George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Benjamin Franklin, 15 January 1781

To Benjamin Franklin

New Windsor Jany 15th 1781

Dear Sir,

I have the honor of addressing this letter to you by Colonel Laurens, one of my Aid De Camps, whom Congress has been pleased to Commission for particular purposes to the Court of Versailles.1

Justice to the character of this Gentleman conspiring with motives of friendship will not permit me to let him depart without testifying to you the high opinion I have2 of his worth as a Citizen & as a Soldier. You will find him a man of abilities, perfectly acquainted with our circumstances, and exemplary for his honor and candor, I can with pleasure add assurances of his attachment to you personally and of his perfect disposition to conform to his instructions by availing himself of your advice & assista⟨nce⟩ upon all occasions;3 and, with th⟨is⟩ conviction, I confidently take th⟨e⟩ liberty of recommending him to your friendship.

The present infinitel⟨y⟩ critical posture of our affairs, m⟨ade⟩ it essential in the opinion of Cong⟨ress⟩ to send from hence a person who had been eye-witness to their p⟨ro⟩gress, and who was capable of placing them before the Court of France in a more full and strikin⟨g⟩ point of light than was proper ⟨or⟩ even practicable by any written communications. It was als⟨o⟩ judged of great importance that the person should be able to give a military view of them and to enter into military details and arrangements—The choice has fall⟨en⟩ upon Colonel Laurens as a Gentleman who unites all these advan⟨ta⟩ges and adds to them an integrit⟨y⟩ and an independence of characte⟨r⟩ which renders him superior to any spirit of party.

What I have said to him, I beg leave to repeat to you, that to me nothing appears more evident than that the period of our opposition will very shortly arrive, if our Allies cannot afford us that effectual aid, particularly in money and in a naval superiority which are now solicited. Colonel Laurens is so fully possessed of my ideas—of our situation and wants—and has himself so thorough a knowledge of them that I should trouble you to no purpose by enlarging.4

You may place entire confidence in him, and in the assurances that I am with the warmest Sentiments of respect esteem & regard—Dr Sir Yr most Obedt & most Hble Servt

Go Washington

ALS, FrPMAE; Df, DLC:GW; copy, PPAmP: Benjamin Franklin Papers; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Where tight binding of the ALS obscures words or portions of words, the text has been supplied in angle brackets from the draft, which is in the writing of GW’s aide-de-camp Alexander Hamilton. GW wrote the dateline and the name of the addressee on the draft.

2Hamilton wrote “entertain” on the draft.

3Congress had instructed Laurens to avail himself of Franklin’s “information and influence” (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 , 18:1185).

4For a summary of their discussions, see GW to Laurens, this date (first letter).

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