George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Joseph Mandrillon, 24 October 1786

From Joseph Mandrillon

Amsterdam [Holland] 24th Octr 1786.


Your Excellency gave me reason to hope in your last letter, that if the Statutes of the Cincinnati permitted it, you would do me the pleasure, Sir, to propose me in the next Assembly of 1787.1

Permit me to repeat to your Excellency how much I shall feel myself flattered by being connected, by a new bond, to a Count[r]y & to Citizens who have had so much of my devotion & admiration. In consequence, I take the liberty, Mr President, to send you my address to that illustrious Assembly.2 It will be peculiarly agreeable to me to appear there under Aspices so respectable as those of your Excellency. If I am so happy as to obtain this favour, it will be equally agreeable to me to announce it to the Marquis de la Fayette, who will be charmed at my adoption.3

I understand that each member contributes something towards establishing a fund for the releif of the Widows & families of those who perished in the defence of their County. Think, Sir, how happy I shall be in taking a part in that humane & patriotic Contribution!

I have lately had a visit from Colo. Vernon, who travels with Milady Hamilton & returned to England.4 We conversed much upon American affairs & particularly about your Excellency whose Virtues he admires as much as myself—What pleasure did I feel in conversing with a person who was so well acquainted with America & her Liberator!

Accept (with the enclosed Verses)5 the Assurances of profound respect with which I shall never cease to have the Honor to be Your Excellency’s Most Hble & most Obedt Servt


I recommend to your care the list of the Members which I have made mention of in my Memorial. Accept, I beseech you, before hand, of my Gratitude for it. I wait only for that to publish a new Edition of my work.

Translation, DLC:GW; ALS, in French, DSoC. Both Mandrillon’s letter and his address to the Society of the Cincinnati are endorsed: “Read in Genl Meeting [or Meetg] May 18th ’87.” The ALS is in CD-ROM:GW.

1GW wrote Mandrillon on 22 Aug. 1785. For a description of the correspondence between GW and Mandrillon, see the source note in Mandrillon to GW, 11 June 1784.

2The translation of Mandrillon’s enclosed address to the Society of the Cincinnati is in DLC:GW and is printed in Hume, Society of the Cincinnati, description begins Edgar Erskine Hume, ed. General Washington’s Correspondence concerning the Society of the Cincinnati. Baltimore, 1941. description ends 260–61. Mandrillon asks for honorary membership in the society or to be given “the title of your Historiographer, and to print in french (at the end of a new edition of the American Spectator which I shall publish this current year of 1787) every thing which concerns the Rules and regulations of your illustrious Society” (ibid., 260).

3The translator omitted this paragraph: “Souffrez, Monsieur, j’ajoute qu’un membre de plus en Europe ne sauroit devenir d’aucune conséquence pour l’Amerique, et qu’il est souvent des cas où l’on fait taire pour un moment la sévérité des loix & des statuts, surtout quand il sagit de ne faire que le bien.”

4“Colo. Vernon” may be the “Mr Vernon” mentioned by GW in a letter to Henry Knox of 8 Oct. 1783 introducing a Polish nobleman who was “travelling the Continent for his amusement.” Traveling with him was “Mr Vernon, an English Gentleman lately from Europe.” “Milady Hamilton” was probably Elizabeth Gunning (1734–1790), a famous beauty who entered into a clandestine marriage with James, sixth duke of Hamilton, in 1752. After Hamilton’s death she married in 1759 John Campbell, marquis of Lorne, heir to the dukedom of Argyle, but she seems to have called herself duchess of Hamilton, the superior title, until 1770 when Lome became duke of Argyle. In 1776 she was created Baroness Hamilton of Hambleton in her own right. She suffered from consumption and beginning in 1760 spent much time in Italy and France, frequently traveling with a large retinue. Col. Vernon may have been traveling with her at this time. According to a London newspaper the duchess through her two marriages came “from being ... a private lady” to have “no less than 26 [or 28] peerages in three kingdoms [France, Scotland, and England], viz. five duchies, six marquisates, six counties, two viscounties, and nine baronies” (Lewis, Walpole Correspondence, description begins W. S. Lewis et al., eds. The Yale Edition of Horace Walpole’s Correspondence. 48 vols. New Haven, 1937–83. description ends 23:247, n.10).

5The “enclosed Verses” have not been found. They may have been included in his Fragmens de politique et de littérature that Mandrillon sent GW in 1788 (Mandrillon to GW, 25 Oct. 1788, n.1).

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