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TO GENERAL LAFAYETTE. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. XIV (1798-1799) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890). Vol. XIV (1798-1799).
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TO GENERAL LAFAYETTE.
Mount Vernon, 25 December, 1798.
My dear Sir,
* * * * * *
To give you a complete view of the politics and situation of things in this country would far exceed the limits of a letter, and to trace effects to their causes would be a work of time. But the sum of them may be given in a few words, and amounts to this. That a party exists in the United States, formed by a combination of causes, which oppose the government in all its measures, and are determined (as all their conduct evinces) by clogging its wheels indirectly to change the nature of it, and to subvert the constitution. To effect this, no means which have a tendency to accomplish their purposes are left unessayed. The friends of government, who are anxious to maintain its neutrality, and to preserve the country in peace, and adopt measures to secure these are charged by them as being monarchists, aristocrats, and infractors of the constitution, which, according to their interpretation of it, would be a mere cipher. While they arrogated to themselves (until the eyes of the people began to discover how outrageously they had been treated in their commercial concerns by the Directory of France, and that that was a ground on which they could no longer tread) the sole merit of being the friends of France, when in fact they had no more regard for that nation than for the Grand Turk, further than their own views were promoted by it; denouncing those who differed in opinion, (whose principles are purely American, and whose sole view was to observe a strict neutrality) with acting under British influence, and being directed by her counsels, now with being her pensioners.
This is but a short sketch of what requires much time to illustrate; and is given with no other view, than to show you what would be your situation here at this crisis under such circumstances as it unfolds.
You have expressed a wish, worthy of the benevolence of your heart, that I would exert all my endeavors to avert the calamitous effects of a rupture between our countries. Believe me, my dear friend, that no man can deprecate an event of this sort with more horror than I should, and that no one, during the whole of my administration, labored more incessantly, and with more sincerity and zeal, than I did, to avoid this, and to render every justice, nay favor, to France, consistent with the neutrality, which had been proclaimed, sanctioned by Congress, approved by the State legislatures, and the people at large in their town and country meetings. But neutrality was not the point at which France was aiming; for, whilst it was crying Peace, Peace, and pretending that they did not wish us to be embroiled in their quarrel with Great Britain, they were pursuing measures in this country so repugnant to its sovereignty, and so incompatible with every principle of neutrality, as must inevitably have produced a war with the latter. And when they found, that the government here was resolved to adhere steadily to its plan of neutrality, their next step was to destroy the confidence of the people in and to separate them from it; for which purpose their diplomatic agents were specially instructed, and in the attempt were aided by inimical characters among ourselves, not, as I observed before, because they loved France more than any other nation, but because it was an instrument to facilitate the destruction of their own government.
Hence proceeded those charges, which I have already enumerated, against the friends to peace and order. No doubt remains on this side of the water, that to the representations of, and encouragement given by, these people is to be ascribed, in a great measure, the infractions of our treaty with France; her violation of the laws of nations, disregard of justice, and even of sound policy. But herein they have not only deceived France, but were deceived themselves, as the event has proved; for, no sooner did the yeomanry of this country come to a right understanding of the nature of the dispute, than they rose as one man with a tender of their services, their lives, and their fortunes to support the government of their choice, and to defend their country. This has produced a declaration from them (how sincere let others judge), that, if the French should attempt to invade this country, they themselves would be amongst the foremost to repel the attack.
You add in another place, that the Executive Directory are disposed to accommodation of all differences. If they are sincere in this declaration, let them evidence it by actions; for words unaccompanied therewith will not be much regarded now. I would pledge myself, that the government and people of the United States will meet them heart and hand at fair negotiation; having no wish more ardent, than to live in peace with all the world, provided they are suffered to remain undisturbed in their just rights. Of this, their patience, forbearance, and repeated solicitations under accumulated injuries and insults, are incontestable proofs; but it is not to be inferred from hence, that they suffer any nation under the sun, (while they retain a proper sense of virtue and independence,) to trample upon their rights with impunity, or to direct or influence the internal concerns of their country.
It has been the policy of France, and that of the opposition party among ourselves, to inculcate a belief that all those, who have exerted themselves to keep this country in peace, did it from an overweening attachment to Great Britain. But it is a solemn truth, and you may count upon it, that it is void of foundation, and propagated for no other purpose, than to excite popular clamor against those, whose aim was peace, and whom they wished out of the way.
That there are many among us, who wish to see this country embroiled on the side of Great Britain, and others, who are anxious that we should take part with France against her, admits of no doubt. But it is a fact, on which you may entirely and absolutely rely, that the governing powers of the country and a large part of the people are truly Americans in principle, attached to the interest of it, and unwilling under any circumstances whatsoever to participate in the politics or contests of Europe; much less, since they have found that France, having forsaken the ground she first took, is interfering in the internal concerns of all nations, neutral as well as belligerent, and setting the world in an uproar.
After my Valedictory Address to the people of the United States, you would no doubt be somewhat surprised to hear, that I had again consented to gird on the sword. But, having struggled eight or nine years against the invasion of our rights by one power, and to establish our independence of it, I could not remain an unconcerned spectator of the attempt of another power to accomplish the same object, though in a different way, with less pretensions; indeed, without any at all.
On the politics of Europe I shall express no opinion, nor make any inquiry who is right or who is wrong. I wish well to all nations and to all men. My politics are plain and simple. I think every nation has a right to establish that form of government, under which it conceives it shall live most happy; provided it infracts no right, or is not dangerous to others; and that no governments ought to interfere with the internal concerns of another, except for the security of what is due to themselves.
I sincerely hope, that Madame de Lafayette will accomplish all her wishes in France, and return safe to you with renovated health. I congratulate you on the marriage of your eldest daughter, and beg to be presented to them both and to Virginia in the most respectful and affectionate terms. To George I have written. In all these things Mrs. Washington, as the rest of the family would do if they were at home, most cordially joins me; as she does in wishing you and them every felicity, which this life can afford, as some consolation for your long, cruel, and painful confinement and sufferings.
I shall now only add, what you knew well before, that, with the most sincere friendship and affectionate regard, I am always yours, &c.
P. S. Your old aid de camp—and my worthy nephew George A. Washington; died about five years ago of a pulmonary complaint. He left 3 fine children, a daughter & two sons, the eldest of the boys was called after you.
The letters herewith enclosed and directed one to yourself, another to George and the third to Mr. Frestel, have been some time in my possession and detained to be delivered to you here upon the same principle that prevented me from writing to you at an earlier period.