George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Mauduit du Plessis, 12 February 1787

From Mauduit du Plessis

Savannah 12th Feby 1787.


I have not forgot the attention with which your Excellency treated me when I was at Mount Vernon, nor the polite reception which Madam Washington gave me; I beg you both to accept of my warmest acknowledgements.1

From the moment I left you, my General, I have had reason to complain of the lot which has persecuted me, for, a few days after, I was thrown, my horse, Chair & myself, into a Gully 18 feet deep. A little beyond Monforts’s mill, passing over a bridge, it broke down under my horse; providence preserved me, for if the top of my Chair had been down I should have crushed my head in a thousand peices, but its being up, saved me from the disaster; my horse was not so fortunate as myself, for he was dangerously wounded so that I was obliged to leave him at Halifax. After having travelled this far, finding the bridges broken, & the rivers very high, I was obliged to embark, with my horses for Charleston; this passage which is commonly made in 24 hours, I was 19 days in performg & suffered greatly from hungar & thirst—6 days of the passage we were in imminent danger of perishing, & finally, 3 hours after I landed, the vessel was lost upon the bar.2

I proceeded on to Georgia as soon as possible, & eight days after my arrival at Savannah I fell sick, & was three times brought to the door of death, but it pleased God to let me escape & I have been three months in a very low state.

I have lost my Surgeon by a fever, and likewise every European domestic which I brought with me from France. I arrived alone at my Mills, but was extreemly surprised upon findg only a part of the mills which I purchased in France of Mr John McQueen; they say it is not the fault of him, but of his Agent who disposed of them during his Absence—this I am willing to beleive but it is as true that I have found but a part of what I purchased.3

I hope that by industry, perseverance & attention, this settlement will, in time be pretty considerable; I shall employ myself to make it useful, & in some degree, agreeable, since it is to be the place of my residence in preference to Savannah, as I am determined to have every thing carried on under my own inspection, for the eye of the Master makes the horse fat.

While I lay sick I sent for Genl McIntosh & gave him the letter which you wrote to him, as well as that of the Count de Estaing—in consequence, an extraordinary meeting was called in which I was admitted into the Society of the Cincinnati; General McIntosh showed me every attention imaginable. Think what obligations I am under to your Excellency for the honor which I have received by my admission!4

Colo. Washington, who lives in Charleston, has been so kind as to charge himself with the conveyance of a small package which contains 6 India fans; I beg you to present them, for me, to Madam Washington; they have no merit in themselves but as a mark of gratitude.5

I wish I could be so happy as for my affairs to permit me to go & breath that pure & agreeable air which is inseperable from, & which every one enjoys who inhabits, the place where General & Madam Washington reside. I beseech your Excellency to be persuaded of the truth of this, & of my profound respect.

Brigadier of the Armies of the King

Translation, DLC:GW; ALS, in French, DLC:GW, transcribed for CD-ROM:GW.

2Du Plessis left Mount Vernon on 19 August. Halifax, the county seat of Halifax in northeastern North Carolina, is on the Roanoke River.

4For the testimonial letter that d’Estaing wrote for du Plessis on 9 May 1786, see Mauduit du Plessis to GW, 20 July 1786, n.2. GW’s letter to Lachlan McIntosh has not been found.

5The fans were from “Chinne,” not India. The translator provided: “but as a mark of gratitude”; du Plessis wrote instead: “que parce qu’ils viennent de loin.”

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