George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas Waters Griffith, 7 December 1799

From Thomas Waters Griffith

Mount Vernon 7 Decem. 1799


Inclosed I take the Liberty to leave you a Letter of recommendation with which I was favord by Mr St John de Crœvecœur of Normandy, who I saw well in May last, and who desired to be respectfully rememberd to you, your Lady & Family.1

I also beg leave to present to you a copy of a Work on the Commerce of the United States, which I wrote and published at paris during the residence there of the last American Ministers2—please accept this same as a testimony of my own unfeigned esteem and Respect for your person and Character, and indulge me with a recollection of the Time and place it was wrote & published whenever you shall think proper to look into it. I have the honour to be Sir, yr mo. Obedient & mo. Humble Servant

Thos Waters Griffith


Thomas Waters Griffith (1767–1838), the son of Benjamin and Rachel Waters Griffith, lived as a child in Chester County, Pa., and in Baltimore. After serving briefly as a clerk in a Baltimore mercantile firm, Griffith sailed in August 1791 from Georgetown, Md., with seventeen hogsheads of tobacco to seek his fortune in France. He witnessed the main events of the Revolution in Paris in 1792, was imprisoned late in 1793, spent the winter of 1794 and 1795 in London, and returned to France in the spring of 1795 to remain until his departure for the United States in July 1799. Griffith made a valuable contribution to the study of the history of Maryland with his Sketches of the Early History of Maryland, published in Baltimore in 1821, and his Annals of Baltimore, published in 1824.

1The letter from Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur has not been found. Griffith reported in his “Reminiscences of an American Gentleman Resident in Paris from 1791 to 1799” that before he left France in July 1799 he “took charge of some letters from Madame de Lafayette to General Washington,” which have not been found either (Elizabeth Wormeley Latimer, My Scrap-Book of the French Revolution [Chicago, 1903], 68).

2Griffith wrote in his “Reminiscences”: “To counteract the excitement in France against the United States in 1797, I wrote an answer to a remark in the correspondence of the ambassador Fauchet [to the United States], relative to the influence of British trade in America. The title of my pamphlet was ‘L’Indépendence absolue des États Unis de l’Amérique prouvée par L’État actuel de leur Commerce’ [avec les nations européennes],” printed in Paris in 1798 (ibid., 64). On the day that Griffith brought the pamphlet to GW and wrote this letter at Mount Vernon, on 7 Dec., GW was dining “at Lord Fairfax’s” (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 6:378).

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