George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Jay, 26 September 1779

From John Jay

[Philadelphia, 26 Sept. 1779]

Extract of a Letter of the 26th of Septr 1779 from His Excellency, the President of Congress—to General Washington


I have the pleasure of transmitting to your Excellency copies of two Letters from the French Consul in South Carolina1 to Monsr Gerard, informing him of the arrival of Count D’Estaing on that coast.2

[”]As Congress have reason to believe, that the Armament under the command of the Count will co-operate with these States against the British forces in America, they have by an Act, of which the enclosed is a copy, referred the whole System of co-operation, so far as the United States are concerned in it, to Your Excellency’s direction and authorised you to call upon the several States for such aids as you may require.[”]3

Copy (extract), enclosed in GW to Horatio Gates, 3 Oct., NHi: Gates Papers. In his reply to Samuel Huntington, who became president of Congress on 28 Sept., GW indicated that this letter was dated 26-27 Sept. (see GW to Huntington, 4 Oct.).

1Jean Plombard, a French merchant of the firm Lory, Plombard & Co., was appointed to the French consul in Charleston, S.C., by French minister Conrad-Alexandre Gérard in October 1778.

2GW did not receive the enclosures at the time he received this letter (see GW to Gates, 3 Oct.), but copies of translations of the two letters from Plombard to Gérard, dated 5 and 8 Sept. at Charleston, S.C., are in DLC:GW. The letter of 5 Sept. concerned the need of Vice Admiral d’Estaing’s French fleet for supplies; in the letter of 8 Sept., Plombard stated that he expected d’Estaing to attack in Georgia in the next several days, and he requested funds for purchasing supplies for the fleet.

3The enclosed extract from the journals of Congress, dated 26 Sept. and signed by secretary Charles Thomson, reads: “Resolved That copies of the letters from Monsr Plombard to monsr Gerard of the 5th and 8th of Sept. instant communicated by M. Gerard to the president be sent to general Washington. That the general be also informed of the intention of our Ally that the armament under Count d’Estaing shall operate against the enemy in these United states: And that genl Washington be authorised and directed to concert & execute such plans of co-operation with the Minister plenipotentiary of France or the Count, as he may think proper.

“Whereas Congress have received authentic information of the arrival of Count d’Estaing with ⟨a⟩ powerful fleet to co-operate with these united states; And whereas by the vigorous exertions of the said states the allied forces may be enabled to strike an important blow against the enemy[,] Resolved That it be most earnestly recommended to the several states to furnish general Washington with such aid as he may require of them respectively as well by detachments from their militia as by providing that the allied armaments in the united states be speedily & effectually furnished with ample supplies of bread and other provisions & that the most vigorous exertions be made for that purpose” (DLC:GW). In the journals of Congress, these resolutions were entered only in the Secret Domestic Journal (see JCC, description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends 15:1108).

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