Paris 23d January 1790
M. le Cte d’Estaing transmitted to me the diploma, admitting me into the Society of the Cincinnati, which your Excellency had addressed to me.1 deign, I beseech you, to receive my thanks for it. I shall always feel myself honored in being a member of a Society which was instituted to celebrate your talents, to consecrate the virtues of which you have exhibited such an example to the Universe, and to transmit them to the admiration of posterity. I shall never cease to regret that I was not able, when I was at Boston,2 to leave the command with which I was honored, to go & pay my respects to you, and know more intimately a hero who has added lusture to every place which he has occupied. I am with Veneration Mr President, Yr Excellency’s Most Obedient Humble Servant
le Mis de Vaudreuil
Translation, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; LS, in French, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; The text is taken from a translation prepared for GW; the receiver’s copy, in French, appears in CD-ROM:GW.
Louis-Philippe de Rigaud, marquis de Vaudreuil (1724–1802), commanded the French squadron that sailed to Boston after de Grasse’s defeat in the Battle of the Saints in 1782. After his promotion to lieutenant general that August Vaudreuil commanded the fleet that returned Rochambeau’s army to France. In 1789 he sat with the nobles when the Estates General convened in May, and he assisted Lafayette’s rescue of the royal family at Versailles in October. Vaudreuil fled to England in 1791, not returning to France until after 1799 (Chastellux, Travels in North America description begins Marquis de Chastellux. Travels in North America in the Years 1780, 1781 and 1782. Translated and edited by Howard C. Rice, Jr. 2 vols. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1963. description ends , 2:616, n.2).
2. Vaudreuil probably is referring to his 1782 tour of duty, but it is possible he accompanied the French squadron commanded by Henri-Jean-Baptiste, vicomte de Pontevès-Giens, which visited Boston in the fall of 1789 (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 5:459–60, 480; GW to d’Estaing, 13 Oct. 1789, n.3).