Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO THE CHEVALIER DE LA LUZERNE. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. XI (1785-1790)
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TO THE CHEVALIER DE LA LUZERNE. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. XI (1785-1790) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890). Vol. XI (1785-1790).
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TO THE CHEVALIER DE LA LUZERNE.
Mount Vernon, 1 August, 1786.
The letter you did me the honor to write to me on the 3d of February has come safely to hand. Nothing could be more satisfactory to me than the friendly sentiments contained in it, and the generous manner in which you always interest yourself in the happiness and dignity of the United States. I wish I had it in my power to inform you that the several States had fully complied with all the wise requisitions, which Congress has made to them on national subjects. But, unfortunately for us, this is not yet the case, although for my own part I do not cease to expect, that this just policy will ultimately take effect. It is not the part of a good citizen to despair of the republic; nor ought we to have calculated, that our young governments would have acquired in so short a period all the consistency and solidity, which it has been the work of ages to give to other nations. All the States, however, have at length granted the impost; though unhappily some of them have granted it under such qualifications as have hitherto prevented its operation. The greater part of the Union seems to be convinced of the necessity of federal measures, and of investing Congress with the power of regulating the commerce of the whole. The reasons you offer on this subject are certainly forcible, and I cannot but hope will ere long have their due efficacy.1
In other respects our internal governments are daily acquiring strength. The laws have their fullest energy; justice is well administered; robbery, violence, or murder is not heard of, from New Hampshire to Georgia. The people at large, (as far as I can learn,) are more industrious than they were before the war. Economy begins, partly from necessity and partly from choice and habit, to prevail. The seeds of population are scattered over an immense tract of western country. In the old States, which were the theatres of hostility, it is wonderful to see how soon the ravages of war are repaired. Houses are rebuilt, fields enclosed, stocks of cattle, which were destroyed, are replaced, and many a desolated territory assumes again the cheerful appearance of cultivation. In many places the vestiges of conflagration and ruin are hardly to be traced. The arts of peace, such as clearing rivers, building bridges, and establishing conveniences for travelling, are assiduously promoted. In short, the foundation of a great empire is laid, and I please myself with a persuasion, that Providence will not leave its work imperfect.
I am sensible, that the picture of our situation, which has been exhibited in Europe since the peace, has been of a very different complexion; but it must be remembered, that all the unfavorable features have been much heightened by the medium of the English newspapers, through which they have been represented. The British still continue to hold the posts on our frontiers, and affect to charge us with some infractions of the treaty. On the other hand we retort the accusation. What will be the consequences is more than I can predict. To me, however, it appears, that they are playing the same foolish game in commerce that they have lately done in war; that their ill-judged impositions will eventually drive our ships from their ports, wean our attachments from their manufactures, and give to France decided advantages for a commercial connexion with us. To strengthen the alliance, and promote the interests of France and America, will ever be the favorite object of him, who has the honor to subscribe himself, with every sentiment of attachment, dear Sir, &c.
[1 ]“I thank your Excellency for the details, which you have so kindly given me respecting American affairs. The sentiments at Versailles are similar to your own, in regard to the powers that the States ought to grant to Congress for the purpose of a general regulation of commerce. So wise and prudent a measure cannot surely result in any detriment to liberty; and the Americans have too much intelligence and good sense not to perceive that foreign powers, who desire commercial alliances with them, cannot treat with thirteen distinct States, which, having different interests among themselves, can only act in a united capacity through Congress in adopting such general measures, as will redound to the advantage of the republic. I hope the next news, which we shall receive from America, will inform us, that the several legislatures have put the last hand to this important affair.”—Luzerne to Washington, 3d February, 1786.