George Washington Papers
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To George Washington from Major General Lafayette, 24 October 1778

From Major General Lafayette

philadelphia the 24th october 1778

My dear General

You will be surpris’d to hear that I am yet in this city, and that I Could never get out till this time—My own business were1 immediately done, and I Receiv’d from Congress all possible Marks of kindness and affection—but public affairs do’nt go quite so fast, and I am detain’d for the expedition of projects, instructions, and Many papers which I am to Carry with me—the zeal for the Common Cause prevents my leaving this place before I am dismiss’d—however I will certainly Set out to Morrow after Noon at farthest.

Congress have been pleas’d to grant me an undetermin’d furlough by the Most polite and honorable Resolves, to which they have added a letter for the king in my behalf—I will show the whole to your excellency as soon as I’ll have the pleasure to See you, and as I hope to arrive two days after this letter I think it is useless to trouble you with Copies.2

I have Receiv’d an answer from lord Carlisle where he Conceals himself behind his dignity, and by a prudent foresight he objects to entering into any account in any change of Situation.3

There is a plan going on which I think you will approuve off—the idea was not suggested by me, and I acted in the affair a passive part—I will speack to your excellency in longer terms, and with more freedom at the first interview4—may I hope, My dear general, that you will order the inclos’d letters to be Sent immediately to Boston, as some of them Bring5 orders for a frigatte to put herself in Readiness.6 With the highest respect and most tender affection I have the honor to be Your excellency’s Most obedient humble servant

lafayette

ALS, PEL. After the war, Lafayette edited this and other letters he wrote to GW during the war, sometimes altering, inserting, or omitting words to clarify meaning, and sometimes obliterating entire passages. The original text has been restored where possible; see notes 1 and 5.

1Lafayette later changed this word to “was.”

2For this resolution and letter of 22 Oct., see JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 12:1054.

3For Lafayette’s proposed duel with Lord Carlisle, see Lafayette to GW, 24 Sept., and notes 3 and 5 to that document. For Carlisle’s letter to Lafayette of 11 Oct., refusing to be drawn into a duel with him, see Lafayette Papers description begins Stanley J. Idzerda et al., eds. Lafayette in the Age of the American Revolution: Selected Letters and Papers, 1776–1790. 5 vols. Ithaca, N.Y., 1977-83. description ends , 2:189.

4Lafayette is referring to Congress’s plan for invading Canada. A congressional committee had questioned Lafayette during his stay in Philadelphia about the possibility of French land forces participating in such an expedition, and Lafayette had been circumspect in his replies (see Lafayette Papers description begins Stanley J. Idzerda et al., eds. Lafayette in the Age of the American Revolution: Selected Letters and Papers, 1776–1790. 5 vols. Ithaca, N.Y., 1977-83. description ends , 2:192–93, n.2, and 196, n.3). The need for such circumspection had been reinforced by GW’s aide-de-camp John Laurens in conversation during Lafayette’s visit to GW’s headquarters at Fishkill in early October (see John Laurens to Henry Laurens, 7 Oct., in Laurens Papers description begins Philip M. Hamer et al., eds. The Papers of Henry Laurens. 16 vols. Columbia, S.C., 1968–2003. description ends , 14:392–94).

5Lafayette later changed this word to “give.”

6These enclosures have not been identified.

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