To John Hobby

    Philadelphia        1–2 April 1794

    My dear Sir—

    My last which was closed on saturday morning was so full of our fears & hopes up to that time I have but little to write you at this. I have not been out of my chamber, and therefore cannot tell you the news of the day, this shall be collected by evening—& if of any consequence forwarded before I seal this—

    Yesterday morning while we were at breckfast, Mr. Vaughan1 merchant of this City run in, & with pleasure in every feature of his face cried out good news! good news! No war, no war! And said a special express had that moment reached his house from Boston, which place he left on thursday 27th march, & was sent off by the merchants there, so anxious were they for the enemies to war to get every thing that may help stave off that scourge to mankind—He then gave us the contents of a Letter from the House of Bird Savage & Bird his Correspondents in London—& which tis probable you will see in the papers2—However, the purport of the Letter was that so soon as the Orders of H[enry]. Dundas of the sixth of November were known in London the merchants there were alarmed at their aspect, & apprehended the Cabinet had designes of war against America—In consequence of which they waited upon his Lordship for an explanation, & obtained one—which amounted to this Idea, & which has always been entertained of those Instructions here—that taking american Vessells carrying them in for legal adjudication was not to be understood as implying a necessity of condemnation, unless they were attended with circumstances that took them out of the rights & priviledges of neutral vessells Trading with a nation at war with the Sovereign of the captors—And to make the matter more plain, the instructions of the 6th. Novemr. were revoked & new ones issued of the 8th January—which we have seen in the papers—& will reach you before this—

    The Letter to Mr. Vaughan was dated London 10th Jany.

    It is probable as the Packet which brought the above Letter landed at Boston you will have similar letters to Gentlemen in that place, & which will be immediately circulated—The express from Boston came of[f] in such a hurry as not to bring any papers or other information than the above—We expect news of French victories by the next mail—

    I dont think it worth while to be very critical in examining the motives to peoples conduct provided their conduct tends to peaceable measures, & where we may credit the best supposed motives without much risque—Hence I shall not go nicely into an examination of the circumstances that induced the British Ministry to issue new Instructions; because I believe peace will be continued between that country & this—& I know that peace is infinitely more advantageous than war whatever may have been the leading motives on their part—Yet I cannot help observing that the secrecy attending the Instructions of the 6th. november, which were not know[n] in London till the time above mentioned when the merchants became alarmed—And were also unknown to Mr. [Thomas] Pinkney as late as the 25th. november—To this add the Speech of Lord Dorchester to the Indians on the tenth of February—together with some other circumstances—I think we may fairly conclude the loosness & generality of the orders of the 6th of november were calculated to admit of a construction to justify the condemnation as well as caption of all vessells, if America, by resenting the first aggressions of England, had entered into hostile measures with her—And I now feel happy at the forbearance of hostile resentment on our part—being convinced this has keept us from war—And as I have many times wrote to my friends. I believe England has never wished to make war upon America—tho in carrying on their operations against France, they have been obliged to take such measures as to make them ready for war with us if we were disposed to meet them—

    America must yet continue her preparations of defence against the worst that may happen—I hardly expect the war in Europe is at an end—or in the West-Indias—France has already astonished her enemies—she will do more yet—she will conquer them. The Politicians here say the English & Spanish will soon get possession of all the french West Indias & then peace will take place there, & our trade will again flourish—&c It is probable by this time all the Islands are reduced, except Fort Bourbon3—And this, as strong as it is, I fear must fall—But I confess I have no idea that France will peaceably let these possessions go without an attempt to retake them—And it will not be at all surprising if I hear soon of a French fleet in the W. Indias for that purpose—The nation that has stormed the forts of Toulon, & successively defeated the combined force of Europe on the Rhine & Mozelle will not tamely yield their possessions in any part of her Dominions—

    In consequence of the news from England, the House, yesterday, did not take up the Resolutions brought forward last week for Sequestering British debts & property—And I most sincerely hope we shall hear no more of them unless it is to give an unanimous vote against them as a testimony of our abhorrance to such measures—

    A Committee of fifteen, one from each State, was appointed last week to report the probable deficiency of the Revenue to the demands of the present year, together with the ways & means for supplying that deficiency4—They have not made any report; but I think it probable they will propose, a duty on Carriages—some species of stamp on legal papers—for a direct Tax—possibly a very low tax of each kind—but this is conjecture

    There is good evidence to believe the meditated attack on New-Orleans under the managment of Genete & Clark has blown over5

    The last accounts from General Wayne were favourable;6 tho as he had granted the Indians a truce for thirty days, & sent two Companies to cut out a Road from his Camp to their principal Towns, I cannot help fearing lest the speech of Dorchester may set the indians on them without notice.

    Captain Davis is well recommended to the Secretary at War, who has also a personal recollection of his military talents7—But I continue to hope it will not be necessary to proceed so far as to call out Soldiers—I am sensible there are two kinds of men who speak a different Language from myself on this subject—Those whose resentments run high—and some very timerous well disposed people whose anxiety & fears seem to hurry them on to strike the first blow, lest by delay we cannot strike to so much advantage—Which opinion is the safest to follow a short time will decide—I am determined to do nothing that looks like meeting what we may call aggressions on the part of Britain or to excite other acts of the like nature—But let our Conduct be such that if we are finally obliged to take arms in defence of our Country, the whole world, the people of England themselves, will cry out against their Administration that the American cause is just.

    Yours of the 19th. March was recieved yesterday—And you may rely on my attention to every part of it—You shall hear from me as often as any thing of any consequence comes to my knowledge worth your reading—Indeed I have sometimes apprehended I should be rather troublesome, by the frequency & length of my Letters, than instructing or amusing—

    I shall lay you under but two restrictions in the use of the Letters I send you—first that they don’t get into the New-papers—And secondly that you return them to me when I have the pleasure of seeing you in Portland—You may read them, or deliver them to any body to read, that you please—I see in the news papers so many silly, chimerical conjectures as to the motives of parties, their conduct—opinions of measures &c &c wrote here & all which come directly back to this place, that I feel no inclination to add to their number.

    Your claim was duly filed in the Auditors office three weeks ago8—and will by him be taken up as soon as the Course of his business will give him time—I observe a number in his office like your own—The Post-master General has given a certificate in favor of the authenticity of yours—

    Wednesday morning 2d April—I heard of no late arrivals last evening, but saw a Letter from Lisbon dated about the first of February, which sais all the Vessells there would shortly sail under a Convoy provided by the Government; and the opinion prevailed that a further Truce with Algiers could not be effected upon Terms agreeable to Portugal—in which case it was thought a Fleet would be ordered to cruise in the Streights [of Gibraltar]

    —We all wish this may turn out a well founded opinion—

    The prospects of peace, brought by the express, prevented the house yesterday taking up the Resolutions for Sequestration

    Yours &c

    * * *

    ALS, TFP. The letter was begun “Tuesday morning.”