George III to the United States Sendeth

On November 11th, 1791, George Hammond, the first British Minister to the United States, presented his credentials to George Washington. Despite favourable auguries, writes Leslie Reade, his was to prove “a stormy and frustrating mission.”

“George the Third etc. (full Titles) To the United States of America Sendeth Greeting.

Our Good Friends

Having nothing more at Heart than to cultivate and improve the Friendship and good Understanding which happily subsist between us, and having the fullest Confidence in the Fidelity, Prudence and other good Qualities of Our Trusty and Wellbeloved George Hammond Esq;

We have thought proper to appoint him Our Minister Plenipotentiary to reside in your Dominions...”

And there, one guesses, second thoughts about the draft Letter of Credence for the first British Minister to the United States began. A line is drawn through the words “in your Dominions” and the phrase is made to read, “... to reside with you.”

Other changes in the document, which is dated “September, 1791,” hint at the uncertainty in the protocol surrounding the unprecedented event of naming an envoy to the erstwhile rebels; and the instructions of the King to Hammond include an apparently significant variation from the normal in the emphatic language and the inclusion of the word “Royal” in the following:

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