From Pierre Charles L’Enfant
Philadelphia July 1st 1798
Being Just this moment told of a conversation you have had with Mr Soderestrom1 in reply to a note which he handed to you from me,2 am not perfectly comprehending what he related, he himself seeming to have but a Confuse recollection. While at the same time, as far as he has explained, it appear to me to be all Important well to understand you. I cannot esitate nor do I delay one Instant, requesting your own Explanation in what way has any political principles or connections, and the Conduct in my former public employment become matter for your animadversion!—and how, and upon what authority you asserted that I had been paid a good price by the french minister Adet,3 or other—from which I ought to be well satisfied with my actual situation.
Whether, Sir, these were your private Sentiments or those of other people you delivered, you may well imagine is not Indifferent to me to Know.—and Beliving in the veracity of Mr Soderestrom who stated those points as being the principal he recollected of the conversation with you, you can Surrely not be Surprised if I feel alive at the Injurious⟨–⟩ and in this direct manner ask you to Explaine and to trace out to me whence came those Ideas. Ideas which I must Say I held in too contemptible a light to belive orriginated with you. They are Sugestive indeed too vilainous and of an Ingenuity and base malice as I would hardly have suspected possible in any one man. well sensible however how generally them who would have done a man an Injury become the ⟨–⟩ Enemies of him that his Injuried. I should not much wonder but thus at once the Schem be to Cut short all my claims to the gratitude of the country, as this way of Exonerating the public of all debt to me,4 may well compleat the vilany of those swindling Individuals who have robed me of all my property the small saving from the ⟨–⟩ by laborious pursuits of twenty two years services to the united States.
With the hope this will find you ready either to substantiate those charges you have advanced as above—or to point out the author, clearing in this way the Stigma that naturally must attack in all those whose mistaken policy it may be to slander honesty I shall beg you to believe I remain
Dr Sir Your obedient hubl Servant
P. charles L’Enfant
Colo Alr Amilton
ALS, Columbia University Libraries.
1. Richard Soderstrom was Swedish consul general at Philadelphia.
2. Letter not found.
3. Pierre Auguste Adet.
4. On December 11, 1800, the House of Representatives received “a petition of Pierre Charles L’Enfant, praying for a due recompense for his services, while he was employed under the direction of the late General Washington, in planning and conducting the public buildings at the city of Washington, for which services the petitioner conceives he has not been sufficiently remunerated.” This petition was rejected (Journal of the House description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States (Washington, 1826). description ends , III, 738–39, 741). Subsequently, L’Enfant petitioned Congress eight times (House List of Private Claims description begins Digested Summary and Alphabetical List of Private Claims Which Have Been Presented to the House of Representatives From the First to the Thirty-First Congress, Exhibiting the Action of Congress on Each Claim, With References to the Journals, Reports, Bills, &c., Elucidating Its Progress. Compiled by Order of the House of Representatives (Washington, 1853). description ends , II, 309). On May 1, 1810, “An Act for the relief of P. C. L’Enfant” granted him “six hundred and sixty-six dollars and two thirds, with legal interest” from March 1, 1792 (6 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America [Private Statutes] (Boston, 1846). description ends 94).