George Washington Papers

To George Washington from François Barbé de Marbois, 28 May 1791

From François Barbé de Marbois

Metz [France] mai the 28th 1791.


I have So many times experienced the friendly disposition of your Excellency that I rejoice in the opportunity which is offered to me of introducing to you one of my nephews, Mr de Kellerman.1 he accompanies M. de Ternant with Some hope of replacing by interim my brother the Vice Consul & it would be happy for him in a Station either public or private to deserve the Same Kindness which I was so happy as to obtain. Mrs Marbois joins her recommendation to mine & as she is an american I hope it will make it easier for her nephew to obtain the friendship of her countrymen.2

We could not be Strangers to hispaniola to the commotion by which the Kingdom has been agitated: we have returned to my native country which for being on the boundaries has not been less exposed to a confusion almost general. the result is as yet quite unknown. the prevailing opinion is that of an impending war. & many prognosticate it for next Summer. I cannot think it So near & though our frontiers beginn to Swarm with troops within & without I consider these last as having no other destination but to give more weight to the negotiation. The country to whose government your Excellency so hapily presides appears to me to be the only one in the world where peace & hapiness are to be found. I have the honour to be with great respect Sir, Your Excellencys the humble obedient servant

De marbois


François Barbé de Marbois (1745–1837) was the eldest son of the director of the royal mint at Metz. He came to Philadelphia in 1779 as secretary to the French legation, became consul general in 1781, and acted as chargé until 1785, when he was appointed intendant of Saint Domingue. Revolutionary ferment in Haiti and his unpopularity with the planters led to his recall in October 1789.

1François-Etienne Kellermann (de Kellerman; 1770–1835) was the son of Marbois’s sister Anne-Marie Barbé (1742–1812) and her husband, François-Christophe, duc de Valmy (1735–1820), maréchal de France. He served under Jean-Baptiste, chevalier de Ternant, in the French embassy in Philadelphia until 1793, when he returned to France to serve as his father’s aide-de-camp. Marbois’s younger brother, Pierre-François, served as French vice-consul for Pennsylvania and Delaware from April 1785 until his appointment as interim vice-consul at New York in November 1791.

2Marbois married in 1784 Elizabeth Moore (c.1765–1834), only daughter of wealthy Philadelphia merchant William Moore.

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