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  • Conflict:   Revolutionary War
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George Washington Correspondence


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Publication Title:
George Washington Correspondence
Content Source:
The National Archives logo The National Archives
Publication Number:
Record Group:
Published on Fold3:
Last Update:
February 6, 2007
NARA M570. Copies of letters sent by President Washington to secretaries of state John Jay, Thomas Jefferson, and others.

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Most of George Washington’s papers are archived in the Library of Congress. However, included in this publication are three volumes of Washington’s personal copybooks (20, 21, 22), which were transferred to the National Archives. They cover the years 1789-96, and include correspondence principally to and from the Secretaries of State:

  • John Jay, March 4-22, 1790 (acting Secretary of State)
  • Thomas Jefferson, March 22, 1790-December 31, 1793
  • Edmund Randolph, January 2, 1794-August 20, 1795
  • Timothy Pickering, August 20-December 9, 1795 (acting Secretary of State); December 10, 1795-May 12, 1800

A short descriptive pamphlet for this title, published by NARA, can be found here.

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3 images

This title includes hundreds of interesting letters between Washington and his Secretaries of State.

Events that preoccupied George Washington during his years as president are brought to life through topics ranging from matters as simple as trip itineraries to more complex issues such as the conduct of the US in wars of other nations.

Some examples include Thomas Jefferson's opinion of the constitutionality of the Residence Act in 1790 (images 1 & 2), and Edmund Randolph's pleasure with the "neatness & simplicity" of the new US silver coin (image 3).

Using the collection

Copies of each item of correspondence are entered in chronological order within each volume.

  • Volume 20 covers the period May 14, 1789-March 19, 1791;
  • Volume 21 covers March 27, 1791-March 18, 1794; and
  • Volume 22 is for the period March 19, 1794-October 11, 1796.

Only Volume 20 includes an index, written on pages ii-xxi, with one page covering each letter of the alphabet for which there is a corresponding entry. The index for Volume 20 begins here.

Use the browse menu to roam through each volume chronologically. Many names and terms are annotated. Add your own annotations, or create spotlights, to help others locate interesting historical materials within this title.

Related resources

Fold3 offers access to several titles, domestic and foreign, relating to this era. George Washington, and the many others who had something to say about or otherwise influenced US policy, express their opinions in these documents.

Domestic Letters of the Department of State, 1784-1906, M40
Copies of miscellaneous letters sent from the US State Department between 1784 and 1906.

Foreign Letters of the Continental Congress and Department of State, 1785-1790, M61
Copies of letters sent from the US Department of State and The Continental Congress to ministers and consuls abroad.

Papers of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789, M247
The correspondence, journals, committee reports, and records of the Continental Congress (1774-1789).

The George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress is a collection organized into nine series, including letterbooks, military papers, diaries, and financial papers. Images of these documents may be viewed at the Library of Congress website under American Memory at memory.loc.gov/ammem/gwhtml/gwhome.html.

Visit the website of the US Department of State for frequently asked historical questions relating to State Department history and the Secretaries of State.

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Search or browse Copybooks of George Washington's Correspondence with Secretaries of State, 1789-1796 here.


Copybooks of George Washington's Correspondence with Secretaries of State, 1789-1796. General Records of the Department of State, Record Group 59, Publication Number M570; National Archives, Washington.

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