2103
2103
George Washington
AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED ("GO: WASHINGTON") AS FIRST PRESIDENT, MARKED "SECRET AND CONFIDENTIAL," TO JOHN JAY, INVITING HIM TO BECOME U.S. MINISTER IN LONDON
Estimation
90 000120 000
ACCÉDER AU LOT
2103
George Washington
AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED ("GO: WASHINGTON") AS FIRST PRESIDENT, MARKED "SECRET AND CONFIDENTIAL," TO JOHN JAY, INVITING HIM TO BECOME U.S. MINISTER IN LONDON
Estimation
90 000120 000
ACCÉDER AU LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Fine Manuscript and Printed Americana

|
New York

George Washington
AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED ("GO: WASHINGTON") AS FIRST PRESIDENT, MARKED "SECRET AND CONFIDENTIAL," TO JOHN JAY, INVITING HIM TO BECOME U.S. MINISTER IN LONDON
2 pages (9 x 7 1/4 in.; 229 x 185 mm), Philadelphia, 29 April 1794; in unusually fresh condition, docketed at foot of second page. Tipped to Japanese tissue guards, bound in a linen portfolio with engraved portraits of Washington and Jay and housed in a half-blue morocco folding-case.
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Provenance

Sotheby's London, 21 July 1988, lot 441 (undesignated consignor) — Sotheby's New York, 11 December 2007, lot 57 (undesignated consignor)

Bibliographie

The Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series, ed. Patrick, 15:674–675

Description

In a letter marked "Secret and confidential," President Washington entreats Chief Justice John Jay to consider becoming the U. S. Minister in London, further explaining the necessity of recalling Gouverneur Morris from France and the difficulty this entailed in finding a suitable successor. Morris's reputation as a "monarchy man" was manifest in his distaste for the French Revolution, making him a serious liability and threat to Franco-American relations, so that his recall and replacement by a suitable figure was a matter of some urgency:

"Receive, I pray you, the suggestion I am going to impart with the friendship and caution the delicacy of it requires.

"You are already informed that I am under the necessity of recalling Mr Gouvr. Morris from France—and you can readily conceive the difficulty which occurs in finding a successor that would be agreeable to that Nation, and who, at the same time, would meet the approbation of the friends of that Country in this." Washington's first choice for a replacement was Thomas Pinckney, then U.S. Resident Minister to Britain, but then Pinckney himself would need to be replaced. Hence Washington's appeal to Jay in the present letter. Jay had already accepted the temporary post of U.S. Envoy Extraordinary to Britain. Here Washington asks him to accept the permanent position of U.S. Resident Minister to Britain in Pinckney's place.

"These considerations have induced me to ask you, if it could be made to comport with your inclination, after you shall have finished your business as Envoy, and not before, to become the Resident Minister Plenipotentiary at London; that Mr Pinckney, by that means, might be sent to Paris? I mean no more than simply to ask the question, not intending (although the measure would remove the above difficulty) to press it in the smallest degree."

Washington was prepared to be rebuffed by Jay, actually enclosing with this letter another directed to Robert R. Livingston, asking if that gentleman would find it "convenient and agreeable" to replace Morris as minister to France: "If you answer in the affirmative, be so good as to return the enclosed letter to me, and correspondent arrangements shall be made. If in the negative, I pray you to forward it, through the Penny Post or otherwise according to circumstances, to the Gentleman to whom it is directed, without delay—and in either case to let the transaction be confined entirely to ourselves."

The Chief Justice replied to Washington on 30 April, declining the proffered position while stating that "there is no public Station that I should prefer to the one in which you have placed me—it accords with my Turn of Mind, my Education & my Habits." Jay observed Washington's request to keep the matter "entirely to ourselves" by returning Washington's letter to its author, "Pinckney remained in London but also took on additional diplomatic responsibilities in Spain, where in 1795 he negotiated the Treaty of San Lorenzo (also known as Pinckney’s Treaty), which defined the boundaries between the United States and Spanish colonies and guaranteed the United States free navigation rights on the Mississippi River" (Papers 15:683–684). Livingston, too, declined the appointment offered to him, and Gouverneur Morris was eventually replaced—at the suggestion of the Attorney General, Edmund Randolph—by James Monroe. Pinckney, meanwhile, remained at the London posting until he was succeeded by Rufus King two years later.

With these arrangements in place, Jay went to London in 1794 as U. S. Commissioner to negotiate "Jay's Treaty" with the British. Concluded in October 1795, this Treaty attempted to settle various differences still outstanding after the War of Independence and involving persistent violation by the British of the terms of the Treaty of Paris. With his new Treaty, Jay secured British promises to establish commissions to examine the problems, a situation which hardly settled matters, as the years of further difficult negotiations, leading in 1812 to the outright war, subsequently proved. Jay's Treaty was unpopular at the time with the Jeffersonian Republicans, and Jay's image was burned in effigy.

While remaining in London, Pinckney also took on additional diplomatic responsibilities in Spain, where in 1795 he negotiated the Treaty of San Lorenzo (also known as Pinckney’s Treaty), which defined the boundaries between the United States and Spanish colonies and guaranteed the United States free navigation rights on the Mississippi River.

Fine Manuscript and Printed Americana

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New York