George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Lafayette, 16 April 1785

From Lafayette

St Germain Near Paris April the 16th 1785

My dear General

To My Great disappointement I Had no letter from You By this packet—it is However the only Regular Way to Get intelligences, and Mercantile Opportunities are not By far So much to Be depended on—I warmly Beg, my dear General, you will not let me Be Uneasy for want of a line from You—the distance is already so great in itself, and So much Greater for the feelings of the tenderest friendship, that the only means ought to Be Scrupulously observed that tend to Alleviate the Cruel Separation—Since my last letter, there is Very little News 1—Warlike preparations Have not Been Given up—But the Negotiations are Come to this point Which leaves no probability of a War—the proposition to Exchange Baviera for the Austrian low Countries, With the title of Kingdom of Austrasia, Has not Been Accepted—a New object for disputes Might Be the Election of a King of the Romans, which you know is the title which marks the Successor to the Empire—the Emperor’s interest will Be in favour of His Nephew the Young arch duke Francis of tuscany—England and ireland are negotiating with each other, and will Be puzzled to agree, unless the Volonteering flame once spent out Ceases to Support their Country—the British Governement Seems in no Hurry to make a treaty of Commerce—much less so, if possible, to give up the posts—I Have

Had a Conference With the duke de la vauguion who is gone to Madrid Respecting the Mississipy—But the Spaniards are still obstinate, and You Will Have full time to oppen Your Navigation, which I Consider as the first political, Mercantile, and National plan which Can now Employ the United States—there are Great Complaints of the Merchants Against the Arrêt du Conseil in favour of the West india trade—altho’ flour and sugars are Excepted—But the Ministry will stick By it, and More Cannot Be Got for the present—Every thing in Europe More and More Convinces me of the Necessity there is for the States to give Congress power to Regulate trade.

By mr Ridout’s Vessel my children Have Sent to yours at Mount Ve[r]non a few trifles which are very indifferent But may Amuse them two or three days 2—English dogs are so much in fashion Here that the King who likes to Ride fast Has no french Hounds which, says He, are Very Slow—at last I Have discoverd a tolerable good Breed of them, which young M. Adams will take with Him in the Next packet 3—a jack ass Has Been Sent to You from Cadix—I expect one from the isle of Maltha and will forward it.4

in the Course of the Summer I will Visit the prussian and Austrian troops—I will Have the pleasure to speack much of You—But Had Rather Speack with you—and instead of those German troops, I wish I could once more Give you a dinner with my light infantry friends.

Adieu, My dear General, Be So kind as to present My Most tender Respects to Mrs Washington—Mention me to the Young ones—mrs Stuard, the doctor, m. Lund W., Miss Basset if she is with you—I am Uneasy about George—My Respects wait Upon Your Respected Mother, and all the family—Remember me to our friends—mde de Lafayette Begs you and mrs Washington to accept Her most Affectionate Compliments—Adieu, My dear General, think often of your Bosom friend, your adoptive son, who loves you So tenderly, and who is with every Sentiment of Respect, Gratitude, and Affection Your devoted friend


The queen and Her second son are in perfect Health.


3John Quincy Adams resumed his studies at The Hague in 1783 but shortly became his father’s secretary in Paris during the peace negotiations. John Adams had recently been appointed to the U.S. mission in London, and the son decided to return to Boston. GW asked Lafayette, when Lafayette was in America in the fall of 1784, about getting several French hounds for him (see Lafayette to GW, 13 May, and GW to Lafayette, 25 July 1785). GW noted in his diary on 24 Aug. 1785 that he had “Receiv’d Seven hounds sent me from France by the Marqs. de la Fayette, by way of New York viz. 3 dogs and four Bitches” (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 4:186). Thomas Ridout wrote GW on 1 May from Bordeaux that he was sending his brig back to Alexandria but that the packages Lafayette had asked him to forward had not arrived at Bordeaux.

4In his letters to Lafayette of 25 July and 1 Sept. 1785, GW reveals that he misunderstood Lafayette’s reference to jacks here and thought Lafayette was referring to the two jacks that the king of Spain was giving him through the agency of William Carmichael (see Carmichael to GW, 3 Dec. 1784, n.1). The jackass that Lafayette sent from Cadiz did not survive the voyage, and the one from Malta did not arrive until November 1786 (see James McHenry to GW, 5 Nov. 1786 [PHi: Gratz Collection]).

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