James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Richard Peters, 4 February 1796

From Richard Peters

Feby 4 1796

Dear Sir

I enclose you the Memorial I troubled you about which I should sooner have sent but that I thought it best to accompany it with a Translation. It is addressed under a mistaken Idea of the old Arrangement of Congress. But this will not affect the Substance. This young Man never had a Commission tho’ he did the Duty he mentions. He came to this Country & left it with the Marquis.1 The Facts he states can be ascertained by those he refers to. If you think it necessary Mr Ternant will call on you.2

Monsr Poiret is a Citizen of the present Republic of France. He lives at Paris & maintains a Wife & 2 or 3 Children by the Labour of his Hands. I believe he is a Writer in some Office but whether public or private I know not. At any Rate he is poor & deserving a better Situation. What can be done for him you can best judge. I am with true Esteem your obed Servt.

R Peters

RC (DLC). Addressed by Peters. Docketed by JM. Enclosure not found.

1Joseph-Léonard Poirey (b. 1748) was a French army officer who accompanied Lafayette to America and served with him in Virginia in 1780–81. He declined to seek a commission from Congress and, like Lafayette, waived any claim for a salary. After the Revolution he returned to France where he held various military posts until August 1792. While in the National Guard of Paris, he solicited a brevet commission from the U.S., and Washington, as a gesture to Lafayette, submitted his name to the Senate on 31 May 1790. After 1792, “misfortune and distress” encouraged him to seek compensation for his American services, and Secretary of War James McHenry, on 5 Apr. 1796, urged the House to consider “the original justness of his claim.” The business dragged on for years, until Poirey finally won a settlement of $3,486 in 1819 (Gilbert Bodinier, Dictionnaire des Officiers de l’Armée royale qui ont combattu aux Etats-Unis pendant la Guerre d’Independence [Vincennes, 1982], p. 384; Senate Exec. Proceedings description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America (3 vols.; Washington, 1828). description ends , 1:44–45; ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States … (38 vols.; Washington, 1832–61). description ends , Claims, p. 183; Jefferson to Lafayette, 23 Nov. 1818 and 8 Mar. 1819 [DLC: Jefferson Papers]; U.S. Statutes at Large description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America … (17 vols.; Boston, 1848–73). description ends , 3:561).

2Jean Baptiste, chevalier de Ternant, had been French minister to the U.S. between 1791 and 1793, and he remained in America in the 1790s (Bodinier, Dictionnaire des Officiers de l’Armée royale, pp. 453–54).

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