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Lafayette, Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert Du Motier, marquis de (1757-1834) to James McHenry

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC01562 Author/Creator: Lafayette, Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert Du Motier, marquis de (1757-1834) Place Written: La Grange, France Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 22 November 1801 Pagination: 3 p. : address : docket ; 24.5 x 39.6 cm.

Summary of Content: A long letter, in which Lafayette discusses revolutionary France, his personal affairs and associations, and the light his personal correspondence with George Washington will cast on the memoirs of General Washington being written by Bushrod Washington. On revolutionary France and the war being waged by Napoleon, he writes: "I am among the few who persist to profess that the Liberal seeds which among so much weed have been sown upon European[,] and particularly upon French, ground cannot and shall not be ultimately lost." He discusses personal relationships with Lord Cornwallis and Napoleon. Indicates that he spends most of his time at La Grange and denies his suitability for diplomatic work. Professes his love for America as his second home. Explains that his correspondence with Washington will illuminate the "intrigues of 1777 and 1778," "the Transactions with France," the "decisive campaign in Virginia," "and the Grand stroke of the war in 1781." Indicates that he will rely on McHenry's consultation with Bushrod to render the work. Marked "Duplicate."

Background Information:

Full Transcript: Duplicate Lagrange lir frimaire Novemb.er the 22d.1801.
My dear McHenry
The arrival of a frigat with the American Ambassador makes me hope for a Letter from you - in ...the meanwhile I will not [struck: Loo] Loose the opportunities that offer to let you hear from me - Politics I shall not this time dwell upon - You will know, before this reaches you, that a General peace has taken place - France has been powerfull at War, happy in her Treaties - From the first principles of her revolution, however poisoned, disfigured and sullied they have been, she has derived great means of prosperity - How soon Liberty, her primary object, may become the fruit of her triumphs and a consolation for her sufferings, depends much upon the temper of one man, and its appreciation of true glory - But I am among the few who persist to profess that the Liberal Seeds which among so much weed have been sown upon European and particularly upon french - ground cannot and shall not be ultimately lost - I live for my part in a rural, happy state of retirements - The affairs of my friends or some particular object, such as the other day the pleasure to dine with Lord Cornwallis, call me now and then to Paris. I sometimes visit Bonaparte my deliverer from Ollmutz whose conduct by me is constantly obliging. I see my other acquaintances in and out of place, but my Journeys to the Capital being rare, and my stay very short, I spend the almost totality of my time in my rural habitation of LaGrange forty miles from Paris, where surrounded by my family and visited by some friends. I am devoted to a new pursuit of mine, that of [2] agriculture - Hitherto I have only got the ground work with a large farm arround my Dwellings - but if ever I can manage the trifling remains of my fortune so as to have a sum sufficient to stock and improve it, I shall consider it as a very happy circumstance - But before I Launch into those luxurious rural enjoyements I must have got rid of my debt, and insured to myself and my family, an independant, tho' modest subsistence - You will hear that M. Otto is to go over as an Ambassador. I think he will be a very good one - I hope my answers to American friends respecting their idea of my going in that capacity have appeared to you satisfactory - The health of my wife, family arrangements, some unsettled concerns of my friends and companions might have proved sufficient motives had not the first of all been very obvious, with my old habits of an American Citizen and Soldier, which I feel would make me awkward in any foreign emploïement, even from my native, which in political interest and national affection I consider for the United States as a Sister Country. Let me keep myself to be as soon as I can a private Visitor to that dear, second home of mine, the freedom and prosperity of which is to me a source of the purest satisfaction, and I may add, a not undeserved reward.
I apply to you, my dear friend, for an object which I have very much at heart. Bushrod Washington is writing the memoirs of our venerated, my paternal friend - It is a history of the American Revolution - Great use will be made of my correspondance with the General - his Character will receive a new lustre from those confidential communications which, particularly during the intrigues of 1777 and 1778 he had [3] with me. There from also the Transactions with France may be illustrated. There will be found the details of that decisive campaign in Virginia which began with the General's desire to me that Virginia might be lost as late as possible, and ended with the capture of Lord Cornwallis. You remember that on the exertions and manoeuvres of the small army which I commanded the fate of the Southern States, [struck: and the] and the grand stroke of the war in 1781. I'd entirely depend [struck: upon] and as you have been in those very important periods my confidential aid and friend none can give a better account of every transaction, Indeed, of every transaction during the revolution, particularly those which in the Cabinet and the field have concerned me. Upon you therefore, my dear McHenry, I rely for your critical review, friendly assistance, interesting illustrations for that work. I have mentioned you to M. Bushrod Washington as the friend and companion whom he ought to consult. Present my affectionate respectfull compliments to Mrs. McHenry and family - We are very often, in my family rural circle, speaking of you and wishing you were [struck: along] among us with everlasting and most affectionate friendship
I am yours.

[address leaf]
Mr. James Mc.Henry
Fayetteville near Baltimore

LaGrange 22 Novr. 1801
La Fayette
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People: Lafayette, Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert Du Motier, marquis de, 1757-1834
McHenry, James, 1753-1816
Washington, George, 1732-1799

Historical Era: The New Nation, 1783-1815

Subjects: PresidentRevolutionary WarFrench RevolutionFranceGlobal History and US Foreign PolicyGlobal History and US Foreign PolicyMilitary HistoryPoliticsDiplomacyConway CabalBattleBattle of YorktownSurrenderLiterature and Language ArtsContinental Army

Sub Era: The Age of Jefferson & Madison

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