George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Paul Jones, 20 December 1789

From John Paul Jones

Amsterdam December 20. 1789.


I avail myself of the departure of the Philadelphia Packet Captain Earle, to transmit to your Excellency a Letter I received for you on leaving Russia in August last, from my Friend the Count de Segur Minister of France at St Petersburg.1 That Gentleman and myself have frequently conversed on subjects that regard America, and the most pleasing reflection of all has been the happy establishment of the new Constitution, and that you are so deservedly placed at the Head of the Government by the Unanimous Voice of America. Your Name alone, Sir, has established in Europe a confidence that was for some time before entirely wanting in American concerns, and I am assured that the happy effects of your Administration are still more sensibly felt throughout the United-States. This is more Glorious for you than all the Laurels that your Sword so nobly won in support of the Rights of Human Nature! In War your Fame is immortal as the Hero of Liberty! In Peace you are her Patron & the firmest supporter of her rights! Your greatest Admirers, and even your best Friends, have now but one Wish left for you—That you may long enjoy Health and your present Happiness!

I send by this occasion to Mr C. Thomson & to Mr J. Adams Sundry documents, from the Count de Segur, on my Subject.2 I presume that those Peices will be communicated to your Excellency. They explain, in some degree, my Reasons for leaving Russia, and the Danger to which I was exposed by the dark Intrigues and mean Subterfuges of Asiatic Jealousy and Malice.

Mr Jefferson can inform you respecting my Mission to the Court of Denmark.3 I was received and treated there with mark’d Politeness, and, if the fine Words I received are true, the Business will soon be settled. I own however that I should have stronger Hopes, if America had created a respectable Marine; for that argument would give weight to every transaction with Europe.

I acquited myself of the Commission with which you honored me when last in America, by delivering your Letters with my own Hand at Paris to the persons to whom they were addressed.4 I am, Sir, with great respect, esteem, and Attachement Your Excellency’s most devoted and most humble Servant

Paul Jones

N.B. In case your Excellency should have any Orders to send me, I think it my duty to subjoin my Address—Under cover “To Messieurs N. and J. Van-Staphorst & Hubbard Amsterdam.”


2These documents have not been identified.

3The Confederation Congress on 1 Nov. 1783 recommended Jones to the United States minister plenipotentiary in Paris as an agent “to solicit under the direction of the said minister” payments owed by European courts for prizes taken by the officers and crews under Jones’s command during the war (JCC, description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends 25:787–88). Jefferson, during his tenure as minister, had considerable contact with Jones, and Jones was moderately successful in France in the collection of funds. When he went to Denmark in March 1788 to petition for sums due to his command from the Danish court he found the ministry unwilling to negotiate, although King Christian granted Jones a pension of 1,500 crowns for his respect of ships bearing the Danish flag during the war, a payment Jones was later unable to collect.

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