Volume 8: Mar. – Sept. 1791

In the period covered by Volume 8, the spring and summer of 1791, Washington completed a tour of the southern states, traveling almost 2,000 miles through Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia, during which he received and replied to numerous addresses. The heads of the executive departments regularly reported to him from Philadelphia on preparations for a major military expedition against hostile Indian nations along the northwestern frontier, a boundary dispute with the British on Lake Champlain, the negotiation of American loans in Amsterdam, and other affairs of state. Washington was also informed of the newspaper controversy occasioned by Thomas Jefferson’s sponsorship of the first American edition of Thomas Paine’s The Rights of Man.

After the president’s return to the capital in early July, his official correspondence was concerned chiefly with planning the new federal district, a dispute between Pennsylvania and Virginia over an extradition case, and filling a seat on the Supreme Court and other vacancies, including postmaster general and U.S. auditor and comptroller.

News of the slave uprising in Saint Domingue also reached Washington in September 1791. Friends and other foreign correspondents continued to send news from Europe, especially concerning affairs in revolutionary France.

Mark A. Mastromarino, ed., The Papers of George Washington: Presidential Series volume 8, March – September 1791. Charlottesville and London: University Press of Virginia, 1999.

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