From John Francis Gaullier
Westmorland County [Va.] January 7th 1791
As God Listen to the prieres of men, do not disdain to peruse an humble petition Which could not have been dicted but by the utmost despair; the boldness of it Shews, that after him my only hope is in your Exelency.
O! cast an Eye of mercy on a distressed family Who are on the brinks of ruin and destruction!! I am a Frenchman who has had the honnor to Serve his Prince thirteen years with Some distinction; & my duty has brought me here under the command of the General Rochambeau: my name is too obscure for have ever reached your Ears tho’ I had the honnor to Spoke to your Exelency at phillipsburgs camp, and at the Siege of york. having returned in this country after peace from the West indies I have taugh the french Language, fencing, & dancing for livehood; my conduct in these Stations has deserved me the best testimonial from New-york, where I have resided three years; and Since four that I live in Virginia I was allways Employed by the most respectable families: Mr Richard H. Lee could (if he was at Philadelphia) tells you Something of me. the utmost Endeavour to Strive are not always successful; a Spell of Sikness of Eighteen months, has not only runs me in debts, but yet hinders me to pay Some I had before. I have no propriety, I hold no lands, I am a tenant. However I have pay’d last Sumer out of the produce of my Schools hundred and ninty pounds! it is an imense Sum considering my business, and truely for pay’d it, I was obliged to take upon the wery necessary of my family; (for I have a Wife, and a child.) in So much Mr Wllm A. Washington out of Goodness has advanced me Corn for our Subsistance!!!1 I fear to trespas on your Exelencys patience Enfin I owe Still thirty pounds to a merchant who has a Suit against me, twenty to another, and ten to one, to whom I have pay’d lately nine. it is all my debts, which I suppose with the cost will amount to £70.
I am Sued again by the man of ten pounds, to the district court in april, and unable to Give Security for my apparence I must Go to Goal till then2 perhaps longer, deprive my family of my Support, hinders me to Employ the only means I have to pay! but humanity is your, and the favourite Vertue of Heros: See my Wife in tears my Childs cries, when the merciles creditor tore away their Sole hope! in this dilema I Crie to you, O! Justice and mercy my General! I ask not forgiveness for a crime, never the idea of one has enter in my Soul; unconduct even has no past in my misary. I have no rigth, but I am Worthy of your commisseration.
I am poor. I am a Stranger, I have no friends, helas! the unfortunat have none, o! Save me, Screen me from the ignominie of a Gaol, do more be my Security!!! (despair itself Sujested me Such a thought) Send an order that one year, or Eighteen months, Shall be Granted to me without interuption for paying, then I Will and could pay.
The prieres of a distressed family, will rise to Heaven for the priservation of your days, and my unlitimed Gratitude Shall be forever, With the utmost respect of Your Exelency The most humble and obediant Servant
John Francis Gaullier
P.S. if I could caried complaints at your feet (Writtings would be too tedious,) I[’]ll prove to your Exelency I could rise that money, coming from my wife certificats, that a man keeps injustly in his hands, but too poor to procede against him, I am forced to take patience. my hopes are your Exelency will not Suffers an unhappy under his Governement, and a distressed frenchman.
Gaullier renewed his appeal to Washington in a letter dated 15 Feb. 1791. It reads: “Have I added to my wreched Situation the misfortune to have displeased you? Surely a Stranger who presume to apply for relief to your Exelency without Either right, or recommandation deserve to be punish for his rashness. However my crime makes my Excuse: your charactere, of humanity to Secour the unfortunats, your Elevated Station, my circumstances, have Enbolded me, and forced me to throw myself at the feet of your Exelency. having all to fear for my family, now honest means ought to be Spared by me for their Support⟨.⟩ but I am perhaps to hasty, the business which you are Surely overlauded have hinders you to take notice of me. perhaps my humble memorial has not reached your Exelency, by the neglect of the post; Enfin fear, and hope, makes me the utmost miserable being! in the doubt you had not receive it I include it here, beging your Excelency to peruse it with an Eye of commisseration, nothing can recommand use but to be a franchman, o! by your Love to the Marquis de la Fayete, do Something to one of his Countryman” (DLC:GW). Presuming that GW had not received his letter of 7 Jan. 1791, Gaullier enclosed a copy of his earlier appeal. The text of the 7 Jan. letter is taken from the enclosed copy.
1. William Augustine Washington (1757–1810) was the son of GW’s half brother Augustine. He had inherited the plantation where GW had been born and at this date was living at Haywood, a house constructed in 1787 on a neighboring tract (Norris, Westmoreland County, description begins Walter Biscoe Norris, Jr., ed. Westmoreland County, Virginia, 1653–1983. Montross, Va., 1983. description ends 219).
2. Gaullier inserted an asterisk at this point, with a corresponding note at the foot of the page, which reads: “Since my last letter, your nephew Wllm A. Washington has Given bail for the Security of my apparance.”