The Writings of
Thomas Jefferson

editor H.A. Washington
New York :  H.W. Derby, 1861

To Colonel George Mason.
Philadelphia, February 4, 1791.

Dear Sir

I am to make you my acknowledgments for your favor of January 10th, and the information from France which it contained.  It confirmed what I had heard more loosely before, and accounts still more recent are to the same effect.  I look with great anxiety for the firm establishment of the new government in France, being perfectly convinced that if it takes place there, it will spread sooner or later all over Europe.  On the contrary, a check there would retard the revival of liberty in other countries.  I consider the establishment and success of their government as necessary to stay up our own, and to prevent it from falling back to that kind of a half-way house, the English constitution.  It cannot be denied that we have among us a sect who believe that to contain whatever is perfect in human institutions ;  that the members of this sect have, many of them, names and offices which stand high in the estimation of our countrymen.  I still rely that the great mass of our community is untainted with these heresies, as is its head.  On this I build my hope that we have not labored in vain, and that our experiment will still prove that men can be governed by reason.  You have excited my curiosity in saying "there is a particular circumstance, little attended to, which is continually sapping the republicanism of the United States."  What is it ?—what is said in our country of the fiscal arrangements now going on ?  I really fear their effect when I consider the present temper of the southern States.  Whether these measures be right or wrong abstractedly, more attention should be paid to the general opinion.  However, all will pass—the excise will pass—the bank will pass.  The only corrective of what is corrupt in our present form of government will be the augmentation of the numbers in the lower House, so as to get a more agricultural representation, which may put that interest above that of the stock-jobbers.

I had no occasion to sound Mr. Madison on your fears expressed in your letter.  I knew before, as possessing his sentiments fully on that subject, that his value for you was undiminished.  I have always heard him say that though you and he appeared to differ in your systems, yet you were in truth nearer together than most persons who were classed under the same appellation.  You may quiet yourself in the assurance of possessing his complete esteem.  I have been endeavoring to obtain some little distinction for our useful customers, the French.  But there is a particular interest opposed to it, which I fear will prove too strong.  We shall soon see.  I will send you a copy of a report I have given in, as soon as it is printed.  I know there is one part of it contrary to your sentiments;  yet I am not sure you will not become sensible that a change should be slowly preparing.  Certainly, whenever I pass your road, I shall do myself the pleasure of turning into it.  Our last year’s experiment, however, is much in favor of that by Newgate.

I am, with great respect and esteem, dear Sir, your friend and servant.

To Charles Hellstedt, Swedish Consul.
Philadelphia, February 14, 1791.


I now return you the papers you were pleased to put into my hands, when you expressed to me your dissatisfaction that our court of admiralty had taken cognizance of a complaint of some Swedish sailors against their captain for cruelty.  If there was error in this proceeding, the law allows an appeal from that to the Supreme Court;  but the appeal must be made in the forms of the law, which have nothing difficult in them.  You were certainly free to conduct the appeal yourself, without employing an advocate, but then you must do it in the usual form.  Courts of justice, all over the world, are held by the laws to proceed according to certain forms, which the good of the suitors themselves requires they should not be permitted to depart from.

I have further to observe to you, Sir, that this question lies altogether with the courts of justice;  that the Constitution of the United States having divided the powers of government into three branches, legislative, executive, and judiciary, and deposited each with a separate body of magistracy, forbidding either to interfere in the department of the other, the executive are not at liberty to intermeddle in the present question.  It must be ultimately decided by the Supreme Court.  If you think proper to carry it into that, you may be secure of the strictest justice from them, Partialities they are not at liberty to show.  But, for whatever may come before the executive, relative to your nation, I can assure you of every favor which may depend on their disposition s to cultivate harmony and a good understanding with it.

I have the honor to be, with great esteem, Sir, your most obedient, and most humble servant.

To Ebenezer Hazard.
Philadelphia, February 18, 1791.


I return you the two volumes of records, with thanks for the opportunity of looking into them.  They are curious monuments of the infancy of our country.  I learn with great satisfaction that you are about committing to the press the valuable historical and State papers you have been so long collecting.  Time and accident are committing daily havoc on the originals deposited in our public offices.  The late war has done the work of centuries in this business.  The last cannot be recovered, but let us save what remains;  not by vaults and locks which fence them from the public eye and use in consigning them to the waste of time, but by such a multiplication of copies, as shall place them beyond the reach of accident.  This being the tendency of your undertaking, be assured there is no one who wishes it more success than, Sir, your most obedient, and most humble servant.

To Rev. William Smith
Philadelphia, February 19, 1791.

Dear Sir

I feel both the wish and the duty to communicate, in compliance with your request, whatever, within my knowledge, might render justice to the memory of our great countryman, Dr. Franklin, in which Philosophy has to deplore one of its principal luminaries extinguished.  But my opportunities of knowing the interesting facts of his life, have not been equal to my desire of making them known.  I could indeed relate a number of those bon mots, with which he used to charm every society, as having heard many of them.  But these are not your object.  Particulars of greater dignity happened not to occur during his stay of nine months, after my arrival in France.

A little before that, Argand had invented his celebrated lamp, in which the flame is spread into a hollow cylinder, and thus brought into contact with the air within as well as without.  Doctor Franklin had been on the point of the same discovery.  The idea had occurred to him;  but he had tried a bull-rush as a wick, which did not succeed.  His occupations did not permit him to repeat and extend his trials to the introduction of a larger column of air than could pass through the stem of a bull-rush.

The animal magnetism too of the maniac Mesmer, had just received its death wound from his hand in conjunction with his brethren of the learned committee appointed to unveil that compound of fraud and folly.  But after this, nothing very interesting was before the public, either in philosophy or politics, during his stay;  and he was principally occupied in winding up his affairs there.

I can only therefore testify in general, that there appeared to me more respect and veneration attached to the character of Doctor Franklin in France, than to that of any other person in the same country, foreign or native.  I had opportunities of knowing particularly how far these sentiments were felt by the foreign ambassadors and ministers at the court of Versailles.  The fable of his capture by the Algerines, propagated by the English newspapers, excited no uneasiness;  as it was seen at once to be a dish cooked up to the palate of their readers.  But nothing could exceed the anxiety of his diplomatic brethren, on a subsequent report of his death, which, though premature, bore some marks of authenticity.

I found the ministers of France equally impressed with the talents and integrity of Dr. Franklin.  The Count de Vergennes particularly gave me repeated and unequivocal demonstrations of his entire confidence in him.

When he left Passy, it seemed as if the village had lost its patriarch.  On taking leave of the court, which he did by letter, the King ordered him to be handsomely complimented, and furnished him with a litter and mules of his own, the only kind of conveyance the state of his health could bear.

No greater proof of his estimation in France can be given than the late letters of condolence on his death, from the National Assembly of that country, and the community of Paris, to the President of the United States and to Congress, and their public mourning on that event.  It is, I believe, the first instance of that homage having been paid by a public body of one nation to a private citizen of another.

His death was an affliction which was to happen to us at some time or other.  We have reason to be thankful he was so long spared;  that the most useful life should be the longest also;  that it was protracted so far beyond the ordinary span allotted to man, as to avail us of his wisdom in the establishment of our own freedom, and to bless him with a view of its dawn in the east, where they seemed, till now, to have learned everything, but how to be free.

The succession to Dr. Franklin, at the court of France, was an excellent school of humility.  On being presented to any one as the minister of America, the commonplace question used in such cases was "c’est vous, Monsieur, qui remplace le Docteur Franklin ?" "it is you, Sir, who replace Doctor Franklin ?"  I generally answered, "no one can replace him, Sir;  I am only his successor."

These small offerings to the memory of our great and dear friend, whom time will be making greater while it is spunging us from its records, must be accepted by you, Sir, in that spirit of love and veneration for him, in which they are made;  and not according to their insignificance in the eyes of a world, who did not want this mite to fill up the measure of his worth.

I pray you to accept, in addition, assurances of the sincere esteem and respect with which I have the honor to be, Sir, your most obedient, and most humble servant.

To his Excellency Governor John Hancock.
Philadelphia, February 20, 1791.


With many thanks for the papers and information you were pleased to have procured for me on the important subject of the fisheries, I do myself the honor of now enclosing you a copy of my report to the House of Representatives.  From the disposition I see prevailing in the principal mass of the Southern members to take measures which may secure to us the principal markets for the produce of the fisheries, and for rescuing our carrying trade from a nation not disposed to make just returns for it, I am in hopes something effectual will be done this session, if these principles are solidly supported by the members from your part of the Union, of which I trust there is no cause to doubt.  Should nothing be done, I cannot say what consequences will follow, nor calculate their extent.  May I take the liberty of presenting through you, Sir, another copy of the report to the committee who were pleased to lend their assistance in the collection of materials;  to show them that I have not failed to present their testimony in that view which might tend to procure a proper interference in this interesting branch of business.

I have the honor to be, with sentiments of the most perfect respect and attachment, your Excellency’s most obedient, and most humble servant.

To Luis Pinto de Souza.
Philadelphia, February 21, 1791.


I have duly received the letter of November the 30th, which your Excellency did me the honor to write, informing me that her most faithful Majesty had appointed Mr. Freire her minister resident with us, and stating the difficulty of meeting us in the exchange of a Chargé des affaires, the grade proposed on our part.  It is foreseen, that a departure from our system in this instance, will materially affect our arrangements with other nations, but the President of the United States has resolved to give her Majesty this proof of his desire to concur in whatever may best tend to promote that harmony and perfect friendship so interesting to both countries.  He has, therefore, appointed Colonel Humphreys to be minister resident for the United States, at the court of her Majesty.

This gentleman has long been of the President’s own family, and enjoys his particular confidence.  I make no doubt he will so conduct himself as to give perfect satisfaction to her Majesty and yourself, and I therefore recommend him to your friendly attention and respect.  Mr. Freire will have every title to the same from us, and will assuredly receive it.  It is always with pleasure, that I repeat the homage of those sentiments of respect and esteem with which I have the honor to be, your Excellency’s most obedient, and most humble servant.

To Philip Freneau.
Philadelphia, February 28, 1791.


The clerkship for foreign languages in my office is vacant.  The salary, indeed, is very low, being but two hundred and fifty dollars a year ;  but also, it gives so little to do, as not to interfere with any other calling the person may choose, which would not absent him from the seat of government.  I was told a few days ago, that it might perhaps be convenient to you to accept it.  If so, it is at your service.  It requires no other qualification than a moderate knowledge of the French.  Should anything better turn up within my department that might suit you, I should be very happy to be able to bestow it so well.  Should you conclude to accept the present, you may consider it as engaged to you, only be so good as to drop me a line informing me of your resolution.  I am, with great esteem, Sir, your very humble servant.

To the Count de Moustier.
Philadelphia, March 2, 1791.


I have received your favor of November 6th, wherein you inform me that the King has thought proper, by a new mission to the court of Berlin, to put an end to your functions as his minister plenipotentiary with the United States.  The President, in a letter to the King, has expressed his sense of your merit, and his entire approbation of your conduct while here, and has charged me to convey to yourself the same sentiments on his part.

Had you returned to your station with us, you would have received new and continued marks of the esteem inspired by the general worth of your character, as well by the particular dispositions you manifested towards this country.

Amidst the regrets excited by so early a loss of you, it will be a consolation, if your new situation shall contribute to advance your own happiness.  As a testimony of these sentiments, we ask your acceptance of a medal and chain of gold, with which Mr. Short is instructed to present you on the part of the United States.

To this general tribute, permit me to add my own, with sincere wishes for your constant happiness, and assurances of the respect and esteem with which I have the honor to be, Sir, your most obedient, and most humble servant.

To Pierre Charles L’Enfant.
March [2], 1791.


You are desired to proceed to George town, where you will find Mr. Ellicot employed in making a survey and map of the federal territory.  The special object of asking your aid is to have drawings of the particular grounds most likely to be approved for the site of the federal town and buildings.  You will therefore be pleased to begin on the eastern branch, and proceed from thence upwards, laying down the hills, valleys, morasses, and waters between that, the Potomac, the Tyber, and the road leading from George town to the eastern branch, and connecting the whole with certain fixed points of the map Mr. Ellicot is preparing.  Some idea of the height of the hills above the base on which they stand, would be desirable.  For necessary assistance and expenses, be pleased to apply to the Mayor of George town, who is written to on this subject.  I will beg the favor of you to mark to me your progress about twice a week, by letter, say every Wednesday and Saturday evening, that I may be able in proper time to draw your attention to some other objects, which I have not at this moment sufficient information to define.  I am, with great esteem, Sir, your most obedient humble servant.

To Harry Innes.
Philadelphia, March 7, 1791.

Dear Sir

Your favor of July 8, came to my hands November 30.  The infrequency of conveyances, is an apology for this late answer.  I receive with pleasure this recognition and renewal of your former acquaintance, and shall be happy to continue it by an exchange of epistolary communications.  Yours to me will be always welcome.  Your first gives me information in the line of Natural History, and the second (not yet received) promises political news.  The first is my passion, the last my duty, and therefore both desirable.  I believe entirely with you, that the remains of fortifications found in the Western country, have been the works of the natives.  Nothing I have ever yet heard of, proved the existence of a nation here who knew the use of iron.  I have never heard even of burnt bricks, though they might be made without iron.  The statue you have been so kind as to send me, and for which I beg you to accept my thanks, would, because of the hardness of the stone, be a better proof of the use of iron, than I ever yet saw ;  but as it is a solitary fact, and possible to have been made with implements of stone, and great patience, for which the Indians are remarkable, I consider it to have been so made.  It is certainly the best piece of workmanship I ever saw from their hands.  If the artist did not intend it, he has very happily hit on the representation of a woman in the first moments of parturition.

Mr. Brown, the bearer of this, will give you the Congressional news;  some good, some so so, like everything else in this world.  Our endeavors the last year to punish your enemies have had an unfortunate issue.  The federal council has yet to learn by experience, which experience has long ago taught us in Virginia, that rank and file fighting will not do against Indians.  I hope this year’s experiment will be made in a more auspicious form.  Will it not be possible for you to bring General Clark forward ?  I know the greatness of his mind, and am the more mortified at the cause which obscures it.  Had not this unhappily taken place, there was nothing he might not have hoped :  could it be surmounted, his lost ground might yet be recovered.  No man alive rated him higher than I did, and would again, were he to become again what I knew him.  We are made to hope he is engaged in writing the account of his expeditions north of Ohio.  They will be valuable morsels of history, and will justify to the world those who have told them how great he was.

Mr. Brown will tell you also that we are not inattentive to the interests of your navigation.  Nothing short of actual rupture is omitted.  What its effect will be, we cannot yet foretell ;  but we should not stop even here, were a favorable conjuncture to arise.  The move we have now made must bring the matter to issue.  I can assure you of the most determined zeal of our chief magistrate in this business, and I trust mine will not be doubted so far as it can be of any avail.  The nail will be driven as far as it will go peaceably, and farther the moment that circumstances become favorable.  I am, with great esteem, dear Sir, your friend and servant.

To the President of the National Assembly of France.
Philadelphia, March 8, 1791.


I have it in charge from the President of the United States of America, to communicate to the National Assembly of France, the peculiar sensibility of Congress to the tribute paid to the memory of Benjamin Franklin, by the enlightened and free representatives of a great nation, in their decree of the 11th of June, 1790.

That the loss of such a citizen should be lamented by us, among whom he lived, whom he so long and eminently served, and who feel their country advanced and honored by his birth, life and labors, was to be expected.  But it remained for the National Assembly of France, to set the first example of the representative of one nation, doing homage, by a public act, to the private citizen of another, and by withdrawing arbitrary lines of separation, to reduce into our fraternity the good and the great, wherever they have lived or died.

That these separations may disappear between us in all times and circumstances, and that the union of sentiment which mingles our sorrows on this occasion, may continue long to cement the friendship and the interests of our two nations, is our constant prayer.  With no one is it more sincere than with him, who, in being charged with the honor of conveying a public sentiment, is permitted that of expressing the homage of profound respect and veneration with which he is, Sir, your most obedient, and most humble servant.

To Governor Juan Nepomuceno de Quesada.
Philadelphia, March 10, 1791.


We have received with great satisfaction, notification of the orders of his Catholic Majesty, not to permit that persons, held in slavery within the United States, introduce themselves as free persons into the Province of Florida.  The known justice of his Majesty and his Government, was a certain dependence to us, that such would be his will.  The assurances your Excellency has been pleased to give us of your friendly dispositions, leave us no doubt you will have faithfully executed a regulation so essential to harmony and good neighborhood.  As a consequence of the same principles of justice and friendship, we trust that your Excellency will permit, and aid the recovery of persons of the same description, who have heretofore taken refuge within your Government.  The bearer hereof James Seagrove Esqr. is authorized to wait on your Excellency to confer on this subject, and to concur in such arrangements as you shall approve for the recovery of such fugitives.

I beg you to be assured that no occasion shall be neglected of proving our dispositions to reciprocate these principles of justice and friendship, with the subjects of his Catholic Majesty, and that you will be pleased to accept the homage of those sentiments of respect and esteem, with which I have the honor to be, Sir, your most obedient, and most humble servant.

To Alexander Hamilton, Secretary of the Treasury.
Philadelphia, March 12, 1791.

Dear Sir

The President has thought proper to appoint Colonel David Humphreys, minister resident for the United States, at the court of Lisbon, with a salary of four thousand five hundred dollars a year, and an outfit equal to a year’s salary.  Besides this by a standing regulation, he will be allowed his disbursements for gazettes transmitted here, translating and printing paper, where that shall be necessary, postage, couriers, and necessary aids to poor American sailors.  An opportunity occurring, by a vessel sailing for Lisbon within a few days, to send him his commission, I shall be obliged to you to enable me to convey to him at the same time the means of receiving his outfit in the first instance, and his salary and disbursements above described, in quarterly payments afterwards.

An act of Congress having authorized the President to take measures for procuring a recognition of our treaty from the new Emperor of Morocco, arrangements for that purpose have been decided.  The act allows twenty thousand dollars for this object, but not more than thirteen thousand dollars will be called for in the first instance, if at all, and these, or the means of drawing for them, not till six weeks hence.  I thought it proper, however, to apprise you of the call at the earliest day possible, and while the President is here, and to ask your attention to it.  I have the honor to be, with sentiments of the most perfect respect and esteem, dear Sir, your most obedient and most humble servant.

To William Carmichael.
Philadelphia, March 12, 1791.


I enclose you a statement of the case of Joseph St. Marie, a citizen of the United States of America, whose clerk, Mr. Swimmer, was, in the latter part of the year 1787, seized on the eastern side of the Mississippi, in latitude 34° 40', together with his goods, of the value of nineteen hundred and eighty dollars, by a party of Spanish soldiers.—They justified themselves under the order of a Mr. Valliere, their officer, who avowed authority from the Governor of New Orleans, requiring him to seize and confiscate all property found on either side of the Mississippi below the mouth of the Ohio.—The matter being then carried by St. Marie before the Governor of New Orleans, instead of correcting the injury, he avowed the act and its principle, and pretended orders from his court for this and more.  We have so much confidence, however, in the moderation and friendship of the court of Madrid, that we are more ready to ascribe this outrage to officers acting at a distance, than to orders from a just sovereign.  We have hitherto considered the delivery of the post of the Natchez, on the part of Spain, as only awaiting the result of those arrangements which have been under amicable discussion between us;  but the remaining in possession of a post which is so near our limit of thirty-one degrees, as to admit some color of doubt whether it be on our side or theirs, is one thing;  while it is a very different one, to launch two hundred and fifty miles further, and seize the persons and property of our citizens;  and that too, in the very moment that a friendly accommodation of all diferences, is under discussion.  Our respect for their candor and good faith does not permit us to doubt, that proper notice will be taken of the presumption of their officer, who has thus put to hazard the peace of both nations, and we particularly expect that indemnification will be made to the individual injured.  On this you are desired to insist in the most friendly terms, but with that earnestness and perseverance which the complexion of this wrong requires.  The papers enclosed will explain the reasons of the delay which has intervened.  It is but lately they have been put into the hands of our government.

We cannot omit this occasion of urging on the court of Madrid, the necessity of hastening a final acknowledgment of our right to navigate the Mississippi;  a right which has been long suspended in exercise, with extreme inconvenience on our part, merely with a desire of reconciling Spain to what it is impossible for us to relinquish.  An accident at this day, like that now complained of, would put further parley beyond our power;  yet to such accidents we are every day exposed by the irregularities of their officers, and the impatience of our citizens.  Should any spark kindle these dispositions of our borderers into a flame, we are involved beyond recall by the eternal principles of justice to our citizens, which we will never abandon.  In such an event, Spain cannot possibly gain, and what may she not lose ?

The boldness of this act of the Governor of New Orleans, and of his avowal of it, renders it essential to us to understand the court of Spain on this subject.  You will, therefore, avail yourself of the earliest occasion of obtaining their sentiments, and of communicating them to us.

I have the honor to be, with great esteem, Sir, your most obedient, and most humble servant.

To William Short.
Philadelphia, March 12, 1791.

Dear Sir

The enclosed papers will explain to you a case which imminently endangers the peace of the United States with Spain.  It is not, indeed, of recent date, but it has been recently laid before government, and is of so bold a feature as to render dangerous to our rights a further acquiescence in their suspension.  The middle ground held by France between us and Spain, both in friendship and interest, requires that we should communicate with her with the fullest confidence on this occasion.  I therefore enclose you a copy of my letter to Mr. Carmichael, and of the papers it refers to, to be communicated to Monsieur de Montmorin, whose efficacious interference with the court of Madrid you are desired to ask.  We rely with great confidence on his friendship, justice and influence.

A cession of the navigation of the Mississippi, with such privileges as to make it useful, and free from future chicane, can be no longer dispensed with on our part ;  and perhaps while I am writing, something may have already happened to cut off this appeal to friendly accommodation.  To what consequences such an event would lead, cannot be calculated.  To such, very possibly, as we should lament, without being able to control.  Your earnestness with Monsieur de Montmorin, and with the court of Spain, cannot be more pressing than the present situation and temper of this country requires.  The case of St. Marie happens to be the incident presenting itself in the moment, when the general question must otherwise have been brought forward.  We rely, on this occasion, on the good offices of the Marquis de La Fayette, whom you are desired to interest in it.

I am, with sincere and great esteem, dear Sir, your most obedient, and most humble servant.

To Colonel James Innes.
Philadelphia, March 13, 1791.

Dear Sir

Your favour of February 20th came to my hands only four days ago, and I have taken the first moment in my power to prepare my answer, which I now inclose.  It is in fact a copy of what I had prepared while in Virginia, when I had the subject under consideration, except that some useless asperities are rubbed off.  I am in hopes either Mr. G. Carr, or Mr. Anderson of Richmond has given you a copy of my opinions of June 20, 1783 and September 28, 1790 wherein I have cited the cases upon which I ground my defence for my nephew.  I consider that Powis & Corbet 3 Tr[acy] Atk[yns] 556 as establishing a rule of construction peculiarly applicable to our case and decisive of it.

What is said with you of the most prominent proceedings of the last Congress ?  The disapprobation of the assumption with you leads us naturally to attend to your reception of laws for carrying it into effect, which have been thought to present themselves in an unfavorable view.  What will be thought of measures taken to force Great Britain by a navigation act, to come forward in fair treaty, and let us substantially into her islands, as a price for the advantages of navigation and commerce which she now derives from us ?  This is interesting to our agriculture, provided the means adopted be sufficiently gradual.  I wish you would come forward to the federal legislature and give your assistance on a larger scale than that on which you are acting at present.  I am satisfied you could render essential service;  and I have such confidence in the purity of your republicanism, that I know your efforts would go in a right direction.  Zeal and talents added to the republican scale will do no harm in Congress.  It is fortunate that our first executive magistrate is purely and zealously republican.  We cannot expect all his successors to be so, and therefore should avail ourselves the present day to establish principles and examples which may fence us against future heresies preached now, to be practised hereafter.  I repeat my wish that I could see you come into the federal councils ;  no man living joining more confidence in your principles and talents to higher personal esteem than, dear Sir, your most obedient humble servant.

To William Short.
Philadelphia, March 15, 1791.

Dear Sir

In mine of January the 23d, I acknowledged the receipt of your letters from No. 29 to 48 inclusive, except 31, 44, 45, 46.  Since that I have received Nos. 45 and 50 ;  the former in three months and seven days, the latter in two months and seventeen days, by the English packet, which had an uncommonly long passage.  Nos. 31, 44, 46, 47, 48, 49, are still missing.  They have probably come through merchant vessels and merchants, who will let them lie on their counters two or three months before they will forward them.  I wrote you on the 8th and 12th instant, by a private hand, on particular subjects.  I am not certain whether this will be in time to go by the same conveyance.  In yours of December 23d, you suppose we receive regularly the journals of the National Assembly from your secretary at Paris, but we have never received anything from him.  Nothing has been addressed to him, his name being unknown to us.

It gives great satisfaction that the Arret du Conseil of December, 1787, stands a chance of being saved.  It is, in truth, the sheet-anchor of our connection with France, which will be much loosened when that is lost.  This Arret saved, a free importation of salted meats into France, and of provisions of all kinds into her colonies, will bind our interests to that country more than to all the world besides.  It has been proposed in Congress to pass a navigation act, which will deeply strike at that of Great Britain.  I send you a copy of it.  It is probable the same proposition will be made at the next Congress, as a first step, and for one more extensive at a later period.  It is thought the first will be carried ;  the latter will be more doubtful.  Would it not be worth while to have the bill now enclosed, translated, printed and circulated among the members of the National Assembly ? If you think so, have it done at the public expense, with any little comment you may think necessary, concealing the quarter from whence it is distributed ;  or take any other method you think better, to see whether that Assembly will not pass a similar act.  I shall send copies of it to Mr. Carmichael, at Madrid, and to Colonel Humphreys, appointed resident at Lisbon, with a desire for them to suggest similar acts there.  The measure is just, perfectly innocent as to all other nations, and will effectually defeat the navigation act of Great Britain, and reduce her power on the ocean within safer limits.

The time of the late Congress having expired on the 3d instant, they then separated of necessity.  Much important matter was necessarily laid over;  this navigation act among others.  The land law was put off, and nothing farther done with the mint than to direct workmen to be engaged.  The new Congress will meet on the 4th Monday in October.  Their laws shall be sent you by the first opportunity after they shall be printed.  You will receive herewith those of their second session.  We know that Massachusetts has agreed to the amendments to the Constitution, except (as is said) the first, second, and twelfth articles.  The others, therefore, are now in force.  The articles excepted will depend on the other legislatures.  The late expedition against the northern Indians having been ineffectual, more serious operations against them will be undertaken as soon as the season admits.  The President is just now setting out on a tour to the southern States, from whence he will not return till June.  The British packet being the quickest mode of conveyance, I shall avail myself of that, as well as of the French packet, to write to you.  Are the letters which now pass through the French post offices opened, as they were under the former government ?  This is important for me to know.

I am, with great and sincere esteem, dear Sir, your most obedient, and most humble servant.

P.S.  I omitted to draw your attention to an additional duty of one cent per gallon on rum, by name.  This was intended as some discrimination between England and France.  It would have been higher, but for the fear of afecting the revenues in a contrary direction.

To William Short.
Philadelphia, March 19, 1791.

Dear Sir

Your letter of November the 6th, No. 46, by Mr. Osmont, came to hand yesterday, and I have just time, before the departure of Mr. Terrasson, the bearer of my letter of the 15th instant, and despatches accompanying it, to acknowledge the receipt, and inform you that it has been laid before the President.  On consideration of the circumstances stated in the second page of your letter, he is of opinion, that it is expedient to press at this moment a settlement of our difference with Spain.  You are therefore desired, instead of confining your application for the interference of the court of France, to the simple case of St. Marie, mentioned in my letter of the 12th, to ask it on the broad bottom of general necessity, that our right of navigating the Mississippi be at length ceded by the court of Madrid, and be ceded in such form, as to render the exercise of it efficacious and free from chicane.  This cannot be without an entrepôt in some convenient port of the river, where the river and sea craft may meet and exchange loads, without any control from the laws of the Spanish government.  This subject was so fully developed to you in my letter of August the 10th, 1790, that I shall at present only refer to that.  We wish you to communicate this matter fully to the Marquis de La Fayette, to ask his influence and assistance, assuring him that a settlement of this matter is become indispensable to us;  any further delay exposing our peace, both at home and abroad, to accidents, the result of which are incalculable, and must no longer be hazarded.  His friendly interposition on this occasion, as well as that of his nation, will be most sensibly felt by us.  To his discretion, therefore, and yours, we confide this matter, trusting that you will so conduct it as to obtain our right in an efficacious form, and at the same time to preserve to us the friendship of France and Spain, the latter of which we value much, and the former infinitely.

Mr. Carmichael is instructed to press this matter at Madrid;  yet if the Marquis and yourself think it could be better effected at Paris, with the Count de Nunnez, it is left to you to endeavor to try it there.  Indeed, we believe it would be more likely to be settled there, than at Madrid or here.  Observe always, that to accept the navigation of the river without an entrepot would be perfectly useless, and that an entrepot, if trammelled, would be a certain instrument for bringing on war instead of preventing it.

I am, with great esteem, dear Sir, your most obedient humble servant.

To Dr. Wistar.
Philadelphia, March 20, 1791.


I am thankful for the trouble which yourself and Dr. Hutchinson have taken, and are still willing to take, on the subject of Mr. Isaacs’ discovery.  However his method may turn out, this advantage will certainly result from it, that having drawn the public attention to the subject, it may be made the occasion of disseminating among the masters of vessels a knowledge of the fact, that fresh water may be obtained from salt water by a common distillation, and in abundance.  Though Lind’s, Irvine’s, and McQueer’s experiments should suffice to satisfy them of this, yet it may fix their faith more firmly, if we can say to them that we have tried these experiments ourselves, and can vouch for their effect.  If Mr. Isaacs can increase that effect, so much the better;  it will be a new flower in the American wreath.  He is poor, and complains that his delay here is very distressing to him.  Therefore, I propose to-morrow for the experiment, and will ask the favor of you to fix any hour that may best suit the convenience of Dr. Hutchinson and yourself, from five in the morning to twelve at night, all being equal to me.  Only be good as to notify it in time for me to give notice to Mr. Isaacs.  Will it not save time, if the great still can be set a-going at the same time with the small ones ?  He protests against any unfavorable conclusions from a small experiment, because never having tried his method in a small way, he does not know how to proportion his mixture.  I am, with great esteem, Sir, your most obedient humble servant.

To His Excellency Governor Martin.
Philadelphia, March 26, 1791.


Havin g in charge to lay before Congress a general statement of all the lands subject to their disposal, it becomes necessary for me, so far as respects the proceedings of North Carolina, to draw on a map the line which forms the Eastern boundary of the cession of that State to Congress, and then to specify all the private claims within the cession, which form exceptions to their general right of granting the ceded territory.  Three classes of these exceptions have been stated to me.  First, the returns from Armstrong’s office.  Second, the claims of the officers of the North Carolina line of the lands reserved for them on the Cumberland.  Third, a grant of twenty-five thousand acres to General Greene.  I find myself under the necessity of troubling your Excellency to enable me to lay down with precision this dividing line, and then a precise specification and location of the three classes of exceptions before mentioned, and also, any other exceptions which you may know of.  Besides that these things can be known only from your offices, I am induced to ask you to take the trouble from an assurance that you will be glad to assist in furnishing any information which may prevent the citizens of your State from being involved in litigations by a sale to others of lands to which they may have a just claim, and which would not be so sold, if their claims could be previously known.  As I propose to set about this statement immediately, I shall consider it as a great personal obligation if the measures which your Excellency may be pleased to take for my assistance, can be immediately executed, and the result communicated to me.  I have the honor to be, with great esteem and respect, your Excellency’s most obedient, and most humble servant.

To the President of the United States.
Philadelphia, March 27, 1791.


I have been again to see Mr. Barclay on the subject of his mission, and to hasten him.  I communicated to him the draught of his instructions, and he made an observation which may render a small change expedient.  You know it has been concluded that he should go without any defined character, in order to save expense.  He observed that if his character was undefined they would consider him as an ambassador, and expect proportional liberalities, and he thought it best to fix his character to that of consul, which was the lowest that could be employed.  Thinking that there is weight in his opinion, I have the honor to enclose you a blank commission for him as consul, and another letter to the Emperor, no otherwise different from that you signed, but as having a clause of credence in it.  If you approve of this change, you will be so good as to sign these papers and return them;  otherwise, the letter before signed will still suffice.

I enclose you a Massachusetts paper, whereby you will see that some acts of force have taken place on our eastern boundary.  Probably that State will send us authentic information of them.  The want of an accurate map of the Bay of Passamaquoddy renders it difficult to form a satisfactory opinion on the point in contest.  I write to-day to Rufus Putnam to send me his survey referred to in his letters.  There is a report that some acts of force have taken place on the northern boundary of New York, and are now under the consideration of the government of that State.  The impossibility of bringing the court of London to an adjustment of any difference whatever, renders our situation perplexing.  Should any applications from the States or their citizens be so urgent as to require something to be said before your return, my opinion would be that they should be desired to make no new settlements on our part, nor suffer any to be made on the part of the British, within the disputed territory;  and if any attempt should be made to remove them from the settlements already made, that they are to repel force by force, and ask aid of the neighboring militia to do this and no more.  I see no other safe way of forcing the British government to come forward themselves and demand an amicable settlement.  If this idea meets your approbation, it may prevent a misconstruction by the British, of what may happen, should I have this idea suggested in a proper manner to Colonel Beckwith.

The experiments which have been tried of distilling sea-water with Isaacs’ mixture, and also without it, have been rather in favor of the distillation without any mixture.

A bill was yesterday ordered to be brought into the House of Representatives here, for granting a sum of money for building a Federal Hall, house for the President, etc.

You knew of Mr. R. Morris’ purchase of Gorham and Phelps of 1,300,000 acres of land of the State of Massachusetts, at 5d. an acre.  It is said that he has sold 1,200,000 acres of these in Europe, through the agency of V. Franklin, who it seems went on this business conjointly with that of printing his grandfather’s works.  Mr. Morris, under the name of Ogden, and perhaps in partnership with him, has bought the residue of the lands held in the same country by Massachusetts, for £100,000 The Indian title of the former purchase has been extinguished by Gorham, but that of the latter is not.  Perhaps it cannot be.  In that case a similarity of interest will produce an alliance with the Yazoo companies.  Perhaps a sale may be made in Europe to purchasers ignorant of the Indian right.

I shall be happy to hear that no accident has happened to you in the bad roads you have passed, and that you are better prepared for those to come by lowering the hang of your carriage, and exchanging the coachman for two postilions, circumstances which I confess to you appeared to me essential for your safety, for which no one on earth more sincerely prays, both from public and private regard, than he who has the honor to be, with sentiments of the most profound respect, Sir, your most obedient, and most humble servant.

To Mr. Lewis.
Philadelphia, March 31, 1791.

The recess of Congress permits me now to resume the subject of my letter of August 12th, and to acknowledge the receipt of your favors of September 14th, November 25th, and January 1st.  With respect to British debts and property it was thought possible then that they might come forward and discuss the interests and questions existing between the two nations, and as we know they would assail us on the subject of the treaty, without our previously knowing the particular State or States whose proceedings they would make the ground of complaint, we wished to be in a state of preparation on every point.  I am therefore to thank you particularly for having furnished us the justifications of this Commonwealth in your letter of January 1st.  With respect to the more general object of my letter, that of making a very complete collection of all the laws in force, or which were ever in force in the several States, we are now as to this State possessed of those from 1776 to 1790.  I must still avail myself of your kind undertaking in your letters of September 14th and November 25th, to continue your attention to this acquisition till we can have the whole.  Indeed, if you would order any bookseller to procure them according to such list as you should give him, it might greatly lessen your trouble, and he could deliver them himself at my office and receive there his pay.  Whenever you shall be so good as to notify me of the cost of those already furnished, it shall be immediately reimbursed.  I am sure you are sensible of the necessity of possessing at the seat of the General Government, a complete collection of all the laws of all the States, and hope you will perceive there were no persons so likely to make the collection judiciously as the Attorneys for the Districts, which must be the apology for the trouble which has been given you on this subject by him who has the honor to be, with great esteem and respect, Sir, your most obedient, and most humble servant.

To The President of the United States.
Philadelphia, April 2, 1791.

I had the honor of addressing you on the 27th ult., since which letters are received of January 24th, from Mr. Carmichael, and of January 3d and 15th, Madrid, and February 6th, and 12th, Lisbon, from Colonel Humphreys.  As these are interesting, and may tend to settle suspense of mind to a certain degree, I shall trouble you with quotations from some parts and the substance of others.

Colonel Hamilton says, "I learn from other good authority, as well as from Mr. Carmichael, that all the representations of Gardoqui (when minister in America), tended to excite a belief that the most respectable and influential people throughout the United States did not wish to have the navigation of the Mississippi opened for years to come, from an apprehension such an event would weaken the government, and impoverish the Atlantic States by emigrations.  It was even pretended that none but a handful of settlers on the Western waters, and a few inhabitants of the Southern States would acquiesce in the measure."  This is the state of mind to which they have reverted since the crisis with England is passed, for during that, the Count de Florida Blanca threw out general assertions that we should have no reason to complain of their conduct with respect to the Mississippi, which gave rise to the report its navigation was opened.  The following passages will be astonishing to you who recollect that there was not a syllable in your letters to Mr. G.M., which looked in the most distant manner to Spain.  Mr. Carmichael says, "something, however, might have been done in a moment of projects and apprehension, had not a certain negotiation carried on, on our part, at London, transpired, and which I think was known here rather from British policy, than from the vigilance of the Marquis del Campo.  Entirely unacquainted with this manoeuvre, although in correspondence with the person employed, I was suspected to be in the secret.  This suspicion banished confidence, which returns by slow degrees.  This circumstance induced me to drop entirely my correspondence with G.M.  To continue it would have done harm, and certainly could do no good.  I have seen extracts of the President’s letter communicated to the Duke of Leeds, perhaps mutilated or forged to serve here the views of the British cabinet.  I do not yet despair of obtaining copies of those letters through the same channel that I procured the first account of the demands of G.B. and the signature of the late convention."  Colonel Humphreys says, "the minister had intimations from del Campo of the conferences between Mr. Morris and the Duke of Leeds, which occasioned him to say with warmth to Mr. Carmichael, `now is your time to make a treaty with England.’  Fitzherbert availed himself of these conferences to create apprehensions that the Americans would aid his nation in case of war."  Your genuine letter could have made no impression.  The British court then must have forged one, to suit their purpose, and I think it will not be amiss to send a genuine copy to Carmichael, to place our faith on its just ground.  The principal hope of doing anything now, is founded either on an expected removal of the Count de F.B. from the ministry, in which case persons will be employed who are more friendly to America, or to the bursting out of that fire which both gentlemen think but superficially covered.  Mr. Carmichael justifies himself by the interception of his letters.  He has shown the originals to Colonel H.  He concludes his present letter with these words, "relying on the good opinion of me, that you have been pleased to express on many occasions, I entreat you to engage the President to permit me to return to my native country."  Colonel Humphreys, on the subjects of his justification and return says, (after speaking of the persons likely to come into power,) "Mr. Carmichael being on terms of intimacy with the characters here, is certainly capable of effecting more at this court than any other American.  He is heartily desirous of accomplishing the object in view at all events, and fully determined to return to America in twelve or eighteen months at farthest.  He has expressed that intention repeatedly.  To be innvested with full powers, perhaps he would be able to do something before his departure from the continent."  In his letter of January 15th, he says, "Mr. Carmichael’s ideas are just :  his exertions will be powerful and unremitting to obtain the accomplishment of our desires before his departure from this country.  The task will now be difficult if not impracticable."  In that of February 6th, he says, "Mr. Carmichael is much mortified that so many of his despatches have miscarried.  By the original documents, which I have seen in his hands, I am convinced he has been extremely assiduous and successful in procuring early and authentic intelligence.  It is difficult for a person at a distance to form an adequate judgment of the embarrassments to which a public man, situated as he was, is subjected, in making written communications, from such an inland place, and under such a jealous government.  He appears disgusted with the country and the mode of life he is compelled to lead.  He desires ardently to return to his native land;  but he wishes to distinguish himself first by rendering some essential service to it if possible."

Governor Quesada, by order of his court, is inviting foreigners to go and settle in Florida.  This is meant for our people.  Debtors take advantage of it, and go off with their property.  Our citizens have a right to go where they please.  It is the business of the States to take measures to stop them till their debts are paid.  This done, I wish a hundred thousand of our inhabitants would accept the invitation.  It will be the means of delivering to us peaceably what may otherwise cost us a war.  In the meantime, we may complain of this seduction of our inhabitants just enough to make them believe we think it very wise policy for them, and confirm them in it.  This is my idea of it.  I have the honor to be, with sentiments of the most perfect respect and attachment, Sir, your most obedient, and most humble servant.

To Major Pierre Charles L’Enfant.
Philadelphia, April 10, 1791.


I am favored with your letter of the 4th instant, and in compliance with your request, I have examined my papers, and found the plans of Frankfort-on-the-Mayne, Carlsruhe, Amsterdam, Strasburg, Paris, Orleans, Bordeaux, Lyons, Montpelier, Marseilles, Turin, and Milan, which I send in a roll by the post.  They are on large and accurate scales, having been procured by me while in those respective cities myself.  As they are connected with the notes I made in my travels, and often necessary to explain them to myself, I will beg your care of them, and to return them when no longer useful to you, leaving you absolutely free to keep them as long as useful.  I am happy that the President has left the planning of the town in such good hands, and have no doubt it will be done to general satisfaction.  Considering that the grounds to be reserved for the public are to be paid for by the acre, I think very liberal reservations should be made for them ;  and if this be about the Tyber and on the back of the town, it will be of no injury to the commerce of the place, which will undoubtedly establish itself on the deep waters towards the eastern branch and mouth of Rock Creek ;  the water about the mouth of the Tyber not being of any depth.  Those connected with the government will prefer fixing themselves near the public grounds in the centre, which will also be convenient to be resorted to as walks from the lower and upper town.  Having communicated to the President, before he went away, such general ideas on the subject of the town as occurred to me, I make no doubt that, in explaining himself to you on the subject, he has interwoven with his own ideas, such of mine as he approved.  For fear of repeating therefore what he did not approve, and having more confidence in the unbiassed state of his mind, than in my own, I avoided interfering with what he may have expressed to you.  Whenever it is proposed to prepare plans for the Capitol, I should prefer the adoption of some one of the models of antiquity, which have had the approbation of thousands of years ;  and for the President’s house, I should prefer the celebrated fronts of modern buildings, which have already received the approbation of all good judges.  Such are the Galerie du Louire, the Gardes meubles, and two fronts of the Hotel de Salm.  But of this it is yet time enough to consider.  In the meantime I am, with great esteem, Sir, your most obedient humble servant.

To the President of the United States.
Philadelphia, April 10, 1791.

I had the honor of addressing you on the 2d instant, which I presume would overtake you at Richmond.  The present, I imagine, will not overtake you till you get to Wilmington.  Since my last, I have been honored with your two letters of March 31st, and two others of April 4th, one of which was circular.  A copy of this I sent to the Vice-President, and as Colonel Hamilton has asked a consultation on a letter of Mr. Short’s, we shall have a meeting with the Vice-President to-morrow.  I will then ask their advice also on the communication to Colonel Beckwith, relative to the supplies to the Indians.  Finding, within a day or two after my letter to you of March 27th, that Putnam was gone to the westward, I detained my letter to him, and applied to General Knox, from whom I obtained some information on the Eastern boundary.  No official information of the affair of Moose Island is received here.  Perhaps it is on the road to you.  Nor do we hear anything more of the disturbance said to have arisen on the borders of New York.  I have asked the favor of my friend Mr. Madison to think on the subject of the consular commission to Mr. Barclay, so far as we have done so and conferred together as yet.  We are both of opinion it may be used;  but we shall think and confer further.  I presume your only doubt arose on the constitutional powers to "supply vacancies" during the recess of Congress.  There was an omission also (which might strike your mind), of the limitation of the commission "till the end of the next session of Congress."  As the Constitution limits them, this clause is always useless;  however, as it does no harm, it has been usually inserted in the commissions.  But in the case of Mr. Barclay, such a clause would require a very awkward explanation to the Emperor of Morocco ;  and as Mr. Barclay is acquainted with the constitutional determination of his commission, it was thought better to omit the useless expression of it.  The acquisition of ground at Georgetown is really noble.  Considering that only £25 an acre is to be paid for any grounds taken for the public, and the streets not to be counted, which will in fact reduce it to about £19 an acre, I think very liberal reserves should be made for the public.  Your proclamation came to hand the night of the 5th.  Dunlap’s and Bache’s papers for the morning of the 6th being already filled, I could only get it into Brown’s evening paper of the 6th.  On the 7th, the bill for the federal buildings passed the Representatives here by 42 to 10, but it was rejected yesterday by 9 to 6 in the Senate, or to speak more exactly, it was postponed till the next session.  In the meantime, spirited proceedings at Georgetown will probably, under the continuance of your patronage, prevent the revival of the bill.  I received last night from Major L’Enfant a request to furnish him any plans of towns I could, for his examination.  I accordingly send him, by this post, plans of Frankfort-on-the-Mayne, Carlsruhe, Amsterdam, Strasburg, Paris, Orleans, Bordeaux, Lyons, Montpelier, Marseilles, Turin, and Milan, on large and accurate scales, which I procured while in those towns respectively.  They are none of them, however, comparable to the old Babylon, revived in Philadelphia, and exemplified.  While in Europe, I selected about a dozen or two of the handsomest fronts of private buildings, of which I have the plates.  Perhaps it might decide the taste of the new town, were these to be engraved here, and distributed gratis among the inhabitants of Georgetown.  The expense would be trifling.

I enclose you extracts from a letter of Mr. Short’s of January 24th.  One of January 28th has since come to hand, containing nothing but a translation of the letter, said to have been written by the Emperor to the King of France, but which he suspects to be a forgery, a forged bull of the Pope having lately appeared in the same way.  He says very serious differences have arisen between the Minister of Prussia, at Liege, and the imperial commanding officer there.

I also enclose the debates of the Pennsylvania assembly on the bill for the federal buildings, and the bill itself;  and have the honor to be, with sentiments of the most perfect respect and attachment Sir your most obedient, and most humble servant.

Extract of a letter from William Short to Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of State, dated Amsterdam, January 24, 1791.

" No loan is yet opened;  as far as I can judge it will be found proper to postpone it two or three weeks longer, for reasons mentioned in my former letters, which are of general application, and in this instance particularly for the greater certainty of a success that may enhance the credit of the United States.

" The Reporter of the Committee of Domaines has at length presented the opinion of that committee respecting the Decree on the Droit d’Aubaine to the assembly.  He had unfortunately connected it with the business of the Successions, so that an adjournment was insisted on in order that the Report might be discussed.  It was referred to four different committees.  I had put the Marquis de La Fayette fully in possession of this subject, and wrote to him again respecting it, immediately on being informed of the turn it had taken.  The Secretary, whom I left in Paris, writes me that they are now trying to get the Diplomatic Committee to ask for a division of this report, and to obtain a decree explanatory merely as to the Droit d’Aubaine.  In the present ill-humor and jealousy which prevail with respect to colonies, it is difficult to say what they will do—but we may be sure that M. de Montmorin will use his exertions to effect what we desire.  I apprehend delay, however, which no application can prevent, and I always had doubts myself with respect to the success of this business, notwithstanding the opinion of the Reporter and Committee of Domaines.  I mentioned formerly on what those doubts were founded.

" Since the Report of the Committee of Impositions, made in the month of December, of which you will have seen an extract in the Journals of the Assembly, and of which I enclosed you a copy in my last, nothing more has been said on tobacco, except by a member of the Committee of Finance.  You will have seen that the Committee of Imposition propose to abandon tobacco as an article of revenue.  The member of the Committee of Finance, on the contrary, insisted on it;  another member of the same committee, however, insisted on his informing the assembly that what he said was his private opinion, and not that of the Committee of Finance.  Nobody, as I have frequently repeated, can say with certainty, when the assembly will take up any subject, nor what they will decide on it.  Their sentiments with respect to tobacco, have experienced a manifest alteration since the first report of the Committee of Imposition respecting it.  It is probable now that it will be made an article of free commerce, with a duty on entering the kingdom.  But should the Farm be continued, still some modification may be expected at present in favor of their commercial connections with the United States.  I forgot to mention above, that I had received through Mr. Donald your letter of November 25 respecting this article.

" The Commercial Committee have formed a new tariff, which is now under press, as they write me, to be presented to the assembly.  They not only admit American oils in their plan, but put the duties lower than under the Arrêt du Conseil.  It is yet for the assembly to decide on it.  I have already informed you of the stages through which this business has been carried, and the manner in which it has been done.  I hope the means will be approved of;  and the United States will have reason to be satisfied with the result.  The delay is inevitable from the nature and proceedings of the assembly.  That is the cause, also, of the uncertainty and variation in the opinions which I have communicated to you from time to time on these subjects.

" The resistance of a considerable part of the clergy to a decree of the assembly for their civil organization, and particularly for changing the limits of the dioceses, and the violent measures adopted by the assembly respecting this resistance, or rather non-compliance, has been matter of uneasiness for some time.  By a decree of the assembly all those of the clergy who, by a given day, had not taken an oath to maintain the civil organization of that body, were to be deprived of their ecclesiastical functions, and their successors immediately appointed agreeably to the new mode of election.  That day rigorously has passed, and only two bishops of the assembly have taken the oath.  Of the curates of Paris a majority, also, had refused;  but among those subscribed were some of the principal, and particularly the curate of St. Eustache, the King’s confessor, who it is said, was converted by the King himself, who takes every possible means of preventing what might occasion disorder, and who, from his uniform conduct, merits better treatment than he sometimes receives.  By a construction of the decree some delay is obtained for its execution.  In the meantime two of the refusing bishops have entered into negotiation.  They desire to find some decent means of retracting their refusal ;  hitherto they have waited for the consent of the Pope, to obtain which they had sent an express to Rome.  His answer has not yet been received, but it is known by private letters that he is disposed to accommodate at present, though he would not hear of it at first.  I know not yet what efect this will produce on the people in the provinces.  In the capital, their love of the Revolution so far surpasses every other passion, that all the exertions of the Garde Nationale have been necessary to prevent their entering the churches and hanging the refusing curates.  They will manifest their dispositions less violently, perhaps, in the provinces, but in general the spirit of the Revolution will certainly predominate, even if the clergy succeed to convince them that it is contrary to the spirit of religion.

"The funds have risen to an uncommon height owing to the considerable reimbursements made by the emission of assignats.  These do not depreciate as might have been expected.  On the whole, if there were any probability of the assembly’s confining themselves merely to the business of organizing the government, so as to put an end to their session and call a new legislature, the Revolution might be considered as really in a successful state;  but the Report of the Central Committee, which you will have received, prescribes such a superabundance of matter as necessary to be deliberated on and settled by the present assembly, that its end as well as the term of the completion of the constitution can be reduced to no calculation.  All that seems to me certain is, that the Revolution will in one way or another end by giving a free government to France.  This event might be hastened much by the assembly, if they would.  My former letters will have informed you how little I think it is to be hoped from them, and for what reasons.

"The Russians, as has been expected for some time, have taken Ismailow.  They stormed it, and put the whole garrison to the sword on the 22d of December.  This was probably to strike terror into the Turks, in order to aid the separate negotiation which it is known Prince Potemkin is endeavoring to effect with the Grand Visier.  The object is to engage the Porte to accept peace without the mediation of other powers.  On the other hand, Prussia is active both in negotiation and military demonstration to counteract this project.  Preparations are making for sending a large army into Livonia in the spring, which has induced the Empress to call off some of the heavy troops from those employed against the Turks.  England, also, keeps an augmented navy in commission.  It seems not doubted that the design is to send a fleet into the Baltic as soon as the season will permit it.  It is said, also, that the three mediating powers are negotiating with Denmark, to engage that country to be at least indifferent as to the entrance of this fleet and that there are grounds for hopes of success.  Some think, also, that there are indications which render it probable that Spain will join in the mediation for obtaining peace for the Turks.  I have no reason to suppose it other than that arising from the desire which Spain must naturally have to see peace restored to that power.  It is supposed if she joins in the mediation it will be merely for that object, and not from any disposition to favor generally the system of the mediating powers.  Where so many and such opposite principles enter into account, it would be temerity to conjecture the particular results, without being behind the curtain;  and even there probably the schemes are not yet fully ascertained.  Every day must necessarily throw new lights on this complicated state of affairs, in proportion as the state of negotiation is more advanced.

"I think it probable myself, that peace will be effected one way or another in the course of the year.  The present favorable situation of the Russian army, the dispersed and disheartened situation of the Ottoman, the succor promised by Prussia, so long deferred, the little hope of immediate relief from the geographical position of that power, the ardent desire of Russia to effect a peace without mediation, and the sacrifices she is disposed to make to effect it;  all induce me to believe that it will be brought about in that way.  If, however, the Porte, from a well-founded confidence in the active interference of the mediating powers, should decide still to hold out, then it seems that the Empress will be induced to come to terms rather than enter the lists with new and powerful enemies, from whom she would have much to fear, particularly by sea.  Still I find several who think, from the character of the Empress, that she will resist, and try the event of a campaign rather than sacrifice so much success and so much glory in having a peace dictated to her.  Her resources at home are without end from her mode of calling them into action, and her credit, even here, stands high;  certainly much higher than it should do.  It is supposed, also, that in this extremity she would be seconded by the Emperor, notwithstanding his pacific turn.  He would be authorized by treaty to do this, and his present situation would enable him;  the disturbances in the various parts of his dominions having been all settled.  In Brabant, particularly, his authority is more firmly settled than if he had come to it by inheritance only, since he enjoys it also by a kind of conquest.

" It is the system of the English Cabinet which is considered here as the most unaccountable.  The commerce of that country is at present in the most prosperous situation, since the balance is in their favor with every part of Europe.  They have more to gain by peace and more to apprehend from war, than any other power, and yet they seem determined to risk it.  The advantages of their commerce in the Baltic, are certain;  those in the Levant, eventual;  still they seem determined to sacrifice one, at least for a time, in order to grasp at the other.  On the whole, it is regarded as one of those sacrifices of commerce to politics, which France has so often given examples of.  Time will show whether Mr. Pitt, or those who condemn him, are in the right."

To William Carmichael (Chargé d’Affaires to Spain).
Philadelphia, April 11, 1791.


I wrote you on the 12th of March, and again on the 17th of the same month ;  since which, I have received your favor of January the 24th, wherein you refer to copies of two letters, also to a paper No. 1, supposed to be enclosed in that letter ;  but there was nothing enclosed.  You speak particularly of several other letters formerly forwarded, but not a single one was ever received of later date than May the 6th, 1789 ;  and this of January 24th, is all we possess from you since that date.  I enclose you a list of letters addressed to you on various subjects, and to which answers were and are naturally expected;  and send you again copies of the papers in the case of the Dover Cutter, which has been the subject of so many of those letters, and is the subject of the constant solicitation of the parties here.  A final decision on that application, therefore, is earnestly desired.  When you consider the repeated references of matters to you from hence, and the total suppression of whatever you have written in answer, you will not be surprised if it had excited a great degree of uneasiness.  We had inquired whether private conveyances did not occur, from time to time, from Madrid to Cadiz, where we have vessels almost constantly, and we were assured that such conveyances were frequent.  On the whole, Sir, you will be sensible, that under the jealous government with which you reside, the conveyance of intelligence requires as much management as the obtaining it;  and I am in hopes that in future, you will be on your guard against those infidelities in that line, under which you and we have so much suffered.

The President is absent on a journey through the southern States, from which he will not return till the end of June;  consequently, I could not sooner notify him of your desire to return;  but even then, I will take the liberty of saying nothing to him on the subject till I hear further from you.  The suppression of your correspondence has, in a considerable degree, withdrawn you from the public sight.  I sincerely wish that before your return, you could do something to attract their attention and favor, and render your return pleasing to yourself and profitable to them, by introducing you to new proofs of their confidence.  My two last letters to you furnish occasions;  that of a co-operation against the British navigation act, and the arrangement of our affairs on the Mississippi.  The former, if it can be effected, will form a remarkable and memorable epoch in the history and freedom of the ocean.  Mr. Short will press it at Paris, and Colonel Humphreys at Lisbon.  The latter will show most at first ;  and as to it, be so good as to observe always, that the right of navigating the Mississippi is considered as so palpable, that the recovery of it will produce no other sensation than that of a gross injustice removed.  The extent and freedom of the port for facilitating the use of it, is what will excite the attention and gratification of the public.  Colonel Humphreys writes me, that all Mr. Gardoqui’s communications, while here, tended to impress the court of Madrid with the idea, that the navigation of the Mississippi was only demanded on our part to quiet our western settlers, and that it was not sincerely desired by the maritime States.  This is a most fatal error;  and must be completely eradicated and speedily, or Mr. Gardoqui will prove to have been a bad peacemaker.  It is true, there were characters whose stations entitled them to credit, and who, from geographical prejudices, did not themselves wish the navigation of the Mississippi to be restored to us, and who believe, perhaps, as is common with mankind, that their opinion was the general opinion.  But the sentiments of the great mass of the Union were decidedly otherwise then, and the very persons to whom Mr. Gardoqui alluded, have now come over to the opinion heartily, that the navigation of the Mississippi, in full and unrestrained freedom, is indispensably necessary, and must be obtained by any means it may call for.  It will be most unfortunate, indeed, if we cannot convince Spain that we make this demand in earnest, but by acts which will render that conviction too late to prevent evil.

Not knowing how better to convey to you the laws and the gazettes, than by committing them to the patronage of Colonel Humphreys, I now send through that channel the laws of the second and third sessions of Congress, and the newspapers.

I have the honor to be, with great esteem, Sir, your most obedient, and most humble servant.

To Charles Carroll of Carrollton.
Philadelphia, April 15, 1791.

Dear Sir

I received last night your favor of the 10th, with Mr. Brown’s receipt, and thank you for the trouble you have been so kind as to take in this business.

Our news from the westward is disagreeable.  Constant murders committing by the Indians, and their combination threatens to be more and more extensive.  I hope we shall give them a thorough drubbing this summer, and then change our tomahawk into a golden chain of friendship.  The most economical as well as most humane conduct towards them is to bribe them into peace, and to retain them in peace by eternal bribes.  The expedition this year would have served for presents on the most liberal scale for one hundred years;  nor shall we otherwise ever get rid of an army, or of our debt.  The least rag of Indian depredation will be an excuse to raise troops for those who love to have troops, and for those who think that a public debt is a good thing.  Adieu, my dear Sir.  Yours affectionately.

To the President of the United States.
Philadelphia, April 17, 1791.


I had the honor of addressing you on the 2d, which I supposed would find you at Richmond, and again on the 10th, which I thought would overtake you at Wilmington.  The present will probably find you at Charleston.

According to what I mentioned in my letter of the 10th, the Vice-President, Secretaries of the Treasury and War, and myself, met on the 11th.  Colonel Hamilton presented a letter from Mr. Short, in which he mentioned that the month of February being one of the periodical months in Amsterdam, when, from the receipt of interest and refunding of capitals, there is much money coming in there, and free to be disposed of, he had put off the opening his loan till then, that it might fill the more rapidly, a circumstance which would excite the presumption of our credit;  that he had every reason to hope it would be filled before it would be possible for him, after his then communication of the conditions, to receive your approbation of them, and orders to open a second;  which, however, should be awaited, according to his instructions;  but he pressed the expediting the order, that the stoppage of the current in our favor might be as short as possible.  We saw that if, under present circumstances, your orders should be awaited, it would add a month to the delay, and we were satisfied, were you present, you would approve the conditions, and order a second loan to be opened.  We unanimously, therefore, advised an immediate order, on condition the terms of the second loan should not be worse than those of the first.

General Knox expressed an apprehension that the Six Nations might be induced to join our enemies, there being some suspicious circumstances;  and he wished to send Colonel Pickering to confirm them in their neutrality.  This, he observed, would occasion an expense of about two thousand dollars, as the Indians were never to be met empty handed.  We thought the mission advisable.  As to myself, I hope we shall give the Indians a thorough drubbing this summer, and I should think it better afterwards to take up the plan of liberal and repeated presents to them.  This would be much the cheapest in the end, and would save all the blood which is now spilt :  in time, too, it would produce a spirit of peace and friendship between us.  The expense of a single expedition would last very long for presents. — I mentioned to the gentlemen, the idea of suggesting through Golonel Beckwith our knowledge of the conduct of the British officers in furnishing the Indians with arms and ammunition, and our dissatisfaction.  Colonel Hamilton said that Beckwith had been with him on the subject, and had assured him they had given them nothing more than the annual presents, and at the annual period.  It was thought proper, however, that he should be made sensible that this had attracted the notice of government.  I thought it the more material, lest, having been himself the first to speak of it, he might suppose his excuses satisfactory, and that therefore they might repeat the annual present this year.  As Beckwith lodges in the same house with Mr. Madison, I have desired the latter to find some occasion of representing to Beckwith that, though an annual present of arms and ammunition be an innocent thing in time of peace, it is not so in time of war ;  that it is contrary to the laws of neutrality for a neutral power to furnish military implements to either party at war, and that if their subjects should do it on private account, such furniture might be seized as contraband :  to reason with him on the subject, as from himself, but so as to let him see that government thought as himself did.

You knew, I think, before you left us, that the British Parliament had a bill before them for allowing wheat, imported in British bottoms, to be warehoused rent free.  In order further to circumscribe the carrying business of the United States, they now refuse to consider as an American bottom any vessel not built here.  By this construction, they take from us the right of defining, by our own laws, what vessels shall be deemed ours and naturalized here;  and in the event of a war, in which we should be neutral, they put it out of our power to benefit ourselves of our neutrality, by increasing suddenly by purchase and naturalization our means of carriage.  If we are permitted to do this by building only, the war will be over before we can be prepared to take advantage of it.  This has been decided by the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury, in the case of one Green, a merchant of New York ;  from whom I have received a regular complaint on the subject.—I enclose you the copy of a note from Mr. King to Colonel Hamilton, on the subject of the appointment of a British minister to come here.  I suspect it, however, to be without foundation.

Colonel Eveleigh died yesterday.  Supposing it possible you might desire to appoint his successor as soon as you could decide on one, I enclose you a blank commission ;  which, when you shall be pleased to fill it up and sign, can be returned for the seal and counter-signature.  I enclose you a letter from Mr. Coxe to yourself, on the subject of this appointment, and so much of one to me as related to the same, having torn off a leaf of compliment to lighten and lessen my enclosures to you.  Should distributive justice give preference to a successor of the same state with the deceased, I take the liberty of suggesting to you Mr. Hayward, of South Carolina, whom I think you told me you did not know, and of whom you are now on the spot of inquiry.  I enclose you also a continuation of the Pennsylvania debates on the bill for federal buildings.  After the postponement by the Senate, it was intended to bring on the reconsideration of that vote ;  but the hurry at winding up their session prevented it.  They have not chosen a federal Senator.

I have the honor to be, with the most profound respect and sincere attachment, Sir, your most obedient, and most humble servant.

To the President of the United States.
Philadelphia, April 24, 1791.


I had the honor of addressing you on the 17th.  Since which I have received yours of the 13th.  I enclose you extracts from letters received from Mr. Short.  In one of the 7th of February, Mr. Short informs me that he has received a letter from M. de Montmorin, announcing to him that the King has named Ternant his minister here.  The questions on our tobacco and oil have taken unfavorable turns.  The former will pay fifty livres the thousand weight less, when carried in French than foreign bottoms.  Oil is to pay twelve livres a kental, which amounts to a prohibition of the common oils, the only kind carried there.  Tobacco will not feel the effect of these measures till time will be given to bring it to rights.  They had only twenty thousand hogsheads in the kingdom in November last, and they consume two thousand hogsheads a month, so that they must immediately come forward and make great purchases, and not having as yet vessels of their own to carry it, they must pay the extra duties on ours.  I have been puzzled about the delays required by Mr. Barclay’s affairs.  He gives me reason to be tolerably assured, that he will go in the first vessel which shall sail after the last day of May.  There is no vessel at present whose destination would suit.  Believing that even with this, we shall get the business done sooner than through any other channel, I have thought it best not to change the plan.  The last Leyden gazettes give us what would have been the first object of the British arms, had the rupture with Spain taken place.

You know that Admiral Cornish had sailed on an unknown destination before the Convention was received in London.  Immediately on its receipt, they sent an express after him to Madeira, in hopes of finding him there.  He was gone, and had so short a passage, that in twenty-three days he had arrived in Barbadoes, the general rendezvous.  All the troops of the islands were collecting there, and General Matthews was on his way from Antigua to take command of the land operations, when he met with the packet-boat which carried the counter-orders.  Trinidad was the object of the expedition.  Matthews returned to Antigua, and Cornish is arrived in England.  This island, at the mouth of the Oronoko, is admirably suited for a lodgment from which all the country up that river, and all the northern coast of South America, Spanish, French, Dutch and Portuguese, may be suddenly assailed.

Colonel Pickering is now here, and will set out in two or three days to meet the Indians, as mentioned in my last.  The intimation to Colonel Beckwith has been given by Mr. Madison.  He met it on very different grounds from that on which he had placed it with Colonel Hammilton.  He pretended ignorance and even disbelief of the fact ;  when told that it was out of doubt, he said he was positively sure the distribution of arms had been without the knowledge and against the orders of Lord Dorchester, and of the government.  He endeavored to induce a formal communication from me.  When he found that could not be effected, he let Mr. Madison perceive that he thought, however informal his character, he had not been sufficiently noticed ;  said he was in New York before I came into office, and that though he had not been regularly turned over to me, yet I knew his character.  In fine, he promised to write to Lord Dorchester the general information we had received, and our sense of it ;  and he saw that his former apologies to Colonel Hamilton had not been satisfactory to the government.—Nothing further from Moose Island, nor the posts on the northern border of New York, nor anything of the last week from the western country.

Arthur Campbell has been here.  He is the enemy of P. Henry.  He says the Yazoo bargain is like to drop with the consent of the purchasers.  He explains it thus :  They expected to pay for the lands in public paper at par, which they had bought at half a crown a pound.  Since the rise in the value of the public paper, they have gained as much on that as they would have done by investing it in the Yazoo lands;  perhaps more, as it puts a large sum of specie at their command, which they can turn to better account.  They are, therefore, likely to acquiesce under the determination of the government of Georgia to consider the contract as forfeited by non-payment.

I direct this letter to be forwarded from Charleston to Camden.  The next will be from Petersburg to Taylor’s Ferry;  and after that, I shall direct to you at Mount Vernon.  I have the honor to be, with sentiments of the most affectionate respect and attachment, Sir, your most obedient, and most humble servant.

To William Short.
Philadelphia, April 25, 1791.

Dear Sir

My late letters to you have been of the 8th, 12th, 15th, and 19th of March, yours received and acknowledged are as follows. * * * * * * *

I consider the consular convention as securing clearly our right to appoint consuls in the French colonies.  The words "Etats du roi," unquestionably extend to all his dominions.  If they had been merely synonymous with "la France," why was the alteration made ?  When I proposed that alteration, I explained my reasons, and it cannot be supposed I wold sufer a change of language but for some matter of substance.  Again, in the translation, it is "dominions of France."  This translation was submitted to M. de Montmorin and M. de Reyneval, with a request that they would note any deviation in it from the original, or otherwise it would be considered as faithful.  No part was objected to.  M. de Reyneval says, we must decide by the instrument itself, and not by the explanations which took place.  It is a rule, where expressions are susceptible of two meanings, to recur to other explanations.  Good faith is in favor of this recurrence.  However, in the present case, the expression does not admit of two constructions;  it is co-extensive with the dominions of the King.  I insist on this, only as a reservation of our right, and not with a view to exercise it, if it shall be inconvenient and disagreeable to the government of France.  Only two appointments have as yet been made (Mr. Skipwith at Martinique and Guadaloupe, and Mr. Bourne in St. Dominique), and they shall be instructed not to ask a regular Exequatur.  We certainly wish to press nothing on our friends which shall be inconvenient.  I shall hope that M. de Montmorin will order such attentions to be shown to those gentlemen as the patronage of commerce may call for, and may not be inconvenient to the government.  These gentlemen are most pointedly instructed not to intermeddle, by word or deed, with political matters.

My letter of August, 1790, to Mr. Carmichael, was delivered to him by Colonel Humphreys.—The report you mention of the prospect of our captives at Algiers being liberated, has not taken its rise from any authoritative source.  Unfortunately for us, there have been so many persons, who (from friendly or charitable motives, or to recommend themselves) have busied themselves about this redemption, as to excite great expectations in the captors, and render our countrymen in fact irredeemable.  We have not a single operation on foot for that purpose, but what you know of, and the more all voluntary interpositions are discouraged the better for our unhappy friends whom they are meant to serve.

You know how strongly we desire to pay off our whole debt to France, and that for this purpose we will use our credit as far as it will hold good.  You know, also, what may be the probability of our being able to borrow the whole sum.  Under these dispositions and prospects, it would grieve us extremely to see our debt pass into the hands of speculators, and be subjected ourselves to the chicaneries and vexations of private avarice.  We desire you, therefore, to dissuade the government, as far as you can prudently, from listening to any overtures of that kind, and as to the speculators themselves, whether native or foreign, to inform them, without reserve, that our government condemns their projects, and reserves to itself the right of paying no where but into the treasury of France, according to their contract.

I enclose you a copy of Mr. Grand’s note to me, stating the conditions on which Drost would come, and also a letter from the Secretary of the Treasury, expressing his ideas as to those terms, with which I agree.  We leave to your agency the engaging and sending Mr. Drost as soon as possible, and to your discretion to fix the terms, rendering the allowance for expenses certain, which his first proposition leaves uncertain.  Subsistence here costs about one-third of what it does in Paris, to a housekeeper.  In a lodging house, the highest price for a room and board is a dollar a day, for the master, and half that for the servant.  These facts may enable you to settle the article of expenses reasonably.  If Mr. Drost undertakes assaying, I should much rather confide it to him, than to any other person who can be sent.  It is the most confidential operation in the whole business of coining.  We should expect him to instruct a native in it.  I think, too, he should be obliged to continue longer than a year, if it should be necessary for qualifying others to continue his operations.  It is not important that he be here till November or December, but extremely desirable then.  He may come as much sooner as he pleases.

We address to M. la Motte a small box for you, containing a complete set of the journals of the ancient Congress, the acts of the last session of the federal legislature, and a continuation of the newspapers.  I am, with great and sincere esteem, dear Sir, your affectionate friend and humble servant.

To the President of the United States.
Philadelphia, May 1, 1791.


I had the honor of addressing you on the 24th ult., which I presume you will have received at Camden.  The present is ordered to go from Petersburg to Taylor’s Ferry.  I think it better my letters should be even some days ahead of you, knowing that if they ever get into your rear they will never overtake you.  I write to-day, indeed, merely as the watchman cries, to prove himself awake, and that all is well, for the last week has scarcely furnished anything foreign or domestic, worthy your notice.  Truxton is arrived from the East Indies, and confirms the check by Tippoo Saib, on the detachment of Colonel Floyd, which consisted of between three and four thousand men.  The latter lost most of his baggage and artillery, and retreated under the pursuit of the enemy.  The loss of men is pretended by their own papers to have been two or three hundred only.  But the loss and character of the officers killed, makes me suspect that the situation has been such as to force the best officers to expose themselves the most, and consequently that more men must have fallen.  The main body with General Meadows at their head are pretended to be going on boldly.  Yet, Lord Cornwallis is going to take the field in person.  This shows that affairs are in such a situation as to give anxiety.  Upon the whole, the account received through Paris papers proves true, notwithstanding the minister had declared to the House of Commons, in his place, that the public accounts were without foundation, and that nothing amiss had happened.

Our loan in Amsterdam for two and a half million of florins filled in two hours and a half after it was opened.

The Vice-President leaves us to-morrow.  We are told that Mr. Morris gets £70,000 sterling for the lands he has sold.

A Mr. Noble has been here, from the country where they are busied with the sugar-maple tree.  He thinks Mr. Cooper will bring three thousand pounds worth to market this season, and gives the most flattering calculations of what may be done in that way.  He informs me of another most satisfactory fact, that less profit is made by converting the juice into spirit than into sugar.  He gave me specimens of the spirit, which is exactly whiskey.

I have arrived at Baltimore from Marseilles forty olive trees of the best kind from Marseilles, and a box of seed, the latter to raise stocks, and the former, cuttings to engraft on the stocks.  I am ordering them on instantly to Charleston, where, if they arrive in the course of this month, they will be in time.  Another cargo is on its way from Bordeaux, so that I hope to secure the commencement of this culture, and from the best species.  Sugar and oil will be no mean addition to the articles of our culture.  I have the honor to be, with the greatest respect and esteem, Sir, your most obedient, and most humble servant.

To the Attorney of the District of Kentucky.
Philadelphia, May 7, 1791.


A certain James O’Fallon is, as we are informed, undertaking to raise, organize and commission an army, of his own authority, and independent of that of the government, the object of which is, to go and possess themselves of lands which have never yet been granted by any authority, which the government admits to be legal, and with an avowed design to hold them by force against any power, foreign or domestic.  As this will inevitably commit our whole nation in war with the Indian nations, and perhaps others, it cannot be permitted that all the inhabitants of the United States shall be involved in the calamities of war, and the blood of thousands of them be poured out, merely that a few adventurers may possess themselves of lands;  nor can a well ordered government tolerate such an assumption of its sovereignty by unauthorized individuals.  I send you herein the Attorney General’s opinion of what may legally be done, with a desire that you proceed against the said O’Fallon according to law.  It is not the wish, to extend the prosecution to other individuals, who may have given thoughtlessly into his unlawful proceeding.  I enclose you a proclamation to this effect.  But they may be assured, that if this undertaking be prosecuted, the whole force of the United States will be displayed to punish the transgression.  I enclose you one of O’Fallon’s commissions, signed, as is said, by himself.

I have the honor to be, with great esteem, Sir, your most obedient humble servant.

To the President of the United States.
Philadelphia, May 8, 1791.


The last week does not furnish one single public event worthy communicating to you ;  so that I have only to say "all is well."  Paine’s answer to Burke’s pamphlet begins to produce some squibs in our public papers.  In Fenno’s paper they are Burkites, in the others, Painites.  One of Fenno’s was evidently from the author of the discourses on Davila.  I am afraid the indiscretion of a printer has committed me with my friend, Mr. Adams, for whom, as one of the most honest and disinterested men alive, I have a cordial esteem, increased by long habits of concurrence in opinion in the days of his republicanism ;  and even since his apostasy to hereditary monarchy and nobility, though we differ, we differ as friends should do.  Beckley had the only copy of Paine’s pamphlet, and lent it to me, desiring when I should have read it, that I would send it to a Mr. J.B. Smith, who had asked it for his brother to reprint it.  Being an utter stranger to J.B. Smith, both by sight and character, I wrote a note to explain to him why I (a stranger to him) sent him a pamphlet, to wit, that Mr. Beckley had desired it ;  and to take off a little of the dryness of the note, I added that I was glad to find it was to be reprinted, that something would, at length, be publicly said against the political heresies which had lately sprung up among us, and that I did not doubt our citizens would rally again round the standard of common sense.  That I had in my view the discourses on Davila, which have filled Fenno’s papers, for a twelvemonth, without contradiction, is certain, but nothing was ever further from my thoughts than to become myself the contradictor before the public.  To my great astonishment, however, when the pamphlet came out, the printer had prefixed my note to it, without having given me the most distant hint of it.  Mr. Adams will unquestionably take to himself the charge of political heresy, as conscious of his own views of drawing the present government to the form of the English constitution, and, I fear, will consider me as meaning to injure him in the public eye.  I learn that some Anglo-men have censured it in another point of view, as a sanction of Paine’s principles tends to give offence to the British government.  Their real fear, however, is that this popular and republican pamphlet, taking wonderfully, is likely at a single stroke, to wipe out all the unconstitutional doctrines which their bellwether Davila has been preaching for a twelvemonth.  I certainly never made a secret of my being anti-monarchical, and anti-aristocratical;  but I am sincerely mortified to be thus brought forward on the public stage, where to remain, to advance or to retire, will be equally against my love of silence and quiet, and my abhorrence of dispute.  I do not know whether you recollect that the records of Virginia were destroyed by the British in the year 1781.  Particularly the transactions of the revolution before that time.  I am collecting here all the letters I wrote to Congress while I was in the administration there, and this being done, I shall then extend my views to my predecessors, in order to replace the whole in the public offices in Virginia.  I think that during my administration, say between June 1, 1779, and June 1, 1781, I had the honor of writing frequent letters to you on public affairs, which perhaps, may be among your papers at Mount Vernon.  Would it be consistent with any general resolution you have formed as to your papers, to let my letters of the above period come here to be copied, in order to make them a part of the records I am endeavoring to restore for the State ? or would their selection be too troublesome ? if not, I would beg the loan of them, under an assurance that they shall be taken the utmost care of, and safely returned to their present deposit.

The quiet and regular movement of our political affairs leaves nothing to add but constant prayers for your health and welfare, and assurances of the sincere respect and attachment of, Sir, your most obedient, and most humble servant.

To the Honorable Jeremiah Wadsworth.
Philadelphia, May 11, 1791.


I have duly received your favor of April 20.  The exemption from the Droit d’Aubaine in the French West Indies, has been for some time past a subject of attention.  As the National Assembly were abolishing it in France for all nations, I desired our Chargé des Affaires there to see that the decree should be extended to all the dominions of France.  His letters assure me that it will be done, so as to remove this grievance hereafter.  With respect to the past, I believe it has been judiciously determined in France that the exemption given by our treaty did not extend to their foreign possessions.  Should Mr. Johnston, however, be disposed to try this matter, it will be requisite for him to obtain from Port-au-Prince an authenticated record of the proceedings in his case.  It would seem, also, that those in the case of the gentleman of Curracoa, might be useful.  These should be transmitted to some person in Paris to solicit the government for him.  Though it is not permitted that our Charge des Affaires there, or anywhere, should act as the private agent or solicitor for any individual, yet he will lend his aid and influence wherever it may be just and useful, by official applications.  I have the honor to be, with great esteem, Sir, your most obedient, and most humble servant.

To Thomas Barclay (Official Instructions).
Philadelphia, May 13, 1791.


You are appointed by the President of the United States, to go to the court of Morocco, for the purpose of obtaining from the new Emperor, a recognition of our treaty with his father.  As it is thought best that you should go in some definite character, that of consul has been adopted, and you consequently receive a commission as consul for the United States, in the dominions of the Emperor of Morocco, which, having been issued during the recess of the Senate, will, of course, expire at the end of their next session.  It has been thought best, however, not to insert this limitation in the commission, as being unnecessary;  and it might, perhaps, embarrass.—Before the end of the next session of the Senate, it is expected the objects of your mission will be accomplished.

Lisbon being the most convenient port of correspondence between us and Morocco, sufficient authority will be given to Colonel Humphreys, resident of the United States at that place, over funds in Amsterdam, for the objects of your mission.  On him, therefore, you will draw for the sums herein allowed, or such parts of them as shall be necessary.  To that port, too, you had better proceed in the first vessel which shall be going there, as it is expected you will get a ready passage from thence to Morocco.

On your arrival at Morocco, sound your ground, and know how things stand at present.  Your former voyage there, having put you in possession of the characters through whom this may be done, who may best be used for approaching the Emperor and effecting your purpose, you are left to use your own knowledge to the best advantage.

The object being merely to obtain an acknowledgment of the treaty, we rely that you will be able to do this, giving very moderate presents.  As the amount of these will be drawn into precedent, on future similar repetitions of them, it becomes important.  Our distance, our seclusion from the ancient world, its politics and usages, our agricultural occupations and habits, our poverty, and lastly, our determination to prefer war in all cases, to tribute under any form, and to any people whatever, will furnish you with topics for opposing and refusing high or dishonoring pretensions;  to which may be added, the advantages their people will derive from our commerce, and their sovereign, from the duties laid on whatever we extract from that country.

Keep us regularly informed of your proceedings and progress, by writing by every possible occasion, detailing to us particularly your conferences, either private or public, and the persons with whom they are held.

We think that Francisco Chiappe has merited well of the United States, by his care of their peace and interests.  He has sent an account of disbursements for us, amounting to three hundred and ninety-four dollars.  Do not recognize the account, because we are unwilling, by doing that, to give him a color for presenting larger ones hereafter, for expenses which it is impossible for us to scrutinize or control.  Let him understand, that our laws oppose the application of public money so informally ;  but in your presents, treat him handsomely, so as not only to cover this demand, but go beyond it with a liberality which may fix him deeply in our interests.  The place he holds near the Emperor, renders his friendship peculiarly important.  Let us have nothing further to do with his brothers, or any other person.  The money which would make one good friend, divided among several, will produce no attachment.

The Emperor has intimated that he expects an ambassador from us.  Let him understand, that this may be a custom of the old world, but it is not ours ;  that we never sent an ambassador to any nation.

You are to be allowed, from the day of your departure till your return, one hundred and sixty-six dollars and sixty-six cents and two-thirds, a month, for your time and expenses, adding thereto your passage money and sea stores going and coming.

Remain in your post till the 1st of April next, and as much longer as shall be necessary to accomplish the objects of your mission, unless you should receive instructions from hence to the contrary.

With your commission, you will receive a letter to the Emperor of Morocco, a cypher, and a letter to Colonel Humphreys.—I have the honor to be, with great esteem, Sir, your most obedient, and most humble servant.

Confidential Instructions for Thomas Barclay

A private instruction which Mr. Barclay is to carry in his memory, and not on paper, lest it should come into improper hands.

We rely that you will obtain the friendship of the new Emperor, and his assurances that the treaty shall be faithfully observed, with as little expense as possible.  But the sum of ten thousand dollars is fixed as the limit which all your donations together are not to exceed.

May 13, 1791.
[Letter from the President to the Emperor of Morocco, referred to in the letter to Mr. Barclay.]

Great and Magnanimous Friend

Separated by an immense ocean from the more ancient nations of the earth, and little connected with their politics or proceedings, we are late in learning the events which take place among them, and later in conveying to them our sentiments thereon.

The death of the late Emperor, your father and our friend, of glorious memory, is one of those events which, though distant, attracts our notice and concern.  Receive, great and good friend, my sincere sympathy with you on that loss;  and permit me, at the same time, to express the satisfaction with which I learn the accession of so worthy a successor to the imperial throne of Morocco, and to offer you the homage of my sincere congratulations.  May the days of your Majesty’s life be many and glorious, and may they ever mark the era during which a great people shall have been most prosperous and happy, under the best and happiest of sovereigns !

The late Emperor, very soon after the establishment of our infant nation, manifested his royal regard and amity to us by many friendly and generous acts, and, particularly, by the protection of our citizens in their commerce with his subjects.  And as a further instance of his desire to promote our prosperity and intercourse with his realms, he entered into a treaty of amity and commerce with us, for himself and his successors, to continue fifty years.  The justice and magnanimity of your Majesty, leave us full confidence that the treaty will meet your royal patronage also ;  and it will give me great satisfaction to be assured, that the citizens of the United States of America may expect from your imperial Majesty, the same protection and kindness, which the example of your illustrious father has taught them to expect from those who occupy the throne of Morocco, and to have your royal word, that they may count on a due observance of the treaty which cements the two nations in friendship.

This will be delivered to your Majesty, by our faithful citizen, Thomas Barclay, whom I name consul for these United States in the dominions of your Majesty, and who, to the integrity and knowledge qualifying him for that office, unites the peculiar advantage of having been the agent, through whom our treaty with the late Emperor was received.  I pray your Majesty to protect him in the exercise of his functions for the patronage of the commerce between our two countries, and of those who carry it on.

May that God, whom we both adore, bless your imperial Majesty with long life, health and success, and have you always, great and magnanimous friend, under his holy keeping.

Written at Philadelphia, the thirty-first day of March, in the fifteenth year of our sovereignty and independence, from your good and faithful friend.