George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Joseph-Léonard Poirey, 12 May 1796

Paris Ce 12. may 1796.

A Son Excéllence Le Général Washington

J’ai eu l’honneur d’adresser à votre Excéllence Un Mémoire pour obtenir du Congrès dêtre placé Sur la liste des personnes qui ont Servi honorablement l’Amérique.

les Circomstances me forcent à demander cette faveur; elles m’ont Séparé de Votre fils, qui Seul etoit l’arbitre de mon Sort et dont je me Suis plû d’imiter le desintéressement. Sans Espoir d’avancement dans ma Patrie, sans ressources, Sans fortune Permettez moi de vous demander votre appui et de faire pour moi auprès du Congrès, ce que feroit le Général S’il etoit auprès de Vous.

Je dois à votre bienveillance le Brevet d’officier et mon admission aux Cincinnati; ces marques honorables me permettent de m’adresser au Congrès. C’est vVous, mon Général, qui pouvez rendre homage à la vérité et [lui] demander pour moi ce Qui m’auroit été accordé à mon départ d’amérique, et que par modestie je n’osois Solliciter.

Je Supplie, Votre Excéllence, de pardonner à mon importunité et d’agréer l’Immuable et tres Respectueux attachement avec lequel Je Suis de Votre Excéllence Le tres humble et tres obeissant Serviteur



To his Excellency General Washington

I have had the honor of addressing to your Excellency a Memoire in order to obtain from Congress a place in the list of persons who have honorably served America.

Circumstances compel me to ask this favor; they have separated me from your Son, who alone was the Arbiter of my fate, and whose disinterestedness I thought proper to imitate. Without hope of advancement in my own Country, destitute of resources, and of fortune; permit me to ask your support, and to beg you to do with Congress, that which the General would, were he near you.

I am indebted to your goodness for my Official Brevet and admission into the Cincinnati. These honorable marks lead me to address myself to Congress. It’s you, my General who can render homage to the truth, and who can ask of them for me that which would have been allowed me on my departure from America, and which modesty prevented me from soliciting of them.

I pray your Excellency to pardon my importunity and to accept the immutable and very respectful attachment with which I am, Your most humble and most obt servant


DLC: Papers of George Washington.


Paris 12th 1796

To the Congress of the United States of America

A just claim ought not to suffer any thing with a free people for its being made at a late hour.

With this sentiment I was strongly penetrated before the formation of the demand I address to Congress.

I shall state to them in a few words my claims to their benevolence, and the Circumstances compelling me to state those claims to them. my name will not be recollected by brilliant services, but it will retrace the remembrance of those of General la Fayette under whose orders I served as secretary Aide de Camp during the American War. His Excellency General Washington has witnessed my fulfilling those functions which belong to that Grade, and if great affairs should have led him to lose the recollection of me, I claim the testimony of his Excellency Thomas Jefferson, Gouverneur Morris, M. Du Portail, M. de Ternant, De laumoy & Rochefontaine who have witnessed my going over with them their honorable career.

At my departure from America, I conceived I brot with me a compensation sufficiently honorable for my services, in the esteem of my Chiefs, and of my brother soldiers: Though destitute of a fortune, a sentiment for which I honor myself prevented me from thinking of my interest, and led me to rest for the future on the friendship of the Patron who had fixed to me my fate and given me his esteem.

I made it a duty to imitate his example of disinterestedness. I should have thought myself unworthy of pursuing the success of the Great cause which he had espoused, if I had drawn his attention from it, to myself, or led him to converse with others about me.

The circumstances which have separated us have left me without resource, and without the hope of advancing in my own Country; In this situation I ought naturally to turn my attention towards that which the past may have acquired me.

I have observed America at once just and generous like a mother rewarding those who became her children by fighting for her. I conceived I could remind the chiefs of her Government that having served as Secretary Aide de Camp, of the General that having been charged with the Correspondence of the american Generals, with that of M. De vergennes Minister for foreign affairs; that having never quitted even for a moment and amidst battles, General la Fayette, and that being in all these respects honored with the Esteem of General Washington, I could according to the established regulations by Congress, have a right to the Compensation they allow to the officers who embraced and defended the cause of American independence. I conceived that a free man might accept, sollicit, even without a blush, of a free nation whom he has served, and who is too just to refuse to him whose situation compels him to claim it, a place in the honorable list of those, whose services she rewards.


An officer in the service of

the United States of America

and member of the Society of


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