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Williams writes Knox from London regarding international affairs

Sources & Images
Source Name Image(s)
CollectionPierpont Morgan Library: Henry Knox Papers view image
Document Information
Date May 5, 1790
Author Name Jonathan Williams (primary) Location: London
Recipient Name Henry Knox (primary) Location: War Office, New York
Summary Letter, describes Spanish aggression towards England on American coast; mentions neutral state; discusses trade competition.
Document Format Autograph Letter Signed
Document Notes [not available]
Content Notes [not available]
Related Persons/Groups Henry Knox; Jonathan Williams; Williams; ;
Related Places War Office, New York; London; Philadelphia; South America; Mediterreanean; Gibraltar; France; Portsmouth; Spain; North East coast of America; England; United States; ;
Keywords fortunate aid to so desirable an object; forbear to make observations; intention by this letter is to give you the earliest account of the fact; sincere & affectionate respect; engineer immediately embarked; no war ought to be a desirable circumstance; sentiments of humanity apart; no war can be more pleasing to us than the present one; our neutral flag must become the immediate resource of both parties; our produce must meet with two markets in direct competition with each other; flame of liberty reach to South America; small fleet has already sailed from Portsmouth on special service; Spanish Court assert a direct claim to the exclusive rights of sovereignty navigation and commerce in the territories coasts and seas in that part of the world; message proceeds to state that a renunciation of these supposed rights have been demanded & will be insisted on & concludes with asking the aid of parliament in support of the dignity and interest of the Crown & people; answer to the message will be full & satisfactory; war if entered into will probably be a popular one; general opinion seems to be that Spain will not persist to expose herself to so enequal a match now that she can place no dependance on the aid of France which at present stands unbound by the family compact; Spanish Court in answer to application for satisfaction had indeed liberated the vessel; they had done so only on the supposition that the circumstance happened through ignorance of the rights of Spain; this country was yesterday suddenly surprised by a hot press, which like an explosion caught between 3 & 4,000 seamen and today we find the cause in a message sent by the King to the House of commons; message states that two British vessels that were trading along the north east coast of America have been seized by two Spanish ships of war & the prisoners sent ot a Spanish port; although the Wars of England are now out of your department yet early information on such a subject will doubtless be pleasing to you; Secretary of the United States for the War Department; ;
Key Phrases [not available]
Transcription

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The Honorable
General Knox
Secretary of the United States for the War
Department
War Office
New York
[1 packet.?]
Dear General
Jon Williams
London May 5 1790
Although the Wars of England are now out of your department yet early information on such a subject will doubtless be pleasing to you. This Country was yesterday suddenly surprised by a hot press, which like an explosion swept between 3 & 4000 Seaman, and to day we find the cause in a Message sent by the King to the House of Commons.
The Message states that two brittish Vessels that were trading along the northwest coast of America have been seized by two Spanish Ships of War & the prisoners sent to a Spanish post. That the Spanish Court in answer to application For Satisfaction had indeed liberated the vessel & crew, but that they had done so only on a Supposition that the circumstance happened through ignorance of
of the rights of Spain and it is added that the Spanish Court "assert a direct claim to the exclusive rights of sovereignty navigation and commerce in the territories coasts and seas in that part of the world." The Message proceeds to state that a renunciation of these supposed rights have been demanded & will be insisted on & concludes with asking the aid of parliament in support of the dignity and interest of the Crown & People.
There is no doubt but the answer to the message will be full & satisfactory, and the War if entered into will probably be a popular one; but the general opinion seems to be that Spain will not persist to expose herself to so unequal a match, now that She can place no dependance on the aid of France, which at present stands unbound by the family compact.
A small fleet has already sailed from Portsmouth on Special Service, probably to the Mediterranean, and the commanding
engines immediately embarked for Gibralter.
To us in America no War ought to be a desirable circumstance, but the sentiments of humanity apart, I suppose no War could be more pleasing to us than the present one; For our neutral flag must become the immediate resource of both parties, and our produce must meet with two markets in direct competition with each other. Should the flame of Liberty reach to South America I should think this war a fortunate aid to so desirable an object. But I forbear to make observations, my intention by this letter is to give you the earliest account of the Fact.
I am with the most Sincere &c affectionate Respect, My dear Sir Your obedt Servant
Jonn Williams J
PS. I hope to embark with Mrs. Williams in about a month for Philadelphia.