George Washington Papers

To George Washington from François Barbé de Marbois, 12 June 1785

From François Barbé de Marbois

Newyork June 12th 1785.


I beg leave to trouble your Excellency about the request of Msr de Corny a gentleman who in the character of a commissary general preceeded the French army in the year 1780. the ⟨5⟩th of June of the Same year congress resolved that a brevet commission of lieutenant of Cavalry be granted to Msr Louis Ethis de Corny. Msr de Corny has been Since employed in the service of both armies either here or in france to procure & forward their Supplies: he now is commissary general of the Suiss infantry in france.1 he informs me that he is desirous to be a member of the cincinnati Society in the State where your Excellency reside, & he has Send to me his quota of the Subscription according to his rank: I take the liberty to Send to you his bill—due Mr Wadsworth for the amount, you’ll excuse me, sir for troubling you about this affair: I would not have done it if I had had the honour to be acquainted with the officers of the Society in Virginia.2

According to very late intelligence from Europe the Emperor—impressed with the danger of staying alone of his party, seems desirous to compromise the matter. there is little doubt but we Should Support the Dutch in case they were attacked.

Mr Gardochi is not yet arrived. Congress are uncertain what reception to make to him—as his character of a Chargé des affaires plenipotentiaire is a novelty in the diplomatic Style. There is no doubt, however that he will be made an Envoy as soon as the States Shall have resolved to Send one to Spain.

The governor of georgia informed the delegates of the States that there has been an encounter between the Spaniards at fort natchez & the inhabitants there, & that persons have been Killed on both Sides.3

No determination about the 2d Treaty with the indians. Congress cannot come to a resolution as to the funds: there are eight States & two half States who are for providing all necessary expences; but it is Said Some individuals are opposed to this measure from private motives.4 With great respect, I have the honour to be sir your Excellency’s Very humble obedient servant

De Marbois

I have been told that Msr de Corny on advice of Some of the members of the society in france has taken the insignia of the order, as they Saw no doubt of his being a member in consequence of his commission.


François Barbé de Marbois had been French chargé d’affaires in Philadelphia since June 1784.

1Dominique-Louis Ethis de Corny (1736–1790) held a commission in the American army in 1781 and 1782.

2GW responded to this letter on 21 June, promising to attend to the matter for Corny promptly, but he did not write George Weedon about Corny until 23 July. Weedon wrote GW on 10 Aug. that he had taken care of it.

3See Gov. Samuel Elbert (1740–1788) to President of Congress, 5 May 1785 (DNA:PCC, item 73).

4Marbois is referring to Congress’s passage on 6 June of the resolution: “That the commissioners instructed to hold a treaty under the resolutions of the 18 of March last, with the western tribes of Indians, at post St. Vincent, on the 20 day of June, for the purpose of obtaining from them a cession of lands, be, and they are hereby authorized and directed, to avail themselves of the disposition of the Indians and the funds committed to their charge, to make such cession as extensive and liberal as possible” (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 28:431).

Index Entries