George Washington Papers

To George Washington from James McHenry, 18 November 1786

From James McHenry

Baltimore 18th Novr 1786

My Dear General.

I received your letter of the 16th this evening and am extremely sorry at the loss of the French mans pocket book; but I flatter myself that your name being on the letters will be a means of recovering it.1

With respect to Campion the conductor of the asses he has no other claim to your consideration than as a faithful servant. I collect from himself that he is an expert swordsman, and that his father is chief cook to the French King. You will see also his character by the inclosed bill for his boarding which he left for me to discharge. I mention these circumstances that you may be at no loss for his quality.2

The Marquis does not write to me himself about the asses or birds; but Poirey his secretary, tells me that every expence attending their transportation to this place with the passage of Campion, has been paid, and requests me to take the necessary steps to aid him in conveying them to your Excellency, alleging that the Marquiss at the time of his writing was at Strasburg. In additon to this the Mesrs Berards of L’orient3 who were entrusted with their embarkation recommended them to my care and speaks of them as a present from the marquiss.

I shall be uneasy till I hear that the pocket book is found: for I imagine there may be in it some confidential information. With great affection I am Dr Gen. Yours

James McHenry

Mortimer the bearer of this takes with him to your Excellency 7 Pheasants and 2 partridges being the number left by Mr. Campion. One of the pheasants died in this town while under his care. I have provided Mortimer with every necessary provision for them, and wish them safe to your Excellency.


1Letter not found. McHenry wrote GW again on 19 Nov., with this explanation in the first paragraph: “I wrote you last night by Mortimer who sailed this morning with the birds, it being just a possible case that his packet may arrive before the post.” The remainder of the letter is almost identical to this letter of 18 Nov. and is not printed here. The one addition of information is noted below. For the losing of McHenry’s letter by Jaques Campion, see McHenry to GW, 13 Nov., n.2.

2In his letter of 19 Nov. McHenry adds this about Campion: “He intends to teach the small-sword when he returns to this place should he meet with encouragement.” In his missing letter of 16 Nov. to McHenry, GW evidently raised questions about Jaques Campion’s social status, but in the end he decided “it best to err on the safe side, and therefore took him to my table” (GW to McHenry, 29 Nov.).

3McHenry is likely referring to Jean Jacques Bérard & Cie, previously named Berard frères upon its initial establishment in 1769 at Honfleur by Berard brothers Pierre (1744-1776) and Thomas-Simon (1741-1794). Subsequent to the formation of the firm, Thomas-Simon established a factory or trading depot in Pondicherry, and in 1775 opened a new firm in Lorient, named Berard Frères, Pourtalès et Cie [Compagnie], of which Jean-Jacques (1751-1817) was a partner. In 1776, the year of Pierre’s death, a third firm, Jean-Jacques Berard, Coulon et Cie., was established with a view to opening additional trading stations in the Indies. Four years later, yet a new firm was established, and by the time this letter was written, this commercial house had a significant role in the overseas trade, particularly with India and China, and had been instrumental in the expansion of France’s trade in the Indian Ocean. The Berard brothers were also among the founders of the new French Compagnie des Indes in 1785.

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