George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Barker Church, 16 August 1793

From John Barker Church

London August 16: 1793

Sir

The Princess D’Henin has confided to me the enclos’d Letter from our unfortunate Friend M. de la Fayette, with a Request that I would convey it to your Excellency;1 I do it with a peculiar Pleasure as it affords me an Opportunity of assuring your Excellency, of that perfect Respect and Veneration which I ever entertain for you, and at the same Time, of embracing an Opportunity of endeavoring thro’ your Means to render a Service to our poor Friend, who is treated in a Manner shocking to Humanity, and contrary to the general Laws of Nations—The Marquis’s Friends have no Hope of procuring his Liberation, but by the Interference of you Excellency and the Government of the United States, I heartily wish it may be in your Power to effect it, for the Marquis is only treated in this Manner on Account of his sincere Attachment to the Cause of Liberty.2

Mrs Church charges me to present her most respectful Compliments to your Excellency and Mrs Washington, to whom I request the Favor of you to present mine also3—I have the Honor to be with every respectful Sentiment Your Excellency’s Most faithful, humble Servant

J.B. Church

ALS, NIC.

1The enclosed letter from the marquis de Lafayette to the Princess Hénin of 15 March 1793 has not been found. Jared Sparks, however, printed a translation of it in The Life of Gouverneur Morris with Selections from His Correspondence and Miscellaneous Papers (3 vols. Boston, 1832), 1:406–10. Angelica Schuyler Church sent an extract of the letter to Thomas Jefferson on 19 August (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 , 26:722–24; for the full French text, see Jules Thomas, Correspondance Inédite de La Fayette, 1793–1801; Lettres de Prison—Lettres d’Exil [Paris, 1903], 181–86). The letter describes the dismal conditions of Lafayette’s damp, 3-by-5½-foot cell and the negative effects on his health that his imprisonment at the citadel in Magdeburg, Saxony, has had (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 , 26:722–24). Lafayette, who had been captured by Prussian troops as he fled France in August 1792, was held in a series of prisons by Prussian and Austrian forces until 1797. On the role of Adélaïde–Félicité du Guignot de Mauconseil, princesse d’Hénin, in forwarding letters from Lafayette, see Nicholas Van Staphorst to GW, 2 May 1793.

2On GW’s cautious efforts to aid Lafayette and his family, see GW to the Marquise de Lafayette, 16 Mar. 1793, and note 3. On 11 Dec. Jefferson replied to Church that GW had received his letter and "learnt the unhappy fortunes of M. de la Fayette" with "deep concern." He had "accordingly employed such means as appeared the most likely" to relieve Lafayette, "tho’, under the existing circumstances, he could not be sanguine in their obtaining very immediately the desired effect." (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 description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 40 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950—. description ends , 27:502-3).

3On Church’s marriage to Angelica Schuyler, a daughter of Gen. Philip Schuyler of New York, see note 1 of Gouverneur Morris to GW, 10 April 1792.

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