George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Ternant, 24 September 1791

To Ternant

Mount Vernon Sepr 24th 1791.


I have not delayed a momt since the receipt of your communications of the 22d instant, in dispatching orders to the Secretary of the Treasury to furnish the money, and to the Secretary of War to deliver the arms and ammunition, which you have applied to me for.1

Sincerely regretting, as I do, the cause which has given rise to this application, I am happy in the opportunity of testifying how well disposed the United States are to render every aid in their power to our good friends and Allies the ⟨French⟩ to quell “the alarming insur⟨rec⟩tion of the Negros in Hispaniola” ⟨and⟩ of the ready disposition to effect ⟨it,⟩ of the Executive authority thereof.

Go: Washington

ALS, FrPMAE, France; ALS (retained copy), CSmH; LB, DLC:GW; LB (in French), FrPMAE. The words in angle brackets are taken from the retained copy, which GW docketed: “His Excelly Mr de Tournant Ministr of France 24th Sepr 1791.”

On 22–23 Aug. thousands of slaves rose up on the sugar plantations in the northern part of the French colony of Saint Domingue and threatened its chief city, Cap Français. Colonial officials dispatched messengers on 24 Aug. to neighboring islands and to the United States to solicit aid in suppressing the revolt. See Samuel Wall to GW, 16 Sept., n.1, Charles Pinckney to GW, 20 Sept., and Ternant to GW, 24 September. Ternant became the liaison between the beleaguered colonists and the federal administration once the deputy from Saint Domingue, M. Roustan, arrived in Philadelphia (see Alexander Hamilton to GW, 22 Sept., source note).

1For GW’s “orders” of 24 Sept. to the secretary of the treasury and the secretary of war, see Hamilton to GW, 22 Sept., n.3, and Henry Knox to GW, 22 Sept. (first letter), n.3, respectively.

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