James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Jean August Marie Chevallié, 27 August 1785

From Jean August Marie Chevallié

New york the 27. Augustus 1785


Me. Chevallié merchant of Rockefort, my father embarked in 1778 in the Caracter of supercargo upon the Ship le fier Roderigue belonging to Me. Caron de Beaumarchais, and treated of the Cargo with the State of Virginia.1 Some Contestations having been raised after wards among them, my father having manifested to Me. Caron de Beaumarchais the désire to discontinue all Connection, the latter gave him in payment of his Commission, a bill of fourty six thousand Pounds of tobacco, and a délégation of £420. Pounds hard moneys, Payable by the thrésaury of the State upon the sums that are due to him, with the intérest of these two sums from the first of July 1778 to the day of Payment.

Repeated disasters having dissipated all the hopes of tranquility wich a considérable fortune gained with infinite pain had given to my father, he resolved to send me to this continent, in order to obtain what is due to him as well by congress and the State of Virginia, as by different individuals of Philadelphia and of yorktown. Many men of Great considération espécially the Minister of the Marine, his first Secretary, the Mis. de la fayette and the Count delatoushe, knowing how little he had merited the misfortunes that oppress him, désirous to Give him a testimoney of their esteem and of their wishes, for the final arrangement of his affairs, in order to Conserve his reputation unimpaired to this day, these noblemen gave me their lettres of recommandation written with the greatest force to the french Consuls and to many members of Congress and to some men of distinction in the State of Virginia. The most flattering of them is addressed to you, Sir, by the Mis. de la fayette. I reserve to myself the honour to deliver it into your hands in about á mounth, when I intend to set out to Richmond. I shall do all that is in my power to deserve the support of your protection. It is impossible, Sir, to express the Sentiments of Gratitude, with wich I shall be penetrated, if you put it in the power of an only Son to be useful to a father he cherishes and to justify the good opinion wich has been conceived of a young man of twenty years. With the highest respect and esteem I have the honour to be Sir Very obédient and most humble Servant

Chevallié fils

RC (DLC). Cover missing. Docketed by JM.

1Pierre François Chevallié supplied goods to Virginia through a contract made by Beaumarchais with the state during the Revolutionary War years. In a letter to Benjamin Franklin concerning payment for these goods, Jefferson advised Chevallié to send a representative to the United States (Jefferson to Franklin, 1 Dec. 1784, Boyd, Papers of Jefferson description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson (18 vols. to date; Princeton, N. J., 1950——). description ends , VII, 553–54). Chevallié’s son, Jean August Marie Chevallié (1765–1838), was his father’s choice to collect his claim against Virginia. The affair was eventually settled, much to the satisfaction of the Frenchmen (ibid., XI, 55). Young Chevallié settled in Richmond and, in 1790, married Sarah Magee. He speculated in western lands and became an entrepreneur with an investment in the Gallego mills. Later he married Catherine Power Lyons, daughter of Judge Peter Lyons, and their Richmond home became a social center in the capital. Chevallié remained a friend of JM’s and a visit to the Chevallié home by JM and Dolley Madison in 1829 is recorded (Richmond Portraits in an Exhibition of Makers of Richmond, 1737–1860 [Richmond, 1949], pp. 36–37).

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