George Washington Papers
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To George Washington from Robert R. Livingston, 10 May 1794

From Robert R. Livingston

New York 10th May 1794

Dear Sir

Your letter of the 29th Apl with which I was honoured having reached ClerMont the day I left it for this place It was not in my power to return an earlier answer consistant with the deliberation which its importance merrited.

Tho nothing could be more flattering to me than to be the means under your favourable auspices & instructions of cementing the union between France & America countries equaly1 interested in each others felicity & upon whose prosperity or ruin must in some sort depend the extension or abolition of freedom in the civilized world—Yet having long since had reason to suppose that I shd not soon be called to any public employment out of this State I cannot make immediate arrangments for a permanent residence abroad & am therefore compelled to decline the honor of the nomination which you are pleased to offer to make in my behalf—Permit me however sir to assure you that I have recd this mark of your attention with infinite sensibility since it affords me a2 convincing proof that my enemies have been less succesful than they imagined in depriving me of your favorable opinion which I always have & always shall esstimate far above the honours & emoluments of office.3 I have the honor to be Dear Sir with the most respectful attatchment & the highest esteem &c.

ADf, NHi: Robert R. Livingston Papers. What evidently was the ALS of this letter was offered for sale by Parke-Bernet Galleries, sale 3201, 4 May 1971, item 396, and by Paul C. Richards, catalog 67 [n.d.], item 91. Both listings indicate that the letter was dated 10 April 1794, but the Parke-Bernet listing states that GW docketed the letter "From Robt. R. Livingston 10th May 1794," and that date must be correct since Livingston references GW’s letter of 29 April.

1A partial transcription of the ALS printed in the Paul C. Richards catalog indicates that Livingston substituted the word "deeply" for "equaly" in the letter sent to GW.

2The word "the" precedes "a" on the draft and neither word is marked out, but the Richards transcription indicates that "a" was the word chosen for the ALS.

3Livingston described more fully his reasons for declining this appointment in a letter to James Monroe of 16 May. After mentioning his personal circumstances and concerns about the politics of New York, he continued: "Besides that differing so much as I do from the g[ovt] in Administration I am satisfied that I should either be compelled to violate my own principles by yielding to theirs or risk my reputation by incurring their resentment" (DLC: James Monroe Papers; see also Papers of James Monroe, 2:723-24).

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