George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Edmund Randolph, 9 October 1794

From Edmund Randolph


Philadelphia October 9. 1794.


By the Atlantic, which arrived from Liverpool last evening, papers have been received from London, as low down as the 16th of August. Two of them the Sun, and the Star, which are supposed to be rivals, accord nearly in the same story of Robespierre’s fall.1 While I lament, that this, which is my only fear for the French Revolution, seems to be growing rapidly, and that the want of confidence in those, who mount to the top, renders it extremely difficult to foresee, how any adequate executive can be established; I feel myself happy, that Colo. Monroe’s instructions forbid him to attach himself to the uncertain fate of any individuals.2 This is the only effectual security for the United States amidst such a series of unprecedented revolutions, public and private. So signal an event, if true, must make a part of his first dispatches; and possibly may demand some very special instructions to him.

I endeavoured to throw myself into Mr Fauchet’s way yesterday without effect; for at so delicate a moment our interview, if Robespierre should become the subject, must be perfectly accidental. If Robespierre is no more, Fauchet totters.

I just left Mrs Washington, who informs me, that all the family are in good health. I have the honor to be, sir, with the highest respect and affectionate attachment yr mo. ob. serv.

Edm: Randolph


1Maximilien-François-Marie-Isidore de Robespierre (1758–1794), a lawyer from Arras, was elected to the Estates General in 1789. Becoming a leader of the Jacobin party, he was elected a delegate from Paris to the National Convention, where he advocated the execution of the king and the expulsion of the Girondists. Elected to the Committee of Public Safety in July 1793, he was famously associated with the purges that became known as the Reign of Terror, until his opponents united against him and he was executed on 28 July 1794.

The Sun on 13 Aug. and the Star on 14 Aug. reported briefly that letters from Frankfort “mention in very positive terms” that on 27 July “an Insurrection” at Paris had “proved fatal” to Robespierre “and his Party.” Both papers followed up with more extensive accounts. Among the details appearing in the Sun on 14 and 16 Aug. and the Star on 15 Aug. were initial reports that Robespierre had denounced about 100 delegates on 26 July but had later killed himself when the convention did not support him; subsequent reports that he and a number of his supporters had been ordered for trial, found guilty, and then executed on 1 Aug.; and reports of a massacre taking place in Paris.

2For Randolph’s instructions to James Monroe of 10 June, see ASP 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 , Foreign Relations, 1:668–69.

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