George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Vans Murray, 26 August 1797

From William Vans Murray

The Hague 26 Augt 1797

Dear Sir,

Though I did myself the honour of writing very lately to you,1 the pleasing event of which a letter this morning from Hamburgh gives a prospect, induces me rather to trespass upon your patience than to omit for a moment the intelligence that there is every reason to expect the liberation of M. Fayette.

I will extract part of Mr Williams’s (the Consul’s) letter of 22d Augt 2—he says that “Mr Childs who left this (Hamburgh) yesterday, on his way to Paris may have had the pleasure of informing you that the Marquis Fayette & his companions will soon be on their route hither. The Emperor has ordered their release provided the necessary steps be taken here to convey them off the territory of the Empire to Holland or America, eight days after their arrival at Hamburgh. The Imperial minister received instructions for that purpose which he communicated to me. I am not authorised to do anything for the Marquis officially, but Mr Childs will inform you that he, Mr Jay & myself agreed to make the arrangements & provide him & his family with a passage & every necessary, if wanted. I waited on the minister yesterday, & mentioned measures we are ready to take, which, with a similar offer from Mr Parish, will, no doubt, procure an immediate release. The Marquis will probably proceed by the shortest route to Holland. His friends appear to wish it. They expect perhaps, he will soon have leave to enter France, & recover his property. But if he concluds to go to America, & the State of his health will not admit of his embarking immediately, he will no doubt, have all the indulgence he desires, & be permitted to reside at Altona. I shall render him every service in my power &c.”3

Should it be in any way within my reach to render services to M. Fayette I shall seize upon the occasion both out of respect to his virtues & as an opportunity of testifying in a way the most congenial to your feelings my profound and affectionate attachment Sir to you. I am with perfect & most respectful esteem Sir Yr mo. ob. hble Sert

W. V. Murray

P.S. It will be pleasing to you Sir to know that a Treaty is agreed upon between Tunis and the U. States—but not signed—owing it is said to the illness of some great man of the court—a sum of about 170,000 Dollars will be wanting—This will be supply’d in Europe.4

ALS, PHi: Gratz Collection.

1No letter to GW from Murray written after Murray’s arrival in the Netherlands on 7 June 1797 has been found.

2Samuel Williams of Massachusetts, who was named U.S. consul at Hamburg on 1 Dec. 1796, also wrote on 22 Aug. to Rufus King in London about Lafayette’s impending release, a copy of which King enclosed in his letter to GW of 6 September. It is printed in note 2 of that letter.

3Francis Childs was a former New Yorker living in Europe. On 17 Feb. 1797 GW nominated him to be U.S. consul at Geneva. Altona is now a suburb of Hamburg in Germany. For Lafayette’s own account of his release from the prison at Olmütz, see his letter to GW written from Hamburg on 6 Oct. while en route to Denmark with his family. John Parish preceded Samuel Williams as U.S. consul at Hamburg.

4The treaty of peace and friendship with Tunis was signed on 28 Aug. 1797.

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