George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Brown Cutting, 25 July 1789

From John Brown Cutting

Bordeaux [France] 25 July 1789

Sir,

I have the honor to transmit you some papers containing details of a revolution in the government of France which if they shou’d reach New York before the official account of this great transaction by Mr Jefferson may probably afford you some satisfaction.1 With the highest respect & purest esteem I have the honor to be your fellow citizen and most obedt sert

John Brown Cutting

ALS, DNA:PCC, item 78.

John Brown Cutting served during the Revolution as an apothecary in the Hospital Department, 1777–79, service that probably accounts for the title of “doctor” that he frequently used in later years. By the mid–1780s Cutting was studying law in London, and in May-June 1787 he accompanied John Adams to Amsterdam as a temporary secretary (Butterfield, Adams Diary and Autobiography, description begins L. H. Butterfield, ed. Diary and Autobiography of John Adams. 4 vols. Cambridge, Mass., 1961. description ends 3:202). In 1788 and early 1789 Cutting appeared in Charleston, S.C., as an agent for the prince of Luxembourg to settle the prince’s claims against South Carolina (S.C. Magazine of History and Biography, 10:97, 99–101). He returned to Europe later in the year, living briefly in Paris and Bordeaux while he worked on the settlement of outstanding Revolutionary War accounts, and by 1790 had become involved in the plight of American seamen impressed by the British navy (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 18:276, 313; Syrett, Hamilton Papers, description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends 19:517–18). Between 1794 and 1798 Cutting spent considerable time in Charleston but probably at some point moved to Virginia. Highly regarded by some Americans in Europe—William Stephens Smith considered him a “Gentleman of genius and merit”—his correspondence, particularly with William Short and John Rutledge, Jr., indicates that he also was a master gossip. Gouverneur Morris indicated after one encounter that Cutting had, as usual, “a World of News” (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 18:313–14; Morris, Diary of the French Revolution, description begins Beatrix Cary Davenport, ed. A Diary of the French Revolution by Gouverneur Morris. 2 vols. Boston, 1939. description ends 1:557; NcU: Rutledge Papers; DLC: Short Papers, 1789–90, passim).

1Cutting’s enclosures have not been identified.

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