Description

    George Washington Superb Autograph Letter Signed: Thanking Hector St. John de Crevecoeur for his letter delivered by "Commodore Paul Jones," mentioning "my good and much esteemed friend, the Marqs. de la Fayette, whose services & zeal in the cause of his Country, merits as much applause from his fellow Citizens as it meets admiration from the rest of Mankind." (Published in Fitzpatrick, The Writings of George Washington...)

    Signed: "G: Washington," one page, 7.25" x 9". Philadelphia, July 9, 1787. [To Hector St. John de Crevecoeur] In full: "Sir, The letter which you did me the honor of writing to me by Commodore Paul Jones, came safe, as did the 3 volumes of the Farmers letters. For both, particularly the compliment of the latter, I pray you to accept my best thanks. Let me express my gratitude to you at the same time, Sir, for the obliging offer of transmitting any communications I may have occasion to make to my good and much esteemed friend, the Marqs. de la Fayette, whose services & zeal in the cause of his Country, merits as much applause from his fellow Citizens as it meets admiration from the rest of Mankind. I congratulate you on your safe arrival in this Country - and with sentiments of esteem & regard I have the honor to be, sir, Yr most Obed Serv."

    George Washington was in Philadelphia serving as President of the Constitutional Convention. On the day he wrote this letter, a committee issued a report to the Convention stating "the proper ratio of representatives in the first branch," which became the House of Representatives, to be one to every 40,000 inhabitants, or 56 members, with Virginia having the most (9) and Delaware and Rhode Island the least (1 each).

    Just ten weeks later, Washington and 38 other delegates signed the document they had created: the U.S. Constitution. When the new Constitution was ratified, the Electoral College unanimously elected George Washington first President of the United States.

    Hector St. John de Crevecoeur (1735-1813), known in America as J. Hector St. John, had fought in Canada under Montcalm during the French and Indian Wars, becoming a naturalized American citizen in 1765. He was named French Consul in New York in 1783, traveling between France and America in the 1780's. His three-volume work which accompanied his letter to Washington, Letters from an American Farmer, published in 1782, was republished in France in French (1784-1787). St. Johnsbury, Vermont, was named for him at the suggestion of his good friend, Ethan Allen.

    John Paul Jones (1747-1792), in 1779, aboard the Bonhomme Richard during his raids on English shipping, uttered his immortal words to the captain of the British frigate Serapis: "I have not yet begun to fight." After the Revolutionary War, Commodore John Paul Jones was active in negotiating prize money claims in Paris. Not staying long in the United States after delivering Crevecouer's letter and books to Washington, Jones returned to France later in July, 1787. Three months later, on October 16, 1787, the Continental Congress voted unanimously to award John Paul Jones a gold medal. He was the only naval officer of the Continental Navy to be so honored. The medal was designed and struck at the Paris mint.

    The Marquis de Lafayette (1757-1834) first met George Washington ten years earlier, on August 1, 1777, a day after Congress appointed the Frenchman a Major General in the U.S. Army. The two generals and their troops later spent the winter of 1777-1778 at Valley Forge. In December, 1779, Lafayette named his newborn son, George Washington Lafayette. In 1781, Lafayette and Washington both fought at Yorktown where Cornwallis surrendered to Washington on October 19th. Washington and Lafayette had their last meetings at Mount Vernon in November and December, 1784. Lafayette returned to France in 1785, two years before Washington wrote this letter.

    This remarkable letter linking three of America's greatest Revolutionary War heroes, George Washington, John Paul Jones, and the Marquis de Lafayette, is in extra fine condition with only a quarter inch by eighth inch portion missing at the left edge at the remnant of the wax seal. This letter would be the cornerstone of any major collection. From the Gary Grossman Collection.




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