Cabinet Opinion on a Letter to the King of Prussia
[Philadelphia, 14 Jan. 1794]
At a meeting of the heads of departments at the President’s, on the fourteenth day of January 1794.
It was propounded by the President, whether in consideration of the eminent services of M. de la Fayette, to the U.S. and his present sufferings, it be not adviseable for the President, in a private, and unofficial character, to address to the King of Prussia a letter, requesting his release on parole, founded on motives of personal friendship only. The opinion is, that such a letter is proper to be written.1
DS (in Edmund Randolph’s handwriting), DLC:GW. GW’s docket reads, “Opinions of the heads of Depart. on the propriety of Addressing (in a private manner) the King of Prussia in behalf of the Marquis de la Fayette 14th Jany 1794.”
1. While fleeing France in August 1792, the Marquis de Lafayette was arrested by Austrian forces near the French border, but he was soon transferred to Prussian custody. After receiving this cabinet opinion, GW wrote Frederick William II of Prussia on 15 January. Lafayette, however, was returned to Austrian custody in May 1794 and imprisoned at Olmütz, where he remained until his release in September 1797. For other prisons in which Lafayette was held, see n.7 of Marquise de Lafayette to GW, 12 March 1793.