George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Gouverneur Morris, 12 March 1794

From Gouverneur Morris

Sainport [France] 12 March 1794

My dear Sir

I send you herewith a Duplicate of my last Letter in the close of which I mention my Adherence to the Opinions exprest in my last but on recurring to my private Letter Book which was not then before me I find that the Letter I there alluded to was written on the eighteenth of October. It went by Captain Culver and has I hope arrived in due Season.1 Every Day confirms what is contain’d in that Letter: but Parties are so ballanced, and the impending force from abroad is in such threatening Attitude, that the present State of Things drags on it’s Existence rather from surrounding Circumstances than from internal Vigor—And Strange as it may seem the impending Change may arise from Victory or from a Defeat or from a famine.

The Gazettes tell us that Mr Jefferson is coming to Europe. Some of them say as my Successor others say it is a secret Mission. I have heard it said that he is to negotiate a Peace among the belligerent Powers.2 For my own Part I hold in Politics the Opinions which prevail in Phisics among sound Philosophers viz. that it is proper to determine Facts before we attempt to discover Causes. I wait therefore patiently the Event. Major Jackson who has been here for some Time gave me two Successors first Mr Bingham and then Mr Pinkney giving in the latter Case Mr Pinkney’s Place to Mr Bingham. So it is easy you see to fill up Vacancies.3

The probable Events of the Campaign about to open are not favorable to the french Republic.4 It will be extremely difficult for them to subsist the Armies needful for their Defence and the extreme Severity exercised by the present Government will in Case of adverse Events excite an universal Insurrection. At present the People are restraind by Fear from shewing any Sentiment unfavorable to the existent Authorities but, as is usual in like Circumstances, should that Fear be remov’d it will be succeeded by sharp Resentment. If however the Armies of the Republic should prove successful they would in my Opinion be the first to overturn the Convention for such is the usual Course of Things. A terrible Perspective this my dear Sir for those who are at present in the Saddle⟨:⟩ no Wonder therefore if they ride hard. It is not the least of their Misfortunes to be fully sensible of their Situation and it results therefrom that as much Time is consum’d in providing for their Defence against Adverse factions and contingent Events as in preparing for the general Defence of the Country. More perhaps. How different was our Situation in America. Every one perform’d chearfully his Part nor had we any Thing to apprehend but from the common Enemy. Such is the immense Difference between a Country which has Morals and one which is corrupted. The former has every Thing to hope and the latter every Thing to fear. Adieu my Dear Sir. May god in Heaven bless and preserve and prosper you5

Gouv. Morris

ALS, DLC:GW; ALS (duplicate copy), DLC:GW; LB, DLC: Gouverneur Morris Papers. The text in angle brackets is from the duplicate ALS.

1The enclosed duplicate was of Morris to GW, 5 February. The sloop Hannah, under William Culver, arrived at Philadelphia in mid-January (Gazette of the United States and Evening Advertiser [Philadelphia], 14 Jan. 1794).

2The rumors that Morris would be replaced as minister to France were correct, but it was James Monroe, and not Thomas Jefferson, who replaced him (see GW to U.S. Senate, 27 May).

3On William Jackson’s visit with Morris, see Certificate for William Jackson, 12 June 1793, and Tobias Lear to Thomas Jefferson, 13 June 1793 (second letter). Philadelphia businessman and banker William Bingham’s name appears on Alexander Hamilton’s List of Candidates for Minister to France of 19 May 1794. For the suggestion that Thomas Pinckney, the current minister plenipotentiary to Great Britain, be reassigned to France, see GW to John Jay, 29 April.

4France currently was at war with several nations, including Great Britain, Austria, and Prussia.

5“I am very truly yours” appears at this point on the duplicate ALS.

Index Entries