George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Friedrich Anton Mesmer, 16 June 1784

From Friedrich Anton Mesmer

Paris 16th June—1784.


The Marquiss La Fayette proposes to make known in the territory of the United States, a discovery of much importance to mankind. Being the Author of the discovery, to make it as diffusive as possible, I have formed a Society, whose only business it will be, to derive from it all the expected advantages—It has been the desire of the Society, as well as mine, that the Marquiss should communicate it to you—It appeared to us, that the man who merited most of his fellow-men, should be interested in the fate of every revolution, wc. had for it’s object, the good of humanity—I am with the admiration & respect that your virtues have ever inspired me with—Sir Your Obnt Servant


Translation, DLC:GW; LS, DLC:GW. David Stuart translated the letter for GW. A transcript of the ALS in French is in CD-ROM:GW.

Forced to leave Vienna in 1778, Friedrich Anton Mesmer (1734–1815) settled in Paris, where he became very popular for his treatment of patients through what he called “animal magnetism.” In 1784 after being denounced by other doctors as a charlatan, he was investigated by a French governmental commission, which included Benjamin Franklin among its members. Its report led to Mesmer’s retirement in Versailles.

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