George Washington Papers

To George Washington from George Read, 4 January 1794

From George Read

New Castle [Del.] 4th Janry 1794.


As the two fugitive Ladies from St Domingo who addressed those two letters to you which I now return in this inclosure1 lived very retired from their coming into this place I had heard nothing more respecting them than from the report of three of the Inhabitants acting as a Committee to inquire into the situation and wants of the French strangers that had temporary residence among us—That they appeared to be well bred women who spoke of possessing real property in the district of Jeremie2 and had for some time expected the arrival of a considerable quantity of Coffee, part of it’s produce which had been nearly ready for shipping when they left the Island—that they expressed a desire to obtain a Loan or advance of monies on the credit of their property but declined to make known their particular wants or to accept any part of the provision made here for distressed French Fugitives who might come among us. As I do not speak their language I had not made them any personal visit until after I received your Favour of the 26th Ulto and making every inquiry within my reach then of their character situation and circumstances, the result of which is that I am induced to believe they are such persons as they represent themselves in their inclosed Letters and further that their family Connections have been among the most respectable of that Island. Under this Impression I delivered your Letter addressed to them with its particular contents and they expressed much satisfaction at receiving it. I have hopes that the legislature of the State who will be in Session in the next Week will provide further relief than what can be obtained from the private contributions of a few—there are several other wanting persons (fugitives) in our Town and the burthen of supply is borne by a few.3

It wou’d Afford me pleasure at all times to carry into Execution your wishes and more particularly so on Occasions similar to the present one. with the utmost Esteem and respect I am Sir Your most Obedient and very humble Servt

Geo: Read.

ALS, PHi: Sprague Collection.

1GW had enclosed the two letters from Laurent de Saxÿ and Laurent de Verneüil of 6 and 10 Dec. 1793 in his letter to Read of 26 Dec. 1793. He also had enclosed his reply of 26 Dec. to the two women and $25, both of which Read was instructed to deliver if the recipients seemed deserving of GW’s assistance.

2The district of Jérémie, and its port city of the same name, was located on the Jacmel Peninsula of present-day southwest Haiti.

3The Delaware General Assembly that met from 7 Jan. until 8 Feb. 1794 did not pass any laws to provide additional relief for the French refugees within the state (Laws of the state of Delaware, passed at a session of the General Assembly, which was begun and held at Dover on Tuesday, the seventh day of January, and ended on Saturday, the eighth day of February, in the year of our Lord, one thousand, seven hundred and ninety-four, and of the independence of America, the eighteenth. Published by authority [Wilmington, Del., 1794]).

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