The Presidential Series
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During the last four months of 1793, the period documented by volume 14 of the Presidential Series, GW and his administration remained chiefly involved with maintaining the neutrality of the United States. The activities of French privateers in American waters required the administration to respond to requests from state governors for guidance about implementing the neutrality policy and to complaints from British minister George Hammond about seizures of British ships. As a result the administration had to decide on the extent of America's territorial waters. Another threat to neutrality arose from reports of French-sponsored expeditions into Spanish Florida and Louisiana. These problems were made more difficult by the administration's increasingly public poor relations with French minister Edmond Genet.
Other topics of interest include frontier defense and concerns about British retention of northwestern forts; news from Europe, including reports that a truce with Portugal would free corsairs from Algiers to attack American commerce; problems associated with the arrival of refugees from Saint Domingue; and the ubiquitous applications for appointments to federal office. The volume also records the preparation of GW's annual message. This was an extended process that involved input from each member of the cabinet.
The signature event of these four months, however, was the yellow fever epidemic at Philadelphia. Diagnosed in August, the growing epidemic soon depopulated the city by departures and deaths. GW himself left the city on 10 Sept., making a previously planned trip to Mount Vernon, perhaps speeded by the progress of the disease. Some questioned whether Congress could safely meet at the capital in December, and GW sought advice about whether he had the constitutional power to alter the location at which Congress would convene and about where the government might move. GW himself took lodgings at Germantown in November, and ultimately, waning of the disease made action unnecessary.
Among personal matters, the management of Mount Vernon claimed much attention from GW. He signed a contract with a new farm manager, William Pearce, and his letters to Pearce and to interim manager Howell Lewis convey information and advice. Moreover, in a letter to the English agriculturalist Arthur Young, GW broached a proposal to rent out four of the five farms at Mount Vernon to immigrant farmers, describing his estate in considerable detail.
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 on 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.
David R. Hoth, ed., The Papers of George Washington: Presidential Series volume 14, 1 September – 31 December 1793. Charlottesville and London: University Press of Virginia, 2008.