From the Vicomte de Rochambeau
[le] Cap [Saint Domingue]
26th 9ber 1792. 4th year of Liberti.
I have the honour to informe your Excellency that I have been invested the Governement of St Domingo. The desire to Serve a second time the noble cause of Liberty has imposed to me the Duty to Cross the Atlantic Ocean again, and to Vow the rest of my Life, to the Service of my own Country. The pleasure to be nearer the seat of the glory of your Excellency, and to be in measure in my Correspondance to assure him of my everlasting respect, Was also among the reasons Which determined me to accept this dangorous Commission, in the very odd Circumstances under Which we Lie in Europe.1
Capne Keating w[h]o will deliver this Letter goes to north america to recoverer his health: I recommend this officer to your Excellency.2 I have the honour to be Sir, of your Excellency—the most humble and obedient Servant
the Governor g[ener]al of Sainto Domingo
ALS, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters.
1. Donatien-Marie-Joseph de Vimeur, vicomte de Rochambeau (1755–1813), was a veteran of the Revolutionary War and the son of Jean-Baptiste-Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau, the commander of the French forces sent to aid the Americans. In 1792 he was appointed lieutenant general in command of the Windward Islands, which included Martinique. Prevented from establishing his headquarters in Martinique by the rebellion there, he settled in Saint Domingue and was elected governor general on 23 October. Rochambeau spent most of the remainder of this decade and the beginning of the next one in the West Indies, often in military action against the British. In 1803 he was captured at sea by the British and was imprisoned in England until 1811. Rochambeau reentered active military service in 1813 and was fatally wounded during the Battle of Leipzig in October of that year (see Weelen, Rochambeau, description begins Jean-Edmond Weelen. Rochambeau, Father and Son: A Life of the Maréchal de Rochambeau. Translated by Lawrence Lee. New York, 1936. description ends 284–85).
2. Irish native John Keating (1760–1856), a captain in France’s Irish Brigade, served in the West Indies between 1780 and 1783 and returned in 1792 with the 92d Regiment sent to quell the insurrection in Saint Domingue. Keating resigned his commission in November 1792 and immigrated to the United States, arriving in Philadelphia in late December. He settled first in Wilmington, Del., and later moved to Philadelphia, where he resided for the rest of his life. He was an agent for the unsuccessful Asylum Company, which attempted to establish a town for French refugees in northeast Pennsylvania (see Murray, The Story of Some French Refugees, description begins Louise Welles Murray. The Story of Some French Refugees and Their “Azilum,” 1793–1800. 2d ed. Elmira, N.Y., 1917. description ends 104–11).