George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Essarts, 1 May 1787

From Essarts

May 1st 1787.

It is well known to all the world that your Excellency, after having fought for the liberty of the thirteen States, like a true Fabius, supported with an indefatigable zeal those laws & establishments which might tend to advance the happiness of your Country. Admiring your virtues, I am persuaded that the inclinations of a great man will not be averse to the reading of the works of one of the best of Citizens, a citizen who consecrated his life & fortune to the purposes of humanity & to the establishment of pure & refined manners.

My attachment to this tender parent & virtuous man induces me to promote his views as much as is in my power by collecting & publishing his different memoirs. Your Excellency will permit me to present you a copy as a tribute due to your patriotic virtues.1 I have the honor to be respectfully Yr most Hble & obedt Servt

La Comptess des Essarts

Translation, in the hand of Tobias Lear, DLC:GW; ALS, in French, NN: Washington Collection. The ALS has been transcribed for CD-ROM:GW.

1GW wrote the comtesse des Essarts on 8 Jan. 1788 acknowledging her gift: “Madam, I have received your letter of the first of may and the books accompanying it which you did me the honor to send me.

“The works of those men who have dedicated their time and fortunes to the purposes of humanity will always be read with pleasure by the good and virtuous citizens of every country, as they contain the pure sentiments of a noble mind divested of local prejudices & particular attachments. I must therefore beg, Madam, that you will accept of my warmest acknowledgments for the favor you have conferred by sending me the works of M. de Chamousset. I have the Honor to be Madam Yr Most Obedt Hble Servant. G. Washington” (LB, DLC:GW). The chevalier Claude-Humbert Piarron de Chamousset (1717–1773), who turned his house in Paris into a charity hospital, was a reformer with a particular interest in public health and child welfare. The two-volume Œuvres Complètes which his daughter edited and published in Paris in early 1787 was in GW’s library at the time of his death (Griffin, Boston Athenæum Collection, description begins Appleton P.C. Griffin, comp. A Catalogue of the Washington Collection in the Boston Athenæum. Cambridge, Mass., 1897. description ends 483). On 5 April 1787 Madame des Essarts’s husband, Pierre Poinsot des Essarts, comte de Bouville, wrote Thomas Jefferson saying that he wished to send a copy of a relative’s writings to GW and asking for GW’s coat of arms (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 11:270).

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