from the conduct of characters among ourselves, and as every act of the Executive is misrepresented and tortured with a view to make it appear odious, the aid of the friends to government is peculiarly necessary under such circumstances and at such a crisis as the present. It is unnecessary, therefore, to add, that I should be glad, upon the present and all other important occasions, to receive yours; and as I have great confidence in the abilities and purity of Mr. Jay’s views, as well as in his experience, I should wish that his sentiments on the purport of this letter, and other interesting matters as they occur, may accompany yours; for having no other wish than to promote the true and permanent interests of this country, I am anxious always to compare the opinions of those in whom I confide with one another, and those again (without being bound by them) with my own, that I may extract all the good I can.

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Having from a variety of reasons (among which a disinclination to be longer buffeted in the public prints by a set of infamous scribblers) taken my ultimate determination “to seek the post of honor in a private station,” I regret exceedingly that I did not publish my valedictory address the day after the adjournment of Congress. This would have preceded the canvassing for electors (which is commencing with warmth in this State). It would have been announcing publicly, what seems to be very well understood, and is industriously propagated privately. It would have removed doubts from the minds of all, and left the field clear for all. It would, by having preceded any unfavorable change in our foreign relations (if any should happen), render my retreat less difficult and embarrassing. And it might have prevented the remarks which, more than probable, will follow a late annunciatiation—namely, that I delayed it long enough to see that the current was turned against me, before I declared my intention to decline. This is one of the reasons which makes me a little tenacious of the draught I furnished you with, to be modified and corrected.

Having passed, however, what now I conceive would have been the precise moment to have addressed my constituents, let me ask your opinion (under a full conviction that nothing will shake my determination to withdraw) of the next best time, considering the present, and what may, probably, be the existing state of things at different periods previous to the election; or rather the middle of October, Edition: current; Page: [221] beyond which the promulgation of my intentions cannot be delayed. Let me hear from you as soon as it it convenient, and be assured always of the sincere esteem and affectionate regard of.1

Edition: current; Page: [222]
George Washington
Washington, George
1 July, 1796
Mount Vernon
James McHenry
McHenry, James

TO JAMES McHENRY, SECRETARY OF WAR.

Sir,

Your letter of the 27th ulto. by Post, with its enclosures, (the originals of which I return,) came to my hands on Wednesday; and your other letters of the 27th and 28th, by Express, was received about five o’clock yesterday afternoon.1

The accounts brought in the latter are very pleasing indeed, inasmuch as they will serve to remove the doubts of the credulous (with respect to the Western Posts); and, when realized, be productive of that tranquillity and peace with the Indians, which in itself is so desirable, and has been so much wished and sought for by every real friend to his country.

It is my desire, that the charges exhibited against General Wayne by Brigadier Wilkinson, with the letters of crimination on both sides, should be laid before the heads of departments; and your and their opinions reported to me on the measures necessary Edition: current; Page: [223] to be pursued to do justice to the Public, the accused, and the accuser; as also when and by whom the inquiry is to be made, with the preliminary steps necessary thereto.

There are no Officers, I conceive, of sufficient rank to constitute a Court before whom the Commander-in-chief can be brought. Is the matter then to come before Congress? In what manner? My first impression relative to this business, (though not maturely or distinctly formed,) is, that General Wayne ought immediately to be furnished with a copy of all the charges exhibited against him by the Brigadier, in order, as many of them are of old standing, that he may have time allowed him to recollect circumstances; and to see what counter evidence can be produced, or what satisfactory explanations can be given, that he may not be unprepared for trial whensoever he is called upon.

It may be well, if it can be accomplished by civil expressions, to stimulate the present governor of Tennessee to an effectual repression of incroachments on Indian Territory, (secured to them by Treaties); but the honor of the government and the Peace of the Union require, that, if he is not decisive, the Laws relative thereto be not suspended or trifled with, but, promptly and energetically (with temper and prudence) enforced.

I will not speak upon the new model of the army now, but will take more time to consider the scheme for resolving the Legion into four Regiments, on the plan you have suggested.

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In speaking of the Generals Wayne and Wilkinson, I omitted to add, as my opinion, that the latter, (if leave has not been given already), ought to obtain the furlough he has asked as soon as the former joins the Army; for no good will result from both being with it in the irritable temper they are in at the same time.

George Washington
Washington, George
4 July, 1796
Mount Vernon
Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy

TO TIMOTHY PICKERING, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Sir,

The Spanish minister, M. de Yrujo, spent two days with me, and is just gone. I caused it to be intimated to him, that, as I should be absent from the seat of the government until the middle or latter end of August, that I was ready to receive his letter of credence at this place. He answered, as I understood it, that his credentials were with his baggage on its passage to Philadelphia, and that his reception at that place, at the time mentioned, would be perfectly convenient and agreeable to himself. He is a young man, very free and easy in his manners, professes to be well-disposed towards the United States, and, as far as a judgment can be formed on so short an acquaintance, appears to be well-informed.

Enclosed are two letters from the governor of Pennsylvania, applying for the aid of the general government to execute effectually the quarantine he had proclaimed. I left Philadelphia under an impression, that circular letters had been written by the Edition: current; Page: [225] Secretary of the Treasury to the collectors of the different ports, and by the Secretary of War to the officers commanding the garrisons on the sea-board, to pay proper attention to the act of Congress relative to quarantine.

From the application of Governor Mifflin the presumption is, that there has been an omission somewhere. Let me desire that you and the other two gentlemen would meet and see where it lies, that a remedy may be immediately applied. And I request that you will acknowledge the receipt of the Governor’s letters, and inform him of what is or will be done.

I desire to be informed also, if any thing is or can be done relatively to the appointment of an Indian agent in place of Governor Blount, and others for carrying on the trade authorized by Congress with those people. I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
4 July, 1796
Mount Vernon
Gustavus Scott
Scott, Gustavus

TO GUSTAVUS SCOTT.

Sir:

If the public despatches which I receive, and am obliged to answer by every Post would permit, I would go more into detail and explanation of the subject of your last (seperate letter), than it is possible for me to do at present. I will not, however, let it pass without some further expression of my ideas; and the understanding I always had of your entrance into the office you now hold, in the Federal City.

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That the Secretary of State’s letter to you (which I have not by me at this place to resort to) may have been so worded as to leave the alternative of residing in the City, or in George Town, is not necessary, if it was justifiable, to deny; because a change of circumstances would certainly authorize a change of measures. But independent of this, it must not be forgotten, that at the time the letter above alluded to was written, such an alternative was indispensable, for as much as there were no convenient accommodations for the Commissioners in the City, and because houses could not be erected in a moment, under the circumstances which then existed. In addition to this, let it be remembered, also, that the first Commissioners, sensible of the propriety and advantages which would result therefrom, had resolved to build a house for their own accommodation at or near the spot where the Hotel now stands; and were diverted from it (if my memory serves me) partly by two causes:—first, from a doubt of the propriety of such an application of public money; and 2ndly, from an opinion that they could be accommodated in the Hotel, when built,—which, it was expected, would have happened long since.

I mention these things to show there has been no inconsistency in my sentiments or conduct; and that to enable the Commissioners to comply with the views of government, and to devote their time to its service, the present compensation was resolved on.

Your other allegation is of a more serious nature; and if deception withdrew you from what you deemed Edition: current; Page: [227] a permanent establishment at Baltimore, it cannot be justified. But be assured, Sir, this is a new view of the subject; and that the proposal to you, to become a Commissioner, originated in assurances, confidently given to me, that you had resolved to remove to the Federal City, or to George Town; and because I knew you had a considerable interest in the vicinity of them. Was not the first application to you predicated on this information?

But I must be explicit in declaring, that not only to obviate the suspicions and jealousies which proceed from a residence of the Commissioners without the City, or in a remote corner of it, not only that they may be where the busy and important scenes are transacting, that they may judge of the conduct of others not from reports only, but from ocular proof, as the surest guide to œconomy and despatch;—independent, I say, of these considerations, which are momentous of themselves, I should view the residence of the Commissioners of the City and their officers of different grades, in some central part of it as a nest egg (pardon the expression) which will attract others, and prove the surest means of accomplishing the great object which all have in view—the removal of Congress at the appointed time—without which, every thing will become stagnant, and your sanguine hopes blasted.

To be frank, I must give it to you as my opinion, that in relation to the concerns of the City, the Commissioners stand precisely in the same light (if not in a stronger one) that each does to any interesting Edition: current; Page: [228] matter in a train of execution for himself.—Would you, then, notwithstanding you may have an architect to carry on your buildings on Rock Hill, and a man to superintend your attending laborers, trust to their proceeding without your minute inspection of their conduct? I think, and am sure, you will answer, no. I do not mean by this question to exhibit a charge, for I do as truly tell you, that I do not know, or ever heard, how often you visit your own concerns there. It is upon general principles I argue. A man of industry and exertion will not, on his own account, have a work of that sort on hand without giving close attention to it. And certain it is, the obligation (because of the responsibility) is at least equally great when entrusted by the Public.

After all, as the season is now far advanced, houses, in the situation I have described as most eligable, may not be to be rented. I am not unwilling that the removal of the Commissioners, if they find much inconvenience in doing it, may be suspended until the commencement of the operations of next spring, when it will certainly be expected, and if known, I have no doubt but that houses will be prepared for their accommodation by that time.

You will, from the length of this letter, with difficulty, give credit to my assertion in the beginning of it; but as a proof, not only of its verity, but of the friendship and candor with which it is written, it shall go to you in its present rough garb; and with all its imperfections, accompanied with assurances of the esteem and regard, &c.

Edition: current; Page: [229]
George Washington
Washington, George
6 July, 1796
Mount Vernon
Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson, Thomas

TO THOMAS JEFFERSON.

Dear Sir,

When I inform you, that your letter of the 19th ultimo1 went to Philadelphia and returned to this place before it was received by me, it will be admitted, I am persuaded, as an apology for my not having acknowledged the receipt of it sooner.

If I had entertained any suspicions before, that the queries, which have been published in Bache’s paper, proceeded from you, the assurances you have given of the contrary would have removed them; but the truth is, I harbored none.2 I am at no loss to conjecture from what source they flowed, through what channel they were conveyed, and for what purpose they and similar publications appear. They were known to be in the hands of Mr. Parker in the early part of the last session of Congress. They were shown about by Mr. Giles during the session, and they made their public exhibition about the close of it.

Perceiving and probably hearing, that no abuse in the gazettes would induce me to take notice of anonymous publications against me, those, who were disposed to do me such friendly offices, have embraced without restraint every opportunity to weaken the confidence of the people; and, by having the whole game in their hands, they have scrupled not to publish things that do not, as well as those which do Edition: current; Page: [230] exist, and to mutilate the latter, so as to make them subserve the purposes which they have in view.

As you have mentioned the subject yourself, it would not be frank, candid, or friendly to conceal, that your conduct has been represented as derogating from that opinion I had conceived you entertained of me; that, to your particular friends and connexions you have described and they have denounced, me as a person under a dangerous influence; and that, if I would listen more to some other opinions, all would be well. My answer invariably has been, that I had never discovered any thing in the conduct of Mr. Jefferson to raise suspicions in my mind of his insincerity; that, if he would retrace my public conduct while he was in the administration, abundant proofs would occur to him, that truth and right decisions were the sole objects of my pursuit; that there were as many instances within his own knowledge of my having decided against as in favor of the opinions of the person evidently alluded to; and, moreover, that I was no believer in the infallibility of the politics or measures of any man living.1 In short, that I was no party man myself, and the first wish of my heart was, if parties did exist, to reconcile them.

To this I may add, and very truly, that, until within the last year or two, I had no conception that parties would or even could go the length I have been witness to; nor did I believe until lately, that it was within the bounds of probability, hardly within those of possibility, that, while I was using my utmost Edition: current; Page: [231] exertions to establish a national character of our own, independent, as far as our obligations and justice would permit, of every nation of the earth, and wished, by steering a steady course, to preserve this country from the horrors of a desolating war, I should be accused of being the enemy of one nation, and subject to the influence of another; and, to prove it, that every act of my administration would be tortured, and the grossest and most insidious misrepresentations of them be made, by giving one side only of a subject, and that too in such exaggerated and indecent terms as could scarcely be applied to a Nero, a notorious defaulter, or even to a common pickpocket. But enough of this, I have already gone further in the expression of my feelings than I intended.1

The particulars of the case you mention (relative to the Little Sarah) is a good deal out of my recollection at present, and I have no public papers here to resort to. When I get back to Philadelphia (which, unless I am called there by something new, will not be ’till towards the last of August) I will examine my files.

It must be pleasing to a cultivator to possess Land which will yield Clover kindly, for it is certainly a great desideratum in husbandry. My soil, without Edition: current; Page: [232] very good dressings, does not produce it well, owing, I believe, to its stiffness, hardness at bottom, and retention of water. A farmer, in my opinion, need never despair of raising wheat to advantage, upon a Clover lay, with a single ploughing agreeably to the Norfolk and Suffolk practice. By a misconception of my manager last year, a field at one of my farms, which I intended should have been fallowed for wheat, went untouched. Unwilling to have my crop of wheat at that place so much reduced, as would have been occasioned by this omission, I directed, as soon as I returned from Philada. about the middle of September, another field not in the usual rotation, which had lain out two years, and well covered with mixed grasses, principally white clover, to be turned over with a good bar share and the wheat to be sown and harrowed in at the tail of the plough. It was done so accordingly, and was, by odds, the best wheat I made this year. It exhibits an unequivocal proof to my mind of the great advantage of Clover lay for wheat. Our crops of this article, hereabouts, are more or less injured by what some call the rot, others the scab—occasioned, I believe, by high winds and beating rain when the grain is in blossom, and before the farina has performed its duties.

Desirous of trying the field peas of England, and the winter vetch, I sent last fall to Mr. Maury, of Liverpool, for 8 bushels of each sort. Of the peas he sent me two kinds, a white and dark; but not having the letter by me, I am unable to give the names. They did not arrive until the latter end of Edition: current; Page: [233] April; when they ought to have been in the ground the beginning of March. They were sown, however, but will yield no seed; of course the experiment I intended to make is lost. The vetch is yet on hand for autumn seeding. That the Albany peas will grow well with us, I know from my own experience; but they are subject to the same bug which perforates and injures the garden peas, and will do the same I fear to the imported peas of any sort from England, in this climate, from the heat of it.

I do not know what is meant by, or to what uses the Caroline drill is applied. How does your Chicorium prosper? Four years since I exterminated all the plants raised from seed sent me by Mr. Young, and to get into it again, the seed I purchased in Philada. last winter and what has been sent me by Mr. Maury this spring has cost me upwards of twelve pounds sterling. This, it may be observed, is a left handed way to make money; but the first was occasioned by the Manager I then had, who pretended to know it well in England and pronounced it a noxious weed. The restoration of it, is indebted to Mr. Strickland, and others (besides Mr. Young) who speak of it in exalted terms. I sowed mine broad cast; some with and some without grain. It has come up well; but there seems to be a serious struggle between it and the grass and weeds; the issue of which (as I can afford no relief to the former) is doubtful at present, and may be useful to know.

If you can bring a moveable threshing machine, constructed upon simple principles to perfection, it Edition: current; Page: [234] will be among the most valuable institutions in this country, for nothing is more wanting and to be wished for on our farms.

Mrs. Washington begs you to accept her best wishes, and with very great esteem and regard, I am, dear Sir, yours, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
6 July, 1796
Mount Vernon
Charles Lee
Lee, Charles

TO CHARLES LEE, ATTORNEY-GENERAL.

Sir,

Having shown you the answer of the French minister to the communication of the Secretary of State, relatively to the capture of the ship Mount Vernon by the french privateer Flying-Fish. Having read you, also, the contents of a Letter from S—, respecting information from St. Domingo, of the intended measures of the French government to harass our commerce with Great Britain, and also my letter to the Secretary of State on that subject, to which I have by the last mail received the enclosed acknowledgment; let me now ask what you think of the opinion therein given respecting the recall of our minister at Paris? Whether that act will authorize the appointment of an envoy extraordinary, or minister plenipotentiary? Whether it is, in that case, expedient to do it under present circumstances, as far as they are known, or wait a further developement of his conduct, and the views of the Directory of France? And, in case it is judged expedient to send a person to Paris to explain the motives of the conduct of this government, and to ascertain the views of that, Edition: current; Page: [235] whether you think either of the characters mentioned in the Secretary of State’s letter would go? and whether there be any other occurring to you as eligable? Would Dr. McClurg go? And does he possess fit abilities, if he would accept?

Answer all these queries as soon as you conveniently can; and let me have the draft you promised (on Monday last,) for the purpose of supplying the deficiency in the act for the relief of seamen.

Make frequent inquiries for a fit character to fill the office of surveyor-general. I wish much to have it ably executed. I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
8 July, 1796
Mount Vernon
Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy

TO TIMOTHY PICKERING, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Sir,

My letters to the Secretary of the Treasury, of the 4th and 6th instant, with the present enclosure, convey fully the sentiments of the Attorney-General with respect to the best mode of executing the act “for the relief and protection of American seamen.” He has, since his opinion was transmitted in the above letter of the 6th, consulted two of our most eminent lawyers in these parts, and finds an entire accordance of opinion. I request, therefore, that the measure recommended may be pursued.

Your letters of the 1st and 2d instant, with several enclosures in the latter, came safe and duly to hand. After that serious consideration, which the subject deserves, I have determined to recall the American minister at Paris, and am taking measures to supply his Edition: current; Page: [236] place; but, the more the latter is revolved, the greater the difficulties appear to do it ably and unexceptionably. By this I mean the selecting of one, who will promote, not thwart, the neutral policy of the government, and at the same time will not be obnoxious to the people among whom he is sent.

Proofs little short of positive are already in my possession, that neither Mr. Henry nor Mr. Marshall would accept of such an appointment. The chances against General Pinckney’s doing it are strong, though not quite so great; and, with respect to Mr. Smith, although it would be a very agreeable choice to me, I am sure it would not concenter those opinions, which policy would require. Mr. Carroll of Carrollton, though sensible and attached to federal measures, would find himself on quite new ground, and, besides, he has such large concerns of his own to attend to, and is so tenacious of them, that it is morally certain he would not be prevailed on to go.

Having taken this view of the subject, I am by this day’s post writing to General Pinckney. This letter I shall enclose to Mr. Marshall (as he is in the line, Mr. Henry being much out of it), to be forwarded, or returned, as he shall decide with respect to himself. In the mean time, as the offer ends with General Pinckney, other characters should be held in contemplation in case of his refusal.1

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The letter to the minister plenipotentiary of France in Philadelphia appears to be well conceived, and is accordingly approved. The transmitted copy of Mr. Monroe’s letter to — must be erroneously dated “Paris, June 24, 1796,” I presume it is in the year, and should be 1795. I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
8 July, 1796
Mount Vernon
Charles Cotesworth Pinckney
Pinckney, Charles Cotesworth

TO CHARLES COTESWORTH PINCKNEY.
[PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL.]

My dear Sir,

The situation of affairs, and the interests of this country, as they relate to France, render it indispensably necessary, that a faithful organ near that government, able and willing to explain its views and to ascertain those of France, should immediately fill the place of our present minister plenipotentiary at Paris.

Policy requires that this character should be well attached to the government of his own country, and not obnoxious to the one to which he is sent to be essentially serviceable. Where then can a man be Edition: current; Page: [238] found that would answer this description better than yourself?

It is a fact too notorious to be denied, that the greatest embarrassments, under which the administration of this government labors, proceed from the counteraction of people among ourselves, who are more disposed to promote the views of another nation, than to establish a national character of their own; and that, unless the virtuous and independent men of this country will come forward, it is not difficult to predict the consequences. Such is my decided opinion.

After what has passed between us on former occasions, (respecting your filling some of the important offices in our government,) I must confess, that I hesitated before I resolved on this address, lest you might think I was too importunate, and that your former answer ought to have superseded the desire of making it.

Had not the case been important and urgent, I might have hesitated longer; but, in finding a character of the description I have mentioned, you will be at no loss to perceive the difficulty which occurs. He must be a man, whose abilities and celebrity of character are well known to the people of this country, whose honor and integrity are unimpeached, and who ought, as far as the nature of the case will admit, to be acceptable to all parties. Doubtless many such there are; but those, who have been either in the executive or legislative departments of the general government, and are best known to me, have been so Edition: current; Page: [239] decisive in their politics, and possibly so frank and public in their declarations, as to render it very difficult to choose from among them one, in whom the confidence of this country could be placed, and the prejudices of the others not excited.

Thus, my good Sir, you have a candid exposition of my sentiments and wishes. I have only to add to them a request, that you would be so obliging as to give me a prompt answer, and, if in the affirmative, that you would repair to Philadelphia, prepared to proceed on the mission with as little delay as can be. Possibly you might have less objection to the excursion, if it would occasion a few months’ absence only, than to a permanent residence; but the power of the executive, in the recess of the Senate, extends only to the filling of vacancies; and one will be occasioned by the recall of the present incumbent, a measure resolved on. It is unnecessary to add how much and how sincerely I am, dear Sir, &c.1

Edition: current; Page: [240]
George Washington
Washington, George
13 July, 1796
Mount Vernon
James McHenry
McHenry, James

TO JAMES McHENRY, SECRETARY OF WAR.
[PRIVATE.]

Dear Sir,

The purport of your private letter of the 7th instant, (that part of it I mean which relates to the Frigate for the Regency of Algiers,) has surprised me exceedingly.

That no step yet should have been taken to carry this measure into vigorous execution, and that it should be asked, nearly six weeks after it had been resolved to comply with the Dey’s request, and an actual stipulation of our agent or agents there, by what department it is to be carried into effect, is, on account of the delay which has been occasioned (if contrary to the ideas which have been communicated to the Dey and Colo. Humphreys), extremely unpleasant.

Disagreeable as this requisition was found in its reception, and more so in the compliance with it, yet, as there appeared no other alternative but to comply, or submit to the depredations of the Barbary Corsairs on our Citizens and Commerce, the former was preferred; and I had no doubt, (after pressing as often and as earnestly as I did before I left Philadelphia, that all matters requiring my opinions or acts might be laid before me,) that every thing relative to this Frigate was in a perfect train of execution, agreeably to whatever assurances had been given by Captain O’Brian.

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If the laws establishing the different Departments (I have them not by me) does not expressly or by analogy designate the one to which the care of such business is intrusted, I must, no doubt, assign it; but, where these speak, it is best for me to be silent.1

If the building of this Vessel could have been suspended until the meeting of Congress, for the agency of the Senate, the answer to the Dey might have been suspended also. But to avert, if possible, the disagreeable consequences of delay, a prompt decision was come to, and Captn. O’Brian hurried off with the result. This decision, and the letters which he carried, ought to be resorted to, and the measures accorded thereto strictly.

Whether it will be best to purchase a ship ready built, if one fit for the purpose can be had (and such a one on the stocks at Philadelphia was talked of); whether to contract for the building and equipping of one, (some of the materials being found,) if entire confidence can be placed in the undertaker; or whether to furnish the materials, (in which case all Edition: current; Page: [242] that can be spared from our own Frigates ought unquestionably to be applied,) and pay for the building, depends upon inquiries not within my power at this time and place to make, and must, therefore, be a matter of investigation and consultation among yourselves, especially with the Secretary of the Treasury on the means.

Before I conclude, let me in a friendly way impress the following maxims upon the Executive Officers. In all important matters, to deliberate maturely, but to execute promptly and vigorously; and not to put things off until the morrow, which can be done and require to be done to-day. Without an adherence to these rules, business never will be well done, or done in an easy manner, but will always be in arrear, with one thing treading upon the heels of another. With very great esteem and regard, I am, &c.1

George Washington
Washington, George
13 July, 1796
Mount Vernon
Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy

TO TIMOTHY PICKERING, SECRETARY OF STATE.
[PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL.]

Sir:

Yesterday I was informed by a gentleman from Richmond that Mr. Dawson was gone on to Philadelphia in order to embark for France; and about Edition: current; Page: [243] an hour ago I received a letter from which the enclosed is an extract, from a well informed acquaintance and a staunch friend to his country.

What, or whether anything can with propriety be done in consequence of this information must be left to yourself and the two other Secretaries to decide, from circumstances and appearances on the spot. It may not be amiss to observe further that Mr. Dawson is the son-in-law of Mr. Jones (one of the Circuit Judges of this State)1 and as I am informed, unfriendly to the General Government)—that Mr. Monroe is the nephew of Mr. Jones, and has his son with him in France.

As every day brings forth matter to view, vigilance, with caution becomes more and more necessary.

George Washington
Washington, George
18 July, 1796
Mount Vernon
Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy

TO TIMOTHY PICKERING, SECRETARY OF STATE.
[PRIVATE.]

Dear Sir,

If there be any thing yet to do, which can be done with propriety towards fulfilling the several treaties, which the United States have entered into, (without specially naming them,) it is my desire, that there may be no delay in the execution; and if, upon examining of them carefully, any matter should be found therein requiring the attention of either of the other departments, that these sentiments may be conveyed to the secretaries thereof, as proceeding immediately from myself.

Edition: current; Page: [244]

The new requisition of the Dey of Algiers, which has been yielded, will require to be laid before the Senate for its ratification, together with such papers as are necessary to explain and account for the measure. It might be well, therefore, to revise and prepare them accordingly in time.

The continual attacks, which have been made and are still making on the administration, in Bache’s and other papers of that complexion, indecent as they are void of truth and fairness, under different signatures, and at present exhibited under that of Paulding, charging it with not only unfriendly but even unjust conduct towards France, and, to prove it, resort to misrepresentation and mutilated authorities, and oftentimes to unfounded and round assertions, or to assertions founded on principles, which apply to all the belligerent powers, but by them represented as aimed at France alone—Under these circumstances it were to be wished, that the enlightened public could have a clear and comprehensive view of facts. But how to give it lies the difficulty; and I see no method at present, however desirable the measure, that is not liable to objections, unless the predicted and threatened conduct of France towards this country, (under pretext of our treaty with Great Britain,) or its demands that the guarantee of their West India Islands, agreeably to the treaty of Paris, should be fulfilled, presents the occasion.

Whether either of these will or will not happen, or whether any other mode may occur, which, after mature consideration, shall appear expedient or not, I Edition: current; Page: [245] wish that in your moments of leisure, if such you have, you would go most carefully and critically over the whole of the correspondence between the different Secretaries of State and the French minister in this country, and with our own minister at Paris, from the period matters began to change from their ancient habits, and to assume their new form in that country. If circumstances should render explanations of this sort expedient and necessary for Congress, a previous examination of the papers with notes and remarks will be essential. If they should not, the measure nevertheless will be satisfactory and useful. I would have the whole of the transactions, in all their direct and collateral relations, examined with as critical an eye as Mr. Bache or any of his numerous correspondents or communicants would do; that, if there is any thing in them, (not recollected by me,) that can be tortured into an unfriendly disposition towards France, and not required by the neutral policy adopted by the executive, approved by the people, and sanctioned by the legislature, or which the peace, honor, and safety of this country did not require, that I may be apprized of it, as my conviction of the contrary is strong.1

Edition: current; Page: [246]

I request, also, that you will begin to note down all the subjects as they may occur, which may be proper to communicate to Congress at their next meeting, either at the opening of the session, or by separate messages in the course of it. Many things are forgotten, when the recollection of them is postponed until the period at which they are wanted. Minute details will not be amiss, because a selection will at all times be easier to make than a collection. * * * I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
18 July, 1796
Mount Vernon
James McHenry
McHenry, James

TO JAMES McHENRY, SECRETARY OF WAR.

Sir,

Your letters of the 10th, 12th, and 13th instant, with their enclosures, came all by the last mail to Alexandria, and were received by me on Saturday morning. The contents of such parts as require it shall be noticed.

The greatest, and what appears to me to be an insuperable difficulty in the way of running and marking the boundary line between the United States and the Cherokee tribe of Indians the ensuing autumn, (which is certainly the most agreeable season for a work of this sort,) is, that no commissioners are or can be appointed to superintend the same in the recess of the Senate, which, unless extra causes should render it expedient, will not happen before the first Monday in December. This circumstance, in addition to the reasons assigned in your letters, renders a postponement of this measure until next Edition: current; Page: [247] year unavoidable. But, that it may not be delayed beyond a convenient time in the spring, the Indians may be requested to come instructed to arrange matters for carrying the measures into effect at that period. Their interest, and the tranquillity of our frontiers, requires that this line should not only be run, (with as little loss of time as can possibly be avoided), but be very distinctly marked also, that ignorance may no longer be offered as a plea for transgressions on either side; and to ascertain in the interim whether Genl. Pickens will serve as a Commissioner.

I hope and expect, that the proposed visit from the Cherokee Chiefs will be managed, so as not to take place before the month of November. I have already been incommoded at this place by a visit of several days from a party of a dozen Catawbas, and should wish, while I am in this retreat, to avoid a repetition of such guests. The reason why I name November is, that, between the middle and latter end of August, I shall repair to the seat of government, remain there until between the middle and last of September, and then return to this place again for my family.

The extract, which you enclosed in your letter of the 10th from the Secretary of the Treasury, declaring his inability to furnish money for carrying on Commerce with the Indian Tribes, renders the appointment of agents for that purpose at present altogether improper; and, whether the act “To regulate Trade and Intercourse with the Indian Tribes, and to preserve Peace on the Frontiers,” does or does not go fully to the points, which are enumerated in your Edition: current; Page: [248] letter of the 12th, there seems under existing circumstances no expedient so proper to execute the requisites of the above Act, and the duties enjoined on the late Superintendent of Indian affairs in the Southwestern Territory, which have become stagnant by the admission of it as a State into the Union, as by applying the services, (under temporary regulations and proper instructions,) of Colo. Henley or Mr. Dinsmore, or both, as the case shall, after duly considering it, appear to require. But, if this expedient is resorted to, Mr. Dinsmore ought to return immediately.

My ideas, with respect to the most eligable mode of procuring the 36-Gun Frigate, have already (in a former letter) been conveyed to you; and your instructions to Mr. Fox does, I perceive, accord therewith; but, lest I may not perfectly understand another part of them, which relates to the Timber and Plank which certainly come under the description of “Perishable articles in the Act discontinuing three of the Frigates, and directing such of the materials as are perishable to be sold, I shall give it as my decisive opinion that all wood not necessary for the retained Frigates and the one wanted for Algiers, except the large pieces which have been obtained with difficulty and at a heavy expence, and which would not answer for ordinary Vessels and would sell for little, ought to be sold, agreeably to the directions of the aforesaid Act. If it is reserved, secured from the weather, and persons employed to take care of it, the expence and imposition will exceed all calculation, and be wasted or embezzled notwithstanding. I am, &c.

Edition: current; Page: [249]
George Washington
Washington, George
25 July, 1796
Mount Vernon
Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy

TO TIMOTHY PICKERING, SECRETARY OF STATE.
[PRIVATE.]

Dear Sir,

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 Edition: current; Page: [250] 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 Edition: current; Page: [251] 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.

George Washington
Washington, George
27 July, 1796
Mount Vernon
Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy

TO TIMOTHY PICKERING, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Sir,

Your two letters, both bearing date the 21st instant, with their enclosures, were received by the last mail to Alexandria. It would have been unfortunate, and Edition: current; Page: [252] much indeed to have been regretted, if the French government had had as great cause of complaint against the conduct of the United States, as they have shown a disposition to complain. It was natural to expect, though it was not easy to conceive on what ground, that the French discontents, which had been so often announced, accompanied with such terrific threatenings chiefly by anonymous writers, that the formal exhibition of them under the authority of the Directory by their minister of foreign affairs, would have had something serious, formidable, and embarrassing in their appearance. Instead of which, most, if not all the charges seem to have originated either in a misinterpretation, or want of attention to treaties and the laws of nations, or in the want of a just and timely representation of facts, with accompanying explanations, which our minister near the French government had it in his power, and was directed to make.

Presuming that Mr. Van Polanen is regularly credited by the proper authority of the existing government of the United Netherlands, I see no cause, (accordant with the principles which have actuated the government of the United States,) why, when I return to Philadelphia, he should not be received as the minister resident of that country. And, if no objection unknown to me should occur to you, Mr. Van Polanen may be so informed. My arrival there will be by the first of September. * * *

Edition: current; Page: [253]
George Washington
Washington, George
27 July, 1796
Mount Vernon
Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy

TO TIMOTHY PICKERING, SECRETARY OF STATE.
[PRIVATE.]

Dear Sir,

Your private letter of the 21st instant has been received.

Mr. Monroe in every letter he writes relative to the discontents of the French government at the conduct of our own, always concludes without finishing his story; leaving great scope to the imagination to divine what the ulterior measures of it will be.

There are some things in his correspondence and your letters which I am unable to reconcile. In one of your last to me, you acknowledge the receipt of one from him of the 8th of April, which I have not seen; and in his letter of the 2d of May, he refers to one of the 25th of March as the last he had written. This letter of the 25th of March, if I recollect dates rightly, was received before I left Philadelphia; and related his demand of an audience of the French Directory, and his having had it; but that the conference which was promised him with the Minister of foreign affairs, had not taken place, nor had he heard anything from him, altho’ the catalogue of complaints exhibited by that Minister, is dated the 9th of March, and his reply thereto the 15th of the same month. If these recitals are founded in fact, they form an enigma which requires explanation.

Has the letter said to be dispatched by Doctr. Brokenbrough, got to your hands? I hope it will, if it has not done so already.

Edition: current; Page: [254]

Mr. De la Croix alludes, I perceive, in the close of his third and last head of complaints to our guarantee of their West India Islands; but whether to bring the subject to recollection only, or to touch upon it more largely thereafter, is problematical.

I am, always, etc.
George Washington
Washington, George
8 August, 1796
Mount Vernon
Duke de Liancourt
de Liancourt, Duke

TO THE DUKE DE LIANCOURT.

Sir,

The letter, which you did me the honor of writing to me the 25th of last month, came duly to hand, and the enclosure for Mr. George W. Fayette was immediately presented to him.

The name and character of the Duke de Liancourt were not unknown to me before his arrival in this country; and the respect which I entertained for the latter (although political considerations have deprived me of the honor of a personal acquaintance with him) was and is as great as he or his warmest friends could desire.

M. de Liancourt must be too well acquainted with the history of governments, with the insidious ways of the world, and with the suspicions and jealousies of its rulers, not to acknowledge, that men in responsible situations cannot, like those in private life, be governed solely by the dictates of their own inclinations, or by such motives as can only affect themselves.

To dilate upon this observation, or to attempt to point at the distinction between the conduct of a man Edition: current; Page: [255] in public office, who is accountable for the consequences of his measures to others, and one in private life, who has no other check than the rectitude of his own actions, would be superfluous to a man of information; but, if exemplification of these facts was necessary, it might be added with truth, that, in spite of all the circumspection with which my conduct has been marked towards the gentlemen of your nation, who have left France under circumstances, which have rendered them obnoxious to the governing power of it, the countenance said to be given to them is alleged as a cause of discontent in the Directory of France against the government of the U. States. But it is not my intention to dwell on this subject. How far the charge is merited, no one better than yourself can judge; and your candor and penetration will, I am persuaded, appreciate my motives for the reverse of the charge, however contrary the operation of them may have been to your expectation or to my wishes.

With respect to M. Lafayette, I may, without troubling you with the details, venture to affirm, that whatever private friendship could require, or public duty would allow, has been and will continue to be essayed by me to effect his liberation; the difficulty in accomplishing of which has no doubt proceeded in a great measure from the cause you have mentioned, and will probably exist while the war between the belligerent powers continues to rage.

No man regrets this, and the present unhappy situation of this amiable family more than I do; but Edition: current; Page: [256] it is an ascertained fact, that, altho’ Fayette is an adopted citizen of this country, the government of it, nor the people themselves, notwithstanding their attachment to his person and the recollection of his services, have any right to demand him as their citizen by the law of nations. Consequently, an expression of their earnest wishes, that liberty may be restored to him, is all they can do towards accomplishing it. To attempt more, would avail him nothing, and might involve the U. States in difficulties of great magnitude.

This letter, Sir, you will consider as a private one, originating from yours to me, relatively to M. Lafayette. In replying to the sentiments contained in it, I could not, from respect to your character, and the indulgence of my own feelings, miss the occasion of giving you this explanation of matters, which otherwise might have the appearance of mystery. It affords an occasion also of assuring you, that, with sentiments of the highest esteem and greatest respect, I have the honor to be, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
10 August, 1796
Mount Vernon
Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy

TO TIMOTHY PICKERING, SECRETARY OF STATE.
[PRIVATE.]

Sir,

The last post brought me the enclosed letter from General Pinckney. It becomes necessary now to prepare instructions for him without delay, to bring him fully and perfectly acquainted with the conduct and Edition: current; Page: [257] policy of this government towards France, &c. and the motives which have induced the recall of Mr. Monroe.

As the measure, when known, will excite much speculation, and set all the envenomed pens to work, it is worthy of consideration what part and how much of the causes, which have produced this event, should be spoken of unofficially by the officers of government.

It will be candid, proper, and necessary to apprize Mr. Monroe (as the measure and his successor are decided on) of his recall, and, in proper terms, of the motives which have impelled it.

In the course of next week, (probably about the middle of it,) I expect to commence my journey for Philadelphia; but, as I shall be obliged to halt a day at the Federal City, and from the heat of the season and other circumstances must travel slow, it is not likely I shall arrive there before the middle of the following week. I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
18 August, 1796
Washington
James Anderson
Anderson, James

TO JAMES ANDERSON.

Mr. Anderson,

In passing through Alexandria yesterday, on my way to Philadelphia, I saw Colo. Fitzgerald, who informed me of a letter he had received from you in consequence of one which Doctr. Stuart had written to his relation, Mr. Fitzhugh of Stafford.—It might Edition: current; Page: [258] have promoted both our views, if you had come immediately to my house upon the receipt of that letter as more satisfaction would have resulted from the conversation of an hour or two, than from all the letters that can be written on this subject.

As this however was not the case and as I shall not be at Mount Vernon again until the latter end of next month, and consequently cannot see you sooner; I will be candid and explicit in what I am going to say to you; from whence, and your answer, some opinion may be formed of the probability of our mutual expectations being answered.—

Mr. Pearce who at present looks after my business, is a person with whose management I am very well pleased.—He is a man of property, of great integrity; very great industry; and much experience in the superintendence of a large concern, having been the manager for a Gentn. on the E[astern Shore] fifteen or 18 years, before he came to me.

In consideration of these qualifications and on account of my being absent from home, when a confidential character was peculiarly necessary for my concerns, I agreed to give him, as an inducement to remove from the Eastern shore and on account of his established character as an experienced Manager—One hundred Guineas a year—although a hundred pounds (Virginia money currency) was the most I had ever given before. He superintends all my concerns which appertain to the Estate of Mount Vernon; consisting besides Tradesmen of four lay Farms and the Mansion house farm, the last of Edition: current; Page: [259] which (though not much is raised at it) is not the least troublesome part of his duty in [].

At and over each of these seperate farms and workmen there is as good an Overseer as has been in the power of the superintendent to procure, to reside constantly on their respective farms &c., and to obey his orders.

This, in general is the outline of the business—to detail the particular parts, would be tedious;—and to a man of experience would be unnecessary. I am altogether in the farming and meadowing line;—the last of which I have much grounds proper for and want to encrease them considerably.

I will now tell you frankly what kind of a person I must engage to conduct my business well.—Besides being sober and a man of integrity he must possess a great deal of activity and firmness, to make the under Overseers do their duty, strictly.—He must be a man of foresight and arrangement; to combine and carry matters on to advantage, and he must not have these things to learn after he comes to me.—He must be a farmer bred,—and understand it in all its part.—I would wish him too to understand grasing—and particularly the care and management of Stock.—How to Ditch—Hedge &ca—and how to conduct a Dairy.

Now let me request you to declare truly, whether from practice the matters here detailed are, or could soon be made familiar to you—designating those which you have a competent practical knowledge of, from those which you may be less perfect in.—A Edition: current; Page: [260] letter put into the Post Office at Fredericksburgh, directed to me in Philadelphia will be certain of arriving, safe, and may enable me to say something more decisive to you in my next, by way of reply to your answer to this letter.

I ought to have added, that the only cause of Mr. Pearce’s leaving my business, is an increasing Rheumatic affection, which he says will not allow him to discharge his duty as he conceives he ought; for which reason and thinking it the part of an honest man to retire.—He has, at one of my farms a good dwelling house, pleasantly situated; and every thing comfortably about him. I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
25 August, 1796
Philadelphia
James Monroe
Monroe, James

TO JAMES MONROE.

Dear Sir,

Your favor of the 24th of March, written in cipher, never got to my hands until the 10th instant at Mount Vernon; nor were the contents of it known to me until my arrival in this city on the 21st. For the information contained in it, and your attention thereto, I offer you my best thanks.

Having no clew by which to discover the fact, I am very much at a loss to conjecture by what means a private letter of mine, written to a friend and sent by an American vessel, should have got into the hands of the French Directory. I shall readily acknowledge, however, that the one you allude to, directed to Mr. Gouverneur Morris, was a long and confidential Edition: current; Page: [261] one1; but I deny that there is any thing contained in it, that the French government could take exception to, unless the expression of an ardent wish, that the United States might remain in peace with all the world, taking no part in the disputes of any part of it, should have produced this effect, giving it as my further opinion, that the sentiments of the mass of citizens in this country were in unison with mine.

Confidential as this letter was expected to be, I have no objection to its being seen by anybody; and there is certainly some mistake in saying I had no copy thereof, when there is a press one now before me, in which I discover no expression, that in the eye of liberality and candor would be deemed objectionable.

To understand the scope and design of my letter properly, and to give it a fair interpretation, it is necessary to observe, that it was written, (as will appear by the contents of it,) in answer to very long ones from the gentleman to whom it was addressed, which contained much political information of the state of things in different parts of Europe, and related among others the substance of a conversation, in which he and Lord Grenville, as private gentlemen, had just been engaged, and in which it was observed by the latter, that, if they were to judge from the publications in this country, the disposition of it was unfriendly to Great Britain; but in free countries he could readily account for such publications; however, that there was one, which wore a more serious aspect, as indicative of the sense of the government, and he Edition: current; Page: [262] alluded to Colonel Innes’s report of his proceedings in Kentucky.

In my noticing this part of Mr. Morris’s communication, I tell him, that, with respect to the publication of that report, it was an unauthorized act, and declared by that gentleman, as soon as he saw it in the gazettes, to have been done incorrectly; and that, with relation to the temper of the people of the United States, as it respected Great Britain, his Lordship ought not to be surprised, if it appeared disturbed and irritated, after the sense of the government had been so often expressed in strong remonstrances against the conduct of the Indian agents, privateersmen, impressment of our seamen, insults of their ships of war, &c., &c.; adding that it afforded us very little satisfaction, that they disclaimed these as unauthorized acts (which the British administration had done in some instances), while the actors were suffered to go unpunished. I dwelt chiefly and fully on this part of his letter, and reminded him of the indifference with which the advances of the United States to form a commercial treaty with Great Britain, as well since as before the establishment of the present government, had been received; and concluded by saying, that a liberal policy towards us (though I did not suppose sentiments of that sort from me to a member of the British administration would have much weight) was the only road to a perfect reconciliation; and that, if he should again converse with Lord Grenville on this subject, he was at liberty unofficially to express these as my sentiments.

Edition: current; Page: [263]

Thus, Sir, you have the substance, candidly related, of a letter, which, you say you have been told by a person, “who has read it, has produced an ill effect,” when in my opinion the contrary (viewing it in the light of an unreserved and confidential communication) ought to have been produced. For, I repeat it again, that unless my pacific disposition was displeasing, nothing else could have given umbrage by the most rigid construction of the letter, or that will show in the remotest degree any disposition on my part to favor the British interests in their dispute with France.

My conduct in public and private life, as it relates to the important struggle in which the latter nation is engaged, has been uniform from the commencement of it, and may be summed up in a few words; that I have always wished well to the French revolution; that I have always given it as my decided opinion, that no nation had a right to intermeddle in the internal concerns of another; that every one had a right to form and adopt whatever government they liked best to live under themselves; and that, if this country could, consistently with its engagements, maintain a strict neutrality and thereby preserve peace, it was bound to do so by motives of policy, interest, and every other consideration, that ought to actuate a people situated and circumstanced as we are, already deeply in debt, and in a convalescent state from the struggle we have been engaged in ourselves.

On these principles I have steadily and uniformly proceeded, bidding defiance to calumnies calculated Edition: current; Page: [264] to sow the seeds of distrust in the French nation, and to excite their belief of an influence possessed by Great Britain in the councils of this country, than which nothing is more unfounded and injurious, the object of its pacific conduct being truly delineated above. I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
25 August, 1796
Philadelphia
Alexander Hamilton
Hamilton, Alexander

TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON.
[PRIVATE.]

My dear Sir:

I have given the paper1 herewith enclosed several serious and attentive readings, and prefer it greatly to the other draughts, being more copious on material points, more dignified on the whole, and with less egotism; of course, less exposed to criticism, and better calculated to meet the eye of discerning readers (foreigners particularly, whose curiosity I have little doubt will lead them to inspect it attentively, and to pronounce their opinions on the performance).

When the first draught was made, besides having an eye to the consideration above mentioned, I thought the occasion was fair (as I had latterly been the subject of considerable invective), to say what is there contained of myself; and as the address was Edition: current; Page: [265] designed in a more especial manner for the yeomanry of this country, I conceived it was proper they should be informed of the object of that abuse—the silence with which it had been treated, and the consequences which would naturally flow from such unceasing and virulent attempts to destroy all confidence in the executive part of the government; and that it was best to do it in language that was plain and intelligible to their understandings.

The draught now sent comprehends the most, if not all these matters—is better expressed—and, I am persuaded, goes as far as it ought with respect to any personal mention of myself.

I should have seen no occasion myself for its undergoing a revision; but as your letter of the 30th ult., which accompanied it, intimates a wish to do this, and knowing that it can be more correctly done after a writing has been out of sight for some time, than while it is in hand, I send it in conformity thereto, with a request, however, that you would return it as soon as you have carefully re-examined it; for it is my intention to hand it to the public before I leave this city, to which I came for the purpose of meeting General Pinckney, receiving the ministers from Spain and Holland, and for the despatch of other business which could not be so well executed by written communications between the heads of departments and myself, as by oral conferences. So soon as these are accomplished, I shall return; at any rate, I expect to do so by, or before, the tenth of next month, for the purpose of bringing up my family for the winter.

Edition: current; Page: [266]

I shall expunge all that is marked in the paper as unimportant, &c., &c.; and as you perceive some marginal notes, written with a pencil, I pray you to give the sentiments so noticed mature consideration. After which, and in every other part, if change or alteration takes place in the draught, let them be so clearly interlined, erased, or referred to in the margin, as that no mistake may happen in copying it for the press.

To what editor in this city do you think it had best be sent for publication? Will it be proper to accompany it with a note to him, expressing (as the principal design of it is to remove doubts at the next election), that it is hoped, or expected, that the State printers will give it a place in their gazettes, or preferable to let it be carried by my private secretary to that press which is destined to usher it to the world, and suffer it to work its way afterwards? If you think the first most eligible, let me ask you to sketch such a note as you may judge applicable to the occasion.

With affectionate regard, I am always yours.

George Washington
Washington, George
1 September, 1796
Philadelphia
Alexander Hamilton
Hamilton, Alexander

TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON.
[PRIVATE.]

My Dear Sir,

About the middle of last week I wrote to you; and that it might escape the eye of the inquisitive (for some of my letters have lately been pried into), I took the liberty of putting it under a cover to Mr. Jay.

Since then, revolving on the paper that was inclosed Edition: current; Page: [267] therein, on the various matters it contained, and on the first expression of the advice or recommendation which was given in it, I have regretted that another subject (which in my estimation is of interesting concern to the well-being of this country) was not touched upon also;—I mean education generally, as one of the surest means of enlightening and giving just ways of thinking to our citizens, but particularly the establishment of a university; where the youth from all parts of the United States might receive the polish of erudition in the arts, sciences, and belles-lettres; and where those who were disposed to run a political course might not only be instructed in the theory and principles, but (this seminary being at the seat of the general government) where the legislature would be in session half the year, and the interests and politics of the nation of course would be discussed, they would lay the surest foundation for the practical part also.

But that which would render it of the highest importance, in my opinion, is, that the juvenal period of life, when friendships are formed, and habits established, that will stick by one; the youth or young men from different parts of the United States would be assembled together, and would by degrees discover that there was not that cause for those jealousies and prejudices which one part of the Union had imbibed against another part:—of course, sentiments of more liberality in the general policy of the country would result from it. What but the mixing of people from different parts of the United States during Edition: current; Page: [268] the war rubbed off these impressions? A century, in the ordinary intercourse, would not have accomplished what the seven years’ association in arms did; but that ceasing, prejudices are beginning to revive again, and never will be eradicated so effectually by any other means as the intimate intercourse of characters in early life,—who, in all probability, will be at the head of the counsels of this country in a more advanced stage of it.

To show that this is no new idea of mine, I may appeal to my early communications to Congress; and to prove how seriously I have reflected on it since, and how well disposed I have been, and still am, to contribute my aid towards carrying the measure into effect, I inclose you the extract of a letter from me to the governor of Virginia on this subject, and a copy of the resolves of the legislature of that State in consequence thereof.

I have not the smallest doubt that this donation (when the navigation is in complete operation, which it certainly will be in less than two years), will amount to £1200 to £1500 sterling a year, and become a rapidly increasing fund. The proprietors of the federal city have talked of doing something handsome towards it likewise; and if Congress would appropriate some of the western lands to the same uses, funds sufficient, and of the most permanent and increasing sort, might be so established as to invite the ablest professors in Europe to conduct it.

Let me pray you, therefore to introduce a section in the address expressive of these sentiments, and Edition: current; Page: [269] recommendatory of the measure, without any mention, however, of my proposed personal contribution to the plan.

Such a section would come in very properly after the one which relates to our religious obligations, or in a preceding part, as one of the recommendatory measures to counteract the evils arising from geographical discriminations. With affectionate regard, I am always.1

George Washington
Washington, George
12 September, 1796
Philadelphia
John Quincy Adams
Adams, John Quincy

TO JOHN QUINCY ADAMS.

Dear Sir,

To open a correspondence with you on so trifling a subject, as that which gives birth to this letter, would hardly be justified, were it not for the singularity Edition: current; Page: [270] of the case. This singularity will, I hope, apologize for the act.

Some time ago, perhaps two or three months, I read in some gazette, but was so little impressed with it at the time (conceiving it to be one of those things, which get into newspapers nobody knows how or why), that I cannot now recollect whether the gazette was of American or foreign production, announcing, that a celebrated artist had presented, or was about to present, to the President of the United States a sword of masterly workmanship, as an evidence of his veneration, &c.

I thought no more of the matter afterwards, until a gentleman with whom I have no acquaintance, coming from and going to I know not where, at a tavern I never could get information of, came across this sword (for it is presumed to be the same), pawned for thirty dollars, which he paid, left it in Alexandria, nine miles from my house in Virginia, with a person who refunded him the money, and sent the sword to me.

This is all I have been able to learn of this curious affair. The blade is highly wrought, and decorated with many military emblems. It has my name engraved thereon, and the following inscription, translated from the Dutch, “Condemner of despotism, Preserver of Liberty, glorious Man, take from my Son’s hands this Sword, I beg you. A. Sollingen.” The hilt is either gold, or richly plated with that metal, and the whole carries with it the form of an horseman’s sword or long sabre.

Edition: current; Page: [271]

The matter, as far as it appears at present, is a perfect enigma. How it should have come into this country without a letter, or an accompanying message, how afterwards it should have got into such loose hands, and whither the person having it in possession was steering his course, remain as yet to be explained. Some of them, probably, can only be explained by the maker, and the maker is no otherwise to be discovered than by the inscription and name, “A. Sollingen,” who, from the impression which dwells on my mind, is of Amsterdam.

If, Sir, with this clew you can develope the history of this sword, the value of it, the character of the maker, and his probable object in sending it, it would oblige me; and, by relating these facts to him, might obviate doubts, which otherwise might be entertained by him of its fate or its reception. With great esteem and regard, I am, dear Sir, &c.1

Edition: current; Page: [272]
George Washington
Washington, George
12 September, 1796
Philadelphia
Charles Cotesworth Pinckney
Pinckney, Charles Cotesworth

TO CHARLES COTESWORTH PINCKNEY.
[PRIVATE.]

My dear Sir,

After furnishing you with the following copies of letters, it is scarcely necessary to add any thing by way of explanation of my motives for doing it. However, I will briefly add, that, from the arrival of Mr. Gouverneur Morris in Europe up to the date of his last letter to me in June of the present year, I have received much interesting and useful information from him respecting the political state of things on the other side of the Atlantic; that, from the multiplicity of business with which I have been overwhelmed continually, I very rarely acknowledged the receipt of his letters; but upon receiving that of the 3d of July, 1795, a copy of which follows, I was struck forcibly with the idea, as well from the style and manner, as from its being confined to a single subject, that it had passed, or was intended to pass, under the eye of Lord Grenville, although no intimation thereof was given to me.

Under this impression, it was natural to suppose, that my answer or the result of it would also be communicated to that minister. I resolved, therefore, to frame it accordingly, that Lord Grenville might find from that mode, as well as from the ordinary course of official communications, in what light the people of this country viewed the conduct of his towards it.

I little expected, indeed, that a private letter of mine to a friend would have found a place in the bureau Edition: current; Page: [273] of the French Directory. Less should I have suspected, that any exception would or could be taken at the sentiments expressed in the one that has got there. But, as intimations of the contrary have been given in Colonel Monroe’s letter, I have thought it expedient to furnish you with all the documents relative thereto, with this short history of the rise and progress of it; that you may be enabled, if more is said on the subject, and occasion should require it, to set the matter right by a plain and simple statement of facts. With great esteem and regard, I am, &c.

Edition: current; Page: [274] Edition: current; Page: [275]

FAREWELL ADDRESS.1

Edition: current; Page: [276] Edition: current; Page: [277]
George Washington
Washington, George
August, 1796

TO THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES.
September 17th, 1796.

Friends, and Fellow-Citizens,

The period for a new election of a Citizen, to administer the Executive Government of the United States, being not far distant, and the time actually arrived, when your thoughts must be employed in designating the person, who is to be clothed with that important trust for another term, it appears to me proper, especially as it may conduce to a more distinct expression of the public voice, that I should now apprise you of the resolution I have formed, to decline being considered among the number of those, out of whom a choice is to be made.

HAMILTON’S DRAFT.

The period for a new election of a citizen to administer the executive government of the United States being not very distant, and the time actually arrived when your thoughts must be employed in designating the person who is to be clothed with Edition: current; Page: [278] that important trust for another term, it appears to me proper, and especially as it may conduce to a more distinct expression of the public voice, that I should now apprise you of the resolution I have formed to decline being considered among the number of those out of whom a choice is to be made.

I beg you, at the same time, to do me the justice to be assured, that this resolution has not been taken, without a strict regard to all the considerations appertaining to the relation, which binds a dutiful citizen to his country—and that, in withdrawing the tender of service which silence in my situation might imply, I am influenced by no diminution of zeal for your future interest, no deficiency of grateful respect for your past kindness; but act under am supported by a full conviction that the step is compatible with both.

I beg you, nevertheless, to be assured that the resolution which I announce has not been taken without a strict regard to all the considerations attached to the relation which, as a dutiful Edition: current; Page: [279] citizen, I bear to my country, and that in withdrawing the tender of my services, which silence in my situation might imply, I am influenced by no diminution of zeal for its future interest, nor by any deficiency of grateful respect for its past kindness, but by a full conviction that such a step is compatible with both.

The acceptance of, and continuance hitherto in, the office to which your suffrages have twice called me, have been a uniform sacrifice of inclination to the opinion of duty, and to a deference for what appeared to be your desire.—I constantly hoped, that it would have been much earlier in my power, consistently with motives, which I was not at liberty to disregard, to return to that retirement, from which I had been reluctantly drawn.—The strength of my inclination to do this, previous to the last election, had even led to the preparation of an address to declare it to you; but mature reflection on the then perplexed and critical posture of our affairs with foreign Nations, and the unanimous advice of persons entitled to my confidence, impelled me to abandon the idea.—

The acceptance of, and the continuance hitherto in the office to which your suffrages have twice called me, has been a uniform sacrifice of private inclination to the opinion of public duty Edition: current; Page: [280] coinciding with what appeared to be your wishes. I had constantly hoped that it would have been much earlier in my power, consistently with motives which I was not at liberty to disregard, to return to that retirement from which those motives had reluctantly drawn me.

The strength of my desire to withdraw previous to the last election, had even led to the preparation of an address to declare it to you, but deliberate reflection on the very critical and perplexed posture of our affairs with foreign nations, and the unanimous advice of men every way entitled to my confidence, obliged me to abandon the idea.

I rejoice that the state of your concerns, external as well as internal, no longer renders the pursuit of inclination incompatible with the sentiment of duty, or propriety; and that am persuaded, whatever partiality any portion of you may yet retain may be retained for my services, that even they, in the present circumstances of our country, you will not disapprove my determination to retire.

I rejoice that the state of your national concerns, external as well as internal, no longer renders the pursuit of my inclination incompatible with the sentiment of duty or propriety, and that whatever partiality any portion of you may still retain for my Edition: current; Page: [281] services, they, under the existing circumstances of our country, will not disapprove the resolution I have formed.

The impressions, under with which I first accepted undertook the arduous trust, were explained on the proper occasion.—In the discharge of this trust, I will only say, that I have, with good intentions, contributed to towards the organization and administration of the government, the best exertions of which a very fallible judgment was capable.—Not unconscious, in the outset, of the inferiority of my qualifications, experience in my own eyes, perhaps still more in the eyes of others, has not lessened strengthened the motives to diffidence of myself; and every day the increasing weight of years admonishes me more and more, that the shade of retirement is as necessary to me as it will be welcome.—Satisfied, that, if any circumstances have given peculiar value to my services, they were temporary, I have the consolation to believe, that, while choice and prudence invite me to quit the political scene, patriotism does not forbid it.

May I also have that of knowing in my retreat, that the involuntary errors, I have probably committed, have been the sources of no serious or lasting mischief to our country. I may then expect to realize, without alloy, the sweet enjoyment of partaking, in the midst of my fellow citizens, the benign influence of good laws under a free government; the ever favorite object of my heart, and the happy reward, I trust, of our mutual cares, dangers and labours.1

The impressions under which I first accepted the arduous trust of Chief Magistrate of the United States were explained on the proper occasion. In the discharge of this trust, I can only say that I have, with pure intentions, contributed towards the organization and administration of the government the best exertions of which a very fallible judgment was capable; that conscious at the outset of the inferiority of my qualifications, for the station, experience in my own eyes, and perhaps still more in those of others, has not diminished in me the diffidence of myself—and every day the increasing weight of years admonishes me more and more that the shade of retirement is as necessary as it will be welcome to me. Satisfied that if any circumstances have given a peculiar value to my services, they were temporary, I Edition: current; Page: [282] have the consolation to believe that while inclination and prudence urge me to recede from the political scene, patriotism does not forbid it. May I also have that of knowing in my retreat, that the involuntary errors which I have probably committed have been the causes of no serious or lasting mischief to my country, and thus be spared the anguish of regrets which would disturb the repose of my retreat and embitter the remnant of my life! I may then expect to realize, without alloy, the pure enjoyment of partaking, in the midst of my fellow citizens, of the benign influence of good laws under a free government; the ultimate object of all my wishes, and to which I look as the happy reward of our mutual labors and dangers.

In looking forward to the moment, which is intended to terminate the career of my public life, my feelings do not permit me to suspend the deep acknowledgment demanded by of that debt of gratitude, which I owe to my beloved country,—for the many honors it has conferred upon me; still more for the stedfast confidence with which it has supported me; and for the opportunities I have thence enjoyed of manifesting my inviolable attachment, by services faithful and persevering, though unequal in usefulness in usefulness unequal to my zeal.—If benefits have resulted to our country from these services, let it always be remembered to your praise, and as an instructive example in our annals, that the constancy of your support under circumstances in which the Passions agitated in every direction were liable to wander and fluctuate mislead, amidst appearances sometimes dubious, vicissitudes of fortune often discouraging, in situations in which not unfrequently want of success has countenanced the spirit of criticism, the constancy of your support was the essential prop of the efforts, and the a guarantee of the plans by which they were effected.—Profoundly penetrated with this idea, I shall carry it with me to the grave, as a strong incitement to unceasing vows the only return I can henceforth make that Heaven may continue to you the choicest tokens of its beneficence—that your union and brotherly affection may be perpetual—that the free constitution, which is the work of your hands, may be sacredly maintained—that its administration in every department may be stamped with wisdom and virtue—that, in fine, the happiness of the people of these States, under the auspices of liberty, may be made complete, by so careful a preservation and so prudent a use of this blessing as will acquire to them the glory or satisfaction of recommending it to the applause, the affection, and adoption of every nation, which is yet a stranger to it.

In looking forward to the moment which is to terminate the Edition: current; Page: [283] career of my public life, my sensations do not permit me to suspend the deep acknowledgments required by that debt of gratitude, which I owe to my beloved country, for the many honors it has conferred upon me, still more for the distinguished and steadfast confidence it has reposed in me, and for the opportunities it has thus afforded me of manifesting my inviolable attachment, by services faithful and persevering—however the inadequateness of my faculties may have ill seconded my zeal. If benefits have resulted to you, my fellow citizens, from these services, let it always be remembered to your praise, and as an instructive example in our annals, that the constancy of your support amidst appearances dubious, vicissitudes of fortune often discouraging, and in situations in which not unfrequently, want of success has seconded the criticisms of malevolence, was the essential prop of the efforts and the guaranty of the measures by which they were achieved.

Profoundly penetrated with this idea, I shall carry it with me to my retirement, and to my grave, as a lively incitement to unceasing vows (the only returns I can henceforth make) that Heaven may continue to you the choicest tokens of its beneficence, merited by national piety and morality; that your union and brotherly affection may be perpetual; that the free Constitution, which is the work of your own hands, may be sacredly maintained; that its administration in every department may be stamped with wisdom and virtue; that, in fine, the happiness of the people of these States under the auspices of liberty may be made complete, by so careful a preservation, and so prudent a use of this blessing, as will acquire them the glorious satisfaction of recommending it to the affection, the praise, and the adoption of every nation which is yet a stranger to it.

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Here, perhaps, I ought to stop.—But a solicitude for your welfare, which cannot end but with my life, and the apprehension of danger, natural to that solicitude, encouraged by the remembrance of your indulgent reception of my sentiments on an occasion not dissimilar to the present, urge me to offer urge me on an occasion like the present, to offer to your solemn contemplation, and to recommend to your frequent review, some sentiments; which are the result of much reflection, of no inconsiderable observation and experience, and which appear to me all important to the permanency of your felicity as a People.—These will be offered to you with the more freedom, as you can only see in them the disinterested warnings of a parting friend, who can possibly have no personal motive to bias his counsels.—Nor can I forget, as an encouragement to it your indulgent reception of my sentiments on a former and not dissimilar occasion.

Here, perhaps, I ought to stop, but a solicitude for your welfare, Edition: current; Page: [285] which cannot end but with my life, and the fear that there may exist projects unfriendly to it, against which it may be necessary you should be guarded, urge me in taking leave of you to offer to your solemn consideration and frequent review, some sentiments, the result of mature reflection confirmed by observation and experience, which appear to me essential to the permanency of your felicity as a people. These will be offered with the more freedom, as you can only see in them the disinterested advice of a parting friend, who can have no personal motive to tincture or bias his counsel.

Interwoven as is the love of liberty with every ligament of your hearts, no recommendation of mine is necessary to fortify or confirm the attachment.—

Interwoven as is the love of liberty with every fibre of your hearts, no recommendation is necessary to fortify your attachment to it. Next to this, that unity of government which constitutes Edition: current; Page: [286] you as one people, claims your vigilant care and guardianship—as a main pillar of your real independence, of your peace, safety, freedom, and happiness.

The Unity of Government which constitutes you one people, is also now dear to you.—It is justly so;—for it is a main Pillar in the Edifice of your real independence; the support of your tranquillity at home; your peace abroad; of your safety in every relation; of your prosperity in every shape; of that very Liberty, which you so highly prize.—But as it is easy to foresee, that, from various different causes, and from different quarters, much pains will be taken, many artifices employed, to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth;—as this is the point in your political fortress against which the batteries of internal and external enemies will be most constantly and actively (though often covertly and insidiously) directed, it is of infinite moment, that you should properly estimate the immense value of your national Union to your collective and individual happiness;—that you should cherish towards it a cordial, habitual, and immoveable attachment, that you should accustom yourselves to reverence it as the Palladium of your political safety and prosperity, adapting constantly your words and actions to that momentous idea; that you should watch for its preservation with jealous anxiety, discountenance whatever may suggest a suspicion that it can in any event be abandoned; and frown upon the first dawning of any attempt to alienate any portion of our Country from the rest, or, to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the several parts to it: accustoming yourselves to think and speak of it as of the Palladium of your political safety and prosperity; watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion that it can in any event be abandoned, and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our Country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts.

This being the point in your political fortress against which the batteries of internal and external enemies will be most constantly and actively, however covertly and insidiously levelled, it is of the utmost importance that you should appreciate, in its full force, the immense value of your political union to your national and individual happiness, that you should cherish Edition: current; Page: [287] towards it an affectionate and immovable attachment, and that you should watch for its preservation with zealous solicitude.

For this you have every inducement of sympathy and interest.—Citizens of a common country by birth or choice by birth or choice of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate your affections.—The name of American, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of Patriotism, more than any appellation to be derived from local discriminations.—With slight shades of difference, you have the same Religion, Manners, Habits, and political Principles.—You have in a common cause fought and triumphed together. The Independence and Liberty you possess are the work of joint councils, and joint efforts—of common dangers, sufferings and successes.—

For this, you have every motive of sympathy and interest. Children for the most part of a common country, that country claims and ought to concentrate your affections. The name of American must always gratify and exalt the just pride of patriotism more than any denomination which can be derived from local discriminations. You have, with slight shades of difference, the same religion, manners, habits and political institutions and principles; Edition: current; Page: [288] you have, in a common cause, fought and triumphed together. The independence and liberty you enjoy are the work of joint councils, efforts, dangers, sufferings, and successes. By your union you have achieved them, by your union you will most effectually maintain them.

But these considerations, however powerfully they address themselves to your sensibility, are greatly outweighed by those, which apply more immediately to your Interest.—Here every portion of our country finds the most commanding motives for carefully guarding and preserving the Union of the whole.

The considerations which address themselves to your sensibility are greatly strengthened by those which apply to your interest. Here, every portion of our country will find the most urgent and commanding motives for guarding and preserving the union of the whole.

The North in an unfettered unrestrained intercourse with the South, protected by the equal Laws of a common government, finds in the productions of the latter many of the peculiar great additional resources of maritime and commercial enterprise—and precious materials of manufacturing industry.—The South in the same intercourse, benefiting by the agency of the North, sees its agriculture grow and its commerce expand. Turning partly into its own channels the seamen of the North, it finds its particular navigation envigorated;—and, while it contributes, in different ways, to nourish and increase the general mass of the national navigation, it looks forward to the protection of a maritime strength to which itself is unequally adapted.—The East, in a like intercourse with the West, already finds, and in the progressive improvement of interior communications, by land and water, will more and more find, a valuable vent for the commodities which it brings from abroad, or manufactures at home.—The West derives from the East supplies requisite to its growth and comfort,—and what is perhaps of still greater consequence, it must of necessity owe the secure enjoyment of indispensable outlets for its own productions to the weight, influence, and the future maritime strength of the Atlantic side of the Union, directed by an indissoluble community of interest, as one Nation.The Any other tenure by which the West can hold this essential advantage, either whether derived from its own separate strength, or from an apostate and unnatural connexion with any foreign Power, must be intrinsically precarious. liable every moment to be disturbed by the fluctuating combinations of the primary interests of Europe, which must be expected to regulate the conduct of the Nations of which it is composed.

And While then every part of our Country thus finds feels an immediate and particular interest in Union, all the parts of it combined cannot fail to find in the united mass of means and efforts cannot fail to find greater strength, greater resource, proportionably greater security from external danger, a less frequent interruption of their Peace by foreign Nations; and, which is an advantage what is of inestimable value! they must derive from Union an exemption from those broils and wars between themselves, which inevitably so frequently afflict neighboring countries, not tied together by the same government; which their own rivalships alone would be sufficient to produce; but which opposite foreign alliances, attachments, and intrigues would stimulate and embitter.—Hence likewise they will avoid the necessity of those overgrown Military establishments, which under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which there is reason to regard are to be regarded as particularly hostile to Republican Liberty: In this sense it is, that your Union ought to be considered as a main prop of your liberty, and that the love of the one ought to endear to you the preservation of the other.

The North, in intercourse with the South, under the equal laws of one government, will, in the productions of the latter, many of them peculiar, find vast additional resources of maritime and commercial enterprise. The South, in the same intercourse, Edition: current; Page: [289] will share in the benefits of the agency of the North, will find its agriculture promoted and its commerce extended by turning into its own channels those means of navigation which the North more abundantly affords; and while it contributes to extend the national navigation, will participate in the protection of a maritime strength to which itself is unequally adapted. The East, in a like intercourse with the West, finds a valuable vent for the commodities which it brings from abroad or manufactures at home. The West derives through this channel an essential supply of its wants; and what is far more important to it, it must owe the secure and permanent enjoyment of the indispensable outlets, for its own productions to the weight, influence, and maritime resources of the Atlantic States. The tenure by which it could hold this advantage, either from its Edition: current; Page: [290] own separate strength, or by an apostate and unnatural connection with any foreign nation, must be intrinsically and necessarily precarious, at every moment liable to be disturbed by the combinations of those primary interests which constantly regulate the conduct of every portion of Europe,—and where every part finds a particular interest in the Union. All the parts of our country will find in their Union strength, proportional security from external danger, less frequent interruption of their peace with foreign nations; and what is far more valuable, an exemption from those broils and wars between the parts if disunited, which, then, our rivalships, fomented by foreign intrigue or the opposite Edition: current; Page: [291] alliances with foreign nations engendered by their mutual jealousies, would inevitably produce.

These considerations speak a persuasive language to any every reflecting and virtuous mind,—and they exhibit the continuance of the Union as a primary object of Patriotic desire.—Is there a doubt, whether a common government can embrace so large a sphere?—Let experience solve it.—To listen to mere speculation in such a case were criminal.—’T is natural We are authorized to hope that a proper organization of the whole, with the auxiliary agency of governments for the respective subdivisions, will afford a happy issue to the experiment. ’Tis well worth a fair and full experiment. It may not impossibly be found, that the spirit of party, the machinations of foreign powers, the corruption and ambition of individual citizens are more formidable adversaries to the Unity of our Empire than any inherent difficulties in the scheme. Against these the mounds of national opinion, national sympathy and national jealousy ought to be raised. With such powerful and obvious motives to Union, as affecting all parts of our country have, while experience shall not have demonstrated its impracticability, there will always be reason cause in the fact itself to distrust the patriotism of those, who in any quarter may endeavor to weaken its bands.—

These considerations speak a conclusive language to every virtuous and considerate mind. They place the continuance of our union among the first objects of patriotic desire. Is there a doubt whether a common government can long embrace so extensive a sphere? Let time and experience decide the question. Speculation in such a case ought not to be listened to. And ’t is rational to hope that the auxiliary governments of the subdivisions, with a proper organization of the whole, will secure a favorable issue to the experiment. ’T is allowable to believe that Edition: current; Page: [292] the spirit of party, the intrigues of foreign nations, the corruption and the ambition of individuals, are likely to prove more formidable adversaries to the unity of our empire, than any inherent difficulties in the scheme. ’T is against these that the guards of national opinion, national sympathy, national prudence and virtue, are to be erected. With such obvious motives to union, there will be always cause from the fact itself to distrust the patriotism of those who may endeavor to weaken its bands. And by all the love I bear you, my fellow-citizens, I conjure you, as often as it appears, to frown upon the attempt.

Besides the more serious causes already hinted as threatening our Union, there is one less dangerous, but sufficiently dangerous to make it prudent to be upon our guard against it. I allude to the petulence of party differences of opinion. It is not uncommon to hear the irritations which these excite vent themselves in declarations that the different parts of the United States are ill affected to each other, in menaces that the Union will be dissolved by this or that measure. Intimations like these are as indiscreet as they are intemperate. Though frequently made with levity and without any really evil intention, they have a tendency to produce the consequence which they indicate. They teach the minds of men to consider the Union as precarious; as an object to which they ought not to attach their hopes and fortunes; and thus chill the sentiment in its favor. By alarming the pride of those to whom they are addressed, they set ingenuity at work to depreciate the value of the thing, and to discover reasons of indifference towards it. This is not wise. It will be much wiser to habituate ourselves to reverence the Union as the palladium of our national happiness; to accommodate constantly our words and actions to that idea, and to discountenance whatever may suggest a suspicion that it can in any event be abandoned.1

Besides the more serious causes which have been hinted at as endangering our Union, there is another less dangerous, but against which it is necessary to be on our guard; I mean the Edition: current; Page: [293] petulance of party differences of opinion. It is not uncommon to hear the irritations which these excite, vent themselves in declarations that the different parts of the Union are ill assorted and cannot remain together,—in menaces from the inhabitants of one part to those of another, that it will be dissolved by this or that measure. Intimations of the kind are as indiscreet as they are intemperate. Though frequently made with levity and without being in earnest, they have a tendency to produce the consequence which they indicate. They teach the minds of men to consider the Union as precarious, as an object to which they are not to attach their hopes and fortunes, and thus weaken the sentiment in its favor. By rousing the resentment and alarming the pride of those to whom they are addressed, they set ingenuity Edition: current; Page: [294] to work to deprecate the value of the object, and to discover motives of indifference to it. This is not wise. Prudence demands that we should habituate ourselves in all our words and actions to reverence the Union as a sacred and inviolable palladium of our happiness, and should discountenance whatever can lead to a suspicion that it can in any event be abandoned.

In contemplating the causes which may disturb our Union, it occurs as matter of serious concern, that our parties for some time past have been too much characterized by any ground should have been furnished for characterizing parties by Geographical discriminations—Northern and Southern—Atlantic and Western; whence designing men may endeavor to excite a belief, that there is a real difference of local interests and views. These discriminations,—the mere contrivance of the spirit of Party, (always dexterous to seize every handle by which the passions can be wielded, and too skilful not to turn to account the sympathy of neighborhood), have furnished an argument against the Union as evidence of a real difference of local interests and views; and serve to hazard it by organizing larger districts of country, under the leaders of contending factions; whose rivalships, prejudices and schemes of ambition, rather than the true interests of the Country, will direct the use of their influence. If it be possible to correct this poison in the habit of our body politic, it is worthy the endeavors of the moderate and the good to effect it. One of the expedients of Party to acquire influence, within particular districts, is to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other districts.—You cannot shield yourselves too much against the jealousies and heart burnings which spring from these misrepresentations;—They tend to render alien to each other those who ought to be bound together by fraternal affection.—The inhabitants of our Western country have lately had a useful lesson on this subject head.—They have seen, in the negotiation by the Executive, and in the unanimous ratification by the Senate, of the treaty with Spain, and in the universal satisfaction at that event, throughout the United States, a decisive proof how unfounded were the suspicions propagated among them of a policy in the General Government and in the Atlantic States unfriendly to their interests in regard to the Mississippi.—They have been witnesses to the formation of two Treaties, that with G. Britain, and that with Spain, which secure to them every thing they could desire, in respect to our Foreign Relations, towards confirming their prosperity.—Will it not be their wisdom to rely for the preservation of these advantages on the Union by which they were procured?—Will they not henceforth be deaf to those advisers, if such there are, who would sever them from their Brethren, and connect them with Aliens?—

’T is matter of serious concern that parties in this country for some time past have been too much characterized by geographical discriminations,—northern and southern States, Atlantic and western country. These discriminations, which are the mere artifice of the spirit of party (always dexterous to avail itself of every source of sympathy, of every handle by which the passions can be taken hold of, and which has been careful to turn to Edition: current; Page: [295] account the circumstance of territorial vicinity), have furnished an argument against the Union as evidence of a real difference of local interests and views, and serve to hazard it by organizing large districts of country under the direction of different factions whose passions and prejudices, rather than the true interests of the country, will be too apt to regulate the use of their influence. If it be possible to correct this poison in the affairs of our country, it is worthy the best endeavors of moderate and virtuous men to effect it.

One of the expedients which the partizans of faction employ towards strengthening their influence by local discriminations, is to misrepresent the opinions and views of rival districts. The people at large cannot be too much on their guard against the jealousies which grow out of these misrepresentations. They tend to render aliens to each other those who ought to be tied Edition: current; Page: [296] together by fraternal affection. The people of the western country have lately had a useful lesson on this subject. They have seen in the negotiation by the Executive, and in the unanimous ratification of the treaty with Spain by the Senate, and in the universal satisfaction at that event in all parts of the country, a decisive proof how unfounded have been the suspicions instilled in them of a policy in the Atlantic States, and in the different departments of the general government, hostile to their interests in relation to the Mississippi. They have seen two treaties formed which secure to them every thing that they could desire to confirm their prosperity. Will they not henceforth rely for the preservation of these advantages on that Union by which they were procured? Will they not reject those counsellors who would render them alien to their brethren and connect them with aliens?

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To the efficacy and permanency of your Union, a Government for the whole is indispensable.—No alliances however strict between the parts can be an adequate substitute.—They must inevitably experience the infractions and interruptions which all alliances in all times have experienced.—Sensible of this momentous truth, you have improved upon your first essay, by the adoption of a Constitution of Government, better calculated than your former for an intimate Union, and for the efficacious management of your common concerns.—This government, the offspring of our own choice uninfluenced and unawed, adopted upon full investigation and mature deliberation, completely free in its principles, in the distribution of its powers, uniting security with energy, and containing within itself a provision for its own amendment, has a just claim to your confidence and your support.—Respect for its authority, compliance with its Laws, acquiescence in its measures, are duties enjoined by the fundamental maxims of true Liberty.—The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their Constitutions of Government.—But the Constitution which at any time exists, ’till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole People, is sacredly obligatory upon all.—The very idea of the power and the right of the People to establish Government, presupposes the duty of every individual to obey the established Government.

To the duration and efficacy of your Union, a government extending over the whole is indispensable. No alliances, however strict between the parts, could be an adequate substitute. These could not fail to be liable to the infractions and interruptions which all alliances in all times have suffered. Sensible of this important truth, you have lately established a Constitution of general government, better calculated than the former for an intimate union, and more adequate to the duration of your common concerns. This government, the offspring of your own choice, uninfluenced and unawed, completely free in its principles, in the distribution of its powers, uniting energy with safety, and containing in itself a provision for its own amendment, is well entitled to your confidence and support. Respect for its authority, compliance with its laws, acquiescence in its measures, are duties dictated by the fundamental maxims of true liberty. Edition: current; Page: [298] The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government. But the Constitution for the time, and until changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly binding upon all. The very idea of the right and power of the people to establish government presupposes the duty of every individual to obey the established government.

All obstructions to the execution of the Laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, controul, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency.—They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force—to put in the place of the delegated will of the Nation, the will of a party;—often a small but artful and enterprizing minority of the community;—and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common councils, and modified by mutual interests.—However combinations or associations of the above description may now and then answer popular ends, and purposes they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the Power of the People and to usurp for themselves the reins of Government; destroying afterwards the very engines, which have lifted them to unjust dominion.—

All obstructions to the execution of the laws,—all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to counteract, control, or awe the regular action of the constituted authorities, are contrary to this fundamental principle, and of the most fatal tendency. They serve to organize faction, and to put in the stead of the delegated will of the whole nation the will of a party, often a small minority of the Edition: current; Page: [299] whole community; and according to the alternate triumph of different parties to make the public administration reflect the schemes and projects of faction rather than the wholesome plans of common councils and deliberations. However combinations or associations of this description may occasionally promote popular ends and purposes, they are likely to produce, in the course of time and things, the most effectual engines by which artful, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and usurp the reins of government.

Towards the preservation of your Government and the permanency of your present happy state, it is requisite, not only that you steadily discountenance irregular oppositions to its acknowledged authority, but also that you resist with care a the spirit of innovation upon its principles, however specious the pretexts.—One method of assault may be to effect, in the forms of the Constitution, alterations which will impair the energy of the system, and thus to undermine what cannot be directly overthrown.—In all the changes to which you may be invited, remember that time and habit are at least as necessary to fix the true character of Governments, as of other human institutions—that experience is the surest standard, by which to test the real tendency of the existing Constitution of a Country—that facility in changes upon the credit of mere hypothesis and opinion exposes to perpetual change, from the endless variety of hypothesis and opinion:—and remember, especially, that, for the efficient management of your common interests, in a country so extensive as ours, a Government of as much vigor as is consistent with the perfect security of Liberty is indispensable.—Liberty itself will find in such a Government, with powers properly distributed and adjusted, its surest Guardian.—It is, indeed, little else than a name, where the Government is too feeble to withstand the enterprises of faction, to confine each member of the society within the limits prescribed by the laws, and to maintain all in the secure and tranquil enjoyment of the rights of person and property. Owing to you as I do a frank and free disclosure of my heart, I shall not conceal from you the belief I entertain, that your Government as at present constituted is far more likely to prove too feeble than too powerful.

Towards the preservation of your government and the permanency of your present happy state, it is not only requisite that you steadily discountenance irregular oppositions to its authority, but that you should be upon your guard against the spirit of innovation upon its principles, however specious the pretexts. One Edition: current; Page: [300] method of assault may be to effect alterations in the forms of the Constitution tending to impair the energy of the system, and so to undermine what cannot be directly overthrown. In all the changes to which you may be invited, remember that time and habit are as necessary to fix the true character of governments as of any other human institutions; that experience is the surest standard by which the real tendency of existing constitutions of government can be tried; that changes upon the credit of mere hypothesis and opinion expose you to perpetual change from the successive and endless variety of hypothesis and opinion. And remember also, that for the efficacious management of your common interests, in a country so extensive as ours, a government of as much force and strength as is consistent with the perfect Edition: current; Page: [301] security of liberty is indispensable. Liberty itself will find in such a government, with powers properly distributed and arranged, its surest guardian and protector. In my opinion, the real danger in our system is, that the general government, organized as at present, will prove too weak rather than too powerful.

I have already intimated to you the danger of Parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of them on Geographical discriminations.—Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the Spirit of Party, generally.

This Spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from human our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind.—It exists under different shapes in all Governments, more or less stifled, controuled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.—

In Republics of narrow extent, it is not difficult for those who at any time hold the reins of Power, and command the ordinary public favor, to overturn the established [order] constitution in favor of their aggrandisement. The same thing may likewise be too often accomplished in such Republics, by partial combinations of men, who though not in office, from birth, riches or other sources of distinction, have extraordinary influence and numerous [retainers] adherents—By debauching the Military force, by surprising some commanding citadel, or by some other sudden and unforeseen movement the fate of the Republic is decided.—But in Republics of large extent, usurpation can scarcely make its way through these avenues. The powers and opportunities of resistance of a wide extended and numerous nation, defy the successful efforts of the ordinary Military force, or of any collections which wealth and patronage may call to their aid.

In such Republics, it is safe to assert, that the conflicts of popular factions are the chief, if not the only inlets, of usurpation and Tyranny.

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism.—But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism.—The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an Individual: and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.

I have already observed the danger to be apprehended from founding our parties on geographical discriminations. Let me now enlarge the view of this point, and caution you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of party spirit in general. This spirit unfortunately is inseparable from human nature, and has its root in the strongest passions of the human heart. It exists under different shapes in all governments, but in those of the popular form it is always seen in its utmost Edition: current; Page: [302] vigor and rankness, and is their worst enemy. In republics of narrow extent, it is not difficult for those who at any time possess the reins of administration, or even for partial combinations of men, who from birth, riches, and other sources of distinction have an extraordinary influence, by possessing or acquiring the direction of the military force, or by sudden efforts of partisans and followers, to overturn the established order of things, and effect a usurpation. But in republics of large extent, the one or the other is scarcely possible. The powers and opportunities of resistance of a numerous and wide-extended nation defy the successful efforts of the ordinary military force, or of any collections which wealth and patronage may call to their aid, especially if there be no city of overbearing force, resources, and Edition: current; Page: [303] influence. In such republics it is perhaps safe to assert that the conflicts of popular faction offer the only avenues to tyranny and usurpation. The domination of one faction over another, stimulated by that spirit of revenge which is apt to be gradually engendered, and which in different ages and countries has produced the greatest enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result predispose the minds of men to seek repose and security in the absolute power of a single man. And the leader of a prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purpose of an ambitious and criminal self-aggrandizement.

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind, (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of Party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise People to discourage and restrain it.—

Without looking forward to such an extremity (which, however, Edition: current; Page: [304] ought not to be out of sight), the ordinary and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party make it the interest and the duty of a wise people, to discountenance and repress it.

It serves always to distract the Public Councils, and enfeeble the Public administration.—It agitates the community with ill founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection.—It opens the doors to foreign influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access to the Government itself through the channels of party passions. through the channels of party passions. It frequently subjects the policy of our own country to the policy of some foreign country, and even enslaves the will of our Government to the will of some foreign Government. Thus the policy and the will of one country, are subjected to the policy and will of another.

It serves always to distract the councils and enfeeble the administration of the government. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms. It opens inlets for foreign corruption and influence, which find an easy access through the channels of party passions, and causes the true policy and interest of our own country to be made subservient to the policy and interest of one and another foreign nation, sometimes enslaving our own government to the will of a foreign government.

There is an opinion that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the Administration of the Government, and serve to keep alive the Spirit of Liberty.—This within certain limits is probably true—and in Governments of a Monarchical cast, Patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favour, upon the spirit of party.—But in those of the popular character, in Governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged.—From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose,—and there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be, by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it.—A fire not to be quenched; it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, it should not only warm, but instead of warming, it should consume.

There is an opinion that parties in free countries are salutary checks upon the administration of the government, and serve to invigorate the spirit of liberty. This, within certain limits, is Edition: current; Page: [305] true; and in governments of a monarchical character or bias, patriotism may look with some favor on the spirit of party. But in those of the popular kind, in those purely elective, it is a spirit not to be fostered or encouraged. From the natural tendency of such governments, it is certain there will always be enough of it for every salutary purpose, and there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be, by the force of public opinion, to mitigate and correct it. ’T is a fire which cannot be quenched, but demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame—lest it should not only warm but consume.

It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking in a free country should inspire caution in those entrusted with its administration, to confine themselves within their respective constitutional spheres; avoiding in the exercise of the powers of one department to encroach upon another.—The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create, under whatever the form of government, a real forms, a despotism.—A just estimate of that love of power, and the proneness to abuse it, which predominates in the human heart, is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position.—The necessity of reciprocal checks in the exercise of political power, by dividing and distributing it into different depositories, and constituting each the Guardian of the Public Weal from against invasions by the others, has been evinced by experiments ancient and modern; some of them in our country and under our own eyes.—To preserve them must be as necessary as to institute them. If in the opinion of the People, the distribution or modification of the Constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates.—But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the usual and natural customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed.—The precedent of its use must always greatly overbalance in permanent evil any partial or temporary transient benefit which the use itself can at any time yield.—

It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking of the people should tend to produce caution in their public agents in the several departments of government, to retain each within its proper sphere, and not to permit one to encroach upon another; Edition: current; Page: [306] that every attempt of the kind, from whatever quarter, should meet with the discountenance of the community, and that, in every case in which a precedent of encroachment shall have been given, a corrective be sought in [revocation be effected by] a careful attention to the next choice of public agents. The spirit of encroachment tends to absorb the powers of the several branches and departments into one, and thus to establish, under whatever form, a despotism. A just knowledge of the human heart, of that love of power which predominates in it, is alone sufficient to establish this truth. Experiments, ancient and modern, some in our own country, and under our own eyes, serve to confirm it. If, in the public opinion, the distribution of the constitutional powers be in any instance wrong, or inexpedient, let it be corrected by the authority of the people in a legitimate Edition: current; Page: [307] constitutional course. Let there be no change by usurpation, for though this may be the instrument of good in one instance, it is the ordinary instrument of the destruction of free government—and the influence of the precedent is always infinitely more pernicious than any thing which it may achieve can be beneficial.

Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality are indispensable supports.—In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labour to subvert these great Pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and Citizens.—The mere Politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them.—A volume could not trace all their connexions with private and public felicity.—Let it simply be asked where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in Courts of Justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion.—Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure—reason and experience both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.—

In all those dispositions which promote political happiness, religion and morality are essential props. In vain does he claim the praise of patriotism, who labors to subvert or undermine these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest foundations of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public happiness.

Let it simply be asked, where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of moral and religious obligation Edition: current; Page: [308] deserts the oaths which are administered in courts of justice? Nor ought we to flatter ourselves that morality can be separated from religion. Concede as much as may be asked to the effect of fine education in minds of peculiar structure, can we believe, can we in prudence suppose, that national morality can be maintained in exclusion of religious principles? Does it not require the aid of a generally received and divinely authoritative religion?

’T is substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government.—The rule indeed extends with more or less force to every species of Free Government.—Who that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?—

’T is essentially true that virtue or morality is a main and necessary spring of popular or republican governments. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to all free governments. Who that is a prudent and sincere friend to them, can look with indifference on the ravages which are making in the foundation of the fabric—religion? The uncommon means which of late have been directed to this fatal end, seem to make it in a particular Edition: current; Page: [309] manner the duty of a retiring chief of a nation to warn his country against tasting of the poisonous draught.

Cultivate industry and frugality, as auxiliaries to good morals and sources of private and public prosperity. Is there not room to regret that our propensity to expense exceeds our means for it? Is there not more luxury among us and more diffusively, than suits the actual stage of our national progress? Whatever may be the apology for luxury in a country, mature in the Arts which are its ministers, and the cause of national opulence—can it promote the advantage of a young country, almost wholly agricultural, in the infancy of the arts, and certainly not in the maturity of wealth?

Promote, then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.—

Cultivate, also, industry and frugality. They are auxiliaries of good morals, and great sources of private and national prosperity. Is there not room for regret, that our propensity to expense exceeds the maturity of our country for expense? Is there not more luxury among us, in various classes, than suits the actual period of our national progress? Whatever may be the apology for luxury in a country mature in all the arts which are its ministers and the means of national opulence—can it promote the advantage of a young agricultural country, little advanced in manufactures, and not much advanced in wealth?

As a very important source of strength and security, cherish public credit.—One method of preserving it is, to use it as little sparingly as possible:—avoiding occasions of expense by cultivating peace, but remembering also that timely disbursements to prepare for danger frequently prevent much greater disbursements to repel it—avoiding likewise the accumulation of debt, not only by avoiding shunning occasions of expense, but by vigorous exertions in time of Peace to discharge the debts which unavoidable wars may have occasioned, not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burthen which we ourselves ought to bear. The execution of these maxims belongs to your Representatives, but it is necessary that public opinion should coincide coöperate.—To facilitate to them the performance of their duty, it is essential that you should practically bear in mind, that towards the payment of debts there must be Revenue—that to have Revenue there must be taxes—that no taxes can be devised which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant—that the intrinsic embarrassment inseparable from the selection of the proper objects (which is always a choice of difficulties) ought to be a decisive motive for a candid construction of the conduct of the Government in making it, and for a spirit of acquiescence in the measures for obtaining Revenue which the public exigencies may at any time dictate.—

Cherish public credit as a means of strength and security. As one method of preserving it, use it as little as possible. Avoid Edition: current; Page: [310] occasions of expense by cultivating peace—remembering always that the preparation against danger, by timely and provident disbursements, is often a means of avoiding greater disbursements to repel it. Avoid the accumulation of debt by avoiding occasions of expense, and by vigorous exertions in time of peace to discharge the debts which unavoidable wars may have occasioned, not transferring to posterity the burthen which we ought to bear ourselves. Recollect, that towards the payment of debts there must be revenue, that to have revenue there must be taxes, that it is impossible to devise taxes which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant—that they are always a choice of difficulties, that the intrinsic embarrassment which never fails to attend a selection of objects ought to be a motive for a candid construction of the conduct of the government in making it, and that a Edition: current; Page: [311] spirit of acquiescence in those measures for obtaining revenue which the public exigencies dictate, is, in an especial manner, the duty and interest of the citizens of every state.

Observe good faith and justice towards all Nations. and cultivate peace and harmony with all, for in public as well as in private transactions, I am persuaded that honesty will always be found to be the best policy. Cultivate peace and harmony with all.—Religion and Morality enjoin this conduct; and can it be that good policy does not equally enjoin it?—It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and, at no distant period, a great nation, to give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a People always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence.—Who can doubt that in the course of time and things, the fruits of such a plan would richly repay any temporary advantages, which might be lost by a steady adherence to it? Can it be that Providence has not connected the permanent felicity of a Nation with its virtue? The experiment, at least, is recommended by every sentiment which ennobles human nature.—Alas! is it rendered impossible by its vices?

Cherish good faith and justice towards, and peace and harmony with, all nations. Religion and morality enjoin this conduct, and it cannot be but that true policy equally demands it. It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and at no distant period, a great nation, to give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a people invariably governed by those exalted views. Who can doubt that in a long course of time and events the fruits of such a conduct would richly repay any temporary advantages which might be lost by a steady adherence to the plan? Can it be that Providence has not connected the permanent felicity of a nation with its virtue? The experiment is recommended by Edition: current; Page: [312] every sentiment which ennobles human nature. Alas! is it rendered impossible by its vices?

In the execution of such a plan nothing is more essential than that rooted permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations and passionate attachments for others should be excluded; and that in place of them just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated.—The Nation, which indulges towards another a an habitual hatred or a an habitual fondness, is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest.—Antipathy in one nation against another begets of course a similar sentiment in that other, disposes each more readily to offer insult and injury, to lay hold of slight causes of umbrage, and to be haughty and intractable, when accidental or trifling occasions of dispute occur.—Hence frequent collisions, obstinate, envenomed and bloody contests.—The Nation prompted by ill-will and resentment sometimes impels to War the Government, contrary to its own the best calculations of policy.—The Government sometimes participates in the national propensity, and adopts through passion what reason would reject;—at other times, it makes the animosity of the Nation subservient to projects of hostility instigated by pride, ambition, and other sinister and pernicious motives.—The peace often, sometimes perhaps the Liberty, of Nations has been the victim.—

Towards the execution of such a plan, nothing is more essential than that antipathies against particular nations and passionate attachments for others should be avoided, and that instead of them we should cultivate just and amicable feelings towards all. That nation which indulges towards another an habitual hatred or an habitual fondness, is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity, or to its affection—either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and interest. Antipathy against one nation, which never fails to beget a similar sentiment in the other, disposes each more readily to offer injury and insult to the other, to lay hold of slight causes of umbrage, and to be haughty and untractable when accidental or trifling differences arise. Edition: current; Page: [313] Hence frequent quarrels and bitter and obstinate contests. The nation urged by resentment and rage, sometimes compels the government to war, contrary to its own calculations of policy. The government sometimes participates in this propensity, and does through passion what reason would forbid at other times; it makes the animosity of the nations subservient to hostile projects which originate in ambition and other sinister motives. The peace, often, and sometimes the liberty of nations, has been the victim of this cause.

So likewise a passionate attachment of one Nation for another produces a variety of evils.—Sympathy for the favourite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one another the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter, without adequate inducement or justification: It leads also to concessions to the favourite Nation of privileges denied to others, which is apt doubly to injure the Nation making the concessions; 1stly by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained, 2dly and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld; and it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens, (who devote themselves to the favourite Nation) facility to betray, or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity:—gilding with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption or infatuation.—

In like manner a passionate attachment of one nation to another produces multiplied ills. Sympathy for the favorite nation, promoting the illusion of a supposed common interest, in cases where it does not exist, the enmities of the one betray the other into a participation in its quarrels and wars, without adequate Edition: current; Page: [314] inducements or justifications. It leads to the concession of privileges to one nation, and to the denial of them to others, which is apt doubly to injure the nation making the concession by an unnecessary yielding of what ought to have been retained, and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and retaliation in the party from whom an equal privilege is withheld. And it gives to ambitious, corrupted citizens, who devote themselves to the views of the favorite foreign power, facility in betraying or sacrificing the interests of their own country, even with popularity, gilding with [the appearance of a virtuous impulse, the base yieldings of ambition or corruption.]

As avenues to foreign influence in innumerable ways, such attachments are particularly alarming to the truly enlightened and independent Patriot.—How many opportunities do they afford to tamper with domestic factions, to practise the arts of seduction, to mislead public opinion, to influence or awe the public councils! Such an attachment of a small or weak, towards a great and powerful nation, dooms the former to be the satellite of the latter.

As avenues to foreign influence in innumerable ways, such attachments are peculiarly alarming to the enlightened independent patriot. How many opportunities do they afford to intrigue Edition: current; Page: [315] with domestic factions, to practise with success the arts of seduction, to mislead the public opinion—to influence or awe the public councils? Such an attachment of a small or weak towards a great and powerful nation, destines the former to revolve round the latter as its satellite.

Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence, I conjure you to believe me, my friends, fellow-citizens, the jealousy of a free people ought to be incessantly constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican Government.—But that jealousy, to be useful, must be impartial; else it becomes the instrument of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a defence against it.—Excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another, cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other.—Real Patriots, who may resist the intrigues of the favourite, are liable to become suspected and odious; while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests.—

Against the mischiefs of foreign influence all the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly exerted; but the jealousy of it to be useful must be impartial, else it becomes an instrument of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a defence against it.

Excessive partiality for one foreign nation, and excessive dislike of another leads to see danger only on one side, and serves to veil the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots, who resist the intrigues of the favorite, become suspected and odious. Its Edition: current; Page: [316] tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people to betray their interests.

The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign Nations, is, in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little Political connection as possible.—So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with circumspection indeed, but with perfect good faith.—Here let us stop.—

The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations ought to be to have as little political connection with them as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with circumspection, indeed, but with perfect good faith; here let it stop.

Europe has a set of primary interests, which to us have none, or a very remote relation.—Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns.—Hence therefore it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves, by an artificial connection ties in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or in the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships, or enmities.

Europe has a set of primary interests, which have none or a very remote relation to us. Hence she must be involved in frequent contests, the causes of which will be essentially foreign to us. Hence, therefore, it must necessarily be unwise on our part to implicate ourselves by an artificial connection in the ordinary vicissitudes of European politics—in the combination and collisions of her friendships or enmities.

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Our detached and distant situation invites and enables us to pursue a different course.—If we remain one People, under an efficient government, the period is not far off, when we may defy material injury from external annoyance; when we may take such an attitude as will cause the neutrality we may at any time resolve upon to observe to be scrupulously respected. When neither of two belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making acquisitions upon us, will not lightly hazard the giving us provocation to throw our weight into the opposite scale; when we may choose peace or war, as our interest guided by our justice shall counsel.

Our detached and distant situation invites us to a different course and enables us to pursue it. If we remain a united people, under an efficient government, the period is not distant when we may defy material injury from external annoyances—when we may take such an attitude as will cause the neutrality we shall at any time resolve to observe, to be violated with caution—when it will be the interest of belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making acquisitions upon us, to be very careful how either forced us to throw our weight into the opposite scale—when we may choose peace or war, as our interests, guided by justice, shall dictate.

Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation?—Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground?—Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humour, or caprice?—

Why should we forego the advantages of so felicitous a situation? Why quit our own ground and stand upon foreign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with any part of Europe, should Edition: current; Page: [318] we entangle our prosperity and peace in the nets of European ambition, rivalship, interest, or caprice?

’T is our true policy to steer clear of intimate connections permanent alliances, with any portion of the foreign world;—so far, I mean, as we are now at liberty to do it—for let me not be understood as capable of patronizing infidelity to pre-existing existing engagements, (I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, for I hold it to be as true in public, as in private transactions, that honesty is always the best policy).—I repeat it therefore let those engagements those must be observed in their genuine sense.—But in my opinion it is unnecessary and would be unwise to extend them.—

Taking care always to keep ourselves, by suitable establishments, on a respectably defensive posture, we may safely trust to occasional temporary alliances for extraordinary emergencies.—

Permanent alliance, intimate connection with any part of the foreign world is to be avoided; so far, I mean as we are now at liberty to do it; for let me never be understood as patronizing infidelity to pre-existing engagements. These must be observed in their true and genuine sense.

Harmony, liberal intercourse with all nations, are recommended by policy, humanity, and interest. But even our commercial policy should hold an equal and impartial hand:—neither seeking nor granting exclusive favours or preferences;—consulting the natural course of things;—diffusing and diversifying by gentle means the streams of commerce, but forcing nothing;—establishing with Powers so disposed—in order to give trade a stable course, to define the rights of our Merchants, and to enable the Government to support them—conventional rules of intercourse, the best that present circumstances and mutual opinion will permit; but temporary, and liable to be from time to time abandoned or varied, as experience and circumstances shall dictate; constantly keeping in view that ’t is folly in one nation to look for disinterested favors at from another,—that it must pay with a portion of its independence for whatever it may accept under that character—that by such acceptance, it may place itself in the condition of having given equivalents for nominal favours and yet of being reproached with ingratitude for not giving more.—There can be no greater error than to expect, or calculate upon real favours from Nation to Nation.—’T is an illusion which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard.

Harmony, liberal intercourse, and commerce with all nations are recommended by justice, humanity, and interest. But even our commercial policy should hold an equal hand, neither seeking nor granting exclusive favors or preferences—consulting the Edition: current; Page: [319] natural course of things—diffusing and diversifying by gentle means the streams of commerce, but forcing nothing—establishing with powers so disposed temporary rules of intercourse, the best that present circumstances and mutual opinion of interest will permit, but temporary, and liable to be abandoned or varied, as time, experience, and future circumstances may dictate—remembering that it is folly in one nation to expect disinterested favor in another, that to accept is to part with a portion of its independence, and that it may find itself in the condition of having given equivalents for nominal favors, and of being reproached with ingratitude in the bargain. There can be no greater error Edition: current; Page: [320] in national policy that to desire, expect, or calculate upon real favors. ’T is an allusion that experience must cure, that a just pride ought to discard.

In offering to you, my Countrymen, these counsels of an old and affectionate friend, I dare not hope they will make the strong and lasting impression, I could wish,—that they will controul the usual current of the passions, or prevent our Nation from running the course which has hitherto marked the destiny of Nations.—But if I may even flatter myself, that they may be productive of some partial benefit; some occasional good; that they may now and then recur to moderate the fury of party spirit, to warn against the mischiefs of foreign intrigue, to guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism, this hope will be a full recompense for the solicitude for your welfare, by which they have been dictated.—

In offering to you, my countrymen, these counsels of an old and affectionate friend—counsels suggested by laborious reflection, and matured by a various experience, I dare not hope that they will make the strong and lasting impressions I wish—that they will control the current of the passions, or prevent our nation from running the course which has hitherto marked the destiny of all nations.

But if they may even produce partial benefit, some occasional good * * * that they sometimes recur to moderate the violence of party spirit, to warn against the evils of foreign intrigue, to Edition: current; Page: [321] guard against the impositions of pretended patriotism, the having offered them must always afford me a precious consolation.

How far in the discharge of my official duties, I have been guided by the principles which have been delineated, the public Records and other evidences of my conduct must witness to You, and to the world.—To myself the assurance of my own conscience is, that I have at least believed myself to be guided by them.

How far in the execution of my present office I have been guided by the principles which have been recommended, the public records and the external evidences of my conduct must witness. My conscience assures me that I have at least believed myself to be guided by them.

In relation to the still subsisting War in Europe, my Proclamation of the 22d of April 1793 is the index to my plan.—Sanctioned by your approving voice and by that of Your Representatives in both Houses of Congress, the spirit of that measure has continually governed me:—uninfluenced by any attempts to deter or divert me from it.

In reference to the present war of Europe, my proclamation of the 22d April, 1793, is the key to my plan, sanctioned by your approving voice, and that of your Representatives in Congress—the spirit of that measure has continually governed me—uninfluenced and unawed by the attempts of any of the warring powers, their agents, or partisans, to deter or divert from it.

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After deliberate examination with the aid of the best lights I could obtain, (and from men disagreeing in their impressions of the origin, progress, and nature of that war,) I was well satisfied that our country, under all the circumstances of the case, had a right to take, and was bound in duty and interest, to take a Neutral position.—Having taken it, I determined, as far as should depend upon me, to maintain it, with moderation, perseverance, and firmness.—

The considerations which respect the right to hold this conduct, some of them of a delicate nature, would be improperly the subject of explanation on this occasion. I will barely observe that according to my understanding of the matter, that right so far from being denied by any belligerent Power, has been virtually admitted by all.

The considerations which respect the right to hold this conduct, would be improperly the subject of particular discussion on this occasion. I will barely observe that to me they appear to be warranted by well-established principles of the Laws of Nations as applicable to the nature of our alliance with France in connection with the circumstances of the case, and the relative situation of the contending Parties.1

The considerations which respect the right to hold this conduct, some of them of a delicate nature, would be improperly the subject of explanation, it is not necessary on this occasion to detail. I will only observe, that, according to my understanding of the matter, that right, so far from being denied by any of the Belligerent Powers, has been virtually admitted by all.—

The duty of holding a neutral conduct may be inferred, without anything more, from the obligation which justice and humanity impose on every Nation, in cases in which it is free to act, to maintain inviolate the relations of Peace and Amity towards other Nations.—

The inducements of interest for observing that conduct will best be referred to your own reflections and experience.—With me, a predominant motive has been to endeavour to gain time to our country to settle and mature its yet recent institutions, and to progress without interruption to that degree of strength and consistency, which is necessary to give it, humanly speaking, the command of its own fortune.

After deliberate consideration, and the best lights I could obtain (and from men who did not agree in their views of the origin, progress, and nature of that war), I was satisfied that our country, under all the circumstances of the case, had a right and was bound in propriety and interest to take a neutral position. And having taken it, I determined as should depend on me to maintain it steadily and firmly.

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Though, in reviewing the incidents of my Administration, I am unconscious of intentional error—I am nevertheless too sensible of my defects not to think it probable that I may have committed many errors.—Whatever they may be, I deprecate the evils to which they may tend, and I fervently beseech the Almighty to avert or mitigate them the evils to which they may tend.—I shall also carry with me the hope that my country will never cease to view them with indulgence; and that after forty-five years of my life dedicated to its service, with an upright zeal, the faults of incompetent abilities will be consigned to oblivion, as myself must soon be to the mansions of rest.

May I without the charge of ostentation add that neither ambition nor interest has been the impelling cause of my actions—that I have never designedly misused any power confided to me nor hesitated to use one, where I thought it could redound to your benefit? May I without the appearance of affectatation say, that the fortune with which I came into office is not bettered otherwise than by the improvement in the value of property which the quick progress and uncommon prosperity of our country have produced? May I still further add without breach of delicacy, that I shall retire without cause for a blush, with no sentiments alien to the force of those vows for the happiness of his country so natural to a citizen who sees in it the native soil of his progenitors and himself for four generations?1

Though in reviewing the incidents of my administration I am unconscious of intentional error, I am yet too sensible of my own deficiencies, not to think it possible that I have committed many errors; I deprecate the evils to which they may tend, and fervently implore the Almighty to avert or mitigate them. I shall carry with me, nevertheless, the hope that my motives will continue to be viewed by my country with indulgence, and that after forty-five years of my life, devoted with an upright zeal to the public service, the faults of inadequate abilities will be consigned to oblivion, as myself must soon be to the mansions of rest.

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Relying on its kindness in this as in other things, and actuated by that fervent love towards it, which is so natural to a man, who views in it the native soil of himself and his progenitors for four several generations;—I anticipate with pleasing expectation that retreat, in which I promise myself to realize, without alloy, the sweet enjoyment of partaking, in the midst of my fellow-citizens, the benign influence of good Laws under a free Government,—the ever favourite object of my heart, and the happy reward, as I trust, of our mutual cares, labours, and dangers.1

Neither ambition nor interest has been the impelling cause of my actions. I never designedly misused any power confided in me. The fortune with which I came into office, is not bettered otherwise than by that improvement in the value of property which the natural progress and peculiar prosperity of our country have produced. I retire with a pure heart, with undefiled hands, and with ardent vows for the happiness of a country, the native soil of myself and progenitors for four generations.

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George Washington
Washington, George
2 November, 1796
Philadelphia
Alexander Hamilton
Hamilton, Alexander

TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON.
[PRIVATE]

My dear Sir,

On Monday afternoon, I arrived in this City, and among the first things which presented themselves to my view was Mr. Adet’s letter to the Secretary of State, published by his order, in the moment it was presented.1

The object in doing this is not difficult of solution; but whether the publication in the manner it appears is by order of the Directory, or an act of his own, is yet to be learnt. If the first, he has executed a duty only; if the latter, he exceeded it, and is himself responsible for the indignity offered to this Government by such publication, without allowing it time to reply—or to take its own mode of announcing the intentions of his country towards the commerce of these United States.

In either case, should there be in your opinion any difference in my reception and treatment of that Minister, in his visits at the public Rooms, (I have not seen him yet, nor do not expect to do it before Tuesday next)—and what difference should be made if any?2

He complains in his letter, that he had received no answers to the remonstrances in former communications Edition: current; Page: [327] (the dates of which are given). The fact is that one at least of those remonstrances, were accompanied by as indecent charges, and as offensive expressions as the letters of Genet were ever marked with, and besides, the same things on former occasions, had been replied to (as the Secretary of State informs me) over and over again.

That the letter which he has now given to the public will be answered, and (to a candid mind) I hope satisfactorily, is certain; but ought it to be published immediately or not? This question has two sides to it; both of which are important. If the answer does not accompany the letter, the antidote will not keep pace with the poison,—and it may, and undoubtedly would be said, it was because the charges are just, and the consequences had been predicted. On the other hand—may not the dignity of the Government be committed by a Newspaper dispute with the Minister of a foreign Nation, and an apparent appeal to the People? and would it not be said also that we can bear every thing from one of the Belligerent Powers, but nothing from another of them? I could enlarge on this subject, but add nothing, I am certain, that your own reflections thereon will not furnish. Whether the answer is published now, or not, would it be proper, do you conceive, at the ensuing Session, which will close the political scene with me, to bring the French Affairs, since the controversy with Genet, fully before Congress? In doing this it is to be noticed, there is such a connexion between them and our transactions with Great Britain Edition: current; Page: [328] as to render either imperfect without the other; and so much of the latter as relates to the Treaty with that country has already been refused to that body; not because there was any thing contained therein that all the world might not have seen, but because it was claimed as a matter of right, and the compliance therewith would have established a dangerous precedent.

Since I wrote to you from Mount Vernon, on the eve of my departure from that place, and on my way hither, I received a letter from Sir John Sinclair an extract of which I enclose you—on the subject of an agricultural establishment.—Though not such an enthusiast as he is, I am nevertheless deeply impressed with the benefits which would result from such an institution, and if you see no impropriety in the measure, I would leave it as a recommendatory one in the Speech at the opening of the Session; which, probably, will be the last I shall ever address to that, or any other public body.

It must be obvious to every man, who considers the agriculture of this country, (even in the best improved parts of it) and compares the produce of our lands with those of other countries, no ways superior to them in natural fertility, how miserably defective we are in the management of them; and that if we do not fall on a better mode of treating them, how ruinous it will prove to the landed interest. Ages will not produce a systematic change without public attention and encouragement; but a few years more of increased sterility will drive the Inhabitants of the Atlantic States westwardly for support; whereas if Edition: current; Page: [329] they were taught how to improve the old, instead of going in pursuit of new and productive soils, they would make those acres which now scarcely yield them any thing, turn out beneficial to themselves—to the Mechanics, by supplying them with the staff of life on much cheaper terms—to the Merchants, by encreasing their Commerce and exportation—and to the Community generally, by the influx of Wealth resulting therefrom.

In a word, it is in my estimation, a great national object, and if stated as fully as the occasion and circumstances will admit, I think it must appear so—But whatever may be the reception, or fate of the recommendation, I shall have discharged my duty in submitting it to the consideration of the Legislature.

As I have a very high opinion of Mr. Jay’s judgment, candor, honor and discretion (tho’ I am not in the habit of writing so freely to him as to you) it would be very pleasing to me if you would shew him this letter (although it is a hurried one, my time having been much occupied since my arrival by the heads of the Departments, and with the Papers which have been laid before me) and let me have, for consideration, your joint opinion on the several matters therein stated.

You will recollect that the conduct to be observed towards Mr. Adet must be decided on before Tuesday next; that is, if he comes to the public room, whether he is to be received with the same cordiality as usual, or with coolness; and you will do me the justice to believe that in this instance, and every Edition: current; Page: [330] other, I wish it to be such as will promote the true policy and interest of the country, at the same time that a proper respect for its dignity is preserved. My own feelings I put out of the question.

There is in the conduct of the French government, relative to this business, an inconsistency, a duplicity, a delay, or a something else, which is unaccountable upon honorable ground. It appears that the order under which Mr. Adet has acted is dated in July (early) and yet Mr. Monroe has been led to believe (though much dissatisfaction he says has appeared)—that no such order had or would be, issued unless Great Britain set the example;—and in a letter of August the 28th he writes Mr. King to that effect;—as the latter officially informs the Secretary of State;—But I am fatigued with this and other matters which crowd upon me, and shall only add that I am very affectionately yours.

P. S. I find I have not time before the hour for closing the mail arrives, to take the promised extract from Sir John Sinclair’s letter, I therefore send the original, with a request that it may soon be returned as I have given it no acknowledgment yet.—the articles which he requests my acceptance of are not yet come to hand.

George Washington
Washington, George
3d November, 1796
Philadelphia
Alexander Hamilton
Hamilton, Alexander

TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON.

My dear Sir,

After my letter of yesterday was despatched to you, the draught of the answer to Mr. Adet was presented for my approbation, with the opinions of the Edition: current; Page: [331] Gentlemen about me that it would be expedient to publish it, and without delay.

It appeared also, by information from the Secretary of State, that as far as public opinion had been expressed on the occasion, that this measure was looked to and expected. These considerations and a conviction, if the publication was to take place otherwise than through the medium of Congress, the sooner it happened the more likely it would be to obviate the bad impressions it was calculated to make on the public mind, induced an acquiescence on my part.—I do not, nevertheless, think it free from those objections which I mentioned in my last; as it is not probable that the correspondence will end with the Secretary’s letter.

I give you the trouble of this note to account for the Publication which you will find in the Gazette of this morning; and to rescue my conduct from the imputation of inconsistency.

There are other parts of my letter not involved in this determination, which await the opinions I have asked, and on which I would be glad to hear from you, (and in the manner which has been required in preceding letters) as soon as it is convenient. I am, your affectionate friend.

George Washington
Washington, George
12 November, 1796
Philadelphia
Alexander Hamilton
Hamilton, Alexander

TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON.

My dear Sir,

In due time, and in good order, I received your letters dated the 4th, 5th, and 10th instt., and shall be mindful of their contents.

Edition: current; Page: [332]

What construction do you put upon the information received through the assistant of D[octo]r B[ailey] and what notice, if any, should it meet with now or hereafter, if application should be made for leave, or the event take place without?1

Having sometime since, called upon the different Secretaries for such matters (within their respective departments) as required to be communicated to Congress at the opening of the Session, the enclosed papers are from two of them;—one has given a shape to the ideas. From the Treasury department I have received nothing yet; and presume nothing will come from the Secretary of it except such matters as are of the fiscal kind, founded upon facts and statements.

The Secretary of War has closed his notes, or draught, with a communication, a declaration, and an invocation, which I had no intention of introducing, if such sentiments could be avoided with that decent respect which is due to such members of both houses as have been uniform and steady in their support of those measures of government which I have thought the interest and welfare of this country required and accordingly recommended.

The reasons which have operated a reluctance in my mind to touch on this subject at the opening of the Session, are two:

First, that it might not be supposed it was introduced for the purpose of a complimentary notice of the event, by those who might feel a disposition to Edition: current; Page: [333] offer it; and secondly, that it might not embarrass others who had rather be silent;—much less put it in the power of a third set to oppose (if it should be attempted) sentiments of this sort, in the answer to the Speech.

These being my reasons,—judge of their force.—If they out weigh what may be considered as indifference, slight, or disrespectful in me towards the body to whom the Address is made, let them prevail. If not, adopt in whole or in part, or new model altogether to your liking, the sentiments or expressions of Mr. McHenry.

Among the things noted in my Memorandums, and not to be found in the enclosures, is an intimation to this effect,—viz—that from the best information I have been able to obtain, and from the best view I have of the general system of European Politics, and of the state of matters in the Mediterranean in particular, our Commerce in that quarter will always be upon a precarious establishment unless a protecting force is given to it.—If Congress in their investigation of the subject should coincide in this opinion, it will rest with their wisdom to decide whether that trade, in particular, is of sufficient importance to countervail the expence of its protection. How much beyond this to extend the view towards a Navy, in the present uncertain state of our fiscal concerns, merits consideration. My own sentiments lead strongly to the means of commencement.

This last article in addition to the several matters contained in the enclosures, and what will naturally Edition: current; Page: [334] flow from the texts mentioned in your letter, together with a general reference to the proper officers for estimates—Papers &c.—alluded to in the Speech, will comprehend everything that has occurred to me, as necessary to be mentioned at the opening of the Session; and I would thank you much for letting me have the whole as early in next week as your convenience will permit—at any rate on Saturday; with your opinion on the propriety of giving Congress a full statement relatively to the situation of our affairs with France, as suggested in my letter of the [2nd] instant. With affectionate regard I am always &c.

P. S. I was in the very act of closing this letter when yours of yesterdays date came to hand—Due consideration shall be given to the contents of it.

George Washington
Washington, George
14 November, 1796
Philadelphia
Charles Lee
Lee, Charles

TO CHARLES LEE, ATTORNEY-GENERAL.
[PRIVATE.]

Dear Sir,

This letter is for your eye only. It is written for the purpose of expressing my regret for your continued absences from the Seat of the Government.—Rely upon it, it is productive of unpleasant remarks, in which I must be involved. It will, indeed is, considered as making a sinecure of the office. To suppose there is no particular occasion for the Law-officer of the Government at the seat of it, during the recess of Congress, is incorrect.—Many cases have presented themselves since the adjournment, requiring Edition: current; Page: [335] the opinion and advice of the Attorney-General (besides other duties marked out by the Laws) some points have called for your aid since I have been here, and will occur, without an hour’s previous notice, in time like the present. Let me entreat you, therefore, to come on without delay—and to be assured of the esteem &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
15 November, 1796
Philadelphia
George Washington Parke Custis
Custis, George Washington Parke

TO GEORGE WASHINGTON PARKE CUSTIS.1

Dear Washington:

Yesterday’s mail brought me your letter of the 12th instant, and under cover of this letter you will receive a ten-dollar bill, to purchase a gown, &c., if proper. But as the classes may be distinguished by a different insignia, I advise you not to provide these without first obtaining the approbation of your tutors; otherwise you may be distinguished more by folly, than by the dress.

It affords me pleasure to hear that you are agreeably fixed; and I receive still more from the assurance you give of attending closely to your studies. It is you yourself who is to derive immediate benefit from these. Your country may do it hereafter. The more knowledge you acquire, the greater will be the probability of your succeeding in both, and the greater will be your thirst for more.

I rejoice to hear you went through your examination with propriety, and have no doubt but that Edition: current; Page: [336] the president has placed you in the class which he conceived best adapted to the present state of your improvement. The more there are above you, the greater your exertions should be to ascend; but let your promotion result from your own application, and from intrinsic merit, not from the labors of others. The last would prove fallacious, and expose you to the reproach of the daw in borrowed feathers. This would be inexcusable in you, because there is no occasion for it; forasmuch, as you need nothing but the exertion of the talents you possess, with proper directions, to acquire all that is necessary; and the hours allotted for study, if properly improved, will enable you to do this. Although the confinement may feel irksome at first, the advantages resulting from it, to a reflecting mind, will soon overcome it.

Endeavor to conciliate the good will of all your fellow-students, rendering them every act of kindness in your power. Be particularly obliging and attentive to your chamber-mate, Mr. Forsyth; who, from the account I have of him, is an admirable young man, and strongly impressed with the importance of a liberal and finished education. But above all, be obedient to your tutors, and in a particular manner respect the president of the seminary who is both learned and good.1

For any particular advantage you may derive from the attention and aid of Mr. Forsyth, I shall have a disposition to reward. One thing more and I will close this letter. Never let an indigent person ask, without receiving something, if you have the means; Edition: current; Page: [337] always recollecting in what light the widow’s mite was viewed.

Your grandmother, sister, and all here are well, and feeling a strong interest in your welfare, join most cordially with me in every good wish for it. Affectionately, I am your sincere friend.

George Washington
Washington, George
21 November, 1796
Philadelphia
Alexander Hamilton
Hamilton, Alexander

TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON.

My dear Sir,

Having written to you on Saturday the 11th instant (accompanying it with enclosures) without hearing any thing from you in the course of last week, or by the Mail of this day, I begin to have uneasy sensations for the fate of my letter.

To this cause, and to my solicitude to have the Papers returned, you must ascribe the trouble of receiving this letter.

If my last got safe to your hands, and indisposition, business, or any other cause should have prevented your looking into the Papers; I wish, even under these circumstances, that they may be returned to me immediately; for I have no copies, and have but little time to digest, and to put the several matters therein contained into form, that the whole may be revised again and again, before it is presented.—Among these Papers do not forget to place Sir John Sinclair’s letter to me, as I am desirous of giving it an acknowledgment.

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You will perceive by the publication of Mr. Adet’s letter to Colo. Pickering (in Claypool’s Gazette of this date) that the French government are disposed to play a high game.—If other proofs were wanting, the time and indelicate mode and stile, of the present attack on the Executive, exhibited in this labored performance—which is as unjust as it is voluminous—would leave no doubt as to the primary object it had in view;—but what consequences it may ultimately produce, is not so accessible to human foresight as it may depend upon various contingencies and events.—I have not seen the writer since my return to the City,—nor is it presumable I shall do it under present circumstances, unless courted on my part.

The letter of Mr. Adet having been committed to the keeping of Mr. Bache by him.—Extracts having already been given to the public,—and other parts promised to be eked out, (as would it is presumed, subserve the purposes in view) induced an opinion that it was best to give the entire letter to the Public from authority, and without delay, that the well informed part of the community might judge for themselves.

The necessity of bringing the matter fully before Congress is now rendered indispensible,—and through that medium it is presumed it will make its way to the Public with proper explanations.—I am, as you know me to be, always and sincerely

Your affectionate.

P. S. Since writing the above, your letter of the 19th with its enclosures have been sent to me, Accept my thanks for them. On account of the other matter Edition: current; Page: [339] contained in this letter I forward it—being written—Your sentiments in this interesting crisis will always be thankfully received.

George Washington
Washington, George
28th November, 1796
Philadelphia
George Washington Parke Custis
Custis, George Washington Parke

TO GEORGE WASHINGTON PARKE CUSTIS.

Dear Washington:

In a few hasty lines, covering your sister’s letter and a comb, on Saturday last, I promised to write more fully to you by the post of this day. I am now in the act of performing that promise.

The assurances you give me of applying diligently to your studies, and fulfilling those obligations which are enjoined by your Creator and due to his creatures, are highly pleasing and satisfactory to me. I rejoice in it on two accounts; first, as it is the sure means of laying the foundation of your own happiness, and rendering you, if it should please God to spare your life, a useful member of society hereafter; and secondly, that I may, if I live to enjoy the pleasure, reflect that I have been, in some degree, instrumental in effecting these purposes.

You are now extending into that stage of life when good or bad habits are formed. When the mind will be turned to things useful and praiseworthy, or to dissipation and vice. Fix on whichever it may, it will stick by you; for you know it has been said, and truly, “that as the twig is bent so it will grow.” This, in a strong point of view, shows the propriety of letting your inexperience be directed by maturer advice, and in placing guard upon the avenues which Edition: current; Page: [340] lead to idleness and vice. The latter will approach like a thief, working upon your passions; encouraged, perhaps, by bad examples; the propensity to which will increase in proportion to the practice of it and your yielding. This admonition proceeds from the purest affection for you; but I do not mean by it, that you are to become a stoic, or to deprive yourself in the intervals of study of any recreations or manly exercise which reason approves.

’T is well to be on good terms with all your fellow-students, and I am pleased to hear you are so, but while a courteous behavior is due to all, select the most deserving only for your friendships, and before this becomes intimate, weigh their dispositions and character well. True friendship is a plant of slow growth; to be sincere, there must be a congeniality of temper and pursuits. Virtue and vice can not be allied; nor can idleness and industry; of course, if you resolve to adhere to the two former of these extremes, an intimacy with those who incline to the latter of them, would be extremely embarrassing to you; it would be a stumbling block in your way; and act like a millstone hung to your neck, for it is the nature of idleness and vice to obtain as many votaries as they can.

I would guard you, too, against imbibing hasty and unfavorable impressions of any one. Let your judgment always balance well before you decide; and even then, where there is no occasion for expressing an opinion, it is best to be silent, for there is nothing more certain than that it is at all times more easy to Edition: current; Page: [341] make enemies than friends. And besides, to speak evil of any one, unless there is unequivocal proofs of their deserving it, is an injury for which there is no adequate reparation. For, as Shakespeare says “He that robs me of my good name enriches not himself, but renders me poor indeed,” or words to that effect. Keep in mind that scarcely any change would be agreeable to you at first from the sudden transition, and from never having been accustomed to shift or rough it. And, moreover, that if you meet with collegiate fare, it will be unmanly to complain. My paper reminds me it is time to conclude. Affectionately, &c.

P. S. I presume you received my letter covering a ten-dollar bill to pay for your gown, although it is not mentioned. To acknowledge the receipt of letters is always proper, to remove doubts of their miscarriage.

George Washington
Washington, George
1 December, 1796
Philadelphia

TO THE COMMISSIONERS OF THE CITY OF WASHINGTON.

Gentlemen,

Your Letter of the 25th ulto. came to hand on Tuesday last; but it was not in my power to give it an earlier acknowledgment:—and now I must do it without resorting to papers (to be perfectly correct.)—The pressure of my business with the different Departments, previous to the meeting of Congress—and my own preparation for that event, leaves me but little time to attend to other matters.

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The discontents with which you are assailed by one or other of the proprietors in the Federal City, must, unquestionably, be very disagreeable and troublesome to you, for they are extremely irksome to me.

In the case however before us, I conceive Mr. Corachichi might have received a definitive answer, without referring the matter to the Executive. On what part of the Contract with Greenleaf he has founded an opinion that a site was designated for a University, and has built his complaints—or how it came to pass, that any allusion to such a measure should have found its way into that contract, I have no more recollection than I have a conception, of what could have induced it;—for your clerk has omitted sending the Extract.

It is a well known fact, or to say the least, it has been always understood by me, that the establishment of a University in the Federal City depended upon several contingencies;—one of which, and a material one too—was donations for the purpose. Until lately, this business could scarcely be said to have advanced beyond the wishes of its advocates, although these wishes were accompanied generally with expressions of what might be expected; and whenever the names of Mr. Blodget and the proprietors of that vicinity; were mentioned in relation to this business the idea (expressed or implied) always was—that they meant to give the ground.

Is this the intention of Mr. Corachichi relative to the object he is now contending for? if it is, and a Edition: current; Page: [343] sufficient space of ground, on these terms, can be obtained there for this purpose, without interfering with the property of Orphans, my opinion is, that the University ought to be placed there.—But, if this is not the design, can that Gentleman, or any other expect that the public will buy (for an exchange is a purchase, and may be of the most troublesome kind) when it has unappropriated ground nearly as convenient?—and why do this?—because a site has been loosely talked of, because a proprietor to enhance the sale of his property has colored the advantages of it as highly as he could,—and because the purchaser, omitting to investigate matters beforehand, wants the public to encounter an expence—it is unable to bear—by way of redress for his own incaution.—For what would have been the answer of the Commissioners, if he had previously applied to them, to know if a University would be placed where he is now contending for?—Certainly, that he ought not to calculate upon it.—If that would have been the answer then (and unless there are facts which have escaped my recollection) I can conceive no other could have been given, it is not inapplicable at present.

A University was not even contemplated by Major L’Enfant in the plan of the city which was laid before Congress; taking its origin from another source.—This plan you shall receive by the first safe hand who may be going to the Federal City.—By it you may discover (tho’ almost obliterated) the directions given to the Engraver by Mr. Jefferson, with a pencil, what parts to omit.—The principle on which it was done Edition: current; Page: [344] I have communicated to you on more occasions than one. With esteem &c.

P. S. Since writing the foregoing, I have received the extract, omitted to be enclosed in your letter of the 25th ulto.

I do not recollect ever to have seen or heard of it before.—Nor do I see any cause to change my opinion since I have done so, unless upon the condition which is mentioned in the body of this letter—that is, receiving the ground for the purposed site, as a donation.

SPEECH TO BOTH HOUSES OF CONGRESS, DECEMBER 7TH, 1796.

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives,

In recurring to the internal situation of our country, since I had last the pleasure to address you, I find ample reason for a renewed expression of that gratitude to the Ruler of the Universe, which a continued series of prosperity has so often and so justly called forth.

The acts of the last session, which required special arrangements, have been, as far as circumstances would admit, carried into operation.

Measures calculated to insure a continuance of the friendship of the Indians, and to preserve peace along the extent of our interior frontier, have been digested and adopted. In the framing of these, care has been taken to guard, on the one hand, our advanced settlements from the predatory incursions of those unruly individuals, who cannot be restrained by their tribes; and, on the other hand, to protect the rights secured to the Indians by treaty; to draw them nearer to the civilized state; Edition: current; Page: [345] and inspire them with correct conceptions of the power, as well as justice, of the government.

The meeting of the deputies from the Creek nation at Colerain, in the State of Georgia, which had for a principal object the purchase of a parcel of their land by that State, broke up without its being accomplished; the nation having, previous to their departure, instructed them against making any sale. The occasion, however, has been improved, to confirm, by a new treaty with the Creeks, their preëxisting engagements with the United States, and to obtain their consent to the establishment of trading-houses and military posts within their boundary; by means of which their friendship, and the general peace, may be more effectually secured.

The period, during the late session, at which the appropriation was passed for carrying into effect the treaty of amity, commerce, and navigation between the United States and his Britannic Majesty, necessarily procrastinated the reception of the posts stipulated to be delivered, beyond the date assigned for that event. As soon, however, as the governor-general of Canada could be addressed with propriety on the subject, arrangements were cordially and promptly concluded for their evacuation, and the United States took possession of the principal of them, comprehending Oswego, Niagara, Detroit, Michilimackinac, and Fort Miami, where such repairs and additions have been ordered to be made, as appeared indispensable.

The commissioners, appointed on the part of the United States and of Great Britain, to determine which is the river St. Croix mentioned in the treaty of peace of 1783, agreed in the choice of Egbert Benson, Esquire, of New York, for the third commissioner. The whole met at St. Andrews, in Passamaquoddy Bay, in the beginning of October, and directed surveys o be made of the rivers in dispute; but, deeming it impracticable to have these surveys completed before the next year, they adjourned, to meet at Boston in August, 1797, for the final decision of the question.

Other commissioners, appointed on the part of the United States, agreeably to the seventh article of the treaty with Great Britain, relative to captures and condemnations of vessels and Edition: current; Page: [346] other property, met the commissioners of his Britannic Majesty in London, in August last, when John Trumbull, Esquire, was chosen by lot for the fifth commissioner. In October following, the board were to proceed to business. As yet, there has been no communication of commissioners on the part of Great Britain, to unite with those who have been appointed on the part of the United States, for carrying into effect the sixth article of the treaty.

The treaty with Spain required, that the commissioners for running the boundary line between the territory of the United States and his Catholic Majesty’s provinces of East and West Florida should meet at the Natchez, before the expiration of six months after the exchange of the ratifications, which was effected at Aranjuez on the 25th day of April; and the troops of his Catholic Majesty, occupying any posts within the limits of the United States, were, within the same period, to be withdrawn. The commissioner of the United States, therefore, commenced his journey for the Natchez in September, and troops were ordered to occupy the posts from which the Spanish garrisons should be withdrawn. Information has been recently received of the appointment of a commissioner on the part of his Catholic Majesty for running the boundary line; but none of any appointment for the adjustment of the claims of our citizens, whose vessels were captured by the armed vessels of Spain.

In pursuance of the act of Congress, passed in the last session, for the protection and relief of American seamen, agents were appointed, one to reside in Great Britain, and the other in the West Indies. The effects of the agency in the West Indies are not yet fully ascertained; but those, which have been communicated, afford grounds to believe the measure will be beneficial. The agent destined to reside in Great Britain declining to accept the appointment, the business has consequently devolved on the minister of the United States in London, and will command his attention until a new agent shall be appointed.

After many delays and disappointments, arising out of the European war, the final arrangements for fulfilling the engagements made to the Dey and Regency of Algiers will, in all present appearance, be crowned with success; but under great, Edition: current; Page: [347] though inevitable disadvantages in the pecuniary transactions, occasioned by that war, which will render a further provision necessary. The actual liberation of all our citizens, who were prisoners in Algiers, while it gratifies every feeling heart, is itself an earnest of a satisfactory termination of the whole negotiation. Measures are in operation for effecting treaties with the Regencies of Tunis and Tripoli.

To an active external commerce, the protection of a naval force is indispensable. This is manifest with regard to wars, in which a state itself is a party. But, besides this, it is in our own experience, that the most sincere neutrality is not a sufficient guard against the depredations of nations at war. To secure respect to a neutral flag, requires a naval force, organized and ready to vindicate it from insult or aggression. This may even prevent the necessity of going to war, by discouraging belligerent powers from committing such violations of the rights of the neutral party, as may, first or last, leave no other option. From the best information I have been able to obtain, it would seem as if our trade to the Mediterranean, without a protecting force, will always be insecure, and our citizens exposed to the calamity from which numbers of them have but just been relieved.

These considerations invite the United States to look to the means, and to set about the gradual creation of a navy. The increasing progress of their navigation promises them, at no distant period, the requisite supply of seamen; and their means, in other respects, favor the undertaking. It is an encouragement, likewise, that their particular situation will give weight and influence to a moderate naval force in their hands. Will it not then be advisable to begin, without delay, to provide and lay up the materials for the building and equipping of ships of war; and to proceed in the work by degrees, in proportion as our resources shall render it practicable without inconvenience; so that a future war of Europe may not find our commerce in the same unprotected state in which it was found by the present.

Congress have repeatedly, and not without success, directed their attention to the encouragement of manufactures. The object is of too much consequence not to insure a continuance of their efforts in every way which shall appear eligible. As a Edition: current; Page: [348] general rule, manufactures on public accounts are inexpedient. But, where the state of things in a country leaves little hope, that certain branches of manufacture will, for a great length of time, obtain; when these are of a nature essential to the furnishing and equipping of the public force in time of war; are not establishments for procuring them on public account, to the extent of the ordinary demand for the public service, recommended by strong considerations of national policy, as an exception to the general rule? Ought our country to remain in such cases dependent on foreign supply, precarious, because liable to be interrupted? If the necessary articles should, in this mode, cost more in time of peace, will not the security and independence, thence arising, form an ample compensation? Establishments of this sort, commensurate only with the calls of the public service in time of peace, will, in time of war, easily be extended in proportion to the exigencies of the government; and may even, perhaps, be made to yield a surplus for the supply of our citizens at large, so as to mitigate the privations from the interruption of their trade. If adopted, the plan ought to exclude all those branches which are already, or likely soon to be, established in the country, in order that there may be no danger of interference with pursuits of individual industry.

It will not be doubted, that, with reference either to individual or national welfare, agriculture is of primary importance. In proportion as nations advance in population and other circumstances of maturity, this truth becomes more apparent, and renders the cultivation of the soil more and more an object of public patronage. Institutions for promoting it grow up, supported by the public purse; and to what object can it be dedicated with greater propriety? Among the means, which have been employed to this end, none have been attended with greater success than the establishment of boards, composed of proper characters, charged with collecting and diffusing information, and enabled by premiums, and small pecuniary aids, to encourage and assist a spirit of discovery and improvement. This species of establishment contributes doubly to the increase of improvement, by stimulating to enterprise and experiment, and by drawing to a common centre the results everywhere of individual skill and Edition: current; Page: [349] observation, and spreading them thence over the whole nation. Experience accordingly has shown, that they are very cheap instruments of immense national benefits.

I have heretofore proposed to the consideration of Congress, the expediency of establishing a national university, and also a military academy. The desirableness of both these institutions has so constantly increased with every new view I have taken of the subject, that I cannot omit the opportunity of once for all recalling your attention to them.

The assembly to which I address myself, is too enlightened not to be fully sensible how much a flourishing state of the arts and sciences contributes to national prosperity and reputation. True it is, that our country, much to its honor, contains many seminaries of learning highly respectable and useful; but the funds upon which they rest are too narrow to command the ablest professors, in the different departments of liberal knowledge, for the institution contemplated, though they would be excellent auxiliaries.

Amongst the motives to such an institution, the assimilation of the principles, opinions, and manners of our countrymen, by the common education of a portion of our youth from every quarter, well deserves attention. The more homogeneous our citizens can be made in these particulars, the greater will be our prospect of permanent union; and a primary object of such a national institution should be, the education of our youth in the science of government. In a republic, what species of knowledge can be equally important, and what duty more pressing on its legislature, than to patronize a plan for communicating it to those, who are to be the future guardians of the liberties of the country?

The institution of a military academy is also recommended by cogent reasons. However pacific the general policy of a nation may be, it ought never to be without an adequate stock of military knowledge for emergencies. The first would impair the energy of its character, and both would hazard its safety, or expose it to greater evils when war could not be avoided. Besides that war might often not depend upon its own choice. In proportion as the observance of pacific maxims might exempt a nation from the necessity of practising the rules of the military Edition: current; Page: [350] art, ought to be its care in preserving and transmitting, by proper establishments, the knowledge of that art. Whatever argument may be drawn from particular examples, superficially viewed, a thorough examination of the subject will evince, that the art of war is at once comprehensive and complicated; that it demands much previous study; and that the possession of it, in its most improved and perfect state, is always of great moment to the security of a nation. This, therefore, ought to be a serious care of every government; and for this purpose, an academy, where a regular course of instruction is given, is an obvious expedient, which different nations have successfully employed.

The compensations to the officers of the United States, in various instances, and in none more than in respect to the most important stations, appear to call for legislative revision. The consequences of a defective provision are of serious import to the government. If private wealth is to supply the defect of public retribution, it will greatly contract the sphere within which the selection of characters for office is to be made, and will proportionally diminish the probability of a choice of men able as well as upright. Besides that it would be repugnant to the vital principles of our government virtually to exclude, from public trusts, talents and virtue, unless accompanied by wealth.

While, in our external relations, some serious inconveniences and embarrassments have been overcome, and others lessened, it is with much pain and deep regret I mention, that circumstances of a very unwelcome nature have lately occurred. Our trade has suffered, and is suffering, extensive injuries in the West Indies from the cruisers and agents of the French Republic; and communications have been received from its minister here, which indicate the danger of a further disturbance of our commerce by its authority; and which are, in other respects, far from agreeable.

It has been my constant, sincere, and earnest wish, in conformity with that of our nation, to maintain cordial harmony, and a perfectly friendly understanding with that Republic. This wish remains unabated; and I shall persevere in the endeavor to fulfil it, to the utmost extent of what shall be consistent with a just and indispensable regard to the rights and honor of our Edition: current; Page: [351] country; nor will I easily cease to cherish the expectation, that a spirit of justice, candor, and friendship, on the part of the Republic, will eventually insure success.

In pursuing this course, however, I cannot forget what is due to the character of our government and nation; or to a full and entire confidence in the good sense, patriotism, self-respect, and fortitude of my countrymen.

I reserve for a special message a more particular communication on this interesting subject.

Gentlemen of the House of Representatives,

I have directed an estimate of the appropriations necessary for the service of the ensuing year to be submitted from the proper department, with a view of the public receipts and expenditures to the latest period to which an account can be prepared.

It is with satisfaction I am able to inform you, that the revenues of the United States continue in a state of progressive improvement.

A reinforcement of the existing provisions for discharging our public debt was mentioned in my address at the opening of the last session. Some preliminary steps were taken towards it, the maturing of which will, no doubt, engage your zealous attention during the present. I will only add, that it will afford me heart-felt satisfaction to concur in such further measures as will ascertain to our country the prospect of a speedy extinguishment of the debt. Posterity may have cause to regret, if, from any motive, intervals of tranquillity are left unimproved for accelerating this valuable end.

Gentlemen of the Senate and House of Representatives,

My solicitude to see the militia of the United States placed on an efficient establishment has been so often and so ardently expressed, that I shall but barely recall the subject to your view on the present occasion; at the same time, that I shall submit to your inquiry, whether our harbors are yet sufficiently secured.

The situation in which I now stand, for the last time, in the midst of the representatives of the people of the United States, naturally recalls the period when the administration of the present Edition: current; Page: [352] form of government commenced; and I cannot omit the occasion to congratulate you and my country, on the success of the experiment, nor to repeat my fervent supplications to the Supreme Ruler of the Universe and Sovereign Arbiter of Nations, that his providential care may still be extended to the United States; that the virtue and happiness of the people may be preserved; and that the government, which they have instituted for the protection of their liberties, may be perpetuated.

REPLY TO THE ANSWER OF THE SENATE.

Gentlemen,

It affords me great satisfaction to find in your address a concurrence in sentiment with me on the various topics, which I presented for your information and deliberation; and that the latter will receive from you an attention proportioned to their respective importance.

For the notice you take of my public services, civil and military, and your kind wishes for my personal happiness, I beg you to accept my cordial thanks. Those services, and greater, had I possessed ability to render them, were due to the unanimous calls of my country, and its approbation is my abundant reward.

When contemplating the period of my retirement, I saw virtuous and enlightened men, among whom I relied on the discernment and patriotism of my fellow-citizens to make the proper choice of a successor; men who would require no influential example to insure to the United States “an able, upright, and energetic administration.” To such men I shall cheerfully yield the palm of genius and talents to serve our common country; but, at the same time, I hope I may be indulged in expressing the consoling reflection (which consciousness suggests), and to bear it with me to my grave, that none can serve it with purer intentions than I have done, or with a more disinterested zeal.

REPLY TO THE ANSWER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.

Gentlemen,

To a citizen, whose views were unambitious, who preferred the shade and tranquillity of private life to the splendor and solicitude Edition: current; Page: [353] of elevated stations, and whom the voice of duty and his country could alone have drawn from his chosen retreat, no reward for his public services can be so grateful as public approbation, accompanied by a consciousness, that to render those services useful to that country has been his single aim; and, when this approbation is expressed by the representatives of a free and enlightened nation, the reward will admit of no addition. Receive, Gentlemen, my sincere and affectionate thanks for this signal testimony, that my services have been acceptable and useful to my country. The strong confidence of my fellow-citizens, while it animated all my actions, insured their zealous coöperation, which rendered those services successful. The virtue and wisdom of my successors, joined with the patriotism and intelligence of the citizens, who compose the other branches of government, I firmly trust will lead them to the adoption of measures, which, by the beneficence of Providence, will give stability to our system of government, add to its success, and secure to ourselves and to posterity that liberty, which is to all of us so dear.

While I acknowledge, with pleasure, the sincere and uniform disposition of the House of Representatives to preserve our neutral relations inviolate, and with them deeply regret any degree of interruption of our good understanding with the French Republic, I beg you, Gentlemen, to rest assured, that my endeavors will be earnest and unceasing, by all honorable means, to preserve peace, and to restore that harmony and affection, which have heretofore so happily subsisted between our two nations; and with you I cherish the pleasing hope, that a mutual spirit of justice and moderation will crown those endeavors with success.

I shall cheerfully concur in the beneficial measures, which your deliberations shall mature on the various subjects demanding your attention. And while, directing your labors to advance the real interests of our country, you receive its blessings; with perfect sincerity, my individual wishes will be offered for your present and future felicity.

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George Washington
Washington, George
19 December, 1796
Philadelphia
George Washington Parke Custis
Custis, George Washington Parke

TO GEORGE WASHINGTON PARKE CUSTIS.

Dear Washington:

I am not certain whether I have written you since the receipt of your letter of the first instant, for, as my private letters are generally despatched in a hurry, and copies not often taken, I have nothing to resort to, to refresh my memory; be this, however, as it may, we are always glad to hear from you, though we do not wish that letter-writing should interfere with your more useful and profitable occupation. The pleasure of hearing you were well, in good spirits, and progressing as we could wish in your studies, was communicated by your letter of the fourteenth instant, to your grandmamma; but what gave me particular satisfaction, was to find that you were going to commence a course of reading with Doctor Smith, of such books as he had chosen for the purpose. The first is very desirable, and the other indispensable; for, besides the duty enjoined upon you by the instructions of your preceptors, whilst your own judgment is locked up in immaturity; you now have a peculiar advantage in the attentions of Doctor Smith to you, who, being a man of learning and taste himself, will select such authors and subjects, as will lay the foundation of useful knowledge; let me impress it upon you, therefore, again and again, not only to yield implicit obedience to his choice and instructions in this respect, but to the course of studies also, and that you would pursue both with zeal and steadiness. Light reading (by this, I mean books of little importance) may amuse for the moment, but leaves nothing solid behind.

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The same consequences would follow from inconstancy and want of steadiness—for ’t is to close application and constant perseverance, men of letters and science are indebted for their knowledge and usefulness; and you are now at that period of life (as I have observed to you in a former letter) when these are to be acquired, or lost forever. But as you are well acquainted with my sentiments on this subject, and know how anxious all your friends are to see you enter upon the grand theatre of life, with the advantages of a finished education, a highly cultivated mind, and a proper sense of your duties to God and man, I shall only add one sentiment more before I close this letter (which, as I have others to write, will hardly be in time for the mail), and that is, to pay due respect and obedience to your tutors, and affectionate reverence for the president of the college, whose character merits your highest regards. Let no bad example, for such is to be met in all seminaries, have an improper influence upon your conduct. Let this be such, and let it be your pride, to demean yourself in such a manner to obtain the goodwill of your superiors, and the love of your fellow-students.

Adieu—I sincerely wish you well, being your attached and affectionate friend.

George Washington
Washington, George
23 December, 1796
Philadelphia
John H. Stone
Stone, John H.

TO JOHN H. STONE, GOVERNOR OF MARYLAND.

Dear Sir,

Yesterday I received your letter of the 16th instant, covering the resolutions of the Senate and House of Delegates of the State of Maryland, passed Edition: current; Page: [356] on the 13th and 14th. The very obliging and friendly terms, in which you have made this communication, merit my sincere thanks.1

The manner, in which the two branches of the legislature of Maryland have expressed their sense of my services, is too honorable and too affectionate ever to be forgotten. Without assigning to my exertions the extensive influence they are pleased to ascribe to them, I may with great truth say, that the exercise of every faculty I possessed was joined to the efforts of the virtue, talents, and valor of my fellow-citizens to effect our independence; and I concur with the legislature in repeating with pride and joy, what will be an everlasting honor to our country, that our revolution was so distinguished for moderation, virtue, and humanity, as to merit the eulogium they have pronounced, of being unsullied with a crime.

With the same entire devotion to my country, every act of my civil administration has been aimed to secure to it the advantages, which result from a stable and free government; and, with gratitude to Heaven, I unite to the legislature of Maryland in the pleasing reflection, that our country has continued to feel the blessings of peace, liberty, and prosperity, whilst Europe and the Indies have been convulsed with the horrors of a dreadful and desolating Edition: current; Page: [357] war. My ardent prayers are offered, that those afflicted regions may now speedily see their calamities terminated, and also feel the blessings of returning peace.

I cannot omit my acknowledgements to the Senate and House of Delegates for the manner in which they have noticed my late Address to my fellow-citizens. This notice, with similar acts in other States, leads me to hope that the advice, which therein I took the liberty to offer as the result of much experience and reflection, may produce some good.

Their kind wishes for my domestic happiness, in my contemplated retirement, are entitled to my cordial thanks.

If it shall please God to prolong a life already far advanced into the vale of years, no attending felicity can equal that, which I shall feel in seeing the administration of our government operating to preserve the independence, prosperity, and welfare of the American people. With great respect and consideration, I am, dear Sir, &c.

1797.

George Washington
Washington, George
4 January, 1797
Philadelphia
Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy

TO TIMOTHY PICKERING, SECRETARY OF STATE.
[PRIVATE.]

Dear Sir,

As it is very desirable, that the papers respecting the discontents of France should be got into Congress, and sent also to Mr. Pinckney, as soon as possible, if you mean to give the other gentlemen a perusal of the statement for the latter, it would save time, if this were done as you are proceeding towards Edition: current; Page: [358] the close of that statement. It is questionable, whether the present and pressing avocations of the other two secretaries will allow them to go carefully over it; but this, I conceive, does not apply to the Attorney-General.

I have no doubt, that you have taken care and will continue to be assured of your facts; for, as this business will certainly come before the public, not only the facts, but the candor also, the expression and force of every word, will be examined with the most scrutinizing eye, and compared with every thing, that will admit of a different construction, and, if there is the least ground for it, we shall be charged with unfairness and an intention to impose on and to mislead the public judgment.

Hence, and from a desire that the statement may be full, fair, calm, and argumentative, without asperity or any thing more irritating in the comments, than the narration of facts, which expose unfounded charges and assertions, do themselves produce, I have wished that the letter to Mr. Pinckney may be revised over and over again. Much depends upon it, as it relates to ourselves and in the eyes of the world, whatever may be the effect, as it respects the governing powers of France. I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
8 January, 1797
Philadelphia
David Stuart
Stuart, David

TO DAVID STUART.

Dear Sir,

Your letter of the 18th ultimo, with its enclosures, came to hand in the usual course of the post; but the pressure of public business has prevented my giving it an acknowledgment until now.

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The first thing I shall do, after I am settled at Mount Vernon, will be to adjust all my accounts of a private nature; the doing of which, as they ought, has been prevented by public avocations.

What effect M. Adet’s conduct has had or will have on the public mind, you can form a better opinion than me. One of the objects, which he had in view, (in timing the publication,)1 is too apparent to require explanation. Some of his own zealots do not scruple to confess, that he has been too precipitate, and thereby injured the cause he meant to espouse; which is to establish such an influence in this country, as to sway the government and control its measures. Evidences of this design are abundant, and new proofs are exhibiting themselves every day to illustrate the fact; and yet, lamentable thought! a large party, under real or pretended fears of British influence, are moving Heaven and earth to aid him in these designs. It is a fact well known, for history proves it, that, from the restless temper of the French and the policy of that nation, they attempt openly or covertly, by threats or soothing professions, to influence the conduct of most governments. That they have attempted it with us, a little time will show. But, finding a neutral conduct had been adopted, and would not be relinquished by those who administered the governments, the next step was to try the people; and, to work upon them, several presses and Edition: current; Page: [360] many scribblers have been employed, to emblazon the improper acts of the British government and its officers, and to place them in all the most exaggerated and odious points of view they were susceptible; to complain, that there was not only a deficiency of friendship, but a want of justice also, in the executive towards France, the cause of which, say they, is to be found in a predilection for Great Britain. This not working as well as was expected, from a supposition that there was too much confidence, and perhaps personal regard for, the present chief magistrate and his politics, the batteries latterly have been levelled at him particularly and personally. Although he is soon to become a private citizen, his opinions are to be knocked down, and his character reduced as low as they are capable of sinking it, even by resorting to absolute falsehoods. As an evidence whereof, and of the plan they are pursuing, I send you a letter from Mr. Paine to me, printed in this city, and disseminated with great industry.1 Others of a similar nature are also in circulation.

To what lengths the French Directory will ultimately Edition: current; Page: [361] go, is difficult to say; but, that they have been led to the present point by our own people, I have no doubt. Whether some, who have done this, would choose to accompany them any farther or not, I shall not undertake to decide. But I shall be mistaken, if the candid part of my countrymen, (although they may be under a French influence,) do not see and acknowledge, that they have imbibed erroneous impressions of the conduct of this government towards France, when the communication, which I promised at the opening of the session, and which will be ready in a few days, comes before the public. It will be seen, if I mistake not, also, that that country has not such a claim upon our gratitude, as has been generally supposed, and that this country has violated no engagement with it, been guilty of no act of injustice towards it, nor been wanting in friendship, where it could be rendered without departing from that neutral station we had taken and resolved to maintain.

Enclosed also you will receive a production of Peter Porcupine, alias William Cobbett. Making allowances for the asperity of an Englishman, for some of his strong and coarse expressions, and a want of official information of many facts, it is not a bad thing.

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I rejoice to hear of Mrs. Stuart’s restoration to health, and congratulate you and her on it, and on the birth of a daughter. My best wishes attend her and the family. I am, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
9 January, 1797
Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy

TO TIMOTHY PICKERING, SECRETARY OF STATE.
[PRIVATE.]

Dear Sir,

Not having seen the conclusion of your statement for General Pinckney, (if completed,) and not knowing in what manner you propose to sum it up, it has occurred to me, that closing with some such sentiments as the following might not be improper.

That the conduct of the United States towards France has been, as will appear by the aforegoing statement, regulated by the strictest principles of neutrality.

That there has been no attempt in the government to violate our treaty with that country, to weaken our engagements therewith, or to withhold any friendship we could render, consistent with the neutrality we had adopted.

That peace has been our primary object; but, so far has it been from inducing us to acquiesce in silence to the capturing of our vessels, impressing our seamen, or to the misconduct of the naval or other officers of the British government, no instance can be produced of authenticated facts having passed Edition: current; Page: [363] unnoticed, and, where occasion required it, without strong remonstrances.

That this government, seeing no propriety in the measure, nor conceiving itself to be under any obligation to communicate to the ministers of the French Republic all the unpleasant details of what had passed between it and the British minister here, or with the minister of foreign affairs at the court of London, on these accounts, conscious of its fair dealing towards all the belligerent powers, and wrapped up in its own integrity, it little expected, (under the circumstances which have been enumerated,) the upbraidings it has met with; notwithstanding, it now is, as it always has been the earnest wish of the government (and you cannot too strongly enforce it) to be on the best and most friendly footing with the Republic of France; and we have no doubt, after giving this candid exposition of facts, that the Directory will revoke the orders, under which our trade is suffering, and will pay the damages it has sustained thereby. I am, Sir, yours sincerely.

George Washington
Washington, George
11 January, 1797
Philadelphia
George Washington Parke Custis
Custis, George Washington Parke

TO GEORGE WASHINGTON PARKE CUSTIS.

Dear Washington:

I hasten to acknowledge the receipt of your letter, dated the 7th instant, but which did not get to my hands until yesterday, and to express to you the sincere pleasure I feel in finding that I had interpreted some Edition: current; Page: [364] parts of your letter erroneously. As you have the best and most unequivocal evidence the case is susceptible of, that I have no other object in view by extending my cares and advice to you than what will redound to your own respectability, honor, and future happiness in life, so be assured, that while you give me reasons to expect a ready submission to my counsels, and while I hear that you are diligent in pursuing the means which are to acquire these advantages, it will afford me infinite gratification. Your last letter is replete with assurances of this nature—I place entire confidence in them. They have removed all the doubts which were expressed in my last letter to you, and let me repeat it again, have conveyed very pleasing sensations to my mind.

It was not my wish to check your correspondences—very far from it; for with proper characters (and none can be more desirable than with your papa and Mr. Lear) and on proper subjects, it will give you a habit of expressing your ideas upon all occasions with facility and correctness. I meant no more, by telling you we should be content with hearing from you once a week, than that these correspondences were not to be considered as an injunction or an imposition, thereby interfering with your studies or concerns of a more important nature. So far am I from discountenancing writing of any kind (except upon the principle above mentioned) that I should be pleased to hear, and you yourself might derive advantages from a short diary (recorded in a book) of the occurances which happen to you within your sphere. Edition: current; Page: [365] Trifling as this may appear at first view, it may become an introduction to more interesting matters. At any rate, by carefully preserving these, it would afford you more satisfaction in a retrospective view, that what you may conceive at present.

Another thing I would recommend to you—not because I want to know how you spend your money—and that is, to keep an account book, and enter therein every farthing of your receipts and expenditures. The doing of which would initiate you into a habit, from which considerable advantages would result. Where no account of this sort is kept, there can be no investigation; no corrections of errors; no discovery from a recurrence thereto, wherein too much, or too little, had been appropriated to particular uses. From an early attention to these matters, important and lasting benefits may follow.

We are well, and all unite in best wishes for you; and with sincere affection, I am always yours.

George Washington
Washington, George
12 January, 1797
Philadelphia
Benjamin Walker
Walker, Benjamin

TO BENJAMIN WALKER.

Dear Walker,

Permit me once more to give you the trouble of forwarding the enclosed letters to their respective addresses. If you read the Aurora of this city, or those gazettes, which are under the same influence, you cannot but have perceived with what malignant industry and persevering falsehoods I am assailed, in order to weaken if not destroy the confidence of the public.

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Amongst other attempts to effect this purpose, spurious letters, known at the time of their first publication (I believe in the year 1777) to be forgeries, to answer a similar purpose in the revolution, are, or extracts from them, brought forward with the highest emblazoning of which they are susceptible, with a view to attach principles to me, which every action of my life have given the lie to. But that is no stumbling-block with the editors of these papers and their supporters. And now, perceiving a disinclination on my part, perhaps knowing that I had determined not to take notice of such attacks, they are pressing this matter upon the public mind with more avidity than usual, urging that my silence is a proof of their genuineness.

Although I never wrote, or ever saw one of these letters until they issued from New York in print, yet the author of them must have been tolerably well acquainted in, or with some person of, my family, to have given the names and some circumstances, which are grouped in the mass of erroneous details. But, of all the mistakes which have been committed in this business, none is more palpable, or susceptible of detection, than the manner in which it is said they were obtained, by the capture of my mulatto Billy, with a portmanteau. All the army under my immediate command could contradict this, and I believe most of them know, that no attendant of mine, or a particle of my baggage, ever fell into the hands of the enemy during the whole course of the war.

It would be a singular satisfaction to me to learn, Edition: current; Page: [367] who was the author of these letters, and from what source they originated. No person in this country can, I conceive, give this information but Mr. Rivington. If, therefore, you are upon terms of familiarity with that gentleman, and see no impropriety in hinting this desire to him, you would oblige me. He may comply to what extent his own judgment shall dictate; and I pledge my honor, that nothing to his disadvantage, or the disadvantage of any of the actors of that time, shall result from it.1

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I offer the compliments of the season and you will do me the justice to believe, they are warmer than the weather, to Mrs. Walker and yourself, of whose health and happiness we shall always be glad to hear. I am your affectionate, &c.

MESSAGE TO BOTH HOUSES OF CONGRESS; ON THE INJURY SUSTAINED BY AMERICAN COMMERCE FROM FRENCH CRUISERS.

At the opening of the present session of Congress, I mentioned that some circumstances of an unwelcome nature had lately occurred in relation to France; that our trade had suffered and was suffering extensive injuries in the West Indies from the cruisers and agents of the French Republic; and that communications had been received from its minister here, which indicated danger of a further disturbance of our commerce by its authority, and that were in other respects far from agreeable; but that I reserved for a special message a more particular communication on this interesting subject. This communication I now make.

The complaints of the French minister embraced most of the transactions of our government in relation to France from an early period of the present war; which, therefore, it was necessary carefully to review. A collection has been formed, of letters and papers relating to those transactions, which I now lay before Edition: current; Page: [369] you, with a letter to Mr. Pinckney, our minister at Paris, containing an examination of the notes of the French minister, and such information as I thought might be useful to Mr. Pinckney in any further representations he might find necessary to be made to the French government. The immediate object of his mission was to make to that government such explanations of the principles and conduct of our own, as, by manifesting our good faith, might remove all jealousy and discontent, and maintain that harmony and good understanding with the French Republic, which it has been my constant solicitude to preserve. A government, which required only a knowledge of the truth to justify its measures, could not but be anxious to have this fully and frankly displayed.

George Washington
Washington, George
22 January, 1797
Philadelphia
Alexander Hamilton
Hamilton, Alexander

TO ALEXANDER HAMILTON.

My dear Sir,

Your letter of the 19th inst., was received yesterday. From the general impression made on my mind, relative to the claim of M. de Neufville1 on the justice of this country, a delay or a refusal to administer it would be hard; but I must add, that I am too little acquainted with the particulars to form a correct opinion, and, were it otherwise, I do not see how I could with propriety appear directly or indirectly in the business, as I do not recollect having had any agency therein. The numberless applications Edition: current; Page: [370] of this sort, which are made to me, (often in the dernier resort,) without the means of relief, are very distressing to my feelings.

The conduct of France towards this country is, according to my ideas of it, outrageous beyond conception; not to be warranted by her treaty with us, by the Law of Nations, by any principle of justice, or even by a regard to decent appearances. From such considerations something might have been expected; but, on her professions of friendship and loving-kindness toward us I built no hope; but rather supposed they would last as long and no longer, than it accorded with their interest to bestow them, or found it would not divert us from the observance of that strict neutrality, which we had adopted and was persevering in.

In a few days there will be published a statement of facts, in a letter with references, to General Pinckney, containing full answers to all the charges exhibited in M. Adet’s Notes against the conduct of this government. After reading them with attention, I would thank you for your sentiments thereon fully and frankly communicated; and what you think ought further to be attempted to preserve this country in Peace, consistently with the respect which is due to ourselves.1

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In some of the gazettes, and in conversation also, it is suggested, that an envoy extraordinary ought to be sent to France; but is not General Pinckney gone there already for the express purpose of explaining matters and removing inquietudes? With what more could another be charged? What would that Gentleman think of having a person treading on his heels, by the time he had arrived in Paris, when the arguments used to induce him to go there are all that could be urged to influence that other? And where is the character to be had, admitting the necessity, in all respects, acceptable and qualified for such a trust? The sooner you can give me your sentiments on these queries the more pleasing will they be to, dear Sir, your sincere friend, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
15th February, 1797
Philadelphia

TO THE COMMISSIONERS OF THE CITY OF WASHINGTON.

Gentlemen,

Several of your letters have been received within this few days; and notwithstanding the accumulation of business—consequent of the near epoch for my quitting the chair of government, the receipt of them Edition: current; Page: [372] should not have remained so long unacknowledged had I not placed such as related to the power of Attorney and to some disputed points, into the hands of the Law officer of the United States for his official opinion; without having received his report—owing, I believe to his having been hurried, almost as much as myself.

Thus circumstanced, I shall confine the subject of this letter wholly to the expression of my sentiments relatively to the public buildings; conceiving it necessary that you should be informed of them without delay.—

When in the course of the Autumn you suggested the propriety of designating the sites for the Executive offices, and for providing materials for their erection, I yielded a ready assent; and still think that if we had the means at command, and no doubt was entertained of the adequacy of them, that these buildings ought to commence.

But, when the difficulty in obtaining Loans—and the disadvantageous terms on which the money is borrowed, has since become so apparent;—when I see those whose interest it is to appreciate the credit of the city, and to aid the Commissioners in all their laudable exertions, brooding over their jealousies, and spreading the seeds of distrust;—and when I perceive (as I clearly do) that the public mind is in a state of doubt, if not in despair of having the principal building in readiness for Congress, by the time contemplated;—for these reasons I say, and for others which might be enumerated, I am now decidedly Edition: current; Page: [373] of opinion that the edifices for the Executive offices ought to be suspended;—that the work on the house for the President should advance no faster (at the expense or retardment of the Capitol) than is necessary to keep pace therewith;—and to preserve it from injury;—and, that all the means (not essential for other purposes) and all the force, ought to be employed on the Capitol.

It may be relied on, that it is the progress of that building, that is to inspire, or depress public confidence. Under any circumstances this more or less would be the case; but when it is reported by many, and believed by some (without foundation I am persuaded) that there is a bias elsewhere; it is essential on the score of policy, and for the gratification of the public wishes, that this work should be vigorously prosecuted in the manner I have suggested—and I require it accordingly.—Considered in a simple point of view, the matter stands thus.—Are the funds sufficient to accomplish all the objects which are contemplated?—If doubts arise, then, which of those objects are to be preferr’d?—on this ground there would be but one opinion;—every body would cry out, the Capitol. Again, admit that the resources will ultimately be adequate, but cannot be drawn forth in the ratio of your general wants, will not the same answer as it respects time apply with equal force to the building just mentioned?—This then, seems to be safe ground to proceed on. It would gratify the public wishes and expectation;—might, possibly appease clamor;—and, if all the buildings cannot be completed Edition: current; Page: [374] in time no material evil would result from the postponement of the subordinate offices, until the Capitol is in such a state of forwardness as to remove all doubts of its being ready for the reception of Congress by the time appointed.—Another good (mentioned in a former letter) would flow therefrom; which is, that in proportion as that building advanced, and doubts subsided, private buildings would be erected where they would be most wanted for the accommodation of the members—The public offices might shift (as they have done) a while longer: I write in much haste (for this morning’s Post) that the letter may get to you in the course of the week. If I have expressed myself in such a manner as to be clearly understood, it is enough; you must excuse the scrawl, and believe me to be, with esteem, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
2 March, 1797
Philadelphia
Henry Knox
Knox, Henry

TO HENRY KNOX.

My dear Sir,

Amongst the last acts of my political life, and before I go hence into retirement, profound will be the acknowledgment of your kind and affectionate letter from Boston, dated the 15th of January.

From the friendship I have always borne you, and from the interest I have ever taken in whatever relates to your prosperity and happiness, I participated in the sorrows, which I know you must have felt for your late heavy losses. But it is not for man to scan the wisdom of Providence. The best we can do, is to Edition: current; Page: [375] submit to its decrees. Reason, religion, and philosophy teach us to do this; but tis time alone, that can ameliorate the pangs of humanity and soften its woes.

To the wearied traveller, who sees a resting-place, and is bending his body to lean thereon, I now compare myself; but to be suffered to do this in peace, is too much to be endured by some. To misrepresent my motives, to reprobate my politics, and to weaken the confidence which has been reposed in my administration, are objects, which cannot be relinquished by those who will be satisfied with nothing short of a change in our political system. The consolation, however, which results from conscious rectitude, and the approving voice of my country, unequivocally expressed by its representatives, deprives their sting of its poison, and places in the same point of view both the weakness and malignity of their efforts.

Although the prospect of retirement is most grateful to my soul, and I have not a wish to mix again in the great world, or to partake in its politics, yet I am not without my regrets at parting with (perhaps never more to meet) the few intimates, whom I love, and among these, be assured, you are one.

The account, given by Mr. Bingham and others, of your agreeable situation and prospects at St. George’s, gave me infinite pleasure; and no one wishes more sincerely than I do, that they may increase with your years. The remainder of my life, (which in the course of nature cannot be long,) will be occupied in rural amusements; and, though I shall seclude myself Edition: current; Page: [376] as much as possible from the noisy and bustling crowd, none more than myself would be regaled by the company of those I esteem, at Mount Vernon; more than twenty miles from which, after I arrive there, it is not likely I ever shall be.

As early in next week as I can make arrangements for it, I shall commence my journey for Mount Vernon. To-morrow at dinner I shall, as a servant of the public, take my leave of the President elect, of the foreign characters, heads of departments, &c., and the day following, with pleasure, I shall witness the inauguration of my successor to the chair of government.

On the subject of politics I shall say nothing. You will have an opportunity of seeing and conversing with many of the legislators, from whom, so far as it relates to the proceedings of their own body, they can give you the details. The gazettes will furnish the rest.

Mrs. Washington unites with me in every good wish for you, Mrs. Knox, and family; and, with unfeigned truth, I am yours always and affectionately.

George Washington
Washington, George
3 March, 1797
Philadelphia
Jonathan Trumbull
Trumbull, Jonathan

TO JONATHAN TRUMBULL.

My dear Sir,

Before the curtain drops on my political life, which it will do this evening I expect for ever, I shall acknowledge, although it be in a few hasty lines only, the receipt of your kind and affectionate letter of the 23d of January last.

Edition: current; Page: [377]

When I add, that according to custom all the acts of the session, excepting two or three very unimportant bills, have been presented to me within the last four days, you will not be surprised at the pressure under which I write at present. But it must astonish others, who know that the Constitution allows the President ten days to deliberate on each bill, which is brought before him, that he should be allowed by the legislature less than half of that time to consider all the business of the session; and, in some instances, scarcely an hour to revolve the most important. But as the scene is closing with me, it is of little avail now to let it be with murmurs.

I should be very unhappy, if I thought, that my relinquishing the reins of government would produce any of the consequences, which your fears forebode. In all free governments, contentions in elections will take place, and, whilst it is confined to our own citizens, it is not to be regretted; but severely indeed ought it to be reprobated, when occasioned by foreign machinations. I trust, however, that the good sense of our countrymen will guard the public weal against this and every other innovation, and that, although we may be a little wrong now and then, we shall return to the right path with more avidity. I can never believe, that Providence, which has guided us so long and through such a labyrinth, will withdraw its protection at this crisis.

Although I shall resign the chair of government without a single regret, or any desire to intermeddle in politics again, yet there are many of my compatriots, Edition: current; Page: [378] among whom be asssured I place you, from whom I shall part sorrowing; because, unless I meet with them at Mount Vernon, it is not likely that I shall ever see them more, as I do not expect that I shall ever be twenty miles from it, after I am tranquilly settled there. To tell you how glad I should be to see you at that place is unnecessary. To this I will add, that it would not only give me pleasure, but pleasure also to Mrs. Washington, and others of the family with whom you are acquainted, and who all unite, in every good wish for you and yours, with, dear Sir, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
3 March, 1797
Philadelphia
Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy

TO TIMOTHY PICKERING, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Dear Sir,

At the conclusion of my public employments, I have thought it expedient to notice the publication of certain forged letters, which first appeared in the year 1777, and were obtruded upon the public as mine. They are said by the editor to have been found in a small portmanteau, that I had left in the care of my mulatto servant, named Billy, who, it is pretended, was taken prisoner at Fort Lee, in 1776. The period, when these letters were first printed, will be recollected, and what were the impressions they were intended to produce on the public mind. It was then supposed to be of some consequence to strike at the integrity of the motives of the American commander-in-chief, and to paint his inclinations as at variance Edition: current; Page: [379] with his professions and his duty. Another crisis in the affairs of America having occurred, the same weapon has been resorted to, to wound my character and deceive the people.

The letters in question have the dates, addresses, and signatures here following:—

“New York, June 12th, 1776. To Mr. Lund Washington, at Mount Vernon, Fairfax County, Virginia.

“G. W.”

“To John Parke Custis, Esq., at the Hon. Benedict Calvert’s Esq., Mount Airy, Maryland, June 18th, 1776.

Geo. Washington.

“New York, July 8th, 1776. To Mr. Lund Washington, at Mount Vernon, Fairfax County, Virginia.

“G. W.”

“New York, July 15th, 1776. To Mr. Lund Washington.

“G. W.”

“New York, July 16th, 1776. To Mr. Lund Washington.

“G. W.”

“New York, July 22d, 1776. To Mr. Lund Washington.

“G. W.”

“June 24th, 1776. To Mrs. Washington.

“G. W.”

At the time, when these letters first appeared, it was notorious to the army immediately under my command, and particularly to the gentlemen attached to my person, that my mulatto man Billy had never been one moment in the power of the enemy. It is also a fact, that no part of my baggage, nor any of my attendants, were captured during the whole course of the war. These well-known facts made it unnecessary, during the war, to call the public attention Edition: current; Page: [380] to the forgery, by any express declaration of mine; and a firm reliance on my fellow-citizens, and the abundant proofs, which they gave of their confidence in me, rendered it alike unnecessary to take any formal notice of the revival of the imposition during my civil administration. But, as I cannot know how soon a more serious event may succeed to that, which will this day take place, I have thought it a duty, that I owed to myself, to my country, and to truth, now to detail the circumstances above recited; and to add my solemn declaration, that the letters herein described are a base forgery, and that I never saw or heard of them until they appeared in print.

The present letter I commit to your care, and desire that it may be deposited in the office of the department of State, as a testimony of the truth to the present generation and to posterity. Accept, I pray you, the sincere esteem and affectionate regard of, dear Sir, &c.1

Edition: current; Page: [381]
George Washington
Washington, George
3 April, 1797
Mount Vernon
James McHenry
McHenry, James

TO JAMES McHENRY, SECRETARY OF WAR.
[PRIVATE.]

Dear Sir,

Your letter of the 24th ult. has been duly received, and I thank you for the information given in it. Let me pray you to have the goodness to communicate Edition: current; Page: [382] to me occasionally, such matters as are interesting, and not contrary to the rules of your official duty to disclose. We get so many details in the Gazettes, and of such different complexions, that it is impossible to know what credence to give to any of them.

The conduct of the French government is so much beyond calculation, and so unaccountable upon any principle of justice, or even of that sort of policy, which is familiar to plain understandings, that I shall not now puzzle my brains in attempting to develop the motives of it.1

We got home without accident, and found the Roads drier, and better than I ever travelled them at that season of the year. The attentions we met with on our journey were very flattering, and to some, whose minds are differently formed from mine would have been highly relished; but I avoided in every instance, where I had any previous knowledge of the Edition: current; Page: [383] intention, and could by earnest entreaties prevail, all parade or escorts. Mrs. Washington took a violent cold in Philadelphia, which hangs upon her still; but it is not as bad as it has been.1

I find myself in the situation nearly of a young beginner; for, although I have not houses to build (except one, which I must erect for the accommodation and security of my Military, Civil, and private Papers, which are voluminous and may be interesting), yet I have not one, or scarcely anything else about me that does not require considerable repairs. In a word, I am already surrounded by Joiners, Masons, Painters, &c., &c.; and such is my anxiety to get out of their hands, that I have scarcely a room to put a friend into, or to sit in myself, without the music of hammers, or the odoriferous smell of paint. * * *

Mrs. Washington and Miss Custis are thankful for your kind rememberance of them, and join me in best regards for Mrs. McHenry and yourself, with, Dear Sir, Your sincere friend,

Edition: current; Page: [384]
George Washington
Washington, George
15 May, 1797
Mount Vernon
Oliver Wolcott
Wolcott, Oliver

TO OLIVER WOLCOTT, SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY.

Dear Sir,

I thank you for the information contained in your letter of the 19th ultimo, and infer from it with pleasure, that you must be better if not quite recovered of the indisposition of which you complained, by your being enabled to write. To know this, however, would give me satisfaction, as I entertain an affectionate regard for you.

Various conjectures have been formed relative to the causes, which have induced the President to convene the Congress at this season of the year; among others, the laying an embargo is supposed by some to be in contemplation, whether with or without foundation, you, who are acting on the great theatre, have the best means of judging. For myself, having turned aside from the broad walks of political, into the narrow paths of private life, I shall leave it with those, whose duty it is to consider subjects of this sort, and, (as every good citizen ought to do,) conform to whatsoever the ruling powers shall decide. To make and sell a little flour annually, to repair houses (going fast to ruin), to build one for the security of my papers of a public nature, and to amuse myself in agricultural and rural pursuits, will constitute employment for the few years I have to remain on this terrestrial globe. If, to these, I could now and then meet the friends I esteem, it would fill the measure and add zest to my enjoyments; but, if ever this happens, it must Edition: current; Page: [385] be under my own vine and fig-tree, as I do not think it probable that I shall go beyond twenty miles from them.

To detail matters of private concern would be as improper as it would be uninteresting; and therefore, upon the principle I have adopted, it will never be in my power to make adequate returns for your kind communications, which I wish may be continued, when you are at leisure and at liberty; for there is so little dependence on newspaper publications, which take whatever complexion the editors please to give them, that persons at a distance, who have no other means of information, are oftentimes at a loss to form an opinion on the most important occurrences. Mrs. Washington and Nelly Custis unite with me in cordial remembrance of Mrs Wolcott and yourself, and with much sincerity I remain affectionately yours.

George Washington
Washington, George
20 May, 1797
Mount Vernon
William Heath
Heath, William

TO WILLIAM HEATH.

Dear Sir,

Your kind and friendly letter of the 17th ultimo has been duly received, and I beg you to accept my sincere thanks for the affectionate sentiments you have been pleased to express for me in it.

I can assure you, Sir, I never ascribed a motive to the letter you wrote to me on my election to the chair of government, so unworthy of you as to suppose it was written with a view of “pressing Edition: current; Page: [386] yourself into notice, or seeking for a place.” On the contrary I was led to believe, that domestic enjoyments in rural pursuits had more charms for you, and were more congenial to your inclination, than any appointment that would draw you from home.

I hope, as you do, that, notwithstanding our political horizon is much overcast, the wisdom, temper, and firmness of the government, supported by the great mass of the people, will dispel the threatening clouds, and that all will end without any shedding of blood. To me this is so demonstrable, that not a particle of doubt would dwell on my mind relative thereto, if our citizens would advocate their own cause, instead of that of any other nation under the sun; that is, if, instead of being Frenchmen or Englishmen in politics, they would be Americans, indignant at every attempt of either, or any other power, to establish an influence in our councils, or presume to sow the seeds of discord or disunion among us. No policy, in my opinion, can be more clearly demonstrated, than that we should do justice to all, and have no political connexion with any of the European powers beyond those, which result from and serve to regulate our commerce with them. Our own experience, if it has not already had this effect, will soon convince us, that the idea of disinterested favors or friendship from any nation whatever is too novel to be calculated on, and there will always be found a wide difference between the words and actions of any of them.

Edition: current; Page: [387]

It gives me great pleasure to hear from yourself, that you are writing Memoirs of those transactions, which passed under your notice during the revolutionary war.1 Having always understood, that you were exact and copious in noting occurrences at the time they happened, a work of this kind will, from the candor and ability with which I am persuaded your notes were taken, be uncommonly correct and interesting. Whether you mean to publish them at your own expense, or by subscription, is not intimated in your letter. If the latter, I pray you to consider me as a subscriber, and in any event as a purchaser of your production. That you may enjoy health to complete the work to your entire satisfaction, I devoutly pray, and that you may live afterwards to hear it applauded, as I doubt not it will be, I as sincerely wish. If I should live to see it published, I shall read it with great avidity. Retired from noise myself, and the responsibility attached to public employment, my hours will glide smoothly on. My best wishes, however, for the prosperity of our country will always have the first place in my thoughts; while to repair buildings, and to cultivate my farms, which require close attention, will occupy the few years, perhaps days, I may be a sojourner here, as I am now in the sixty-sixth year of my peregrination through life. With assurances of great esteem, I remain, dear Sir, &c.

Edition: current; Page: [388]
George Washington
Washington, George
24 May, 1797
Mount Vernon
Samuel Stanhope Smith
Smith, Samuel Stanhope

TO REV. SAMUEL STANHOPE SMITH.

Reverend and Dear Sir,

Your favor of the 18th instant was received by the last post, the contents of which, relative to Mr. Custis, filled my mind (as you naturally supposed it would) with extreme disquietude. From his infancy I have discovered an almost unconquerable disposition to indolence in everything that did not tend to his amusements; and have exhorted him in the most parental and friendly manner often, to devote his time to more useful pursuits. His pride has been stimulated, and his family expectations and wishes have been urged as inducements thereto. In short, I could say nothing to him now by way of admonition, encouragement, or advice, that has not been repeated over and over again.

It is my earnest desire to keep him to his studies as long as I am able, as well on account of the benefits he will derive from them, as for the purpose of excluding him from the company of idle and dissipated young men until his judgment is more matured.

I am to thank you, sir, for your exertions to remove the error of his present thoughts, and I shall hope for your further endeavor to effect it. If you find, however, that the attempt will be in vain, I shall rely on your judgment to employ his time in such studies as you conceive will be most advantageous to him during his continuance with you, and I know of none more Edition: current; Page: [389] likely to prove so than those you have suggested, if his term at college will close with the next vacation. With very great esteem and regard, I am, reverend Sir, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
28 May, 1797
Mount Vernon
Thomas Pinckney
Pinckney, Thomas

TO THOMAS PINCKNEY.

My Dear Sir,

* * * Let me congratulate you on your safe return to your native country and friends, after the important services you have rendered to the former, and thank you, as I most cordially do, for the favorable sentiments which you have been pleased to express for me, and of my public conduct. The approbation you have given of the latter, be assured, is highly pleasing to me. To receive testimonies of this kind from the good and virtuous, more especially from those who are competent to judge, and have had the means of judging from the best sources of information, stamps a value which renders them peculiarly grateful to one’s sensibility.

It remains to be seen whether our country will stand upon independent ground, or be directed in its political concerns by any other nation. A little time will show who are its true friends, or, what is synonymous, who are true Americans; those who are stimulating a foreign nation to unfriendly acts, repugnant to our rights and dignity, and advocating all its measures, or those whose only aim has been to maintain a strict neutrality, to keep the United Edition: current; Page: [390] States out of the vortex of European politics, and to preserve them in peace.

The President’s speech will, I conceive, draw forth mediately or immediately an expression of the public mind; and, as it is the right of the people, that this should be carried into effect, their sentiments ought to be unequivocally known, that the principles on which the government has acted, and which, from the President’s speech, are likely to be continued, may either be changed, or the opposition, that is endeavoring to embarrass every measure of the executive, may meet effectual discountenance. Things cannot, ought not to remain any longer in their present disagreeable state. Nor should the idea, that the government and the people have different views, be suffered any longer to prevail home or abroad; for it is not only injurious to us, but disgraceful also, that a government constituted as ours is should be administered contrary to their interest, if the fact be so.1

But, as I did not begin this letter with an intention of running into any political disquisition, I will stop where I am, and only add, that with sincere and affectionate regard I am, dear Sir, &c.

Edition: current; Page: [391]
George Washington
Washington, George
29 May, 1797
Mount Vernon
James McHenry
McHenry, James

TO JAMES McHENRY, SECRETARY OF WAR.

Dear Sir,

I am indebted to you for several unacknowledged letters; but never mind that; go on as if you had them. You are at the source of information, and can find many things to relate; while I have nothing to say, that could either inform or amuse a Secretary at War in Philadelphia.

I might tell him, that I begin my diurnal course with the sun; that, if my hirelings are not in their places at that time I send them messages expressive of my sorrow for their indisposition; that, having put these wheels in motion, I examine the state of things further; and the more they are probed, the deeper I find the wounds are which my buildings have sustained by an absence and neglect of eight years; by the time I have accomplished these matters, breakfast (a little after seven o’clock, about the time I presume you are taking leave of Mrs. McHenry), is ready; that, this being over, I mount my horse and ride round my farms, which employs me until it is time to dress for dinner, at which I rarely miss seeing strange faces, come as they say out of respect for me. Pray, would not the word curiosity answer as well? And how different this from having a few social friends at a cheerful board! The usual time of sitting at table, a walk, and tea, brings me within the dawn of candlelight; previous to which, if not prevented by company, I resolve, that, as soon as the glimmering taper supplies the place of the great Edition: current; Page: [392] luminary, I will retire to my writing-table and acknowledge the letters I have received; but when the lights are brought, I feel tired and disinclined to engage in this work, conceiving that the next night will do as well. The next comes, and with it the same causes for postponement, and effect, and so on.

This will account for your letter remaining so long unacknowledged; and, having given you the history of a day, it will serve for a year, and I am persuaded you will not require a second edition of it. But it may strike you, that in this detail no mention is made of any portion of time allotted for reading. The remark would be just, for I have not looked into a book since I came home; nor shall I be able to do it until I have discharged my workmen, probably not before the nights grow longer, when possibly I may be looking in Doomsday-Book. On the score of the plated ware in your possession I will say something in a future letter. At present I shall only add, that I am always and affectionately yours.

George Washington
Washington, George
29 May, 1797
Mount Vernon
Oliver Wolcott
Wolcott, Oliver

TO OLIVER WOLCOTT, SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY.

Dear Sir,

I have received your letter of the 18th instant with its enclosures, and I thank you for both. The President has in my opinion placed matters upon their true ground in his speech to Congress. The crisis calls for an unequivocal expression of the public Edition: current; Page: [393] mind, and the speech will mediately or immediately bring this about. Things ought not, indeed cannot, remain long in their present state; and it is time the people should be thoroughly acquainted with the political situation of this country, and the causes which have produced it, that they may either give active and effectual support to those, to whom they have intrusted the administration of the government, if they approve the principles on which they have acted, or sanction the conduct of their opponents, who have endeavored to bring about a change by embarrassing all its measures, (not even short of foreign means).

We are waiting with no small degree of solicitude, for the answer of the house of Representatives, that an opinion may be formed from its complexion of the temper of that body since its renovation.1

Thus much for our own affairs, which, maugre the desolating scenes of Europe, might continue in the Edition: current; Page: [394] most happy, flourishing, and prosperous train, if the harmony of the Union were not endangered by the internal disturbers of its peace. With respect to the nations of Europe, their situation appears so awful, that nothing short of Omnipotence can predict the issue; although every human mind must feel for the miseries it endures. Our course is plain; they who run may read it. Their’s is so bewildered and dark, so entangled and embarrassed, and so obviously under the influence of intrigue, that one would suppose, if any thing could open the eyes of our misled citizens, the deplorable situation of those people could not fail to accomplish it. * * * With sincere and affectionate regard, I am always yours.

George Washington
Washington, George
4 June, 1797
Mount Vernon
George Washington Parke Custis
Custis, George Washington Parke

TO GEORGE WASHINGTON PARKE CUSTIS.

Your letter of the 29th ultimo, came to hand by the post of Friday, and eased my mind of many unpleasant sensations and reflections on your account. It has, indeed, done more, it has filled it with pleasure more easy to be conceived than expressed; and if your sorrow and repentance for the disquietude occasioned by the preceding letter, your resolution to abandon the ideas which were therein express, are sincere, I shall not only heartily forgive, but will forget also, and bury in oblivion all that has passed.

As a testimony of my disposition to do this—of Edition: current; Page: [395] the hope I had conceived that reflection would overcome an indolent habit or bad advice—not a hint respecting this matter has been given to any of your friends in this quarter, although Doctor Stuart and your mother (with their children) left this on Thursday last, after a stay of a week, and both Mr. Law and Mr. Peter have been here since the receipt of it. In a word, your grandmamma, sister, and myself, are all who were acquainted therewith.

You must not suffer this resolution you have recently entered into, to operate as the mere result of a momentary impulse, occasioned by the letters you have received from hence. This resolution should be founded on sober reflection, and a thorough conviction of your error, otherwise it will be as wavering as the wind, and become the sport of conflicting passions, which will occasion such a lassitude in your exertions as to render your studies of little avail. To insure permanency, think seriously of the advantages which are to be derived, on the one hand, from the steady pursuit of a course of study to be marked out by your preceptor, whose judgment, experience, and acknowledged abilities, enables him to direct them; and, on the other hand, revolve as seriously on the consequences which would inevitably result from an indisposition to this measure, or from an idle habit of hankering after unprofitable amusements at your time of life, before you have acquired that knowledge which would be found beneficial in every situation; I say before, because it is not my wish that, having gone through the essentials, you Edition: current; Page: [396] should be deprived of any rational amusement afterward; or, lastly, from dissipation in such company as you would most likely meet under such circumstances, who but too often, mistake ribaldry for wit, and rioting, swearing, intoxication, and gambling for manliness.

These things are not without momentary charms to young minds susceptible of any impression, before the judgment in some measure is formed, and reason begins to preponderate. It is on this ground, as well as on account of the intrinsic advantages that you yourself would experience hereafter from it, that I am desirous of keeping you to your studies. And if such characters as I have described should be found instrumental, either by their advice or example, in giving your mind a wrong bias, shun them as you would a pestilence; for, be assured, it is not with such qualities as these you ought to be allied, or with those who possess them to have any friendship.

These sentiments are dictated by the purest regard for your welfare, and from an earnest desire to promote your true happiness, in which all your friends feel an interest, and would be much gratified to see accomplished, while it would contribute in an eminent degree to your respectability in the eyes of others.

Your endeavors to fulfill these reasonable wishes of ours can not fail of restoring all the attentions, protection, and affection of one who has ever been, and will continue to be, your sincere friend.

Edition: current; Page: [397]
George Washington
Washington, George
26 June, 1797
Mount Vernon
David Humphreys
Humphreys, David

TO DAVID HUMPHREYS.

My Dear Humphreys:

Since I did myself the pleasure of writing to you by Capt. O’Brian, I have been favored with your letters of the 1st of January and 18th of February.—The last in date was the first received; but neither came to hand until long after I had left the chair of Government, and was seated in the shade of my own Vine and Fig tree.

The testimony of your politeness and friendship to Mrs. Washington and myself, which accompanied the latter, are accepted with the same cordiality and chearfulness with which I am sure they were presented. Presents however, to me, are of all things the most painful; but when I am so well satisfied of the motives which dictated yours my scruples are removed; and I receive the buckles (which are indeed very elegant) as a token of your regard and attachment; and will keep and wear them occasionally for your sake.

As the Gazettes of this country are transmitted from the department of State, to all our diplomatic characters abroad, you will of course have perceived that the measure advised by you relative to the disavowal of the forged letter (attempted to be imposed on the public, as written by me in 1776) had been previously adopted; without any of the accompaniments contained in your draught which was received long after the publication of it.

I am clearly in sentiment with you that every man Edition: current; Page: [398] who is in the vigor of life, ought to serve his country, in what ever line it requires and he is fit for; It was not my intention therefore to persuade you to withdraw your services whilst inclination and the calls of your Country demanded your service. but the desire of a companion in my latter days, in whom I could confide, might have induced me to express myself too strongly on the occasion. The change however which I presume has ere this taken place in your domestic concerns would of itself have annihilated every hope of having you as an inmate if the circumstance had been known at the time.

On this event, which I persuade myself will be fortunate and happy for you, I offer my congratulations, with all the sincerity and warmth you can desire;—and if ever you should bring Mrs. Humphreys1 to the U. States no roof will afford her and you a more welcome reception than this, while we are the inhabitants of it.

To the Department of State and the Gazettes which will be transmitted from thence, I shall refer you for the political state of our affairs; but in one word I might have added, that nothing short of a general peace in Europe, will produce tranquility in this Country; for reasons which are obvious to every well informed observant man among us. I have confidence however in that providence, which has shielded the U. States from the evils which have threatened them hitherto.—And, as I believe the major part of the people of this country, are well Edition: current; Page: [399] affected to the Constitution and Government of it, I rest satisfied that if ever a crisis should arise to call forth the sense of the Community it will be strong in support of the Honor and dignity of the nation. Therefore however much I regret the opposition, which has for its object the embarrassment of the administration, I shall view things in the “calm light of mild philosophy” and endeavor to finish my course in retirement and ease.

An absence from home of eight years (except short occasional visits to it which allowed no time to investigate or look into the real state of my private concerns) has very much deranged them, and occasioned such depredations upon buildings and all things around them, as to make the expence of repairs almost as great and the employment of attending to work men almost as much, as if I had commenced an entire new establishment.

The public buildings in the Federal City go on well:—one wing of the Capitol (with which Congress might make a very good shift), and the President’s House will be covered in this Autumn, or to speak more correctly perhaps the latter is now receiving its cover, and the former will be ready for it by that epoch. An elegant bridge is thrown over the Potomack at the little falls, and the navigation of the river above will be completed nearly, this season, through which an immensity of Produce, must flow to the shipping Ports thereon.

Alexandria you would scarcely know; so much has it encreased, since you was there. Two entire streets Edition: current; Page: [400] where Shallops, then laded and unladed, are extended into the River, and some of the best buildings in the Town erected on them.—What were the Commons, are now all enclosed, and many good houses placed on them.

As my circle is now small my information will be of course contracted, as Alexandria and the Federal City will probably be the extent of my perambulations. If you have entered the Matrimonial list—I pray you to present me in respectful terms to your lady and at all times and under all circumstances that you would believe me to be, as I really am, my dear Sir, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
7th July, 1797
Mount Vernon
James McHenry
McHenry, James

TO JAMES McHENRY, SECRETARY OF WAR.

Dear Sir,

By the last Post I was favored with your letter of the 3d instant and thank you for its enclosure, although, on the same day, I had, myself, transmitted a copy thereof to the Secretary of State.

I had doubted awhile, whether to forward it to your office or that of State, but finally resolved to send it to the latter, as it seemed more properly I thought, to belong to that Department.

If the letter (intercepted by Mr. Byers) is a genuine one, and the Gentleman’s handwriting is not easily mistaken, or counterfeited, what excuse can a late Governor and present Senator of the U S, or his friends for him, offer for such Nefarious conduct? The defence must be curious, and will, I have no Edition: current; Page: [401] doubt, be conducted with as much effrontery as art. I hope, notwithstanding if the fact is proved, that the author will receive all the Punishment which the Constitution and Laws of this Country can inflict; and thereafter be held in detestation by all good men. To seek private emolument at the expence of Public Peace—perhaps at the expence of many innocent lives: and to aim a stroke at the reputation of a virtuous character, hazarding his health—probably life, to promote tranquility between the Indians and our frontier Inhabitants; and by destroying his influence and well-earned good name among the former, to render him incapable of serving his Country, and this forsooth because he may be a stumbling block in the way of a plan which he has in contemplation, is a crime of so deep a dye as no Epithet can convey an adequate idea of to my mind. A poor wretch stealing the worth of a shilling, possibly to buy bread, would be hung, or confined to hard labor, and here, a plan (at which I can only guess) is on foot to defraud the public of its rights; deprive Citizens perhaps (in its consequences) of their lives; to stigmatise character; and ultimately to produce war, with all its concomitants, wch. will, more than probable, meet with advocates.

But as you inform me that the matter would be laid before Congress, on Monday last, I shall wait (with some degree of impatience I confess) to learn the result.1

Always, I remain &c.
Edition: current; Page: [402]
George Washington
Washington, George
12 July, 1797
Mount Vernon
Samuel Washington
Washington, Samuel

TO SAMUEL WASHINGTON.

Dear Sir,

I perceive by your letter of the 7th Instant that you are under the same mistake that many others are,—in supposing that I have money always at command.

The case is so much the reverse of it, that I found it expedient, before I retired from public life, to sell all my Lands (near 5000 acres) in Pennsylvania in the Counties of Washington and Fayette, and my lands in the Great Dismal Swamp in Virginia, in order to enable me to defray the expences of my station, and to raise money for other purposes.

That these lands might not go at too low a rate (for they sold much below their value) I was induced after receiving prompt payment for part, to allow credit for the remainder of the purchase money, in obtaining payment of which from two of the purchasers, I find much difficulty; but a third having within these few days paid me an installment of three thousand Dollars, I will, rather than you should be compelled to sell your land, lend you a third of them, altho’ it will be inconvenient for me to do so; and may be the means of retarding my purchase of wheat Edition: current; Page: [403] for my mill;—which for want of it, has been very unproductive to me for several years;—I might indeed say an expence to me.—

It is because you have assured me that misfortunes have brought on your present difficulties (tho’ by the by let me observe if you had inspected as you ought, the staking of your wheat more closely, the spoiling thereof might have been avoided) and because I have heard that you are industrious and sober that I put myself to the inconvenience of parting with the above sum; for I would not lend it for the purpose to enable you to indulge in any thing that is not strictly œconomical and proper; and I shall add further, that it will be my expectation that the money be immediately applied to the uses for which you have required it—for you may be assured that there is no practice more dangerous than that of borrowing money (instance as proof the case of your father and uncles). For when money can be had in this way, repayment is seldom thought of in time;—the Interest becomes a moth;—exertions to raise it by dint of Industry ceases—it comes easy and is spent freely; and many things indulged in that would never be thought of, if to be purchased by the sweat of the brow.—in the mean time the debt is accumulating like a snow ball in rolling.

I mention these things to you, because your inexperience may not have presented them to your mind—but you may rely on it that they are indubitable facts, and have proved the ruin of thousands before suspected.—Great speculations and sometimes trade Edition: current; Page: [404] may be benefitted of obtaining money on Interest, but no landed Estate will bear it.—

I do not make these observations on account of the money I have purposed to lend you, because all that I shall require is, that you will return the nett sum when in your power, without Interest.—It may & at any rate as it was * * *1

George Washington
Washington, George
15 July, 1797
Mount Vernon
William Strickland
Strickland, William

TO WILLIAM STRICKLAND.

Sir,

I have been honored with yours of the 30th of May and 5th of Sept.—of last year.

As the first was in part an answer to a letter I took the liberty of writing to you, and the latter arrived in the middle of an important Session of Congress, which became more interesting as it drew more nearer to its close, in as much as it was limitted by the Constitution to the 3d of March, and on that day was to give political dissolution to the house of representatives, a third part of the Senate, and the Chief Magistrate of the United States, I postponed from the pressure of business occasioned thereby the acknowledgment of all private letters, which did not require immediate answers until I should be seated under my own vine and fig Tree where I supposed I should have abundant leisure to discharge all my Epistolary obligations.—In this however I have hitherto found myself mistaken, for at no period have I been more closely Edition: current; Page: [405] employed in repairing the ravages of an eight years absence (except short occasional visits which allowed no time for that investigation, which, since my establishment here, I have found my Buildings, Gardens, and every thing appertaining to them, so much required). Engaging Workmen of different sorts, providing for and looking after them, together with the necessary attention to my farms, have occupied all my time since I have been at home.

Unimportant as these details must be to you, an apology in my estimation seemed necessary for suffering so interesting a letter as yours of the 5th of September to remain so long unacknowledged.—and I could offer none better than the facts which occasioned it. I was far from entertaining sanguine hopes of success in my attempt to procure tenants from Great Britain,—but being desirous of rendering the evening of my life as tranquil and free from care as the nature of things would admit I was willing to make the experiment.

Your observation with respect to occupiers and proprietors of land has great weight, and being congenial with my own Ideas on the subject was one reason, though I did not believe it would be so considered, why I offered my Farms to be let:—Instances have occured and do occur daily to prove that capitalists from Europe have injured themselves by precipitate purchases, of free hold Estates immediately upon their arrival in this Country, while others have lessened their means in exploring states and places in search of locations; whereas if, on advantageous terms, they Edition: current; Page: [406] could have been first seated as tenants; they wou’d have had time and opportunities for the propensity to become holders of Land themselves, for making advantageous purchases. But it is so natural for man to wish to be the absolute Lord and Master of what he holds in occupancy, that his true interest is often made to yield to a false ambition. Among these the Emigrant from the New England States may be classed and will account in part for their migration to the Westward. Conviction of these things having left little hope of obtaining such Tenants as would answer my purposes, I have had it in contemplation ever since I returned home to turn my farms to grazing principally, as fast as I can cover the fields sufficiently with grass. Labor and of course expence will be considerably diminished by this change, the nett profit as great and my attention less divided, whilst the fields will be improving.

Your strictures on the Agriculture of this country are but too just—it is indeed wretched—but a leading, if not the primary, cause of its being so is that, instead of improving a little ground well, we attempt much and do it ill.—A half a third or even a fourth of what we mangle, well wrought and properly dressed, wou’d produce more than the whole under our system (if it deserves that epithet) of management. Yet, such is the force of habit, that we cannot depart from it. The consequence of which is that we ruin the lands that are already cleared and either cut down more wood if we have it, or emigrate into the Western Country.—I have endeavored both in a public Edition: current; Page: [407] and private character to encourage the establishment of Boards of Agriculture in this Country, but hitherto in vain; and what is still more extraordinary and scarcely to be believed I have endeavored ineffectually to discard the pernicious practice just mentioned from my own estate; but in my absence, pretexts of one kind or another have always been paramount to orders. Since the first Establishment of the National Board of Agriculture in Great Britain, I have considered it as one of the most valuable Institutions of modern times, and conducted with so much ability and zeal as it appears to be under the auspices of Sir John Sinclair, must be productive of great advantages to the Nation and to Mankind in General.—

My system of Agriculture is what you have described, and I am persuaded, was I to farm it on a large scale, would be improved by the alteration you have proposed;—at the same time I must observe that I have not found Oats so great an exhauster as they are represented to be—but in my system they follow wheat too closely to be proper, and the rotation will undergo a change in this, and perhaps in some other respects.

The Vetch of Europe has not succeeded with me; our frosts in Winter and droughts in Summer, are too severe for them.—how far the Mountain or Wild Pea would answer as a substitute by cultivation, is difficult to decide, because I believe no trial has been made of them and because their spontaneous growth is in Rich lands only:—that they are nutricious in Edition: current; Page: [408] a great Degree in their wild state admits of no doubt.—

Spring Barley such as we grow in this Country has thriven no better with me than Vetches.—The result of an Experiment made with a little of the True Sort might be interesting.—Of the field Peas of England (different kinds) I have more than once tried, but not with encouragement to proceed; for among other discouragements they are perforated by a bug which eats out the kernal. From the cultivation of the common black eye peas, I have more hope and am trying them this year both as a Crop and for plowing in as a manure but the severe drought under which we labor at present may render the Experiment inconclusive.—It has in a manner destroyed my oats; and bids fair to do so by my Indian Corn.

The practice of plowing in Buck wheat twice in the season, as a fertilizer is not new to me. It is what I have practiced—or, I ought to have said rather,—attempted to practice, the last two or three years, but like most things else in my absence, it has been so badly executed—that is the turning in of the plants has been so illy timed, as to give no result. I am not discouraged however by these failures, for if pulverizing the soil, by fallowing and turning in vegetable substances for manure are proper preparatives for the Crop that is to follow; there can be no question, that a double portion of the latter, without an increase of the plowing must be highly beneficial.—I am in the act of making another experiment of this sort, and shall myself attend to the operation Edition: current; Page: [409] which however may again prove abortive from the cause I have mentioned—viz—the drought.

The lightness of our oats is attributed more than it ought to be to the unfitness of the climate of the Middle states. That this may be the case in part and nearer the sea board in a greater degree, I will not controvert; but it is a well known fact that no country produces better oats than those that grow on the Allegany Mountains immediately Westward of us—I have heard it affirmed that they weigh upwards of 50 lbs the Winchester bushel.—This may be occasioned by the fertility of the soil, and the attraction of moisture by the mountains—but another reason and a powerful one too, may be assigned for the inferiority of ours, namely that we are not choice in our seeds and do not change them as we ought.

The seeds you were so obliging as to give me, shared the same fate that Colo. Wadsworth’s did; and as I believe seeds from England generally will do, if they are put into the hold of the vessels. For this reason, I always made it a point, whilst I was in the habit of importing seeds, to request my merchants and the masters of vessels by which they were sent to keep them from the heat thereof.

You make a distinction, and no doubt a just one, between what in England is called Barley, and Big or Beer.—If there be none of the true Barley in this country it is not for us without Experience to pronounce upon the growth of it; and therefore, as noticed in a former part of this letter it might be Edition: current; Page: [410] interesting to ascertain whether our climate and soil would produce it to advantage. No doubt, as your observations while you were in the United States appear to have been extensive and accurate, it did not escape you, that both Winter and Spring Barley are cultivated among us; the latter is considered as an uncertain crop—South of New York, and I have found it so on my farms:—of the latter I have not made sufficient trial to hazard an opinion of success. About Philadelphia it succeeds well.—

The cassia charmœcrista, or Eastern shore Bean, as it is denominated here, has obtained a higher reputation than it deserves; and like most things unnaturally puffed sinks into disrepute. Ten or more years ago, led away by exaggerated accounts of its fertilizing quality, I was induced to give a very high price for some of the seed, and attending to the growth in all its stages, I found that my own fields which had been uncultivated for two or three years, abounded with the same plants; without perceiving any of those advantages which had been attributed to them.

I am not surprized that our mode of fencing should be disgusting to an European eye; happy wou’d it have been for us if it had appeared so in our own eyes; for no sort of fencing is more expensive or wasteful of timber. I have been endeavoring for years to substitute live fences in place of them, but my long absences from home has in this as in every thing else, frustrated all my plans that required time and particular attention to effect it. I shall now Edition: current; Page: [411] (although it is too late in the day for me to see the result) begin in good earnest to Ditch and hedge; the latter I am attempting with various things but believe none will be found better than cedar, although I have several kinds of white thorn growing spontaneously on my own grounds.—

Rollers I have been in the constant use of many years—in the way you mention, and find considerable benefit in passing them over my winter grain in the Spring as soon as the ground will admit a hoof on it. I use them also on Spring grain and grass seeds, after sowing and sometimes before, to reduce the clods when the ground is rough. My clover generally is sown with Spring grain, but where the ground is not too stiff and binding it succeeds very well on wheat, sown on a light snow in February, or beginning of March; it sinks with the snow and takes good root—and orchard grass of all others is in my opinion the best mixture with clover:—it blooms precisely at the same time, rises quick again after cutting—stands thick—yields well—and both horses and cattle are fond of it—green or in hay. Alone, unless it is sown very thick it is apt to form tussacks; if of this or any other seeds I can procure, you shou’d be in want, I shall have great pleasure in furnishing them. * * *

For the detailed account of your observations on the Husbandry of these United States, and your reflection thereon, I feel myself much obliged; and shall at all times be thankful for any suggestions on agricultural subjects, you may find leizure and inclination Edition: current; Page: [412] to favor me with, as the remainder of my life (which in the common course of things Now in my 66th year, cannot be of long continuance) will be devoted wholy to rural and agricultural pursuits.

Mrs. Washington feels the obligation of your polite remembrance of her—and Mr. and Mrs. Law, who went from hence yesterday, have added a daughter to their stock, and are all in good health. For the trouble you took in going to Hull, to see if any of the Emigrants who were on the point of sailing from thence to America, would answer my purposes as tenants and for your very kind and friendly offer of rendering me services, I pray you to accept my sincere thanks, and an assurance of the Esteem &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
4 August, 1797
Mount Vernon
Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy

TO TIMOTHY PICKERING, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Dear Sir,

In a late letter from the Attorney General (Lee) he has requested a copy of the opinion he gave relative to the recall of Mr. Monroe.—

Among the packages most likely (as I conceived) to produce it, I have searched for the original in vain;—nor among these do I find the opinions of the Heads of Departments on various other subjects.—How to account for this I am unable, unless the bundle containing them, which I once put into your hands, for a particular purpose was never returned, or left by Mr. Lear and Mr. Dandridge (who were Edition: current; Page: [413] employed in separating and packing up my Papers) put them by mistake among the files which were intended for my successor in office.

I have not yet opened all my packages of papers, nor can I do it until I have provided some place, in which they can be depositted with safety—but I pray you to let me know whether the bundle I have alluded to, was returned or not by you.—Your answer may save a further search and some anxiety.—With &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
14 August, 1797
Mount Vernon
James McHenry
McHenry, James

TO JAMES McHENRY, SECRETARY OF WAR.

Dear Sir,

It is a little out of time, to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 9th ulto. but “better late than never”—and one object in doing it, is to pray you to thank Mr. Bordley in my name, for the work he had the goodness to send me, through the channel of your conveyance.

I presume the affair of Mr. Blount will lye dormant untill the Committee of Congress make Report at the ensuing Session. It will be to be regretted much, if this business is not probed to the bottom. That Government may not sleep or be forgotten in the meantime, I perceive Mr Monroe has opened a Battery against it; but if his subsequent fire does no more injury than the first, his Artillery will recoil upon himself.

It had escaped me until reminded by a reperusal Edition: current; Page: [414] of some of your first letters, that my Table ornaments and Coolers were in your possession. Not for the value of the thing, but as a token of my friendship and as a remembrancer of it, I ask you, Colonel Pickering, and Mr Wolcott to accept, each one of the two bottle Coolers.

The other articles I pray you to have carefully packed (the Porcelain in fine Saw dust) and sent to Colo. Biddle, who will be directed what to do with them and will pay the cost of packing.

What is the character of Porcupine’s Gazette? I had thought when I left Philadelphia, of ordering it to be sent to me; then again, I thought it best not to do it; and altho I should like to see both his and Bache’s, the latter may, under all circumstances, be the best decision, I mean not subscribing to either of them.

Mrs. Washington and Miss Custis thanks you for your kind remembrance of them; and unite with me in best regards for Mrs McHenry, yourself and family. With much truth I am your sincere friend and affectionate servant &c.

P.S. I shall rely on you to present the Coolers in my name to the Gentlemen above mentd. Since writing the letter which encloses this scrap I have determined to let the Table ornaments and large coolers go into the hands of Colo. Clement Biddle unpacked, to see if he can dispose of them;—and I pray you to cause them to be delivered in that manner accordingly.

Edition: current; Page: [415]
George Washington
Washington, George
29 August, 1797
Mount Vernon
Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy

TO TIMOTHY PICKERING, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Dear Sir,

Your favors of the 9th 10th and 19th inst. have been duly received;—for your care of my European letters and attention to the Copying press, Laws of the United States, and journals of Congress, I feel myself obliged.—If the vessel has not already left Philadelphia the Tryal, Capt. Hand, is up for Alexandria, and will afford a good conveyance for the above articles, as it has other small matters on Board for me:—

Colo. Monroe passed through Alexandria last week but did not Honor me by a call. If what he has promised the public does him no more credit, than what he has given to it in his last exhibition, his friends must be apprehensive of a recoil.

From a variety of accounts as well as from Extracts you had the kindness to send me, I have no doubt in the change in the sentiments of the people of France favorable to the Interest of this Country.—But I can scarsely believe that it will be so great or so sudden as some imagine.—Candor is not a more conspicuous trait in the character of Governments than it is of individuals. It is hardly to be expected then that the Directory of France will acknowledge its errors; and tread back its steps immediately. This would announce at once that there has been precipitancy and injustice in the measures they have pursued,—or that it was incapable of Judging and had been deceived by false misrepresentations.—Pride would be Edition: current; Page: [416] opposed to all these, and I can scarsely think the Directory will relinquish the hold it has upon those who, more than probable, have suggested and promoted the measures, they have been pursuing.—I rather suppose that it will lower its tone by degrees and (as is usual) place the change to the credit of French Magnanimity—The report, as coming from Capt. Towers, that General Pinckney had been invited to Paris by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, attached itself in its passage to Philadelphia, or passing through different hands. For Genl. Lee (who hearing various reports of what the Capt. had related of his conversation with the General) went on board the Saratoga and got the details without any mention of that fact, which wou’d have been of too much importance for omission.

That the statement of facts in the printed letter to General Pinckney will work conviction and produce a change of conduct in those who are desirous of information and not obstinately bent upon wrong measures; I have no doubt,—and I can say with truth that my mind has never been alarmed by any fears of a war with France.—I always knew that this Government, had no desire to go to war, with that or any other Country, and I as firmly believed that no power without a semblance of Justice would declare war against it.—That France has stept far beyond the line of rectitude cannot be denied; that it has been encouraged to do so by a party among ourselves, is to my mind equally certain; and when it is considered moreover, that enriching themselves and Edition: current; Page: [417] injuring Great Britain were the expected consequences of their spoilations, I could account (tho’ not on honorable principles in them) for their going to a certain point,—but I never did believe that they would declare an open war against us—or compel us, if they foresaw that would be the result, to declare it against them.—

Enclosed you will receive, if this letter gets safe, $35 in bank notes of the United States, and it would add to my convenience if Mr Taylor would be so obliging as to have the press fixed for copying: for as the use of one was not practiced by me, I may be at a loss in doing it.—I do not mean that it should be accompanied by a Table, but board only between the Rollers, as the screws which I have to a small press, will I presume answer for the other, I wou’d pray him also (if the press is still with him) to use it, and that if there be any imperfection, that it may be corrected before it comes hither, as I should be unable to do it afterwards. With very great esteem and regard I am &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
29 August, 1797
Mount Vernon
George Washington Parke Custis
Custis, George Washington Parke

TO GEORGE WASHINGTON PARKE CUSTIS.

Dear Washington:

Your letter of the 21st instant, came to hand by the last post, and as usual, gave us pleasure to hear that you enjoyed good health, were progressing well in your studies, and that you were in the road to promotion.

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The senior class having left, or being on the point of leaving college, some of them with great éclat, ought to provoke strong stimulus to those who remain, to acquire equal reputation, which is not otherwise to be done than by perseverance and close application; in neither of which I hope you will be found deficient.

Not knowing the precise time that the vacation commences, I have put under cover with this letter to Doctor Smith, forty dollars to defray the expenses of your journey; and both your grandmamma and myself desire that you will not think of doing it by water, as the passage may not only be very tedious, but subject to a variety of accidents, to which a journey by land is exempt; and as the yellow fever is announced from authority to be in Philadelphia we enjoin it on you strictly to pursue the route, and the direction which you may receive from the president of the college, to avoid the inconveniences and consequences which a different conduct might involve you and others in.

Although I persuade myself that there is no occasion for the admonition, yet I exhort you to come with a mind steadfastly resolved to return precisely at the time alloted, that it may be guarded against those ideas and allurements which unbend it from study, and cause reluctance to return to it again. Better remain where you are than suffer impressions of this sort to be imbibed from a visit, however desirous that visit may be to you, and pleasing to your friends, who will prefer infinitely your permanent Edition: current; Page: [419] good, to temporary gratifications; but I shall make all fears of this sort yield to a firm persuasion, that every day convinces you more and more of the propriety and necessity of devoting your youthful days in the requirement of that knowledge which will be advantageous, grateful, and pleasing to you in maturer years, and may be the foundation of your usefulness here, and happiness hereafter.

Your grandmamma (who is prevented writing to you by General Spotswood and family’s being here) has been a good indisposed by swelling on one side of her face, but it is now much better. The rest of the family within doors are all well, and all unite in best regards for you, with your sincere friend, and affectionate

George Washington
Washington, George
8 October, 1797
Mount Vernon
General Lafayette
General Lafayette

TO GENERAL LAFAYETTE.

My Dear Sir,

This letter I hope and expect will be presented to you by your son, who is highly deserving of such parents as you and your amiable lady.

He can relate, much better than I can describe, my participation in your sufferings, my solicitude for your relief, the measures I adopted, (though ineffectual,) to facilitate your liberation from an unjust and cruel imprisonment, and the joy I experienced at the news of its accomplishment. I shall hasten, therefore, to congratulate you, and be assured that no one can do it with more cordiality, with more sincerity, or Edition: current; Page: [420] with greater affection, on the restoration of that liberty, which every act of your life entitles you to the enjoyment of; and I hope I may add, to the uninterrupted possession of your estates, and the confidence of your country. The repossession of these things, though they cannot compensate for the hardships you have endured, may nevertheless soften the painful remembrance of them.

From the delicate and responsible situation in which I stood as a public officer, but more especially from a misconception of the manner in which your son had left France, (till explained in a personal interview with himself,) he did not come immediately into my family on his arrival in America, though he was assured in the first moments of it of my protection and support. His conduct, since he first set his feet on American ground, has been exemplary in every point of view, such as has gained him the esteem, affection, and confidence of all who have had the pleasure of his acquaintance. His filial affection and duty, and his ardent desire to embrace his parents and sisters in the first moments of their releasement, would not allow him to wait the authentic account of this much desired event; but, at the same time that I suggested the propriety of this, I could not withhold my assent to the gratification of his wishes to fly to the arms of those whom he holds most dear, persuaded as he is from the information he has received, that he shall find you all in Paris.

M. Frestel has been a true Mentor to George. No parents could have been more attentive to a favorite Edition: current; Page: [421] son; and he richly merits all that can be said of his virtues, of his good sense, and of his prudence. Both your son and him carry with them the vows and regrets of his family, and of all who know them. And you may be assured, that you yourself never stood higher in the affections of the people of this country, than at the present moment.1

With what concerns myself personally, I shall not take up your time further than to add, that I have once more retreated to the shades of my own vine, and fig Tree where I shall remain with best vows for the prosperity of that country for whose happiness I have toiled many years, to establish its Independence, Constitution and Law,—and for the good of mankind in general, until the days of my sojournment, which cannot be many, are accomplished.

Having bid a final adieu to the walks of public life, and meaning to withdraw myself from the politics thereof, I shall refer you to M. Frestel and George, who, (at the same time that they have from prudential considerations avoided all interference in the politics of the country,) cannot have been inattentive observers of what was passing among us, to give you a general view of our situation, and of the party, which in my opinion has disturbed the peace and tranquillity of it. And with sentiments of the highest regard for you, your lady, and daughters, and with assurances, that, if inclination or event should induce you or any of them to visit America, no person in it Edition: current; Page: [422] would receive you with more cordiality and affection, than Mrs. Washington and myself would do, both of us being most sincerely and affectionately attached to you and admirers of them, yours, ever, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
9 October, 1797
Mount Vernon
Bushrod Washington
Washington, Bushrod

TO BUSHROD WASHINGTON.

Dear Sir,

Mr. Thomas Pearson, heir in tail to Simon Pearson, his brother, has brought suit in the Court of this County, for the lands which the latter sold to Wm. Triplett, George Johnson and myself, five and thirty years ago.—

I understand from Colo. Simms, who is Pearson’s Lawyer, that his complaint is founded upon some irregularity in the proceedings of the Jury, who met on the land to value the same, pursuant to a writ of ad quod damnum—and the examination of the evidence to prove these irregularities went (for I attended) to the establishment of two Points—1st. that there was no survey of the premises in presence of the Jury, at the time of their enquiry into the value of the land; and 2ly. that the said Jury did not explore it sufficiently to ascertain with exactness what the real value of the land was.

This is the amount of Grafton Kirk’s evidence, who was one of the Jurors, and who from your practice in Fairfax County, you may have learnt, is a rare hand at all obsolete claims that depend much on a good memory.

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As I shall be ultimately affected in this business if Pearson’s claim obtains (having sold my part of the tract (178 acres) to Mr. Lund Washington), it behooves me to look into the matter timously—let me then ask your opinion on the following points?—

1st. Does the Law providing for the Docking of Entails, by a writ of ad quod damnum, make a survey in presence of the Jury an essential Part of the proceedings?—

The Writ itself (of which I retained a copy) directing the Sheriff to summon respectable men of his County for the purpose of ascertaining the value of the land &c., requires no such thing.

2d. Who is to Judge of the mode by which a Jury on oath is to report their opinion of the value of the land if they are not to do it themselves?—

Mr. Kirk swears he did not, on the day, traverse a foot of the land.—Why? because, says he, living adjoining thereto, I could not be made better acquainted with it than I was; neither did Jno. Askins (another of the Jurymen) stir from the house at which they met; on the Land.—Why again? because Jno. Askins knew it as well as he did.—The rest of the Jurors he acknowledged rode, but were not gone long enough to go over quarter part of the land.—These if not the words are the literal meaning of them, and the sum of Grafton Kirk’s evidence.—No tampering with the Jury to under value the land is even hinted at.—and the transfers devises and descent to Simon Pearson are admitted to be good in order to prove that the said Simon held the land in fee tail and dying Edition: current; Page: [424] (as they say) without legitimate children, that Thos. Pearson his brother is heir in tail.

3d. Whether as Simon was lawfully married and never legally divorced the children of that woman though begotten (no matter by whom) in the state of separation from him is not a bar to the claim of Thomas?

4th. What operation will the Act of Assembly of Virginia for Docking all Entails, (passed many years after the land in dispute was Docked by a writ of ad quod damnum, and sold in 1762) and many years too before the death of Simon Pearson which only happened last Spring have in this Case?—It being understood that the said Simon conveyed the 178 acres to me with a general Warrantee.

5th. I would ask how far my conveyance of the said land to Mr. L. Washington with a general Warrantee also, make me liable for the buildings as well as the land which has been placed thereon?—and

6th. Whether I had better interest my self in defending the suit already commenced in the County Court, or await the decision there and take it up in the dernier resort, if it shd be adverse. I wish also as the case in my judgment turns upon simple points which do not require much study or research, to be informed (confidentially) whether in your opinion Mr. Swan’s demand for defending the suit is not unreasonable?—viz.: $100 in hand and the like sum at the close of the business?—

You may think me an unprofitable applicant in Edition: current; Page: [425] asking opinions and requiring services of you without dousing my money, but pay day may come. If the cause should go to the higher Courts I shall expect you will appear for me, and Mr. Marshall also (if you should not have quit the practice). If the latter should not be returned in time, say who else had I best employ? I beg you will send me and as soon as you can certified copies from the Records of Richmond, of the papers mentioned in the enclosed.—With sincere friendship &c.

P. S. Whether Colo. Simms has any thing in petto I am unable to say, I am told however that he is sanguine and some add that he is to go snacks—

George Washington
Washington, George
15th October, 1797
Mount Vernon
William Gordon
Gordon, William

TO WILLIAM GORDON.

Revd. Sir;

Your favor of the 20th Feby. has been received, and I am indebted to you for many other unacknowledged letters. The truth is, I soon found after entering upon the duties of my late public station that private correspondences did not accord with official duties; and being determined to perform the latter to the best of my abilities; I early relinquish’d the former, when business was not the subject of them.

It might be asked why suffer the letter of the 20th of Feby. (which is of the latter description) to remain unacknowledged, after I had months past bid adieu to my public walks?—the answer is easy.—An eight years absence from home (excepting short occasional Edition: current; Page: [426] visits) had so deranged my private affairs;—had so despoiled my buildings;—and in a word had thrown my domestic concerns into such disorder,—as at no period of my life have I been more engaged than in the last six months to recover and put them into some tolerable train again.

Workmen in most Countries I believe are necessary plagues;—in this where entreaties as well as money must be used to obtain their work and keep them to their duty they baffle all calculation in the accomplishment of any plan or repairs they are engaged in;—and require more attention to and looking after than can be well conceived. Numbers of these of all descriptions having been employed by me ever since I came home (to render my situation comfortable the ensuing Winter) has allowed me little leisure for other occupations.

Rural employments while I am spared (which in the natural course of things cannot be long) will now take place of toil,—responsibility—and the solicitudes attending the walks of public life; and with vows for the Peace, happiness and prosperity of a Country in whose service the prime of my life hath been spent,—and with best wishes for the tranquility of all nations, and all men, the scene will close,—grateful to that providence which has directed my steps and shielded me in the various changes and chances, through which I have passed from my youth to the present moment.—

I scarcely know what you alluded to in your letter of the 20th of Feby. when you say “I observed in Edition: current; Page: [427] the Philadelphia papers, mention made of a publication of a volume of your Epistles, domestic confidential and official.”—unless it be the spurious letters which issued from a certain press in New York during the war, with a view to destroy the confidence which the army and community might have had in my political principles;—and which have lately been republished with greater avidity and perseverance than ever, by Mr. Bache to answer the same nefarious purpose with the latter.—

I suffered every attack that was made upon my Executive Conduct (the one just mentioned among the rest) to pass unnoticed while I remained in public office, well knowing that if the general tenor of it wou’d not stand the test of investigation, a newspaper vindication would be of little avail.—but as immense pains has been taken by this said Mr. Bache who is no more than the agent or tool of those who are endeavoring to destroy the confidence of the people, in the officers of Government (chosen by themselves) to disseminate these counterfeit letters, I conceived it a justice due to my own character, and to posterity to disavow them in explicit Terms, and this I did in a letter directed to the Secretary of State, to be filed in his office the day on which I closed my Administration.—This letter has since been published in the Gazettes by the head of that Department.

With respect to your own request I can say nothing. So many things are continually given to the public of which I have no previous knowledge nor Edition: current; Page: [428] time indeed to inspect them if I had been therewith informed—that I may mistake the meaning of it.—the late Secretary of State (now Vice President) permitted a Mr. Carey1 my consent being first obtained to take copies under his inspection of the letters I had written to Congress, which letters have since been published and are I presume genuine and must be those which you refer to—But as they are the work of another who is now in England on this business, I cannot suppose that you had it in contemplation to derive a benefit from his labors—I shall only add therefore that discretion in matters of this sort must be your guide without a yea or nay from me.—

For Politics I shall refer you to the Gazettes of this Country with which I presume you are acquainted, and with respect to other matters I have nothing which would be entertaining or worth narrating.

Mrs. Washington unites with me in best wishes for the health and happiness of yourself and Mrs. Gordon—and I am with esteem and respect—Revd. Sir, &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
15 October, 1797
Mount Vernon
John Langhorne
Langhorne, John

TO JOHN LANGHORNE.

Sir,

Your favor of the 25th ultimo has been received, but not so soon as might have been expected from the date of it. For the favorable sentiments you Edition: current; Page: [429] have been pleased to express, relative to my conduct in public life, I thank you. For the divisions which have taken place among us, with respect to our political concerns, for the attacks which have been made upon those, to whom the administration of the government has been intrusted by the people, and for the calumnies which are levelled at all those, who are disposed to support the measures thereof, I feel, on public account, as much as any man can do, because in my opinion much evil and no good can result to this country from such conduct.

So far as these attacks are aimed at me personally, it is, I can assure you, Sir, a misconception, if it be supposed I feel the venom of the darts. Within me I have a consolation, which proves an antidote against their utmost malignity, rendering my mind in the retirement I have long panted after perfectly tranquil. I am, &c.1

Edition: current; Page: [430]
George Washington
Washington, George
3 November, 1797
Mount Vernon
Bushrod Washington
Washington, Bushrod

TO BUSHROD WASHINGTON.

My dear Sir:

Your letter of the 30th ult. was received by the last Post.

Your aunt’s distresses for want of a good housekeeper are such as to render the wages demanded by Mrs. Forbes (though unusually high) of no consideration; and we must, though very reluctantly, yield to the time she requires to prepare for her fixture here. We wish however that it might be shortened.

If you are in habits of free communication with Mr. Brooke or with others who had opportunities of judging completely of the qualifications and conduct of Mrs. Forbes as a housekeeper, I would thank you for ascertaining and giving it to me in as precise a manner as you can obtain it. Among other things it would be satisfactory to know—

What countrywoman she is?

Whether Widow or Wife? if the latter

Where her husband is?

What family she has?

What her age is?

Of what temper?

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Whether active and spirited in the execution of her business?

Whether sober and honest?

Whether much knowledge in Cookery, and understands ordering and setting out a table?

What her appearance is?

With other matters which may occur to you to ask,—and necessary for me to know.

Mrs. Forbes will have a warm, decent and comfortable room to herself, to lodge in, and will eat of the victuals of our Table, but not set at it, at any time with us, be her appearance what it may; for if this was once admitted, no line satisfactory to either party, perhaps, could be drawn thereafter.—It might be well for me to know however whether this was admitted at Govr. Brooke’s or not.

Is it practicable do you think to get a good and well-disposed negro cook on hire, or purchase?1 Mention this want of ours to Mrs Forbes. She from the interest she would have therein might make enquiry.—Yours always and affectionate.

P. S. Since writing the foregoing Mrs. L. Washington informs me that Mr. Swan is anxious to learn from the Returns, or Records in the General Court,—or from the best information you can obtain, whether it has been the invariable practice to survey the Land docked by a writ of Ad quod damnum—whether it has Edition: current; Page: [432] frequently been dispensed with—and what has been the consequence.—Let me thank you for making this enquiry and furnishing me with the result of it.

George Washington
Washington, George
4 December, 1797
Mount Vernon
John Marshall
Marshall, John

TO JOHN MARSHALL.

Dear Sir,

Your very interesting and obliging favor of the 15th of September from the Hague came duly to hand, and I thank you sincerely for the important details, with which it is fraught, and pray for the continuation of them.

I congratulate you too on your safe arrival from shipboard, and, as the newspapers tell us, at Paris;1 and I wish in a little while hence I may have it in my power to do the same on the favorable conclusion of your embassy, and happy return to your family and friends in this country. To predict the contrary might be as unjust, as it would be impolitic, and therefore mum—on that topic. Be the issue, however, what it may, three things I shall be perfectly satisfied of; and these are, that nothing which justice, sound reasoning, and fair representation would require, will be wanting to render it just and honorable; and, if it is not so, that the eyes of all in this country, who are not wilfully blind and resolved to remain so (some from one motive and some from another), will be Edition: current; Page: [433] fully opened; and, lastly, that if the French Directory proceed on the supposition, that the parties in these United States are nearly equal, and that one of them would advocate their measures in the dernier resort, they will greatly deceive themselves. For the mass of our citizens require no more than to understand a question to decide it properly, and an adverse conclusion of the negotiation will effect this. Indeed, I believe it may be said with truth, that a very great change in the public mind has taken place already. The leaders, it is true, attempt to keep up the ball, which is evidently declining; but as both Houses of Congress have formed quorums, and received the President’s speech, the response of the representative branch will be some criterion by which this opinion of mine may be tried, though not a conclusive one.

The situation of things in Holland is a good lesson or us, if we are disposed to profit by it; but unfortunately the nature of man is such, that the experience of others is not attended to as it ought to be. We must feel, ourselves, before we can think or perceive the danger that threatens. But, as this letter, (after it quits the office of the Secretary of State, to whose care I shall send it,) may pass through many hands, I shall dwell very little on European politics. It is laughable enough, however, to behold those men amongst us, who were reprobating in the severest terms, and sounding the tocsin upon every occasion, that a wild imagination could torture into a stretch of power or unconstitutionality in the executive of the United States, all of a sudden Edition: current; Page: [434] become the warm advocates of those high-handed measures of the French Directory, which succeeded the arrestations on the 4th of September; and this, too, without denying that the barriers of the constitution, under which they acted, have been overleaped, but that they have done it on the ground of tender mercy and an unwillingness to shed blood. But so it always has been, and I presume ever will be with men, who are governed more by passion and party views, than by the dictates of justice, temperance, and sound policy.1 If there were good grounds to suspect, that the proscribed and banished characters were engaged in a conspiracy against the constitution of the people’s choice, to seize them even in an irregular manner might be justified upon the ground of expediency and of self-preservation; but, after they were secured and amenable to the laws, to condemn them without a hearing, and consign them to punishment more rigorous perhaps than death, is the summit of despotism.2

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A very severe winter has commenced since the first of November, we have hardly experienced a moderate day; heavy rains following severe frosts have done more damage to the winter grain now growing than I recollect ever to have seen—at this moment and for several days past all the Creeks and small Waters are hard bound with ice—and if the navigation of the River is not entirely stoped is yet very much impeded by it. The crops of Indian Corn in the lower parts of the State, have been uncommonly great: midway of it tolerably good; but under the mountains and above them, extremely bad—with partial exceptions—The Wheat in Crop and in quantity turned out better than was expected; in quality remarkable fine: the white and early wheat weighing from 60 to 64lb. pr. bushel.

Young Lafayette, too fondly led by his eagerness to embrace his parents and sisters, in the first moments of their releasement from prison, and unintentionally deceived by premature accounts from his friends at Hamburg, that this event had actually taken place, embarked for this purpose on the 26th of October at New York for Havre de Grace. Since which, official accounts have been received of the terms on which his liberation was granted by the Emperor, the meeting in Europe is become problematical; a circumstance, should it happen, which will Edition: current; Page: [436] be sorely regretted on both sides. I said all I could to induce him to wait here until he should receive direct advice from his father; but his impatience, on the one hand, and his confidence in the information he had received, that his parents were on their way to Paris, on the other, his apprehensions from a winter’s passage, and belief that he should not be illy received in France, even if they were not there, turned the scale against my opinion and advice, that he should postpone his departure until he heard from him or one of the family.

With very great esteem and regard, I remain, dear Sir, &c.

1798.

George Washington
Washington, George
7 January, 1798
George Washington Parke Custis
Custis, George Washington Parke

TO GEORGE WASHINGTON PARKE CUSTIS.

System in all things should be aimed at; for in execution it renders every thing more easy.

If now and then, of a morning before breakfast, you are inclined by way of change, to go out with a gun, I shall not object to it; provided you return by the hour we usually set down to that meal.

From breakfast, until about an hour before dinner (allowed for dressing and preparing for it, that you may appear decent) I shall expect you will confine yourself to your studies, and diligently attend to them; endeavoring to make yourself master of whatever is recommended to, or required of you.

While the afternoons are short, and but little interval between rising from dinner and assembling Edition: current; Page: [437] for tea, you may employ that time in walking, or any other recreation.

After tea, if the studies you are engaged in require it, you will no doubt perceive the propriety and advantage of returning to them, until the hour of rest.

Rise early, that by habit it may become familiar, agreeable, healthy, and profitable. It may, for a while, be irksome to do this, but that will wear off; and the practice will produce a rich harvest forever thereafter; whether in public, or private walks of life.

Make it an invariable rule to be in place (unless extraordinary circumstances prevent it) at the usual breakfasting, dining and tea hours. It is not only disagreeable, but it is also very inconvenient for servants to be running here and there, and they know not where, to summon you to them, when their duties, and attendance, on the company who are seated, render it improper.

Saturday may be appropriated to riding; to your gun, and other proper amusements.

Time disposed of in this manner, makes ample provision for exercise, and every useful or necessary recreation; at the same time that the hours allotted for study, if really applied to it instead of running up and down stairs, and wasted in conversation with any one who will talk with you, will enable you to make considerable progress in whatever line is marked out for you, and that you may do (?) it, is my sincere wish.

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George Washington
Washington, George
28 January, 1798
Mount Vernon
James McHenry
McHenry, James

TO JAMES McHENRY.
[PRIVATE.]

Dear Sir,

Knowing that the War Office has an Agency in the Western Lands, I take the liberty of putting the enclosed letters to General Putnam and Colo. Sargent under cover to you, open. By doing so it supercedes the necessity of a repetition of what is therein mentioned. Another reason for giving you this trouble, is that if Mr. Massey is a Surveyor in the Northwestern Territory, it is highly probable that his business in Philadelphia is with your Office. In which case, let me pray you to obtain what information he can give respecting the claim upon my land and transmit the same to me; and to request, after sealing my letters to the Gentlemen above mentioned, that you would be so kind as to put them into the safest channel of conveyance, that is afforded philadelphia.

What means this calm, and apparent harmony in the Representative body? Is it because no collisive subject has come on? or does it proceed from a change of sentiment in the opposition members? Are there no accounts yet from our Envoys? If not, to what is their silence attributed, when the News Papers are filled with accounts of them, as late as the middle of November, from Paris; where they must have been at least six weeks?1

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What, as far as it can be guessed at, is the public sentiment relative to Monroe’s voluminous work? which I have not yet seen but have sent for it. And what of Fauchet’s?1 Another elaborate work I presume, will appear soon, from the late Commissioner of the Revenue; the cause of whose dismission has never (that I have seen) been hinted at in the Gazettes.

What has been, or is it supposed will be done by the house of Representatives in consequence of the extraordinary application which was made to them on that occasion, by the Ex-Commissioners.

I have exhibited a long string of questions, but if you have not leisure or if any of them are embarrassing, I require no answer to them. Mrs. Washington and Nelly Custis unite with me in every good wish for Mrs. McHenry, yourself and family, and I am always, and

Affectionately Yours.
George Washington
Washington, George
6 February, 1798
Mount Vernon
Timothy Pickering
Pickering, Timothy

TO TIMOTHY PICKERING, SECRETARY OF STATE.

Dear Sir,

Your letters of the 20th and 27th ult. have been duly received and the Pamphlets with Colo. Monroe’s view came safe. * * *

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I have not had leisure yet to look into Monroe’s views, nor to read more than the first numbers of Scipio, although I have them to the 15th Inclusive.—Postponing the latter until I had obtained the former.

Notwithstanding there existed no doubt in my mind that the charge exhibited against you in the Aurora was a malignant falsehood—yet satisfied as I am of the motive and the end intended to be answered by the publication I have read with much gratification your explicit disavowal of its application.1 But the more the views of those who are opposed to the measures of our Government are developed, the less surprised I am at the attempt, and the means, cowardly illiberal and assasin like, which are used to subvert it:—and to destroy all confidence in those who are intrusted with the administration thereof. Among these to be classed an assertion in the Pamphlet written by Mr. Fauchet in these words, “It is the general opinion that Mr. Talon came to Philadelphia on a confidential mission from the Pretender to Genl. Washington. He was admitted to a very particular audience with Edition: current; Page: [441] the President before the arrival of Mr. Genet at Philada.”—What the General opinion of the French party might have been is not for me to say, but I pronounce the latter part of the quotation to be an impudent, a wicked and groundless assertion—and accordingly authorise any and every person, who chooses to be at the trouble of doing it to contradict it in the most unqualified terms.—With Mr. Talon I had no acquaintance,—if he ever was in my company it must have been in the drawing room (or at what was called the levies) on company days. Whether I ever exchanged a word with him during the time of his stay in this country, is more than my memory at this time is able to decide.—If his arrival in it was posterior to the proscription or cloud which hovered, of such characters, the probability is, that he never did;—be this however as it may—I will pledge myself that I never directly or indirectly ever exchanged a word with him out of the public Rooms—on public days.—and on common place subjects.—And if it could be adjudged expedient by you and those with whom I usually conversed on subjects of this sort, I wou’d announce as much in the Gazettes, when it might not be amiss perhaps to let my whole letter to Gouverneur Morris, and his to me, to which it was an answer, appear also in order to do away the effect of another charge which extracts drawn from the former, was intended to impress on the public mind—namely, a dereliction to France and the contrary to Great Britain.—To produce a justification of one’s conduct in matters of this sort wou’d be unpleasant, Edition: current; Page: [442] pleasant, if it was unconnected with public concerns, I shou’d treat the assaults with the contempt they deserve.

George Washington
Washington, George
27 February, 1798
Mount Vernon
William Augustine Washington
Washington, William Augustine

TO WILLIAM AUGUSTINE WASHINGTON.

My dear Sir,

Mr. Rice called here on his way to Alexandria and delivered me your letter of the 15th Instant.

Of the recent afflicting event which was related therein, we had received previous accounts; and on that as on former occasions of a similar nature simpathised sincerely in your sorrows—But these are the decrees of an all wise Providence against whose dictates the skill, or foresight of man can be of no avail;—it is incumbent upon him therefore to submit with as little repining as the sensibility of his nature will admit. This will have its course but may be greatly ameliorated, by Philosophical reflection and resignation.—As you have three children left I trust they will be spared to you, and sincerely hope that in them you will find consolation and comfort.1

Had your intimation of Mr. Ashton’s2 wishes been announced to me about a fortnight ago, I would gladly have employed him in the character you have mentioned, provided his expectation of compensation had came within my means; which in truth are hardly Edition: current; Page: [443] able to support the heavy expences I am in a manner unavoidably run into,—Finding it impracticable to use the exercise on horse back which my health business and inclination requires, and at the same time to keep my accounts and perform all the writing which my late Public occupations have been the means of involving me in,—I resolved to employ a clerk (if to be had on moderate wages) and accordingly about twelve or fourteen days ago engaged one who writes a very good hand and said to understand accounts and Book Keeping at $150 a year.—What would have been Mr. Ashton’s expectations I know not beyond this sum or $200 at most I could not have gone; and if he would have been contented therewith, and the application had been made in time, I should have received him with pleasure in preference to the person who is to come and who I expect here about the middle of next month if he fulfils his promise.

The reason which you assign for giving the rudiments of education to your sons at home is a weighty and conclusive one;—but much will depend upon the qualifications and fitness of the preceptor you employ, to render it more or less beneficial. To a certain point tuition under the eye of Parents or Guardian of youth, is much to be preferred, because the presumption is: that the properties and passions will be watched with more solicitude and attention by them, than by their Tutors:—but when the direction of these are unfolded and can be counteracted by the discipline of Public schools and the precepts of the professors. Edition: current; Page: [444] Especially too when the judgment is beginning to form; when pride becomes a stimulus; and the knowledge of men, as well as of Books are to be learnt, I should give the preference to a public Seminary.

I make use of no barley in my Distillery (the operations of which are just commenced). Rye chiefly and Indian corn in a certain proportion compose the materials from which the whiskey is made.—The former I buy @ 4/6 for the latter I have not given more than 17/6, and latterly 17/- Delivered at the Distillery.—It has sold in Alexandria (in small quantities from the waggons) at 16/. and 16/6.—lf1450-13_CHfigure_001.jpg Barrel but at what it goes now I am unable to inform you.—So large a quantity as you have for sale may command a good price.

Is there any person in your neighborhood in the practice of selling staves proper for flour barrels? If so be so good as to inform me, and at what price they could be delivered at my landing (at the mill). Any letters for me put into a Post Office, meets a ready a safe passage but how to insure mine to you you can best tell,—and I wish to be informed.

Did you ever receive a letter from me transmitting the request of Sir Isaac Heard of the Heraldry Office in England respecting Genealogy of our family? and my own desire to be furnished with the Inscriptions on the Tombs of our Ancestors at — Bridge Creek? Among your father’s papers, I thought it likely, you might obtain some information on this head. From the coming over of John and Lawrence Edition: current; Page: [445] Washington in the year 1657—I have [been] able to trace the descendants of the former, being the one from whom our family came, those of Lawrence from whom the Chotankers proceeded I have not been able to give any correct account: and that is the Branch to which Sir Isaac Heard’s enquiry’s particularly point: being tolerably well informed of the descendants from John. The enquiry is in my opinion of very little moment, but as Sir Isaac has interested himself in the matter and seems desirous of tracing the family from whom we are descended—back—I wish to give him as correct information of it—as I am able to procure.1

I am very glad to hear that you enjoy tolerable good health at present and that your Children are perfectly well. It is unnecesary I hope to assure you that at all times, when you can make it convenient and the situation of your health will permit, that we shall be very happy to see you at this place.—Where is Mrs. Washington of Bushfield?—I hope She is well. I acknowledged the receipt of her letter to me Edition: current; Page: [446] by post, but whether it ever got to her hands or not I am unable to say.—Probably not, as you lye out of the post Road and they may not be in the habit of sending to the Post Offices. Poor lady! I fear she will soon have another afflictive trial of her resignation to the Divine Will, in the death of Mrs. Corbin Washington,1 who from the last accounts we have had of her cannot remain long among us. This family unite in best wishes for you and yours.

And I am &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
1 March, 1798
Mount Vernon
Alexander White
White, Alexander

TO ALEXANDER WHITE.

Dear Sir,

Your favor of the 20th ulto. was received yesterday.—For the information it has given I thank you; although it is not of the most pleasing sort—some parts of it indeed has surprised me not a little, but neither the surprise or the cause of it, shall be communicated to any other.

My sentiments relatively to the memorial you are already possessed of, and therefore I shall add nothing more on that subject, than the expression of a fear, that the disgraceful topic which has so long occupied the time and oratory of the House of Representatives will contribute nothing to the favorable reception and issue of it.

If time should hang a little heavy on your hands, Edition: current; Page: [447] while the memorial is pending in Congress the appropriation of an hour or two of it now and then, not only to inform me of the progress of that business but as a calm observer (and in confidence if you choose it) to give me your opinion of matters as they pass before you in review; for misrepresentation and party feuds have arisen to such a height, as to distort truth and to become portentous of the most serious consequences.—Where or when they will terminate, or whether they can end at any point short of confusion and anarchy is now in my opinion more problematical than ever.

I had until lately entertained a hope, that the continued depredations which are committed on our Commerce,—the Pacific measures, which have invariably been pursued to obtain redress, and to convince the French of our earnest wish to remain in Peace with them, and all the World—and the indignant treatment those efforts have met with, would have united all parties, and all descriptions of men (except those who wish to see the waters troubled) in a firm and temperate demand of Justice; or, in preparations for the worst:—but the reverse seems more apparently than ever to be the case;—and every thing that can be by the most unnatural construction is exhibited as a justification of the conduct of France towards this country, and in condemnation of the measures of the latter.—

What seems to be the prevalent opinion of Colo. Monroe’s “View of the Conduct of the Executive of the United States?” I do not mean the opinion of Edition: current; Page: [448] either party—but (if such are to be found) of the dispassionate,—or at least of the moderate part of both.—I will make no remarks on it myself inclining rather to hear the observation of others, which I would wish to hear with the most unreserved frankness. But I will not enlarge on this or any other subject at present but conclude with assuring you that with sentiments of very great esteem & regard I am &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
8 March, 1798
Mount Vernon
Bushrod Washington
Washington, Bushrod

TO BUSHROD WASHINGTON.

My dear Bushrod,

* * * * * *

Mr. Nicholas (who is a conspicuous performer in this business) is a gentleman with whom I have no recollected acquaintance, and the political conduct of all those of the name whom I do know, adds nothing to my esteem of them. He seems very desirous of drawing me into a correspondence on Party subjects, which of all others is not the most pleasant; and even civil answers upon this topic to one of whose character I know nothing might be imprudent.

Enquiring upon the receipt of the first letter from Mr. Nicholas who he was, I was answered—I think by Doctr. Stuart—that he was clerk of Albemarle Court;—was a Respectable man—well disposed to the Government, and the reputed Author of a number of pieces under the signature of Americanus. Since that, he has doubted whether it was the person Edition: current; Page: [449] he had in view or not.—This circumstance—and Mr. Nicholas in his last letter speaking of you as his intimate friend—has induced me to give you the reading of all the letters—and to rest it with you from a view of the subject, and the knowledge you possess of the character of Mr. Nicholas, to forward, or return to me the letter herewith enclosed to its address.—It is left open for your perusal. If it goes on—Seal and put it under another cover, or not—as you please. The other Inclosures will be returned to me of course.

Our love to Mrs. Washington and with sincere friendship I remain &c.

George Washington
Washington, George
8 March, 1798
Mount Vernon
John Nicholas
Nicholas, John

TO JOHN NICHOLAS.

Sir,

The letter, which you did me the favor of writing to me under date of the 22d ultimo, came safe to hand. Nothing short of the evidence you have adduced, corroborative of intimations which I had received long before through another channel, could have shaken my belief in the sincerity of a friendship, which I had conceived was possessed for me by the person1 to whom you allude. But attempts to injure those, who are supposed to stand well in the estimation of the people, and are stumbling blocks in the way, by misrepresenting their political tenets, thereby to destroy all confidence in them, are among Edition: current; Page: [450] the means by which the government is to be assailed, and the constitution destroyed. The conduct of this party is systematized; and every thing that is opposed to its execution will be sacrificed without hesitation or remorse, if the end can be answered by it.

If the person whom you suspect was really the author of the letter under the signature of John Langhorne, it is not at all surprising to me, that the correspondence should have ended where it did; for the penetration of that man would have perceived by the first glance at the answer, that nothing was to be drawn from that mode of attack. In what form the next insidious attempts may appear, remains to be discovered. But as the attempts to explain away the constitution, and weaken the government, are now become so open, and the desire of placing the affairs of this country under the influence and control of a foreign nation is so apparent and strong, it is hardly to be expected that a resort to covert means to effect these objects will be longer regarded.

With respect to Mr. Monroe’s “View of the Conduct of the Executive of the United States,” I shall say but little, because as he has called it a “View” thereof, I shall leave it to the tribunal to which he himself has appealed to decide, first, how far a correspondence with one of its agents is entitled to the unqualified term he has employed; secondly, how, if it is not, it is to exhibit a view thereof; thirdly, how far his instructions and the letters he has received from that executive, through the constitutional organ, Edition: current; Page: [451] and to which he refers, can be made to subserve the great points, which he and his party are evidently aiming at, namely, to impress upon the public mind, that favoritism towards Great Britain has produced a dereliction, in the administration, of good will towards France.

As to the propriety of exposing to public view his private instructions and correspondence with his own government, nothing needs be said; for I should suppose, that the measure must be reprobated by the well-informed and intelligent of all nations, and not less by his abettors in this country, if they were not blinded by party views, and determined at all hazards to catch at any thing, that in their opinion will promote them. The mischievous and dangerous tendency of such a practice is too glaring to require a comment.

If the executive, in the opinion of the gentleman you have alluded to, is chargeable with “premeditating the destruction of Mr. Monroe in his appointment, because he was the centre around which the republican party rallied in the Senate”1 (a circumstance quite new to me), it is to be hoped he will give it credit for its lenity towards that gentleman, in having designated several others, not of the Senate, as victims to this office before the sacrifice of Mr. Monroe was ever had in contemplation. As this must be some consolation to him and his friends, I hope they will embrace it.

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But as you have given me assurances of a visit at this place, with Governor Wood, in the spring, which is now commencing, I shall only add, that, with esteem and regard, I am, &c.

REMARKS ON MONROE’S “VIEW OF THE CONDUCT OF THE EXECUTIVE OF THE UNITED STATES.”1

“In the month of May, 1794, I was invited by the President of the United States, through the Secretary of State, to accept the office of minister plenipotentiary to the French Republic.”—Page iii.

After several attempts had failed to obtain a more eligable character.

“It had been too my fortune, in the course of my service, to differ from the administration upon many of our most important public measures.”—p. iii.

Is this adduced as conclusive evidence, that the administration was in an error?

“I was persuaded from Mr. Morris’s known political character and principles, that his appointment, and especially at a period when the French nation was in a course of revolution from an arbitrary to a free government, would tend to discountenance the republican cause there and at home, and otherwise weaken, and greatly to our prejudice, the connexion subsisting between the two countries.”—p. iv.

Mr. Morris was known to be a man of first rate abilities; and his integrity and honor had never been impeached. Besides, Edition: current; Page: [453] Mr. Morris was sent whilst the kingly government was in existence, ye end of 91 or beginning of 92.

“Mr. Jay was nominated to Great Britain; which nomination too I opposed, because, under all the well-known circumstances of the moment, I was of opinion we could not adopt such a measure, consistently either with propriety, or any reasonable prospect of adequate success. I also thought, from a variety of considerations, it would be difficult to find, within the limits of the United States, a person who was more likely to improve, to the greatest possible extent, the mischief to which the measure naturally exposed us. This last example took place only a few weeks before my own appointment, which was on the 28th of May, 1794.”—p. iv.

Did the then situation of our affairs admit of any other alternative than negotiation or war? Was there an abler man, (or one more esteemed,) to be found to conduct the former?

“When I considered these circumstances, I was surprised that this proposal should be made to me by the administration, and intimated the same to the Secretary of State; who replied that my political principles, which were known to favor the French revolution and to cherish a friendly connexion with France, were a strong motive with the President for offering me the mission, since he wished to satisfy the French government what his own sentiments were upon those points.”—p. iv.

And who had better opportunities of knowing what these were, than the confidential officers about his person for the time being?

“Our affairs with France had fallen into great derangement, and required an immediate and decisive effort to retrieve them.”—p. iv.

Did not this derangement proceed from the injurious conduct of the French, in their violations of the 23d and 24th articles of the treaty with the United States, and the application of the latter for redress?

“My instructions enjoined it on me to use my utmost endeavours to inspire the French government with perfect confidence in the solicitude, which the President felt for the success of the French revolution, of his own preference for France to all other nations as the friend and ally of the United States; of the grateful sense which we still retained for the important services that were rendered us by France in the course of our revolution; and to declare in explicit terms, that, although neutrality was the lot we preferred, yet, in case Edition: current; Page: [454] we embarked in the war, it would be on her side and against her enemies, be they who they might.”—pp. iv.-v.

And is there to be found in any letter from the government to him a single sentiment repugnant thereto?—On the contrary, are not the same exhortations repeated over and over again? But could it be inferred from hence, that, in order to please France, we were to relinquish our rights, and sacrifice our commerce?

“Upon this point [Mr. Jay’s mission to England] my instructions were as follows; ‘It is not improbable you will be obliged to encounter on this head suspicions of various kinds. But you may declare the motives of that mission to be, to obtain immediate compensation for our plundered property, and restitution of the posts.’ ”—p. v.

And these were the immediate motives; but for which an extra envoy would not have been sent.—But did it follow, when this expence was about to be incurred, that the government would not embrace the opportunity to settle and place other concerns upon the best footing it could?

“Who [France and the United States] were now unhappily diverging from each other, and in danger of being thrown wholly apart; and, as I presumed, equally against the interest and inclination of both.”—p. vii.

Why?—Because one nation was seeking redress for violations and injuries committed by the other.

“Upon my arrival in Paris, which was on the 2d of August, 1794, I found that the work of alienation and disunion had been carried further than I had before even suspected.”—p. vii.

For the reasons above mentioned. If we had submitted to them without remonstrating, we should still have been their dear friends and allies.

“I presented my credentials to the commissary of foreign affairs, soon after my arrival; but more than a week had elapsed, and I had obtained no answer, when or whether I should be received. A delay beyond a few days surprised me, because I could discern no adequate or rational motive for it.”—p. vii.

How does this accord with his communications to the Secretary of State? See letter of the 11th and 25th August. Has he not assigned very satisfactory reasons for the delay? Does the Edition: current; Page: [455] answer of the President of the Convention indicate any coolness or discontent on the part of the French government?—What then was it he had to contend against at his outset?—

“It was intimated to me that the Committee, or several at least of its members, had imbibed an opinion, that Mr. Jay was sent to England with views unfriendly to France, and that my mission to France was adopted for the purpose of covering and supporting his to England; that the one was a measure of substantial import, contemplating on our part a close union with England; and that the other was an act of policy, intended to amuse and deceive.”—p. vii.

Strange conception and want of information this, when it was notorious, that a war with Great Britain seemed to be almost unavoidable.

“I thought I perceived distinctly, that not only the temper which had been shown by the committee, but the general derangement of our affairs with France, proceeded in a great measure, if not altogether, from the same cause, a suspicion that we were unfriendly to them.”—p. ix.

Or, more properly, perceiving, that we were not to be drawn into the vortex, if we could possibly avoid it.

“My first note to the Committee of Public Safety on this subject bears date on the 3d of September, 1794; in which I discussed and combated copiously, and as ably as I could, the conduct of France in thus harassing our commerce against the stipulations of certain articles in our treaty with her; and urged earnestly the immediate repeal of the decrees, which authorized that proceeding.”—p. ix.

But finally told it, contrary to express instructions, that, if it was not convenient to comply with those articles, the government and people of the United States would give them up with pleasure, although it was the pivot on which our claim was fixed. See letter 3d Sep. pa. 35.

“I do not wish to be understood as having been guided by political motives only in expressing the sentiments contained in that clause; on the contrary, I admit they were strictly my own; affirming at the same time that they would never have been thus expressed, had I not been satisfied they were such, as it was honorable for the United States to express, and were likely also to promote their interest.”—p. x.

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Here is a measure adopted and avowed, which was beyond the powers of the executive,—and for which, if he had exercised them, he might have been impeached;—because it was not only dispensing with important articles of the treaty, but was surrendering the only grounds on which our claims of compensation could be established.

“From the Committee itself I could obtain no answer; and, from my informal applications to some of its members, I found that the difficulty of allowing our vessels to protect the property of English subjects, whilst they gave none to that of French citizens against the English cruisers, with that of distinguishing in our favor from the case of Denmark and Sweden, in which we were now involved, were objections of great weight with the Committee.”—p. xi.

Such was our treaty. If Denmark and Sweden were not entitled to the same by treaty, wherein lay the difficulty of discrimination? And what are the advantages of treaties, if they are to be observed no longer than they are convenient?

“I thought I perceived, still remaining in the councils of that body, a strong portion of that suspicion of our views, in regard to our mission to England, so impressive upon my arrival, but which I had hoped was eradicated; and, the more earnestly I pressed an accommodation with my demands, the more obviously did this motive present itself to my view.”—p. xi.

This has been the game, which the French have uniformly played to parry justice.

“Nor did France invite us to the war, or manifest a wish that we should engage in it; whilst she was disposed to assist us in securing our claims upon those powers, against whom we complained of injuries.”—p. xvii.

France never invited us, it is true, to go to war;—nor in explicit terms expressed a wish, that we should do so; but can any thing be more apparent, than that she was endeavoring with all her arts to lead or force us into it?

“In promising to communicate to the Committee the contents of this treaty as soon as I knew them, I did so in the expectation of fulfilling my promise, when I received a copy of the treaty from the department of state, and not before; for I expected no further information upon that subject from Mr. Jay.”—p. xviii.

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This declaration cannot be reconciled with the various attempts, which he made to obtain it, both from Mr. Jay and Mr. Pinckney, for the information of the French government before it was known to his own.

“As he [Mr. Jay] had refused to send me a copy of the treaty, according to my request, by Mr. Purviance, and omitted, not to say refused (though indeed I understood his omission in the light of a refusal) otherwise to inform me of its contents by that very safe opportunity, I did not see how the correspondence could be continued on that subject, on his part.”—p. xx.

No one else will think it extraordinary, that he should refuse a copy for the declared purpose of laying it before the French government, and yet be disposed to inform him in confidence with the contents thereof—thereby to enable him to remove unfavorable impressions.—Nor is it extraordinary, that Mr. Jay should authorize his own secretary, who had been privy to all the proceedings, to make this communication, whilst he refused to commit himself to Mr. Purviance, let his character have been what it would.

“These considerations will, I presume, likewise sufficiently explain why I would make no representation to the French government of the contents of that treaty, for which I became personally responsible, upon the mere authority of Mr. Jay, or other wise than upon a copy of the instrument itself.”—p. xxi.

Most extraordinary reason this in such a case! and under the circumstances Mr. Jay was.

“Such was my conduct upon the above occasion, and such the motives of it.”—p. xxii.

And extraordinary indeed it was!

“In this he [the Secretary of State] notices my address to the Convention; as also my letter to the Committee of Public Safety of the 3d of September following; both of which acts he censures in the most unreserved and harsh manner. In the