George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Mauduit du Plessis, 20 July 1786

From Mauduit du Plessis

[New York, 20 July 1786]

I have the honour to transmit to your excellency, a letter that the marquis de la fayette had directed me, to hand you, requesting me, to Send it wery Soon.1

the Count D’Estaing has also, given me, one for your excellency, & flatted my Self to put it in your excellencys hands; but at present, I Send you a copy of it.2

I am Just arrived from france, on my way to Georgia, to take posession of a wery considerable tract of land which I have purchased at Paris, of M. John McQueen.3

this Calculated steep which I have taken with pleasure, makes me a Citizen of america, and, I Delight in believing that my children Shall imbibe from me the respect Justly due to a nation which has discovered So many virtues.

if I have taken great freedom in Speaking of my Self to your Excellency, my Design is to prove to you; that as an american Citezen, at this time, I have tittle to your good will; and that as a man my Self ⟨lone⟩ will be exceedingly flatered to present to your Excellency, my respect and hommage in these two Cases I pray your Excellency to recieve with Kindness my wishes to admired in Personn the whole assemblage of Virtues, in the calm retreat of mount vernon.

I Speack not your excellency, of Count D’Estaing, this man who has not his equal, in Europe, never mentions your name but with sentiments fulls of admiration and the highest veneration, however your Excellency Well Knows his Perfict attachement to you.

if your excellency will do me the honnoure to give me ad vice of the reception, of the letter from the marquis de la Fayette, to whom I Shall writte wery Soon, I pray you to adresse to me your orders, to the Care of the Consul of france at Philadelphia, and where I Shall attend them4—I am with the highest respect your excellency’s Most obedient and Wery humble Servat.

Translation, DLC:GW; ALS, in French, advertised for sale in George D. Smith, (“American and Foreign Autographs”), item 147, no date. The translation was docketed by GW and headed “traduction de ma Lettre au General Washington.”

Thomas-Antoine Mauduit du Plessis (1753–1791) began serving in the Continental army in 1777 and from 1780 served under Rochambeau. For his unhappy experiences in Georgia, see Mauduit du Plessis to GW, 12 Feb. 1787.

1Lafayette wrote in his letter to GW of 24 May it would “be either forwarded or delivered by M. duplessis.”

2There are in DLC:GW three copies of d’Estaing’s letter from Paris of 9 May, one in French signed by d’Estaing, one a translation by David Stuart endorsed by GW, and another translation, also endorsed by GW, which may be the “copy sent by du Plessis.” The last of these reads: “Sir, One of my fellow Soldiers, in the East Indies, whose least merit has been the Saving of my life, Mr Duplessis, Brigadier of the King’s armies, and ancient Governor of the Island of St Vincents, will have the honour of remitting this Letter to your Excellency; he intreats me to recommend him to you. An officer of Distinction, who has placed a part of his fortune in a Country which owes all to your eminent virtues, Stands in need of no other recommendation to your Excellency’s favour, your are undoubtedly pleased when you see any one leave his Country in order to participate of a happiness, to the foundation of which you have been instrumental. Behold then a Soldier, who retires to live under the Shadow of the tree which you have planted and Supported. Mr Duplessis, is worthy of all the advantages that may result therefrom, by his Sentiments, I dare answer for him, as for myself. To render hommage to the Great man who has most wisely performed the greates[t] actions, admire the only and respectable mortal who has produced the greatest resultats the human mind is Capable of Conceiving, is the Desire of my friend⟨:⟩ He willingly undertakes to present you my hommage and eternal attachment and respect with which I am of your Excellency’s The most humble and most obedient Servant Estaing.”

GW did not acknowledge d’Estaing’s letter until 19 Nov., when he wrote from Mount Vernon: “Sir, I have had the honor of receiving your letter of the 9th of May; by the hands of Genl Duplissis who did me the honor to spend a few days with me on his way to Georgia. I am highly obliged to you for introducing to my acquaintance a Gentleman of so much worth & merit: his own personal qualifications are sufficient to ensure to him the regard and affection of all good men; but when to these are added his being the intimate friend and companion, & having preserved the life of Count d’Estaing, he will be doubly esteemed by every one who has the honor of knowing you. I sincerely wish that he may find the Country answerable to his expectation, & be induced to reside among us; if he should, America will make the valuable acquisition of a useful & worthy Citizen.

“I need not tell you, Sir, how happy I should be to have the honor of paying my respects to you in this Country. Every person who tastes the sweets of American liberty, must esteem & revere you, & those other great characters among our good allies, who by your noble & generous exertions, were highly instrumental in procuring it. I have the honor to be &a G: Washington” (LB, DLC:GW).

3John McQueen (1751–1807), originally from South Carolina, moved to Georgia after the Revolution. He served in the legislature of both states and was a major land speculator. During the Revolution McQueen served in the navy and in the militia of South Carolina.

4GW wrote to Mauduit du Plessis in answer to this letter of 20 July, from Mount Vernon, on 28 July: “Sir, It is with great pleasure I take the earliest opportunity of acknowledging the receipt of the letter you did me the honor to write to me from New York on the 20th inst:, accompanied by an original letter from M: le Marquis de la Fayette—& by the copy of one from Mr le Comte d’Estaing.

“Such ample testimonials of merit from such distinguished characters, cannot fail to ensure you the most grateful reception throughout America in general; but permit me Sir, to add for myself in particular, that I shall be unfeignedly happy in receiving you under the peaceful shades of Mount Vernon, & in seeking occasions to render you any services which it may be in my power to offer.

“In the mean time (as I hope soon to have the pleasure of seeing you personally) I will content myself with felicitating you on your safe arrival in the United States, while I congratulate my Country on the acquisition of so valuable & dignified a Citizen. With sentiments of perfect esteem & consideration I have the honor to be &c. Geo: Washington” (LB, DLC:GW). Mauduit du Plessis visited GW at Mount Vernon from 14 to 19 Aug. en route to Georgia.

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