From Thomas Jefferson
|Sir||Philadelphia Mar. 28. 1792.|
I have the honor to inclose you two letters from Judge Symmes of Jan. 25th & 27th. his letter of Sep. 17. mentioned in the first of these was received by me Nov. 23. and after being laid before you, was answered Dec. 4.1 the part of the answer respecting leave from you to come to Philadelphia was in these words. “the President does not conceive that the Constitution has given him any controul over the proceedings of the Judges, and therefore considers that his permission or refusal of absence from your district would be merely nugatory.”
With respect to the escort for the judges on their circuits, you will be pleased to determine whether the good of the service will permit them to have one from the military, or whether that part of the letter shall be laid before the legislature to make regular provision for an escort. That part of the letter respecting jails, must, as I apprehend, be laid before the legislature.2
The complaint against Capt. Armstrong, in the letter of Jan. 27. coming formally from a judge, will require notice.3 a civil prosecution in the courts of the Territory appears to me most proper. perhaps a formal instruction to the Governor as Commander in chief to put his officers on their guard against any resistance to civil process might have the effect of preventing future disputes. I shall have the honor of waiting on you to take your pleasure on these several subjects, & have now that of being with sentiments of profound respect & sincere attachment Sir Your most obedt & most humble servt
ALS, : 59, Miscellaneous Letters; ALS (letterpress copy), : Jefferson Papers; LB, : 59, George Washington’s Correspondence with His Secretaries of State; LB (photocopy), ; LB, : 59, Domestic Letters.
The three letters from Judge John Cleves Symmes to the secretary of state have not been found by the editors of the  reply of 4 Dec. 1791, see ibid., 22:377–78. Symmes (1742–1814), who had served on the N.J. supreme court 1777–87 and in the Continental Congress 1785–86, was appointed a judge in the Northwest Territory in 1788. (23:35on.). For Jefferson’s
No evidence has been found suggesting that GW laid these two matters before Congress.
This complaint probably concerned an incident that Symmes reported to Elias Boudinot and Jonathan Dayton two days earlier: “Captain John Armstrong, who commands, for the present, at Fort Hamilton, has, within a few days past, ordered out of the purchase some of Mr. [John] Dunlap’s settlers, at Colerain, against whom he has a pique. He threatens to dislodge them with a party of soldiers if he is not obeyed. The citizens have applied to me for advice, and I have directed them to pay no regard to his menaces, yet I very much fear he will put his threats in execution, for I well know his imperious disposition” ( 161). John Armstrong (1755–1816), a veteran of the Revolutionary War from Pennsylvania, resigned from the U.S. Army in March 1793.
To Arthur St. Clair
|Sir,||United States [Philadelphia] March 28th 1792.|
Your knowledge of the Country North-west of the Ohio, and of the resources for an Army in its vicinity, added to a full confidence in your military character, founded on mature experience, induced my nomination of you to the command of the troops on the frontiers.
Your desire of rectifying any errors of the public opinion, relatively to your conduct, by an investigation of a Court of Enquiry, is highly laudable, and would be readily complied with, were the measure practicable. But a total deficiency of Officers, in actual service, of competent rank to form a legal Court, for that purpose, precludes the power of gratifying your wishes on this occasion.
The intimation of your readiness to afford your successor all the information of which you are capable, although unnecessary for my personal conviction, must be regarded as an additional evidence of the goodness of your heart, and of your Attachment to your Country. I am, Sir, with esteem and regard Your most Obedt Servt
LS,  hope, that your health may be perfectly re-established, and that you may enjoy uninterrupted happiness.” It apparently was marked for deletion, as a different hand (Tobias Lear’s) inserted the complimentary close and internal address line above it.; Df, : 59, Miscellaneous Letters; LB, . The draft has a circled paragraph at the bottom of its last page: “While I accept your resignation, for the cause you state, I sincerely regret the occasion—I fervently
For the background to this letter, which served as GW’s reply to St. Clair’s letter of 26 Mar., see GW to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, 12 Dec. 1791, note 1, Henry Knox to GW, 22 Jan., note 2, 1 Mar. 1792, GW to Knox, 29 Feb., note 1, Knox to Tobias Lear, 31 Jan. 1792, note 1, GW to Thomas Jefferson, 2 Mar., and Jefferson to GW, 2 Mar. 1792. GW’s letter was printed in the 16 April issue of the National Gazette (Philadelphia) with other correspondence concerning St. Clair’s resignation of his commission as major general (see GW to St. Clair, 4 April, and St. Clair to GW, 26, 31 Mar., 7 April).