George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Jean Baptiste Mailhe, 19 May 1784

From Jean Baptiste Mailhe

Toulouse [France] 19th May 1784


What higher honor, than the Cincinnatus of America, can be bestowed on the man, who, after avenging the cause of liberty, and establishing the supremacy of his country, by a voluntary act, reduced himself to the condition of a private man?

The discourse I venture to present you with, is infinitely below the greatness of the subject: but, it is at least, a sincere testimony, of the general admiration; excited by a revolution in wc. your virtues and exploits have had such a share 1—I am with respect, Sir Your Hble & Obt servt


Translation, in the hand of David Stuart, DLC:GW; ALS, DLC:GW. For the French ALS, see CD-ROM:GW. A notation on the back of the translation identifies Mailhe as “Avocat of the parliament of Toulouse.” Jean Baptiste Mailhe (1754-1834) was named a deputy to the national assembly in 1791. His service in the national legislature ended with his proscription in 1797.

1Mailhe sent his Discours qui a remporté le Prix à l’Académie des Jeux Floraux en 1784, sur la Grandeur et l’Importance de la Révolution qui vient de s’opérer dans l’Amérique Septentrionale (Toulouse, 1784), which remained in GW’s library at the time of his death (Griffin, Catalogue of the Washington Collection description begins Appleton P.C. Griffin, comp. A Catalogue of the Washington Collection in the Boston Athenæum. Cambridge, Mass., 1897. description ends , 133). GW responded from Mount Vernon on 25 Nov. 1784: “Your letter of the 19th of May from Toulouse, & the discourse which accompanied it, do me infinite honor. I lament that I am not sufficiently acquainted with the French language to make myself Master of the beauties of the latter; & equally so, that my expression will not do justice to my feelings when I confess to you my gratitude for the flattering sentiments you are pleased to entertain of me, in the former. But with a proper sense of the honor done me, I am Sir &c.” (LB, DLC:GW).

2Stuart wrote the signature as “Maithe” in the translation, but the signature on the ALS is “Mailhe.”

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