George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Lafayette, 21 December 1784

From Lafayette

On Board the Nimph Newyork Harbour
december the 21st 1784

My dear General

I Have Received Your Affectionate letter Of the 8th inst., and from the known Sentiments of My Heart to You, You will Easely guess what My feelings Have Been in perusing the tender Expressions of Your friendship—No, my Beloved General, our late parting was Not By Any Means a last interview—My whole Soul Revolts at the idea—and Could I Harbour it an instant, indeed, my dear General, it would make me Miserable—I well see You Never will go to franee—the Unexpressible pleasure of Embracing You in My own House, of wellcoming You in a family where Your name is adored, I do not much Expect to Experience—But to You, I shall Return, and within the walls of Mount vernon we shall Yet often Speack of old times—my firm plan is to visit now and then My friends on this Side of the Atlantick, and the Most Beloved of all friends I Ever Had, or ever will Have Any where, is too Strong an inducement for me to Return to Him, nor to think that, when Ever it is possible, I will Renew my So pleasing visits to Mount vernon.

Since I Have left you, My dear General, we Have past through Philadelphia to trenton, where I was Happy to find a Numerous and well Choosen Congress—their testimonies of kindness to me, and My Answer to them You will see in the Newspapers—as to My Services abroad—it Has Been (on Motion Respecting what I told You) Universally decided that public Confidence in me was a Matter of Course—a doubt of which ought not to be Expressed—But as I know the Sense of Congress, and as M. jay Has accepted and Mr Jefferson will be Minister in france, My Situation in that Respect will Be very Agreable.1

Orders Have Been Sent to Canada to Reinforce the posts, put the lake vessels in Commission, and Repel force By force—But I think that, if once Congress Have the trade to Regulate, Mercantile interdictions will Set those people to Rights—altho’ party Spirit Have a little Subsided in Newyork, yet that City is not By Any Means Settled—How far from Boston!

Altho’ your Nephew is not Arrived, I Still Hope for the pleasure to See Him in paris 2—Gnl greene was in Hartfort when the Letter Reached Him, from where He Came to Newyork, and I Had the pleasure to Spend Some days with Him—inclosed I Send You a Small Cypher—should any public political Business Require a fuller one, I will write to You by a Complete Cypher I Have Had long Ago with mr jay’s present departement.3

M. Cary printer of the Volunteer journal Has Been obliged to fly for His life, and now lives at mr Sutter’s Hatter front Street in Philadelphia where He is Going to Set up a paper—a Letter from You, Becoming a Subscriber, and telling Him I Have Mentioned it to You, will the More oblige me as I Have promised Him to Recommend Him to My friends—He Now is an American and we Have nothing to do with His quarrel with the duke of Rutland—which disputes By the Bye seem to Subside and Vanish into Nothing—the french packet is not yet Arrived.4

Chev. de Caraman and Captain Grandchain Beg leave to offer their Respects to You, Mrs Washington, and all the family—My most affectionate tender Respects wait Upon Mrs Washington—I Beg she will give a kiss for me to the little girls, my friend tub—and I Beg mrs Stuart, the docter, mr lund Washington, and all our friends to Receive My Best Compliments—I Hope mr Harrison will Be Soon appointed, and I wish His Cousin may know it.5

Adieu, adieu, My dear General, it is with Unexpressible pain that I feel I am Going to be Severed from You By the atlantick— Every thing that Admiration, Respect, Gratitude, friendship, and filial love Can inspire, is Combined in my Affectionate Heart to devote me most tenderly to You—in your friendship I find a Delight which words Cannot Express—adieu, my dear general, it is not without Emotion that I write this word—altho’ I know I shall Soon visit You Again—Be attentive to Your Health—let me Hear from You Every month—adieu, adieu.



1Although GW complained to Clement Biddle on 1 Feb. 1785 of the paper’s irregular delivery, GW may have read notices of Lafayette’s progress northward in Claypoole’s Pennsylvania Packet and Daily Advertiser (Philadelphia), 7, 8, and 23 December. On 11 Dec. a committee of Congress formally assured Lafayette of Congress’s appreciation of and support for his efforts on behalf of the “commercial and other interests” of the United States (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 27:673, 683–85).

2Bushrod Washington was unable to take Lafayette up on his invitation to visit Paris. See GW to Lafayette, 15 Feb. 1785.

3Lafayette and GW seem rarely to have used the code, but for an example of Lafayette’s doing so, see his letter of 11 May 1785.

4Mathew Carey (1760–1839) fled Ireland on 25 Sept. 1784 to Philadelphia, where he remained the rest of his life. Lafayette first had contact with Carey when the young Irishman was living in exile at Passy near Paris in the years 1779 to 1783. Carey returned to Dublin in 1783 and with the help of his father, Christopher Carey, began publishing his Volunteer’s Journal. His attacks in the Journal on the leaders of the Irish government and his participation in a demonstration against the duke of Rutland, lord lieutenant of Ireland, led to his arrest and imprisonment in Newgate for a month, just before he left for America. Lafayette, in his brief stop in Philadelphia earlier this month after leaving GW at Annapolis, met with Carey and gave him four hundred dollars. The money from Lafayette helped make it possible for Carey to publish the first issue of the Pennsylvania Herald, launching his long and distinguished career in Philadelphia as an editor, writer, and bookseller.

5Lafayette probably was referring to Richard Harrison, Robert Townsend Hooe’s business associate who was in Spain at this time and became United States consul at Cadiz. The “Cousin” was probably Robert Hanson Harrison.

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