George Washington Papers

From George Washington to the Marquise de Lafayette, 16 March 1793

To the Marquise de Lafayette

Phila. March 16th 1793.1

Dear Madam

I addressed a few lines to you on the 31st of January, in a state of entire uncertainty in what country or condition they might find you, as we had been sometimes told you were in England, sometimes in Holland, & at sometimes in France. your letter of Octob. 8. 1792. first relieved me from doubt, & gave me a hope that, being in France, & on your own estate, you are not as destitute, as I had feared, of the resources which that could furnish.2 but I have still to sympathize with you on the deprivation of the dearest of all your resources of happiness, in comparison with which, others vanish. I do it in all the sincerity of my friendship for him, and with ardent desires for his relief: in which sentiments I know that my fellow-citizens participate. the measures you were pleased to intimate in your letter are perhaps not exactly those which I could pursue, perhaps indeed not the most likely, under actual circumstances, to obtain our object. but be assured that I am not inattentive to his condition, nor contenting my self with inactive wishes for his liberation.3 my affection to his nation & to himself are unabated, & notwithstanding the line of separation which has been unfortunately drawn between them, I am confident that both have been led on by a pure love of liberty & a desire to secure public happiness: and I shall deem that among the most consoling moments of my life which should see them reunited in the end, as they were in the beginning, of their virtuous enterprize. accept I pray you the same lively sentiments of interest and attachment to yourself & your dear Children, from, dear Madam, Your4 most Obedt & devoted Servt

G. W.

Df, in Thomas Jefferson’s writing, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; Df (letterpress copy), DLC: Jefferson Papers; LB, DLC:GW.

1GW inserted the dateline at the head of Jefferson’s draft, which GW had received the previous day (Jefferson to GW, 15 Mar. [second letter]).

2GW had received the marquise’s letter of 8 Oct. 1792 on 20 Feb. 1793.

3On Lafayette’s imprisonment and for suggestions that the United States intervene on his behalf, see Gouverneur Morris to GW, 23 Oct. 1792, source note, and note 1. GW apparently agreed with Morris’s assessment that the United States should not make any official attempt to obtain Lafayette’s release from captivity. For GW’s efforts to aid Lafayette’s family with monetary gifts, see GW to Nicholas Van Staphorst, 30, 31 Jan., and its enclosed letter to the marquise, and 15 Mar. 1793. See also Jefferson to GW, 15 Mar. (second letter), and notes.

4Jefferson originally ended his draft with “Your &ca.” GW struck the final word and added “most Obedt & devoted Servt” next to it on the manuscript page.

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