Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    Washington, George. Autograph letter signed ("Go: Washington") as President, 27 November 1793. 2-pages (7.5 x 9 in.; 191 x 229 mm; front and back), Philadelphia, 27 November 1793, written to Governor of New York George Clinton. Exhibiting usual folds. President George Washington, embroiled in the Citizen Genêt affair, calls on his old friend, New York Governor George Clinton, for a ruling respecting privateers dispatched by the French minister to prey upon British vessels along the American coast - seemingly in open defiance of Washington's Neutrality Proclamation. Marked "Private" at the top of the first page, Washington writes in full: Dear Sir, Not having the letters at hand, I am unable to refer to dates; but the one with which you were pleased to favour me, dated sometime in September, did not reach my hands before I had left this City [September 10]. Immediately, however, upon the receipt of it (at my own house in Virginia) I put it under cover to the Secretary of War with directions to answer it conformably to the rules [Neutralization Proclamation] which had been adopted for Government in such cases; but before my letter got to this place he also had left it, for Boston. This being the true state of the case will, I hope, apologize for your being so long without an acknowledgment of the first letter, whilst those of subsequent date have been answered with more promptitude. Whenever it shall be perfectly convenient to you, I would thank you for a statement of our joint concert in the Mohawk Land - that is, for information of what Lots have been sold, and what remain on hand, with the numbers of each. My compliments & best wishes attend you, Mrs. Clinton & the family - & with real regard & friendship, I am - Dear Sir, Your Affecte. & Obedt. Servt. Go: Washington Earlier in 1793, following the declaration of war by France against Great Britain, Spain and Holland, President Washington issued his Neutrality Proclamation (22 April 1793), which declared that the U.S. was at peace with Great Britain and France and warned American citizens to avoid any acts of hostility against the belligerent powers. Washington's desire to steer an independent course regarding France was opposed by Alexander Hamilton, who thought the occasion a good opportunity to repeal the treaties concluded with France in 1778. With Citizen Genêt's arrival in South Carolina (8 April 1793) came the instructions from his government, the Girondist regime, to win U.S. amity and negotiate a new treaty of commerce. Genêt proclaimed that he was as much a delegate to the American people as to their government. He was quick to voice the "dangerous" opinion that the American people would disavow Washington's government - and insisted that his own interpretations of the French-American treaty were more valid that Washington's. Immediately, he commissioned four privateers and dispatched them to prey upon British vessels along the American coast; he also took steps to organize - on American soil - expeditions against Spanish and British territories. Then, on 5th June, Washington communicated with Genêt informing him that his grants of military commissions on U.S. soil constituted an infringement of U.S. national sovereignty, and that the privateers commissioned by him would have to leave American waters and could not send their prizes to U.S. ports. Genêt promised to comply with Washington's wishes - then soon thereafter authorized the arming and refitting of Little Sarah (renamed La Petite Démocrate), a prize that had been brought in by a French vessel. After promising Jefferson that he would not dispatch the vessel, Genêt ordered the privateer to sea. The Little Sarah incident convinced President Washington of the need to determine in detail and announce what acts were permissible - and which were banned - under the Neutrality Proclamation. Then, on 2nd August, the Cabinet decided to demand Genêt's recall. Washington sent to Congress his full correspondence with the French minister, pointing out that Genêt's conduct had tended to involve the U.S. "in war abroad, and discord and anarchy at home". From the collection of William J. Bell.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    July, 2020
    23rd Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 4
    Sold on Jul 23, 2020 for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)
    Track Item

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Only 29 days left to consign to the 2021 September 26 Autumn Luxury Accessories Signature Auction!

    Learn about consigning with us

    The movie quite literally changed my life. I have included a pic of me in Sly's Rocky 3 Cashmere overcoat, would much appreciate if it is possible for you to forward this email to Sly to let him know the overcoat is in good hands, and will be well taken care of, (as will be the Rambo knife forging tools, the other lot I won!) Wish you very happy holidays and a great 2016!
    Atul J. ,
    Irvine, CA
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search