George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Hyacinth de Chappedelaine, 9 January 1791

From Hyacinth de Chappedelaine

Savannah [Ga.] 9th Jany 1791

Your Excellency

The marks of friendship and kindness which you have had the goodness to bestow upon me during my tour through the United States have made too deep an impression upon me not to be remembered with the most lively sensibility.1 The interest which you have always taken in the welfare of the French gives a title to them and to me to make you acquainted with my arrival at Savannah with the heads of three noble families of Bretagne, who have come over with me to establish themselves on the Isle of Sapels with me and M. Dumousset, in order that they may enjoy, in pleasing tranquility, the unspeakable advantages of a wise Government, of which you are the head & spring.2 They have begged me to become their intercessor with you, to engage you to look with a favourable eye upon the new Colony which we are about to found. If you deign to view it in this light, it will be considered by us as a happy presage—and we may then promise ourselves the greatest Success—we wait with impatience for your Excellency’s acquiescence in this request, fully persuaded that our gratitude will equal the profound respect with which I have the honor to be Your Excellency’s most humble & Obedt Sert

⟨Le Mr⟩ de Chappedelaine

Translation, DLC:GW; ALS (in French), DLC:GW. The text is from a translation made for GW; for a transcription of the document in the original French, see CD-ROM:GW.

Julien-Joseph Hyacinth de Chappedelaine (c.1754-1794) was a member of a French noble family from Brittany and served as an officer in the French army.

1Chappedelaine visited GW at Mount Vernon on 13 Feb. 1788, while on a tour of the United States; he had previously visited New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 5:275–76). One of his companions, John Enys, described him as “a Captain in the first Regt of french dragoons” (Cometti, Enys, description begins Elizabeth Cometti, ed. The American Journals of Lt. John Enys. Syracuse, N.Y., 1976. description ends 238–40).

2Francis Marie Says (Lays) Dumoussay Delavauxe purchased Sapelo Island on the Georgia coast from John McQueen for £10,000 on 1 Feb. 1789. On 8 Nov. 1790, at St. Malo, Brittany, Delavauxe sold undivided fifths of the property to Christian Poullain Dubignon, Grand Clos Mesle, Pierre-Caesar Picot de Boisfeuillet, and Julien-Joseph Hyacinth de Chappedelaine. Georgia historian E. Merton Coulter contends that the purchasers “expected to carry out a most amazing and bizarre speculation which had as an important element the breeding of slaves and their sale throughout the markets of the New World” (Coulter, Thomas Spalding, description begins E. Merton Coulter. Thomas Spalding of Sapelo. University, La., 1940. description ends 38–39; Vanstory, Georgia’s Land of the Golden Isles, description begins Burnette Vanstory. Georgia’s Land of the Golden Isles. 1956. New ed. Athens, Ga., 1981. description ends 56–57). The full story of the settlement is difficult to piece together, since the official records of Mcintosh County, which includes Sapelo Island, were destroyed when the courthouse burned shortly after the Civil War. In 1791 four of the French purchasers of Sapelo Island purchased nearby Jekyll Island. Thereafter the settlement seems to have fallen apart.

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