George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Gouverneur Morris, 12 November 1793

From Gouverneur Morris

Paris 12 Novr 1793

My dear Sir

Monsieur de la forét calld just now while I was at the Ministers’ to inform me that he shall probably leave Paris ToMorrow Morning I therefore write this as an Introduction to you and proceed to give a hasty Sketch of the Form in which the Business now stands. A Commission is named (the Appointments not yet gone through the Forms) to consist of four Persons. The Minister is a Mr Fauchèt Secretary of the executive Council a young Man of about three and thirty whom I hav⟨e n⟩ot yet seen but he is said to possess Genius and Information. The Secretary of Legation is a Mr Leblanc a Man of about fifty and who was lately at the Head of the Police Department in this City. Him also I am as yet unacquainted with but he is mention’d to me as a prudent sensible Man. Mr de la forét goes out as Consul General and Mr Petrie his friend and Companion as Consul in the Port of Philadelphia.1 These two will undoubtedly draw together and will probably sway the Conduct of the Commission for the Minister is to take no important Steps without being previously authoriz’d by the Board. I understand that a Kind of Etiquette has been establish’d by which the Con⟨suls⟩ as not being properly diplomatic Characters are not receivd or invited with the Minister and I perceive that there is a strong Wish to enjoy the exterior Respect of Office as well as the solid Authority. I cannot pretend to judge nor even to guess how far any thing of this Sort consists with the general Rules which you may have found it proper to establish but I think I can perceive that the two Consuls expect to govern the Commission by two Means One their greater knowlege of our Country and Laws and Inhabitants The other a Perswasion to be inculcated on the Minister and Secretary that they enjoy the Confidence of our Government. Perhaps a little Vanity may also be for something in the Business, but your Judgment will well discern Motives and therefore I only give Hints. I think that Mr de la forét and his friend being Men of Understanding will endeavor to keep things in a Line of Prudence and Propriety therefore being uncertain (at present) as to the personal Characters of the other two it seems to be well that the Board be kept steady by the Anchors we are acquainted with and as the others unfold themselves it will appear what Reliance can be plac’d on them. The Minister, in the Conference I had with him just now, has again reiterated the Assurance that he and the other Members of this Government have the most sincere Desire to be on the most cordial Terms with us and I am the more dispos’d to beleive in these Assurances because America is the only Source from whence Supplies of Provisions can be drawn to feed this City on which so much depends.2 The coming Winter will be I beleive dreadful and the Spring (should the War continue) must open with partial Scarcities if not general Want. To the Sufferings unavoidable from many other Causes no small addition will be made by the Laws limiting Prices which must endure till they shall be shatterd to Peices by the iron Hand of Necessity. God bless you my dear Sir I am very truly yours

Gouvr Morris

ALS, DLC:GW; LB, DLC: Gouverneur Morris Papers.

1Antoine René Charles Mathurin de La Forest was officially appointed consul general to the United States on 15 November. He was recalled in June 1794. Jean Antoine Joseph Fauchet (1761–1834), who was received as minister plenipotentiary from France on 22 Feb. 1794, was replaced in June 1795. After he returned to France, he wrote a book translated in America as A Sketch of the Present State of Our Political Relations with the United States of North-America (Philadelphia, 1797). From 1783 to 1792 Jean-Baptiste Pétry (1757–1838) filled posts as consul at Wilmington, N.C., and Charleston, S.C. He was received as consul at Philadelphia in February 1794, and his exequatur was revoked in July 1798. Pétry was first secretary of the French legation to the United States from 1804 to 1810, and he was appointed consul at New Orleans, 1815; consul general at Washington, 1819; and consul general at Madrid, 1823. Georges-Pierre Le Blanc returned to France in June 1794.

2Morris probably was referring to the French foreign minister, François Louis Michel Chemin Deforgues.

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