George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Emmanuel Joseph Desnoyers, 12 June 1789

From Emmanuel Joseph Desnoyers

Basse Terre—Gaudeloupe 12th June 1789


One knows not which to admire most—the wisdom of the United States in trusting to you the administration of their affairs—or the generous sacrifice which you have made of your prevailing taste for private life, in accepting the Presidency. I seize with heartfelt pleasure, this opportunity of paying you that Homage which is due to you from mankind; and to beseech your Excellency to take into consideration the Memorial accompanying this,1 which I have the honor to address to you, which will serve to convince you how anxious I am to obtain a mark of favor & protection from that Nation in whose cause I have spilt my blood.

I ought to do myself the honor to observe to your Excellency that I have addressed several memorials to General Lincoln, since the 20th of July last,2 His silence leads me to suppose that none of these memorials ever reached his hands. I hope this will have a better fate, and that it will gain your protection. I shall take no other steps to prove my gratitude to you than by assuring you I shall inspire my Sons with the sentiments, zeal and attachment which I have for your Country.3 I am, with respect, Sir, Your Excellency’s most Obedt & He Ser.


Translation, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; ALS, DSoC; ALS, DLC:GW. The text has been taken from a translation prepared for GW.

Desnoyers served as a lieutenant in the Régiment de la Guadaloupe at the siege of Savannah in 1779, commanding a corps of 400 men in that campaign and was in 1789 a lieutenant colonel of infantry stationed at Basse-Terre. He was a chevalier of the Order of Saint-Louis.

1The enclosure, a letter from Desnoyers dated 13 June 1789 and addressed to a committee of the Society of the Cincinnati, requested membership in the society (DLC:GW). Another copy of the memorial is in DSoC. The request was denied, presumably on the grounds that Desnoyers’s rank of lieutenant during the Revolution did not entitle him to membership.

2Desnoyers had addressed his memorials to Benjamin Lincoln either because he had met Lincoln, who had commanded the American army in the South from September 1778 until his capture at Charleston in May 1779, or, more likely, because Lincoln had served as secretary at war and was at present president of the Massachusetts Society of the Cincinnati.

3The original version of this letter reads: “On ne Scait lequel on doit le plus admirer du sage discernement des Etats unis en vous Confiant Leur administration Générate, où du Sacrifice Génereux que Vous avés fait de Votre Goût pour la Vie privée, En acceptant la Place de Président de la Convention. je Saisis avec le plus Vif empressement Cette Circonstance pour Vous rendre des hommages qui Vous Sont dus à Tant de Titres, et pour Supplier Votre Excellence de Prendre En Considération le Mémoire que j’ai L’honneur de Vous adresser Ci Joint qui servira à Vous Convaincre Combien Je Suis Jaloux d’obtenir une marque de faveur Et de Protection de la Part d’une Nation pour la quelle J’ai eû La Gloire de Verser mon sang.

“Je Dois, Monsieur, avoir l’honneur d’Observer à Votre Excellence que J’ai adressé plusieurs mémoires au Général Lincoln, le dernier à la datte du 20 Juillet dernier. Son Silence Me fait Croire qu’aucun de Ces mémoires ne lui est parvenû, J’espére que Celui Ci aura un meilleur sort et que Vous d’aignerés L’appuyer de toute Votre protection, je ne Connais d’autre moyen de Vous prouver ma Reconnaissance qu’en Vous assurant que J’inspirerai à Mes fils les Sentimens de Zêle et d’attachement dont je Suis penetré Pour Votre nation.”

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