George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Barbier de La Serre, 12 May 1785

To Barbier de La Serre

Mt Vernon 12th May 1785.


The letter which you did me the honor to write to me the 20th of last month, I found at this place when I returned from Richmond a few days ago; but it had been previously lost in the high way, & came to me open & without a cover: by what means it met with this accident, I am unable to learn—a neighbour of mine picked it up in the condition I have mentioned, & sent it to me.1

I pray you to be assured Sir, that I should have great pleasure in presenting you with a letter to the Count de Vergennes if I cou’d suppose that my recommendation would have any weight at the Court of Versailles, & if I had ever opened a correspondence with the Minister thereof on a subject of this nature: but not having the vanity to suppose the first, & never having attempted the latter; I persuade myself I shall meet a ready excuse for not complying with your request in this instance.

Not being under such delicate circumstances with my intimate acquaintance & friend the Marqs de la Fayette, I have communicated your wishes to him; & as no language can do it more emphatically than your own, I have taken the liberty of enclosing your letter to me, to him.2 I have the honor to be &c.

G: Washington


Arsène-Guillaume-Joseph Barbier de La Serre served as a sous-lieutenant in the Saintonge Regiment in America. On 21 April 1784 he married Ann Dulany, the daughter of Daniel Dulany (1722–1797) of Maryland, and he was now making a trip to France “to do some business” (Miles King to Thomas Jefferson, 29 Aug. 1785, in Boyd, Jefferson Papers, description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 40 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950—. description ends 8:448–49; Mérou, Combattants Français description begins Henri Mérou. Les combattants français de la guerre américaine, 1778–1783. Paris, 1903. description ends , 254).

1The letter, which GW forwarded to Lafayette, has not been found.

2GW wrote Lafayette on this day, to this effect: “The enclosed letter from the Chevr de la Serre conveys a strong expression of his wishes; & as you are well acquainted with his merits—his connexions, & his intention of remaining in America—I persuade myself it is unnecessary for me to add more to recommend him to your favourable notice in the line he wishes, & which he finds most convenient for himself to walk in, if the present Consul of France, at Baltimore, can be better provided for. I therefore submit his case and pretensions to that spirit which I know is ever ready to promote the happiness of others” (LB, DLC:GW).

Barbier de la Serre wrote from Baltimore on 31 May: “I have had the Honour of receving your Excellency’s very kind favour & beg in return you will Accept my best acknowledgments for your letter to the marquis delafayette, I have not the least doubt, but it will procure me the Entire Completion of my wishes” (DLC:GW).

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