The documents in this volume deal with an unusually active, dramatic period during Thomas Jefferson’s tenure as Secretary of State. They reveal for the first time the full extent of his role in securing Senate confirmation of Washington’s controversial nominees as ministers to France, Great Britain, and the Netherlands. During this period Jefferson is instrumental in formulating American policy toward the Saint-Domingue slave revolt, while continuing his efforts to achieve a new commercial treaty with France so as to lessen American economic dependence on Great Britain. Two of his most famous state papers are composed at this time—a comprehensive letter to British minister George Hammond on infractions of the Treaty of Paris and an elaborate report to President Washington on a diplomatic settlement of American differences with Spain.
On the domestic front Jefferson encounters such issues as a serious Indian war in the Northwest Territory, the reorganization of the United States Army, the Panic of 1792, and the development of the Federal District. His role in the growing conflict between the Federalist party and the emerging Republican opposition is clearly revealed when he denounces Alexander Hamilton, the Secretary of the Treasury, as a threat to republican government and urges Washington to serve a second term in order to ensure the survival of the union.