George Washington Papers

From George Washington to the Provisional Executive Council of France, 24 May 1793

To the Provisional Executive Council of France

[Philadelphia, 24 May 1793]

Very great and good friends & allies.

The citizen Ternant has delivered to me the letter wherein you inform me that yielding to his desire to serve his country in the military line, you had determined to recall him from his mission as your Minister plenipotentiary to the U.S.1 His conduct during the time of his residence in this country has been such as to meet my entire appobation & esteem; and it is with great pleasure I render him the justice of this testimony. in whatever line of service you may hereafter think proper to employ him, I have no doubt he will so conduct himself as to merit well of his country and to obtain it’s favor and protection.

I assure you, with a sincere participation, of the great and constant friendship which these U.S. bear to the French nation,2 of the interest they feel in whatever concerns their happiness & prosperity, and of their wishes for a perpetual fraternity with them, and I pray god to have them & you, very great & good friends and allies, in his holy keeping.

Written at Philadelphia this 243 day of May in the year of our lord 1793 & of the independence of the U.S. the 17th.

Go. Washington

By the President
Th: Jefferson

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

On 22 May, Jefferson submitted the draft of this letter to GW, who recorded receipt of it the next day. GW signed the final document on 24 May (JPP, description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends 147–48), and Jefferson enclosed it in his letter to Gouverneur Morris of 13 June (Jefferson Papers, description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 40 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950–. description ends 26:274–77). Jefferson, in his notes on a conversation with GW of 23 May, described the president’s objection to the use of the label “republic” in reference to both France and the United States: “I had sent to the President yesterday, draughts of a letter from him to the Provisory Exec. council of France, and of one from myself to mister Ternant, both on the occasion of his recall. I called on him to-day. he said there was a word in one of them which he had never before seen in any of our public communications, to wit ‘our republic.’ the letter prepared for him to the Council began thus ‘the citizen Ternant has delivered to me the letter wherein you inform me that, yielding &c. you had determined to recall him from his mission as your Min. plen. to our republic.’ he had underscored the words our republic. he said that certainly ours was a republican government, but yet we had not used that stile in this way: that if any body wanted to change it’s form into a monarchy he was sure it was only a few individuals, & that no man in the U.S. would set his face against it more than himself: but that this was not what he was afraid of: his fears were from another quarter, that there was more danger of anarchy being introduced. he adverted to a peice in [Philip] Freneau’s paper [National Gazette (Philadelphia)] of yesterday, he said he despised all their attacks on him personally, but that there never had been an act of the government, not meaning in the Executive line only, but in any line which that paper had not abused. he had also marked the word republic thus ✔ where it was applied to the French republic . . . he was evidently sore & warm, and I took his intention to be that I should interpose in some way with Freneau, perhaps withdraw his appointment of translating clerk to my office, but I will not do it: his paper has saved our constitution which was galloping fast into monarchy, & has been checked by no one means so powerfully as by that paper. it is well & universally known that it has been that paper which has checked the career of the Monocrats, & the President, not sensible of the designs of the party, has not with his usual good sense, and sang froid, looked on the efforts and effects of this free press, & seen that tho some bad things had passed thro’ it to the public, yet the good had preponderated immensely” (DLC: Jefferson Papers).

1For Ternant’s recall, see Provisional Executive Council of France to GW, 30 Dec. 1792, Ternant to GW, 17 May 1793, and notes 1, 3. Jefferson originally wrote “our republic” at this place in the draft; he then struck these words and inserted “the U.S.” above the line (see source note).

2Jefferson first wrote “republic”; he later crossed out this word and inserted “nation” above the line (see source note).

3This date and the signatures at the bottom of the document were inserted by George Taylor, Jr., into Jefferson’s draft.

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