Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Marquis de Fleury, 28 May 1796

From Marquis de Fleury1

à paris le 28. May 1796.

Dear hamilton,

I hope you have not quitte forgotten an old friend of yours; almost escaped to the misfortunes of our bloody revolution. I have preserved till now my head, but lost the greatest part of my fortune, and my most assured and important propriety is now, what is due to me by the united states.

Till the year 1789 I have touched at paris, by the hands of their banker grand2 the interests of what was due to me by the united states.3

In the year 1793 governor morris minister of the united states informed the french officers, that those who would not be paid in france, should declare it in writing to the banker grand.4 I made that declaration, and mr. grand transmitted it to mr. morris, & wrott at the extract signed j. nourse which is in my hands, that I should be paid in america.

Since that time I have run so many dangers of all kinds, that I have not dared take any informations: and I depend now on your friendship, to learn, what I want very much to know about that affair: I hope you will not refuse your usefull services to your distressed friend.

1st. I persist to desire that was is due to me by the united states remain in america, and be placed with safety, either in the bank, the Loan office, or otherwise.

2e. I beg you would inquire, if what is due to me, is at the united states threasury, or in the bank, or in the Loan office, and if it is safe, and will be safe for the future.

3e. If since 1789 that I have received none, it produces interets, and what interets?

4e. If it would be possible to apoint either you or some of your honest friends to receive for me those interets in america in hard money: and transmit them to me in france by bills of exchange in hard money. I mean only the interets, for as to the Capital, I will Let it in america: as I may be obliged some day or other to return there, & should be happy to find something there, to buy a Corner of Land, and Cultivate it to Live quiet if not happy.

as soon as I shall have received those kindly informations of you I shall sent to you, or to the person which you will propose my power, to receive the interets, place the total summ in the bank or Loan office, & send me annualy the interets in france, in hard money.

I shall expect your answer with eagerness, as this affair is very important for me. You will be sensible of it.

I have a great deal forgotten my american (I will not tell english) but I hope yet to be understood.

My adress is as follows, being only accidentaly at paris. “au Citoyen fleury marèchal de Camp retirè par la fertè sur marne à jouar, dèpartement de seine et marne.”

Adieu, be happy as much as I desire and you deserve it.5


ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1François Louis Teisseydre, Marquis de Fleury, who had served in the French army, was a veteran of the American Revolution. He was made a brigade major on the staff of Casimir Pulaski in 1777 after the Battle of Brandywine, and later that year he became a lieutenant colonel of engineers. He fought with Rochambeau at Yorktown in 1781. At the end of the war Fleury went to South America, and in 1784 he returned to France. See Fleury to H, October 15–19, 1777, August 4, 1784.

2Ferdinand Grand, a banker in Paris.

3On June 17, 1783, Secretary at War Benjamin Lincoln presented the following report, dated June 13, to Congress. “On the representation of Lieutenant Colonel Fleury, referred to the Secretary at War, I beg leave to observe that he was deranged by a resolve of Congress of the 31st December 1781, at which time all officers, who were not of the line of any particular State, nor annexed to any corps were deranged, excepting such as were reported by the Secretary at War as necessary to be retained.

“Although Lieutenant Colonel Fleury was not included in this return, yet, in consideration of his eminent services, which have merited and met the most honorary marks of the approbation of Congress, and on recurring to the furlough granted him by their resolves, which is unlimited, I am induced to recommend to the consideration of Congress the propriety of settling his account of arrears, and allowing him the emoluments of his commission in like manner as if the resolves of December 31, 1781, had not passed.” (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (Washington, 1904–1937). description ends , XXIV, 399–400.) For the resolutions of December 31, 1781, see JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (Washington, 1904–1937). description ends , XXI, 1186–87. For Fleury’s unlimited furlough, see JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (Washington, 1904–1937). description ends , XX, 471.

The committee to which the recommendation was referred reported on October 3: “That as Lieut. Col. Fleury retired under the resolution of the 31st December 1781, of course he is entitled to pay till that time and to the half pay or commutation and other emoluments allowed to officers continuing in the service to the end of the war, or deranged by Congress subsequent to the half pay establishment” (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (Washington, 1904–1937). description ends , XXV, 664).

On April 16, 1784, Congress resolved that the resolutions of January 22 and February 3, 1784, which dealt with pay to foreign officers, be extended to Fleury (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (Washington, 1904–1937). description ends , XXVI, 239). The resolution of January 22 provided: “That the superintendant of finance [Robert Morris] take order for paying to the foreign officers of the late corps of engineers, and to the foreign officers lately belonging to the legionary corps, commanded by Brigadier-General [Charles Tuffin] Armand, also to Major Seconde [James Segonde], Captain [Louis Joseph de] Beaulieu, late of General Pulaski’s corps, and to Captain [Louis de] Ponthiere, late aid to the Baron [Frederick William Augustus] Steuben, such sums on account of their pay as may be necessary to relieve them from their present embarrassment …” (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (Washington, 1904–1937). description ends , XXVI, 43). The resolution of February 3 provided for the annual payment to the foreign officers listed above of “the interest of such sums as may remain due to them respectively, after the payments which shall have been made to them in consequence of the resolution of the 22d of January last” (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (Washington, 1904–1937). description ends , XXVI, 65–66). The certificates which were issued in accordance with these resolves substituted for the depreciated certificates of 1782, which had been issued to foreign officers for the balance due to them after part of their demands had been paid in cash. See William Short to H, August 3, 1790, note 5. For the certificates issued to Fleury, see the report of Joseph Nourse, register of the United States Treasury, July 28, 1790, which is part of Schedule B of H’s “Report on Additional Sums Necessary for the Support of the Government,” August 5, 1790.

In an effort to discharge this debt, Section 5 of “An Act supplementary to the act making provision for the Debt of the United States” provided: “… whereas the United States are indebted to certain foreign officers, on account of pay and services during the late war, the interest whereof, pursuant to the certificates granted to the said officers by virtue of a resolution of the United States in Congress assembled, is payable at the house of   Grand, banker at Paris, and it is expedient to discharge the same. Be it therefore enacted, That the President of the United States be, and he hereby is authorized to cause to be discharged the principal and interest of the said debt, out of any of the monies, which have been or shall be obtained on loan, in virtue of the act aforesaid, and which shall not be necessary ultimately to fulfil the purposes for which the said monies are, in and by the said act, authorized to be borrowed” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 282 [May 8, 1792]).

4For H’s instructions to Gouverneur Morris, see H to Morris, September 13, 1792.

5H referred this letter to Secretary of the Treasury Oliver Wolcott, Jr. See Wolcott to H, September 1, 1796. On the cover of the letter printed above H wrote: “answered by General Pinckny.”

Fleury wrote a similar letter to Timothy Pickering on May 25, 1795 (ALS, Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston). For copies in Fleury’s handwriting of the documents sent in support of his claim, see the enclosures to Fleury to Pickering, June 1, 1796 (ALS, Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston). See also Fleury to Pickering, February 21, 1797 (ALS, Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston), and its enclosures.

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