George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, 24 June 1797

To Charles Cotesworth Pinckney

Mount Vernon 24 June 1797.

My dear Sir,

To learn from your favor of the 25th of January that you were well, gave me singular pleasure; but as I had left Philadelphia before your letters dated in Paris had been received at the Secretary of States Office, and not having seen Mr Horry yet, I have only such accounts as have been given to the Public, of the treatment you met with from the French Directory. So extraordinary indeed it is, as to require no comment; nor shall I add any thing more on the subject than that your conduct on the occasion is universally approved: that it deserves to be so, is my decided opinion.1

I had nothing more in view by giving you a genuine copy of the intercepted letter from me to Gouvr Morris, than to enable you, if a spurious one should be exhibited for insidious purposes, to place the correspondence in its true light. If the matter sleeps, I have no wish to awaken it. Should it, however, be brought before the public, it will, prima faciæ, carry along with it the mark of private intercourse; but if the case were otherwise, there is no sentiment expressed, that I have a disposition to retract.2

I am much obliged to General Dumas for the Pamphlet he had the goodness to send, and for his kind remembrance of me. I recollect him well, as an Officer of high estimation in the French Army, that served in this country, and hope he, & others, friends to the oppressed, & distressed Fayette, will use their exertions to obtain the release of him, & his family, from the ignominious treatment which has been inflicted with so much rigour on one hand, & borne with so much fortitude on the other.3

From the proper Department you will, no doubt, be informed of every thing that is interesting for you, as a public character, to know, & from your friends & connections to the Southward you will I am persuaded, receive all such as concerns you as a private one. As for myself I am now seated in the shade of my vine & Fig tree, and altho’ I look with regret on many transactions which do not comport with my ideas, I shall notwithstanding “view them in the calm lights of mild philosophy”—persuaded, if any great crisis should occur, to require it, that the good sense and spirit of the major part of the people of this country, will direct them properly.

The occupation of my time—unimportant indeed to all but myself—is not spent in idleness, for an absence of eight years (except short occasional visits which allowed me no leisure to inspect matters accurately), has so deranged my private concerns—and committed such depredations on my buildings, and all around them, that I have found as much occasion for workmen of various kinds, and as close employment in looking after them as if I had commenced a new establishment altogether.

This letter will be handed to you by Genl Marshall, who with Mr ⟨illegible4 joint Envoys with yourself, to try if the difference between France & America, can be amicably adjusted. You will find him well worthy of your friendship & confidence. He is a firm friend, upon true principles to his country—sensible & discreet.

I pray you to present my best respects to Mrs & Miss Pinckney, in which Mrs Washington joins me, and that you would be assured, always, of the sincere and affectionate regard of Dear Sir Your Obediant Servant

Go: Washington

ALS (letterpress copy), DLC:GW; LB, DLC:GW.

1For Pinckney’s reception in Paris, see James McHenry to GW, 24 Mar., and note 1 of that document. In his letter to GW of 25 Jan. 1797, Pinckney wrote of Horry: “My Nephew has been in France from the commencement of the revolution; and has taken so great an antipathy to the excesses committed in the times of Terror, that even his opinion of their present constitution is strongly tinctured with aversion, you will therefore make allowances for this when you hear his sentiments on French Politics” (DLC:GW). Daniel Huger Horry, son of Col. Daniel Horry, Jr. (d. 1785), and Harriott Pinckney Horry, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney’s sister, changed his name to Charles Lucas Pinckney Horry. GW does not record in his diaries a visit to Mount Vernon by Horry.

2Pinckney had written in his letter of 25 Jan.: “Mr Munroe knows nothing more of the intercepted Letter than what he communicated to you; and I have no intercourse in the administration here to enable me to enter into any explanations with regard to it.” On 24 Mar. 1796 James Monroe, U.S. minister to France, wrote GW that a personal letter which GW had written to Gouverneur Morris on 22 Dec. 1795 largely about U.S.-British relations had fallen into the hands of the French Directory. Morris had been replaced as minister to France in 1794 but remained in Europe for a number of years.

4The letter-book copy has “Gerry,” but on this date in letters to Dumas and to Ségur, GW identifies the third emissary as Francis Dana. See note 4 in GW’s letter to Dumas.

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