George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Jean Holker, 6 March 1779

From Jean Holker

Philadelphia the 6th March 1779


In Consequence of your Excellency’s orders to Lieutenant Col: North, with Respect to the French vessel the Marion—or Mary, taken by the english, But lost near sandy Hook, that Gentleman has call’d upon me here to Inform me thereof, and of the Sale he has made of the vessel & appurtenances, excepting the sails & Rigging: I have Requested of him to Sell by Public vendüe the Remaining articles & to send me his account of the neat Proceeds, deducting his Expenses. as I understand by Gentlemen of the Law that no salvage is düe for Recovery or Protection of the Wreck, I shall allow a Compensation & in the évaluation thereof, I shall be governed By some éminent merchants of this City, & By Mr North, So as Every one may be satisfied. I Return your Excellency many thanks for the orders you have been pleas’d to give on this occasion: It is an additional Proof of your Love of Justice & of your Desire to Preserve inviolate the Rights of the allies of the united states.1

I have hear’d nothing from Vice Admiral Count d’Estaing, though the vessels we have sent out with flour and Biscuit from hence, are got safe in Martinico: three more are on their way, & will be follow’d By some others: we have not yet learn’d his Junction with the Squadron & Convois which are to meet him at some of the Islands, Nor have we any news of great importance from France with Respect to this warr, But that which attracts at present the attention of Congress.2

By a Letter of the 25th December, wrote By the Duc de Lauzun, Commander of a Legion of 4000 men, on board the Fendant a Ship of 74, off Belisle, then going on an Expedition, I learn that the Queen was safely deliver’d of a Princess.3

There are strong rumours of Peace among our merchants in France; We may be certain in the mean while that the Principles on which it will be grounded, will be équally advantageous to America, & as honorable to his most Christian Majesty, as His alliance with these Confederate states: God send a safe & Speedy one, So as to put a Glorious end to your Toils & Labours, which have establish’d the Liberty and Independance of North america.

I Beg leave to Present my Respects By this occasion, to Mrs Washington, & to the other Lady’s at head Quarters with whom I have the Honor of being acquainted: I Beg also to be particularly remembered to the gentlemen of your family. I have the Honor to Remain with profound Respect, Sir, your most Obedient humble Servant


ALS, DLC:GW. Tench Tilghman docketed the manuscript in part “Ansd 15th,” but GW’s reply to Holker was drafted on 14 March.

2Holker apparently is referring to congressional consideration of letters from John Adams concerning King George III’s combative speech delivered at the opening of Parliament on 26 Nov. 1778 (see John Jay to GW, 3 March, n.4).

3The daughter and first child of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, Marie-Thérèse-Charlotte, was born on 19 Dec. 1778.

For the French expedition to attack British outposts in West Africa that rendezvoused near Belle Isle, or Belle-Île-en-Mer, a small island off the west coast of France, see Memoirs of the Duc de Lauzun description begins C. K. Scott Moncrieff, trans. Memoirs of the Duc de Lauzun. 1928. Reprint. New York, 1969. description ends , 177–83.

Armand-Louis de Gontaut, duc de Lauzun (duc de Biron from 1788; 1747–1793) entered the French guards in 1761. He attained the ranks of captain in 1767 and colonel in 1774. As brigadier general commanding a legion of horse that bore his name, he arrived at Newport, R.I., with his troops in July 1780. His legion participated in the Yorktown campaign of 1781, and Lauzun was the officer chosen to carry to France the official news of Cornwallis’s capitulation. Lauzun then returned to the United States and replaced Rochambeau as commander in chief of the French army in January 1783. After the war, Lauzun engaged in French political, diplomatic, and military affairs until he was arrested in July 1793. He was guillotined on 31 December of that year.

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