Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO THE MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. VIII (1779-1780)
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
TO THE MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. VIII (1779-1780) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890). Vol. VIII (1779-1780).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
TO THE MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE.
Hd., Qrs.Morris Town, 19 May, 1780.
I impatiently wait, my Dear Marquis, to know the result of the arrangements you were to make with Congress. The time slides away so fast, and we have so little before us, that every moment is infinitely precious, and ought to be improved. We talked of a Proclamation to the Canadians. If it is not already done, I think it ought not to be delayed. It should be in your own name, and have as much as possible an air of probability. Perhaps it will be more plausible to have two different kinds struck; one intimating to them the arrival of a french fleet and army in the River St. Lawrence, to coöperate with these States, to be expected, by the way of Rhode Island, where they are to touch, for to answer some importt. purposes, and dwelling on the happy opportunity it will afford them to renew their ancient friendship with France, by joining the allied arms and assisting to make Canada a part of the American confederation, with all the privileges and advantages enjoyed by the other members; cautioning them by no means to aid the enemy in their preparations for defending the Province. The other proclamation should be drawn, on the supposition of the fleet and army being already arrived, and should contain an animating invitation to arrange themselves under the allied banners. In both proclamations you should hold yourself up as a French and American officer, charged both by the King of France and by Congress with a commission to address them upon the occasion. It may indeed be well to throw out an idea, that you are to command the corps of American troops destined to coöperate with the French armament. The more mystery in this business the better. It will get out, and it ought to seem to be against our intention.1
In a memorandum, you left with Col. Hamilton, you mention pilots to be sent to Cape Henry to conduct the fleet to Rhode Island. This does not appear to me necessary; as there will be pilots ready at Rhode Island to take the fleet into the Harbor, and every navigator can answer the purpose to the entrance of the port. If however you think it will be expected that pilots be ready at Cape Henry, you can apply to the Marine Committee, who can easily provide them. I am, &c.
I forgot to observe, that something might be addressed to the savages. I mentioned to you, when here, the inserting a paragraph in the papers somewhat to this effect:
“We have it from good authority, that the Marquis de Lafayette brings the important and agreeable intelligence of a very considerable naval and land force, intended to be sent by his Most Christian Majesty to the succor of these States; and that the Campaign will open with a combined operation against New York. This, there is every reason to hope, with proper exertions on our part, will put a happy period to the war; nor can there be any room to doubt that the glorious opportunity will be effectually improved. This instance of the friendship of our ally is a new claim to the lasting affection and gratitude of this country.”
I think such a paragraph will be useful, as the people will be roused by it; while the enemy, by the address to the Canadians and other demonstrations pointing another way, may be distracted by attending to different objects and weakened. You will judge by appearances how far it may be agreeable to Congress. I am, with all affection and sincerity, yours truly.
[1 ]According to the above suggestion, a proclamation to the Canadians was written in French, and signed by Lafayette. It was long, and contained arguments to persuade the Canadians to join Rochambeau’s army when it should arrive, and expel the British from Canada, intimating that the chief object for which the French troops were coming to America was an attack on Canada. The proclamation was intended, not to be sent to the Canadians, but to operate as a stratagem to deceive the British commander, and draw away his attention from New York. The draught was sent to Arnold, with a request that he print five hundred copies, mention being made in the rough sketch of Washington’s letter to Arnold, of certain paper “headed with the arms of the King of France, on which it is proposed to print the proclamation.” The scheme was probably in part successful, unless it may be supposed that Arnold, who was knowing to the secret, communicated it to the enemy. Several copies fell into the hands of Sir Henry Clinton. He wrote as follows to Lord George Germaine: “I have the honor to transmit to you the copy of a proclamation, which I have reason to believe the Marquis de Lafayette intended to have published in Canada, if the proposed expedition against that province had taken place.”—August 31st.