George Washington to the Secretaries of State, Treasury, and War, [12 June 1793]

George Washington to the Secretaries of State, Treasury, and War


As you are about to meet on other business, it is my desire that you would take the enclosed application into consideration. It is not my wish, on one hand, to throw unnecessary obstacles in the way of gratifying the wishes of the applicants. On the other it is incumbent on me to proceed with regularity. Would not the granting of a Patent then, which I believe is always the concluding act, and predicated on the Survey (as an essential1 document) have too much the appearance of placing the Cart before the Horse. And does not the Law enjoin something on the Attorney General of the U. States previous to the signature of the President? What can be done with propriety I am willing to do. More I ought not to do.

Go: Washington

RC (DLC); undated; at foot of text: “The Secretaries of State Treasury & War”; addressed: “The Secretary of State &c.”; endorsed by TJ as received 12 June 1793. Dft (PWacD: Feinstone Collection, on deposit PPAmP); dated 12 June 1793; contains one significant variation; at foot of text: “To the Secretaries of State Treasury & War”; docketed by Washington. FC (Lb in DNA: RG 59, SDC); dated 12 June 1793; wording follows Dft.

The enclosed application was a letter from John Cleves Symmes to Alexander Hamilton of 8 June 1793. No text of the letter has been found, but the journal of the President, to whom Hamilton sent it on 10 June 1793, described it as a communication “on the subject of the land granted to him & his associates” which “mentions his readiness to have the Acts of Congress relative to the land carried into effect and suggests the proper situation for land for an Academy” (Washington, Journal , 166). The laws in question modified Symmes's 1788 contract with the Board of Treasury to buy land in the Northwest Territory ( Annals , iii, 1357, 1373–4).

  1. All other texts: “a necessary.”