From George Washington
Mount Vernon 8th. Octr. 1797.
My dear Sir,
The ardent desire which Mr. La Fayette1 feels to embrace his Parents and Sisters in the first moment of their liberation,2 induces him to set out for New York, or further Eastward, in search of a Passage to France.
It was my opinion that he had better have awaited authentic accounts of this event; but his eagerness to see his friends—the fear of a Winter passage—and a conviction that he is under no predicament that would render his reception in France at all embarrassing to him, even if he should be disappointed in meeting his friends there, has prevailed.
I am sure it is unnecessary that I should recommend him and Mr. Frestal to your civilities while they may be detained in New York; or to your aid in procuring them a passage to France: but I will request, if circumstances should call for greater pecuniary means than they possess, that you would be so good as to furnish them, and draw upon me for the amount, & it shall be paid at sight.
Present Mrs Washington and myself in the most affectionate manner to Mrs. Hamilton—and be assured always of the very high esteem and regard with which
I am Yours
ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.
1. This is a reference to George Washington Motier Lafayette, son of the Marquis de Lafayette, who had arrived in the United States in the late summer of 1795. For information on young Lafayette and his tutor, Felix Frestel, see H to Washington, October 16, 26, November 19, 26, December 24, 27–30, 1795, March 7, April 2, 9, 1796; Washington to H, October 29, November 18, 23, 28, December 22, 1795, February 13, 1796.
2. In 1792 the Austrians arrested Lafayette and handed him over to the Prussians. In 1794 the Prussians returned Lafayette to the Austrians, who imprisoned him in the fortress of Olmütz in Moravia. See “Cabinet Meeting. Opinion on Writing to the King of Prussia Concerning the Marquis de Lafayette,” January 14, 1794. For the several unsuccessful efforts to arrange Lafayette’s escape, see H to William Bradford, June 13, 1795; Bradford to H, July 2, 1795; H to Washington, January 19, 1796; Washington to H, February 13, May 8, 1796; Justus Erich Bollman to H, April 13, 1796. In October, 1795, Madame de Lafayette and her daughters arrived at Olmütz. On September 19, 1797, at the intercession of the French, Lafayette and his family were released from Olmütz and settled temporarily in Holstein. In February, 1798, George Washington Motier Lafayette and Frestel arrived in Holstein from the United States.