St Petersburg [Russia] 24th August 1789.
I take the advantage of the departure of Mr Paul Jones to bring myself to the recollection of your Excellency,1 and to congratulate you upon the ratification of the new Constitution by the United States and electing you their President—They will not be deceived in their experience—Your wisdom will mantain the splendor of that liberty which your courage established. I earnestly wish that circumstances may one day put it in my power to go & see the prosperity of a Country for which I feel myself happy to have fought—and the glory of a celebrated General under whom I regret that I had not longer served. I have charged Mr Paul Jones to repeat to you often how much I am devoted to you—and I eagerly sieze the opportunity which offers to renew the assurance of the sentiments of veneration with which I have the honor to be Sir, Your Excellency’s most Hbe & Obedt St2
Translation, DNA:PCC, item 78; ALS, DNA:PCC, item 78. The text is taken from a translation prepared for GW.
Louis-Philippe, comte de Ségur (1753–1830), had served in the French army since 1769. During the Revolution he accompanied French forces to America serving first with a regiment of Orléans dragoons and after 1782 with the Soissonnais regiment. After his return to France he was colonel commandant of a regiment of dragoons. At this time he was French ambassador to Russia.
1. In October 1782, in company with the prince de Broglie, Ségur brought GW letters from Benjamin Franklin in Paris. Writing Franklin on 18 Oct. GW assured him of the favorable impression made by “two such amiable & accomplished Young Gentlemen.” After a brief and stormy sojourn in Russia as an admiral in Empress Catherine’s navy, John Paul Jones was leaving the country ostensibly on leave of absence but in fact permanently. He left St. Petersburg in September 1789.
2. The original letter reads: “Je veux profiter du depart de Monsieur Paul-jones pour me rappeller au Souvenir de Votre Excellence Et pour la feliciter Sur le choix que les Etats unis ont fait d’Elle lorsqu’ils ont adopté la nouvelle Constitution Et nommé un president du Congrês. ils ne Seront point trompés dans leurs Esperances Et Votre Sagesse Saura maintenir dans toute Sa Splendeur la liberté qu’a Etablie votre courage. Je desire infiniment que les circonstances me mettent à portée d’aller un jour contempler la prosperité d’un Pays pour le quel je m’estime heureux d’avoir Combattu, Et la gloire d’un general celebre Sous le quel je regrette de n’avoir pas plus longtemps Servi.
J’ai chargé Mr Paul jones de vous repeter Souvent Combien Je vous Suis devoué, Et je profite avec Empressement de l’occasion qu’il m’offre pour vous renouveller l’assurance dês Sentiments de Veneration avec les quels J’ai l’honneur d’Etre Monsieur de Votre Excellence le três humble Et três obeissant Serviteur.”