George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Louis XVI, 7 June 1789

From Louis XVI

At Versailles 7th June 1789

Very dear great Friends & Allies,

It is with great grief that We inform you of the death of the Dauphin our very dear son. This Prince fell a victim to a long & painful disorder;1 We are the more affected with his loss as we had reason to form the greatest hopes from the qualifications of his heart & mind which he had already manifested. We make no doubt but that you will participate in our sincere affliction. I expect this testimony from you with a confidence equal to that, you may place in My disposition, to prove the interest I take in your Prosperity—And we pray God that he will have you, Very dear great Friends & Allies in his holy & worthy protection.2 Your Good Friend & Ally


Translation, DNA: RG 59, Notes from the French Legation; LS, DNA: RG 59, Communications from Heads of Foreign States. The text is taken from a translation made for GW by John Pintard.

1The dauphin was Louis XVI’s eldest son Louis-Joseph-Xavier-François (1781–1789), who suffered from rickets which affected his spine and from other ailments for several years before his death. On 22 Feb. 1788 Marie-Antoinette had written her brother Joseph: “I am most uneasy about the health of my eldest son. . . .His growth is somewhat awry, for he has one leg shorter than the other, and his spine is a little twisted and unduly prominent. For some time, now, he has been inclined to attacks of fever, and he is thin and weakly” (translation from the original printed in La Rocheterie, Histoire de Marie-Antoinette, description begins Maxime de La Rocheterie. Histoire de Marie-Antoinette. Paris, 1890. description ends 2:14).

2The text of this document in the original French reads: “Très-chers grands Amis et Alliés. C’est avec une bien vive douleur que nous vous annonçons la mort du Dauphin notre très-cher Fils. ce Prince a Succombé à une longue et douloureuse maladie; Sa perte nous est d’autant plus Sensible que nous avions lieu de fonder les plus heureuses espérances Sur les qualités du coeur et de l’esprit qu’il avoit déja manifestées. Nous ne doutons pas que vous ne partagiez notre juste affliction. J’attends de vous ce témoignage avec une confiance égale à celle que vous devez mettre dans l’envie que j’ai de vous prouver l’intérêt que je prends à votre prospérité. Sur ce nous prions Dieu qu’il vous ait Très Chers grands Amis et Alliés en Sa Sainte et digne garde.”

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