George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Edmund Randolph, 26 April 1794

To Edmund Randolph

Philadelphia April the twenty Sixth 1794


Herewith you will receive two resolves—one of the Senate, dated the 24th; the other of the House of Representatives, dated the 25th instant;1 accompanying a letter from the Committee of public Safety of the French Republic to Congress requesting the President of the United States to cause the same to be answered, on their behalf.2

This answer you will prepare accordingly, in terms expressive of their desires.3

Go: Washington

ALS (letterpress copy), DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; LB, DNA: RG 59, GW’s Correspondence with His Secretaries of State.

1The resolve from the U.S. Senate of 24 April, which was attested by Samuel A. Otis, reads: “Ordered, that the Letter of the Committee of public safety of the French Republic, addressed to Congress be transmitted to the President, and that he be requested to cause the same to be answered on behalf of the Senate of the United States, in such manner as shall manifest their sincere friendship and good will, for the French Republic” (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters).

The resolve from the U.S. House of Representatives of 25 April reads: “Resolved unanimously, that the letter of the Committee of Public Safety of the French Republic, addressed to Congress, be transmitted to the President of the United States, and that he be requested to cause the same to be answered, on behalf of this House, in terms expressive of their sensibility for the friendly and affectionate manner, in which they have addressed the Congress of the United States, with an unequivocal assurance, that the Representatives of the People of the United States have much interest in the happiness and prosperity of the French Republic.” Speaker of the House Frederick Augustus Muhlenberg signed the resolve, which was attested by John Beckley (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters).

2The enclosed translation of the letter of 10 Feb. from the French Committee of Public Safety to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives reads: “The Representatives of the French People, Members of the Committee of public safety—To the Citizens, Members of the Congress of the United States of America.

“After having laid the foundation of our liberty, it became incumbent on us to secure it. A national government is born and with it victory. Emanating from the will of the people it has their energy. For the salvation of the State it has been resorted to, and the State is saved. At its voice 15 Armies are in motion and triumph: at its signal, interior order is restored—fruitful industry is expanded: The Conspirators fall.

“We impart the news of the success of our armies to a people who, having obtained Liberty in a similar manner with ourselves, cannot learn but with enthusiasm, of the victories of Republicans and the downfall of Tyrants.

“Policy already appreciates the advantage of the retaking of Toulon! Already have the neutral powers proclaimed themselves; and Genoa, indignant at the atrocity of our enemies, who have sullied her territory by the vilest and blackest of crimes; Genoa has resumed all her energy, and driven the English and Spaniard from her ports.

“In the North, our triumphs, not less brilliant, have given the combined powers some severe shocks. “They had dared to menace Dunkirk, Maube[u]ge, and Landau. Every where they have been beaten, every where they have been put to flight; and even towards the Rhine, our army in pursuit of them had advanced to the very Gates of Mayence.

“Such is the long catalouge of success which unfolds itself at the same moment at every point to which the French Republic sends her invincible Phalanxes.

“So many Victories will convey nothing astonishing to you; You, magnanimous Republicans, who will easily conceive the prodigies which liberty is capable of performing, after having in this vast career, left to the defenders of the people memorable examples.

“You had already participated in our Triumphs, as well in thought as political Union. Our successes reverberate in you, and the fall of our eternal and implacable enemies, will be as satisfactory to America, as to outraged France. Our cause is reciprocal; it is that of every people who honor humanity.

“It is under these glorious auspices that the Representatives of the French People are pressed by the desire of drawing closer more than ever, the bonds of friendship which unite two great, generous and free Nations.

“Thus liberty will have two points of fixture in the world; and being an immoveable Colossus, she will rest one foot in each Hemisphere.

“At her voice let Agriculture and Commerce, these two services of national prosperity, pouring out under our hands their mutual exchanges—multiply, aggrandize and cement our friendly relations and public felicity.

“Let us discard every thing which may disturb that necessary harmony pointed out by the nature of things, still more than by a reciprocal interest, that harmony which has not a cautious, selfish, mercantile policy for its principle, but the esteem, the fraternity, all the social and benificent virtues, which flow from liberty.

“Honor, Prosperity, Safety and Fraternity.

“The Representatives of the French People, Members of the Committee of public safety.” The men who signed this letter were: Jean-Bon Saint-André, Claude-Antoine Prieur-Duvernois (Prieur de la Côte-d’Or; 1763–1832), Bertrand de Barère de Vieuzac, Jacques-Nicolas Billaud-Varenne, Jean-Baptiste-Robert Lindet, Maximilien-François-Marie-Isidore de Robespierre, Georges-Auguste Couthon, Lazare-Nicolas-Marguerite Carnot, and Jean-Marie Collot d’Herbois (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters).

3Randolph wrote two letters to the Committee of Public Safety on 10 June. The first was an answer on behalf of the U.S. Senate and the second an answer on behalf of the U.S. House of Representatives. In both letters, he wrote that GW had transmitted to the secretary of state the “honor” of replying. He acknowledged the assistance provided by France to the United States during the Revolutionary War and noted the continued friendship between the two nations, before extending wishes for the future happiness and prosperity of the French nation (ASP, Foreign Relations description begins Walter Lowrie et al., eds. American State Papers. Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States. 38 vols. Washington, D.C., Gales and Seaton, 1832–61. description ends , 1:674).

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