George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Triol, Roux, & Company, 15 June 1791

From Triol, Roux, & Company


Sir,Marseilles [France] 15th June 1791

It is to the Preserver of the liberty of a great Nation, it is to the defender of the rights of Man, as much as to the President of Congress, that we submit the communication of the Memorial addressed by us to the legislature of France, to establish the legality of our debt with the United States of America, and to solicit, by their means, of Congress, a treatment more equitable than that which it would impose upon us, by confounding us with a crowd of Creditors of a different complexion (denomination) from us, as well by the time or the nature of their debt.1

Deign, Sir, to cast your eyes upon our suit. We demand justice, not favor. Whatever may be the acknowledged validity of our title, we are far from insisting upon an entire acquittance; but we cannot consent to see ourselves striped of the greatest part of our fortune, vested in the Cash of Congress, under the public faith, and by virtue of the most sacred engagement. Whatever arrangement equity may dictate as most analogous to the object of our deposit, we are ready to submit to with a reasonable sacrifice. The bond of fraternity which grows every day stronger between the Americans & French, promises us that Congress will give to our just complaint, the attention which it merits, and that we shall have in particular to thank you for the disposition which your powerful influence & your natural equity will engage in our favor. We are, with Respect, Sir, Your very humble & Obedt Sert

Triol Roux & Co.

Translation, in Tobias Lear’s hand, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters. Neither the original receiver’s copy of this cover letter, nor Lear’s translation of its enclosure, has been found.

In 1778 the Marseilles merchants Triol, Roux, et Compagnie shipped a cargo to the United States in the Louise-Marie, Capt. Guillaume Reboul, who sold part of the cargo to the American army at Providence for $56,664. When Reboul attempted to conclude the sale at Boston a short time later, he was dismayed to find that the depreciated Continental currency he had been paid was worth only 30 to 50 percent of the same amount in French notes. He was then obliged to turn in his American notes when Congress issued a new currency emission. Reboul did not receive his funds until eight months later, and the firm claimed the delay prevented profitable investment of those funds elsewhere. Triol, Roux, & Cie had previously attempted to obtain redress through the French consulate at Philadelphia and through Benjamin Franklin at Passy (Franklin to Triol, Roux, & Cie, 12 April 1781, DLC: Franklin Papers, and Triol, Roux, & Cie to Franklin, 21 Feb. 1783, PPAmP: Franklin Papers).

1The enclosed “Copie du Mémoire adressé à l’Assemblée Nationale par les Sieurs Triol Roux & Compagnie de Marseille,” dated Marseilles, 1 June 1791, is in DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters, and the text appears in CD-ROM:GW. For correspondence concerning the receipt and translation of the letter and memorial, see Lear to GW, 6, 9, 16 Oct., GW to Lear, 14 Oct., and Lear to Alexander Hamilton, 15 November.

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