George Washington Papers

From George Washington to William Temple Franklin, 25 October 1790

To William Temple Franklin

Mount Vernon October 25th 1790.


I did not receive your letter of the 13th instant until yesterday on my return from an excursion up the Potowmack, which will apologize for the delay of my answer.1

I am much obliged by your offer to take charge of my letters for Europe—but, having no communication to make at this time, I shall not be able to profit of your politeness.

The reason, which you say has been suggested for your leaving America, I have not heard mentioned, nor should I have placed such a construction upon your absence—being altogether ignorant of any cause to authorise the opinion.

I wish you an agreeable passage to England, and a successful issue to your intentions in visiting Europe. I am Sir, your most obedient Servt.

Df, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; LB, DLC:GW.

For William Temple Franklin’s earlier correspondence with GW, see Franklin to GW, 20 April 1789, and 9 Jan. and 9 July 1790. Franklin also wrote to Thomas Jefferson on 13 Oct. 1790, in which he noted, “My Passage is taken in the Pigou, which will sail the latter end of this month for London.” The General Advertiser, and Political, Commercial, Agricultural and Literary Journal (Philadelphia) announced the sailing of the Pigou, Captain Collet, on 5 Nov. 1790. Franklin still hoped to be made U.S. minister to France when he wrote to Jefferson again on 6 April 1791 (see 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 17:590–91, 18:96, 20:158–59).

1Franklin’s 13 Oct. 1790 letter from Philadelphia reads: “Permit me to inform you that I propose embarking for England, the latter End of this Month, and visiting France sometime in next January. I shall be very happy to execute any Commands your Excellency may please to honor me with for either of those Countries.

“My Views in going to Europe at this time, are simply to derive Advantage from the Publication of the Works of my late Grandfather, and to transact some other private Business, which will in all probability not detain me longer than a Year, when should nothing further occur, I propose returning hither.

“I should have confined myself to asking your Excellency’s Commands, and not have troubled you with these Particulars, but that it has been suggested here, that I leave this Country through disgust, and disappointment, and that I do not propose to return. Fearful least such Reports should get to your Excellency, I beg leave to assure you, that they are totally without Foundation—that my Reasons for going to Europe, are none other than those I have mentioned; and that however I have not had the good Fortune, to partake of any of the Favors, or Rewards of Government, I have no less Love for the Country, Admiration of its Laws, and sincere Attachment to its Chief Magistrate: In whatever Situation I may be, I shall ever retain these Sentiments, shall glory in the title of a Citizen of the United States, and shall ever be ambitious & happy to serve them, either in a Public or Private Capacity.

“Should it please your Excellency to write by me to the Marquis de la Fayette, from whom you may recollect, I formerly brought you a Recommendatory Letter, & whose good-Opinion, with that of other distinguish’d Characters in France, I am anxious to preserve—I should esteem it a particular Favor if you would, provided you can with Propriety, suggest such favorable Sentiments of me as will tend to efface any disadvantageous Surmises, that may have arisen, from my not having received that Notice from Government here, which they might possibly have expected from my former Services, & peculiar Situation” (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters). For GW’s trip up the Potomac River, see GW to Elizabethtown, Md., Citizens, 20 Oct. 1790, source note.

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