George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Stephen Sayre, 2 July 1791

From Stephen Sayre

Paris 2d July 1791


I did myself the honor of writing you in octor last—stating, in part, what had been my conduct & situation, during our contest for Independence. You may imagine, it is not a little mortifying to reflect, that I am unworthy the employments I have expected—or, that my Country treats me unjustly.1

This is the last time I ever mean to trouble you with importunities.2

As I have lately taken a share in a manufactory of Snuff in this City, I must naturally be inclined to have some Employment there—and as you will, probably, soon send a Minister, I wish the Secretaryship. Mr Short tells me, that in case he is the Minister, he should be very happy in my having it—But let me request one of the greatest favours you can do me—Let me have a single Line—promising this, or some other nomination—or, that I may never expect any appointment whatever.3 Mr Short knows my address—but to be more certain, I am fix’d in rue St Denis—No. 413. Monr La Fayette has promised to write to you in my favour: but I expect he will forget to do so. I am with all due Respect & Consideration your obt Servt

Stephen Sayre

ALS, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters.

1For Stephen Sayre’s letter of “octor last,” which GW referred to Thomas Jefferson, see Sayre to GW, 15 Oct. 1790. See also Sayre to GW, 20 Nov., n.3.

2Sayre wrote GW again on 13 July 1793, seeking an appointment to negotiate a treaty with Algiers (DLC:GW).

3Having received no reply Sayre again wrote GW from Paris on 10 Sept.: “I have had the honor of addressing you, perhaps too frequently—with some hopes of a Reply—supposing I might have really deserved that little attention, even from the first Majestrate—But now I am compel’d to the mortifying conclusion that I had over-rated my consequence. I mean no longer to amuse myself with such dreams of expectation—I am not the only man who has sacrificed his independance for an ungrateful Country—Had I felt less, & done nothing, had I pursued the path of my own Interest, & gone over to America with the results which must have attended self⟨ish⟩ness—I should long since have had ⟨illegible⟩ for the language of Solicitation & complaint. I trust you will generously forgive my making these disagreeable Remarks—It is the right of a citizen to complain—my feelings are hurt—my heart is wounded, but my Spirit is neither humbled, or bent to unworthy flattery. You have it in your power to serve me & you must be well persuaded, I can, at the same time, serve my Country—but you have it equally in your power, to employ another, who comes to you with more influence. But, I quit, forever, the loathsome Object that has too often led me into Resentment, or envious comparison. I now write, chiefly to acquaint you—that there are multitudes of discontented people of wealth & consequence, in this Country, who will look for Establishments in America, as soon as the hopes of a counter-revolution are at an end—that period, is not, as I beleive, & hope, far of. I have hinted already to the Secretary of the Treasury, how much our Country might profit, by this disposition: but if Congress should think otherways I would suggest to you Sir, that you form a plan (most suitable to yourself) by which you may dispose of your own lands on the western Waters. I mean the sale of a part of them. It might be done by intervening Lots, or Parcels—selling one—keeping the next—or by taking up a greater quantity, make settlements. by sale to give value to such lands as you now have—Nothing can be easier than to give most favorable ⟨mutilated⟩ of ⟨these Lands⟩, & Country where you have, long since made your election. Colon. Blagden is now selling Lands, under many disadvantages, at 6. & 9 Livres—Yours would, I am persuaded, fetch three times as much. If you, upon Reflection, think this Idea worth your puting into practice, & choose to give me your confidence in it; you may join Mr Frederic Peregoux [Jean-Frédéric Perregaux] in the power with me—He is one of the most respectable Bankers here, as Monsr dela Fayette will assure you” (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters).

Index Entries