George Washington Papers

To George Washington from the Provisional Executive Council of France, January 1793

From the Provisional Executive Council of France

Paris January [ ] 1793.
2 Year of the Republic


The french nation, in declaring the Republic and in giving through all the extent of its possessions the most solemn sanction to the principles of Liberty and Equality which make the United States flourish, appears to have approached nearer its ancient1 allies. It is no more in the crooked paths of politics that one goes to seek the cause of the attachment of these two Nations. It is in the analogy of their sentiments; of their Courage, of their civic Virtues, and of the difficulties that they have surmounted to attain the highest degree of perfection that human institutions can be susceptible of.2

If any thing can augment the pure satisfaction of the french Citizen, it is the conviction, that his courage and his virtue, are applauded in a part of the world, which has given the first example of a great political association, founded on the individual equality of its members, who know no other sovereign than the law, no other distinction but that of virtue put into action by talents.

This new order of things, Sir, in the interior parts of the french nation, has produced some in the relations that subsist between her and the United States giving herself up without reserve to her fraternal attachment for her good Allies, the Republic fervently desires to strengthen bands too much neglected by the ancient diplomacy of the royal government. She wishes to treat with the United States with that frankness and that loyalty which characterizes at all times freemen. She wishes to mix her dearest interests with those of your fellow citizens and give the touching example of too Nations closely united by all the Bands that can do honor to humanity.

It is to conform herself to these wishes that the national Convention has charged her president to express to you that the Executive Council sends to the United States Citizen Genet, in the quality of Minister Plenipotentiary of the Republic.3 His Character and his well known principles give us all room to hope, Sir, that he will fulfil with zeal the important functions with which he is charged, and that he will express, with energy, the fraternal sentiments of the Republic for the United States. He has received the most extensive powers to agree with the persons that you will judge fit to name, the articles that will serve to consolidate the Bands of Friendship and of commerce between the two Nations, and to establish them on the basis the most liberal and the most durable.

We felicitate ourselves, Sir, that the success of the amicable offices of this minister depends in great measure on a President whose virtue and whose talents are so well known in france & who has given so often proofs of his sentiments for the french Nation. The Executive Cou[n]cil does not doubt at tall but that the official Overtures of Citizen Genet will be of a nature to reconcile your good dispositions for France, with your views for the prosperity and Glory of your Country.

Receive, Sir, the sincere wishes that we make for your happiness and for your conservation. Your life is precious for united America. It is so for all the nations which know and admire you.

The Citizens composing the provisory executive Council

[Roland] minister of the interior

Monge Minister of Marine & of the Colonies

Garat Minister of Justice

[Clavière] Minister of public Contributions

Pache minister of war

Le Brun Minister for for: affairs

By the provisory executive Council

Grouvelle Secy of the Council4

Translation, in Tobias Lear’s writing, DNA: RG 59, Notes from the French Legation; Df translation, revised by Thomas Jefferson, DNA: RG 59, Notes from the French Legation; copy, in French, DNA:PCC, item 129. The text of the French copy at the DNA appears in CD-ROM:GW.

1In the French text “Anciens” is used here to mean “long standing” or “past.”

2The French monarchy was abolished and the republic proclaimed in September 1792.

3Edmond Charles Genet, Jean-Baptiste Ternant’s replacement as French minister, landed at Charleston, S.C., on 8 April. He arrived in Philadelphia on 16 May and presented his letter of credence to GW on 18 May (Provisional Executive Council of France to GW, 30 Dec. 1792, note 2, GW to Alice Delancey Izard, 20 April 1793; JPP, description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends 143). For the cabinet debate over the propriety of receiving Genet, see Minutes of a Cabinet Meeting, 19 April, and note 2.

4The members of the Provisional Executive Council of France were Jean-Marie Roland de La Platière, who resigned shortly after this letter was written, Gaspard-Louis Monge, Dominique-Joseph Garat, Etienne Clavière, Jean-Nicolas Pache, and Pierre-Henri-Hélène-Marie Lebrun. Philippe-Antoine Grouvelle served as the council’s secretary.

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