George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Auguste, Comte de Grasse, 11 March 1788

From Auguste, Comte de Grasse

Paris [March] 11th 1788.

My General

The real grief, which the death of my Father occasioned me, prevented me from having the honour of imparting to your Excellency the news, in the first moments of the melancholy event.1 The friendship which he professed for you was founded upon esteem, & I fondly flatter myself that the friendship you accorded him was established upon a basis equally solid. It was by your means my Father obtained the flattering compensations for the services which he was so happy as to render America in conjunction with your Excellency. It is to you, my General, that I owe the four peices of Cannon taken at York Town. This glorious testimony of your Suffrage & of that of the U. States is a precious triumph for me. It adorns my arms at this day & will perpetuate eternally in my family the acknowledgment which my father hath always entertained for you. It would be very flattering for his memory & extremely agreeable to me, to be able to preserve in his name, one other proof of the satisfaction of Congress. The Eagle of Cincinnatus was originally instituted to perpetuate from age to age the remembrance of the American Independence. Deign, my General, to obtain for me permission from the States to wear that Insignia with which they had decorated my father. It is a favour which I entreat with earnestness of your Excellency, & I pray you to be fully persuaded beforehand of my gratitude.2 I am, My General, with great respect Your Excellency’s most humble & most obedt Servant

The Count Augustus de Grasse

Translation, in David Humphreys’ hand, DLC:GW; ALS, DLC:GW. Bourdon de Vatry sent de Grasse’s letter to Thomas Jefferson on 29 Mar. 1788 for him to forward to GW (Boyd, Jefferson Papers, description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 40 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950—. description ends 12:694). Humphreys misdated the translation 11 May instead of 11 March.

Alexandre-François-Auguste de Grasse-Rouville, comte de Grasse, marquis de Tilly (1765–1845), became a captain in the Royal Guienne regiment of cavalry and in 1789 wrote to GW from Santo Domingo where the regiment was then stationed. De Grasse came to the United States in 1793 and was admitted to the Georgia Society of the Cincinnati in 1796. He returned to France in 1800.

1For Admiral de Grasse’s court martial and references to his death, see his letter to GW, 15 Mar. 1784, n.1, and Rochambeau to GW, 18 Jan. 1788. De Grasse’s grief did not prevent him from writing to Thomas Jefferson on 19 Jan. 1788, five days after his father’s death, to ask that he be allowed to become a member of the Cincinnati (Boyd, Jefferson Papers, description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 40 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950—. description ends 12:521).

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