Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 70,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World to soldiers’ letters from World War II and Vietnam. Explore primary sources, visit exhibitions in person or online, or bring your class on a field trip.

Jefferson, Thomas (1743-1826) to Thomas Pinckney re: fever in Philadelphia, failed negotiations with Indians

High-resolution images are available to schools and libraries via subscription to American History, 1493-1943. Check to see if your school or library already has a subscription. Or click here for more information. You may also request a pdf of the image from us here.

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC03730 Author/Creator: Jefferson, Thomas (1743-1826) Place Written: Germantown Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 27 November 1793 Pagination: 2 p. 18.9 x 26.1 cm + docket

Summary of Content: Talks about the Yellow Fever epidemic in Philadelphia, negotiations with the Northwest Indians, Citizen Genet, Lafayette and copper and silver metals for coinage. The federal government moved from Philadelphia to Germantown because of a yellow fever epidemic that lasted through the late Summer and Autumn. Failure of negotiations with Indian tribes led to the battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794. Jefferson, in his capacity as Secretary of State, had previously requested the recall of Edmond Charles Genet because of his outrageous behavior as Minister to the United States. In 1792 Lafayette had been declared a traitor by the French National Assembly, had fled, and been imprisoned by the Austrians. He did not return to France until 1799.

Background Information: During 1793 and 1794, a series of explosive controversies divided followers of Hamilton and Jefferson. Washington's administration confronted a French effort to entangle the United States in its war with England, armed ...rebellion in western Pennsylvania, Indian resistance, and the threat of war with Britain. These controversies intensified party spirit and increased voting along party lines in Congress.
In April 1793, "Citizen" Edmond Charles Genet (1763-1834), a French minister, arrived in the United States and passed out letters authorizing Americans to attack British commercial vessels and Spanish New Orleans. Washington regarded these actions as a clear violation of American neutrality and demanded that France recall its minister. The Genet affair did have an important effect--it intensified party feeling. From Vermont to South Carolina citizens organized Democratic-Republican clubs to celebrate the triumphs of the French Revolution. Hamilton and his supporters suspected that these societies really existed to stir up grass-roots opposition to the Washington administration.
See More

Full Transcript: Germantown Nov. 27. 1793.
Dear Sir
My last letters to you were of the 11th. & 14th. of Sep. since which I have received yours of July 5. 8. Aug. 1. 15. 27. 28. The fever which at that ...time had given alarm in Philadelphia, became afterwards far more destructive than had been apprehended, & continued much longer, from the uncommon drought & warmth of the autumn. On the 1st. day of this month the President & heads of the departments assembled here. On that day also began the first rains which had fallen for some months. They were copious, & from that moment the infection ceased, no new subject took it, & those before infected either died or got well, so that the disease terminated most suddenly. The inhabitants who had left the city, are now all returned, & business going on again as briskly as ever. The President will be established there in about a week: at which time Congress is to meet.
Our negociations with the NorthWestern Indians have completely failed, so that war must settle our difference. We expected nothing else, & had gone into the negociations only to prove to all our citizens that peace was unattainable on terms which any one of them would admit.
You have probably heard of a great misunderstanding between Mr. Genet & us. On the meeting of Congress it will be made public. But as the details of it are lengthy, I must refer for them to my next letter when possibly I may be able to send you the whole correspondence in print. We have kept it merely personal, convinced his nation will disapprove him. To them we have with the utmost assiduity given every proof of [2] inviolate attachment. We wish to hear from you on the subject of M. de la Fayette, tho, we know that circumstances do not admit sanguine hopes.
The copper by the Pigon, & the Mohawk is recieved. Our coinage of silver has been delayed by mr Coxe's inability to give the security required by law.
I shall write to you again immediately after the meeting of Congress. I have the honor to be with sentiments of great esteem & respect Dear Sir
Your friend & servt
Th: Jefferson
Mr. Pinckney.
See More

People: Genêt, Edmond Charles Édouard, 1763-1834
Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826
Pinckney, Thomas, 1750-1828

Historical Era: The New Nation, 1783-1815

Subjects: American Indian HistoryBattle of Fallen TimbersEpidemicMedical HistoryPresidentYellow FeverHealth and MedicalDiseaseGovernment and CivicsDiplomacyMiningCoins and CurrencyNorthwest TerritoryNorthwest Indian WarFranceGlobal History and US Foreign PolicyEconomics

Sub Era: The Early Republic

Order a Copy Citation Guidelines for Online Resources