The highlight events of the months from October 1794 through
March 1795, the period documented by volume 17 of the Presidential
Series, were the suppression of the Whiskey Insurrection in western
Pennsylvania and the negotiation of the Jay Treaty with Great
The volume opens with Washington, believing that his
constitutional duty as commander in chief required his presence, en
route to rendezvous with the troops called out to suppress the
insurrection. After meeting with representatives from the insurgent
counties and reviewing the troops, he concluded that serious
resistance was unlikely, and, after penning a letter to Henry Lee
on 20 October commending the troops and reminding them to support
the laws, he returned to the capital. Still, regular letters from
Alexander Hamilton, who remained with the expedition, kept him
apprised of troop movements and activities. Washington devoted more
than half of his annual address to discussion of the rebellion.
After the submission of the rebellious counties, he also had to
consider requests for pardons for the few individuals not included
in a general pardon issued in November.
Other domestic issues included a transition in Washington's
cabinet, as Hamilton and Henry Knox resigned the Treasury and War
departments; supervision of the Federal City, where the
commissioners sent a comprehensive statement of the affairs of the
City to Washington in early 1795; and Indian affairs, which in the
north involved the aftermath of the Battle of Fallen Timbers and
treaty negotiations with the Iroquois and Oneida, and in the south
involved news of the destruction of the Cherokee towns of Nickajack
and Running Water as well as continuing concerns about Creek
hostility in Georgia and the Southwest Territory. Washington also
received an early report that the Yazoo land scheme threatened to
increase tensions with the Creeks in Georgia.
In addition to writing the State Department, John Jay kept
Washington apprised of the progress of negotiations. Of particular
note are his letters of 19 November, announcing the signing of the
treaty, and 25 February, justifying his efforts. However, although
notice of the treaty was received, the official copy did not arrive
at Philadelphia by the adjournment of Congress, so consideration of
the treaty would await a special session of the Senate. Meanwhile,
Samuel Bayard had been dispatched to London to prosecute American
claims in the British admiralty courts.
Elsewhere, Thomas Pinckney was sent to Madrid as a special envoy
to revive stalled negotiations with Spain. David Humphreys returned
to the United States to discuss negotiations with the Barbary
States, prompting Washington to ask Congress to authorize consuls
for those states and to appoint Humphreys as minister
plenipotentiary to negotiate with them. James Monroe sent one
optimistic letter discussing his reception as minister to
As for private concerns, Washington's weekly correspondence with
his Mount Vernon farm manager, largely suspended during his time
with the troops, resumed upon his return to Philadelphia. He
entertained offers about his lands in western Pennsylvania, on the
Ohio River, and on Difficult Run in Virginia, and he paid taxes on
and sought information about his land in Kentucky. Washington also
corresponded with Tobias Lear about the Potomac Company's
development of the Potomac River.
The correspondence volumes of The Papers of George Washington,
1748-99, published in five series, include not only Washington's
own letters and other papers but also all letters written to him.
The ten-volume Colonial Series (1748-75) focuses on Washington's
military service during the French and Indian War and his political
and business activities before the Revolution. The massive
Revolutionary War Series (1775-83) presents in documents and
annotations the myriad military and political matters with which
Washington dealt during the long war. The papers for his years at
Mount Vernon after leaving the army and before becoming president
have been published in the six-volume Confederation Series
(1784-88). The remaining years of Washington's life are covered in
the Presidential Series (1788-97), which includes the papers of his
two presidential administrations, and the four-volume Retirement
Series (1797-99), which includes his correspondence after his final
return to Mount Vernon.
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