George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Edmund Randolph, 15 May 1794

From Edmund Randolph

Philadelphia May 15. 1794


I do myself the honor of inclosing to you some very afflicting letters from M. de la Fayette to his intimate friends in Europe. They are accompanied by a letter from Tollendal, addressed to you, which shews the reason of their being sent.1 Many of them are in French; and I will have them translated, if you should not think, that those, which are in English, and in the same unhappy strain, would distress, without adding any thing to the ability to relieve. If I do not mistake the hints from Mr Lacolombe, these letters are submitted to you, in order to interest you in making, or causing to be made, a demand of M. La Fayette, as a citizen of the United States. I presume, however, that the step, which you have already taken, will be found to be a satisfactory tribute of personal affection, and, altho’ not more than public duty warranted, yet as much, as actual circumstances will permit.2 I have the honor, sir, to be with the greatest respect yr mo. ob. serv.

Edm: Randolph

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

1The letter to GW from Trophime-Gérard, marquis de Lally-Tollendal (1751-1830), has not been found. The letters from Lafayette have not been identified, but they may have included his letter to Lally-Tollendal of 2 Oct. 1793, his letters to Louis-Saint-Ange Morel, chevalier de La Colombe, of 10 Dec. 1793 and 3 Jan. 1794, and his letter to his former aides of 3 Jan. 1794. In the second of Lafayette’s two letters of 10 Dec. to La Colombe, he asked that "les copies ou extraits relatifs à ma captivité soient adressés au général Washington et à M. Jefferson par les ambassadeurs, et par Mme Church à son beau-frère, le colonel Hamilton" (Correspondance Inédite de La Fayette, 223-24, 236-42, 254-59). Lally-Tollendal was a deputy to the Estates General in 1789, but he left the assembly and the country later that year. Returning in 1792 to take part in the defense of the king, he was arrested, but he escaped execution and emigrated to Great Britain later that year. He was the author of a number of works in opposition to the revolution, including one translated as A Defence of the French Emigrants. Addressed to the People of France (London, 1797).

2Randolph was referring to GW’s letter of 15 Jan. 1794 to Frederick William II of Prussia, requesting, as a personal favor, the release of Lafayette on parole.

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