To Bourdon de Vatry
Mount Vernon January 8th 1788
I have recd your letter of the 6th of Decr 1786, wherein you request me to represent your situation to Congress, and apply to that body, in your behalf, for a grant of land in some part of the United States where you may form a settlement.1
Altho’ no incident in life could afford me more pleasure than to see all those who have exerted themselves in the cause of this country amply recompenced for their meritorious services, and howeve[r] desireous I may be to contribute all in my power towards there obtaining a compensation, yet I cannot, consistant with the declaration which I made when I quitted my publick employment, bring forward applications of this nature to Congress. I hope, Sir, you will not think that I act a singular part, with respect to you by not complying with your request—when I assure you I have ever declined the repeted applications of this Kind which have been made to me.
I think it is not improbable but that the Court of France, upon a reconsideration of the services of the Count de Grass, may be induced to recompence the merits of him & his friends in the manner which they deserve. I am Yrs &c.
1. The letter from Marc-Antoine Bourdon de Vatry (1761-1828) has not been found, but he wrote Thomas Jefferson on 10 Aug. 1787 about his letter to GW which he had entrusted to Jefferson “dans le courant du mois de novembre dernier,” presumably the letter to which GW is referring. Bourdon noted that he had enclosed in his letter to GW “un certificat” from de Grasse affirming that Bourdon was his “premier Sécrétaire” during the siege of Yorktown in 1781 (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 12:19). At this time Bourdon was employed in the French marine ministry, as chief of the bureau of the colonies. He became navy minister in 1799.