From Louis Paronneau
Penobscot [District of Maine] April 14th 1791
Oh! Glorious Deliverer of your Country; I most Humbly beg you to excuse my temerity in Daring to expose before your Highness a Picture of woes to which your mild Heart will be very sensible:
I have left my Country, at that prayer of a beloved uncle: The most Horrid murder has Deprived me of this Dear father, and (Could your Excellency believe the sad tale) black injustice with all its most Criminal Jury accuses me of being his murderer: I am Dragged in a Narrow Gaol where innocence ought Never to go: Nor my tears, nor my prayers, nor my innocence Can move the flinted Heart of inhumans who perhaps (oh Horror) are guilty of the Crime of which they accuses me.
be your Greatness Judge of my griefs in thinking of the Sorrow of a father and of a Mother that tenderly Cherish their son who pay’s em with the same Love. I weep bitterly: not for myself, I weep, since I am innocent: but for a whole family of which I have always been the Delight.
In the name of your shining glory, in the name of Humanity, Deign to interest yourself in the behalf of an unjustly accused youth; in the name of the love your greatness bear to the French Nation may your remedy the Dangerous sickness of one of her Limbs. with the most profound respect I implore all the succour, all the pity, all the tears that Justly Deserves of your Highness, the most unfortunate, the most thankful to the part you will take to his misfortunes, & most Humble Servt,
ALS, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters.
Louis Paronneau (born c.1775) of La Rochelle, France, attended the College de Soregu-Languedoc before joining his uncle Junin in the fur trade at Penobscot Bay between 1789 and 1790. Shortly thereafter his uncle was murdered, according to a jury of inquest, and young Paronneau was imprisoned for the crime. The French consul at Boston, Philippe-André-Joseph de Létombe, hired a lawyer for the boy and attended his trial in Maine in July 1791. After the jury found Paronneau not guilty, Létombe sent him home to his parents (see Nasatir and Monell, French Consuls in the U.S., description begins Abraham P. Nasatir and Gary Elwyn Monell. French Consuls in the United States: A Calendar of their Correspondence in the Archives Nationales. Washington, D.C., 1967. description ends 56). Before leaving Boston Paronneau again wrote to GW on 3 Aug.: “My Lord, Pardon my Freedom if I dare flatter my Self that your generous Heart (if Nevertheless great objects interest themselves to small ones) hath heard with pleasure & joy the News of my Delivrance. yes: Justice hath taken place, & them who Seeked my Death have been Disappointed. your Highness hath, without Doubt, received the Letter I took the liberty of writing at the time of My Detention. Knowing your greatness was the father of Humanity, I have take the Leave of expounding my misfortunes; Misfortunes which I had not merited. the Love I bear to my parents too Strongly engages me to return to them; to make any Delay: therefore, I go: to Consolate a Desperate family, Mourning Brothers, & Sorrowful friends. if ever fortune favours me as much as to bring me to this Country again; please your excellency to give me the Leave of presenting my Self before” (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters).