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To George Washington from Cottineau de Kerloguin, 4 September 1788

From Cottineau de Kerloguin

Port au Prince [Santo Domingo]
Sept. 4th 1788.

Honourable Sir!

Ever Since the Glorious Peace which fixt the American Independance, have I wished for a favourable Opportunity to address Your Excellency, which I have at last obtained through My good Friend Mr J. C. Zollickoffer who has the Honour of presenting this Letter.1

So Conspicious a part, as Your Excellency has had in this perilous affair, in Conducting the same Under so many Difficulties, will be handed down to affter ages by History, But Whilst all the World admires Your Desinterested ⟨by⟩ Your So Generously remembring those brave Officers who fought Under Your Banners; in instituting the Order of Cincinatus as a token of their Bravery inspires even Foreigners who have a Share in the American Contest with a Noble Ardour to become Members of Such a Patriotic and Herois Order.

It is this which Occasions this address to Your Excellency, I being own of those Foreigners by Birth a Natif of France, who early in the War became Animated with those Principles of Liberty even before the Alliance with France, fitted out the Pallas a Stout, well armed and Manned Fregatte of 24 Guns, and loden with Warlike Stores, which early in the Spring 1778 beaught in to North Carolina, where I entered Immediately in the Servise with My Good Friend Mr Zollickoffer, building with my Own Sailors Fort Hancok, on point Lookout as bygoing Commission from the State of North Carolina certifies.2

But the Pallas having taken her Cargo on Board, I entered likwise the servise of the United States in Naval Department, and Sailing for France fall in with the British Fregatte La Brune, which I engaged and would have taken her to a Certainty had not an other Fregatte come to her Relief; and which Action being reported to His Most Crist. Majesty Purchassed the Pallas and again entrusted her to my Command and Confirming my Commission from Congress with Order to join the famous Paul Jones on a Cruise.

How we Sailled and fell in with the Briti[s]h Fregatte Seraphis of 44 Guns, and the Fregatte Scarborough and took them both are facts so memorable, as they well authenticated. the Seraphis Fregatte was taken by Paul Jones, and the Scarborough by me. this induced His Most Crist. Majesty to refer on Paul Jones the Military Order of Merite, and Nominated me an Officer of His Royal Marine Nevertheless continuing me in the servise of the United States and I am this Moment Under Orders if any War should brackout Between France or Great Brittan to Join Immediately either the French, or the American Navy.3

Thus Circumstanced I approach Your Excellency as Great Master of this Order of Cincinatus in flattering hopes if my Servises come within the prescribed Rules and Limits of this Noble Order I may be Admitted and Incorporated therein. Any of the Usual Expences will be Defray’d By my Friend Mr Zollickoffer who will Transmit to me the Deploma. He has long be[en] wishing for the same admission but as he is on the Spot he can pleade his own cause before Your Excellency.4 In this happy Expectation, I have the Honour to remain Respectful Most Dutyful and Humble servt

Cottineau De Kerloguin

L, DSoC.

Denis-Nicolas Cottineau de Kerloguin (c.1745–1808) went from France after the American Revolution to Santo Domingo where at this time he was a coffee planter and had been elected to the French National Assembly. In the 1790s he settled in Philadelphia until 1803 when he moved with his family to Savannah, where he lived until his death.

1John Conrad Zollickoffer (Zollicofer; 1742–1797) served as a captain in the North Carolina forces from 1778 to 1780 when Cottineau de Kerloguin was in the state. No record of his having delivered this letter has been found.

2Cottineau arrived at Point Lookout in February 1778 and sent Congress an invoice of the cargo of his ship. Congress agreed to buy those articles listed in the invoice that were “necessary for the Army” (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 10:298, 333). For the negotiations to purchase Cottineau’s cargo, see Thomas Craike to Gov. Richard Caswell, 11 April 1778, Caswell to Craike, 18 April 1778, Caswell to Henry Laurens, 2 May 1778, and Joseph Purnell to Caswell, 5 May 1778, in N.C. State Records, description begins Walter Clark, ed. The State Records of North Carolina. 16 vols., numbered 11-26. Winston and Goldsboro, N.C., 1895–1907. description ends 13:84–85, 93–94, 111–12, 119; for the building of the fort, see Thomas Chadwick to Gov. Richard Caswell, 11 April 1778, and Cottineau to Caswell, 12 May 1778, ibid., 85–86, 126–27.

3As commander of the Pallas in 1779 Cottineau de Kerloguin took part in the famous engagement between the Bonhomme Richard and Serapis in September. He was elected in 1795 an honorary member of the Society of the Cincinnati by the Philadelphia society.

4GW on 21 Feb. 1789 gave his usual reply to such requests, saying that he was forwarding Cottineau de Kerloguin’s letter to Gen. Henry Knox to be considered at the next General Meeting of the Society of the Cincinnati.

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