George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, 10 August 1799

To Charles Cotesworth Pinckney

Mount Vernon 10th Augt 1799

My dear Sir,

Daily expectation of Genl Washington’s arrival, must be received as my apology for not having given your obliging favour of the 25th of June, an earlier acknowledgment. He did not (on account of the indisposition of his Son, in North Carolina) reach this place until the 6th instant. He left us yesterday, with the young Gentleman; both in good health, and Spirits.1

Permit me to offer you my best thanks for the Plumes you had the kindness to send me; which are, indeed, very handsome. Colo. Lear has, I presume, done the same in the enclosed letter; and the one for Captn Thornton (for the whole came hither in a general case) shall be sent to him by the first safe conveyance to Fredericksg his recruitg Station.2

I thank you too, my good Sir, for the transcript of Major Mountflorence’s letter to you—which is an interesting one. But whether the knowledge the French Directory has of the President’s appointment of three Envoys, to treat—on certain previous stipulations—in France; & their reverse of fortunes, may not have given a different complexion to the business, remains to be decided. I wish this Nomination & appointment, may not be productive of embarrassmt in the measures of this Government.

Had the Gentleman, whose name is mentioned in Montflorences letter, been actually appointed as the Negociator of Peace, little doubt remains in my mind of his acceptance thereof; notwithstanding the admonitions which had been given him of the delicate situation in which he would be involved, in a visit to the United States at this crisis of our affairs, in any capacity whatsoever.3

Lest Captain Thornton should not have been written to by you, or seen your orders appointing him one of your aids—and have understood that you do not re⟨quire⟩ his attendance to the Southward, I will cause him to be advised ⟨illegible⟩.4

Recruiting in so⟨me States⟩ has progressed tolerably well, ⟨illegible⟩ others it is at a stand; and indeed ⟨illegible⟩tion that can be ⟨thrown illegible⟩ by the enemies to our government ⟨illegible⟩—In a word, the Aurora, and ⟨illegible⟩ Gazettes which emanate from it, ⟨illegible⟩ which supports the same ⟨illegible⟩ are endeavouring by every ⟨means illegible⟩ and alarm, to create resistance to the Law, insubordination in ⟨the illegible⟩; In short, to prostrate discipline, and to introduce anarchy in the Military ⟨as they⟩ have attempted to do in the Civil government of this Country.

When—where—and how such things are to terminate, is beyond the reach of human Ken; but ⟨illegible⟩ they cannot progress much ⟨further with⟩out an explosion. Indeed ⟨illegible⟩ the Aurora (if one ⟨illegible⟩ publications) seems desirous ⟨illegible⟩ crisis. His inuendos, & charges ⟨illegible⟩ longer to be borne, ⟨illegible according⟩ to his account (and I have no doubt ⟨illegible⟩) there is a contest in Philadelphia for the honor of becoming his Bail. ⟨illegible am⟩ong other things, in language, & ⟨illegible⟩ impossible to be misunderstood, the ⟨Government⟩ is not only accused of being under ⟨British influence,⟩ but of bribery to a considerable amount. If the semblance of this on a fair & impartial investigation of the case shall appear, I will not only ac⟨knowledge⟩ myself to be among those who ⟨illegible⟩ in the Officers of it, but ⟨will pronounce⟩ him, not only a bold, but a ⟨illegible⟩ Printer; deserving of thanks, and high reward for bringing to light conduct so abominable. On the other hand, if it shall be found that it is all calumny—⟨calcula⟩ted to poison the minds of the People ⟨illegible⟩ disquietude, destroy all confidence ⟨in Public⟩ functionaries, prostrate the go⟨vernment &⟩ produce disunion of the States; ⟨illegible punishment⟩ ought to be inflicted on such ⟨illegible5 and⟩ Mr & Mrs Lewis are from home; ⟨the⟩ rest of the family unite in every good wish ⟨illegible⟩ Mrs Pinckney—whose indisposition ⟨illegible⟩ rest of the family; and I am ⟨illegible⟩ affece frd &ca

Go: Washington

ALS (letterpress copy), NN: Washington Papers.

1When GW returned home on 6 Aug. from the meeting of the Potowmack Company in Georgetown, he “found Genl. Wm. Washington of So. Carolina & Son here” (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 6:359). The son, William, was born in 1785 and lived until 1830.

2Pinckney wrote GW on 4 June that he was sending by William Washington two plumes for GW and one plume each for Tobias Lear and Presly Thornton. According to George Washington Parke Custis, GW gave “the magnificent white plumes presented to him by Major-General Pinckney” to the bride Nelly Custis, “preferring the old Continental cocked hat, with the plain black-ribbon cockade, a type of the brave old days of ’76” (Custis, Recollections, description begins George Washington Parke Custis. Recollections and Private Memoirs of Washington. New York, 1860. description ends 450).

3For the Mountflorence letter, see Pinckney to GW, 25 June, n.2.

4GW wrote Presly Thornton on 12 Aug.: “Dear Sir, I have in my care a plume sent by General Pinckney for your acceptance, which shall be forwarded to you by the first convenient opportunity, or sent agreeably to your directions, if any mode of conveying it should occur to you.

“General Pinckney informs me that he has mentioned you as his Aid in General Orders; but that he does not think it necessary for you to make a journey to Carolina for the purpose of joining his family at present. If, in any event, your attendance should be necessary before General Pinckney comes into this State (which he expects to do in the ensuing fall) he will undoubtedly advise you thereof.

“I hope the recruiting business goes on with more spirit in your quarter than I am informed it has done of late. The arrival of Clothing &c. will, I think, give a spring to it. Mrs Washington unites with me in Compliments to Mrs Thornton. With great esteem & regard I am Dear Sir Your most obedt Sert” (Df, in Lear’s hand, DLC:GW).

5For references to the accusations of bribery of public officials, see GW to Timothy Pickering, 4 Aug., and note 1 of that document.

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