Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO THE MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. VII (1778-1779)
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TO THE MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. VII (1778-1779) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890). Vol. VII (1778-1779).
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TO THE MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE.
White Plains, 1 September, 1778.
My dear Marquis,
I have been honored by your favor of the 25th ultimo by Monsieur Pontgebaud, and wish my time, which at present is taken up by a committee of Congress, would permit me to go fully into the contents of it. This, however, it is not in my power to do. But in one word let me say, I feel every thing that hurts the sensibility of a gentleman, and consequently upon the present occasion I feel for you and for our good and great allies the French. I feel myself hurt, also, at every illiberal and unthinking reflection, which may have been cast upon the Count d’Estaing, or the conduct of the fleet under his command; and lastly I feel for my country. Let me entreat you, therefore, my dear Marquis, to take no exception at unmeaning expressions, uttered perhaps without consideration, and in the first transport of disappointed hope. Everybody, Sir, who reasons, will acknowledge the advantages which we have derived from the French fleet, and the zeal of the commander of it; but, in a free and republican government, you cannot restrain the voice of the multitude. Every man will speak as he thinks, or, more properly, without attending to the causes. The censures, which have been levelled at the officers of the French fleet, would more than probable have fallen in a much higher degree upon a fleet of our own, (if we had one) in the same situation. It is the nature of man to be displeased with every thing, that disappoints a favorite hope or flattering project; and it is the folly of too many of them to condemn without investigating circumstnces. Let me beseech you therefore, my good Sir, to afford a healing hand to the wound, that unintentionally has been made. America esteems your virtues and your services, and admires the principles upon which you act. Your countrymen in our army look up to you as their patron. The Count and his officers consider you as a man high in rank, and high in estimation here and also in France; and I, your friend, have no doubt but you will use your utmost endeavors to restore harmony, that the honor, glory, and mutual interest of the two nations may be promoted and cemented in the firmest manner. I would say more on the subject, but am restrained for want of time; and therefore shall only add, that, with every sentiment of esteem and regard, I am, my dear Marquis, &c.1
[1 ]Before the retreat of General Sullivan from Newport, it was thought advisable to make one more effort to persuade Count d’Estaing to return, and, at the pressing solicitations of the board of general officers, Lafayette went to Boston for that purpose. He made the utmost despatch, in going and returning, but he did not reach the army again till the night after the battle. “That there has been an action fought,” he said, in writing to General Washington, “where I could have been, and where I was not, is a thing which will seem as extraordinary to you, as it seems to myself.” He arrived while the army was evacuating the island, and just in time to bring off the rear pickets, which he performed in a manner that gained him applause. Congress passed a resolve, thanking General Sullivan and the officers and troops under his command for their conduct in the action and retreat; and the president was specially “requested to inform the Marquis de Lafayette, that Congress have a due sense of the sacrifice he made of his personal feelings in undertaking a journey to Boston, with a view of promoting the interests of these States, at a time when an occasion was daily expected of his acquiring glory in the field; and that his gallantry in going on Rhode Island when the greatest part of the army had retreated, and his good conduct in bringing off the pickets and out-sentries, deserve their particular approbation.”—Journals, September 9th.