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Washington's entry into New York...

[Detail] Washington's entry into New York...

For Lesson Three:
Letter from George Washington to Thomas Jefferson, April 12, 1793, photostat

NOTE: This is an excerpt. The full text version of Letter from George Washington to Thomas Jefferson, April 12, 1793, photostat is in George Washington Papers, 1741-1799.

{excerpt begins}

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.--vol. 32

Mount Vernon, April 12, 1793.

Dear Sir: Your letter of the 7 instant was brought to me by the last post. War having actually commenced between France and Great Britain, it behoves the Government of this Country to use every means in its power to prevent the citizens thereof from embroiling us with either of those powers, by endeavouring to maintain a strict neutrality. I therefore require that you will give the subject mature consideration, that such measures as shall be deemed most likely to effect this desirable purpose may be adopted without delay; for I have understood that vessels are already designated privateers, and are preparing accordingly.

Such other measures as may be necessary for us to pursue against events which it may not be in our power to avoid or controul, you will also think of, and lay them before me at my arrival in Philadelphia,

... {excerpt ends}


  • Why is Washington concerned over the outbreak of war in Europe?
  • Why does Washington believe there is a need for immediate action?
  • Why did Washington feel neutrality was the wisest course of action?
  • According to Washington, was the Proclamation of Neutrality a violation of the Franco-American alliance?
  • Why would Washington advise the nation to "steer clear of permanent alliances?" In your opinion, was this good advice in the 1790s? Would you consider it a wise policy in today's world? Explain.

Go to the complete interview from which this excerpt was taken.