Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to George Washington, 5 May 1793

To George Washington

May 5. 93.

Th: Jefferson has the honor to inclose to the President a letter delivered him this day by Mr. de Noailles.

RC (DNA: RG 59, MLR); addressed: “The Presid[…]”; endorsed by Tobias Lear. Tr (Lb in same, SDC). Not recorded in SJL.

Louis Marie, Vicomte de Noailles, a brother-in-law of the Marquis de Lafayette who had served with the French army in America during the Revolutionary War and distinguished himself at Yorktown, arrived in Philadelphia on board the New Pigou with a group of other French émigrés on 3 May 1793 and was immediately received by the President, who among other things inquired about the condition of the imprisoned marquis. The letter delivered by Noailles for the President has not been found, but evidently it led Washington and TJ to believe that Noailles had come to America to second Lafayette’s request that the United States intervene to secure his release from Prussian captivity-for on 6 May TJ took the unusual step of sending the President a copy of a letter on this subject he had written to the American ministers in Paris and London seven weeks before. However, there is no evidence to indicate that Noailles raised the issue at a subsequent meeting he claimed to have had with the President. The letter from Noailles came through TJ’s hands apparently because Washington this day asked the Secretary of the Treasury, one of the vicomte’s old comrades in arms, to inform Noailles that the President preferred to receive any written or oral communications he might wish to make on public matters “through the proper channel,” which in this case could only have meant the Secretary of State (Noailles to Washington, [3 May 1793?], DLC: Washington Papers, which does not appear to be the enclosed letter; TJ to Washington, 5 May 1793; Syrett, Hamilton description begins Harold C. Syrett and others, eds., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, New York, 1961–87, 27 vols. description ends , xiv, 414–15; Windham Papers description begins The Windham Papers: The Life and Correspondence of the Rt. Hon. William Windham, 1750–1810, Boston, 1913, 2 vols. description ends , i, 122; AHR description begins American Historical Review, 1895– description ends , xxxviii [1933], 633).

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