George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Carl Andreas Kierrulf, 7 April 1794

From Carl Andreas Kierrulf

[c.7 April 1794]1


Some time ago I took the Liberty To present to Your Excellency in Your quality as a Citizen and Chief magistrate of the United States a Petition and Some memoirs annexed thereto, respecting the deserved and undeserved Distress heaped on me by the fury of Despotism, flattering myself, to obtain thereby a Resolution agreeable to my Wishes.2

Your Excellency caused my Papers to be returned to me by Mr Jefferson, the late Secretary of State, without resolving any Thing on my Petition or paying any Regard to my distressed Situation, as a friend to humanity a Freeman and President of a free Empire.

A mistake must have taken place, I suppose, or Your Excellency have, misled by an incomplete or even a false Report made on my Papers by the late Secretary of State, determined, to abandon myself to my unhappy situation.

For, imagining any other reason would compromitting the glory of a Washington So celebrated in Europe, of a personage of his manner of thinking, who has announced himself as a learned man as a Doctor in Philosophy and Theology and as a Statesman whose Faculties were improved by travelling, so, that even to suppose an other motive, would be insulting Humanity the Rights of Man and Liberty in Your Excy’s Person.

Please Your Excellency, to grant Pardon to the frank Language of an upright Man; I am induced to think the Chief of a free Empire blest with so high a Degree of generosity as not to disdain placing himself for a moment in my Situation, and he will be convinced of the property of my Conduct, that prompts me to proceed without forms, as it becometh to a free Man.

I could wish to request of Your Excellency the granting of an Audience, that would enable me with Assistance of an American, serving as an Interpreter, to explain my Situation, my Pretensions and what little merit I claim, Certainly, no European has before me, visited this Continent, who Suffered so much by Persecution on account of the good Cause and who might yet do So much in behalf of the same. Therefore I again recommend myself as a Patriot, as a man of merit and an Unfortunate to the benevolent attention of the Chief of the first Republic as being principally concerned in patronizing the affairs of Humanity. remaining Your Excellency’s most devoted and humble Servant

(signed) Carl Andreas Kienalf 3

Living in Front-street No. 77. at the french Coffee-house.

P.S. In order to rectify the Translation of Mr Kienalf’s Letter I beg Leave to observe:

1) I qualified the Translation, as the Civilists use to say: “Sern perande verba in factum.”

2) In case the Writer thereof pretends to be a Native of Germany, h⟨e⟩ by no means can, by his stile be looked ⟨u⟩pon as a Man of sufficient Knowledge, to manage a beneficial Resolution, so, that, while his own Indiscretion spares him from being called a mere Enthousiast, he does not in the least display those grand Abilities, a Man ought to possess, that has done or will be in future able to do much good in the important but delicate Cause of Liberty.

The Translator.

L, translation, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters. The internal address reads, “George Washington President of the United States of America and Commander in Chief of Their Forces.” The cover is addressed to “The Honorable the Secretary of State.”

1The date of “Apr. 7. 1794.” was added by someone other than the translator. On the date of this letter, see also note 3.

2On Kierrulf’s petition asking for government support as a professor of moral philosophy, and Jefferson’s reply of 20 Dec. 1793, see Kierrulf to GW, 10 Dec. 1793, and notes. The U.S. House of Representatives read and tabled Kierrulf’s petition on this date (Journal of the House description begins The Journal of the House of Representatives: George Washington Administration 1789–1797. Edited by Martin P. Claussen. 9 vols. Wilmington, Del., 1977. description ends , 6:242).

3The translator incorrectly transcribed Kierrulf’s name.

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