George Washington Papers

From George Washington to William Hickman, 15 July 1798

To William Hickman

Mount Vernon 15th July 1798.


If, unfortunately, this Country should be engaged in hostilities, soon, the probability is, that it will be with France. In which case I do not suppose that Mr Frignet would incline to take an active part against his own Country—Or that it would be the policy of this to employ him1—I am—Sir Your Very Hble Servant

Go: Washington

ALS (letterpress copy), NN: Washington Papers.

Hickman may be the same William Hickman who bought land at the sale of George Mercer’s American property conducted by GW in Frederick County in 1774. See Rawleigh Colston to GW, 1 June 1798, n.1.

1William Hickman wrote to GW from Alexandria on 12 July: “Presumeing we shall shortly need all the advantage which is to be derived from military experience and skill, & fearing it will be difficult to procure a sufficient number of experienced Engineers, I deem it my duty to inform you of a Man who, I believe, possesses considerable knowledge & experience in Fortification & Gunnery & whose services may be commanded: Mr Frignet the person I allude to, is a Frenchman and resides near George Town; learning lately that he intended shortly to embark for a Brittish Port in the West Indies, I took occasion of entering into conversation with him on political subjects, in order to discover what were his sentiments with regard to our differences with France, and with a view (in case of their being favourable) of detaining him, until I could ascertain whether it would be thought adviseable to employ him in the Publick service or not. I was much pleased to find his sentiments such as I wished them & that he was desirous of entering into the Military service of this Country. I am incompetent to Judge, with certainty, of his skill in Military Architecture; being inexperienced in the science, but having ascertained his knowledge of the Mathematicks generally, & of some other branches of it with which I am more particularly acquainted, to be very considerable, I am inclined to believe the acquisition of his services would prove of considerable advantage. he informs me that he served as Engineer in France and as Engineer & surveyor General of the District & Port of Jeremy in Hispaniola, under the old Government—his commission he has with him; I have no doubt however but that an appointment of less Importance would satisfy him. from the certificate of Mr Caroll which I have the Honour to enclose for your perusal, Mr Frignet appears to have been favourably conceived of by that Gentleman. he tells me ⟨it⟩ will be in his power also to obtain the recommendation of Mr [Thomas] Law of the City of Washington—of Mr [John] Mason, Mr [John] Templeman, Mr [Uriah] Forrest & several other Gentlemen of respectability in George Town . . .” (DLC:GW). The enclosed certificate “of Mr Caroll,” probably Daniel Carroll of Duddington or Charles Carroll of Carrollton, has not been found. Nor has further information about Mr. Frignet been uncovered.

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