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Title: With Americans of Past and Present Days
Author: Jussweand, J. J.
Language: English
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Published May, 1916


_This day, thirteen years ago, a new French ambassador presented his
credentials. The ambassador was not very old for an ambassador. The
President was very young for a president, the youngest, in fact, the
United States ever had. Both, according to custom, read set speeches,
and there followed a first conversation, which had a great many
successors, touching on a variety of subjects not connected, all of
them, with diplomacy. In which talk took part the genial, learned, and
warm-hearted author of the "Pike County Ballads" and of the Life of
Lincoln, present at the meeting as Secretary of State of the United

_This was the first direct impression the newcomer had of broad-minded,
strenuous America, his earliest ones, as a child, having been derived
from the illustrated weekly paper received by his family, and which
offered to view fancy pictures of the battles between the bearded
soldiers of Grant and Lee, the "poilus" of those days; another
impression was from Cooper's tales, Deerslayer sharing with Ivanhoe the
enthusiasm of the young people at the family hearth. Another American
impression was received by them a little later, when, the Republic
having been proclaimed, the street where the family had their winter
home ceased to be called "Rue de la Reine" and became "Rue Franklin."_

_Thirteen years is a long space of time in an ambassador's life; it is
not an insignificant one in the life of such a youthful nation as the
United States; I have now witnessed the eleventh part of that life.
Something like one-fourth or one-fifth of the population has been added
since I began service here. There were forty-five States then instead of
forty-eight; the commercial intercourse with France was half of what it
is now; the tonnage of the American navy was less than half what it is
at present; the Panama Canal was not yet American; the aeroplane was
unknown; the automobile practically unused. Among artists, thinkers,
humorists, critics, scientists, shone La Farge, McKim, Saint-Gaudens,
William James, Mark Twain, Furness, Newcomb, Weir Mitchell, who, leaving
a lasting fame, have all passed away._

_The speech at the White House was followed by many others. Little
enough accustomed, up to then, to addressing any assembly at any time, I
did not expect to have much to do in that line; but I had. I soon found
that it was not a question of taste and personal disposition, but one of
courtesy and friendliness. The quick-witted, kindly-disposed,
warm-hearted audiences of America, ever ready to show appreciation for
any effort, greatly facilitated matters._

_I was thus led by degrees to address gatherings of many kinds, in many
places, on many subjects, from the origins of the War of Independence to
reforestation in America, and from the Civil War to infantile mortality.
Many such speeches had to be delivered impromptu; others, luckily for
both orator and listeners, were on subjects which the former had
studied with as much care as the fulfilling of a variety of tasks and
duties had allowed him._

_An examination of the development of the two countries will, I believe,
lead any impartial mind to the conclusion that, with so many peculiar
ties between them in the past, a similar goal ahead of them, and, to a
great extent, similar hard problems to solve, it cannot but be of
advantage to themselves and to the liberal world that the two Republics
facing each other across the broad ocean, one nearly half a century old,
the other three times as much, should ever live on terms of amity, not
to say intimacy, comparing experiences, of help to one another whenever
circumstances allow: this they have been on more than one occasion, and
will doubtless be again in the future. During our present trials the
active generosity of American men and women has exerted itself in a way
that can never be forgotten._

_The dean now, not only of the diplomatic corps in Washington, but of
all my predecessors from the early days, when, on a raised platform in
Independence Hall, my diplomatic ancestor, Gérard de Rayneval,
presented to Congress the first credentials brought here from abroad
(and Gérard was then, he alone, the whole diplomatic body), I have
presumed to gather together a few studies on some of the men or events
of most interest from the point of view of Franco-American relations.
Three addresses are added, just as they were delivered. May these pages
find among readers the same indulgent reception their author found among

_And so, having now lived in America thirteen years, offering good
wishes to the forty-eight of to-day, I dedicate, in memory of former
times, the following pages_



    Washington, February 7, 1916.



DEDICATION                                 v



WASHINGTON AND THE FRENCH                199

ABRAHAM LINCOLN                          277

THE FRANKLIN MEDAL                       309

HORACE HOWARD FURNESS                    319

FROM WAR TO PEACE                        333






The American war had been for five years in progress; for two years a
treaty of alliance, having as sole object "to maintain effectually the
liberty, sovereignty, and independence, absolute and unlimited, of the
United States," bound us French to the "insurgents"; successes and
reverses followed each other in turn: Brooklyn, Trenton, Brandywine,
Saratoga. Quite recently the news had come of the double victory at sea
and on land of d'Estaing at Grenada, and Paris had been illuminated. The
lights were scarcely out when news arrived of the disaster of the same
d'Estaing at Savannah. All France felt anxious concerning the issue of a
war which had lasted so long and whose end continued to be doubtful.

When, in the first months of 1780, the report went about that a great
definitive effort was to be attempted, that it was not this time a
question of sending ships to the Americans, but of sending an army, and
that the termination of the great drama was near, the enthusiasm was
unbounded. All wanted to take part. There was a prospect of crossing
the seas, of succoring a people fighting for a sacred cause, a people of
whom all our volunteers praised the virtues; the people led by
Washington, and represented in Paris by Franklin. An ardor as of
crusaders inflamed the hearts of French youths, and the intended
expedition was, in fact, the most important that France had launched
beyond the seas since the distant time of the crusades. The cause was a
truly sacred one, the cause of liberty, a magical word which then
stirred the hearts of the many. "Why is liberty so rare?" Voltaire had
said--"Because the most valuable of possessions."

All those who were so lucky as to be allowed to take part in the
expedition were convinced that they would witness memorable, perhaps
unique, events, and it turned out, indeed, that they were to witness a
campaign which, with the battle of Hastings, where the fate of England
was decided in 1066, and that of Bouvines, which made of France in 1214
a great nation, was to be one of the three military actions with
greatest consequences in which for the last thousand years the French
had participated.

A striking result of this state of mind is that an extraordinary number
of those who went noted down their impressions, kept journals, drew
sketches. Never perhaps during a military campaign was so much writing
done, nor were so many albums filled with drawings.

Notes, letters, journals, sketches have come down to us in large
quantities, and from all manner of men, for the passion of observing and
narrating was common to all kinds of people: journals and memoirs of
army chiefs like Rochambeau, or chiefs of staff like Chastellux, a
member of the French Academy, adapter of Shakespeare, and author of a
_Félicité Publique_, which, Franklin said, showed him to be "a real
friend of humanity"; narratives of a regimental chaplain, like Abbé
Robin, of a sceptical rake like the Duke de Lauzun, the new Don Juan,
whose battle stories alternate with his love reminiscences, handsome,
impertinent, licentious, an excellent soldier withal, bold and
tenacious, marked, like several of his companions, to mount the
revolutionary scaffold; journals of officers of various ranks, like
Count de Deux-Ponts, Prince de Broglie, he, too, marked for the
scaffold; Count de Ségur, son of the marshal, himself afterward an
Academician and an ambassador; Mathieu-Dumas, future minister of war of
a future King of Naples, who bore the then unknown name of Joseph
Bonaparte; the Swedish Count Axel de Fersen, one of Rochambeau's aides,
who was to organize the French royal family's flight to Varennes, and to
die massacred by the mob in his own country; notes, map, and sketches
of Baron Cromot-Dubourg, another of Rochambeau's aides; journal, too,
among many others, of a modest quartermaster like Blanchard, who gives a
note quite apart, observes what others do not, and whose tone, as that
of a subordinate, is in contrast with the superb ways of the "seigneurs"
his companions.

From page to page, turning the leaves, one sees appear, without speaking
of Lafayette, Kosciusko, and the first enthusiasts, many names just
emerging from obscurity, never to sink into it again: Berthier, La
Pérouse, La Touche-Tréville, the Lameth brothers, Bougainville, Custine,
the Bouillé of the flight to Varennes, the La Clocheterie of the fight
of _La Belle Poule_, the Duportail who was to be minister of war under
the Constituent Assembly, young Talleyrand, brother of the future
statesman, young Mirabeau, brother of the orator, himself usually known
for his portly dimensions as _Mirabeau-tonneau_, ever ready with the cup
or the sword, young Saint-Simon, not yet a pacifist, and not yet a
Saint-Simonian,[1] Suffren, in whose squadron had embarked the future
Director Barras, an officer then in the regiment of Pondichéry. All
France was really represented, to some extent that of the past, to a
larger one that of the future.

Many of those journals have been published (Cromot-Dubourg's only in an
English version printed in America[2]); others have been lost; others
remain unpublished, so that after all that has been said, and well said,
it still remains possible, with the help of new guides and new
documents, to follow Washington and Rochambeau once more, and in a
different company, during the momentous journey which led them from the
Hudson to the York River. The Washington papers and the Rochambeau
papers, used only in part, are preserved in the Library of Congress. A
juvenile note, in contrast with the quiet dignity of the official
reports by the heads of the army, is given by the unprinted journal, a
copy of which is also preserved in the same library, kept by one more of
Rochambeau's aides, Louis Baron de Closen, an excellent observer, gay,
warm-hearted, who took seriously all that pertained to duty, and merrily
all the rest, especially mishaps. Useful information is also given by
some unprinted letters of George Washington, some with the
superscription still preserved: "On public service--to his Excellency,
Count de Rochambeau, Williamsburg, Virginia," the whole text often in
the great chief's characteristic handwriting, clear and steady, neither
slow nor hasty, with nothing blurred and nothing omitted, with no
trepidation, no abbreviation, the writing of a man with a clear
conscience and clear views, superior to fortune, and the convinced
partisan, in every circumstance throughout life, of the straight line.

The British Government has, moreover, most liberally opened its
archives, so that, both through the recriminatory pamphlets printed in
London after the disaster and the despatches now accessible, one can
know what was said day by day in New York and out of New York, in the
redoubts at Yorktown, and in the French and American trenches around the


Lieutenant-General Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, Comte de
Rochambeau, aged then fifty-five, and Washington's senior by seven
years, was in his house, still in existence, Rue du Cherche-Midi,
Paris,[3] at the beginning of March, 1780; he was ill and about to leave
for his castle of Rochambeau in Vendomois; post-horses were in readiness
when, in the middle of the night, he received, he says in his
memoirs,[4] a "courrier bringing him the order to go to Versailles and
receive the instructions of his Majesty." For some time rumors had been
afloat that the great attempt would soon be made. He was informed that
the news was true, and that he would be placed at the head of the army
sent to the assistance of the Americans.

The task was an extraordinary one. He would have to reach the New World
with a body of troops packed on slow transports, to avoid the English
fleets, to fight in a country practically unknown, by the side of men
not less so, and whom we had been accustomed to fight rather than
befriend, and for a cause which had never before elicited enthusiasm at
Versailles, the cause of republican liberty.

This last point was the strangest of all, so strange that even Indians,
friends of the French in former days, asked Rochambeau, when they saw
him in America, how it was that his King could think fit to help other
people against "their own father," their King. Rochambeau replied that
the latter had been too hard on his subjects, that they were right,
therefore, in shaking off the yoke, and we in helping them to secure
"that natural liberty which God has conferred on man."

This answer to "Messieurs les Sauvages," is an enlightening one; it
shows what was the latent force that surmounted all obstacles and caused
the French nation to stand as a whole, from beginning to end, in favor
of the Americans, to applaud a treaty of alliance which, while entailing
the gravest risks, forbade us all conquest, and to rejoice
enthusiastically at a peace which after a victorious war added nothing
to our possessions. This force was the increasing passion among the
French for precisely "that natural liberty which God has conferred on

Hatred of England, quickened though it had been by the harsh conditions
of the treaty of Paris bereaving us of Canada, in 1763, had much less
to do with it than is sometimes alleged. Such a feeling existed, it is
true, in the hearts of some of the leaders, but not of all; it did in
the minds also of some of the officers, but again not of all. What
predominated in the mass of the nation, irrespective of any other
consideration, was sympathy for men who wanted to fight injustice and to
be free. The cause of the insurgents was popular because it was
associated with the notion of liberty; people did not look beyond.[5]

It is often forgotten that this time was not in France a period of
Anglophobia, but of Anglomania. Necker, so influential, and who then
held the purse-strings, was an Anglophile; so was Prince de Montbarey,
minister of war; so was that Duke de Lauzun who put an end for a time to
his love-affairs and came to America at the head of his famous legion.
All that was English was admired and, when possible, imitated: manners,
philosophy, sports, clothes, parliamentary institutions, Shakespeare,
just translated by Le Tourneur, with the King and Queen as patrons of
the undertaking; but, above all, wrote Count de Ségur, "we were all
dreaming of the liberty, at once calm and lofty, enjoyed by the entire
body of citizens of Great Britain."[6]

Such is the ever-recurring word. Liberty, philanthropy, natural rights,
these were the magic syllables to conjure with. "All France," read we in
Grimm and Diderot's correspondence, "was filled with an unbounded love
for humanity," and felt a passion for "those exaggerated general maxims
which raise the enthusiasm of young men and which would cause them to
run to the world's end to help a Laplander or a Hottentot." The ideas of
Montesquieu, whose _Esprit des Lois_ had had twenty-two editions in one
year, of Voltaire, of d'Alembert were in the ascendant, and liberal
thinkers saw in the Americans propagandists for their doctrine. General
Howe having occupied New York in 1776, Voltaire wrote to d'Alembert:
"The troops of Doctor Franklin have been beaten by those of the King of
England. Alas! philosophers are being beaten everywhere. Reason and
liberty are unwelcome in this world."

Another of the master minds of the day, the economist, thinker, and
reformer Turgot, the one whose advice, if followed, would have possibly
secured for us a bloodless revolution, was of the same opinion. In the
famous letter written by him on the 22d of March, 1778, to his English
friend, Doctor Price, Turgot showed himself, just as the French nation
was, ardently pro-American, but not anti-English. He deplored the
impending war, which ought to have been avoided by England's
acknowledging in time "the folly of its absurd project to subjugate the
Americans.... It is a strange thing that it be not yet a commonplace
truth to say that no nation can ever have the right to govern another
nation; that such a government has no other foundation than force, which
is also the foundation of brigandage and tyranny; that a people's
tyranny is, of all tyrannies, the most cruel, the most intolerable, and
the one which leaves the least resources to the oppressed ... for a
multitude does not calculate, does not feel remorse, and it bestows on
itself glory when all that it deserves is shame."

The Americans, according to Turgot, must be free, not only for their own
sake, but for the sake of humanity; an experiment of the utmost import
is about to begin, and should succeed. He added this, the worthy
forecast of a generous mind: "It is impossible not to form wishes for
that people to reach the utmost prosperity it is capable of. That people
is the hope of mankind. It must show to the world by its example, that
men can be free and tranquil, and can do without the chains that
tyrants and cheats of all garb have tried to lay on them under pretense
of public good. It must give the example of political liberty, religious
liberty, commercial and industrial liberty. The shelter which it is
going to offer to the oppressed of all nations will console the earth.
The ease with which men will be able to avail themselves of it and
escape the effects of a bad government will oblige governments to open
their eyes and to be just. The rest of the world will perceive by
degrees the emptiness of the illusions on which politicians have
festered." Toward England Turgot has a feeling of regret on account of
its policies, but no trace of animosity; and, on the contrary, the
belief that, in spite of what some people of note were alleging, the
absolutely certain loss of her American colonies would not result in a
diminution of her power. "This revolution will prove, maybe, as
profitable to you as to America."[7]

Not less characteristic of the times and of the same thinker's turn of
mind is a brief memorial written by him for the King shortly after, when
Captain Cook was making his third voyage of discovery, the one from
which he never returned. "Captain Cook," Turgot said, "is probably on
his way back to Europe. His expedition having no other object than the
progress of human knowledge, and interesting, therefore, all nations,
it would be worthy of the King's magnanimity not to allow that the
result be jeopardized by the chances of war." Orders should be given to
all French naval officers "to abstain from any hostile act against him
or his ship, and allow him to freely continue his navigation, and to
treat him in every respect as the custom is to treat the officers and
ships of neutral and friendly countries."[8] The King assented, and had
our cruisers notified of the sort of sacred character which they would
have to recognize in that ship of the enemy: a small fact in itself, but
showing the difference between the wars in those days and in ours, when
we have had to witness the wanton destruction of the Louvain library,
the shelling of the Reims cathedral, and the Arras town hall.

An immense aspiration was growing in France for more equality, fewer
privileges, simpler lives among the great, less hard ones among the
lowly, more accessible knowledge, the free discussion by all of the
common interests of all. A fact of deepest import struck the least
attentive: French masses were becoming more and more thinking masses.
One should not forget that between the end of the American Revolution
and the beginning of the French one only six years elapsed, between the
American and the French Constitutions but four years. At the very time
of the Yorktown campaign Necker was issuing his celebrated _Compte
Rendu_, which he addressed, "pro forma" to the King, and in reality to
the nation.[9] This famous account of the condition of France, the piece
of printed matter which was most widely read in those days, began,
"Sire," but ended: "In writing this I have proudly counted on that
public opinion which evil-minded persons may try to crush or to distort,
but which, in spite of their efforts, Truth and Justice carry along in
their wake."

To which may be added as another token of the same state of mind that
the then famous Count de Guibert had some time before printed his _Essay
on Tactics_, so full of advanced ideas, notably on the necessary
limitation of the power of kings, that it had been suppressed by the
authorities; and he had dedicated it not to a prince nor to any man, but
to his mother country: "A ma Patrie."[10]

Six years after the end of the American war, on January 24, 1789, the
King of France ordered the drawing up of the famous _Cahiers_,
desiring, he said, that "from the extremities of his kingdom and the
most unknown habitations every one should be assured of a means of
conveying to him his wishes and complaints." And the _Cahiers_,
requesting liberties very similar to those of the Americans, came indeed
from the remotest parts of France, the work of everybody, of
quasi-peasants sometimes, who would offer excuses for their wild
orthography and grammar. The notes and letters of the volunteers of our
Revolution, sons of peasants or artisans, surprise us by the mass of
general ideas and views which abound in them. It was not, therefore, a
statement of small import that Franklin had conveyed to Congress when he
wrote from France: "The united bent of the nation is manifestly in our
favor." And he deplored elsewhere that some could think that an appeal
to France's own interest was good policy: "Telling them their commerce
will be advantaged by our success and that it is in their _interest_ to
help us, seems as much as to say: 'Help us and we shall not be obliged
to you.' Such indiscreet and improper language has been sometimes held
here by some of our people and produced no good effect." The truth is,
he said also, that "this nation is fond of glory, particularly that of
protecting the oppressed."[11]

The treaty of commerce, accompanying the treaty of alliance of
1778,[12] had been in itself a justification of this judgment. Help from
abroad was so pressingly needed in America that almost any advantages
requested by France as a condition would have been granted; but that
strange sight was seen: advantages being offered, unasked, by one party,
and declined by the other. France decided at once not to accept anything
as a recompense, not even Canada, if that were wrested from the English,
in spite of Canada's having been French from the first, and having but
recently ceased to be such. The fight was not for recompense but for
liberty, and Franklin could write to Congress that the treaty of
commerce was one to which all the rest of the world, in accordance with
France's own wishes, was free to accede, when it chose, on the same
footing as herself, England included.[13]

This was so peculiar that many had doubts; John Adams never lost his;
Washington himself had some, and when plans were submitted to him for an
action in Canada he wondered, as he wrote, whether there was not in them
"more than the disinterested zeal of allies."[14] What would take place
at the peace, if the allies were victorious? Would not France require,
in one form or another, some advantages for herself? But she did not;
her peace was to be like her war, pro-American rather than anti-English.

Another striking trait in the numerous French accounts which have come
down to us of this campaign against the English is the small space that
the English, as a nation, occupy in them. The note that predominates is
enthusiasm for the Americans, not hatred for their enemies. "In France,"
wrote Ségur in his memoirs, "in spite of the habit of a long obedience
to arbitrary power, the cause of the American insurgents fixed the
attention and excited the interest of all. From every side public
opinion was pressing the royal government to declare itself in favor of
republican liberty, and seemed to reproach it for its slowness and
timidity." Of any revenge to be taken on the enemy, not a word. "No one
among us," he said further, "thought of a revolution in France, but it
was rapidly taking place in our minds. Montesquieu had brought to light
again the long-buried title-deeds consecrating the rights of the people.
Mature men were studying and envying the laws of England."

Summing up the motives of the new crusaders, who were "starting off to
the war in the name of philanthropy," he found two: "One quite reasonable
and conscientious, the desire to well serve King and country ... another
more unique, a veritable enthusiasm for the cause of American liberty."
Ministers hesitated, on account of the greatness of the risk, "but they
were, little by little, carried away by the torrent." During the sea
voyage only the chiefs knew exactly whither they were going; some
officers thought at one time they might have to fight elsewhere than in
America. One of Rochambeau's officers, the aforementioned Mathieu-Dumas,
confided his misgivings to his journal: "Above all," he wrote, "I had
heartily espoused the cause of the independence of the Americans, and I
should have felt extreme regret at losing the honor of combating for
their liberty."[15] Of the English, again, not a word; what he longed
for, like so many others, was less to fight against the English than for
the Americans.

More striking, perhaps, than all the rest: shortly after we had decided
to take part in the war, the question of our motives and of a possible
annihilation of England as a great power was plainly put, in the course
of a familiar conversation, by the president of Yale University to the
future signer of the Louisiana Treaty, Barbé-Marbois, then secretary of
our legation in the United States. "Mons. Marbois," Ezra Stiles confided
to his diary, on the occasion of the French minister, La Luzerne, and
his secretary's visit to Yale, "is a learned civilian, a councillor of
the Parliament of Metz, æt. 35, as I judge; speaks English very
tolerably, much better than his Excellency the minister. He was very
inquisitive for books and American histories.... Among other things I
asked Mons. Marbois whether the Powers of Europe would contentedly see
Great Britain annihilated.

"He said, no; it would be for the interest of Europe that Britain should
have weight in the balances of power.... France did not want to enlarge
her dominions by conquest or otherwise."[16]

For the French diplomat, a man of great ability and well informed,
addressing, as he was, one to whom a "yes" instead of a "no" would have
caused no pain, far from it, the motive of our actions was neither a
prospective loss by England of her rank nor the increase of our own
possessions, but simply American independence.


Aware of the importance and difficulty of the move it had decided upon,
the French Government had looked for a trained soldier, a man of
decision and of sense, one who would understand Washington and be
understood by him, would keep in hand the enthusiasts under his orders,
and would avoid ill-prepared, risky ventures. The time of the d'Estaings
was gone; definitive results were to be sought. The government
considered it could do no better than to select Rochambeau. It could,
indeed, do no better.

The future marshal of France had been first destined to priesthood for
no other reason than that he was a second son, and he was about to
receive the tonsure when his elder brother died, and Bishop de Crussol,
who had been supervising Donatien's ecclesiastical studies, came one day
to him and said: "You must forget all I have told you up to now; you
have become the eldest of your family and you must now serve your
country with as much zeal as you would have served God in the
ecclesiastical state."

Rochambeau did so. He was appointed an officer and served on his first
campaign in Germany at sixteen, fought under Marshal de Saxe, was a
colonel at twenty-two (Washington was to become one also at twenty-two),
received at Laufeldt his two first wounds, of which he nearly died. At
the head of the famous Auvergne regiment, "Auvergne sans tache"
(Auvergne the spotless), as it was called, he took part in the chief
battles of the Seven Years' War, notably in the victory of Klostercamp,
where spotless Auvergne had 58 officers and 800 soldiers killed or
wounded, the battle made memorable by the episode of the Chevalier
d'Assas, who went to his heroic death in the fulfilment of an order
given by Rochambeau. The latter was again severely wounded, but, leaning
on two soldiers, he could remain at his post till the day was won.

On the opposite side of the same battle-fields were fighting many
destined, like Rochambeau himself, to take part in the American war; it
was like a preliminary rehearsal of the drama that was to be. At the
second battle of Minden, in 1759, where the father of Lafayette was
killed, Rochambeau covered the retreat, while in the English ranks Lord
Cornwallis was learning his trade, as was too, but less brilliantly,
Lord George Germain, the future colonial secretary of the Yorktown
period. At Johannisberg, in the same war, Clinton, future
commander-in-chief at New York, was wounded, while here and there in
the French army such officers distinguished themselves as Bougainville,
back from Ticonderoga, and not yet a sailor, Chastellux, already a
colonel, no longer a secretary of embassy, not yet an Academician, and
my predecessor, La Luzerne, an officer of cavalry, not yet a diplomat,
who was to be the second minister ever accredited to America, where his
name is not forgotten.

When still very young Rochambeau had contracted one of those marriages
so numerous in the eighteenth, as in every other century, of which
nothing is said in the memoirs and letters of the period, because they
were what they should be, happy ones. Every right-minded and
right-hearted man will find less pleasure in the sauciest anecdote told
by Lauzun than in the simple and brief lines written in his old age by
Rochambeau: "My good star gave me such a wife as I could desire; she has
been for me a cause of constant happiness throughout life, and I hope,
on my side, to have made her happy by the tenderest amity, which has
never varied an instant during nearly sixty years." The issue of that
union, Viscount Rochambeau, from his youth the companion in arms of his
father, an officer at fourteen, accompanied him to the States, and was,
after a career of devotion to his country, to die a general at Leipzig,
in the "Battle of Nations."

Informed at Versailles of the task he would have to perform, the exact
nature of which was kept a secret from the troops themselves now
gathered at Brest, Rochambeau hastened to forget his "rhumatisme
inflammatoire" and set to work to get everything in readiness,
collecting information, talking with those who knew America, and noting
down in his green-garbed registers, which were to accompany him in his
campaign, the chief data thus secured. He also addressed to himself, as
a reminder, a number of useful recommendations such as these: "To take
with us a quantity of flints, ... much flour and biscuit; have bricks as
ballast for the ships, to be used for ovens; to try to bring with us all
we want and not to have to ask from the Americans who are themselves in
want ... to have a copy of the Atlas brought from Philadelphia by Mr. de
Lafayette ... to have a portable printing-press, like that of Mr.
d'Estaing, handy for proclamations ... siege artillery is
indispensable." Some of the notes are of grave import and were not lost
sight of throughout the campaign: "Nothing without naval supremacy."

To those intrusted with the care of loading the vessels he recommends
that all articles of the same kind be not placed on the same ship, "so
that in case of mishap to any ship the whole supply of any kind of
provisions be not totally lost."

As to the pay for himself and his officers, he writes to the minister
that he leaves that to him: "Neither I nor mine desire anything
extravagant; we should like to be able to go to this war at our own
expense." But the government did not want him to be hampered by any lack
of funds, and allotted him the then considerable sum of twelve thousand
francs a month, and four thousand a month the generals under him.

At Brest, where he now repaired, Rochambeau found that the ships were
not so numerous as expected, so that only the first division of his army
could embark under Admiral Chevalier de Ternay: a sad blow for the
commander-in-chief. He prescribed that care be at least taken to select
for the passage the most robust men, and, in order to save space, that
all horses be left behind, himself giving the example. "I have,"
Rochambeau writes to Prince de Montbarey, the minister of war, "to part
company with two battle-horses that I can never replace. I do so with
the greatest sorrow, but I do not want to have to reproach myself with
their having taken up the room of twenty men who could have embarked in
their stead." Officers, soldiers, ammunition, artillery, spare clothing
for the troops, and even the printing-press go on board at last. Men and
things are close-packed, but end by shaking down into place; all will go
well, Rochambeau writes to the minister, "without any overcrowding of
the troops; the rule for long journeys having been observed, namely one
soldier for every two tons burden."

When all were there, however, forming a total of 5,000 men, the maximum
was so truly reached that a number of young men, some belonging to the
best-known French families, who were arriving at Brest from day to day,
in the hope of being added to the expedition, had to be sent back. The
fleet was already on the high seas when a cutter brought the
government's last instructions to Rochambeau. On the boat were two
brothers called Berthier, who besought to be allowed to volunteer. "They
have joined us yesterday," the general writes to the minister, "and have
handed us your letters.... They were dressed in linen vests and
breeches, asking to be admitted as mere sailors." But there was really
no place to put them. "Those poor young men are interesting and in
despair." They had, nevertheless, to be sent back, but managed to join
the army later, and so it was that Alexander Berthier began in the
Yorktown campaign a military career which he was to end as marshal of
France, and Prince of Wagram and Neufchâtel.

The departure, which it was necessary to hasten while the English were
not yet ready, was beset with difficulties. Tempests, contrary winds and
other mishaps had caused vexatious delay; the _Comtesse de Noailles_
and the _Conquérant_ had come into collision and had had to be repaired.
"Luckily," wrote Rochambeau to Montbarey, with his usual good humor, "it
rains also on Portsmouth." At last, on the 2d of May, 1780, the fleet of
seven ships of the line and two frigates conveying thirty-six
transports, weighed anchor for good. "We shall have the start of
Graves," the general wrote again, "for he will have to use the same wind
to leave Portsmouth," and he added, with a touch of emotion at this
solemn moment: "I recommend this expedition to the friendship of my dear
old comrade, and to his zeal for the good of the state."

At sea now for a long voyage, two or three months, perhaps, with the
prospect of calms, of storms, of untoward encounters, of scurvy for the
troops. On board the big _Duc de Bourgogne_, of eighty guns, with
Admiral de Ternay, Rochambeau adds now and then paragraphs to a long
report which is a kind of journal, assuring the minister, after the
first fortnight, that all is well on board: "We have no men sick other
than those which the sea makes so, among whom the Marquis de Laval and
my son play the most conspicuous part." He prepares his general
instructions to the troops.

On board the smaller craft life was harder and numerous unflattering
descriptions have come down to us in the journals kept by so many
officers of the army, especially in that of the aforementioned young
captain, Louis Baron de Closen, later one of the aides of Rochambeau.

He confesses, but with no undue sentimentalism, that he was saddened at
first to some extent at the prospect of an absence that might be a long
one, particularly when thinking "of a charming young fiancée, full of
wit and grace.... My profession, however, does not allow me to yield too
much to sensibility; so I am now perfectly resigned." He was assigned to
the _Comtesse de Noailles_, of three hundred tons (the _Ecureuil_, that
kept her company, was of only one hundred and eighty). Each officer had
received fifty francs for extra purchases; they found it was little, but
when they had made their purchases they found that it had been much, so
great was the difficulty in stowing their possessions on the ship. At
last, "after much trouble and many words--a few crowns here and
there--each of us succeeded in squeezing himself and his belongings in
those so-detested _sabots_."[17] Closen, for his part, had provisioned
himself with "sugar, lemons, and syrups in quantity."

The crew consisted of forty-five men, "half of them Bretons, half
Provençals," speaking their own dialect, "and who, little accustomed to
the language used by their naval officers when giving their orders,"
were apt to misunderstand them, hence the bad manœuvring which sent the
_Comtesse de Noailles_ right across the _Conquérant_. A sad case; would
they be left behind, and miss taking part in the expedition? By great
luck "there were but the bowsprit, the spritsails, and the figure of the
charming countess which were broken to pieces." Repairs are begun with
all speed. Mr. de Deux-Ponts promises fifteen louis to the workmen if
the ship is ready the next day at noon. "One more reassuring
circumstance was that Mr. de Kersabiec, a very expert naval officer, was
intrusted with the care of looking after the workmen." He never left
them, and "encouraged them by extra distributions. I was intimate with
all the family, having spent the winter at Saint-Pol-de-Léon; the
souvenir of which still gives me pleasure." The next day all was right
once more: "After eleven, the amiable countess was taken again--with no
head, it is true, like so many other countesses--beyond the harbor
chain." It was possible to start with the rest of the fleet: the high
fortifications overlooking the harbor, the villages along the coast, so
many sails curved by a wind "joli-frais," the clear sky, "all united to
form the most beautiful picture at the time of our start.... So many
vessels under way offered a truly imposing sight."

Every-day life now begins on the small craft; it is hard at first to
get accustomed, so tight-packed is the ship, but one gets inured to it,
in spite of the "buzzing of so numerous a company," of the lack of
breathing-space, and of what people breathe being made unpleasant by all
sorts of "exhalations" from the ship, the masses of humanity on board,
"and a few dogs." Closen has the good luck not to be inconvenienced by
the sea, settles in his corner, and from that moment till the end takes
pleasure in watching life around him. He learns how to make nautical
observations, describes his companions in his journal, and especially
the captain, a typical old tar who has an equal faith in the efficacy of
hymns and of oaths. "Prayer is said twice a day on the deck, which does
not prevent there being much irreligion among seamen. I have often heard
our captain swear and curse and freely use the worst sailors' language,
while he was praying and chanting:

    Je mets ma confiance,
    Vierge, en votre secours,
    Et quand ma dernière heure
    Viendra, guidez mon sort;
    Obtenez que je meure
    De la plus sainte mort."

Various incidents break the monotony of the journey. On the 18th of June
the _Surveillante_ captures an English corsair, which is a joy, but
they learn from her the fall of Charleston and the surrender of Lincoln,
which gives food for thought. Nothing better shows the difference
between old-time and present-time navigation than the small fact that
while on the way they indulge in fishing. On board the _Comtesse de
Noailles_ they capture flying-fishes, which are "very tender and
delicious to eat, fried in fresh butter, like gudgeons."

An occasion offers to open fight, with the advantage of numerical
superiority, on six English vessels; some shots are exchanged, but with
great wisdom, and, in spite of the grumblings of all his people, Ternay
refuses to really engage them, and continues his voyage. "He had his
convoy too much at heart," says Closen, "and he knew too well the
importance of our expedition, his positive orders being that he must
make our army arrive _as quickly as possible_, for him not to set aside
all the entreaties of the young naval officers who, I was told, were
very outspoken on that score, as well as most of the land officers, who
know nothing of naval matters."

The event fully justified Ternay, for Graves, whose mission it had been
to intercept him and his slow and heavy convoy, missed his opportunity
by twenty-four hours only, reaching New York, where he joined forces
with Arbuthnot just as our own ships were safe at Newport. The
slightest delay on Ternay's part might have been fatal.

The more so since, when nearing the coast our fleet had fallen into
fogs. "Nothing so sad and dangerous at sea as fogs," Closen
sententiously writes; "besides the difficulty of avoiding collisions in
so numerous a fleet, each vessel, in order to shun them, tries to gain
space; thus one may chance to get too far from the centre. The standing
orders for our convoy were, in view of avoiding those inconveniences, to
beat the drums every quarter of an hour or fire petards. The men-of-war
fired their guns or sent rockets. The speed-limit was three knots during
the fog, so that each vessel might, as far as possible, continue keeping
company with its neighbor." In spite of all which the _Ile de France_
was lost, and there was great anxiety; she was not seen again during the
rest of the journey, but she appeared later, quite safe, at Boston.

The landing orders of Rochambeau, making known now to all concerned the
intentions of the government, were clear and peremptory. Drawn up by him
on board the _Duc de Bourgogne_, he had caused copies to be carried to
the chiefs of the several corps on board the other ships:

"The troops which his Majesty is sending to America are auxiliary to
those of the United States, his allies, and placed under the orders of
General Washington, to whom the honors of a marshal of France will be
rendered. The same with the President of Congress," which avoided the
possibility of any trouble as to precedence, no one in the French army
having such a rank. "In case of an equality of rank and duration of
service, the American officer will take command.... The troops of the
King will yield the right side to the allies; French troops will add
black to their cockades, black being the color of the United States,"
and some such hats, with black and white cockades, are still preserved
at Fraunces' Tavern,[18] New York. "The intention of his Majesty," the
general continues, "is that there be perfect concert and harmony between
the generals and officers of the two nations. The severest discipline
will be observed.... It is forbidden to take a bit of wood, a sheaf of
straw, any kind of vegetables, except amicably and in paying.... All
faults of unruliness, disobedience, insubordination, ill-will, brutal
and sonorous drunkenness ... will be punished, according to ordinances
with strokes of the flat of the sword." Even "light faults of lack of
cleanliness or attention" will be punished. "To make the punishment the
harder for the French soldier, he will be barred from military service
during his detention."

The army, but not the fleet, had been placed under the orders of
Washington. Ternay's instructions specified, however, that while his
squadron had no other commander than himself, it was expected that he
would "proffer all assistance that might facilitate the operations of
the United States," and that he would allow the use of our ships "on
every occasion when their help might be requested." Good-will was
obviously the leading sentiment, and the desire of all was to give as
little trouble and bring as much useful help as possible.


On the 11th day of July the fleet reached Newport, after seventy days at
sea, which was longer than Columbus had taken on his first voyage, but
which was nothing extraordinary. Abbé Robin, a chaplain of the army,
arrived later, after a journey of eighty-five days, none the less filled
with admiration for those "enormous machines with which men master the
waves"[19]--a very minute enormity from our modern point of view. "There
were among the land troops," says Closen, "endless shouts of joy" at the
prospect of being on terra firma again. The troops, owing to their
having been fed on salt meat and dry vegetables, with little water to
drink (on board the _Comtesse de Noailles_ water had become corrupt; it
was now and then replaced by wine, "but that heats one very much"), had
greatly suffered. Scurvy had caused its usual ravages; 600 or 700
soldiers and 1,000 sailors were suffering from it; some had died.

They were now confronted by the unknown. What would that unknown be?
Rochambeau had only his first division with him; would he be attacked
at once by the English, who disposed of superior naval and land forces
about New York? And what would be the attitude of the Americans
themselves? Everybody was for them in France, but few people had a real
knowledge of them. Lafayette had, but he was young and enthusiastic.
Would the inhabitants, would their leader, Washington, would their army
answer his description? On the arrival of the fleet Newport had fired
"thirteen grand rockets" and illuminated its windows, but that might be
a mere matter of course: of these illuminations the then president of
Yale, Ezra Stiles, has left a noteworthy record: "The bell rang at
Newport till after midnight, and the evening of the 12th Newport
illuminated; the Whigs put thirteen lights in the windows, the Tories or
doubtfuls four or six. The Quakers did not choose their lights should
shine before men, and their windows were broken."[20]

The game was, moreover, a difficult one, and had to be played on an
immense chess-board, including North and South--Boston, New York,
Charleston, and the Chesapeake--including even "the Isles," that is, the
West Indies; and what took place there, which might have so much
importance for continental operations, had constantly to be guessed or
imagined, for lack of news. Worse than all, the reputation of the
French was, up to then, in America such as hostile English books and
caricatures, and inconsiderate French ones, had made it. We knew it, and
so well, too, that the appropriateness of having our troops winter in
our colonies of the West Indies was, at one time, considered. Our
minister, Gérard, was of that opinion: "The Americans are little
accustomed to live with French people, for whom they cannot have as yet
a very marked inclination."[21] "The old-time prejudice kept up by the
English," wrote Mathieu-Dumas in his _Souvenirs_, "about the French
character was so strong that, at the beginning of the Revolution, the
most ardent minds and several among those who most desired independence,
rejected the idea of an alliance with France." "It is difficult to
imagine," said Abbé Robin, "the idea Americans entertained about the
French before the war. They considered them as groaning under the yoke
of despotism, a prey to superstition and prejudices, almost idolatrous
in their religion,[22] and as a kind of light, brittle, queer-shapen
mechanisms, only busy frizzling their hair and painting their faces,
without faith or morals." How would thousands of such mechanisms be

With his usual clear-headedness, Rochambeau did the necessary thing on
each point. To begin with, in case of an English attack, which was at
first expected every day, he lost no time in fortifying the position he
occupied, "having," wrote Mathieu-Dumas, "personally selected the chief
points to be defended, and having batteries of heavy artillery and
mortars erected along the channel, with furnaces to heat the balls."
During "the first six days," says Closen, "we were not quite at our
ease, but, luckily, Messieurs les Anglais showed us great consideration,
and we suffered from nothing worse than grave anxieties." After the
second week, Rochambeau could write home that, if Clinton appeared, he
would be well received. Shortly after, he feels sorry the visit is
delayed; later, when his own second division, so ardently desired, did
not appear, he writes to the war minister: "In two words, sir Henry
Clinton and I are very punctilious, and the question is between us who
will first call on the other. If we do not get up earlier in the morning
than the English and the reinforcements they expect from Europe reach
them before our second division arrives, they will pay us a visit here
that I should prefer to pay them in New York."

Concerning the reputation of the French, Rochambeau and his officers
were in perfect accord: it would change if exemplary discipline were
maintained throughout the campaign. There is nothing the chief paid more
attention to than this, nor with more complete success. Writing to
Prince de Montbarey a month after the landing, Rochambeau says: "I can
answer for the discipline of the army; not a man has left his camp, not
a cabbage has been stolen, not a complaint has been heard."[23] To the
President of Congress he had written a few days before: "I hope that
account will have been rendered to your Excellency of the discipline
observed by the French troops; there has not been one complaint; not a
man has missed a roll-call. We are your brothers and we shall act as
such with you; we shall fight your enemies by your side as if we were
one and the same nation."[24] Mentioning in his memoirs the visit of
those "savages" who had been formerly under French rule and persisted in
remaining friendly to us, he adds: "The sight of guns, troops, and
military exercises caused them no surprise; but they were greatly
astonished to see apple-trees with their apples upon them overhanging
the soldiers' tents." "This result," he concludes, "was due not only to
the zeal of officers, but more than anything else to the good
disposition of the soldiers, which never failed."

Another fact which proved to our advantage was that the French could
then be seen in numbers and at close quarters. The difference between
the portrait and the original was too glaring to escape notice. William
Channing, father of the philanthropist, confides to the same Ezra
Stiles, in a letter of August 6, 1780, his delighted surprise: "The
French are a fine body of men, and appear to be well officered. Neither
the officers nor men are the effeminate beings we were heretofore taught
to believe them. They are as large and likely men as can be produced by
any nation."[25] So much for the brittle, queer-shaped mechanisms.

With the French officers in the West Indies, most of them former
companions in arms and personal friends, Rochambeau, as soon as he had
landed, began to correspond. The letters thus exchanged, generally
unpublished, give a vivid picture of the life then led in the Isles. Cut
off from the world most of the time, not knowing what was taking place
in France, in America, on the sea, or even sometimes on the neighboring
island, unaware of the whereabouts of Rodney, having to guess which
place he might try to storm and which they should therefore garrison,
these men, suffering from fevers, having now and then their ships
scattered by cyclones, played to their credit and with perfect good
humor their difficult game of hide and seek.[26] They send their letters
in duplicate and triplicate, by chance boats, give news of the French
court when they have any, and learn after a year's delay that their
letters of October, 1780, have been duly received by Rochambeau in June,
1781. The Marquis de Bouillé, who was to cover himself with glory at
Brimstone Hill, and is now chiefly remembered for the part he played in
Louis XVI's flight to Varennes, writes most affectionately, and does not
forget to convey the compliments of his brave wife, who had accompanied
him to Martinique. The Marquis de Saint-Simon[27] writes from Santo
Domingo to say how much he would like to go and fight under Rochambeau
on the continent: "I would be delighted to be under your orders, and to
give up for that the command in chief I enjoy here." And he supplies
him, in the same unpublished letter, with a most interesting account of
Cuba, just visited by him: "This colony has an air of importance far
superior to any of ours, inhabited as it is by all the owners of the
land, so that the city (Havana) looks rather a European than a colonial
one; society is numerous and seems opulent. If Spain would extend and
facilitate the trade of Cuba the island would become exceedingly rich in
little time. But prohibitory laws are so harsh and penalties so rigorous
that they cramp industry everywhere."

A postscript in the same letter shows better than anything else what was
the common feeling among officers toward Rochambeau: "Montbrun," writes
Saint-Simon, "who has been suffering from the fever for a long time,
asks me to assure you of his respectful attachment, and says that he has
written you twice, that your silence afflicts him very much, and that a
token of friendship and remembrance from you would be for him the best
of febrifuges. All your former subordinates of Auvergne think the same,
and have the same attachment for you, in which respect I yield to

The stanch devotion of Rochambeau to his duties as a soldier, his
personal disinterestedness, his cool-headedness and energy as a leader,
his good humor in the midst of troubles had secured for him the devotion
of many, while his brusquery, his peremptoriness, the severity which
veiled his real warmth of heart whenever the service was at stake, won
him a goodly number of enemies, the latter very generally of less worth
as men than the former. In the affectionate letter by which he made up
early differences with "his son Lafayette," shortly after his arrival,
he observes, concerning his own military career: "If I have been lucky
enough to preserve, up to now, the confidence of the French soldiers ...
the reason is that out of 15,000 men or thereabout, who have been killed
or wounded under my orders, of different rank and in the most deadly
actions, I have not to reproach myself with having caused a single one
to be killed for the sake of my own fame." He seemed, Ségur said in his
memoirs, "to have been purposely created to understand Washington, and
be understood by him, and to serve with republicans. A friend of order,
of laws, and of liberty, his example more even than his authority
obliged us scrupulously to respect the rights, properties, and customs
of our allies."


Nothing without my second division, Rochambeau thought. He had urged the
government in his last letters before leaving France to send it not
later than a fortnight after he himself had sailed: "The convoy will
cross much more safely now under the guard of two warships," he had
written to Montbarey, "than it will in a month with an escort of thirty,
when the English are ready." And again, after having embarked on the
_Duc de Bourgogne_: "For Heaven's sake, sir, hasten that second
division.... We are just now weighing anchor." But weeks and months went
by, and no news came of the second division. Washington with his ardent
patriotism, Lafayette with his youthful enthusiasm, were pressing
Rochambeau to risk all, in order to capture New York, the stronghold of
the enemy and chief centre of their power. "I am confident," Rochambeau
answered, "that our general (Washington) does not want us to give here a
second edition of Savannah," and he felt the more anxious that, with the
coming of recruits and going of veterans, and the short-term
enlistments, "Washington would command now 15,000 men, now 5,000."

Rochambeau decided in October to send to France his son, then colonel of
the regiment of Bourbonnais, to remonstrate. As capture was possible and
the envoy might have to throw his despatches overboard, young
Rochambeau, being blessed with youth and a good memory, had learned
their contents by heart. One of the best sailors of the fleet had been
selected to convey him, on the frigate _Amazone_. On account of superior
forces mounting guard outside, the captain waited for the first night
storm that should arise, when the watch was sure to be less strict,
started in the midst of one, after having waited for eight days, was
recognized, but too late, was chased, had his masts broken, repaired
them, and reached Brest safely. The sailor who did so well on this
occasion, and who was to meet a tragical death at Vanikoro, bore the
name, famous since, of La Pérouse.

Time wore on, a sad time for the American cause. One day the news was
that one of the most trusted generals, famous for his services on land
and water, Benedict Arnold, had turned traitor; another day that Gates
had been routed at Camden and Kalb killed. In December Ternay died. In
January, worse than all, the soldiers of the Pennsylvania line mutinied;
unpaid, underfed, kept under the flag long after the time for which they
had enlisted, "they went," Closen writes in his journal, "to
extremities. In Europe they would not have waited so long."

There was no doubt, in fact, that the life they had to lead did not
closely resemble that which, in accordance with the uses then prevailing
in every country, the posters urging enlistment depicted to them. One
such poster, preserved in Philadelphia, announces "to all brave,
healthy, able-bodied, and well-disposed young men in this neighborhood
who have any inclination to join the troops now raising, under General
Washington, for the defense of the liberties and independence of the
United States," a "truly liberal and generous [encouragement], namely, a
bounty of twelve dollars, an annual and fully sufficient supply of good
and handsome clothing, a daily allowance of a large and ample ration of
provisions, together with sixty dollars a year in gold and silver money
on account of pay." The appeal vaunted, by way of conclusion, "the great
advantages which these brave men will have who shall embrace this
opportunity of spending a few happy years in viewing the different parts
of this beautiful continent, in the honorable and truly respectable
character of a soldier, after which he may, if he pleases, return home
to his friends with his pockets full of money and his head covered with
laurels. God save the United States!" Pretty engravings showed handsome
soldiers, elegantly dressed, practising an easy kind of military drill.

The danger was great, but brief; tempted by the enemy to change sides
and receive full pay, the Pennsylvania line refused indignantly. "We are
honest soldiers, asking justice from our compatriots," they answered,
"we are not traitors." On the margin of a French account of those
events, published in Paris in 1787, Clinton scribbled a number of
observations hitherto unprinted.[29] They are in French, or something
like it. Opposite this statement the British general wrote: "_Est bien
dit et c'est dommage qu'il n'est pas vrai._" We cannot tell, but one
thing is sure, namely, that in accordance with those words, spoken or
not, the rebellious soldiers acted. Owing to Washington's influence,
order soon reigned again, but the alarm had been very great, as shown by
the instructions which he handed to Colonel Laurens, now sent by him to
Versailles with a mission similar to that of young Rochambeau. The
emotion caused by the last events is reflected in them: "The patience of
the American army is almost exhausted.... The great majority of the
inhabitants is still firmly attached to the cause of independence," but
that cause may be wrecked if more money, more men, and more ships are
not immediately supplied by the French ally.[30]

While the presence of the American and French troops in the North kept
Clinton and his powerful New York garrison immobile where they were, the
situation in the South was becoming worse and worse, with Cornwallis at
the head of superior forces, Lord Rawdon holding Charleston, and the
hated Arnold ravaging Virginia.

Against them the American forces under Greene, Lafayette, and Morgan
(who had partly destroyed Tarleton's cavalry at Cowpens, January 17)
were doing their utmost, facing fearful odds. With a handful of men,
knowing that the slightest error might be his destruction, young
Lafayette, aged twenty-four, far from help and advice, was conducting a
campaign in which his pluck, wisdom, and tenacity won him the admiration
of veterans. Irritated ever to find him on his path, Cornwallis was
writing a little later to Clinton: "If I can get an opportunity to
strike a blow at him without loss of time, I will certainly try it." But
Lafayette would not let his adversary thus employ his leisure.

To arrest the progress of Arnold two French expeditions were sent,
taking advantage of moments when access to the sea was not blocked by
the English fleet before Newport, one in February, under Tilly, who
pursued Arnold's convoy up the Elizabeth River as high as the draft of
his ships permitted, but had to stop and come home, having only captured
the _Romulus_, of 44 guns, some smaller ships, a quantity of supplies
destined for Arnold, and made 550 prisoners; another of more importance
under the Chevalier Destouches, in March, with part of Rochambeau's army
on board, in case a landing were possible. In spite of all precautions,
Destouches's intentions were discovered; the English fleet engaged ours;
the fight, in which 72 French lost their lives and 112 were wounded, was
a creditable one and might easily have ended in disaster, for the enemy
had more guns, and several of our ships, on account of their not being
copper-lined, were slow; but clever manœuvring, however, compensated
those defects. Congress voted thanks, but the situation remained the
same. "And now," Closen noted down in his journal, "we have Arnold free
to act as he pleases, Virginia desolated by his incursions, and M. de
Lafayette too weak to do anything but keep on the defensive."


One day, however, something would have to be done, and, in order to be
ready, Rochambeau kept his army busy with manœuvres, military exercises,
sham warfare ("le simulacre de la petite guerre"), and the building of
fortifications. As for his officers, he encouraged them to travel, for a
large part of the land was free of enemies, and to become better
acquainted with these "American brothers," whom they had come to fight
for. French officers were thus seen at Boston, Albany, West Point,
Philadelphia. It was at this period that Chastellux went about the
country with some of his companions, and gathered the material for his
well-known _Voyages dans l'Amérique du Nord_, the first edition of
which, in a much abbreviated form, was issued by that printing-press of
the fleet which Rochambeau had recommended to himself not to forget: "De
l'Imprimerie Royale de l'Escadre," one reads on the title-page. Only
twenty-three copies were struck off; the "Imprimerie Royale" of the
fleet had obviously no superabundance of type nor of paper.

Closen, who, to his joy and surprise, had been made a member of
Rochambeau's "family," that is, had been appointed one of his aides, as
soon as his new duties left him some leisure, began, with his
methodical mind, to study, he tells us, "the Constitution of the
thirteen States and of the Congress of America," meaning, of course, at
that date, their several constitutions, which organization, "as time has
shown, is well adapted to the national character and has made the
happiness of that people so respectable from every point of view." He
began after this to examine the products of the soil of Rhode Island,
"perhaps one of the prettiest islands on the globe."

The stay being prolonged, the officers began to make acquaintances, to
learn English, to gain access to American society. It was at first very
difficult; neither French nor American understood each other's language;
so recourse was bravely had to Latin, better known then than to-day.
"_Quid de meo, mi carissime Drowne, cogitas silentio?_" A long letter
follows, in affectionate terms addressed to Doctor Drowne, a Newport
physician, and signed: "Silly, officier au régiment de Bourbonnois,"
September 9, 1780. Sublieutenant de Silly announced, however, his
intention to learn English during the winter season: "_Inglicam linguam
noscere conabor._" His letters of an afterdate are, in fact, written in
English, but a beginner's English.[31]

For the use of Latin the commander-in-chief of the French army was able
to set the example, and Ezra Stiles could talk at a dinner in that
language with Rochambeau, still reminiscent of what he had learned when
studying for priesthood. The president of Yale notes in his journal:

"5 [October, 1780]. Introduced to the commander-in-chief of the French
allied army, the Count de Rochambeau....

"7. Dined at the General de Rochambeau's, in a splendid manner. There
were, perhaps, thirty at table. I conversed with the general in Latin.
He speaks it tolerably."

Beginning to know something of the language, our officers risk paying
visits and go to teas and dinners. Closen notes with curiosity all he
sees: "It is good behavior each time people meet to accost each other,
mutually offering the hand and shaking it, English fashion. Arriving in
a company of men, one thus goes around, but must remember that it
belongs to the one of higher rank to extend his hand first."

Unspeakable quantities of tea are drunk. "To crave mercy, when one has
taken half a dozen cups, one must put the spoon across the cup; for so
long as you do not place it so, your cup is always taken, rinsed, filled
again, and placed before you. After the first, the custom is for the
pretty pourer (_verseuse_)--most of them are so--to ask you: _Is the
tea suitable?_"[32]--"An insipid drink," grumbles Chaplain Robin, over
whom the prettiness of the pourers was powerless.

The toasts are also a very surprising custom, sometimes an uncomfortable
one. "One is terribly fatigued by the quantity of healths which are
being drunk (_toasts_). From one end of the table to the other a
gentleman pledges you, sometimes with only a glance, which means that
you should drink a glass of wine with him, a compliment which cannot be
politely ignored."

In the course of an excursion to Boston the young captain visits an
assembly of Quakers, "where, unluckily, no one was inspired, and ennui
seemed consequently to reign."

But what strikes him more than anything else is the beauty of those
young ladies who made him drink so much tea: "Nature has endowed the
ladies of Rhode Island with the handsomest, finest features one can
imagine; their complexion is clear and white; their hands and feet
usually small." But let not the ladies of other States be tempted to
resent this preference. One sees later that in each city he visits young
Closen is similarly struck, and that, more considerate than the shepherd
Paris, he somehow manages to refuse the apple to none. On the Boston
ladies he is quite enthusiastic, on the Philadelphia ones not less; he
finds, however, the latter a little too serious, which he attributes to
the presence of Congress in that city.

But, above all, the object of my compatriots' curiosity was the great
man, the one of whom they had heard so much on the other side, the
personification of the new-born ideas of liberty and popular government,
George Washington. All wanted to see him, and as soon as permission to
travel was granted several managed to reach his camp. For all of them,
different as they might be in rank and character, the impression was the
same and fulfilled expectation, beginning with Rochambeau, who saw him
for the first time at the Hartford conferences, in September, 1780, when
they tried to draw a first plan for a combined action. A friendship then
commenced between the two that was long to survive those eventful years.
"From the moment we began to correspond with one another," Rochambeau
wrote in his memoirs, "I never ceased to enjoy the soundness of his
judgment and the amenity of his style in a very long correspondence,
which is likely not to end before the death of one of us."

Chastellux, who saw him at his camp, where the band of the American army
played for him the "March of the Huron," could draw from life his
well-known description of him, ending: "Northern America, from Boston to
Charleston, is a great book every page of which tells his praise."[33]
Count de Ségur says that he apprehended his expectations could not be
equalled by reality, but they were. "His exterior almost told his story.
Simplicity, grandeur, dignity, calm, kindness, firmness shone in his
physiognomy as well as in his character. He was of a noble and high
stature, his expression was gentle and kindly, his smile pleasing, his
manners simple without familiarity.... All in him announced the hero of
a republic." "I have seen Washington," says Abbé Robin, "the soul and
support of one of the greatest revolutions that ever happened.... In a
country where every individual has a part in supreme authority ... he
has been able to maintain his troops in absolute subordination, render
them jealous of his praise, make them fear his very silence." Closen was
one day sent with despatches to the great man and, like all the others,
began to worship him.

As a consequence of this mission Washington came, on the 6th of March,
1781, to visit the French camp and fleet. He was received with the
honors due to a marshal of France, the ships were dressed, the troops,
in their best uniforms, "dans la plus grande tenue," lined the streets
from Rochambeau's house (the fine Vernon house, still in existence[34])
to the harbor; the roar and smoke of the guns rose in honor of the "hero
of liberty." Washington saw Destouches's fleet sail for its Southern
expedition and wished it Godspeed; and after a six days' stay, enlivened
by "illuminations, dinners, and balls," he left on the 13th. "I can
say," we read in Closen's journal, "that he carried away with him the
regrets, the attachment, the respect, and the veneration of all our
army." Summing up his impression, he adds: "All in him betokens a great
man with an excellent heart. Enough good will never be said of him."


On the 8th of May, 1781, the _Concorde_ arrived at Boston, having on
board Count de Barras, "a commodore with the red ribbon," of the same
family as the future member of the "Directoire," and who was to replace
Ternay. With him was Viscount Rochambeau, bringing to his father the
unwelcome news that no second division was to be expected. "My son has
returned very solitary," was the only remonstrance the general sent to
the minister. But the young colonel was able to give, at the same time,
news of great importance. A new fleet under Count de Grasse had been got
together, and at the time of the _Concorde's_ departure had just sailed
for the West Indies, so that a temporary domination of the sea might
become a possibility. "Nothing without naval supremacy," Rochambeau had
written, as we know, in his note-book before starting.

In spite, moreover, of "hard times," wrote Vergennes to La Luzerne, and
of the already disquieting state of our finances, a new "gratuitous
subsidy of six million livres tournois" was granted to the Americans.
Some funds had already been sent to Rochambeau, one million and a half
in February, with a letter of Necker saying: "Be assured, sir, that all
that will be asked from the Finance Department for your army will be
made ready on the instant." Seven millions arrived a little later,
brought by the _Astrée_, which had crossed the ocean in sixty-seven
days, without mishap. As for troops, only 600 recruits arrived at
Boston, in June, with the _Sagittaire_.

Since nothing more was to be expected, the hour had come for definitive
decisions. A great effort must now be made, _the_ great effort in view
of which all the rest had been done, the one which might bring about
peace and American liberty or end in lasting failure. All felt the
importance and solemnity of the hour. The great question was what should
be attempted--the storming of New York or the relief of the South?

The terms of the problem had been amply discussed in letters and
conferences between the chiefs, and the discussion still continued. The
one who first made up his mind and ceased to hesitate between the
respective advantages or disadvantages of the two projects, and who
plainly declared that there was but one good plan, which was to
reconquer the South, that one, strange to say, was neither Washington
nor Rochambeau, and was not in the United States either as a sailor or a
soldier, but as a diplomat, and in drawing attention to the fact I am
only performing the most agreeable duty toward a justly admired
predecessor. This wise adviser was La Luzerne. In an unpublished memoir,
drawn up by him on the 20th of April and sent to Rochambeau on May 19
with an explanatory letter in which he asked that his statement (a copy
of which he also sent to Barras) be placed under the eyes of Washington,
he insisted on the necessity of immediate action, and action in the
Chesapeake: "It is in the Chesapeake Bay that it seems urgent to convey
all the naval forces of the King, with such land forces as the generals
will consider appropriate. This change cannot fail to have the most
advantageous consequences for the continuation of the campaign," which
consequences he points out with singular clear-sightedness, adding: "If
the English follow us and can reach the bay only after us, their
situation will prove very different from ours; all the coasts and the
inland parts of the country are full of their enemies. They have neither
the means nor the time to raise, as at New York, the necessary works to
protect themselves against the inroads of the American troops and to
save themselves from the danger to which the arrival of superior forces
would expose them." If the plan submitted by him offers difficulties,
others should be formed, but he maintains that "all those which have for
their object the relief of the Southern States must be preferred, and
that no time should be lost to put them in execution."

At the Weathersfield conference, near Hartford, Conn., between the
Americans and French, on the 23d of May (in the Webb house, still in
existence), Washington still evinced, and not without some weighty
reasons, his preference for an attack on New York. He spoke of the
advanced season, of "the great waste of men which we have found from
experience in long marches in the Southern States," of the "difficulty
of transports by land"; all those reasons and some others, "too well
known to Count de Rochambeau to need repeating, show that an operation
against New York should be preferred, in the present circumstances, to
the effort of a sending of troops to the South." On the same day he was
writing to La Luzerne: "I should be wanting in respect and confidence
were I not to add that our object is New York."

La Luzerne, however, kept on insisting. To Rochambeau he wrote on the
1st of June: "The situation of the Southern States becomes every moment
more critical; it has even become very dangerous, and every measure that
could be taken for their relief would be of infinite advantage.... The
situation of the Marquis de Lafayette and that of General Greene is most
embarrassing, since Lord Cornwallis has joined the English division of
the Chesapeake. If Virginia is not helped in time, the English will have
reached the goal which they have assigned to themselves in the bold
movements attempted by them in the South: they will soon have really
conquered the Southern States.... I am going to write to M. de Grasse as
you want me to do; on your side, seize every occasion to write to him,
and multiply the copies of the letters you send him," that is, in
duplicate and triplicate, for fear of loss or capture. "His coming to
the rescue of the oppressed States is not simply desirable; the thing
seems to be now of the most pressing necessity." He must not only come,
but bring with him all he can find of French troops in our isles: thus
would be compensated, to a certain extent, the absence of the second

Rochambeau soon agreed, and, with his usual wisdom, Washington was not
long in doing the same. On the 28th of May the French general had
already written to de Grasse, beseeching him to come with every means at
his disposal, to bring his whole fleet, and not only his fleet, but a
supply of money, to be borrowed in our colonies, and also all the French
land forces from our garrisons which he could muster. The desire of
Saint-Simon to come and help had, of course, not been forgotten by
Rochambeau, and he counted on his good-will. After having described the
extreme importance of the effort to be attempted, he concluded: "The
crisis through which America is passing at this moment is of the
severest. The coming of Count de Grasse may be salvation."

Events had so shaped themselves that the fate of the United States and
the destinies of more than one nation would be, for a few weeks, in the
hands of one man, and one greatly hampered by imperative instructions
obliging him, at a time when there was no steam to command the wind and
waves, to be at a fixed date in the West Indies, owing to certain
arrangements with Spain. Would he take the risk, and what would be the
answer of that temporary arbiter of future events, François Joseph Paul
Comte de Grasse, a sailor from the age of twelve, now a
lieutenant-general and "chef d'escadre," who had seen already much
service on every sea, in the East and West Indies, with d'Orvilliers at
Ushant, with Guichen against Rodney in the Caribbean Sea, a haughty man,
it was said, with some friends and many enemies, the one quality of his
acknowledged by friend and foe being valor? "Our admiral," his sailors
were wont to say, "is six foot tall on ordinary days, and six foot six
on battle days."

What would he do and say? People in those times had to take their chance
and act in accordance with probabilities. This Washington and Rochambeau
did. By the beginning of June all was astir in the northern camp.
Soldiers did not know what was contemplated, but obviously it was
something great. Young officers exulted. What joy to have at last the
prospect of an "active campaign," wrote Closen in his journal, "and to
have an occasion to visit other provinces and see the differences in
manners, customs, products, and trade of our good Americans!"

The camp is raised and the armies are on the move toward New York and
the South; they are in the best dispositions, ready, according to
circumstances, to fight or admire all that turns up. "The country
between Providence and Bristol," says Closen, "is charming. We thought
we had been transported into Paradise, all the roads being lined with
acacias in full bloom, filling the air with a delicious, almost too
strong fragrance." Steeples are climbed, and "the sight is one of the
finest possible." Snakes are somewhat troublesome, but such things will
happen, even in Paradise. The heat becomes very great, and night marches
are arranged, beginning at two o'clock in the morning; roads at times
become muddy paths, where wagons, artillery, carts conveying boats for
the crossing of rivers cause great trouble and delay. Poor Abbé Robin,
ill-prepared for martyrdom, becomes pathetic, talking of his own fate,
fearful of being captured by the English and of becoming "the victim of
those anti-republicans." He sleeps on the ground, under a torrential
rain, "in front of a great fire, roasted on one side, drenched on the
other." He finds, however, that "French gayety remains ever present in
these hard marches. The Americans whom curiosity brings by the thousand
to our camps are received," he writes, "with lively joy; we cause our
military instruments to play for them, of which they are passionately
fond. Officers and soldiers, then, American men and women mix and dance
together; it is the Feast of Equality, the first-fruits of the alliance
which must prevail between those nations.... These people are still in
the happy period when distinctions of rank and birth are ignored; they
treat alike the soldier and the officer, and often ask the latter what
is his profession in his country, unable as they are to imagine that
that of a warrior may be a fixed and permanent one."

Washington writes to recommend precautions against spies, who will be
sent to the French camp, dressed as peasants, bringing fruit and other
provisions, and who "will be attentive to every word which they may hear

Several officers, for the sake of example, discard their horses and
walk, indifferent to mud and heat; some of them, like the Viscount de
Noailles, performing on foot the whole distance of seven hundred and
fifty-six miles between Newport and Yorktown. Cases of sickness were
rare. "The attention of the superior officers," says Abbé Robin, "very
much contributed to this, by the care they took in obliging the soldiers
to drink no water without rum in it to remove its noisome qualities." It
is not reported that superior officers had to use violence to be obeyed.
This precaution, up to a recent date, was still considered a wise one;
in the long journeys on foot that we used to take in my youth across the
Alps, our tutor was convinced that no water microbe could resist the
addition of a little kirsch. Anyway, we resisted the microbes.

On the 6th of July the junction of the two armies took place at
Phillipsburg, "three leagues," Rochambeau writes, "from Kingsbridge, the
first post of the enemy in the island of New York,"[36] the American
army having followed the left bank of the Hudson in order to reach the
place of meeting. On the receipt of the news, Lord Germain, the British
colonial secretary, wrote to Clinton, who commanded in chief at New
York: "The junction of the French troops with the Americans will, I am
persuaded, soon produce disagreements and discontents, and Mr.
Washington will find it necessary to separate them very speedily, either
by detaching the Americans to the southward or suffering the French to
return to Rhode Island.... But I trust, before that can happen, Lord
Cornwallis will have given the loyal inhabitants on both sides of the
Chesapeake the opportunity they have so long ago earnestly desired of
avowing their principles and standing forth in support of the King's
measures." Similar proofs of my lord's acumen abound in his partly
unpublished correspondence. He goes on rejoicing and deducting all the
happy consequences which were sure to result from the meeting of the
French and American troops, so blandly elated at the prospect as to
remind any one familiar with La Fontaine's fables, of Perrette and her

Washington, in the meantime, was reviewing the French troops (July 9),
and Rochambeau the American ones, and--a fact which would have greatly
surprised Lord Germain--the worse equipped the latter were, the greater
the sympathy and admiration among the French for their endurance. "Those
brave people," wrote Closen, "it really pained us to see, almost naked,
with mere linen vests and trousers, most of them without stockings; but,
would you believe it? looking very healthy and in the best of spirits."
And further on: "I am full of admiration for the American troops. It is
unbelievable that troops composed of men of all ages, even of children
of fifteen, of blacks and whites, all nearly naked, without money,
poorly fed, should walk so well and stand the enemy's fire with such
firmness. The calmness of mind and the clever combinations of General
Washington, in whom I discover every day new eminent qualities, are
already enough known, and the whole universe respects and admires him.
Certain it is that he is admirable at the head of his army, every member
of which considers him as his friend and father." These sentiments,
which were unanimous in the French army, assuredly did not betoken the
clash counted upon by the English colonial secretary, and more than one
of our officers who had, a few years later, to take part in another
Revolution must have been reminded of the Continental soldiers of '81 as
they led to battle, fighting for a similar cause, our volunteers of '92.

No real hatred, any more than before, appeared among the French troops
for those enemies whom they were now nearing, and with whom they had
already had some sanguinary skirmishes. During the intervals between
military operations relations were courteous, and at times amicable. The
English gave to the French news of Europe, even when the news was good
for the latter, and passed to them newspapers. "We learned that news"
(Necker's resignation), writes Blanchard, "through the English, who
often sent trumpeters and passed gazettes to us. We learned from the
same papers that Mr. de La Motte-Picquet had captured a rich convoy.[37]
These exchanges between the English and us did not please the Americans,
nor even General Washington, who were unaccustomed to this kind of
warfare." The fight was really for an idea, but, what might have
dispelled any misgivings, with no possibility of a change of idea.


Two unknown factors now were for the generals the cause of deep concern.
What would de Grasse do? What would Clinton do? The wounded officer of
Johannisberg, the winner of Charleston, Sir Henry Clinton, a
lieutenant-general and former member of Parliament, enjoying great
repute, was holding New York, not yet the second city of the world nor
even the first of the United States, covering only with its modest
houses, churches, and gardens the lower part of Manhattan, and reduced,
owing to the war, to 10,000 inhabitants. But, posted there, the English
commander threatened the road on which the combined armies had to move.
He had at his disposal immense stores, strong fortifications, a powerful
fleet to second his movements, and troops equal in number and training
to ours.

There are periods in the history of nations when, after a continuous
series of misfortunes, when despair would have seemed excusable,
suddenly the sky clears and everything turns their way. In the War of
American Independence, such a period had begun. The armies of Washington
and Rochambeau, encumbered with their carts, wagons, and artillery, had
to pass rivers, to cross hilly regions, to follow muddy tracks; any
serious attempt against them might have proved fatal, but nothing was
tried. It was of the greatest importance that Clinton should, as long as
possible, have no intimation of the real plans of the Franco-Americans;
everything helped to mislead him: his natural dispositions as well as
circumstances. He had an unshakable conviction that the key to the whole
situation was New York, and that the royal power in America, and he,
too, Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Clinton, would stand or fall with that
city. Hence his disinclination to leave it and to attempt anything
outside. His instructions ordered him to help Cornwallis to his utmost,
the plan of the British court being to conquer the Southern States first
and then continue the conquest northward. But he, on the contrary, was
day after day asking Cornwallis to send back some of his troops. And
while, as he never ceased to point out afterward, he was careful to add,
"if you could spare them," he also remarked in the same letter: "I
confess I could not conceive you would require above 4,000 in a station
where General Arnold has represented to me, upon report of Colonel
Simcoe, that 2,000 men would be amply sufficient."[38]

A great source of light, and, as it turned out, of darkness also, was
the intercepting of letters. This constantly happened in those days, to
the benefit or bewilderment of both parties, on land or at sea. But luck
had decidedly turned, and the stars shone propitious for the allies. We
captured valuable letters, and Clinton misleading ones. It was something
of a retribution after he had so often used or tried to use such
captures to his advantage, as when, having seized an intimate letter of
Washington, a passage of which might have given umbrage to Rochambeau,
he had it printed in the newspapers. But the two commanders were not to
be ruffled so easily, and all that took place was a frank explanation.
Spontaneously acting in the same spirit, La Luzerne had written to
Rochambeau concerning Washington and this incident: "I have told all
those that have spoken to me of it that I saw nothing in it but the zeal
of a good patriot, and a citizen must be very virtuous for his enemies
not to find other crimes to reproach him with."[39]

More treasures had now fallen into the hands of Clinton: a letter of
Chastellux to La Luzerne, speaking very superciliously of his
unmanageable chief, Rochambeau, and of his "bourrasques." In it he
congratulated himself, as Rochambeau narrates, on having "cleverly
managed to cause me to agree with General Washington," the result being
that "a siege of the island of New York had at last been determined
upon.... He added complaints about the small chance a man of parts had
to influence the imperiousness of a general always wanting to command."
Clinton caused that letter to be sent to Rochambeau, "obviously with no
view," writes the latter, "to the preservation of peace in my military
family." Rochambeau showed it to Chastellux, who blushingly acknowledged
its authorship; the general thereupon threw it into the fire and left
the unfortunate Academician "a prey to his remorse,"--and to his
ignorance, for he was careful not to undeceive him as to the real plans
of the combined army.

A text of the conclusions reached at the Weathersfield conferences was
no less happily captured by Clinton, and we have seen how clearly
Washington had there expressed his reluctance to attempt striking the
chief blow in the South. A letter of Barras to La Luzerne, of May 27,
was also intercepted, and as luck would have it, the sailor declared in
it his intention to take the fleet, of all places, to Boston (a real
project, but abandoned as soon as formed and replaced by another which
took him to the Chesapeake). A most important letter of Rochambeau to La
Luzerne, explaining the real plan, was thereupon intercepted; it was in
cipher and the English managed to decipher it. But, as the stars shone
propitious to the allies, it was only the English in London, and not
those in New York, who could do it, and when the translation reached
Clinton at last, he had no longer, for good causes, any doubt as to the
real aims of Washington and Rochambeau.

The colonial secretary was, in the meantime, kept in a state of
jubilation by so much treasure-trove and the news forwarded by Clinton,
to whom he wrote: "The copies of the very important correspondence which
so fortunately fell into your hands, inclosed in your despatch, show the
rebel affairs to be almost desperate, and that nothing but the success
of some extraordinary enterprise can give vigor and activity to their
cause, and I confess I am well pleased that they have fixed upon New
York as the object to be attempted."[40] Clinton acknowledged a little
later to Lord Germain the receipt of a "reinforcement of about 2,400
German troops and recruits," which he was careful to hold tight in New
York till the end.

The combined armies had, in the meantime, done their best to confirm the
English commander in such happy dispositions. They had built in the
vicinity of New York brick ovens for baking bread for an army, as in
view of a long siege. There had been reconnaissances, marches, and
countermarches, a sending of ships toward Long Island without entering,
however, "dans la baie d'Oyster," skirmishes which looked like
preliminaries to more important operations, and in one of which,
together with the two Berthiers and Count de Vauban, Closen nearly lost
his life in order to save his hat. A camp proverb about hats had been
the cause of his taking the risk. When he returned, "kind Washington,"
he writes in his journal, "tapped me on the shoulder, saying: 'Dear
Baron, this French proverb is not yet known among our army, but your
cold behavior during danger will be it'" (in English in the original as
being the very words of the great man to the young one, though _cold_
does probably duty for _cool_, and the final _it_ is certainly not

Then on the sudden, on the 18th of August, the two armies raised their
camps, disappeared, and, following unusual roads, moving northward at
first for three marches, reached in the midst of great difficulties,
under a torrid heat, greatly encumbered with heavy baggage, the Hudson
River and crossed it at King's Ferry, without being more interfered with
than before. How can such an inaction on the part of Clinton be
explained? "It is for me," writes Count Guillaume de Deux-Ponts in his
journal, the manuscript of which was found on the quays in Paris,[41]
and printed in America, "an undecipherable enigma, and I hope I shall
never be reproached for having puzzled people with any similar ones."

The river once crossed, the double army moved southward by forced
marches. Rochambeau, in order to hasten the move, prescribed the leaving
behind of a quantity of effects, and this, says Closen, "caused
considerable grumbling among the line," which grumbled but marched. The
news, to be sure, of so important a movement came to Clinton, but, since
the stars had ceased to smile on him, he chose to conclude, as he wrote
to Lord Germain on the 7th of September, "this to be a feint." When he
discovered that it was not "a feint," the Franco-American army was
beyond reach. "What can be said as to this?" Closen writes merrily. "Try
to see better another time," and he draws a pair of spectacles on the
margin of his journal.

The march southward thus continued unhampered. They crossed first the
Jerseys, "a land of Cockayne, for game, fish, vegetables, poultry."
Closen had the happiness to "hear from the lips of General Washington,
and on the ground itself, a description of the dispositions taken, the
movements and all the incidents of the famous battles of Trenton and
Princeton." The young man, who had made great progress in English, was
now used by the two generals as their interpreter; so nothing escaped
him. The reception at Philadelphia was triumphal; Congress was most
courteous; toasts were innumerable. The city is an immense one, "with
seventy-two streets in a straight line.... Shops abound in all kinds of
merchandise, and some of them do not yield to the _Petit Dunkerque_ in
Paris." Where is now the _Petit Dunkerque_? "Mais où sont les Neiges
d'antan?"[42] Women are very pretty, "of charming manners, and very well
dressed, even in French fashion." Benezet, the French Quaker, one of the
celebrities of the city, is found to be full of wisdom, and La Luzerne,
"who keeps a state worthy of his sovereign," gives a dinner to one
hundred and eighty guests.

From Philadelphia to Chester, on the 5th of September, Rochambeau and
his aides took a boat. As they were nearing the latter city, "we saw in
the distance," says Closen, "General Washington shaking his hat and a
white handkerchief, and showing signs of great joy." Rochambeau had
scarcely landed when Washington, usually so cool and composed, fell into
his arms; the great news had arrived; de Grasse had come, and while
Cornwallis was on the defensive at Yorktown the French fleet was barring
the Chesapeake.[43]

On the receipt of letters from Washington, Rochambeau, and La Luzerne
telling him to what extent the fate of the United States was in his
hands, the sailor, having "learned, with much sorrow," he wrote to the
latter, "what was the distress of the continent, and the need there was
of immediate help," had decided that he would leave nothing undone to
usefully take part in the supreme effort which, without his help, might
be attempted in vain. Having left, on the 5th of August, Cap Français
(to-day Cap Haïtien), he had added to his fleet all the available ships
he could find in our isles, including some which, having been years
away, had received orders to go back to France for repairs. He had had
great difficulty in obtaining the money asked for, although he had
offered to mortgage for it his castle of Tilly, and the Chevalier de
Charitte, in command of the _Bourgogne_, had made a like offer. But at
last, thanks to the Spanish governor at Havana, he had secured the
desired amount of twelve hundred thousand francs. He was bringing,
moreover, the Marquis de Saint-Simon, with the 3,000 regular troops
under his command. De Grasse's only request was that operations be
pushed on with the utmost rapidity, as he was bound to be back at the
Isles at a fixed date. It can truly be said that no single man risked
nor did more for the United States than de Grasse, the single one of the
leaders to whom no memorial has been dedicated.

The news spread like wild-fire; the camp was merry with songs and
shouts; in Philadelphia the joy was indescribable; crowds pressed before
the house of La Luzerne, cheering him and his country, while in the
streets impromptu orators, standing on chairs, delivered mock funeral
orations on the Earl of Cornwallis. "You have," Rochambeau wrote to the
admiral, "spread universal joy throughout America, with which she is

Anxiety was renewed, however, when it was learned shortly after that the
French men-of-war had left the Chesapeake, the entrance to which now
remained free. The English fleet, of twenty ships and seven frigates,
under Hood and Graves, the same Graves who had failed to intercept
Rochambeau's convoy, had been signalled on the 5th of September, and de
Grasse, leaving behind him, in order to go faster, some of his ships and
a number of sailors who were busy on land, had weighed anchor,
three-quarters of an hour after sighting the signals, to risk the fight
upon which the issue of the campaign and, as it turned out, of the war,
was to depend. "This behavior of Count de Grasse," wrote the famous
Tarleton, is "worthy of admiration." Six days later the French admiral
was back; he had had 21 officers and 200 sailors killed or wounded, but
he had lost no ship, and the enemy's fleet, very much damaged, with 336
men killed or disabled, and having lost the _Terrible_, of 74 guns, and
the frigates _Iris_ and _Richmond_ of 40,[45] had been compelled to
retreat to New York. Admiral Robert Digby thereupon arrived with naval
reinforcements; "yet I do not think," La Luzerne wrote to Rochambeau,
"that battle will be offered again. If it is, I am not anxious about the
result." Nothing was attempted. This "superiority at sea," Tarleton
wrote in his _History of the Campaigns_, "proved the strength of the
enemies of Great Britain, deranged the plans of her generals,
disheartened the courage of her friends, and finally confirmed the
independency of America."[46] "Nothing," Rochambeau had written in his
note-book at starting, "without naval supremacy."

On re-entering the bay de Grasse had the pleasure to find there another
French fleet, that of his friend Barras. As a lieutenant-general de
Grasse outranked him, but as a "chef d'escadre" Barras was his senior
officer, which might have caused difficulties; the latter could be
tempted, and he was, to conduct a campaign apart, so as to personally
reap the glory of possible successes. "I leave it to thee, my dear
Barras," de Grasse had written him on the 28th of July, "to come and
join me or to act on thy own account for the good of the common cause.
Do only let me know, so that we do not hamper each other unawares."
Barras preferred the service of the cause to his own interest; leaving
Newport, going far out on the high seas, then dashing south at a great
distance from the coast, he escaped the English and reached the
Chesapeake, bringing the heavy siege artillery now indispensable for the
last operations. The stars had continued incredibly propitious.

The well-known double siege now began, that of Yorktown[47] by
Washington and Rochambeau, and that of Gloucester, on the opposite side
of the river, which might have afforded a place of retreat to
Cornwallis. De Grasse had consented to land, in view of the latter, 800
men under Choisy, whom Lauzun joined with his legion, and both acted in
conjunction with the American militia under Weedon.[48] The two chiefs
on the Yorktown side were careful to conduct the operations according to
rules, "on account," says Closen, "of the reputation of Cornwallis, and
the strength of the garrison." Such rules were certainly familiar to
Rochambeau, whose fifteenth siege this one was.

From day to day Cornwallis was more narrowly pressed. As late as the
29th of September he was still full of hope. "I have ventured these two
days," he wrote to Clinton, "to look General Washington's whole force in
the face in the position on the outside of my works; and I have the
pleasure to assure your Excellency that there was but one wish
throughout the whole army, which was that the enemy would advance." A
dozen days later the tone was very different. "I have only to repeat
that nothing but a direct move to York River, which includes a
successful naval action, can save me ... many of our works are
considerably damaged."

Lord Germain was, in the meantime, writing to Clinton in his happiest
mood, on the 12th of October: "It is a great satisfaction to me to
find ... that the plan you had concerted for conducting the military
operations in that quarter (the Chesapeake) corresponds with what I had
suggested." The court, which had no more misgivings than Lord Germain
himself, had caused to sail with Digby no less a personage than Prince
William, one of the fifteen children of George III, and eventually one
of his successors as William IV; but his presence could only prove one
more encumbrance.

After the familiar incidents of the siege in which the American and
French armies displayed similar valor and met with about the same
losses, the decisive move of the night attack on the enemy's advanced
redoubts had to be made, one of the redoubts to be stormed by the
Americans with Lafayette, and the other by the French under Viomesnil.
Rochambeau addressed himself especially to the grenadiers of the
regiment of Gatinais, which had been formed with a portion of his old
regiment of Auvergne, and said: "My boys, if I need you to-night, I hope
you will not have forgotten that we have served together in that brave
regiment of Auvergne sans tache (spotless Auvergne), an honorable
surname deserved by it since its formation." They answered that if he
would promise to have their former name restored to them he would find
they were ready to die to the last. They kept their word, losing many of
their number, and one of the first requests of Rochambeau when he
reached Paris was that their old name be given back to them, which was
done. Gatinais thus became Royal Auvergne, and is now the 18th Infantry.

On the 19th of October, after a loss of less than 300 men in each of the
besieging armies, an act was signed as great in its consequences as any
that ever followed the bloodiest battles, the capitulation of Yorktown.
It was in a way the ratification of that other act which had been
proposed for signature five years before at Philadelphia by men whose
fate had more than once, in the interval, seemed desperate, the
Declaration of Independence.

On the same day Closen writes: "The York garrison marched past at two
o'clock, before the combined army, which was formed in two lines, the
French facing the Americans and in full dress uniform.... Passing
between the two armies, the English showed much disdain for the
Americans, who so far as dress and appearances went represented the
seamy side, many of those poor boys being garbed in linen
_habits-vestes_, torn, soiled, a number among them almost shoeless. The
English had given them the nickname of _Yanckey-Dudle_. What does it
matter? the man of sense will think; they are the more to be praised and
show the greater valor, fighting, as they do, so badly equipped." As a
"man of sense," Rochambeau writes in his memoirs: "This justice must be
rendered to the Americans that they behaved with a zeal, a courage, an
emulation which left them in no case behind, in all that part of the
siege intrusted to them, in spite of their being unaccustomed to

The city offered a pitiful sight. "I shall never forget," says Closen,
"how horrible and painful to behold was the aspect of the town of
York.... One could not walk three steps without finding big holes made
by bombs, cannon-balls, splinters, barely covered graves, arms and legs
of blacks and whites scattered here and there, most of the houses
riddled with shot and devoid of window panes.... We found Lord
Cornwallis in his house. His attitude evinced the nobility of his soul,
his magnanimity and firmness of character. He seemed to say: I have
nothing to reproach myself with, I have done my duty and defended myself
to the utmost." This impression of Lord Cornwallis was general.

As to Closen's description of the town, now so quiet and almost asleep,
by the blue water, amid her sand-dunes, once more torn and blood-stained
during the Civil War, resting at the foot of the great marble memorial
raised a hundred years later by Congress,[49] it is confirmed by Abbé
Robin, who notices, too, "the quantity of human limbs which infected the
air," but also, being an abbé, the number of books scattered among the
ruins, many being works of piety and theological controversy, and with
them "the works of the famous Pope, and translations of Montaigne's
_Essays_, of _Gil Blas_, and of the _Essay on Women_ by Monsieur
Thomas," that stern essay, so popular then in America, in which society
ladies were invited to fill their soul with those "sentiments of nature
which are born in retreat and grow in silence."

Nothing better puts in its true light the dominant characteristic of the
French sentiment throughout the war than what happened on this solemn
occasion, and more shows how, with their new-born enthusiasm for
philanthropy and liberty, the French were pro-Americans much more than
anti-English. No trace of a triumphant attitude toward a vanquished
enemy appeared in anything they did or said. Even in the surrendering,
the fact remained apparent that this was not a war of hatred. "The
English," writes Abbé Robin, "laid down their arms at the place
selected. Care was taken not to admit sightseers, so as to diminish
their humiliation." Henry Lee (Light-horse Harry), who was present,
describes in the same spirit the march past: "Universal silence was
observed amidst the vast concourse, and the utmost decency prevailed,
exhibiting in demeanor an awful sense of the vicissitudes of human life,
mingled with commiseration for the unhappy."[50]

The victors pitied Cornwallis and showed him every consideration;
Rochambeau, learning that he was without money, lent him all he wanted.
He invited him to dine with him and his officers on the 2d of November.
"Lord Cornwallis," writes Closen, "especially distinguished himself by
his reflective turn of mind, his noble and gentle manners. He spoke
freely of his campaigns in the Carolinas, and, though he had won several
victories, he acknowledged, nevertheless, that they were the cause of
the present misfortunes. All, with the exception of Tarleton, spoke
French, O'Hara in particular to perfection, but he seemed to us
something of a brag."[51] A friendly correspondence began between the
English general and some of the French officers, Viscount de Noailles,
the one who had walked all the way, lending him, the week after the
capitulation, his copy of the beforementioned famous work of Count de
Guibert on _Tactics_, which was at that time the talk of Europe, and of
which Napoleon said later that "it was such as to form great men," the
same Guibert who expected lasting repute from that work and from his
military services, and who--irony of fate--general and Academician
though he was, is chiefly remembered as the hero of the letters of
Mademoiselle de Lespinasse.

Cornwallis realized quite well that the French had fought for a cause
dear to their hearts more than from any desire to humble him or his
nation. He publicly rendered full justice to the enemy, acknowledging
that the fairest treatment had been awarded him by them. In the final
report in which he gives his own account of the catastrophe, and which
he caused to be printed when he reached England, he said: "The kindness
and attention that has been shown us by the French officers ... their
delicate sensibility of our situation, their generous and pressing
offers of money, both public and private, to any amount, has really gone
beyond what I can possibly describe and will, I hope, make an impression
on the breast of every British officer whenever the fortunes of war
should put any of them in our power."

The French attitude in the New World was in perfect accord with the
French sentiments in the Old. On receiving from Lauzun and Count de
Deux-Ponts, who for fear of capture had sailed in two different
frigates, the news of the taking of Cornwallis, of his 8,000 men (of
whom 2,000 were in hospitals), 800 sailors, 214 guns, and 22 flags, the
King wrote to Rochambeau: "Monsieur le Comte de Rochambeau, the success
of my arms flatters me only as being conducive to peace." And, thanking
the "Author of all prosperity," he announced the sending of letters to
the archbishops and bishops of his kingdom for a _Te Deum_ to be sung in
all the churches of their dioceses.

It was a long time since the old cocks of the French churches had
quivered at the points of the steeples to the chant of a _Te Deum_ for a
victory leading to a glorious peace. The victory was over those enemies
who, not so very long before, had bereft us of Canada. Nothing more
significant than the pastoral letter of "Louis Apollinaire de la Tour du
Pin Montauban, by the grace of God first Bishop of Nancy, Primate of
Lorraine," appointing the date for the thanksgiving ceremonies, and
adding: "This so important advantage has been the result of the wisest
measures. Reason and humanity have gauged it and have placed it far
above those memorable but bloody victories whose lustre has been
tarnished by almost universal mourning. Here the blood of our allies and
of our generous compatriots has been spared, and why should we not note
with satisfaction that the forces of our enemies have been considerably
weakened, their efforts baffled, the fruits of their immense expense
lost, without our having caused rivers of their blood to be spilt,
without our having filled their country with unfortunate widows and
mothers?" For this, too, as well as for the victory, thanks must be
offered; and for this, too, for such a rare and such a humane feeling,
the name of Bishop de la Tour du Pin Montauban deserves to be

The nation at large felt like the bishop. One of the most typical of the
publications inspired in France by the war and its outcome was the
_Fragment of Xenophon, newly found in the ruins of Palmyra ...
translated from the Greek_, anonymously printed, in 1783,[52] in which
under the names of Greeks and Carthaginians, the story of the campaign
is told; the chief actors being easily recognized, most of them, under
anagrams: Tusingonas is Washington; Cherambos, Rochambeau; the
illustrious Filaatete, Lafayette; Tangides, d'Estaing, and the wise
Thales of Milet, Franklin.

Critical minds, the author observes, will perhaps think they discover
anachronisms, but such mean nothing; he will soon give an edition of the
Greek original, splendidly printed, "so the wealthy amateurs will buy
it, without being able to read it; the learned, who could read it, will
be unable to buy it, and everybody will be pleased."

The author gives a detailed description of the Greeks and of the
Carthaginians, that is, the French and their former enemies, the
English: "Greece, owing to her intellectual and artistic predominance,
seemed to lead the rest of the world, and Athens led Greece. The
Athenians were, truth to say, accused of inconstancy; they were
reproached for the mobility of their character, their fondness for new
things, their leaning toward raillery; but there was something pleasing
in their defects. Justice was, moreover, rendered to their rare
qualities: gentle as they were and softened by their fondness for
enjoyment, they nonetheless were attracted by danger and prodigal of
their blood. They felt as much passion for glory as for pleasure;
arbiters in matters of taste, they played the same rôle in questions of
honor, an idol with them; somewhat light-minded, they were withal frank
and generous.... This brilliant and famous nation was such that those
among her enemies that cast most reproaches at her envied the fate of
the citizens living within her borders."

Whether succeeding events have cured or not some of that
light-mindedness, any one can see to-day and form his judgment.

As to Carthaginians (the English), no animosity, no hatred, but, on the
contrary, greater praise than was accorded to his own compatriots by
many an English writer: "It must be acknowledged that they never made a
finer defense.... They faced everywhere all their enemies, and,
disastrous as the result may have proved for them, this part of their
annals will remain one of the most glorious. Why should we hesitate to
render them justice? Yes, if the intrepid defender of the columns of
Hercules[53] were present in person at our celebration, he would receive
the tribute of praise and applause that Greeks know how to pay to any
brave and generous enemy."

This way of thinking had nothing exceptional. One of the most
authoritative publicists of the day, Lacretelle, in 1785, considering,
in the _Mercure de France_, the future of the new-born United States,
praised the favorable influence exercised on them by the so much admired
British Constitution--"the most wonderful government in Europe. For it
will be England's glory to have created peoples worthy of throwing off
her yoke, even though she must endure the reproach of having forced them
to independence by forgetfulness of her own maxims."

As to the members of the French army who had started for the new crusade
two years before, they had at once the conviction that, in accordance
with their anticipation, they had witnessed something great which would
leave a profound trace in the history of the world. They brought home
the seed of liberty and equality, the "virus," as it was called by
Pontgibaud, who, friend as he was of Lafayette, resisted the current to
the last and remained a royalist. "The young French nobility," says
Talleyrand in his memoirs, "having enlisted for the cause of
independence, clung ever after to the principle which it had gone to
defend."[54] Youthful Saint-Simon, the future Saint-Simonian, thus
summed up his impressions of the campaign: "I felt that the American
Revolution marked the beginning of a new political era; that this
revolution would necessarily set moving an important progress in general
civilization, and that it would, before long, occasion great changes in
the social order then existing in Europe."[55] Many experienced the
feeling described in the last lines of his journal by Count Guillaume de
Deux-Ponts, wounded at the storming of the redoubts: "With troops as
good and brave and well-disciplined as those which I have had the honor
to lead against the enemy, one can undertake anything.... I owe them the
greatest day in my life, the souvenir of which will never die out....
Man's life is mixed with trials, but one can no longer complain when
having enjoyed the delightful moments which are their counterpart; a
single instant effaces such troubles, and that instant, well resented,
causes one to desire new trials so as to once more enjoy their


For one year more Rochambeau remained in America. Peace was a
possibility, not a certainty. In London, where so late as November 20,
the most encouraging news continued to be received, but where that of
the catastrophe, brought by the _Rattlesnake_, arrived on the 25th,
George III and his ministers refused to yield to evidence, Lord Germain
especially, for whom the shock had been great, and who was beseeching
Parliament "to proceed with vigor in the prosecution of the war and not
leave it in the power of the French to tell the Americans that they had
procured their independence, and were consequently entitled to a
preference, if not an exclusive right, in their trade." This was not to
know us well; our treaty of commerce had been signed three years before,
at a time when anything would have been granted to propitiate France,
but there was not in it, as we saw, one single advantage that was not
equally accessible to any one who chose, the English included.

As for King George, he decided that the 8th of February, 1782, would be
a day of national fasting, to ask pardon for past sins, and implore
Heaven's assistance in the prosecution of the war. Franklin was still
beseeching his compatriots to be on their guard: "It seems the [English]
nation is sick of [the war] ... but the King is obstinate.... The
ministry, you will see, declare that the war in America is for the
future to be only _defensive_. I hope we shall be too prudent to have
the least dependence on this declaration. It is only thrown out to lull
us; for, depend upon it, the King hates us cordially, and will be
content with nothing short of our extirpation."[56]

With his French _admiratrices_ the sage exchanged merry, picturesque
letters. Madame Brillon writes, in French, from Nice on the 11th of
December, 1781: "My dear Papa, I am sulky with you ... yes, Mr. Papa, I
am sulky. What! You capture whole armies in America, you burgoynize
Cornwallis, you capture guns, ships, ammunition, men, horses, etc.,
etc., you capture everything and of everything, and only the gazette
informs your friends, who go off their heads drinking your health, that
of Washington, of independence, of the King of France, of the Marquis de
Lafayette, of Mr. de Rochambeau, Mr. de Chastellux, etc., and you give
them no sign of life!..."

With his valiant pen, which feared nothing, not even French grammar,
Franklin answered: "Passy, 25 Décembre 1781.--Vous me boudés, ma chère
amie, que je n'avois pas vous envoyé tout de suite l'histoire de notre
grande victoire. Je suis bien sensible de la magnitude de notre avantage
et de ses possibles bonnes conséquences, mais je ne triomphe pas.
Sçachant que la guerre est pleine de variétés et d'incertitudes, dans la
mauvaise fortune j'espère la bonne, et dans la bonne je crains la

The future continued doubtful. In June Washington was still writing: "In
vain is it to expect that our aim is to be accomplished by fond wishes
for peace, and equally ungenerous and fruitless will it be for one State
to depend upon another to bring this to pass."[57] French and American
regiments remained, therefore, under arms and waited, but scarcely did
anything on the continent but wait. For if George III was still for war,
the mass of his people were not. Rochambeau availed himself of his
leisure to visit the accessible parts of the country, give calls and
dinners to his neighbors, study the manners and resources of the
inhabitants, go fox-hunting "through the woods, accompanied by some
twenty sportsmen. We have forced more than thirty foxes; the packs of
hounds of the local gentlemen are perfect," states Closen. The different
usages of the French and the Americans are for each other a cause of
merriment. "On New Year's Day the custom of the French to embrace, even
in the street, caused much American laughter," but, the young aide
observes with some spite, "their _shake hands_, on the other side, those
more or less prolonged and sometimes very hard-pressed twitchings of the
hands are certainly on a par with European embracings."

Rochambeau had established himself at Williamsburg, the quiet and
dignified capital of the then immense State of Virginia, noted for its
"Bruton church," its old College of William and Mary, designed by Sir
Christopher Wren, and the birthplace of the far-famed Phi Beta Kappa
fraternity, its statue of the former English governor, Lord
Botetourt,[58] in conspicuous marble wig and court mantle. "America,
behold your friend," the inscription on the pedestal reads.

That other friend of America, Rochambeau, took up his quarters in the
college, one of the buildings of which, used as a hospital for our
troops, accidentally took fire, but was at once paid for by the French
commander. Seeing more of the population, Rochambeau was noting a number
of traits which were to be taken up again by Tocqueville, the diffusion
of the ideas of religious tolerance, the absence of privileges, equality
put into practise. "The husbandman in his habitation is neither a
castellated lord nor a tenant, but a landowner." It takes him thirty to
forty years to rise from "the house made of logs and posts," with the
house "of well-joined boards" as an intermediary stage, to the "house in
bricks, which is the acme of their architecture." Labor is expensive and
is paid a dollar a day. The country has three million inhabitants, but
will easily support a little more than thirty, which was not such a bad
guess since the thirteen States of Rochambeau's day have now
thirty-seven. Men are fond of English furniture, and women "have a great
liking for French fashions." In every part where the ravages of the war
have not been felt people live at their ease, "and the little negro is
ever busy clearing and laying the table."

Faithful Closen, who had been proposed for promotion on account of his
gallant conduct at the siege, accompanied the general everywhere, and
also explored separately, on his own account, led sometimes by his
fondness for animals, of which he was making "a small collection, some
living and some stuffed ones, only too glad if they can please the
persons for whom I destine them." He takes notes on raccoons,
investigates opossums, and visits a marsh "full of subterranean
habitations of beavers," and he sees them at work. He is also present at
one of those cock-fights so popular then in the region, "but the sight
is a little too cruel to allow one to derive enjoyment from it."

Sent to Portsmouth with letters for Mr. de Vaudreuil, in command of our
fleet, Closen becomes acquainted "with a very curious animal which the
people of the region call a musk-cat, but which I believe to be the
_puant_" (the stinking one), and a careful description shows that, in
any case, the name well fitted the animal. He also studies groundhogs on
the same occasion. The charm and picturesqueness of wild life in
American forests is a trait which French officers noted with amused
curiosity in their journals. Describing his long journey on foot from
the Chesapeake, where he had been shipwrecked, to Valley Forge, where he
was to become aide to his Auvergnat compatriot, Lafayette, youthful
Pontgibaud, with no luggage nor money left, sleeping in the open, writes
of the beauty of birds, and the delightful liveliness of innumerable
little squirrels, "who jumped from branch to branch, from tree to tree,
around me. They seemed to accompany the triumphal march of a young
warrior toward glory.... It is a fact that, with their jumps, their
gambols, that quantity of little dancers, so nimble, so clever, retarded
my walk.... Such is the way with people of eighteen; the present moment
makes them forget all the rest."[59]

Rochambeau, his son, and two aides, one of whom was Closen, journey to
visit at Monticello the already famous Jefferson; they take with them
fourteen horses, sleep in the houses where they chance to be at
nightfall, a surprise party which may, at times, have caused
embarrassment, but this accorded with the customs of the day. The
hospitality is, according to occasions, brilliant or wretched, "with a
bed for the general, as ornamented as the canopy for a procession," and
elsewhere "with rats which come and tickle our ears." They reach the
handsome house of the "philosopher," adorned with a colonnade, "the
platform of which is very prettily fitted with all sorts of mythological

The lord of the place dazzles his visitors by his encyclopædic
knowledge. Closen describes him as "very learned in belles-lettres, in
history, in geography, etc., etc., being better versed than any in the
statistics of America in general, and the interests of each particular
province, trade, agriculture, soil, products, in a word, all that is of
greatest use to know. The least detail of the wars here since the
beginning of the troubles is familiar to him. He speaks all the chief
languages to perfection, and his library is well chosen, and even rather
large in spite of a visit paid to the place by a detachment of
Tarleton's legion, which has proved costly and has greatly frightened
his family."

Numerous addresses expressing fervent gratitude were received by
Rochambeau, from Congress, from the legislatures of the various States,
from the universities, from the mayor and inhabitants of Williamsburg,
the latter offering their thanks not only for the services rendered by
the general in his "military capacity," but, they said, "for your
conduct in the more private walks of life, and the happiness we have
derived from the social, polite, and very friendly intercourse we have
been honored with by yourself and the officers of the French army in
general, during the whole time of your residence among us." The
favorable impression left by an army permeated with the growing
humanitarian spirit, is especially mentioned in several of those
addresses: "May Heaven," wrote "the Governor, council and
representatives of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations
in General Assembly convened," "reward your exertions in the cause of
humanity and the particular regard you have paid to the rights of the

Writing at the moment when departure was imminent, the Maryland Assembly
recalled in its address the extraordinary prejudices prevailing shortly
before in America against all that was French: "To preserve in troops
far removed from their own country the strictest discipline and _to
convert into esteem and affection deep and ancient prejudices_ was
reserved for you.... We view with regret the departure of troops which
have so conducted, so endeared, and so distinguished themselves, and we
pray that the laurels they have gathered before Yorktown may never fade,
and that victory, to whatever quarter of the globe they direct their
arms, may follow their standard."

The important result of a change in American sentiment toward the
French, apart from the military service rendered by them, was confirmed
to Rochambeau by La Luzerne, who wrote him: "Your well-behaved and brave
army has not only contributed to put an end to the success of the
English in this country, but has destroyed in three years prejudices
deep-rooted for three centuries."[60]

The "President and professors of the University of William and Mary,"
using a style which was to become habitual in France but a few years
later, desired to address Rochambeau, "not in the prostituted language
of fashionable flattery, but with the voice of truth and republican
sincerity," and, after thanks for the services rendered and the payment
made for the building destroyed "by an accident that often eludes all
possible precaution," they adverted to the future intellectual
intercourse between the two nations, saying: "Among the many
substantial advantages which this country hath already derived, and
which must ever continue to flow from its connection with France, we are
persuaded that the improvement of useful knowledge will not be the
least. A number of distinguished characters in your army afford us the
happiest presage that science as well as liberty will acquire vigor from
the fostering hand of your nation."

They concluded: "You have reaped the noblest laurels that victory can
bestow, and it is, perhaps, not an inferior triumph to have obtained the
sincere affection of a grateful people."

In order to "foster," as the authors of the address said, such
sentiments as to a possible intellectual intercourse, the French King
sent to this university, as the college was then called, "two hundred
volumes of the greatest and best French works," but, La Rochefoucauld
adds after having seen them in 1796, they arrived greatly damaged,
"because the Richmond merchant who had undertaken to convey them to the
college forgot them for a pretty long time in his cellar in the midst of
his oil and sugar barrels." Fire has since completed the havoc, so that
of the two hundred only two are now left, exhibited under glass in the
library-museum of the college. They are parts of the works of Bailly,
then of European fame as an astronomer and scientist, who was, however,
to count in history for something else than his _Traité sur l'Atlantide
de Platon_, for he was the same Bailly who a few years later presided
over the National Assembly, sending to the royal purchaser of his works
the famous reply: "The nation assembled can receive no orders," and who,
two days after the fall of the Bastille, was acclaimed by the crowd
mayor of Paris, while Lafayette was acclaimed commander-in-chief of the
National Guard.

Another gift of books was sent, with the same intent, by the King of
France to the University of Pennsylvania, and, though many have
disappeared, the fate of this collection has been happier. A number of
those volumes are still in use at Philadelphia, works which had been
selected as being likely to prove of greatest advantage, on science,
surgery, history, voyages, and bearing the honored names of Buffon, of
Darwin's forerunner, Lamarck, of Joinville, Bougainville, the
Bénédictins (_Art de vérifier les Dates_), and the same Bailly.

Rochambeau, who had begun learning English, set himself the task of
translating the addresses received by him, and several such versions in
his handwriting figure among his papers.

Closen, intrusted with the care of taking to Congress the general's
answer to its congratulations, rode at the rate of over one hundred
miles a day, slept "a few hours in a bed not meant to let any one
oversleep himself, thanks either to its comfort or to the biting and
abundant company in it," met by chance at Alexandria "the young,
charming, and lovely daughter-in-law of General Washington," Mrs.
Custis, and the praise of her is, from now on, ceaseless: "I had already
heard pompous praise of her, but I confess people had not exaggerated.
This lady is of such a gay disposition, so prepossessing, with such
perfect education, that she cannot fail to please everybody." He hands
his despatches to Congress, some to Washington, returns at the same rate
of speed, having as guide a weaver, so anxious to be through with his
job (two couriers had just been killed), that he rode at the maddest
pace. He reached Williamsburg on the 11th of May, having covered,
deduction made of the indispensable stoppings, "nine hundred and eighty
miles in less than nine times twenty-four hours."

As the summer of 1782 was drawing near, the French army, which had
wintered in Virginia, moved northward in view of possible operations.
This was for Closen an occasion to visit Mount Vernon, where Rochambeau
had stopped with Washington the year before when on their way to
Yorktown. "The house," says the aide, "is quite vast and perfectly
distributed, with handsome furniture, and is admirably kept, without
luxury. There are two pavilions connected with it, and a number of farm
buildings.... Behind the pavilion on the right is an immense garden,
with the most exquisite fruit in the country."

Mrs. Washington gracefully entertains the visitor, as well as Colonel de
Custine, the same who was to win and lose battles and die beheaded in
the French Revolution. Some ten officers of the Saintonge regiment,
which was in the neighborhood, are also received. "Mr. de Bellegarde
came ahead of Mr. de Custine, and brought, on his behalf, a porcelain
service, from his own manufacture, at Niderviller, near Phalsbourg, of
great beauty and in the newest taste, with the arms of General
Washington, and his monogram surmounted by a wreath of laurel.[61] Mrs.
Washington was delighted with Mr. de Custine's attention, and most
gracefully expressed her gratitude."

All leave that same evening except Closen, who had again found there the
incomparable Mrs. Custis (whose silhouette he took and inserted in his
journal), and who remained "one day more, being treated with the utmost
affability by these ladies, whose society," he notes, "was most sweet
and pleasant to me." He leaves at last, "rather sad."

Moving northward by night marches, the troops again start not later than
two o'clock in the morning, as in the previous summer; the French
officers notice the extraordinary progress realized since their first
visit. At Wilmington, says Closen, "some fifty brick houses have been
built, very fine and large, since we first passed, which gives a
charming appearance to the main street." At Philadelphia La Luzerne is
ready with another magnificent entertainment; a Dauphin has been born to
France, and a beautiful hall has been built on purpose for the intended
banquet by "a French officer serving in the American corps of
Engineers," Major L'Enfant, the future designer of the future "federal

On the 14th of August Washington and Rochambeau were again together, in
the vicinity of the North River, and the American troops were again
reviewed by the French general. They are no longer in tatters, but well
dressed, and have a fine appearance; their bearing, their manœuvres are
perfect; the commander-in-chief, "who causes his drums," Rochambeau
relates, "to beat the French March," is delighted to show his soldiers
to advantage; everybody compliments him.

During his stay at Providence, in the course of his journey north,
Rochambeau gave numerous fêtes, a charming picture of which, as well as
of the American society attending them, is furnished us by Ségur: "Mr.
de Rochambeau, desirous to the very last of proving by the details of
his conduct, as well as by the great services he had rendered, how much
he wished to keep the affection of the Americans and to carry away their
regrets, gave in the city of Providence frequent assemblies and numerous
balls, to which people flocked from ten leagues around.

"I do not remember to have seen gathered together in any other spot more
gayety and less confusion, more pretty women and more happily married
couples, more grace and less coquetry, a more complete mingling of
persons of all classes, between whom an equal decency allowed no
untoward difference to be seen. That decency, that order, that wise
liberty, that felicity of the new Republic, so ripe from its very
cradle, were the continual subject of my surprise and the object of my
frequent talks with the Chevalier de Chastellux."[62]


In the autumn of 1782 a general parting took place, Rochambeau returning
to France[63] and the army being sent to the Isles, believed now to be
threatened by the English; for if the war was practically at an end for
the Americans on the continent, it was not yet the same elsewhere for
us, and Suffren especially was prosecuting in the Indies his famous
naval campaign, which, owing to the lack of means of communication, was
to be continued long after peace had been signed.

So many friendships had been formed that there was much emotion when the
last days arrived.[64] On the 19th of October, being the anniversary of
Yorktown, Washington offered a dinner to the French officers, who on the
same day took leave of him, never to see him again. "On that evening,"
says Closen, "we took leave of General Washington and of the other
officers of our acquaintance, our troops being to sail on the 22d. There
is no sort of kindness and tokens of good will we have not received from
General Washington; the idea of parting from the French army, probably
forever, seemed to cause him real sorrow, having, as he had, received
the most convincing proofs of the respect, the veneration, the esteem,
and even the attachment which every individual in the army felt for

After having taken leave, "in tenderest fashion," of the American
commander, who promised "an enduring fraternal friendship," Rochambeau,
carrying with him two bronze field-pieces taken at Yorktown, presented
by Congress, and adorned with inscriptions, the engraving of which had
been supervised by Washington,[65] sailed for France on the _Emeraude_,
early in January, 1783. An English warship which had been cruising at
the entrance of the Chesapeake nearly captured him, and it was only by
throwing overboard her spare masts and part of her artillery that the
_Emeraude_, thus become lighter and faster, could escape. The general
learned, on landing, of the peace which Vergennes had considered, from
the first, as a certain, though not immediate, consequence of the taking
of Yorktown. "The homages of all Frenchmen go to you," he had written to
Rochambeau, adding: "You have restored to our arms all their lustre, and
you have laid the cornerstone for the raising, which we expect, of an
honorable peace." The hour for it had now struck, and while Suffren had
yet to win the naval battle of Goudelour, the preliminaries had been
signed at Versailles on the 20th of January, 1783.

The King, the ministers, the whole country gave Rochambeau the welcome
he deserved. At his first audience on his return he had asked Louis XVI,
as being his chief request, permission to divide the praise bestowed on
him with the unfortunate de Grasse, now a prisoner of the English after
the battle of the Saintes, where, fighting 30 against 37, he had lost
seven ships, including the _Ville de Paris_ (which had 400 dead and 500
wounded), all so damaged by the most furious resistance that, owing to
grounding, to sinking, or to fire, not one reached the English
waters.[66] Rochambeau received the blue ribbon of the Holy Ghost, was
appointed governor of Picardy, and a few years later became a marshal of
France. Owing to the proximity of his new post, he was able twice to
visit England, where he met again his dear La Luzerne, now French
ambassador in London, and his former foe, Admiral Hood, who received him
with open arms. But the tokens of friendship which touched him most came
from officers of Cornwallis's army: "They manifested," he writes, "in
the most public manner their gratitude for the humanity with which they
had been treated by the French army after their surrender."

Rochambeau was keeping up with Washington a most affectionate
correspondence, still partly unpublished, the great American often
reminding him of his "friendship and love" for his "companions in war,"
discussing a possible visit to France, and describing his life now spent
"in rural employments and in contemplation of those friendships which
the Revolution enabled me to form with so many worthy characters of your
nation, through whose assistance I can now sit down in my calm retreat."
Dreaming of a humanity less agitated than that he had known, dreaming
dreams which were not to be soon realized, he was writing to Rochambeau,
from Mount Vernon, on September 7, 1785: "Although it is against the
profession of arms, I wish to see all the world at peace."

"Much as he may wish to conceal himself and lead the life of a plain
man, he will ever be the first citizen of the United States," La Luzerne
had written to Vergennes, and the truth of the statement was shown when
a unanimous election made of the former commander-in-chief the first
President of the new republic, in the year when the States General met
in France and our own Revolution began.

Knowing the friendly dispositions preserved by Rochambeau toward
Americans,[67] Washington often gave those going abroad letters of
introduction to him; one day the man was Gouverneur Morris, so well
known afterward; another day it was a poet of great fame then, of not so
great now. Less sure of his ground when the question was of Parnassus
than when it was of battle-fields, Washington had described this
traveller to Lafayette as being "considered by those who are good judges
to be a genius of the first magnitude." To Rochambeau he introduced him
as "the author of an admirable poem in which he has worthily celebrated
the glory of your nation in general, and of yourself in particular."[68]
The poet was that Joel Barlow, of Hartford, who, having become later
minister of the United States to France, died in a Polish village in the
course of a journey undertaken to present his credentials to the chief
of the state, who, for important reasons, had been unable to grant him
an audience elsewhere than in Russia, the year being 1812, and the
sovereign Emperor Napoleon.[69]

The poem alluded to by Washington was an epic one, called the _Vision
of Columbus_, in which an angel appears to the navigator in his
legendary prison and reveals to him, in Virgilian fashion, the future of
America. Washington, Wayne, Greene are thus shown him, as well as

    Brave Rochambeau in gleamy steel array'd,

a description which, if brave Rochambeau ever saw it, must have made him

Rochambeau's letters are in such English as we have seen he had been
able, with commendable zeal, to learn late in life. The French general
keeps the American leader informed of what goes on in France, in
England, and Europe, bestows the highest praise on Pitt, "a wise man who
sets finances (of the English) in good order," and gives an account of a
visit paid him by Cornwallis at Calais: "I have seen Cornwallis last
summer at Calais.... I gave him a supper in little committee;[70] he was
very polite, but, as you may believe, I could not drink with him your
health in toast."[71]

He tells Washington of Franklin's departure from France, very old, very
ill, greatly admired, "having the courage to undertake so long a voyage
to go and die in the bosom of his native country. It will be impossible
for him, at his coming back [to] America, to go and visit you, but I
told him that you would certainly go and see him, and that I had always
heard you speaking of him in the best terms and having a great
consideration for his respectable character. He will have a great joy to
see you again, and I should be very happy if I could enjoy the same

An affectionate interest for one another and one another's families
appears in all these letters, as well as a cherishing of common
souvenirs. Rochambeau asks to be remembered to his former American
comrades: "A thousand kindness[es] and compliments to Mr. Jefferson, to
Mr. Knox, and to all my _anciens camarades_ and friends which are near

The Countess de Rochambeau sometimes takes up the pen, and in one of her
letters appeals to Washington in favor of dear Closen who, though he had
every right to be included in it, had been forgotten when the list of
the original Cincinnati had been drawn up.[74] The request was at once

Two _gouaches_ had been painted by the famous miniaturist Van
Blarenberghe, one representing the storming of the redoubts at Yorktown,
the other the surrender of the garrison. They were for the King, and are
well known nowadays to every one familiar with the Versailles Museum.
Their topographical accuracy is so remarkable that it had always been
believed the painter had had the help of some French officer present at
the siege. Rochambeau writes to Washington about those pictures and
gives us the name of the officer who had actually helped the
miniaturist, a well-known name, that of Berthier: "[There have] been
presented yesterday to the King, my dear general, two pictures to put in
his closet (study), which have been done by an excellent painter, one
representing the siege of York, and the other the defile of the British
army between the American and the French armies.

"Mr. le Marshal de Ségur promised me copies of them which I will place
in my closet on the right and left sides of your picture. Besides that
they are excellent paintings, they have been drawn both by the truth
and by an excellent design by the young Berthier, who was deputed
quartermaster at the said siege."[75]

Washington having alluded, as he was fond of doing, to the rest he had
at last secured for the remnant of his life, as he thought, under the
shadow of his own vine and fig-tree, Rochambeau in his answer
courteously and sincerely compliments him on the "philosophical" but not
definitive quiet he now enjoys under the shadow--"of his

The War of the Austrian Succession had found Rochambeau already an
officer in the French army; the Revolution found him still an officer in
the French army, defending the frontier as a marshal of France and
commander-in-chief of the northern troops. In 1792 he definitively
withdrew to Rochambeau, barely escaping with his life during the Terror.
A striking and touching thing it is to note that, when a prisoner in
that "horrible sepulchre," the Conciergerie, he appealed to the
"Citizen President of the Revolutionary Tribunal," and invoked as a
safeguard the great name of Washington, "my colleague and my friend in
the war we made together for the liberty of America."

Luckier than many of his companions in arms of the American war, than
Lauzun, Custine, d'Estaing, Broglie, Dillon, and others, Rochambeau
escaped the scaffold. He lived long enough to see rise to glory that
young man who was teaching the world better military tactics than even
the book of Count de Guibert, Bonaparte, now First Consul of the French
Republic. Bonaparte had great respect for the old marshal, who was
presented to him by the minister of war in 1803; he received him
surrounded by his generals, and as the soldier of Klostercamp and
Yorktown entered he said, "Monsieur le Maréchal, here are your pupils";
and the old man answered: "They have surpassed their master."

After having been very near death from his wounds in 1747, Rochambeau
died only in 1807, being then in his castle of Rochambeau, in Vendomois,
and aged eighty-two. He was buried in the neighboring village of Thoré,
in a tomb of black and white marble, in the classical style then in
vogue. An inscription devised by his wife at the evening of a very long
life, draws a touching picture of those qualities which had won her
heart more than half a century before: "A model as admirable in his
family as in his armies, an enlightened mind, indulgent, ever thinking
of the interests of others ... a happy and honored old age has been for
him the crowning of a spotless life. Those who had been his vassals had
become his children.... His tomb awaits me; before descending to it I
have desired to engrave upon it the memory of so many merits and
virtues, as a token of gratitude for fifty years of happiness." On a
parallel slab one reads: "Here lies Jeanne Thérèse Telles d'Acosta, who
died at Rochambeau, aged ninety-four, May 19, 1824."

In the castle are still to be seen the exquisite portrait, by Latour, of
her who in her old age had written the inscription, several portraits of
the marshal, and of his ancestors from the first Vimeur, who had become,
in the sixteenth century, lord of Rochambeau, the portrait in the white
uniform of Auvergne of the old soldier's son, who died at Leipzig, the
sword worn at Yorktown, the eagle of the Cincinnati side by side with
the star of the Holy Ghost, the before-mentioned _gouaches_ by Van
Blarenberghe, a portrait of Washington, given by him to his French
friend and also mentioned in their correspondence, and many other
historical relics. But the two bronze field-pieces offered by Congress
are no longer there, having been commandeered during the Revolution. In
front of the simple and noble façade of the slate-roofed castle, at the
foot of the terrace, the Loir flows, brimful, between woods and meadows,
the same river that fills such a great place in French literature,
because of a distant relative of the Rochambeaus of old, Pierre de

Visiting some years ago the place and the tomb, and standing beside the
grave of the marshal, it occurred to me that it would be appropriate if
some day trees from Mount Vernon could spread their shade over the
remains of that friend of Washington and the American cause. With the
assent of the family and of the mayor of Thoré, and thanks to the good
will of the ladies of the Mount Vernon Association, this idea was
realized, and half a dozen seedlings from trees planted by Washington
were sent to be placed around Rochambeau's monument: two elms, two
maples, two redbuds, and six plants of ivy from Washington's tomb. The
last news received about them showed that they had taken root and were


Some will, perhaps, desire to know what became of Closen. Sent to the
Islands (the West Indies) with the rest of the army, he felt, like all
his comrades, greatly disappointed, more even than the others, on
account of his bride, whom American beauties had not caused him to
forget. He had inserted in his journal a page of silhouettes
representing a dozen of the latter, with the name inscribed on each; but
he had taken care to write underneath: "Honni soit qui mal y pense."
When about to go on board he writes: "I scarcely dare say what I
experienced and which was the dominating sentiment, whether my
attachment to all that I love or ambition added to sensitiveness on the
principles of honor. Reason, however, soon took the lead and decided in
favor of the latter.... Let me be patient and do my duty."

To leave Rochambeau was for him one more cause of pain: "I shall never
insist enough, nor sufficiently describe the sorrow I felt when
separated from my worthy and respectable general; I lose more than any
one else in the army.... Attentive as I was to all he had to say about
battles, marches, the selection of positions, sieges, in a word, to all
that pertains to the profession, I have always tried to profit by his so
instructive talks.... I must be resigned."

Once again, therefore, life begins on those detested "sabots," a
large-sized _sabot_, this time, namely the _Brave_, of seventy-four
guns, "quite recently lined with copper," a sad place of abode, however,
in bad weather, or even in any weather: "One can scarcely imagine the
bigness of the sea, the noise, the height of the waves, such pitching
and rolling that it was impossible to stand; the ships disappearing at
times as if they had been swallowed by the sea, to touch it the instant
after only with a tiny bit of the keel. What a nasty element, and how
sincerely we hate it, all of us of the land troops! The lugubrious noise
of the masts, the _crics-cracs_ of the vessel, the terrible movements
which on the sudden raise you, and to which we were not at all
accustomed, the perpetual encumbrance that forty-five officers are for
each other, forty having no other place of refuge than a single room for
them all, the sad faces of those who are sick ... the dirt, the boredom,
the feeling that one is shut up in a _sabot_ as in a state prison ...
all this is only part of what goes to make life unpleasant for a land
officer on a vessel, even a naval one.... Let us take courage."[77]

Few diversions. They meet a slave-ship under the Austrian flag, an
"abominable and cruel sight," with "that iron chain running from one end
of the ship to the other, the negroes being tied there, two and two,"
stark naked and harshly beaten if they make any movement which
displeases the captain. The latter, who is from Bordeaux, salutes his
country's war flag with three "Vive le Roi!" They signal to him an
answer which cannot be transcribed. No one knows where they go. "Sail
on," philosophically writes Closen.

They touch at Porto Rico, at Curaçao, where the fleet is saddened by the
loss of the _Bourgogne_, at Porto Cabello (Venezuela), where they make
some stay, and where Closen loses no time in resuming his observations
on natives, men and beasts, tatous, monkeys, caimans, "enormous lizards
quite different from ours," houses which consist in one ground floor
divided into three rooms. The "company of the Caracque" (Caracas) keeps
the people in a state of restraint and slavery. "Taxation is enormous."
Religious intolerance is very troublesome: "Though the Inquisition is
not as rigorous in its searches as in Europe, for there is but one
commissioner at Caracque, there is, however, too much fanaticism, too
many absurd superstitions, in a word, too much ignorance among the
inhabitants, who can never say a word or walk a step without saying an
_Ave_, crossing themselves twenty times, or kissing a chaplet which they
ever have dangling from their neck with a somewhat considerable
accompaniment of relics and crosses. One gentleman, in order to play a
trick on me, in the private houses where I had gained access so as to
satisfy my curiosity and desire of instruction, told a few people that I
was a Protestant. What signs of the cross at the news! And they would
ceaselessly repeat: _Malacco Christiano_--a bad Christian!"

On the 24th of March (1783) great news reached them: the French vessel
_Andromaque_ arrived, "with the grand white flag on her foremast, as a
signal of peace. The minute after all our men-of-war were decked with
flags." There were a few more incidents, like the capture of some French
officers, who were quietly rowing in open boats, by "the _Albemarle_, of
twenty-four guns, commanded by Captain Nelson, of whom these gentlemen
speak in the highest terms." As soon as the news of the peace was given
him they were released by the future enemy of Napoleon.

The hour for the return home had struck at last. It was delayed by brief
stays in some parts of the French West Indies, notably Cap Français,
Santo Domingo (now Cap Haïtien). "A few days before our arrival at the
Cape Prince William, Duke of Lancaster, third son of the King of
England, had come and spent there two days, while the English squadron
was cruising in the roads. Great festivities had been arranged in his
honor,"--for there was really no hatred against the enemy of the day

Some calms and some storms also delayed the return, with the usual
"criiiiicks craaaaaks" of the masts, the journey being occupied in
transcribing the "notes and journals on the two Americas," and enlivened
by the saving of the parrakeet of a Spanish lady who had been admitted
with her family on board the _Brave_. "Frightened by something, the
little parrakeet flies off and falls into the sea. The lady's negro,
luckily happening to be on the same side, jumps just as he is, with no
time to think, dives, reappears, cries, 'Cato! Cato!' joins the
parrakeet, puts her on his woolly head, and returns to the ship."
Delighted, the lady "allows this black saviour to kiss her hand, a
unique distinction for a slave, and bestows on him a life pension of one
hundred francs. Many sailors would have liked to do the same, had they

Land is now descried; they see again the sights noted when sailing for
America: these "coasts thick-decked with live people, fruit-trees and
other delightful objects." All is delightful; the joy is universal; they
make arrangements to reach Paris, which Closen did in magnificent
style. "And I," we read in his journal, "after having bought a fine
coach where I could place, before, behind, on the top, my servants,
consisting of a white man and of my faithful and superb black Peter, and
with them three monkeys, four parrots, and six parrakeets, posted to
Paris in this company, a noisy one and difficult to maintain clean and
in good order.... The next day (June 22) I was at Saint-Pol-de-Léon, my
last quarters before sailing for America, and saw again with hearty
rejoicings the respectable Kersabiec family which had so well tended me
throughout my convalescence after a deadly disease." He thought he could
do no less than present them with one of his parrakeets as a token of
"gratitude and friendship."

At Guingamp he finds the Du Dresnays, other friends of his, and reaches
Paris, he writes, on the 30th of June, with "all my live beings of all
colors, myself looking an Indian so tanned and sun-burnt was my face,
exception made for my forehead, which my hat had preserved quite white."

The Rochambeau family made him leave his inn and stay with them in their
beautiful house of the Rue du Cherche-Midi. The general ("my kind and
respectable military father," says Closen) presented him to the minister
of war, Marshal de Ségur, who granted the young officer a flattering
welcome, and the journal closes as novels used to end in olden days, and
as the first part of well-ordered, happy lives will ever continue to
end. Leaving Paris with the promise of a colonelcy _en second_--"a very
eventual ministerial bouquet"--he went home to Deux-Ponts: "There I
found my beautiful fiancée, my dear, my divine Doris, who had had the
constancy to keep for me her heart and her hand during the four years of
my absence in America, in spite of several proposals received by her,
even from men much better endowed with worldly goods, my share
consisting only in the before mentioned ministerial promise and in the
reputation of an honest man and a good soldier."

I shall only add that the ministerial promise was kept, and that it was
as a colonel and a knight of Saint Louis that Closen found himself
aide-de-camp again to his old chief, Rochambeau, charged with the
defense of the northern frontier at the beginning of the Revolution.[78]

       *       *       *       *       *

Faded inks, hushed voices. The remembrance of the work remains, however,
and cannot fade; for its grandeur becomes, from year to year, more
apparent. In less than a century and a half New York has passed from the
ten thousand inhabitants it possessed under Clinton to the five million
and more of to-day. Philadelphia, once the chief city, "an immense
town," Closen had called it, has now ten times more houses than it had
citizens. Partly owing again to France, ceding, unasked, the whole
territory of Louisiana in 1803, the frontier of this country, which the
upper Hudson formerly divided in its centre, has been pushed back to the
Pacific; the three million Americans of Washington and Rochambeau have
become the one hundred million of to-day. From the time when the flags
of the two countries floated on the ruins of Yorktown the equilibrium of
the world has been altered.

There is, perhaps, no case in which, with the unavoidable mixture of
human interests, a war has been more undoubtedly waged for an idea. The
fact was made obvious at the peace, when victorious France, being
offered Canada for a separate settlement, refused,[79] and kept her word
not to accept any material advantage, the whole nation being in accord,
and the people illuminating for joy.

The cause was a just one; even the adversary, many among whom had been
from the first of that opinion, was not long to acknowledge it. Little
by little, and in spite of some fitful re-awakening of former
animosities, as was seen in the second War of Independence, hostile
dispositions vanished. The three nations who had met in arms in
Yorktown, the three whose ancestors had known a Hundred Years' War, have
now known a hundred years' peace. "I wish to see all the world at
peace," Washington had written to Rochambeau. For over a century now the
three nations which fought at Yorktown have become friends, and in this
measure at least the wish of the great American has been fulfilled.


[1] Concerning his American campaign, in which he greatly distinguished
himself, he wrote later: "In itself, war did not interest me, but its
object interested me keenly, and I willingly took part in its labors. I
said to myself: 'I want the end; I must adopt the means.'" _Œuvres_,
1865, I, 11. He was wounded and promoted.

[2] _Magazine of American History_, March, 1880, ff.

[3] A quite handsome house, now the offices of the Ministry of Labor.
The gardens no longer exist.

[4] _Mémoires militaires, historiques et politiques de Rochambeau,
ancien maréchal de France et grand officier de la Légion d'honneur_,
Paris, 1809, 2 vols., I, 235.

[5] "On a soutenu," said Pontgibaud, later Comte de Moré, one of
Lafayette's aides, in a conversation with Alexander Hamilton, "que
l'intérêt bien entendu de la France était de rester neutre et de
profiter de l'embarras de l'Angleterre pour se faire restituer le
Canada." But this would have been going against the general trend of
public opinion, and a contrary course was followed. _Mémoires du Comte
de Moré_, Paris, 1898, p. 169.

[6] _Mémoires, souvenirs et anecdotes_, Paris, 1824, 3 vols., I, 140.
English translation, London, 1825.

[7] _Œuvres_, vol. IX, Paris, 1810, pp. 377 ff.

[8] _Œuvres_, IX, 417.

[9] January, 1781.

[10] He ends his dedication stating that he may fail and may have
dreamed a mere dream, but he should not be blamed: "Le délire d'un
citoyen qui rêve au bonheur de sa patrie a quelque chose de
respectable." _Essai Général de Tactique précédé d'un Discours sur
l'état actuel de la politique et de la science militaire en Europe_,
London, 1772; Liége, 1775.

[11] _Writings_, Smythe, VIII, 390, 391.

[12] Both signed at Paris on the same day, February 6, 1778.

[13] Vergennes had written in the same way to the Marquis de Noailles,
French ambassador in London: "Our engagements are simple; they are
aggressive toward nobody; we have desired to secure for ourselves no
advantage of which other nations might be jealous, and which the
Americans themselves might regret, in the course of time, to have
granted us." Doniol, _Participation de la France à l'établissement des
Etats Unis_, II, 822.

[14] 1 November 11, 1778.

[15] _Souvenirs du Lieutenant Général Comte Mathieu-Dumas, de 1770 à
1836_, Paris, 3 vols., I, 36.

[16] _Literary Diary_, September 11, 1779; New York, 1901, 3 vols.

[17] Wooden shoes, a nickname for a ship of mean estate.

[18] So called after its owner, Samuel Fraunces (Francis or François)
from the French West Indies, nicknamed "Black Sam" for the color of his

[19] _Nouveau Voyage dans l'Amérique Septentrionale en l'année 1781 et
campagne de l'armée de M. le comte de Rochambeau_, Philadelphia, 1782.

[20] _Literary Diary_, New York, 1901, II, 454.

[21] To Rochambeau; n.d., but 1780. (Rochambeau papers.)

[22] Writing to the president of Yale, July 29, 1778, Silas Deane, just
about to return to France, recommended the creation of a chair of
French: "This language is not only spoke in all the courts, but daily
becomes more and more universal among people of business as well as men
of letters, in all the principal towns and cities of Europe." Ezra
Stiles consulted a number of friends; the majority were against or in
doubt, "Mr. C---- violently against, because of popery." _Literary
Diary_, August 24, 1778, New York, 1901, II, 297. See also, concerning
the prevalent impressions about the French the _Mémoires du Comte de
Moré_, 1898, p. 69.

[23] August 8, 1780. (Rochambeau papers.)

[24] August 3, 1780. (_Ibid._)

[25] Stiles's _Literary Diary_, II, 458.

[26] Rodney "has left here two months ago without our being able to
guess whither he was going.... Maybe you know better than I do where he
may presently be....

"We have just suffered from a terrible tornado, which has been felt in
all the Windward Islands; it has caused cruel havoc. A convoy of
fifty-two sails, arrived the day before in the roadstead of
Saint-Pierre, Martinique, has been driven out to sea, and has
disappeared for now a fortnight; five ships only returned here, the
others may have reached San Domingo or must have perished. An English
ship of the line of 44 guns, the _Endymion_, and two frigates, the
_Laurel_ and the _Andromeda_, of the same nationality, have perished on
our coasts; we have saved some of their sailors." Marquis de Bouillé to
Rochambeau, Fort Royal (Fort de France), October 27, 1780. (Rochambeau

[27] Three Saint-Simons took part in the American War of Independence,
all relatives of the famous duke, the author of the memoirs: the Marquis
Claude Anne (1740-1819), the Baron Claude (retired, 1806), and the Count
Claude Henri (1760-1825), then a very young officer, the future founder
of the Saint-Simonian sect, and first philosophical master of Auguste

[28] January 7, 1781. (Rochambeau papers.)

[29] _Histoire des Troubles de l'Amérique Anglaise_, by Soulès;
Clinton's copy, in the Library of Congress, p. 360.

[30] January 15, 1781.

[31] Specimens exhibited by the doctor's descendant in the Fraunces's
Tavern Museum.

[32] In English in the original.

[33] _Voyages de M. le Marquis de Chastellux dans l'Amérique
Septentrionale, dans les années 1780, 1781 et 1782_, Paris, 1786, 2
vols., I, 118.

[34] Now the property of the Charity Organization Society. See _A
History of the Vernon House_, by Maud Lyman Stevens, Newport, R.I.,
1915. Illustrated.

[35] To Rochambeau, June 30, 1781.

[36] This island's aspect fifteen years later is thus described by Duke
de La Rochefoucauld-Liancourt: "Enfin nous sommes arrivés à King's
Bridge dans l'île de New York, où le terrain, généralement mauvais, est
encore en mauvais bois dans les parties les plus éloignées de la ville,
et où il est cependant couvert de fermes et surtout de maisons de
campagne dans les six ou sept milles qui s'en approchent davantage et
dans les parties qui avoisinent la rivière du Nord et le bras de mer qui
sépare cette île de Long Island." _Voyage_, V, 300.

[37] The convoy was carrying to England the enormous booty taken by
Rodney at St. Eustatius. Eighteen of its ships were captured by La
Motte-Picquet (May 2, 1781) and thus reached France instead of England.

Toward the Hessians, however, the feeling was different. Some had
deserted to enlist in Lauzun's legion, but they almost immediately
counterdeserted, upon which Rochambeau wrote to Lauzun: "You have done
the best in deciding never to pester yourself again with Hessian
deserters, of whom, you know, I never had a good opinion." Newport,
December 22, 1780.

[38] July 8, 1781.

[39] April 13, 1781. (Rochambeau papers.)

[40] July 14, 1781.

[41] In June, 1867, by S.A. Green, who printed it with an English
translation: _My Campaigns in America, a journal kept by Count William
de Deux-Ponts_, Boston, 1868.

[42] The house at the entrance of the Pont-Neuf, where the _Petit
Dunkerque_ was established, being then the most famous "magasin de
frivolités" in existence, survived until July, 1914. The sign of the
shop, a little ship with the inscription, "Au Petit Dunkerque," was
still there. It has been preserved and is now in the Carnavalet Museum.

[43] Washington's joy was in proportion to the acuteness of his
anxieties; only three days before he was writing to Lafayette: "But, my
dear marquis, I am distressed beyond expression to know what has become
of Count de Grasse, and for fear that the English fleet, by occupying
the Chesapeake, toward which, my last accounts say, they were steering,
may frustrate all our prospects in that quarter.... Adieu, my dear
marquis; if you get anything new from any quarter, send it, I pray you,
_on the spur of speed_, for I am almost all impatience and anxiety."
Philadelphia, September 2, 1781.

[44] September 7, 1781.

[45] Graves had rightly supposed that, to have been able to start so
quickly, de Grasse must have caused some of his ships to cut their
anchors' cables, marking the spot with buoys. The two frigates had been
sent to gather those buoys, and were bringing several as a prize to the
English admiral, when they were captured. (_Journal Particulier_, by
Count de Revel, sublieutenant in the regiment of "Monsieur-Infanterie,"
p. 131.) On the 15th of September Washington wrote to de Grasse: "I am
at a loss to express the pleasure which I have in congratulating your
Excellency ... on the glory of having driven the British fleet from the
coast and taking two of their frigates."

[46] _History of the Campaigns of 1780 and 1787_, by Lieutenant-Colonel
Tarleton, commandant of the late British Legion, Dublin, 1787, pp. 403

[47] A minute "Journal of the Siege" was kept by Mr. de Ménonville, aide
major-general, a translation of which is in the _Magazine of American
History_, 1881, VII, 283.

[48] The city of Gloucester consisted of "four houses on a promontory
facing York," but very well defended by trenches, ditches, redoubts,
manned by a garrison of 1,200 men. (Count de Revel, _Journal
Particulier_, p. 171.) A detailed account of the Gloucester siege is in
this journal. Choisy "had previously won a kind of fame by his defense
of the citadel of Cracow, in Poland." (_Ibid._, p. 139.)

[49] As early as 1796, when La Rochefoucauld-Liancourt visited it, the
city, formerly a prosperous one, had become a borough of 800
inhabitants, two-thirds of which were colored. "The inhabitants," says
the traveller, "are without occupation. Some retail spirits or cloth;
some are called lawyers, some justices of the peace. Most of them have,
at a short distance from the town, a small farm, which they go and visit
every morning, but that scarcely fills the mind or time; and the
inhabitants of York, who live on very good terms with each other, occupy
both better in dining together, drinking punch, playing billiards; to
introduce more variety in this monotonous kind of life, they often
change the place where they meet.... The name of Marshal de Rochambeau
is still held there in great veneration." _Voyage dans les Etats-Unis_,
Paris, "An VII," vol. VI, p. 283.

[50] _Memoirs of the War in the Southern Department of the United
States_, Philadelphia, 1812, II, 343. In the same spirit Pontgibaud
notes that the British army laid down its arms "to the noble confusion
of its brave and unfortunate soldiers." _Mémoires du Comte de Moré_
(Pontgibaud), 1898, p. 104.

[51] Same good feeling on the Gloucester side. After the surrender, "les
officiers anglais vinrent voir nos officiers qui étaient de service,
leur firent toutes les honnêtetés possible, et burent à leur santé."
(Revel, _Journal Particulier_, p. 168.) The British fleet appeared only
on the 27th of October, at the entrance of the capes; thirty-one sails
were counted on that day and forty-four on the next; after the 29th they
were no longer seen. "Nous avons su depuis," Revel writes, "que l'Amiral
Graves avait dans son armée le général Clinton, avec des troupes venues
de New York pour secourir lord Cornwallis. Mais il était trop tard; la
poule était mangée, et l'un et l'autre prirent le parti de s'en
retourner." (_Ibid._, p. 178.)

[52] The work of Gabriel Brizard, a popular writer in his day: _Fragment
de Xenophon, nouvellement trouvé dans les ruines de Palmyre par un
Anglois et déposé au Museum Britannicum--Traduit du Grec par un
François_, Paris, 1783.

[53] General Eliott, later Lord Heathfield, defender of Gibraltar, well
known in France not only as an enemy, but as a former pupil of the
military school at La Fère.

[54] Mathieu-Dumas availed himself of his stay in Boston before sailing
to go and visit, with some of his brother officers, several of the
heroes of independence--Hancock, John Adams, Doctor Cooper: "We listened
with avidity to the latter, who, while applauding our enthusiasm for
liberty, said to us: 'Take care, take care, young men, that the triumph
of the cause on this virgin soil does not influence overmuch your hopes;
you will carry away with you the germ of these generous sentiments, but
if you attempt to fecund them on your native soil, after so many
centuries of corruption, you will have to surmount many more obstacles;
it cost us much blood to conquer liberty; but you will shed torrents
before you establish it in your old Europe.' How often since, during our
political turmoils, in the course of our _bad days_, did I not recall to
mind the prophetic leave-taking of Doctor Cooper. But the inestimable
prize which the Americans secured in exchange for their sacrifices was
never absent from my thought." (_Souvenirs du Lieutenant-Général Comte
Mathieu-Dumas, publiés par son fils_, I, 108.) The writer notices the
early formation of a "national character, in spite of the similitude of
language, customs, manners, religion, principles of government with the
English." (_Ibid._, 113.)

[55] _Œuvres_, 1865, I, 12.

[56] To Robert Livingston, Passy, March 4, 1782.

[57] To Archibald Cary, June 15, 1782.

[58] White marble; signed and dated, Richard Hayward, London, 1773.

[59] _Mémoires du Comte de Moré_ (formerly Chevalier de Pontgibaud),
1898, p. 56; first ed., Paris, 1827, one of Balzac's ventures as a

[60] October 8, 1782. This letter, as well as the addresses, in the
Rochambeau papers.

[61] A large bowl from the original set is preserved in the National
Museum (Smithsonian Institution) at Washington. It bears only the
monogram and not the family arms. The wreath is of roses with a foliage
which may be laurel.

[62] _Mémoires, souvenirs et anecdotes_, I, 402.

[63] On which occasion the Marquis de Vaudreuil, in command of the
fleet, wrote him from Boston, November 18, 1782: "Je suis vraiment
touché, Monsieur, de ne pouvoir pas avoir l'honneur de vous voir ici; je
m'estimais heureux de renouveler la connaissance que j'avais faite avec
vous à Brest chez M. d'Orvilliers. Mais je ne puis qu'applaudir au parti
que vous prenez d'éviter la tristesse des adieux et les témoignages de
la sensibilité de tous vos officiers en se voyant séparés de leur chef
qu'ils respectent et chérissent sincèrement." (Rochambeau papers.)

[64] An anecdote in the _Autobiography_ of John Trumbull, the painter,
well shows how lasting were the feelings for the land and the people
taken home with them by the French. The artist tells of his reaching
Mulhouse in 1795, finding it "full of troops," with no accommodation of
any sort. He is taken to the old general in command:

"The veteran looked at me keenly and asked bluntly: 'Who are you, an

"'No, general, I am an American of the United States.'

"'Ah! do you know Connecticut?'

"'Yes, sir, it is my native State.'

"'You know, then, the good Governor Trumbull?'

"'Yes, general, he is my father.'

"'Oh! mon Dieu, que je suis charmé.... Entrez, entrez!'"

And all that is best is placed at the disposal of the newcomer by the
soldier, who turns out to be a former member of the Lauzun legion. The
artist adds: "The old general kept me up almost all night, inquiring of
everybody and of everything in America." Some papers are brought for him
to sign, which he does with his left hand, and, Trumbull noticing it,
"'Yes,' said he, 'last year, in Belgium, the Austrians cut me to pieces
and left me for dead, but I recovered, and, finding my right hand
ruined, I have learned to use my left, and I can write and fence with it

"'But, sir,' said I, 'why did you not retire from service?'

"'Retire!' exclaimed he. 'Ha! I was born in a camp, have passed all my
life in the service, and will die in a camp, or on the field.'

"This is," Trumbull concludes, "a faithful picture of the military
enthusiasm of the time--1795."

[65] "... An inscription engraved on them, expressive of the occasion.
I find a difficulty in getting the engraving properly executed. When it
will be finished, I shall with peculiar pleasure put the cannon into
your possession." Washington to Rochambeau, February 2, 1782.

[66] De Grasse died in January, 1788. "The Cincinnati in some of the
States have gone into mourning for him." Washington to Rochambeau, April
28, 1788.

[67] Jefferson seems to have feared that the souvenir of Rochambeau
might soon fade. He wrote to Madison, February 8, 1786: "Count
Rochambeau, too, has deserved more attention than he has received. Why
not set up his bust, that of Gates, Greene, Franklin in your new
Capitol?" No bust was placed in the Capitol, but the raising of the
statue in Lafayette Square, Washington, in 1902, has proved that, after
so many years, Rochambeau was not forgotten in America.

[68] May 28, 1788.

[69] In a letter of July 31, 1789, Rochambeau informs Washington of
Barlow's arrival, "and I made him all the good reception that he
deserves by himself and by the honorable commendation that you give to
him." In Rochambeau's English; Washington papers.

[70] Fr., "en petit comité"--a small party of friends.

[71] January 7, 1786. Washington papers.

[72] Paris, June, 1785 (_ibid._)

[73] "Rochambeau near Vendôme, April 11, 1790."

[74] Here is this letter in full:

Paris the 18th November, 1790.


I hope that your Excellency will give me the leave to beg a favor of
your justice. I think it just to intercede for the Baron de Closen who
was an aide-de-camp to Mr. Rochambeau during the American war. He longs
with the desire to be a member of the association of the Cincinnati. The
officers who were employed in the French army and younger than him in
the military service have been decorated with this emblem of liberty,
and such a reward given by your Excellency's hand shall increase its

I flatter myself that you will receive the assurances of the respect and
veneration I have for your talents and your virtue, well known in the
whole world.

I have (etc.),


[75] June, 1785. Two of the Berthier brothers had taken part, as we saw,
in the expedition. The one alluded to here is the younger,
César-Gabriel, not the older, Louis-Alexandre, who became Prince de
Wagram. Both are described in their "états de service," preserved among
the Rochambeau papers, as expert draftsmen. The notice concerning the
younger, who was a captain of dragoons, reads: "Il s'est fait remarquer
ainsi que son frère par son talent à dessiner et lever des plans."

[76] Concerning this correspondence, as continued during the French
Revolution, see below, pp. 245 ff.

[77] December 29, 1782.

[78] A lithographed portrait mentions the later-day titles and dignities
of: "I.C. Louis, Baron de Closen, Maréchal de Camp, chambellan et
chevalier des ordres français pour le Mérite et de la Légion d'honneur,
ainsi que de celui de Cincinnatus des Etats Unis de l'Amérique
Septentrionale." Reproduced by C.W. Bowen, who first drew attention to
this journal, _Century Magazine_, February, 1907. Closen died in 1830,
aged seventy-five.

[79] Which was done in a letter giving as a reason "that, whenever the
two crowns should come to treat, his Most Christian Majesty would show
how much the engagements he might enter into were to be relied on, by
his exact observance of those he had already had with his present
allies." Quoted, as "a sentence which I much liked," by Franklin,
writing to John Adams, April 13, 1782.





Little more than a century ago the hill on which rises the Capitol of
the federal city and the ground around it were covered with woods and
underbrush; a few scattered farms had been built here and there, with
one or two exceptions mere wooden structures whose low roofs scarcely
emerged from their leafy surroundings. Not very long before, Indians had
used to gather on that eminence and hold their council-fires.

As far now as the eye can reach the picturesque outline of one of the
finest cities that exist is discovered; steeples and pinnacles rise
above the verdure of the trees lining the avenues within the unaltered
frame supplied by the blue hills of Maryland and Virginia.

The will of Congress, the choice made by the great man whose name the
city was to bear, the talents of a French officer, caused this change.

Debates and competitions had been very keen; more than one city of the
North and of the South had put forth pleas to be the one selected and
become the capital: Boston, where the first shot had been fired;
Philadelphia, where independence had been proclaimed; Yorktown, where it
had been won--Yorktown, modest as a city, but glorious by the events its
name recalled, now an out-of-the-way borough, rarely visited, and where
fifty white inhabitants are all that people the would-be capital of the
new-born Union. New York also had been in the ranks, as well as
Kingston, Newport, Wilmington, Trenton, Reading, Lancaster, Annapolis,
Williamsburg, and several others. Passions were stirred to such an
extent that the worst was feared, and that, incredible as it may now
seem, Jefferson could speak of the "necessity of a compromise to save
the Union."

A compromise was, in fact, resorted to, which consisted in choosing no
city already in existence, but building a new one on purpose. This
solution had been early thought of, for Washington had written on
October 12, 1783, to Chevalier de Chastellux: "They (Congress) have
lately determined to make choice of some convenient spot near the Falls
of the Delaware for the permanent residence of the sovereign power of
these United States." But would-be capitals still persisted in hoping
they might be selected.

Congress made up its mind for good on the 16th of July, 1790, and
decided that the President should be intrusted with the care of choosing
"on the river Potomac" a territory, ten miles square, which should
become the "Federal territory" and the permanent seat of the Government
of the United States.

Washington thereupon quickly reached a decision; a great rider all his
life, the hills and vales of the region were familiar to him; it soon
became certain that the federal city would rise one day where it now
stands. The spot seemed to him a particularly appropriate one for a
reason which has long ceased to be so very telling, and which he
constantly mentions in his letters as the place's "centrality."

But what sort of a city should it be? A residential one for statesmen,
legislators, and judges, or a commercial one with the possibilities,
considered then of the first order, afforded by the river, or a mixture
of both? Should it be planned in view of the present or of the future,
and of what sort of future?

With the mind of an artist and in some sense of a prophet, perceiving
future time as clearly as if it were the present, a man foresaw, over a
century ago, what we now see with our eyes. He was a French officer who
had fought for the cause of independence, and had remained in America
after the war, Major Pierre Charles L'Enfant.

Some researches in French and American archives have allowed me to trace
his ancestry, and to add a few particulars to what was already known of

Born at Paris, on August 2, 1754, he was the son of Pierre L'Enfant,
"Painter in ordinary to the King in his Manufacture of the Gobelins."
The painter, whose wife was Marie Charlotte Leullier, had for his
specialty landscapes and battle-scenes. Born at Anet, in 1704, on a farm
which he bequeathed to his children, he was a pupil of Parrocel and had
been elected an Academician in 1745. Some of his pictures are at Tours;
six are at Versailles, representing as many French victories: the taking
of Menin, 1744; of Fribourg, 1744; of Tournay, 1745; the battle of
Fontenoy, 1745 (a favorite subject, several times painted by him); the
battle of Laufeldt, 1747, where that young officer, destined to be
Washington's partner in the Yorktown campaign, Count Rochambeau,
received, as we have seen before, his first wounds. The painter died a
very old man, in the Royal Manufacture, 1787.

Young L'Enfant grew up among artistic surroundings, and, as subsequent
events showed, received instruction as an architect and engineer. The
cause of the United States had in him one of its earliest enthusiasts.
In 1777, being then twenty-three, possessed of a commission of
lieutenant in the French colonial troops, he sailed for America on one
of those ships belonging to Beaumarchais's mythical firm of "Hortalez
and Co.," a firm whose cargoes consisted in soldiers and ammunition for
the insurgents, and which was as much a product of the dramatist's brain
as Figaro himself. Figaro, it is averred, has had a great influence in
this world; Hortalez and Co. had not a small one, either. The ship had
been named after the secretary of state, who was to sign, the following
year, the United States' only alliance, _Le Comte de Vergennes_, a name,
wrote Beaumarchais, "fit to bring luck to the cargo, which is superb."
The superb cargo consisted, as usual, in guns and war supplies, also in
men who might be of no less use for the particular sort of trade
Hortalez and Co. were conducting. "Some good engineers and some cavalry
officers will soon arrive," Silas Deane was then writing to Congress.
One of the engineers was Pierre Charles L'Enfant. His coming had
preceded by one month the sailing of another ship with another
appropriate name, the ship _La Victoire_, which brought Lafayette.

L'Enfant served first as a volunteer and at his own expense. "In
February, 1778," we read in an unpublished letter of his to Washington,
"I was honored with a commission of captain of engineers, and by leave
of Congress attached to the Inspector-general.... Seeing [after the
winter of 1778-9] no appearance of an active campaign to the northward,
my whole ambition was to attend the Southern army, where it was likely
the seat of war would be transferred." He was, accordingly, sent to
Charleston, and obtained "leave to join the light infantry, under
Lieutenant-Colonel Laurens; his friendship furnished me," he relates,
"with many opportunities of seeing the enemy to advantage."[80]

Not "to advantage," however, did he fight at Savannah, when the French
and Americans, under d'Estaing and Lincoln, were repulsed with terrible
loss. The young captain was leading one of the vanguard columns in the
American contingent and, like d'Estaing himself, was grievously wounded.
He managed to escape to Charleston. "I was," he said, "in my bed till
January, 1780. My weak state of health did not permit me to work at the
fortifications of Charleston, and when the enemy debarked, I was still
obliged to use a crutch."[81] He took part, however, in the fight,
replacing a wounded major, and was made a prisoner at the capitulation.
Rochambeau negotiated his exchange in January, 1782, for Captain von
Heyden, a Hessian officer.

"Your zeal and active services," Washington wrote back to L'Enfant, "are
such as reflect the highest honor on yourself and are extremely
pleasing to me, and I have no doubt they will have their due weight with
Congress in any future promotion in your corps."[82] They had, in fact,
in the following year, when, by a vote of the assembly, L'Enfant was
promoted a major of engineers, 1783.

His knowledge of the art of fortification, his merit as a
disciplinarian, the part he had taken, as he recalls in a letter to
Count de La Luzerne,[83] in devising the earliest "system of discipline
and exercises which was finally adopted in the American army" (all that
was done in that line was not by Steuben alone), rendered his services
quite useful. His gifts as an artist, his cleverness at catching
likenesses made him welcome among his brother officers. He would in the
dreary days of Valley Forge draw pencil portraits of them, one, we know,
of Washington, at the request of Lafayette, who wanted also to have a
painted portrait. "I misunderstood you," the general wrote him from
Fredericksburg, on September 25, 1778; "else I would have had the
picture made by Peale when he was at Valley Forge. When you requested me
to sit to Monsieur Lanfang"--thus spelled, showing how pronounced by
Washington--"I thought it was only to obtain the outlines and a few
shades of my features, to have some prints struck from."

Some such pencil portraits by L'Enfant subsist, for example in the
Glover family at Washington, and are creditable and obviously
true-to-nature sketches.

Whenever, during the war or after, something in any way connected with
art was wanted, L'Enfant was, as a matter of course, appealed to,
whether the question was of a portrait, of a banqueting hall, of a
marble palace, a jewel, a solemn procession, a fortress to be raised, or
a city to be planned. A man of many accomplishments, with an overflow of
ideas and few competitors, he was the factotum of the new nation. When
the French minister, La Luzerne, desired to arrange a grand banquet in
honor of the birth of the Dauphin (the first one, who lived only eight
years), he had a hall built on purpose, in Philadelphia, and L'Enfant
was the designer. Baron de Closen, Rochambeau's aide, writes as to this
in his journal: "M. de La Luzerne offered a dinner that day to the
legion of Lauzun, which had arrived the same morning (August 2, 1782).
The hall which he caused to be built on purpose for the fête he gave on
the occasion of the birth of the Dauphin, is very large and as beautiful
as it can be. One cannot imagine a building in better taste; simplicity
is there united with an air of dignity. It has been erected under the
direction of Mr. de L'Enfant, a French officer, in the service of the
American corps of engineers." Closen adds that "Mr. Barbé de
Marbois,[84] counselor of embassy of our court, is too modest to admit
that his advice had something to do with the result."

When peace came, those officers who had fought shoulder to shoulder with
the Americans returned home, bringing to the old continent new and
fruitful ideas, those especially pertaining to equality and to the
unreasonableness of class distinctions. Liberty had been learned from
England; equality was from America.

L'Enfant was one of those who went back to France, but he did not stay.
He had been away five years and wanted to see his old father, the
painter, whose end now was near. A royal brevet of June 13, 1783, had
conferred on the officer a small French pension of three hundred livres,
"in consideration of the usefulness of his services, and of the wounds
received by him during the American war."[85] He sailed for France late
in the same year, reaching Havre on the 8th of December.

The Society of the Cincinnati had been founded in May. For the insignia
appeal had been made as usual to the artist of the army,[86] L'Enfant,
who was, moreover, commissioned by Washington, first president of the
association, to avail himself of his journey to order from some good
Paris jeweller the eagles to be worn by the members, L'Enfant himself
being one. He was also to help in organizing the French branch of the
society. Difficulties had first been encountered, for the reason that no
foreign order was then allowed in France, but it was recognized that
this could scarcely be considered a foreign one. In an unpublished
letter to Rochambeau, Marshal de Ségur, minister of war, said: "His
Majesty the King asks me to inform you that he allows you to accept this
honorable invitation (to be a member). He even wants you to assure
General Washington, in his behalf, that he will always see with extreme
satisfaction all that may lead to a maintenance and strengthening of the
ties formed between France and the United States. The successes and the
glory which have been the result and fruit of this union have shown how
advantageous it is, and that it should be perpetuated." Concerning the
institution itself the minister wrote: "It is equally honorable because
of the spirit which has inspired its creation and of the virtues and
talents of the celebrated general whom it has chosen as its

L'Enfant sent to Washington glowing accounts of the way the idea had
been welcomed in France, and told him of the first meetings held, one at
the house of Rochambeau, Rue du Cherche-Midi, for officers in the French
service, and another at the house of Lafayette, Rue de Bourbon, for
French officers who held their commissions from Congress, both groups
deciding thereupon to unite, under Admiral d'Estaing as

What proved for L'Enfant, according to circumstances, one of his chief
qualities, as well as one of his chief defects, was that, whatever the
occasion, he ever saw "en grand." It had been understood that he would
pay the expenses of his journey, and that the Society of the Cincinnati
would only take charge of those resulting from the making of the eagles.
His own modest resources had been, as Duportail testified, freely spent
by him during the war for the good of the cause, and little enough was
left him. Nevertheless, did he write to Alexander Hamilton, "being
arrived in France, everything there concurred to strengthen the
sentiment which had made me undertake that voyage, and the reception
which the Cincinnati met with soon induced me to appear in that country
in a manner consistent with the dignity of the society of which I was
regarded as the representative." He spent without counting: "My abode at
the court produced expenses far beyond the sums I had at first thought
of." He ordered the eagles from the best "artists, who rivalled each
other for the honor of working for the society,"[89] but wanted,
however, to be paid; and a letter to Rochambeau, written later, shows
him grappling with the problem of satisfying Duval and Francastel of
Paris, who had supplied the eagles on credit, and to whom the large sum
of twenty-two thousand three hundred and three livres were still due.
These money troubles caused L'Enfant to shorten his stay in France; he
was back in New York on the 29th of April, 1784, and after some
discussion and delay, the society "Resolved, that, in consideration of
services rendered by Major L'Enfant, the general meeting make
arrangements for advancing him the sum of one thousand five hundred and
forty-eight dollars, being the amount of the loss incurred by him in
the negotiation for a number of eagles, or orders, of the


The country was free; war was over now, people felt; for ever, many
fondly hoped. Settled in New York, where appeals to his talents as an
architect and engineer made him prosperous for a time, L'Enfant believed
such hopes to be vain, and that the country should at once make
preparations so exhaustive that its wealth and defenselessness should
not tempt any greedy enemy. He placed the problem before Congress, in a
memoir still unprinted, which offers particular interest in our days,
when the same problem is being again discussed.

"Sensible," wrote L'Enfant, in the creditable if not faultless English
he then spoke,[91] "of the situation of affairs, and well impregnated
with the spirit of republican government, I am far from intimating the
idea of following other nations in their way of securing themselves
against insult or invasions, surrounded as they are with powerful
neighbors, who, being the objects of reciprocal jealousy, are forced to
secure not only their frontier, but even their inland towns with
fortifications, the much happier situation of the United States
rendering those measures of little or no necessity."

The States must act differently; but not to act at all would be folly.
"How and upon what foundations could it be supposed that America will
have nothing to fear from a rupture between any of the European
Powers?... A neutral Power, it will be said, receives the benefit of a
universal trade, has his possessions respected, as well as his colors,
by all the Powers at war. This may be said of a powerful nation, but
this America is not to expect; a neutral Power must be ready for war,
and his trade depends on the means of protecting and making his colors
respected. America, neutral without [a] navy, without troops or
fortified harbors could have nothing but calamity to expect." She cannot
live free and develop in safety without "power to resent, ability to

A noteworthy statement, to be sure, and which deserves to be remembered.
L'Enfant draws, thereupon, a plan of defense, especially insisting, of
course, on the importance of his own particular branch, namely

Houdon's brief visit, shortly after, in order to make Washington's
statue for the State of Virginia,[93] must have been particularly
pleasant to the major, to whom the great sculptor could bring news of
his co-Academician, the old painter of the Gobelins Manufacture, father
of the officer.

An unprinted letter of L'Enfant to the secretary of Congress, sitting
then in New York, gives a number of details on Houdon's stay in America.
The Federal Congress had thought of ordering, in its turn, a statue of
Washington, which would have been an equestrian one; but what would the
cost be? A most important question in those days. On behalf of Houdon,
who knew no English, L'Enfant wrote to Charles Thomson that Mr. Houdon
could not "properly hazard to give him any answer relating [to] the cost
of the general's equestrian statue"; there are a great many ways of
making such work, and Congress must say which it prefers. A book
belonging to Mr. Houdon will shortly reach these shores, where
particulars as to the "performance of the several statues which have
been created in Europe are mentioned, together with their cost." The
book is on a vessel, soon expected, and which brings back Doctor
Franklin's "bagage."

Congress had thought also of a marble bust for the hall where it sat.
Houdon was taking home with him a finished model of the head of the
great man, and had exhibited it, for every one to say his say, in the
"room of Congress."

Such busts, L'Enfant wrote, are "generally paid in Europe five thousand
French livres"; but as many duplicates will probably be ordered from
him, Houdon will lower the price to one hundred guineas. "He begs leave,
however, to observe that a bust of the size of nature only may be fit
for a private and small room, but not for such a large one as that
devoted for the assembly of a Congress, where it should be necessary to
have a bust of a larger size to have it appear to advantage."

The price had been asked, too, of duplicates in plaster of Paris, for
private citizens. The answer was: four guineas, also in the thought that
a goodly number would be wanted, "provided that there be a subscription
for a large number, and that the gentlemen who will have any of these
busts in their possession consider themselves as engaged to prevent any
copy from being taken; this last condition he humbly insists upon."

As for the original, Houdon is anxious to know what the compatriots of
the general think of it; any criticism would be welcome: "Mr. Houdon
hopes that Congress is satisfied with the bust he has had the honor to
submit to their examination, begs the gentlemen who may have some
objections to communicate them to him, and he flatters himself that
Congress will favor him with their opinion in writing, which he will
consider as a proof of their satisfaction and keep as a testimony of
their goodness."

He is just about to sail, and the bust has to be removed at once: "Mr.
Houdon, being to embark to-morrow morning, begs leave to take out the
general's bust from the room of Congress this afternoon."[94]

L'Enfant's chief work in New York consisted in the remodelling of the
old, or rather older (but not oldest), City Hall, the one which preceded
that now known, in its turn, as the old one. The undertaking was of
importance, the question being of better accommodating Congress, which
had left Philadelphia with a grudge toward that city, and was now
sitting in New York. A large sum, for those days, had been advanced by
patriotic citizens, which sum, however, L'Enfant's habit to see things
"en grand" caused to be insufficient by more than half. The city hoped
that the devising of such a structure would be for it one more title to
be selected as the federal capital, and it therefore did not protest,
but on the contrary caused a "testimonial" to be officially presented
to L'Enfant, highly praising his work: "While the hall exists it will
exhibit a most respectable monument of your eminent talents, as well as
of the munificence of the citizens."[95] L'Enfant received "the freedom
of the city" by "special honorifick patent," as he wrote later, and he
was, moreover, offered ten acres of land near Provost Lane, "which
latter he politely declined."[96]

The building won general admiration for its noble appearance, the
tasteful brilliancy of its ornamentation, and its commodious internal
arrangements. The only objections came from the Anti-Federalists, who
called it the "Fools' Trap," in which appellation politics had,
obviously, more to do than architecture.

L'Enfant, a man of ideas, had tried to make of the renovated hall
something characteristically American, if not in the general style,
which was classical, at least in many details. National resources had
been turned into use; in the Senate chamber the chimneys were of
American marble, which, "for beauties of shade and polish, is equal to
any of its kind in Europe."[97] The capitals of the pilasters were "of a
fanciful kind, the invention of Major L'Enfant, the architect.... Amidst
their foliage appears a star and rays, and a piece of drapery below
suspends a small medallion with U.S. in a cipher. The idea is new and
the effect pleasing; and although they cannot be said to be of any
ancient order, we must allow that they have an appearance of
magnificence."[98] The frieze outside was so divided as to give room for
thirteen stars in so many metopes. A much-talked-of eagle, with thirteen
arrows in its talons, which, unluckily, could not be ready for March 4,
1789, when Congress met in the hail for the first time under the newly
voted Constitution, was the chief ornament on the pediment. On the 22d
of April the news could be sent to the _Salem Mercury_: "The eagle in
front of the Federal State-House is displayed. The general appearance of
this front is truly august."[99] The emblem was thus at its proper place
when the chief event that Federal Hall, as it was then called, was to
witness occurred, on the 30th of the same month, the day of the first
inauguration of the first President of the United States.

Crowds came to visit what was then the most beautiful building in the
country; but better than crowds came, and one visit was for the major
more touching and flattering than all the others put together--the wife
of his general, now the President, Mrs. Washington, caused Colonel
Humphreys and Mr. Lear to make arrangements with L'Enfant for her to
inspect the hall, in June of the inauguration year.[100]

The expensive and greatly admired monument was to experience the strange
fate of being survived by its author. Becoming again City Hall when
Congress, soon after, left New York to go back, reconciled, to
Philadelphia, it was pulled down in 1812, the building itself being sold
at auction for four hundred and twenty-five dollars: and thus
disappeared, to the regret of all lovers of ancient souvenirs, the
beautiful chimneys in American marble, the "truly august" eagle with its
thirteen arrows, and the first really American capitals ever devised,
and which, though in a new style, were yet "magnificent."

One solitary souvenir of the building remains, however, that is, the
middle part of the railing on which Washington must have leaned when
taking the oath; a piece of wrought iron of a fine ornamental style, now
preserved with so many other interesting relics of old New York on the
ground floor of the New York Historical Society's Museum. In the same
room can be seen several contemporary views of Federal Hall, one in
water-color, by Robertson, 1798; another, an engraving, showing every
detail of the façade, represents, as the inscription runs, "Federal
Hall, the Seat of Congress.--Printed and sold by A. Doolittle, New
Haven, 1790.--A. Doolittle Sc. Pet. Lacour del."

Shortly before the inauguration of the first President, L'Enfant had had
to lend his help for the devising of a grand, artistic, historical, and
especially political procession, a Federalist one, arranged in the hope
of influencing public opinion and securing the vote of the Constitution
by the State of New York. This now revered text was then the subject of
ardent criticism; famous patriots like Patrick Henry had detected in it
something royalistic, which has long ceased to be apparent, and were
violent in their denunciation of this instrument of tyranny. New York
was in doubt; its convention had met at Poughkeepsie in June, 1788, and
it seemed as if an adverse vote were possible. The procession was then
thought of.

It took place on Monday, the 23d of July, and was a grand affair, with
artillery salute, trumpeters, foresters, Christopher Columbus on
horseback, farmers, gardeners, the Society of the Cincinnati "in full
military uniform," brewers showing in their ranks, "mounted on a tun of
ale, a beautiful boy of eight years, in close-fitting, flesh-colored
silk, representing Bacchus, with a silver goblet in his hand," butchers,
tanners, cordwainers "surrounding the car of the Sons of Saint Crispin,"
furriers exhibiting "an Indian in native costume, loaded with furs,
notwithstanding it was one of the hottest days in July."[101]

The chief object of wonder was the good ship _Hamilton_, presented by
the ship-carpenters, mounted on wheels, a perfect frigate of thirty-two
guns, with its crew, complete, firing salutes on its way. The
confectioners surrounded an immense "Federal cake." The judges and
lawyers were followed by "John Lawrence, John Cozine, and Robert Troup,
bearing the new Constitution elegantly engrossed on vellum, and ten
students of law followed, bearing in order the ratification of the ten
States."[102] The tin-plate workers exhibited "the Federal tin
warehouse, raised on ten pillars, with the motto:

    When three more pillars rise,
    Our Union will the world surprise."

--tin-plate poetry, for the tin warehouse. Then came learned men,
physicians, clergymen, the regent and students of Columbia University,
scholars, and among them Noah Webster, famous since as a lexicographer,
and then as a professor and journalist, now admired by everybody, but,
in those days of strife, only by Federalists--"a mere pedagogue,"
disdainfully wrote Jefferson later, "of very limited understanding and
very strong prejudices," in saying which he himself, maybe, showed some
prejudice, too.[103]

A grand banquet, at which, according to the _New York Journal and Weekly
Register_,[104] bullocks were roasted whole for the "regale" of the
guests, was held at the extreme point reached by the procession, called
by the same paper the "parade des fêtes champêtres." The President and
members of Congress sat under a dome devised by L'Enfant. It was
"surmounted by a figure of Fame, with a trumpet proclaiming a new era,
and holding a scroll emblematic of the three great epochs of the war:
_Independence_--_Alliance with France_--_Peace_."[105]

This was greatly admired. "The committee," we read in a note printed by
their order in the _Imperial Gazetteer_, "would be insensible of the
zeal and merit of Major L'Enfant were they to omit expressing the
obligation which they are under to him for the elegance of the design
and the excellence of the execution of the pavilion and tables."[106]

The whole was a considerable success. "As it redounds much to the credit
of the citizens, ..." another paper observes, "it ought to be remarked
that there was not the least outrage, or even indecency, notwithstanding
6,000 or 7,000 people (as supposed, spectators included) had collected,
and that the whole company was dismissed at half after five

Three days after the procession the vote was taken at Poughkeepsie, and
if _any_ influence at all could be attributed to the effect on public
opinion of the quasi-mediæval pageant, its organizers must have felt
proud, for in an assembly of fifty-seven the Constitution was actually
voted by a majority of two.


The same year in which the New York Federal Hall had seen the
inauguration of the first President, the chance of his life came to
L'Enfant. He deserved it, because he not only availed himself of it, but
went forth to meet it, giving up his abode in New York, "where I stood
at the time," he wrote later, "able of commanding whatever business I
liked." This was the founding of the federal city.

The impression was a general one among the French that those insurgents
whom they had helped to become a free nation were to be a great one,
too. Leaving England, where he was a refugee during our Revolution,
Talleyrand decided to come to the United States, "desirous of seeing,"
he says in his memoirs, "that great country whose history begins."
General Moreau, also a refugee, a few years later spoke with the same
confidence of the future of the country: "I had pictured to myself the
advantages of living under a free government; but I had conceived only
in part what such happiness is: here it is enjoyed to the full.... It is
impossible for men who have lived under such a government to allow
themselves ever to be subjugated; they would be very great cowards if
they did not perish to the last in order to defend it."[108]

L'Enfant, with his tendency to see things "en grand," could not fail to
act accordingly, and the moment he heard that the federal city would be
neither New York nor Philadelphia, nor any other already in existence,
but one to be built expressly, he wrote to Washington a letter
remarkable by his clear understanding of the opportunity offered to the
country, and by his determined purpose to work not for the three million
inhabitants of his day, but for the one hundred of ours, and for all the
unborn millions that will come after us.

The letter is dated from New York, 11th of September, 1789. "Sir," he
said, "the late determination of Congress to lay the foundation of a
city which is to become the capital of this vast empire offers so great
an occasion of acquiring reputation to whoever may be appointed to
conduct the execution of the business that your Excellency will not be
surprised that my ambition and the desire I have of becoming a useful
citizen should lead me to wish a share in the undertaking.

"No nation, perhaps, had ever before the opportunity offered them of
deliberately deciding on the spot where their capital city should be
fixed.... And, although the means now within the power of the country
are not such as to pursue the design to any great extent, it will be
obvious that the plan should be drawn on such a scale as to leave room
for that aggrandizement and embellishment which the increase of the
wealth of the nation will permit it to pursue at any period, however
remote. Viewing the matter in this light, I am fully sensible of the
extent of the undertaking."[109]

Washington knew that L'Enfant was afflicted, to be sure, with an
"untoward" temper, being haughty, proud, intractable, but that he was
honest withal, sincere, loyal, full of ideas, and remarkably gifted. He
decided to intrust him with the great task, thus justifying, a little
later, his selection: "Since my first knowledge of the gentleman's
abilities in the line of his profession, I have received him not only as
a scientific man, but one who has added considerable taste to
professional knowledge; and that, for such employment as he is now
engaged in, for prosecuting public works and carrying them into effect,
he was better qualified than any one who had come within my knowledge in
this country."[110] The President informed L'Enfant that he was to set
to work at once, and so bestir himself as to have at least a general
plan to show a few months later, when he himself would return from a
trip South. On March 2, 1791, Washington announced to Colonel Dickens,
of Georgetown, the coming of the major: "An eminent French military
engineer starts for Georgetown to examine and survey the site of the
federal city." A few days later the arrival of "Major Longfont" was duly
recorded by the _Georgetown Weekly Ledger_.[111]

L'Enfant's enthusiasm and his desire to do well and quickly had been
raised to a high pitch. He reached the place a few days later and found
it wrapped in mist, soaked in rain, but he would not wait. "I see no
other way," he wrote to Jefferson on the 11th, "if by Monday next the
weather does not change, but of making a rough draft as accurate as may
be obtained by viewing the ground in riding over it on horseback, as I
have already done yesterday through the rain, to obtain a knowledge of
the whole.... As far as I was able to judge through a thick fog, I
passed on many spots which appeared to me really beautiful, and which
seem to dispute with each other [which] commands."[112]

When he could see the place to better advantage, his admiration knew no
bounds. In an unpublished letter to Hamilton he says: "Now, when you
may probably have heard that I am finally charged with delineating a
plan for the city, I feel a sort of embarrassment how to speak to you as
advantageously as I really think of the situation determined upon; for,
as there is no doubt, I must feel highly interested in the success of
the undertaking, I become apprehensive of being charged with partiality
when I assure you that no position in America can be more susceptible of
grand improvement than that between the eastern branch of the Potomac
and Georgetown."[113]

A few weeks later L'Enfant was doing the honors of the spot to a brother
artist, the painter Trumbull, just back from Yorktown, where he had been
sketching in view of his big picture of the surrendering of Cornwallis,
and who wrote in his autobiography: "Then to Georgetown, where I found
Major L'Enfant drawing his plan of the city of Washington; rode with him
over the ground on which the city has since been built. Where the
Capitol now stands was then a thick wood." (May, 1791.)

Another visitor of note came in the same year, namely the French
minister, a former companion in arms of Lafayette and of L'Enfant
himself, Ternant, back from a three days' stay at Mount Vernon, and who
gave his government an account of what he had observed: "I would not
leave Georgetown without having seen the ground destined for the federal
city. The position seemed to me a most interesting one from every point
of view. The French engineer who has already traced the streets, is busy
preparing a detailed plan.... The President shows the greatest interest
in this new Salente, which is to bear his name."[114]

The city, L'Enfant thought, must be great, beautiful, and soon peopled,
drawn "on that grand scale on which it ought to be planned";[115] meant
to absorb "Georgetown itself, whose name will before long be suppressed,
and its whole district become a part of the cession."[116] It must be
quickly filled with inhabitants, because this will strengthen the Union:
"I earnestly wish all that the Eastern States can spare may come this
way, and believe it would answer as good a purpose as that of their
emigration to the West. It would deface that line of markation which
will ever oppose the South against the East, for when objects are seen
at a distance the idea we form of them is apt to mislead us ... and we
fancy monstrous that object which, from a nearer view, would charm
us.... Hence arises a natural though unwarrantable prejudice of nations
against nations, of States against States, and so down to individuals,
who often mistrust one another for want of being sufficiently acquainted
with each other."[117]

The city must be beautiful, due advantage being taken of the hilly
nature of the spot for grand or lovely prospects, and of its water
resources for handsome fountains and cascades: "five grand fountains
intended, with a constant spout of water--a grand cascade" at the foot
of Capitol Hill,[118] etc., a part of the plan which was, unluckily,
left in abeyance. Some had spoken of a plain rectangular plan, "a
regular assemblage of houses laid out in squares, and forming streets
all parallel and uniform." This might be good enough, L'Enfant declared,
"on a well-level plain, where, no surrounding object being interesting,
it becomes indifferent which way the opening street may be directed."
But the case is quite different with the future federal city: "Such
regular plans, however answerable they may appear on paper ... become at
last tiresome and insipid, and it could never be, in its origin, but a
mean continence of some cool imagination wanting a sense of the really
grand and truly beautiful, only to be met with where nature contributes
with art and diversifies the objects."[119] We may imagine what his
feelings would be if he saw, in our days, the steam-shovel busy around
the city, dumping as many hills as possible into as many vales, and
securing a maximum platitude.

But the city must be more than that; besides being beautiful, healthy,
commodious, it should be full of sentiment, of associations, of ideas;
everything in it must be evocative and have a meaning and a "raison
d'être." Rarely was a brain more busy than that of L'Enfant during the
first half of the year 1791. Surveying the ground, mapping out the
district, sketching the chief buildings of the model city that was to
be,[120] he presented three reports to Washington, the first, giving
only his general ideas, before the end of March, the second in June,
the last in August, the two latter accompanied with plans, the last of
which being the one which was followed in the building of the city.

By the amplitude of its scope, the logic of the arrangements, the
breadth of the streets and avenues, the beauty of the prospects cleverly
taken into account, the quantity of ground set apart for gardens and
parks, the display of waters, the plan was a unique monument. The
selection of the place for what we call the Capitol and the White House,
which were then called the Federal House and the Palace for the
President, near which the ministerial departments were to be built, had
been the result of a good deal of thinking and comparing. "After much
menutial [_sic_] search for an eligible situation, prompted, as I may
say, from a fear of being prejudiced in favor of a first opinion, I
could discover no one so advantageously to greet the congressional
building as is that on the west end of Jenkins heights, which stand as a
pedestal waiting for a monument.... Some might, perhaps, require less
labor to be made agreeable, but, after all assistance of arts, none ever
would be made so grand." On that very pedestal now rises the Capitol of
the United States.

As for the "Presidential Palace," L'Enfant made his choice with the
object, he says, of "adding to the sumptuousness of a palace the
convenience of a house and the agreeableness of a country seat," which
are the three main qualities actually combined in the present White
House. He selected a spot which Washington had himself noticed as a
convenient one, at some distance from Congress, it is true, but that
would not matter much, L'Enfant thought, with his old-world notions of
etiquette, for "no message to nor from the President is to be made
without a sort of decorum which will doubtless point out the propriety
of committee waiting on him in carriage, should his palace be even
contiguous to Congress." Since it was a question of driving, it little
mattered whether the drive was to be a little more or less long.

For different reasons President Washington approved of that distance;
_major e longinquo amicitia_, he apparently thought. "Where and how," he
once wrote to Alexander White, "the houses for the President and other
public officers may be fixed is to me as an individual a matter of
moonshine, but ... the daily intercourse which the secretaries of the
departments must have with the President would render a distant
situation extremely inconvenient to them; and not much less so would one
be close to the Capitol, for it was the universal complaint of them all,
that while the legislature was in session they could do little or no
business, so much were they interrupted by the individual visits of
members (in office hours) and by calls for papers. Many of them have
declared to me that they have often been obliged to go home and deny
themselves in order to transact the current business."[121] In that
respect, carriage or no carriage, distance would have its merits.

L'Enfant's letters and the notes accompanying his plans show that
everything in the future city had been devised, indeed, with an
intention: ever-flowing fountains and a cascade for health and beauty;
an avenue of noble buildings, leading from the Capitol to the
Presidential House, and increasing the dignified appearance of both:
"The grand avenue," he wrote, "connecting both the Palace and the
Federal House will be most magnificent and most convenient," with a
number of handsome monuments, a very characteristic one being a temple
for national semireligious celebrations, "such as public prayer,
thanksgivings, funeral orations, etc., and assigned to the special use
of no particular sect or denomination, but equally opened to all." It
would also be a pantheon for the illustrious dead, "as may hereafter be
decreed by the voice of a grateful nation." A column, as yet never
built, was "to be erected to celebrate the first rise of a navy, and to
stand a ready monument to consecrate its progress and achievements." The
squares were to be allotted, one to each of the States forming the
Union: "The centre of each square will admit of statues, columns,
obelisks, or any other ornaments ... to perpetuate not only the memory
of such individuals whose counsels or military achievements were
conspicuous in giving liberty and independence to this country, but also
those whose usefulness hath rendered them worthy of general imitation,
to invite the youth of succeeding generations to tread in the paths of
those sages or heroes whom their country has thought proper to
celebrate." This was a way, L'Enfant considered, of fortifying the Union
and of giving to the very city that educational value to which he
attached so much importance.

Chief among those patriotic objects was to be, at some distance north of
the place where the Washington monument now rises, "the equestrian
figure of George Washington, a monument voted in 1783 by the late
Continental Congress." And L'Enfant must certainly have hoped that the
author would be his illustrious compatriot, the sculptor Houdon, on
whose behalf we have seen him writing to Congress, in 1785, as to the
probable cost.

Distant views and prospects were, of course, to be used to the best
advantage: "Attention has been paid to the passing of those leading
avenues over the most favorable ground for prospect and convenience."
But, above all, L'Enfant was persistent in his request that, on no
account, the grandeur of his conception be in any way curtailed: it was
to remain commensurate with the greatness of the United States of future
times. The plan "must leave to posterity a grand idea of the patriotic
interest which promoted it."[122] He foresaw much opposition to some of
his ideas, but besought the President to stand by him, and especially to
prevent any dwarfing of his views: "I remain assured you will conceive
it essential to pursue with dignity the operation of an undertaking of a
magnitude so worthy of the concern of a grand empire ... over whose
progress the eyes of every other nation, envying the opportunity denied
them, will stand judge."[123]

To make a man of that temper and enthusiasm, having a reason for each of
his propositions, accept hints and change his mind was almost an
impossibility. In vain did Jefferson object "to the obligation to build
the houses at a given distance from the street.... It produces a
disgusting monotony; all persons make this complaint against
Philadelphia." In the same record of his views, however, and much more
to his credit, Washington's secretary of state is seen foreseeing the
sky-scraper and its dangers: "In Paris it is forbidden to build a house
beyond a given height, and it is admitted to be a good restriction. It
keeps down the price of grounds, keeps the houses low and convenient,
and the streets light and airy. Fires are much more manageable when
houses are low,"[124] as was only too well evidenced since in the fires
at Chicago, Baltimore, and San Francisco.

As for the President himself, he had well-determined, practical ideas on
some points, such as the befitting distance between the places of abode
of Congress and of the chief of the state, and, what was of more import,
the necessarily large extent of the ground to be reserved for the
building of the future capital.[125] On the rest, with his habit of
trusting those who knew, he seems to have left free rein to L'Enfant.
Submitting to him certain suggestions, some from Jefferson, he allows
him to use them or not, as he pleases, and he personally seems to
incline toward not: "Sir, although I do not conceive that you will
derive any material advantage from an examination of the inclosed
papers, yet, as they have been drawn under different circumstances and
by different persons, they may be compared with your own ideas of a
proper plan for the federal city.... The rough sketch by Mr. Jefferson
was done under an idea that no offer worthy of consideration would come
from the landholders in the vicinity of Carrollsburgh, from the
backwardness which appeared in them, and therefore was accommodated to
the grounds about Georgetown."[126]

Criticism of L'Enfant's plan turned out to be insignificant, and the
approbation general. "The work of Major L'Enfant, which is greatly
admired, will show," Washington said, "that he had many objects to
attend to and to combine, not on paper merely, but to make them
correspond with the actual circumstances of the ground."[127] Jefferson,
who had the good taste not to stick to his own former suggestions, was
sending, a little later, copies of the plan to Gouverneur Morris, then
minister to France, for him to exhibit in various cities as a thing for
the United States to be proud of: "I sent you by the way of London a
dozen plans of the city of Washington in the Federal territory, hoping
you would have them displayed to public view where they would be most
seen by those descriptions of men worthy and likely to be attracted to
it. Paris, Lyons, Rouen, and the seaport towns of Havre, Nantes,
Bordeaux, and Marseille would be proper places to send them to."[128]

Three assistants had been given to L'Enfant, two of the Ellicot brothers
(Andrew and Benjamin) and Isaac Roberdeau, the major's trustiest second.
Three Commissioners of the District had been appointed, Thomas Johnson
and Daniel Carroll, both of Maryland, and David Stuart, of Virginia.
They notified L'Enfant, on the 9th of September, 1791, that a name had
been selected for the district and the city: "We have agreed that the
federal district shall be called 'the Territory of Columbia,' and the
federal city 'the City of Washington.' The title of the map will
therefore be 'A map of the City of Washington in the District of

For the expropriation of the ground with a minimum actual outlay, an
ingenious system, also applied elsewhere, had been adopted: "The terms
entered into by me," Washington wrote to Jefferson, "on the part of the
United States with the landowners of Georgetown and Carrollsburgh, are
that all the land from Rock Creek along the river to the Eastern
Branch ... is ceded to the public, on condition that, when the whole shall
be surveyed and laid off as a city, which Major L'Enfant is now directed
to do, the present proprietors shall retain every other lot, and for such
parts of the land as may be taken for public use they shall be allowed
at the rate of twenty-five pounds per acre, the public having the right
to reserve such parts of the wood on the land as may be thought
necessary to be preserved for ornament; the landholders to have the use
and profit of all the grounds until the city is laid off into lots,
which by this agreement became public property. Nothing is to be allowed
for the ground which may be occupied as streets or alleys." The
President was confident that everybody would acquiesce and show
good-will, "even the obstinate Mr. Burns."[129]

But it turned out that there were other obstinate people besides Mr.
Burns, L'Enfant himself chief among them. He had evinced from the first
a great fear of speculators, and was at once at war with them. "How
far," he boldly wrote to Hamilton, "I have contributed to overset that
plotting business, it would not do for me to tell; besides, I am not
wholly satisfied whether I would be thanked for by the people among whom
you live."[130] The three Commissioners had notions of their own, but
could never bring L'Enfant to take into account either their persons or
their ideas; he would acknowledge no chief except Washington, who,
gently at first, firmly afterward, sternly later, and vainly throughout,
tried to make the major understand that he was one of the Commissioners'
subordinates. A great reciprocal irritation, which even the President's
painstaking diplomacy could not assuage, began between them from the
first. Out of fear of speculators, L'Enfant wanted the sale of the lots
to be delayed, while the Commissioners desired to make a beginning as
soon as possible. The officer kept, accordingly, his plan to himself,
and refused to have it shown to would-be purchasers. How, then,
Washington exclaimed, could they be "induced to buy, to borrow an old
adage, a _pig in a poke_"?[131]

The major would not be persuaded, and, giving an early example of an
unconquerable fear of what would now be called a "trust," he persisted
in refusing to show his plan to any individual or association. He had
declared beforehand, in one of his reports to the President, what were
his views and how things should be delayed until the plan could be
engraved, distributed all over the country, and made known to all people
at the same time: "A sale made previous the general plan of the
distribution of the city is made public, and before the circumstance of
that sale taking place has had time to be known through the whole
continent, will not call a sufficient concurrence, and must be confined
to a few individuals speculating ... and the consequence of a low sale
in this first instance may prove injurious to the subsequent ones by
serving as precedents." He was afraid of the "plotting of a number of
certain designing men," of the forming of a "society" organized "to
engross the most of the sale and master the whole business."[132]

When one of the chief landowners of the district, Daniel Carroll, of
Duddington, a relative of one of the Commissioners, decided, in spite of
all warnings, to go on with the building of a house across what was to
be New Jersey Avenue, matters came to a crisis. Washington tried to
pacify L'Enfant, whose indignation knew no bounds. "As a similar case,"
he wrote to him, "cannot happen again (Mr. Carroll's house having been
begun before the federal district was fixed upon), no precedent will be
established by yielding a little in the present instance; and it will
always be found sound policy to conciliate the good-will rather than
provoke the enmity of any man, where it can be accomplished without much
difficulty, inconvenience, or loss."

But even at the request of a leader whom he worshipped, L'Enfant would
not be persuaded. With no authority from the Commissioners, he sent his
faithful Roberdeau to raze the house to the ground, which was but partly
done when the Commissioners had Roberdeau arrested. L'Enfant thereupon
came in person with some laborers, and saw the work of destruction
perfected (November 22). He barely escaped arrest himself. Washington,
who, as he wrote to Jefferson, was loath to lose "his services, which in
my opinion would be a serious misfortune," severely remonstrated now
with the major. "In future I must strictly enjoin you to touch no man's
property without his consent, or the previous order of the
Commissioners," adding in kindlier tones: "Having the beauty and
regularity of your plan only in view, you pursue it as if every person
or thing were obliged to yield to it."[133]

But so they are, thought L'Enfant. For him the city was his city, his
child, and a father has a right to rear his child as he pleases.
Remonstrating went on some time. Jefferson came to the rescue of the
President, used the fairest means, asked the major to dine with him
"tête à tête," so as to quietly discuss the federal city, the hour for
the meal differing rather widely from ours: "Mr. Jefferson presents his
compliments to Major L'Enfant, and is sorry to have been absent when he
was so kind as to call on him, as he wishes to have some conversation
with him on the subject of the federal city. He asks the favor of him to
come and take a private dinner with him to-morrow at half after three,
which may afford time and opportunity for the purpose.--Saturday January
7, 1792."[134] Nothing resulted. Another landowner, Notley Young, had
been found in December building a house which had, "contrary to
expectation, fallen into a principal street. But I hope," Washington
wrote the Commissioners, "the major does not mean to proceed to the
demolition of this also."

On no point would L'Enfant yield, so that on March 6, 1792, Jefferson
wrote to the Commissioners: "It having been found impracticable to
employ Major L'Enfant in that degree of subordination which was lawful
and proper, he has been notified that his services were at an end."

A consolation and a comfort to him was the immediate signing by all the
landowners of the district, except two, of a testimonial "lamenting" his
departure, wishing for his return, praising his work, "for we well know
that your time and the whole powers of your mind have been for months
entirely devoted to the arrangements in the city which reflect so much
honor on your taste and judgment."[135]


The bright part of L'Enfant's life was over. His fame was great, and
appeals continued for some time to be made to him when important works
were contemplated. But his same tendency to ever see things "en grand,"
his unyielding disposition, his increasing and almost morbid fear of
speculators wrecked more than one of his undertakings.

Almost on his leaving his work at Washington he was asked to draw the
plans of the first manufacturing city, devised as such, in the United
States, and which is to-day one of the most important in existence,
Paterson, N.J. "Major L'Enfant, it is said," wrote Washington, who still
retained a friendly feeling for him, "is performing wonders at the new
town of Paterson."[136] The moving spirit was Hamilton, under whose
influence had been founded the "Society for the Establishing Useful
Manufactures." The chief point was to transform into a city a spot where
only ten houses were in existence, and to make of it an industrial one
by turning into use the Falls of the Passaic. Several letters of the
major to Hamilton, giving an account of the work, in which faithful
Roberdeau was helping, and of the increasing difficulties with all sorts
of people, are preserved in the Library of Congress. After one year's
toil, L'Enfant was once more notified that his services were no longer

He is found in the same year and the following one working as an
engineer at Fort Mifflin, on the Delaware, and as an architect at a
mansion in Philadelphia which was to surpass in magnificence any other
in the States. It had been ordered of him by Robert Morris, the
financier of the Revolution, and the richest man in America.[137] Here
was, if ever, an occasion to do things "en grand." L'Enfant, however,
did them "en plus grand" than even the financier had dreamed;
improvements and afterthoughts, the use of marble for columns and
façades increased the delay and the expense. His being busy at Paterson
had also been at first another cause of complaint. "Dear Sir," Morris
beseechingly wrote him from Philadelphia, "I had like to have stopped my
house for fear of wanting money; that difficulty being removed, it will
now be stopped for want of Major L'Enfant."[138] The roof had at last
been put on, and one could judge of the beauty of the ensemble, quite
remarkable, as we can see from a sketch by Birch the Elder preserved in
the Philadelphia Library, when Morris's catastrophe occurred, putting an
end to the work, and swallowing part, if not all, of L'Enfant's

In his delight at being intrusted with the plan of the federal city he
had never said a word about any remuneration, and he had not copyrighted
his plan. At the time of his dismissal Washington had written to the
Commissioners: "The plan of the city having met universal applause (as
far as my information goes), and Major L'Enfant having become a very
discontented man, it was thought that less than from two thousand five
hundred to three thousand dollars, would not be proper to offer him for
his services; instead of this, suppose five hundred guineas and a lot in
a good part of the city were substituted?"

The offer was made; L'Enfant refused, without giving reasons. More and
more gloomy times were in store for him; mishaps and disappointments
multiplied. He had laid great store on the selling of copies of his
plan, but since he had not copyrighted it, no royalty on the sale was
reserved for him. He protested against this, against the way in which
the engraving had been made, with grievous "errors of execution," and
against the suppression of his name on it, "depriving me of the repute
of the projector." Contrary, however, to the fear expressed at first by
Washington, that out of spite he might, in his discontent, side with the
many who disapproved of the vast and difficult undertaking, he remained
loyal to it, and "there is no record of any act or word that tarnishes
his life history with the blemish of disloyalty to the creation of his
genius. He bore his honors and disappointments in humility and

Poverty was, indeed, at his door, and soon in his house. Haunted by the
notion of his wrongs, some only too real, some more or less imaginary,
he sent to Congress memoir after memoir, recalling what he had done, and
what was his destitution, the "absolute destruction of his family's
fortune in Europe," owing to the French Revolution, his being reduced
"from a state of ease and content to one the most distressed and
helpless," living as he did, upon "borrowed bread"; but he would not
doubt of "the magnanimity and justice of Congress."[141]

The family's fortune had been reduced, indeed, to a low ebb, his own
lack of attention to his financial affairs making matters worse. His
inability to properly attend to them is only too well evidenced by some
letters from French relatives, showing that, while he was himself in
absolute want, he neglected to receive the pension bestowed on him by
the French Government, and which, in spite of the Revolution, had been
maintained. He had also inherited from the old painter, his father, a
small farm in Normandy, but had taken no steps about it, so that the
farmer never ceased to pocket the revenues.[142]

One of these letters, which tells him of the death of his mother, who
"died with the piety of an angel," shows what reports reached France as
to the major's standing among his American friends: "All the persons
whom I have seen and who know you, assured me that you enjoyed public
esteem. This is everything in a country of which people praise the
morals, the virtues, and the probity as worthy of our first

On two occasions, after many years, Congress voted modest sums for
L'Enfant, but they were at once appropriated by his creditors. He was,
moreover, appointed, in 1812, "professor of the art of military
engineering in the Military Academy of the United States," a nomination
which, in spite of the entreaties of James Monroe, then secretary of
state, he declined. He is found in September, 1814, working at Fort
Washington, when fifty men with spades and axes are sent him.

He survived eleven years, haunting the lobbies of the Capitol, pacing
the newly marked avenues of "his" city, watching its growth, deploring
the slightest deviation from his original design, for, as Washington had
early noticed, he was "so tenacious of his plans as to conceive that
they would be marred if they underwent any change or alteration,"[144]
visiting the friends he had among the early settlers. "Mr. W.W.
Corcoran, who lately departed this life in the city of Washington, full
of years and honor ... had a very distinct recollection of the personal
appearance of L'Enfant, the latter having been a frequent visitor at his
father's house. He described him to me as a tall, erect man, fully six
feet in height, finely proportioned, nose prominent, of military
bearing, courtly air, and polite manners, his figure usually enveloped
in a long overcoat and surmounted by a bell-crowned hat--a man who
would attract attention in any assembly."[145]

He ended his days, the permanent guest of the Digges family, in their
house near Washington. His death occurred there in 1825, and he was
buried in their property at the foot of a tree. An inventory of his
"personal goods and chattels" showed that they consisted in three
watches, three compasses, some books, maps, and surveying instruments,
the whole being valued at forty-six dollars.

       *       *       *       *       *

The federal city, Washington had written in 1798 to Mrs. Sarah Fairfax,
then in England, will be a great and beautiful one "a century hence, if
this country keeps united, and it is surely its policy and interest to
do it." It took, indeed, a great many years, and for a long time
doubters could enjoy their doubts, and jokers their jokes. The Duke de
La Rochefoucauld-Liancourt visited the incipient town in 1797; he found
that it possessed one hundred and fifty houses, scattered here and
there; the house for the President was ready to be covered the same
year, and the only wing of the Capitol yet begun was to receive its roof
the year following, both being "handsome buildings, in white stones very
well wrought." But the unredeemable fault, in his eyes, was the very
magnitude and beauty of the plan. "The plan," he wrote, "is fine,
cleverly and grandly designed, but it is its very grandeur, its
magnificence, which causes it to be nothing but a dream." The distance,
so heartily approved of by Washington, between the President's house and
the Capitol, seemed to the traveller a serious objection; the raising of
five hundred houses would be necessary to connect the two buildings; not
one is in existence. "If this gap is not filled, communication will be
impracticable in winter, for one can scarcely suppose that the United
States would undergo the expense for pavement, footpaths, and lamps for
such a long stretch of uninhabited ground."[146] This wonder has,
however, been seen.

For a long time, for more than half the present duration of the city's
life, deriders could deride to their heart's content. Few cities have
ever been so abundantly nicknamed as Washington, the "wilderness city,"
the city "of magnificent distances," the "village monumental," the city,
as reported by Jean-Jacques Ampère, the son of the great scientist, who
visited it in 1851, of "streets without houses, and of houses without
streets." He saw in its fate "a striking proof of this truth that one
cannot create a great city at will." But this truth, as some others,
has proved an untruth.

The growth was slow, indeed, but constant, and when the century was
over, Washington's prophecy and L'Enfant's foresight were justified by
the event. A city had risen, ample and beautiful, a proper capital for a
wealthy and powerful nation, one quite apart, copied on no other, "not
one of those cities," as was remarked, in our days, by one of
Washington's successors, Mr. Roosevelt, "of which you can cut out a
piece and transplant it into another, without any one perceiving that
something has happened."

Then at last came L'Enfant's day. What he had always expected for "his"
city took place; what he had never expected for himself took place also.
In January, 1902, both the "Park Commission," composed of Daniel H.
Burnham, Charles F. McKim, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, and F.L. Olmsted, and
the Senate committee presented their reports on the improvement and
development of Washington; the conclusions were: "The original plan of
the city of Washington, having stood the test of a century, has met
universal approval. The departures from that plan are to be regretted,
and wherever possible, remedied." It was thus resolved to revert, as
much as circumstances allowed, and in spite of a heavy outlay, to
several of L'Enfant's ideas, especially to one which he considered of
greatest importance, and which had been kept so long in abeyance, the
giving of its proper character to that "grand avenue" between the
Capitol and the White House, meant to be "most magnificent and most
convenient." It is now going to be both.

As for L'Enfant himself, one more appropriation, this time not to go to
his creditors, was voted by Congress on account of the major, and it was
resolved that his ashes, the place of which continued to be marked only
by a tree, should be removed to Arlington National Cemetery, to lie in
that ever-growing army of the dead, former members of the regiments of
that Republic for which he had fought and bled. His remains were brought
to what had been "Jenkins's Hill," and placed under the great dome of
the Capitol. In the presence of the chief of the state, President Taft,
of representatives of Congress, the Supreme Court, the Society of the
Cincinnati, and other patriotic and artistic societies, and of a vast
crowd, on the 28th of April, 1909, orations were delivered by the
Vice-President of the United States, James Sherman, and by the Chief
Commissioner of the District, Henry B. McFarland, the latter amply
making up, by his friendly and eloquent address, for the long-forgotten
troubles of his predecessors with L'Enfant. The Vice-President
courteously concluded thus: "And turning to you, Mr. Ambassador ... I
express the hope that the friendship between our nations, which has
existed for more than a century, will be but intensified as time passes,
and that we will in the future join hands in advancing every good cause
which an all-wise Providence intrusts to our care." The hearse, wrapped
in the three colors of France and America, was accompanied to Arlington
by the French naval and military attachés, and an escort from one of
those regiments of engineers to which the major himself had belonged.

A handsome monument was unveiled two years later by Miss E.C. Morgan,
the great-granddaughter of William Digges, who had befriended L'Enfant
in his last days, the chief speeches being delivered by President Taft,
and by the secretary of state, Elihu Root.[147] "Few men," Mr. Root
said, "can afford to wait a hundred years to be remembered. It is not a
change in L'Enfant that brings us here. It is we who have changed, who
have just become able to appreciate his work. And our tribute to him
should be to continue his work." The monument, by W.W. Bosworth, who,
like L'Enfant had received in Paris his artistic education, is in the
shape of a table, on which has been engraved a facsimile of the original
plan of the city by the French soldier-artist. From the slope where it
has been raised can be seen, on the other side of the river, the
ceaselessly growing federal capital, called Washington, "a revered
name," another French officer, the Chevalier de Chastellux, had written,
when visiting, in 1782, another and earlier town of the same name in
Connecticut, "a revered name, whose memory will undoubtedly last longer
than the very city called upon to perpetuate it."


[80] Philadelphia, February 18, 1782. Washington papers, Library of

[81] Same letter.

[82] March 1, 1782. Washington papers.

[83] Brother of the minister to the United States, New York, December
10, 1787; unpublished. Archives of the French Ministry of Colonies.

[84] Mentioned before, p. 21.

[85] Brevet 14,302. Archives of the Ministry of War, Paris.

[86] Steuben writes him from West Point on July 1, 1783, sending him "a
resolution of the convention of the Cincinnati of June 19, 1783, by
which I am requested," he says, "to transmit their thanks to you for
your care and ingenuity in preparing the designs which were laid before
them by the president on that day." Original in the L'Enfant papers, in
the possession of Doctor James Dudley Morgan, of Washington, a
descendant of the Digges family, the last friends of L'Enfant. To him my
thanks are due for having allowed me to use those valuable documents.

[87] December 18, 1783. Rochambeau papers.

[88] Asa Bird Gardner, _The Order of the Cincinnati in France_, 1905,
pp. 9 ff.

[89] An undated memoir (May, 1787?), in the Hamilton papers, Library of

[90] Text annexed to L'Enfant's letter to Rochambeau, June 15, 1786.
(Rochambeau papers.) On August 1, 1787, however, Francastel was still
unpaid, for at that date one of L'Enfant's friends, Duplessis, _i.e._,
the Chevalier de Mauduit du Plessis, who, like himself, had served as a
volunteer in the American army, writes him: "J'ai vu ici M. Francastel
le bijoutier qui vous a fait une fourniture considérable de médailles de
Cincinnatus et qui m'a dit que vous lui deviez 20,000 livres, je crois,
plus ou moins. Je l'ai fort rassuré sur votre probité." (L'Enfant

[91] Only his orthography is corrected in the quotations. Orthography
was not L'Enfant's strong point in any language. His mistakes are even
worse in French than in English, the reason being, probably, that he
took even less pains.

[92] Unpublished, n.d., but probably of 1784. (Papers of the Continental
Congress--Letters, vol. LXXVIII, p. 583, Library of Congress.) His
ambition would have been to be asked to realize his own plan, "as
Brigadier-General Kosciusko, at leaving this continent, gave me the
flattering expectation of being at the head of [such] a department."

[93] On this visit, see below, p. 225.

[94] New York, 3d November, 1785. Papers of the Continental
Congress--Letters, I. 78, vol. XIV, p. 677.

[95] October 13, 1789.

[96] Taggart, _Records of the Columbia Historical Society_, XI, 215.

[97] Thomas E.V. Smith, _The City of New York in 1789_, p. 46, quoting
contemporary magazines.

[98] _Ibid._

[99] C.M. Bowen, _The Centennial Celebration of the Inauguration of
George Washington_, 1892, pp. 15, 16.

[100] "Mr. Lear does himself the honor to inform Major L'Enfant that
Mrs. Washington intends to visit the federal building at six o'clock
this evening.--Saturday morning, 13th June, 1789." (L'Enfant papers.)

[101] Martha J. Lamb, _History of the City of New York_, 1881, vol. II,
pp. 321 ff.

[102] Ten had already voted the Constitution, which made its enactment
certain, for Congress had decided that an adoption by nine States would
be enough for that. As is well known, there remained in the end only two
dissenting States, North Carolina and Rhode Island.

[103] To James Madison, August 12, 1801.

[104] Number of July 24, 1788.

[105] Martha J. Lamb, _ibid._

[106] July 26, 1788.

[107] _New York Journal_, July 24.

[108] To his brother, Philadelphia, November 17, 1806. _Revue des Deux
Mondes_, November 15, 1908, p. 421.

[109] Original (several times printed in part) in the Library of
Congress, _Miscellaneous--Personal_. The rest of the letter treats of
the necessity of fortifying the coasts.

[110] To David Stuart, November 20, 1791.

[111] W.B. Bryan's _History of the National Capital_, 1914, p. 127.

[112] _Records of the Columbia Historical Society_, II, 151.

[113] April 8, 1791. Hamilton Papers, vol. XI, Library of Congress.

[114] September 30, October 24, 1791. _Correspondence of the French
Ministers_, ed. F.J. Turner, 1904, p. 62. "Salente," the ideal city, in
Fénelon's _Télémaque_. During the War of Independence Chevalier Jean de
Ternant had served as a volunteer officer in the American army. He was
at Valley Forge, at Charleston, took part under Greene in the Southern
campaign and was promoted a colonel by a vote of Congress.

[115] To Jefferson, March 11, 1791.

[116] To Hamilton, April 8, 1791.

[117] Same letter to Hamilton.

[118] L'Enfant's _Observations Explanatory of the Plan_, inscribed on
the plan itself.

[119] First report to the President, March 26, 1791.

[120] For he was depended upon for that, too: "M. L'Enfant," Ternant
wrote, "aura aussi la direction des bâtimens que le Congrès se propose
d'y faire élever." September 30, 1791. See also the documents quoted by
W.B. Bryan, _History of the National Capital_, 1914, p. 165, note.
L'Enfant actually made drawings for the Capitol, the President's house,
the bridges, the market, etc., which he complained later the
commissioners to have unjustly appropriated. _Records of the Columbia
Historical Society_, II, 140.

[121] March 25, 1798.

[122] L'Enfant's _Observations Explanatory of the Plan_, inscribed on

[123] Conclusion of his third report.

[124] "Opinion on Capital," November 29, 1790. _Writings_, ed. Ford, V,

[125] Which agreed perfectly with L'Enfant's constant desire to ever do
things "en grand." Washington writes to him that, "although it may not
be _immediately_ wanting," a large tract of ground must be reserved. The
lands to be set apart, "in my opinion are those between Rock Creek, the
Potowmac River, and the Eastern Branch, and as far up the latter as the
turn of the channel above Evens's point; thence including the flat back
of Jenkins's height; thence to the road leading from Georgetown to
Bladensburg as far easterly along the same as to include the Branch
which runs across it, somewhere near the exterior of the Georgetown
Session. Thence in a proper direction to Rock Creek at or above the
ford, according to the situation of ground." Mount Vernon, April 4,
1791, Washington's manuscript _Letter Book_, vol. XI, Library of

[126] Same letter.

[127] To the Commissioners, December 18, 1791.

[128] Philadelphia, March 12, 1793.

[129] March 31, 1791.

[130] April 8, 1791. Hamilton papers, vol. XI.

[131] To David Stuart, November 20, 1791.

[132] Report to the President, August 19, 1791.

[133] December 2, 1791.

[134] L'Enfant papers.

[135] March 9, 1792. _Records of the Columbia Historical Society_, II,

[136] To the Commissioners, November 30, 1792.

[137] Morris had bought for it a whole block, limited on its four sides
by Chestnut, Walnut, Seventh, and Eighth Streets.

[138] May 9, 1793. (L'Enfant papers.)

[139] He seems to have tried to help the financier rather than to be
helped by him. Ill-satisfied as he was with the house, for which he,
apparently, never paid l'Enfant anything, Morris wrote: "But he lent me
thirteen shares of bank stock disinterestedly, and on this point I feel
the greatest anxiety that he should get the same number of shares with
the dividends, for the want of which he has suffered great distress."
Written about 1800. W.B. Bryan, _History of the National Capital_, 1914,
p. 181.

[140] S.C. Busey, _Pictures of the City of Washington in the Past_,
1898, p. 108.

[141] Memoirs of 1801, 1802, 1813, in the Jefferson papers, Library of

[142] Letter from his cousin, Destouches, Paris, September 15, 1805,
greatly exaggerating, as shown by the letter mentioned below, his
mother's state of poverty. (L'Enfant papers.)

[143] From his cousin, Mrs. Roland, née Mallet, whose husband had a
modest position at the Ministry of the Navy; Paris, May 5, 1806. The
mother's furniture and silver plate was valued at 1,500 livres. Allusion
is made to L'Enfant's deceased sister and to her "mariage projeté avec
Mr. Leclerc." (L'Enfant papers.)

[144] To David Stuart November 20, 1791.

[145] Hugh T. Taggart, in _Records of the Columbia Historical Society_,
XI, 216.

[146] _Voyage en Amérique_, VI, 122 ff.

[147] May 22, 1911.





Washington's acquaintance with things French began early and was of a
mixed nature. As a pupil of the French Huguenot Maryes, who kept a
school at Fredericksburg, and did _not_ teach him French,[148] we find
him carefully transcribing, in his elegant youthful hand, those famous
"Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation,"
which have recently been proved to be French. Whether this French
teaching given him by a Frenchman engraved itself in his mind or
happened to match his natural disposition, or both, certain it is that
he lived up to the best among those maxims, those, for example, and they
are remarkably numerous, that deprecate jokes and railing at the
expense of others, or those of a noble import advising the young man to
be "no flatterer," to "show no sign of choler in reproving, but to do it
with sweetness and mildness," those prescribing that his "recreations be
manful, not sinful," and giving him this advice of supreme importance,
which Washington observed throughout life: "Labor to keep alive in your
breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience."

Another chance that Washington had to become acquainted with things
French was through his reading, and was less favorable to them. An early
note in his hand informs us that, about the year 1748, he, being then
sixteen, had, "in the _Spectator_, read to No. 143." All those numbers
had been written by Steele and Addison at a period of French wars, at
the moment when we were fighting "Monsieur Malbrouk." Not a portrait of
the French in those numbers that is not a caricature; they are a
"ludicrous nation"; their women are "fantastical," their men "vain and
lively," their fashions ridiculous; not even their wines find grace in
the eyes of Steele, who could plead, it is true, that he was not without
experience on the subject, and who declares that this "plaguy French
claret" is greatly inferior to "a bottle or two of good, solid, edifying

Washington was soon to learn more of French people, and was to find
that they were something else than mere ludicrous and lively puppets.

A soldier born, with all that is necessary to prove a good one and to
become an apt leader, having, as he himself wrote, "resolution to face
what any man durst,"[149] Washington rose rapidly in the ranks, becoming
a colonel in 1754, at the age of twenty-two. He was three times sent, in
his younger days, to observe, and check if he could, the progress of his
future allies, in the Ohio and Monongahela Valleys. His journal and
letters show him animated toward them with the spirit befitting a loyal
subject of George II, none of his judgments on them being spoiled by any
undue leniency.

On the first occasion he was simply ordered to hand to the commander of
a French fort a letter from the governor of Virginia, and to ask him to
withdraw as having "invaded the King of Great Britain's territory." To
which the Frenchman, an old officer and Knight of Saint Louis, Mr. de
Saint-Pierre, who shortly before had been leading an exploration in the
extreme West, toward the Rockies,[150] politely but firmly declined to
assent, writing back to the governor: "I am here by the orders of my
general, and I entreat you, sir, not to doubt but that I shall try to
conform myself to them with all the exactness and resolution which must
be expected from a good officer." He has "much the air of a soldier,"
Washington wrote of him.

Mr. de Saint-Pierre added, on his part, a word on the bearer of Governor
Dinwiddie's message, who was to be the bearer also of his answer, and in
this we have the first French comment on Washington's personality: "I
made it my particular care to receive Mr. Washington with a distinction
suitable to your dignity as well as to his own personal merit.--From the
Fort on the Rivière-aux-Bœufs, December 15, 1753." Having received
plentiful supplies as a gift from the French, but entertaining the worst
misgivings as to their "artifices," the young officer began his return
journey, during which, in spite of all trouble, he managed to pay a
visit to Queen Aliquippa: "I made her a present," he wrote, "of a
match-coat and a bottle of rum, which latter was thought much the best
present of the two." On the 16th of January, 1754, he was back at
Williamsburg, handed to the governor Mr. de Saint-Pierre's negative
answer, and printed an account of his journey.[151]

The second expedition, a military one, was marked next year by the sad
and famous Jumonville incident and by the surrendering, to the brother
of dead Jumonville, of Fort Necessity, where the subjects of King George
and their youthful colonel, after a fight lasting from eleven in the
morning till eight in the evening, had to capitulate, being permitted,
however, by the French to withdraw with "full military honors,
drum-beating, and taking with them one small piece of ordnance." (July
3, 1754.) The fort and the rest of the artillery remained in the hands
of the captors, as well as part of that diary which, although with
interruptions, Washington was fond of keeping, whenever he could, his
last entry being dated Friday, December 13, 1799, the day before his
death. The part found at Fort Necessity--March 31 to June 27, 1754--was
sent to Paris, translated into French, printed in 1756 by the royal
government,[152] and the text given in Washington's writings is only a
retranslation from the French, the original English not having been

The third occasion was the terrible campaign of 1755, which ended in
Braddock's death and the defeat of the English regulars on the
Monongahela, not far from the newly built Fort Duquesne, later
Pittsburgh (July 9). Contrary to expectation[153] (there being "about
three hundred French and Indians," wrote Washington; "our numbers
consisted of about thirteen hundred well-armed men, chiefly
regulars"[154]), the French won the day, nearly doing to death their
future commander-in-chief. A rumor was even spread that he had actually
succumbed after composing a "dying speech," and Washington had to write
to his brother John to assure him that he had had as yet no occasion for
such a composition, though very near having had it: "By the all-powerful
dispensation of Providence, I have been protected beyond all human
probability and expectation; for I had four bullets through my coat, and
two horses shot under me, yet escaped unhurt, although death was
levelling my companions on every side of me. We have been most
scandalously beaten."[155]

By an irony of fate, in this expedition against the French, in which
George Washington acted as aide-de-camp to the English general, the
means of transportation had been supplied by Postmaster Benjamin

The French were indubitably different from the airy fops of Addison's
_Spectator_, but they were as far as ever from commanding young
Washington's sympathy. It was part of his loyalism to hate them and to
interpret for the worst anything they could do or say. The master of an
ampler vocabulary than he is sometimes credited with, we find him
writing to Richard Washington, in 1757, that the means by which the
French maintain themselves in the Ohio Valley are--"hellish."[156]

A few years later the tone is greatly altered, not yet toward the
French, but toward the British Government and King. In sad, solemn
words, full already of the spirit of the Washington of history, he warns
his friend and neighbor George Mason, the one who was to draw the first
Constitution of Virginia, of the great crisis now looming: "American
freedom" is at stake; "it seems highly necessary that something should
be done to avert the stroke and maintain the liberty which we have
derived from our ancestors. But the manner of doing it, to answer the
purpose effectually, is the point in question.

"That no man should scruple or hesitate a moment to use a-ms [_sic_] in
defense of so valuable a blessing, on which all the good and evil of
life depends, is clearly my opinion. Yet a-ms, I would beg leave to add,
should be the last resource, the _dernier resort_."[157] Absolutely
firm, absolutely moderate, such was Washington to continue to the end of
the impending struggle, and, indeed, of his days. The life of the great
Washington was now beginning.


Some more years elapse, and when the curtain rises again on scenes of
war, momentous changes have occurred. To the last hour the former
officer of the colonial wars, now a man of forty-two, was still
expressing the wish "that the dispute had been left to posterity to
determine: but the crisis has arrived when we must assert our rights or
submit to every imposition that can be heaped upon us, till custom and
use make us as tame and abject slaves as the blacks we rule over with
such arbitrary sway." It was hard for him to reconcile himself to the
fact that the English were really to be the enemy; he long tried to
believe that the quarrel was not with England and her King, but only
with the ministry and their troops, which he calls the "ministerials."
Writing on the 31st of May, 1775, from Philadelphia, where he was
attending the second Continental Congress, to G.W. Fairfax in England,
he gave him an account of the clash between the "provincials" of
Massachusetts and "the ministerial troops: for we do not, nor can we yet
prevail upon ourselves to call them the King's troops."[158]

The war was to be, in his eyes, a fratricidal one: "Unhappy it is,
though, to reflect that a brother's sword has been sheathed in a
brother's breast, and that the once happy and peaceful plains of America
are either to be drenched with blood or inhabited by slaves. Sad
alternative! But can a virtuous man hesitate in his choice?"

Two weeks later the signer of this letter was appointed, on the
proposition of John Adams, of Massachusetts, commander-in-chief of a new
body of troops just entering history, and called the "Continental
Army."[159] Braddock's former aide was to become the leader of a yet
unborn nation, in an eight-year conflict with all-powerful Britain,
mistress of the coasts, mistress of the seas.

What that conflict was, and what the results have been, all the world
knows. There were sad days and bright days; there were Valley Forge and
Saratoga. "No man, I believe," Washington wrote concerning his own
fate, "had a greater choice of difficulties."[160]

The French had ceased by then to inspire Washington with disdain or
animosity; he was beginning to render them better justice, but his heart
was far as yet from being won. French volunteers had early begun to
flock to the American army, some of them as much an encumbrance as a
help. "They seem to be genteel, sensible men," wrote Washington to
Congress, in October, 1776, "and I have no doubt of their making good
officers as soon as they can learn so much of our language as to make
themselves well understood." One of them, the commander-in-chief
learned, was a young enthusiast who had left wife and child to serve the
American cause as a volunteer, and without pay, like George Washington
himself. He had crossed the ocean, escaping the British cruisers, on a
boat called _La Victoire_, he being called Lafayette. One more
encumbrance, audibly muttered the general, who wrote to Benjamin
Harrison: "What the designs of Congress respecting this gentleman were,
and what line of conduct I am to pursue to comply with their design and
his expectation, I know no more than the child unborn, and beg to be

"Give me a chance," pleaded Lafayette, still in Philadelphia; "I do not
want to be an honorary soldier." He came to camp, and it was a case of
friendship at first, or at least second, sight, which would need the pen
of a Plutarch to be told. In August, Washington had been wondering what
to do with the newcomer. On the 1st of November he wrote to Congress:
"... Besides, he is sensible, discreet in his manner, has made great
proficiency in our language, and from the disposition he discovered in
the battle of Brandywine possesses a large share of bravery and military

Then it was that Washington had a chance to learn what those men really
were who had lodged so many bullets in his coat on the occasion of
Braddock's defeat; not at once, but by degrees he came to consider that
one peculiar trait in those former enemies made them worthy of his
friendship: their aptitude for disinterested enthusiasm for a cherished

Not at once; early prejudices and associations had left on him too deep
an imprint to be easily removed. He resisted longer than old Franklin,
and with a stiffer pen than that of the Philadelphia sage he would note
down his persisting suspicions and his reluctance to admit the
possibility of generous motives inspiring the French nation's policy. "I
have from the first," he wrote, in 1777, to his brother, John, "been
among those few who never built much upon a French war. I never did and
still do think they never meant more than to give us a kind of underhand
assistance; that is, to supply us with arms, etc., for our money and
trade. This may, indeed, if Great Britain has spirit and strength to
resent it, bring on a war; but the declaration of it on either side
must, I am convinced, come from the last-mentioned Power." It was not,
however, to be so.

Even after France alone had recognized the new nation, and she had
actually begun war on England, Washington remained unbending, his heart
would not melt. "Hatred of England," he wrote, "may carry some into an
excess of confidence in France.... I am heartily disposed to entertain
the most favorable sentiments of our new ally, and to cherish them in
others to a reasonable degree. But it is a maxim founded on the
universal experience of mankind that no nation is to be trusted farther
than it is bound by its interest, and no prudent statesman or politician
will venture to depart from it."[162]

After the Declaration of Independence, envoys had been sent to Europe
intrusted with the mission of securing the alliance, not especially of
France, but of all nations who might be touched by the fate of the
struggling colonists and inclined to help them in their fight for
liberty. Some of the envoys were not even admitted to the capitals of
the countries assigned to their efforts; others received only good

Sent to Prussia, Arthur Lee, who had been previously refused admittance
to Madrid, could reach the capital (June 4, 1777), but not the King.
"There is no name," Lee wrote appealingly to the monarch, "so highly
respected among us as that of your Majesty. Hence there is no King the
declaration of whose friendship would inspire our own people with so
much courage." But the King would not be persuaded; he refused all help
in "artillery, arms, and money," though, Lee wrote to the committee of
foreign affairs, "I was well informed he had a considerable sum in his
treasury." Frederick would not relent, giving as a reason that, if he
agreed, the result would be much "inconvenience" for himself. He even
refused to receive Lee, whom he, however, allowed to see his army: a
mechanism without peer, the American envoy wrote to Washington, but only
a mechanism:

"The Prussian army, which amounts to 220,000 horse and foot, are
disciplined by force of hourly exercise and caning to move with a
rapidity and order so as to certainly exceed any troops in Europe." They
practise each day: "Every man is filed off singly, and passes in review
before different officers, who beat his limbs into the position they
think proper, so that the man appears to be purely a machine in the hand
of a workman."[163]

The furthest Frederick consented to go was to cause Lee to be assured,
when he left Prussia the following month (July, 1777), that he would
always receive with pleasure the news of any English reverse.

To the American appeal France alone answered, _Adsum_: for what motives,
has been shown above,[164] love of liberty rather than hatred of England
being the chief reason, and the rebellious colonies being popular in
France not so much because they wanted to throw off an English yoke as
because they wanted to throw off a yoke.

Up to the time when Rochambeau arrived Washington had seen during the
war more or less numerous specimens of the French race, but only
isolated specimens. He had heard of what they were doing as soldiers and
sailors, without himself seeing them in action. As gentlemen and
soldiers he held them, at that date, to be fit representatives of a
nation "old in war, very strict in military etiquette, and apt to take
fire where others scarcely seem warmed."[165] He noticed, however, after
Savannah, that with all that warmth they could, when put to the test,
prove steady, level-headed, and careful of their words: "While," he said
to General Lincoln, "I regret the misfortune, I feel a very sensible
pleasure in contemplating the gallant behavior of the officers and men
of the French and American army; and it adds not a little to my
consolation to learn that, instead of the mutual reproaches which often
follow the failure of enterprises depending upon the co-operation of
troops of different nations, their confidence in and esteem of each
other is increased."[166]

Concerning the French as sailors Washington did not conceal, however, to
his intimate friends his misgivings. He early felt that the issue of the
whole war and the independence of his country might depend on an at
least momentary domination of the sea, but felt great doubt as to the
possibility of this goal being reached. "In all probability," he
thought, "the advantage will be on the side of the English. And then
what would become of America? We ought not to deceive ourselves.... It
is an axiom that the nation which has the most extensive commerce will
always have the most powerful marine.... It is true, France in a manner
created a fleet in a very short space, and this may mislead us in the
judgment we form of her naval abilities.... We should consider what was
done by France as a violent and unnatural effort of the government,
which for want of sufficient foundation cannot continue to operate
proportionable effects." Moreover, though "the ability of her present
financier (Necker) has done wonders," France is not a rich country.[167]

When Rochambeau came with his 5,000 troops, on Ternay's fleet, which
carried numerous naval officers and sailors besides, Washington took, so
to say, personal contact with France herself, and was no longer
dependent upon his reading of hostile books, his souvenirs of the
colonial wars, or his impression from acquaintanceship with separate
individuals. The portraits in the _Spectator_ could less and less be
considered as portraits. Washington found himself among men of steady
mind and courteous manners, noteworthy not only for their fighting
qualities, but their sense of duty, their patience and endurance, their
desire to do well. As for the troops, they observed, as is well known,
so strict a discipline that the inhabitants, who expected nothing of
the sort, rather the reverse, were astonished and delighted.

Little by little Washington's heart was won. We did not, in that war,
conquer any land for ourselves, but we conquered Washington. For some
time more he remained only officially ours; the praise bestowed by him
on his allies and their country found place in his letters to
themselves, or in his reports to Congress, which were, in fact, public
documents. At last the day came when, writing only for himself, in a
journal not meant to be seen by anybody, he inscribed those three words:
"our generous allies." That day, May 1, 1781, Washington's heart was
really won.

From that moment what Washington wrote concerning the French, were
it addressed to themselves or to Congress, can be taken at its face
value, and very pleasant reading it is to this day for the compatriots
of those officers and soldiers who had the great man for their
commander-in-chief--such statements as this one, for example, sent to
Congress seven days before the Yorktown capitulation: "I cannot but
acknowledge the infinite obligations I am under to his Excellency, the
Count de Rochambeau, the Marquis de Saint-Simon, commanding the troops
from the West Indies, the other general officers, and indeed the officers
of every denomination in the French army, for the assistance which they
afford me. The experience of many of those gentlemen in the business
before us is of the utmost advantage in the present operation.... The
greatest harmony prevails between the two armies. They seem actuated by
one spirit, that of supporting the honor of the allied armies."[168] When,
in the course of the following year, the two armies which have never met
since, were about to part, their leader thus summed up his impressions:
"It may, I believe, with much truth be said that a greater harmony between
two armies never subsisted than that which has prevailed between the
French and Americans since the first junction of them last year."[169]

By the beginning of 1783 peace and American independence had been
practically secured. Washington is found duly solemnizing the
anniversary of the French alliance which had rendered those events
possible. "I intended," he says to General Greene, "to have wrote you a
long letter on sundry matters, but Major Burnet popped in unexpectedly
at a time when I was preparing for the celebration of the day, and was
just going to a review of the troops, previous to the _feu de joie_."
The orders issued by him on the occasion read thus: "The
commander-in-chief, who wishes on the return of this auspicious day to
diffuse the feelings of gratitude and pleasure as extensively as
possible, is pleased to grant a full and free pardon to all military
prisoners now in confinement."[170]

The orderly book used by Washington is still in existence, and from it
we learn that the parole given for the day was "America and France," and
the countersigns, "United," "Forever."


No less characteristic of Washington's sentiments thereafter is the
correspondence continued by him with a number of French people when the
war was a thing of the past and no further help could be needed. With
Rochambeau, with d'Estaing, Chastellux, La Luzerne, then ambassador in
London, whom he had seen with keen regret leave the United States,[171]
and, of course, with Lafayette, he kept up a correspondence which
affords most pleasant reading: a friend writes to his friends and tells
them of his feelings and expectations. The attitude of France at the
peace is the subject of a noble letter to La Luzerne: "The part your
Excellency has acted in the cause of America and the great and
benevolent share you have taken in the establishment of her independence
are deeply impressed on my mind, and will not be effaced from my
remembrance, or that of the citizens of America.... The articles of the
general treaty do not appear so favorable to France, in point of
territorial acquisitions, as they do to the other Powers.[172] But the
magnanimous and disinterested scale of action which that great nation
has exhibited to the world during this war, and at the conclusion of
peace, will insure to the King and nation that reputation which will be
of more consequence to them than every other consideration."[173]

Washington keeps his French friends aware of the progress of the country
and of his hopes for its greatness; he wants to visit the United States
to the limit of what was then the extreme West. "Prompted by these
actual observations," he writes to Chastellux, "I could not help taking
a more contemplative and extensive view of the vast inland navigation of
these United States from maps and the information of others, and could
not but be struck with the immense diffusion and importance of it, and
with the goodness of that Providence which has dealt her favors to us
with so profuse a hand. Would to God we may have wisdom enough to
improve them. I shall not rest contented till I have explored the
Western country and traversed those lines, or great part of them, which
have given new bounds to a new empire."[174] To La Luzerne he wrote some
years later: "The United States are making great progress toward
national happiness, and if it is not attained here in as high a degree
as human nature will admit of, I think we may then conclude that
political happiness is unattainable."[175]

That rest for which Washington had been longing ("I pant for
retirement," he had written to Cary in June, 1782) had been granted him
by the end of 1783, when, the definitive treaty having been concluded,
he had resigned his commission in the hands of Congress, at Annapolis on
the 23d of December, "bidding an affectionate farewell," he said, "to
this august body under whose orders I have so long acted." It was at
first difficult for him to enjoy, in his dear Mount Vernon, that
so-much-desired quiet life, and "to get the better," he wrote to General
Knox, "of my custom of ruminating as soon as I waked in the morning on
the business of the ensuing day, and of my surprise at finding, after
revolving many things in my mind, that I was no longer a public man, nor
had anything to do with public transactions." But he soon came to the
thorough enjoyment of his peaceful surroundings and happy family life,
writing about his new existence to Rochambeau and Lafayette, not without
a tinge of melancholy, as from one whose life's work is a thing of the
past. To the man of all men for whom his manly heart felt most
tenderness, to Lafayette, it is that he wrote the beautiful letter of
February 1, 1784, unaware that his rest was only temporary, and that he
was to become the first President of the country he had given life to:

"At length, my dear marquis, I am become a private citizen on the banks
of the Potomac, and under the shadow of my own vine and my own fig-tree,
free from the bustle of a camp and the busy scenes of public life, I am
solacing myself with those tranquil enjoyments of which the soldier who
is ever in pursuit of fame, the statesman whose watchful days and
sleepless nights are spent in devising schemes to promote the welfare of
his own, perhaps the ruin of other countries, as if the globe was
insufficient for us all ... can have very little conception. I have not
only retired from all public employments, but I am retiring within
myself, and shall be able to view the solitary walk of private life with
heartfelt satisfaction. Envious of none, I am determined to be pleased
with all; and this, my dear friend, being the order for my march, I will
move gently down the stream of life until I sleep with my fathers."

With Lafayette the great man unbends, he becomes affectionate, poetical
as in the passage just quoted, sometimes even jocose, which was so rare
with him. He wants Madame de Lafayette to come to America and visit
Mount Vernon, saying to her: "Your own doors do not open to you with
more readiness than mine would."[176] She never came, but her husband
returned for a few months, the same year, and this was the first of his
two triumphant journeys to the freed United States; it was then that he
parted at Annapolis from his chief, never to see him again; a very sad
parting for both, Washington sending him from Mount Vernon, in time for
it to reach him before he sailed, the most touching, perhaps, of all his

"In the moment of our separation, upon the road as I travelled, and
every hour since, I have felt all that love, respect, and attachment for
you which length of years, close connection, and your merits have
inspired me. I often asked myself, when our carriages separated, whether
that was the last sight I should ever have of you. And though I wished
to say, no, my fears answered, yes. I called to mind the days of my
youth and found they had long since fled, to return no more; that I was
now descending the hill I had been fifty-two years climbing, and that,
though I was blessed with a good constitution, I was of a short-lived
family and might soon expect to be entombed in the mansion of my
fathers. These thoughts darkened the shades and gave a gloom to the
picture, and consequently to my prospect of seeing you again. But I will
not repine; I have had my day."[177]

A portrait of Lafayette, his wife, and children was received the
following year by Washington, and caused him great pleasure; this, he
said to the sender, "I consider as an invaluable present and shall give
it the best place in my house."[178]

He continued to the end to be Lafayette's confidant and adviser. In one
of his most notable letters, passing judgment on the great warrior
Frederick II and on his brother, Prince Henry, whom Lafayette had
recently visited, he clearly outlined what should be his correspondent's
ideal as to the government of men. "To be received," he says, "by the
King of Prussia and Prince Henry, his brother (who as soldiers and
politicians yield the palm to none), with such marks of attention and
distinction, was as indicative of their discernment as it is of your
merit.... It is to be lamented, however, that great characters are
seldom without a blot. That one man should tyrannize over millions will
always be a shade in that of the former, while it is pleasing to hear
that due regards to the rights of mankind is characteristic of the

During those years of comparative rest--only comparative, for he had to
receive innumerable visitors, to answer an unbelievable quantity of
letters, because everybody wanted his counsels, to take part in the
framing of the Constitution as a delegate of Virginia in 1787--his fame
went on increasing in France from whence tokens of admiration came for
him of every kind, some noble, some simple, some high-flown, like that
letter from the Chevalier de Lormerie, who made bold to "present a _Plan
of Perpetual Peace_ to a general who is even more of a philosopher than
a warrior."[179]

Besides letters, French visitors would now and then appear at the door
of Mount Vernon. One did so by appointment, and even in virtue of a law,
namely Jean Antoine Houdon, the famous sculptor, whose coming was the
result of an act passed by the Assembly of Virginia, prescribing "that
the executive be requested to take measures for procuring a statue of
General Washington, to be of the finest marble and the best

The sculptor might be of any nationality, provided he were the best
alive. "The intention of the Assembly," the Governor informed Jefferson,
then in Paris, "is that the statue should be the work of the most
masterly hand. I shall therefore leave it to you to find out the best in
any of the European states."[180] Once more it was France's good fortune
to be able to answer, _Adsum_.

The "executive," Governor Harrison, not over-well versed in matters
artistic, had thought that all a sculptor could need to perform his task
was a painted portrait of the model, so he ordered one from Peale, which
would, he thought, enable the artist "to finish his work in the most
perfect manner."[181] Houdon decided that he would rather undertake the
journey, insisting only that, as he was the support of his father,
mother, and sisters, his life be insured, a condition which, owing to
the risks, was not fulfilled without difficulty. It finally was,
however, so that we know, to a cent, what the life of the great sculptor
was worth: it was worth two thousand dollars.

Houdon came on the same ship which brought back Franklin after his long
mission to France, and he reached Mount Vernon on October 2, 1785,
having been preceded by a letter, in which Jefferson had thus described
him to Washington: "I have spoken of him as an artist only, but I can
assure you also that, as a man, he is disinterested, generous, candid,
and panting for glory; in every circumstance meriting your good
opinion."[182] He remained at Mount Vernon a fortnight, an interpreter
having been provided from Alexandria for the occasion. The antique
costume with which the artist and the model had been threatened at one
time was discarded; Washington was represented, not as a Greek, which he
was not, but as an American general, which he was, the size being
"precisely that of life." Any one who wants to see with his eyes George
Washington, to live in his atmosphere, to receive the moral benefit of a
great man's presence, has only to go to Richmond. To those who know how
to listen the statue will know how to speak. No work of art in the whole
United States is of greater worth and interest than this one, and no
copy gives an adequate idea of the original, copies being further from
the statue than the statue was from the model. One must go to Richmond.

Unfortunately, no notes on his journey, and on his stay at Mount Vernon,
were left by Houdon. As was usual with him, what he had to say he said
in marble.

Other French visitors of more or less note called at Mount Vernon.
Popular in France, even at the time of their worst troubles, when
failure seemed threatening, the United States were much more so now, and
men wanted to go and see with their own eyes what was the power of
liberty, and whether it could, as reported, transform a country into an
Eden, and cities into modern "Salentes." The year of the alliance, 1778,
Sébastien Mercier, in his _De la Littérature_, had drawn up a picture of
the French people's expectation: "Perhaps it is in America that the
human race will transform itself, adopt a new and sublime religion,
improve sciences and arts, and become the representative of the nations
of antiquity. A haven of liberty, Grecian souls, all strong and generous
souls will develop or meet there, and this great example given to the
universe will show what men can do when they are of one mind and combine
their lights and their courage." Turgot, as mentioned before, had
written in the same strain, the same year.[183]

The results of the war had increased those hopes; the success of the
unprecedented crusade for liberty caused an enthusiasm which found its
expression in verse and prose. The very year of the treaty securing
independence an epic poem was published, written in French Alexandrine
verse, divided into cantos, adorned with all the machinery of the Greek
models, Jupiter and the gods playing their part:

    Ainsi parla des Dieux le monarque suprême

--with invocations to abstract virtues:

    Fille aimable des Dieux, divine Tolérance.

Preceding by several years Joel Barlow's own, this epic, due to the pen
of L. de Chavannes de La Grandière, appeared with ample annotations by
the author himself, and dedicated to John Adams, under the title of
_L'Amérique Délivrée_.[184]

The new Tasso, who justly foresaw the immense influence that the change
in America would have on Europe, addressed, in tones of the most ardent
admiration, Washington and Congress:

    Illustre Washington, héros dont la mémoire
    Des deux mondes vengés embellira l'histoire;
    Toi que la main des Dieux, en nos siècles pervers,
    Envoya consoler, étonner l'univers
    Par le rare assemblage et l'union constante
    D'un cœur pur et sans fard, d'une âme bienfaisante,
    Aux talents de Turenne, aux vertus des Catons,
    Et qui te vois plus grand que les deux Scipions,
    Jouis de ton triomphe, admire ton ouvrage.

Congress is a Greek Areopagus, whose members have Themis and Minerva for
their advisers:

    Auguste Aréopage, où Minerve elle-même
    Prononce avec Thémis par l'organe suprême
    De tant de Sénateurs, ornements des Etats,
    Une foule d'arrêts où tous les potentats
    Du droit des nations devraient venir apprendre
    Les principes sacrés, et jusqu'où peut s'étendre
    Le sceptre qu'en leurs mains les peuples ont commis,

--you have cast on us "a torrent of light and shown us how to break the
detestable bonds of tyrants." A prophetical foot-note, commenting on
this passage, announces that "this will perhaps, be seen sooner than one
thinks. Happy the sovereigns who will know how to be nothing but just,
pacific, and benevolent." Six years later the French Revolution began.

Using humble prose, but reaching a much wider public, Lacretelle, of the
same group of thinkers as d'Alembert, Condorcet, and Turgot, himself
later a member of the French Academy, was also writing in a strain of
exultant admiration: "Since Columbus's discovery, nothing more important
has happened among mankind than American independence"; and addressing
the new-born United States, he told them of the world's expectation and
of their own responsibilities, so much depending on their success or
failure: "New-born Republics of America, I salute you as the hope of
mankind, to which you open a refuge, and promise great and happy
examples. Grow in force and numbers, amid our benedictions....

"In adopting a democratic régime, you pledge yourself to steadfast and
pure morality.... But you do not give up those comforts in life, that
splendor of society brought with them by riches, sciences, and arts....
The vicinity of corruption will not alter your morals; you will allow
the vicinity, not the invasion. While permitting wealth to have its free
play, you will see that exorbitant fortunes be dispersed, and you will
correct the great inequality in enjoyments by the strictest equality in

"Lawmaking peoples, never lose sight of the majesty of your function and
of the importance of your task. Be nobly proud and holily enthusiastic
at the prospect of your destinies' vast influence. By you the universe
is held in expectation; fifty years from now it will have learned from
you whether modern peoples can preserve republican constitutions,
whether morals are compatible with the great progress of civilization,
and whether America is meant to improve or to aggravate the fate of

This sense of the responsibility of the new republic toward mankind of
the future, and of the importance for all nations of its success or
failure caused French thinkers to concern themselves with the problem,
to express faith and admiration, but to submit also such recommendations
as their studies of humanity's past made them consider of use. The
_Observations on the Government and the Laws of the United States_, of
modest, liberal, and noble-minded Abbé de Mably, are, for example, the
outcome of such reflections.[186]

The visitor most representative of the views thus prevalent in the
French nation, knocked at the gate of Mount Vernon, provided with that
infallible _open sesame_,[187] a letter of introduction from Lafayette.
"This gentleman," the letter read, "intends to write a history of
America, and you would, therefore, make him very happy if you allowed
him to glance at your papers. He seems to deserve this favor, since he
loves America very much, writes well, and will represent things under
their true light."[188]

The bearer, a sincere admirer and friend of the new republic, and who
had the advantage of speaking English fluently, was Brissot, so famous
shortly after for the part he played in the French Revolution, then
already penetrated with its principles, and having written, young as he
was, on the reform of criminal laws, declared in favor of the
emancipation of the Jews, founded a "Society of the Friends of the
Blacks" and, what is more to the point, a _Société Gallo-Américaine_,
first of its kind, for the members thereof to "exchange views on the
common interests of France and the United States." To become a member
one had to prove "able and willing to bring to the notice of the others
universal ideas on the happiness of man and societies, because, though
its special and titular object be the interest of France and the United
States, nevertheless, it fully embraces in its considerations the
happiness of mankind."[189] In which appears the vastness of
humanitarian plans so fondly cherished among us--six years before the
Reign of Terror.

The "particular object" of the association was, however, to "help the
two countries to better know each other, which can only be realized by
bringing nearer together the French individual and the American
individual." Books were to be published by the society, the first one to
be dedicated "to the Congress of the United States and the friends of
America in the two worlds." Newspapers, books, the texts of laws, the
journals of Congress were to be imported from "free America." The
society would "welcome Americans whom their business should call to
France, and whose knowledge would enable them to impart useful
information there"; nothing more natural, since the aim of the society
was "the welfare of the two nations." Lafayette and Jefferson had been
asked to join. One of the founders was Saint-Jean de Crèvecœur, already
known by his _Letters from an American Farmer_, who when he left France
to return to the United States was intrusted with the care of "making
the society known to the Americans, availing himself of newspapers, or
of other means; his expenses, if any, to be repaid."[190] But the
farmer-consul, very active in other matters, proved in this one very

Brissot reached Boston in July, 1788, and found that America was exactly
what he had expected it to be: "Sanctuary of liberty," he wrote on
landing, "I salute thee!... Would to heaven thou wert nearer Europe;
fewer friends of liberty would vainly bewail its absence there." The
inhabitants, he wrote, "have an air of simplicity and kindness, but they
are full of human dignity, conscious of their liberty, and seeing in all
men their brothers and equals.... I thought I was in that Salente, so
attractively depicted by Fénelon."

Equality is what strikes him most, as it does the mass of his
compatriots; this was the particularly American trait which, as
mentioned before, was imported from the United States into France on the
eve of our Revolution.

Luxury, the visitor admits, is, of course, a danger; but they know it
and arm against it: "The most respectable inhabitants of the State of
Massachusetts have formed a society to prevent the increase of
luxury"--an attempt which, however, never succeeded, but at Salente.

After having seen the chief cities and paid a visit to Franklin, found
very ill but with his great mind unimpaired, Brissot reached Mount
Vernon in November, and remained there three days. Different from
Houdon, he luckily took notes on the place and on the inhabitants
thereof: "The general arrived only in the evening; he returned very
tired from a tour over part of his domains where he was having a road
traced. You have often heard him compared to Cincinnatus; the comparison
is a just one. This celebrated general is now but a good farmer, ever
busy with his farm, as he calls it, improving cultivation and building
barns. He showed me one of enormous dimensions, just being erected from
a plan sent him by the famous English agriculturist Arthur Young, but
greatly improved by him....

"All is simple in the house of the general. His table is good, without
luxury; regularity is everywhere apparent in his domestic economy. Mrs.
Washington has her eye on everything, and joins to the qualities of an
excellent housekeeper the simple dignity which befits a woman whose
husband has played a great rôle. She adds to it that amenity, those
attentions toward strangers which lend so much sweetness to hospitality.
The same virtues shine in her niece, so interesting, but who, unluckily,
seems to be in a very delicate state of health."

As for the general himself, "kindness appears in his looks. His eyes
have no longer that lustre which his officers noticed when he was at the
head of his army, but they get enlivened in conversation.... Good sense
is the dominant trait in all his answers, great discretion and
diffidence of himself goes with it, and at the same time a firm and
unshakable disposition when he has once made up his mind."

His modesty is great: "He talks of the American war as if he had not
been the leader thereof, and of his victories with an indifference which
strangers could not equal.... The divisions in his country break his
heart; he feels the necessity of calling together all the friends of
liberty around one central point, the need of imparting energy to the
government. He is still ready to give up that quiet which causes his
happiness.... He spoke to me of Mr. de Lafayette with emotion; he
considers him as his child."

Not only on agriculture and government, but also on manners the future
President gave his visitor much information: "The general told me that a
great reform was going on among his compatriots; people drank much less;
they no longer forced their guests to drink; it had ceased to be good
form to send them home inebriated; those noisy parties at taverns so
frequent in former times were not to be the fashion any more; dress was
becoming simpler."

On receiving news of the convocation of the French States General,
Brissot, who felt that this was the beginning of immense changes,
hastened back to France and published an account of his journey. He
stated in his preface, written in 1790, why he had undertaken it, and
what lessons we might learn from our neighbors of over the sea:

"The object of this journey has not been to study antique statues, or to
find unknown plants, but to observe men who had just conquered their
liberty: to Frenchmen free men can no longer be strangers.

"We, too, have conquered our liberty. We have not to learn from
Americans how to conquer it, but how to preserve it. This secret
consists especially in morality.... What is liberty? It is the most
perfect state of society, a state in which man depends only upon the
laws made by himself;[191] and to make good ones, he must improve his
reason; and to apply them he must again have recourse to his reason....
Morals are but reason applied to all the acts of life.... They are among
free men what irons, whipping-posts, and gibbets are among peoples in
slavery.... This journey will show you the wondrous effects of liberty
on morals, on industry, and on the amelioration of men.... My desire has
been to depict to my compatriots a people with whom it behooves, from
every point of view, that they become intimately united."[192]


During the early stages of the French Revolution, Washington had
followed with the keenest sympathy and anxiety the efforts of our
ancestors, taking pride in the thought that the American example had
something to do, as it undoubtedly had, with what was happening. "The
young French nobility enrolled for the cause of [American]
independence," wrote Talleyrand in his memoirs, "attached itself
afterward to the principles it had gone to fight for." Pontgibaud, who
remained a royalist, who hated the Revolution and became an _émigré_,
observes the same fact, although deploring what occurred: "The officers
of Count de Rochambeau had nothing better to do [after Yorktown], I
believe, than to visit the country. When one thinks of the false ideas
of government and philanthropy with the virus of which these youths were
infected in America, and which they were to enthusiastically propagate
in France, with such lamentable success--since that mania for imitation
has powerfully helped toward the Revolution, without being its unique
cause--people will agree that all those red-heeled young philosophers
had much better, for their sake and ours, have stayed at court.... Each
of them fancied he would be called upon to play the part of
Washington." Asked to join Lafayette and "his former brothers-in-arms of
beyond the sea," he refused: "It has been justly said that in a
revolution the difficulty lies not in doing one's duty, but in knowing
where it is. I did mine because I knew where it was," and he joined the
princes and emigrated.[193]

Of this American influence Washington was aware, and spoke, as may be
surmised, in terms nearer those of Talleyrand than those of Pontgibaud.
"I am glad to hear," he wrote to Jefferson, "that the _Assemblée des
Notables_ has been productive of good in France.... Indeed the rights of
mankind, the privileges of the people, and the true principles of
liberty seem to have been more generally discussed and better understood
throughout Europe since the American Revolution than they were at any
former period."[194]

Few of Washington's observations are a greater credit to him, as a
statesman, than those concerning this extraordinary upheaval. From the
first he felt that the change would not prove a merely local one, but
would have world-wide consequences; that, in fact, a new era was
beginning for mankind. "A spirit for political improvements seems to be
rapidly and extensively spreading through the European countries," he
wrote to La Luzerne. "I shall rejoice in seeing the condition of the
human race happier than ever it has been." But let the people at the
helm be careful not to make "more haste than good speed in their

No less clearly did he foresee, long before the event, and when all was
hope and rejoicing, that it was almost impossible to count upon a
peaceful, gradual, and bloodless development where so many
long-established, hatred-sowing abuses had to be corrected. This,
however, was what, as a friend of France, he would have liked to see,
and even before the Revolution had really started he had expressed to
Lafayette, in striking words, his wish that it might prove a "tacit"
one: "If I were to advise, I should say that great moderation should be
used on both sides.... Such a spirit seems to be awakened in the kingdom
as, if managed with extreme prudence, may produce a gradual and tacit
revolution, much in favor of the subjects."[196]

The movement is started, the Bastile falls, and Lafayette sends the key
thereof to his former chief. "It is a tribute," he wrote, "which I owe
as a son to my adopted father, as an aide-de-camp to my general, as a
missionary of liberty to its patriarch." Washington placed the key at
Mount Vernon, where it is still, and returned thanks for this "token of
victory gained by liberty over despotism."[197]

The beginnings were promising. The great leader was full of admiration,
of awe, of apprehension. To Gouverneur Morris, then American minister to
France, President Washington, as he now was, wrote on the 13th of
October, 1789, in these prophetic terms: "The Revolution which has been
effected in France is of so wonderful a nature that the mind can hardly
realize the fact. If it ends as our last accounts to the 1st of August
predict, that nation will be the most powerful and happy in Europe; but
I fear, though it has gone triumphantly through the first paroxysm, it
is not the last it has to encounter before matters are finally settled.
In a word, the Revolution is of too great a magnitude to be effected in
so short a space, and with the loss of so little blood. The
mortification of the King, the intrigues of the Queen, and the
discontent of the princes and the noblesse will foment divisions, if
possible, in the National Assembly." The "licentiousness of the people"
is not less to be feared. "To forbear running from one extreme to the
other is no easy matter; and should this be the case, rocks and shoals,
not visible at present, may wreck the vessel."[198]

The grandeur and importance of the change fills him, in the meanwhile,
with wonder. In his before-quoted letter of April 29, 1790, to La
Luzerne he said: "Indeed, the whole business is so extraordinary in its
commencement, so wonderful in its progress, and may be so stupendous in
its consequences that I am almost lost in the contemplation. Of one
thing, however, you may rest perfectly assured, that nobody is more
anxious for the happy issue of that business than I am, as nobody can
wish more sincerely for the prosperity of the French nation than I do."
To another correspondent, Mrs. Graham, he described "the renovation of
the French Constitution," as "one of the most wonderful events in the
history of mankind." So late as the 20th of October, 1792, he was
writing to Gouverneur Morris: "We can only repeat the sincere wish that
much happiness may arise to the French nation and to mankind in general
out of the severe evils which are inseparable from so important a

Throughout the unparalleled crisis, the French friends of Washington
kept him informed of events, of their hopes and fears. Lafayette's
letters have been printed; those of Rochambeau, written in his own
English, have not, and many of them are of great interest. The French
general had early foreseen the necessity for profound changes, owing to
abuses, to the excessive privileges of the few, the burdens of the many,
the increasing maladministration, especially since Necker had been
replaced by "a devil of a fool named Calonne."[199] Maybe the States
General will provide an adequate remedy, by devising a constitution: "I
hope very much of this General States to restore our finances and to
consolidate a good constitution."[200] But he has doubts as to what
"aristocratical men" will do.

Himself a member of the Assembly, Rochambeau considers that there are
not, in reality, three orders--the nobles, the clergy, and the third
estate--but two: "the privileged people and the unprivileged." The vote
being, in accordance with law and custom, taken per estate or order, the
two privileged ones always vote in the same way and can ever prevail.
Rochambeau informs Washington that, as for himself, he "voted in favor
of the equal representation of the third order; your pupil Lafayette
has voted for the same opinion, as you may believe it; but we have here
a great number of aristocratical men that are very interested to
perpetuate the abuses."[201]

He agrees with Washington that, in order to reach safe results,
developments should be slowly evolved; but the temper of the nation has
been wrought up, and it is, moreover, a fiery temper. "Do you remember,
my dear general," he writes, "of the first repast that we have made
together at Rod-Island? I [made] you remark from the soup the difference
of character of our two nations, the French in burning their throat and
all the Americans waiting wisely [for] the time that it was cooled. I
believe, my dear general, you have seen, since a year, that our nation
has not change[d] of character. We go very fast--God will that we
[reach] our aims."[202]

In his moments of deepest anxiety Rochambeau is pleased, however, to
remember "a word of the late King of Prussia," Frederick II, who,
considering what France was, what misfortunes and dangers she had
encountered, and what concealed sources of strength were in her, once
said to the French minister accredited to him: "I have been brought up
in the middle of the unhappiness of France; my cradle was surrounded
with refugee Protestants that, about the end of the reign of Louis XIV
and the beginning of the regency of the Duc d'Orleans, told me that
France was at the agony and could not exist three years. I [have] known
in the course of my reign that France has such a temper that there [is]
no bad minister nor bad generals [who] be able to kill it, and that
constitution has made it rise again of all its crises, with strength and
vigor. It wants no other remedy but time and keep a strict course of

Events followed their course, but, while everything else was changing in
France, the feeling for Washington and the United States remained the
same. The two countries felt nearer than before, and showed it in many
ways. At the death of Franklin the National Assembly, on the proposal of
Mirabeau, went into mourning for three days; our first Constitution, of
1791, was notified to the American Government: "President Washington,"
the French minister informed his chief, "received the King's letter with
the tokens of the greatest satisfaction; and in accordance with your
orders a copy of the Constitution and of the King's letter to the
National Assembly was given to him as well as to Mr. Jefferson."[204]
Tom Paine, though an American, or rather because an American, was
elected by several departments a member of the Convention, took his
seat, but, as he knew no French, had his speeches translated and read
for him; he played an important part in the drafting of our second
Constitution, the republican one of 1793. As a sacred emblem of liberty,
the American flag was displayed in the hall where the Convention held
its sittings. A quite extraordinary decree was rendered by this body in
the second year of the Republic, "after having heard the petition of
American citizens," deciding, and this at a time when everybody was
liable to arrest, that "the wives of American citizens, whatever the
place of their birth, should be exempted from the law on the arrestation
of foreigners."

The 14th of July was, in the meantime, celebrated in America, just as in
France, as marking a new progress in the development of mankind. Our
minister, Ternant, gave Dumouriez a glowing account of such a
celebration: "It affords me great satisfaction to inform you that, in
spite of the news received the day before of the bad success of our
first military operations, the Americans have given, on the occasion of
this anniversary, touching signs of their attachment for France and
proof of the interest they take in the success of our arms. You will see
by the bulletins and newspapers accompanying this letter that the same
sentiments have been manifested in almost all the cities which count in
the Union, and that the 14th has been celebrated with the same ardor as
the 4th, which is the anniversary of American independence."[205]

For the person of the President French tokens of veneration and
friendship multiplied. In the same year--year 1 of the Republic--the
Convention had conferred on him the title of French citizen, as being
"one of the benefactors of mankind." French officers had united to offer
Mrs. Washington a dinner service, each piece ornamented with a star and
her initials in the centre, and the names of the States in medallions
around the border, the whole surrounded by a serpent biting its tail,
the emblem of perpetuity.

French dramatists could not wait until the great man should belong to
the past to make of him the hero of a tragedy in Alexandrine verse:
_Vashington ou la Liberté du Nouveau Monde, par M. de Sauvigny_,
performed for the first time on the Theatre of the Nation (as the
"Comédie Française" was then called), on the 13th of July, 1791, and in
which a nameless predecessor of mine, "l'Ambassadeur de France," brought
the play to a conclusion with praise of Washington, of Franklin, of
Congress, and of the whole American people:

    Magistrats dont l'audace étonna l'univers,
    Calmes dans la tempête et grands dans les revers,
    Vous sûtes, par l'effet d'une sage harmonie,
    Enfanter des vertus, un peuple, une patrie.

And in a kind of postscript, the author, commenting on the events
related in his play, observed with truth: "The great American Revolution
has been the first result of one greater still which had taken place in
the empire of opinion." Of any animosity against the English, the same
comment offers no trace.

Gloomy days succeeded radiant ones. Past abuses, danger from abroad,
general suffering, passions let loose, were not conducive to that
coolness and moderation which Washington had recommended from the first.
Ternant had been succeeded as representative of France by that famous
citizen Genet, who, in spite of his having some diplomatic experience
gathered as Chargé d'Affaires in Russia, and being in a way a man of
parts, an authority on Swedes and Finns, had his head turned the moment
he landed, so completely, indeed, that it is impossible, in spite of the
gravity of the consequences involved, not to smile when reading his
high-flown, self-complacent, self-advertising, beaming despatches: "My
journey (from Charleston to Philadelphia) has been an uninterrupted
succession of civic festivities, and my entry in Philadelphia a triumph
for liberty. True Americans are at the height of joy."[206]

In his next letters he insists and gloats over his own matchless deeds:
"The whole of America has risen to acknowledge in me the minister of the
French Republic.... I live in the midst of perpetual feasts; I receive
addresses from all parts of the continent. I see with pleasure that my
way of negotiating pleases our American brothers, and I am founded to
believe, citizen minister, that my mission will be a fortunate one from
every point of view. I include herewith American gazettes in which I
have marked the articles concerning myself."

Encouraged by the Anti-Federalists, who thought they could use him for
their own purposes, Genet shows scant respect for "old Washington, who
greatly differs from him whose name has been engraved by history, and
who does not pardon me my successes"; a mere "Fayettist," he
disdainfully calls him elsewhere. But Genet will have the better of any
such opposition: "I am in the meantime provisioning the West Indies, I
excite Canadians to break the British yoke, I arm the Kentukois, and
prepare a naval expedition which will facilitate their descent on New

He had, in fact, armed in American waters, quite a fleet of corsairs,
revelling in the bestowal on them of such names as the _Sans-Culotte_,
the _Anti-George_, the _Patriote Genet_, the _Vainqueur de la Bastille_,
_La Petite Démocrate_.

His triumphs, his lustre, his listening to addresses in his own honor,
and reading articles in his own praise, his being "clasped in the arms
of a multitude which had rushed to meet him," his naval and military
deeds were short-lived. Contrary to the current belief, the too
well-founded indignation of "Fayettist" Washington had nothing to do
with his catastrophe. On receipt of the very first letter of the
citizen-diplomat, and by return of mail, the foreign minister of the
French Republic took the initiative and wrote him:

"I see that you have been received by an hospitable and open-hearted
people with all the manifestations of friendship of which your
predecessors had also been the recipients.... You have fancied,
thereupon, that it belonged to you to lead the political actions of this
people and make them join our cause. Availing yourself of the flattering
statements of the Charleston authorities, you have thought fit to arm
corsairs, to organize recruiting, to have prizes condemned, before even
having been recognized by the American Government, before having its
assent, nay, with the certitude of its disapproval. You invoke your
instructions from the 'Conseil exécutif' of the Republic; but your
instructions enjoin upon you quite the reverse: they order you to treat
with the _government_, not with a _portion_ of the people; to be for
Congress the spokesman of the French Republic, and not the leader of an
American party." The diplomat's relations with Washington are the
opposite of what France desires: "You say that Washington _does not
pardon you your successes, and that he hampers your moves in a thousand
ways_. You are ordered to treat with the American Government; there only
can you attain real successes; all the others are illusory and contrary
to the interests of your country. Dazzled by a false popularity, you
have estranged the only man who should represent for you the American
people, and if your action is hampered, you have only yourself to

While this letter was slowly crossing the ocean, others from Genet were
on the way to France, written in the same beaming style. He continued to
gloat over his successes and mercilessly to abuse all Federalists, those
confessed partisans of "monocracy."

People were not for half-measures at Paris, in those terrible days.
Instead of prolonging a useless epistolary correspondence, the Committee
of Public Safety rendered a decree providing that a commission would be
sent to Philadelphia, with powers to disavow the "criminal conduct of
Genet," to disarm his _Sans-Culotte_ and other corsairs, to revoke all
consuls who had taken part in such armaments, and, as for Genet himself,
to have him arrested and sent back to France. What such an arrest meant
was made evident by the signatures at the foot of the decree: "Barère,
Hérault, Robespierre, Billaud-Varennes, Collot d'Herbois,

Better than any one, Genet knew the meaning. But that same government
which he had abused was generous and protected him. "We wanted his
dismissal, not his punishment," said Secretary of State Randolph, who
refused to have him arrested. Genet hastened to give up a country so
hard to please, he thought, as that of his birth, became an American,
and as, with all his faults, he was not without some merits, being
welcomed in many families, and especially in the house of "General
Clinton, Governor," he wrote, "of the State of New York, and chief of
the Anti-Federalist party," he married his daughter, and died at
Schodack, N.Y., a respected citizen and agriculturist, in 1834. His
name has once more prominently appeared, and in the most honorable
fashion, in those gazettes whose articles in his favor pleased him so
much: a descendant of his has enlisted for the old country during the
present war, and has cast lustre on the name by his bravery.

The last years of the former commander-in-chief of the American and
French armies were saddened by difficulties, troubles, and quarrels with
American political parties and with the French nation. The Jay treaty
with England (November 19, 1794) had raised a storm: "At present the cry
against the treaty is like that against a mad dog; and every one in a
manner is running it down.... The string which is most played on,
because it strikes with most force the popular ear, is the violation, as
they term it, of our engagements with France."[210] Anti-Federalists
were indignant; the French not at all pleased, and their "captures and
seizures," coupled with a desire to be allowed (which they were not) to
sell their prizes in American harbors, increased the discontent. The
opposition press was unspeakably virulent, and the great man sadly
confessed he would never have believed that, he said, "every act of his
administration would be tortured, and the grossest and most insidious
misrepresentations of them be made, by giving one side only of a
subject, and that, too, in such exaggerated and indecent terms as could
scarcely be applied to a Nero, a notorious defaulter, or even to a
common pickpocket."[211]

The time came at last for his definitive retreat to Mount Vernon. He
reached it a saddened, grand old man, longing to be at last an American
farmer and nothing more, and never to go "beyond twenty miles" from his
home. "To make and sell a little flour annually, to repair houses going
fast to ruin, to build one for the security of my papers of a public
nature, and to amuse myself in agricultural and rural pursuits, will
constitute employment for the few years I have to remain on this
terrestrial globe."[212]

His desire was to continue to the end in the regular occupations he
describes to McHenry, in a letter giving us the best picture we have of
everyday life at Mount Vernon. Wondering what he might say that would
interest a secretary of war, he writes: "I might tell him that I begin
my diurnal course with the sun; that if my hirelings are not at their
places at that time I send them messages expressive of my sorrow for
their indisposition; that, having put these wheels in motion, I examine
the state of things further, and the more they are probed, the deeper,
I find, the wounds are which my buildings have sustained by an absence
and neglect of eight years; by the time I have accomplished these
matters, breakfast (a little after seven o'clock, about the time, I
presume, you are taking leave of Mrs. McHenry) is ready; that, this
being over, I mount my horse and ride round my farms, which employs me
until it is time to dress for dinner, at which I rarely miss seeing
strange faces, come, as they say, out of respect for me. Pray, would not
the word curiosity answer as well? And how different this from having a
few social friends at a cheerful board! The usual time of sitting at
table, a walk, and tea brings me within the dawn of candle-light;
previous to which, if not prevented by company, I resolve that as soon
as the glimmering taper supplies the place of the great luminary, I will
retire to my writing-table and acknowledge the letters I have received;
but when the lights are brought I feel tired and disinclined to engage
in this work, conceiving that the next night will do as well. The next
comes and with it the same causes for postponement and effect, and so

"It may strike you that in this detail no mention is made of any portion
of time allotted for reading. The remark would be just, for I have not
looked into a book since I came home; nor shall I be able to do it
until I have discharged my workmen, probably not before nights grow
longer, when possibly I may be looking in Doomesday Book."[213]

But in this calm retreat, described with a truth and charm almost
reminding one of William Cowper's familiar letters, and where he was to
spend such a small number of years, trouble, as previously, soon knocked
at the door. It seemed at one time as if the former commander-in-chief
of Franco-American armies would have to lead the Americans against the
French. In spite of the preparations which he had himself to
superintend, he refused to believe that war would really occur: "My mind
never has been alarmed by any fears of a war with France."[214] But in
his judgments of the French, as governed by the Directoire, Washington
was gradually receding toward the time when he knew them only through
Steele and Addison, and had, "in the _Spectator_, read to No. 143."

He died without knowing that the threatening clouds would soon be
dispelled; that the next important event which would count in the annals
of the United States and make their greatness secure would come from
those same French people: the cession by them, unexpected and
unasked-for, not of New Orleans, but of the immense territory then
called Louisiana; and that, while his feelings toward the French had
undergone changes, those of the French toward him had remained

When the news came that on Saturday, 14th of December, 1799, the great
leader had passed away,[215] the French Republic went into mourning; for
ten days officers wore crape, flags were flown at half-mast, and the
head of the state, young Bonaparte, issued an order in which he said:
"Washington is dead. This great man fought tyranny. He established on a
safe basis the liberty of his country. His memory will ever be dear to
the French people as well as to all the free men of the two worlds, and
especially to French soldiers, who, like himself and the American
soldiers, fight now for equality and liberty."

An impressive and unparalleled ceremony thereupon took place at the
Invalides, the Temple of Mars, as it was then called. Detachments from
the Paris garrison lined the aisles; all that counted in the Republic
was present, Bonaparte included, and Fontanes, the most famous orator of
the day, delivered the funeral eulogy on the departed leader:
"Washington's work is scarcely perfected," he said, "and it is already
surrounded by that veneration that is usually bestowed only on what has
been consecrated by time. The American Revolution, of which we are
contemporaries, seems now consolidated forever. Washington began it by
his energy, and achieved it by his moderation. In rendering a public
homage to Washington, France pays a debt due to him by the two worlds."

In one of the first sentences of the oration, England (with whom we were
at war) was courteously associated to the homage rendered by us to the
great man: "The very nation," said Fontanes, "that recently called
Washington a rebel, now looks upon the emancipation of America as one of
those events consecrated by the verdict of centuries and of history.
Such is the privilege of great characters."[216]

In the centre of the nave stood the bust of Washington, wreathed in
flags and laurels. Years before, in Independence Hall at Philadelphia,
on a spot now marked by an inscription, the flags taken at Yorktown had
been laid at the feet of the President of Congress and of the minister
from France, Gérard de Rayneval. Now General Lannes, the future marshal,
came forth and with appropriate words laid before the image of the
former commander ninety-six flags taken from the enemy by the troops of
republican France.

A plan was formed thereupon, the realization of which troublous days did
not allow, to erect a statue of Washington in Paris (he now has two
there and one in Versailles, gratefully accepted gifts from America),
and a decree was prepared by Talleyrand recalling, as a motive, the
similitude of feelings between France and that "nation which is sure to
be one day a great nation, and is even now the wisest and happiest in
the world, and which mourns for the death of the man who did more than
any, by his courage and genius, to break her shackles and raise her to
the rank of independent peoples.... One of the noblest lives which have
honored mankind has just passed into the domain of history....
Washington's fame is now imperishable; Fortune had consecrated his
titles to it; and the posterity of a people which will rise later to the
highest destinies continuously confirms and strengthens those titles by
its very progress."

Châteaubriand, Lamartine, Guizot, Cornelis de Witt, Laboulaye, Joseph
Fabre, many other French thinkers and writers, vied with each other in
their praise and admiration throughout the century. Châteaubriand, who
had seen the great man at Philadelphia in 1791, inserted in his _Voyage
en Amérique_ his famous parallel between Bonaparte and Washington: "The
republic of Washington subsists; the empire of Bonaparte is no more; it
came and went between the first and second journey of a Frenchman[217]
who has found a grateful nation where he had fought for some oppressed
colonists.... The name of Washington will spread, with liberty, from age
to age; it will mark the beginning of a new era for mankind.... His fame
rises like one of those sanctuaries wherein flows a spring inexhaustible
for the people.... What would be the rank of Bonaparte in the universe
if he had added magnanimity to what there was heroical in him, and if,
being at the same time Washington and Bonaparte, he had appointed
Liberty for the heiress of his glory?"

Lamartine, receiving an Italian delegation in 1848, asked them to hate
the memory of Machiavelli and bless that of Washington: "His name is the
symbol of modern liberty. The name of a politician, the name of a
conqueror is no longer what is wanted by the world, but the name of the
most disinterested of men, and the most devoted to the people." Guizot
published his noteworthy study on the first President of the United
States, and the American colony in Paris, to commemorate the event, had
the portrait of the French statesman painted by Healy in 1841, and
presented it to the city of Washington, where it is preserved in the
National Museum.

Publishing, during the early years of the Second Empire, the series of
lectures he had delivered at the Collège de France during our Second
Republic, the great Liberal, Laboulaye, who did so much to make America
and the Americans popular in France, wrote in his preface: "Washington
has established a wise and well-ordered republic, and he has left to
after-times, not the fatal example of crime triumphant, but a wholesome
example of patriotism and virtue. In less than fifty years,[218] owing
to the powerful sap of liberty, we have seen an empire arise, having for
its base, not conquest, but peace and industry, an empire which before
the end of the century will be the greatest state in the civilized
world, and which, if it remains faithful to the thought of its founders,
if ambition does not arrest the course of its fortune, will offer to the
world the prodigious sight of a republic of one hundred million
inhabitants, richer, happier, more brilliant than the monarchies of the
old world. All this is Washington's work."[219]

Nearer our time, Joseph Fabre, the well-known historian of Joan of Arc,
wrote: "This sage was a wonder of reasoned enthusiasm, of thoughtful
intrepidity, of methodical tenacity, of circumspect boldness, facing
from abroad oppression, at home anarchy, both vanquished by his calm


Once more now a republic has been established in France, which, having,
we hope, something of the qualities of "coolness and moderation" that
Washington wanted us to possess, will, we trust, prove perpetual. It has
already lasted nearly half a century: an unexampled phenomenon in the
history of Europe, no other republic of such magnitude having thus
survived in the old world since the fall of the Roman one, twenty
centuries ago.

If the great man were to come again, we entertain a fond hope that he
would deem us not undeserving now of the sympathies he bestowed on our
ancestors at the period when he was living side by side with them. Most
of the leading ideas followed by him throughout life are those which we
try to put in practise. We have our faults, to be sure; we know them,
others know them, too; it is not our custom to conceal them, far from
it; may this serve as an excuse for reviewing here by preference
something else than what might occasion blame.

That equality of chances for all, which caused the admiration of the
early French visitors to this country, which was one of the chief
things for which Washington had fought, and continues to be to-day one
of the chief attractions offered to the immigrant by these States, has
been secured in the French Republic, too, where no privileges of any
sort remain, the right to vote is refused to none, taxation is the same
for all, and military service is expected from everybody. No principle
had more importance in the eyes of Washington than that of "equal
liberty." "What triumph for our enemies to verify their predictions!"
Washington had written to John Jay, in a moment of depression, when he
feared that what Genet was to call "monocracy" was in the ascendant;
"what triumph for the advocates of despotism to find that we are unable
of governing ourselves, and that systems founded on the basis of equal
liberty are merely ideal and fallacious."[221]

In France, as in the United States, the unique source of power is the
will of the people. In our search for the solution of the great problem
which now confronts the world, that of the relations of capital and
labor, we endeavor to practise the admirable maxim of one of our
statesmen of to-day: "Capital must work, labor must possess." And though
we are still remote from this goal, yet we have travelled so far toward
it that, at the present day, one out of every two electors in France is
the possessor of his own house.[222]

The development of instruction was one of the most cherished ideas of
Washington, as it is now of his descendants. "You will agree with me in
opinion," he said in a speech to both houses of Congress in 1790, "that
there is nothing that can better deserve your patronage than the
promotion of science and literature. Knowledge is in every country the
surest basis of happiness." Instruction has become, under the Republic,
obligatory for all in France, and is given free of cost to all. Not a
village, not a hamlet, lost in the recesses of valleys or mountains,
that is without its school. The state expenditure for primary
instruction during the Second Empire amounted only to twelve million
francs; the mere salary of school-teachers alone is now twenty times
greater. We try to live up to the old principle: three things should be
given free to all--air, water, knowledge: and so it is that at the
Sorbonne, the Collège de France, in the provincial universities, all one
has to do in order to follow the best courses of lectures is to push
open the door. The man in the street may come in if he chooses, just to
warm himself in winter or to avoid a shower in summer. Let him; perhaps
he will listen too.

Very wisely, being, in many ways, very modern, Washington attached great
importance to inventions. In a speech to Congress on January 9, 1790, he
said: "I cannot forbear intimating to you the expediency of giving
effectual encouragement as well to the introduction of new and useful
inventions from abroad as to the exertions of skill and genius in
producing them at home, and of facilitating the intercourse between the
distant parts of our country by a due attention to the post-office and
the post-roads."

Distances having immensely increased in America (as well as means to
cover them), these latter remarks are certainly still of value. With a
much less difficult problem to solve, we believe that, in the matter of
post-roads, and with a system of rural delivery coextensive with the
national territory, we would pass muster in the presence of the great
man. As for inventions, we hope that even the compatriots of Franklin,
Fulton, Whitney, Horace Wells, W.T.G. Morton, Morse, Bell, Edison, the
Wright brothers, and many more, would consider that our show is a
creditable one, with Jacquard's loom, the laws of Ampère on electricity,
Séguin's tubular boilers, Sauvage's screw, Niepce and Daguerre's
photography, Renard and Kreb's first dirigible, Lumière's cinematograph,
Curie's radium, with the automobile, which is transforming our way of
life (decentralizing overcentralized countries) as much as the
railroads did in the last century; and, more than all, because so
beneficent to all, with the discoveries of Chevreul, Flourens, Claude
Bernard, Laveran, Berthelot, and especially Pasteur.

On the question of the preservation of natural resources, to which, and
not too soon, so much attention has been paid of late, Washington had
settled ideas; so have we, ours being somewhat radical, and embodying,
for mines especially, the French principle that "what belongs to nobody
belongs to everybody," and by everybody must be understood the nation.
Concerning this problem and the best way to solve it, Washington sent
once a powerful appeal to the President of Congress, saying: "Would
there be any impropriety, do you think, sir, in reserving for special
sale all mines, minerals, and salt springs, in the general grants of
land belonging to the United States? The public, instead of the few
knowing ones, might in this case receive the benefits which would result
from the sale of them, without infringing any rule of justice that is
known to me."[223]

One of the most memorable and striking things done by the French
Republic is the building of a vast colonial empire, giving access to
undeveloped, sometimes, as in Dahomey, barbaric and sanguinary races,
still indulging in human sacrifices. Washington has laid down the rule
of what should be done with respect to primitive races. "The basis of
our proceedings with the Indian natives," he wrote to Lafayette, "has
been and shall be justice, during the period in which I have anything to
do with the administration of this government. Our negotiations and
transactions, though many of them are on a small scale as to the
objects, ought to be governed by the immutable principles of equality."
And addressing the Catholic Archbishop of Baltimore, John Carroll, he
again said: "The most effectual means of securing the permanent
attachment of our savage neighbors is to convince them that we are

There is nothing we are ourselves more sincerely convinced of than that
such principles are the right ones and should prevail. That we did not
lose sight of them in the building of our colonial empire its very
vastness testifies; using opposite means, with so many other tasks to
attend to, we should have failed. The number of people living under the
French flag is about one hundred million now. Judging from the testimony
of independent witnesses,[224] it seems that, on this, too, we have
acted in accordance with the views of the former commander-in-chief, who
had written to Lafayette on August 15, 1786: "Let me ask you, my dear
marquis, in such an enlightened, in such a liberal age, how is it
possible that the great maritime powers of Europe should submit to pay
an annual tribute to the little piratical states of Barbary? Would to
Heaven we had a navy able to reform those enemies to mankind or crush
them into non-existence." The "reform" was begun by Decatur in 1815, and
perfected by Bourmont in 1830.

On one point Washington was very positive; this leader of men, this
warrior, this winner of battles, loathed war. He wanted, of course, his
nation, as we want ours, never to be without a military academy (our West
Point is called Saint-Cyr), and never to be without a solid, permanent
army, for, as he said, in a speech to Congress in 1796: "However
pacific the general policy of a nation may be, it ought never to be
without an adequate stock of military knowledge for emergencies ... war
might often depend not upon its own choice." Of this we are only too
well aware.

There is scarcely, however, a question that oftener recurs under his pen
in his letters to his French friends than the care with which wars
should be avoided, and no hopes were more fondly cherished by him than
that, some day, human quarrels might be settled otherwise than by
bloodshed. To Rochambeau, who had informed him that war-clouds which had
recently appeared in Europe were dissipated (soon, it is true, to return
more threatening), he expressed, in 1786, his joy at what he considered
a proof that mankind was becoming "more enlightened and more humanized."
To his friend David Humphreys he had written from Mount Vernon, July 25,
1785: "My first wish is to see this plague to mankind (war) banished
from off the earth, and the sons and daughters of this world employed in
more pleasing and innocent amusements than in preparing implements and
exercising them for the destruction of mankind. Rather than quarrel
about territory, let the poor, the needy, the oppressed of the earth,
and those who want land, resort to the fertile plains of our Western
country, the _second land of promise_, and there dwell in peace,
fulfilling the first and great commandment." His dream was of mankind
one day "connected like one great family in fraternal ties."[225]

On this matter, of such paramount importance to all the world, and in
spite of so much, so very much remaining to be done, we may, I hope,
consider in France that our Republic would deserve the approval of the
departed leader. We have indeed vied with the United States (and praise
be rendered to empires and kingdoms who have played also the part of
realms of good-will), in an effort to find better means than wars for
the settlement of human quarrels. Success could not be expected at once,
but it is something to have honestly, earnestly tried. The great man
would have judged failures with indulgence, for he well knew how others'
dispositions are to be taken into account. "In vain," he had said, "is
it to expect that our aim is to be accomplished by fond wishes for

And at the present hour, when it seems to the author of these lines
that, as he writes, his ears are filled with the sound of guns, wafted
by the wind over the submarine-haunted ocean, what would be the feeling
of our former commander if he saw what is taking place, and the stand
made by the descendants of those soldiers intrusted years ago to his
leadership? Perhaps he would think, as he did, when told by Lafayette of
a recent visit to the battle-fields of Frederick II of Prussia: "To view
the several fields of battle over which you passed could not, among
other sensations, have failed to excite this thought: 'Here have fallen
thousands of gallant spirits to satisfy the ambitions of their
sovereign, or to support them perhaps in acts of oppression and
injustice. Melancholy reflection! For what wise purpose does Providence
permit this?'"

Perhaps--who knows?--considering the silent resolution, abnegation, and
unanimity with which the whole people, from the day when war was
declared on them by a relentless enemy, tried to uphold the cause of
independence and liberalism in a world-wide conflict, the leader might
be tempted to write once more in the pages of his private journal the
three words he had written on May 1, 1781. Who knows? Of one thing we
are sure, no approval could please us more than that of the
commander-in-chief of former days.


[148] He kept all his life a feeling that his early education had been
incomplete. Strongly advised by David Humphreys to write an account of
the great events in which he had taken part, he answered that he would
not, on account of a lack of leisure, and a "consciousness of a
defective education." July 25, 1785. When Lafayette was beseeching him
to visit France some day, he answered: "Remember, my good friend, that I
am unacquainted with your language, that I am too far advanced in years
to acquire a knowledge of it." September 30, 1779. Franklin added later
his entreaties to those of Lafayette; see Washington's answer, October
11, 1780.

[149] "For my own part I can answer I have a constitution hardy enough
to encounter and undergo the most severe trials and, I flatter myself,
resolution to face what any man durst." To Governor Dinwiddie, May 29,

[150] In continuation of the La Verendrie's (father and sons) bold
attempt to reach the great Western sea, a token of which, a leaden
tablet with a French and Latin inscription and the arms of France, was
recently discovered near Fort Pierre, South Dakota. See _South Dakota
Historical Collections_, 1914, pp. 89 ff.

[151] _The Journal of Major George Washington, sent by the Hon. Robert
Dinwiddie, Esq., his Majesty's Lieut.-Governor and Commander in chief of
Virginia, to the commandant of the French forces in Ohio._ Williamsburg,

[152] _Mémoire contenant le précis des faits avec leurs pièces
justificatives pour servir de response aux observations envoyées par les
ministres d'Angleterre dans les cours d'Europe_, Paris, 1756.

[153] "As to any danger from the enemy, I look upon it as trifling."
Washington to his brother, John, May 14, 1755.

[154] Washington to Dinwiddie, July 18, 1755.

[155] Same date. Washington revisited the region in October, 1770, but
the entries in his journal contain no allusion to previous events: "We
lodged [at Fort Pitt] in what is called the town, about three hundred
yards from the fort.... These houses, which are built of logs, and
ranged into streets, are on the Monongahela, and, I suppose, may be
twenty in number, and inhabited by Indian traders, etc. The fort is
built on the point between the rivers Allegheny and Monongahela, but not
so near the pitch of it as Fort Duquesne."

[156] To Richard Washington, merchant, London; from Fort Loudoun, April
15, 1757. The same letter enlightens us as to Washington's tastes
concerning things material. He orders "sundry things" to be sent him
from London, adding: "Whatever goods you may send me where the prices
are not absolutely limited, you will let them be fashionable, neat and
good in their several kinds." Same tastes shown in his letter to Robert
Cary and Co., ordering a chariot "in the new taste, handsome, genteel,
and light," painted preferably green, but in that he would be "governed
by fashion." (June 6, 1768.) The chariot was sent in September; it was
green, "all the framed work of the body gilt, handsome scrawl, shields,
ornamented with flowers all over the panels."

[157] Mount Vernon, April 5, 1765.

[158] This continued until the proclamation of independence. By letter
of March 19, 1776, Washington notified the President of Congress of the
taking of Boston, and the retreat of the "ministerial army." The flag of
the "insurgents" was then the British flag with thirteen white and red
stripes, emblematic of the thirteen colonies.

[159] An appointment accepted in a characteristically modest spirit, as
shown by his letter to his "dear Patsy," his wife, giving her the news,
and that to Colonel Bassett, where he says: "I can answer but for three
things, a firm belief in the justice of our cause, close attention in
the prosecution of it, and the strictest integrity. If these cannot
supply the place of ability and experience, the cause will suffer, and,
more than probable, my character along with it, as reputation derives
its principal support from success." June 9, 1775.

[160] To his brother, John, December 18, 1776.

[161] August 19, 1777.

[162] November 14, 1778.

[163] To Washington, June 15, 1777. Same impression later (1785) on
Lafayette, who saw the Prussian grand manœuvres, and sent an account of
them to Washington: "The Prussian army is a perfectly regular piece of
machinery.... All the situations which may be imagined in war, all the
movements which they may cause, have been by constant habit so well
inculcated in their heads that all those operations are performed almost
mechanically." February 8, 1786. _Mémoires, correspondance et manuscrits
du Général Lafayette_, Bruxelles, 1838, I, 204.

[164] Pp. 10 ff.

[165] To General Sullivan, September, 1778.

[166] December 12, 1779.

[167] To President Reed, May 28, 1780.

[168] "Before York," October 12, 1781.

[169] To Lafayette, October 20, 1782.

[170] February 6, 1783.

[171] Sending him a farewell letter in which he said: "You may rest
assured that your abilities and dispositions to serve this country were
so well understood, and your service so properly appreciated that the
residence of no public minister will ever be longer remembered or his
absence more sincerely regretted. It will not be forgotten that you were
a witness to the dangers, the sufferings, the exertions and the
successes of the United States from the most perilous crises to the hour
of triumph." February 7, 1788.

[172] They merely sanctioned some territorial exchanges and restitutions
on both sides in the colonies, and stipulated that the British agent in
Dunkirk, who had been expelled at the beginning of the war, would not

[173] March 29, 1783.

[174] Princeton, October 12, 1783. He started for that journey the
following autumn.

[175] September 10, 1791.

[176] Mount Vernon, April 4, 1784.

[177] December 8, 1784. Bayard Tuckerman, _Lafayette_, 1889, I, 165.

[178] July 25, 1785.

[179] "Excellence, Vos vertus civiles et vos talents militaires ont
donné à votre patrie la liberté et le bonheur; mais leur influence sur
celui du globe entier est encore préférable à mes yeux. C'est à ce grand
but que tend tout homme qui se sent digne d'arriver a l'immortalité,"
etc. May 28, 1789. Papers of the Continental Congress, LXXVIII, 759,
Library of Congress.

[180] June 22, 1784. _Jean Antoine Houdon_, by C.H. Hart and Ed. Biddle,
Philadelphia, 1911, p. 182.

[181] _Ibid._, p. 189. Peale's full-length portrait, with "a perspective
view of York and Gloucester, and the surrender of the British army,"
price thirty guineas, reached Paris in April, 1785, and has since

[182] July 10, 1785. _Ibid._, p. 191.

[183] Above, p. 12.

[184] Amsterdam, 1783. The author is strongly anti-English and is
indignant at the "guilty Anglomania" still existing in France.

[185] In the _Mercure de France_, 1785, prefacing a review of
Crèvecœur's _Letters from an American Farmer_, and reproduced at the
beginning of the French edition of the _Letters_, 1787.

[186] _Observations sur le gouvernement et les loix des Etats Unis
d'Amérique_, Amsterdam, 1784, 12mo; in the form of letters to John
Adams. The Constitutions under discussion are those of the original
States. "Tandis," says Mably, "que presque toutes les nations de
l'Europe ignorent les principes constitutifs de la société et ne
regardent les citoyens que comme les bestiaux d'une ferme qu'on gouverne
pour l'avantage particulier du propriétaire, on est étonné, on est
édifié que vos treize Républiques ayent connu à la fois la dignité de
l'homme et soient allé puiser dans les sources de la plus sage
philosophie les principes humains par lesquels elles veulent se
gouverner." (P. 2.)

[187] Wanting, on his return to America, to make Washington's
acquaintance, Franklin's own grandson called similarly provided.
Lafayette to Washington, warmly praising the young man, July 14, 1785.
_Mémoires, correspondance et manuscrits du Général Lafayette, publiés
par sa Famille_, Brussels, 1837, I, 201.

[188] May 25, 1788. J.P. Brissot, _Correspondance et Papiers_, ed.
Perroud, Paris, 1912, p. 192.

[189] 1787. Text of the reports of the sittings. _Ibid._, pp. 105 ff.

[190] _Ibid._, pp. 114, 116, 126, 127, 136.

[191] "Under that name of liberty the Romans, as well as the Greeks,
pictured to themselves a state where no one was subject save to the law,
and where law was more powerful than men." (Bossuet.)

[192] _Nouveau Voyage dans les Etats Unis de l'Amérique Septentrionale_,
Paris, 3 vols., April, 1791, but begun to be printed, as shown by a note
to the preface, in the spring of 1790. The work greatly helped to make
America better and very favorably known in Europe, for it was translated
into English, German, and Dutch. While Brissot was returning to France
(January, 1789), his brother-in-law, François Dupont, was sailing for
the United States, to settle there among free men and, scarcely landed,
was writing to a Swiss friend of his, Jeanneret, who lived in Berlin, of
his delight at having left "a small continent like that of Europe,
partitioned among a quantity of petty sovereigns bent upon capturing
each other's possessions, causing their subjects to slaughter one
another, in ceaseless mutual fear, busy tightening their peoples' chains
and impoverishing them--and I am now on a continent which reaches from
pole to pole, with every kind of climate and of productions, among an
independent nation which is now devising for itself, in the midst of
peace, the wisest of governments. We are not governed here by a foolish
or despotic sovereign.... Farmers, craftsmen, merchants, and
manufacturers are encouraged and honored; they are the true nobles....
Between the man who sells his labor and the one who buys it the
agreement is between equals. The French are, however, very popular in
this country." Brissot, _Correspondance_ ed. Perroud, pp. 218, 219.

[193] _Mémoires du [Chevalier de Pontgibaud] Comte de Moré_, 1827, pp.
105, 132. Writing at that date, Lafayette's former companion thought
that monarchy had been re-established in France forever.

[194] January 1, 1788.

[195] New York, April 29, 1790.

[196] June 18, 1788.

[197] March 17, 1790; August 11, 1790. The key is the one which gave
access to the main entrance; those at the Carnavalet Museum in Paris
opened the several towers.

[198] To this remarkable forecast of the Terror, and of the ruin of such
great hopes, Jared Sparks, in his edition of the _Writings_, caused
Washington to add a prophecy of Napoleon's rule, described as a
"higher-toned despotism than the one which existed before." But this is
one of the embellishments which Sparks, who prophesied _à coup sûr_,
since he wrote after the events, thought he was free to introduce in the
great man's letters.

[199] Paris, May 12, 1787. Washington papers, Library of Congress.

[200] Calais, April 3, 1789.

[201] Paris, July 31, 1789.

[202] "Rochambeau near Vendôme," April 11, 1790.

[203] Paris, May 12, 1787.

[204] Ternant to Montmorin, Philadelphia, March 13, 1792.
_Correspondence of the French Ministers_, ed. Turner, Washington, 1904.

[205] July 28, 1792.

[206] Philadelphia, May 18, 1793. _Correspondence of the French
Ministers in the United States_, ed. Turner, Washington, 1904, p. 214.

[207] May 31, June 19, 1793. _Ibid._, pp. 216, 217.

[208] June 19, 1793. _Ibid._, p. 230.

[209] October 11, 1793. _Ibid._, p. 287.

[210] Washington to Alexander Hamilton, July 29, 1795.

[211] To Jefferson, June 6, 1796.

[212] To Oliver Wolcott, May 15, 1797.

[213] Mount Vernon, May 29, 1797.

[214] To T. Pickering, August 29, 1797.

[215] "_Nulli flebilior quam mihi_," wrote Lafayette, in learning the
news, to Crèvecœur, who had just dedicated to Washington his _Voyage
dans la haute Pennsylvanie_, adorned, by way of frontispiece, with a
portrait of Washington, "gravé d'après le camée peint par Madame Bréhan,
à New York, en 1789." Crèvecœur wanted to offer a copy of his book to
Bonaparte. "Send it," a friend of his who knew the young general told
him; "it is a right you have as an associate member of the Institute;
add a letter of two or three lines, mentioning in it the name of
Washington." _St. John de Crèvecœur_, by Robert de Crèvecœur, 1883, p.

[216] "Eloge funèbre de Washington, prononcé dans le temple de Mars
(Hôtel des Invalides) le 20 pluviose, an VIII (8 février, 1800)," in
_Œuvres de M. de Fontanes, recueillies pour la première fois_, Paris,
1839, 2 vols., II, 147.

[217] Lafayette's journeys to America.

[218] An exact justification of Lacretelle's prediction; above, p. 94.

[219] _Histoire des Etats Unis_, 3 vols.; preface dated 1855; the
lectures had been delivered in 1849. Washington is the hero of the work,
which is carried on only to 1789.

[220] _Washington, libérateur de l'Amérique_, 1882, often reprinted,
dedicated: "A la mémoire de Lazare Hoche, le soldat citoyen, qui aurait
été notre Washington s'il eût vécu."

[221] August 1, 1786.

[222] "It is estimated that there are more small holdings of land in
France than in Germany, England, and Austria combined." _Report of the
[U.S.] Commissioner of Education_, 1913, p. 714.

[223] To Richard H. Lee, December 14, 1784. On French exertions in that
line, Consul-General Skinner wrote: "If correspondents could penetrate,
as the writer has done, the almost inaccessible mountain villages of
this country, and there discover the enthusiastic French forester at
work, applying scientific methods to a work which can not come to
complete fruition before two or three hundred years, they would retire
full of admiration and surprise and carry the lesson back to the United
States." _Daily Consular Reports_, November 2, 1907.

[224] "The story of French success in the exploration, the civilization,
the administration, and the exploitation of Africa, is one of the wonder
tales of history. That she has relied on the resources of science rather
than those of militarism makes her achievement the more remarkable....
Look at Senegambia as it is now under French rule.... Contrast the
modernized Dahomey of to-day with its railways, schools, and hospitals
with the blood-soaked country of the early sixties; remember that
Algeria has doubled in population since [the time of] the last Dey--and
you will have a bird's-eye view, as it were, of what the French have
accomplished in the colonizing field." E. Alexander Powell, _The Last
Frontier_, New York, 1912, p. 25. Concerning the Arabs under French
rule, Edgar A. Forbes writes: "The conquered race may thank the stars
that its destiny rests in a hand that seldom wears the rough gauntlet."
_The Land of the White Helmet_, New York, 1910, p. 94.

[225] To Lafayette, Aug. 15, 1786. Cf. below, p. 347. Same views in
Franklin, who had written to his friend David Hartley, one of the
British plenipotentiaries for the peace: "What would you think of a
proposition, if I should make it, of a family compact between England,
France, and America?... What repeated follies are those repeated wars!
You do not want to conquer and govern one another. Why, then, should you
continually be employed in injuring and destroying one another?" Passy,
Oct. 16, 1783.

[226] June 15, 1782.




On two tragic occasions, at a century's distance, the fate of the United
States has trembled in the balance: would they be a free nation? Would
they continue to be one nation? A leader was wanted on both occasions, a
very different one in each case. This boon was granted to the American
people, who had a Washington when a Washington was needed, and a Lincoln
when a Lincoln could save them. Neither would have adequately performed
the other's task.

A century of gradually increasing prosperity had elapsed when came the
hour of the nation's second trial. Though it may seem to us small,
compared with what we have seen in our days, the development had been
considerable, the scattered colonies of yore had become one of the great
Powers of the world, with domains reaching from one ocean to the other;
the immense continent had been explored; new cities were dotting the
wilderness of former days. When in 1803 France had, of her own will,
ceded the Louisiana territories, which have been divided since into
fourteen States, minds had been staggered; many in the Senate had shown
themselves averse to the ratification of the treaty, thinking that it
might prove rather a curse than a boon. "As to Louisiana, this new,
immense, unbounded world," Senator White, of Delaware, had said, "if it
should ever be incorporated into this Union ... I believe it will be the
greatest curse that could at present befall us; it may be productive of
innumerable evils, and especially of one that I fear even to look upon."

What the senator feared to look upon was the possibility, awful and
incredible as it might seem, of people being so rash as to go and live
beyond the Mississippi. Attempts would, of course, be made, he thought,
to prevent actions which would entail such grave responsibilities for
the government; but those meritorious attempts on the part of the
authorities would probably fail. "It would be as well to pretend to
inhibit the fish from swimming in the sea.... To every man acquainted
with the manner in which our Western country has been settled, such an
idea must be chimerical." People will go, "that very population will go,
that would otherwise occupy part of our present territory." The results
will be unspeakable: "Our citizens will be removed to the immense
distance of two or three thousand miles from the capital of the Union,
where they will scarcely ever feel the rays of the general government;
their affections will be alienated; they will gradually begin to view us
as strangers; they will form other commercial connections, and our
interests will become distinct."

The treaty had been ratified, however, and the prediction, not of
Senator White, of Delaware, but of Senator Jackson, of Georgia, has
proved true, the latter having stated in his answer that if they both
could "return at the proper period," that is, "in a century," they would
find that the region was not, as had been forecasted, "a howling
wilderness," but "the seat of science and civilization."[227] The fact
is that if the two senators had been able to return at the appointed
date, they would have seen the exposition of St. Louis.

Progress had been constant; modern inventions had brought the remotest
parts of the country nearer together. The telegraph had enabled "the
rays of the general government" to reach the farthest regions of the
territory. That extraordinary attempt, the first transcontinental
railroad, was soon to be begun (1863) and was to be finished six years

And now all seemed to be in doubt again; the nation was young, wealthy,
powerful, prosperous; it had vast domains and resources, no enemies, and
yet it looked as though her fate would parallel that of the old empires
of which Tacitus speaks, and which, without foes, crumble to pieces
under their own weight.

Within her frontiers elements of destruction or disruption had been
growing; animosities were embittered among people equally brave, bold,
and sure of their rights. The edifice raised by Washington was shaking
on its base; a catastrophe was at hand, such a one as he had himself
foreseen as possible from the first. Slavery, he had thought, should be
gradually but thoroughly abolished. "Your late purchase," he had written
to Lafayette, "of an estate in the colony of Cayenne, with a view of
emancipating the slaves on it, is a generous and noble proof of
humanity. Would to God a like spirit would diffuse itself generally into
the minds of the people of this country, but I despair of seeing
it."[228] And to John Francis Mercer: "I never mean (unless some
particular circumstance should compel me to it) to possess another slave
by purchase, it being among my first wishes to see some plan adopted by
which slavery in this country may be abolished by slow, sure, and
imperceptible degrees."[229] For many reasons the steadiness of the
new-born Union caused him anxiety. "We are known," he had written to
Doctor W. Gordon, "by no other character among nations than as the
United States.... When the bond of union gets once broken everything
ruinous to our future prospects is to be apprehended. The best that can
come of it, in my humble opinion, is that we shall sink into obscurity,
unless our civil broils should keep us in remembrance and fill the page
of history with the direful consequences of them."[230]

The dread hour had now struck, and civil broils meant to fill the page
of history were at hand. Then it was that, in a middle-sized city of one
hundred thousand inhabitants, not yet a world-famous one, Chicago by
name, the Republican convention, assembled there for the first time, met
to choose a candidate for the presidency, and on Friday, 18th of May,
1860, selected a man whom my predecessor of those days, announcing in an
unprinted report the news to his government, described as "a man almost
unknown, Mr. Abraham Lincoln." And so he was; his own party had
hesitated to nominate him; only on the third ballot, after two others in
which he did not lead, the convention decided that the fate of the
party, of abolitionism, and of the Union would be placed in the hands of
that "man almost unknown," Mr. Abraham Lincoln.

The search-light of history has since been turned on the most obscure
parts of his career; every incident of it is known; many sayings of his
to which neither he nor his hearers attributed any importance at the
moment have become household words. Biographies innumerable, in pamphlet
form or in many volumes, have told us of the deeds of Abraham Lincoln,
of his appearance, of his peculiarities, of his virtues, and of the part
he played in the history of the world, not alone the world of his day,
but that of after-time. For not only the souvenir of his personality and
of his examples, and the consequences of what he did, survive among us,
but so do also a number of his clean-cut, memorable, guiding sentences
which continue alive and active among men. His mind is still living.

Few suspected such a future at the time of his election. "We all
remember," wrote, years later, the French Academician, Prévost-Paradol,
"the anxiety with which we awaited the first words of that President
then unknown, upon whom a heavy task had fallen, and from whose advent
to power might be dated the ruin or regeneration of his country. All we
knew was that he had sprung from the humblest walks of life; that his
youth had been spent in manual labor; that he had then risen, by
degrees, in his town, in his county, and in his State. What was this
favorite of the people? Democratic societies are liable to errors which
are fatal to them. But as soon as Mr. Lincoln arrived in Washington, as
soon as he spoke, all our doubts and fears were dissipated, and it
seemed to us that destiny itself had pronounced in favor of the good
cause, since in such an emergency it had given to the country an honest

Well indeed might people have wondered and felt anxious when they
remembered how little training in greatest affairs the new ruler had
had, and the incredible difficulty of the problems he would have to
solve: to solve, his heart bleeding at the very thought, for he had to
fight, "not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies!"

No romance of adventure reads more like a romance than the true story of
Lincoln's youth and of the wanderings of his family, from Virginia to
Kentucky, from Kentucky to Indiana, from Indiana to the newly-formed
State of Illinois, having first to clear a part of the forest, then to
build a doorless, windowless, floorless log cabin, with beds of leaves,
and one room for all the uses of the nine inmates: Lincoln, the
grandson of a man killed by the Indians, the son of a father who never
succeeded in anything, and whose utmost literary accomplishment, taught
him by his wife, and which he had in common with the father of
Shakespeare, consisted in "bunglingly writing his own name," the whole
family leading a life in comparison with which that of Robinson Crusoe
was one of sybaritic enjoyment. That in those trackless, neighborless,
bookless parts of the country the future President could learn and
educate himself was the first great wonder of his life. His school-days,
in schools as primitive as the rest of his surroundings, attended at
spare moments, did not amount, put together, to so much as one year,
during which he learned, as he stated afterward, how "to read, write,
and cipher to the rule of three, but that was all ... till within his
twenty-third year, he was almost constantly handling that most useful
instrument"--an axe, not a pen.[231] The event proved once more that
learning does not so much depend upon the master's teaching as upon the
pupil's desire. This desire never left him; as recorded by himself, he
"nearly mastered the six books of Euclid since he was a member of

But no book, school, nor talk with refined men would have taught him
what this rough life did. Confronted every day and every hour of the day
with problems which had to be solved, problems of food, of clothing, of
shelter, of escaping disease--"ague and fever ... by which they [the
people of the place] were greatly discouraged"[232]--of developing mind
and body with scarcely any books but those borrowed from distant
neighbors, in doubt most of the time as to what was going on in the wide
world, he got the habit of seeing, deciding, and acting for himself.
Accustomed from childhood to live surrounded by the unknown and to meet
the unexpected, in a region "with many bears," he wrote later, "and
other wild animals still in the woods," his soul learned to be
astonished at nothing and, instead of losing any time in useless
wondering, to seek at once the way out of the difficulty. What the
forest, what the swamp, what the river taught Lincoln cannot be
overestimated. After long years of it, and shorter years at now-vanished
New Salem, then at Springfield, at Vandalia, the former capital of
Illinois, where he met some descendants of his precursors in the forest,
the French "coureurs de bois,"[233] after years of political
apprenticeship which had given him but a limited notoriety, almost
suddenly he found himself transferred to the post of greatest honor and
greatest danger. And what then would say the "man almost unknown," the
backwoodsman of yesterday? What would he say? What did he say? The right

He was accustomed not to be surprised, but to ponder, decide, and act.
The pondering part was misunderstood by many who never ceased in his day
to complain and remonstrate about his supposed hesitancy; many of
Napoleon's generals, and for the same cause, spoke with disgust, at
times, of their chief's hesitations, as if a weak will were one of his
faults. Confronted with circumstances which were so extraordinary as to
be new to all, Lincoln was the man least astonished in the government.
His rough and shrewd instinct proved of better avail than the clever
minds of his more-refined and better-instructed seconds. It was
Lincoln's instinct which checked Seward's complicated schemes and
dangerous calculations. Lincoln could not calculate so cleverly, but he
could guess better.

In writing the words quoted above, Prévost-Paradol was alluding to the
now famous first inaugural address. But even before Lincoln had reached
Washington he had, so to say, given his measure. Passing through
Philadelphia on his way to the capital, he had been entertained at
Independence Hall and, addressing the audience gathered there, had told
how he had often meditated on the virtues and dangers of the men who
used to meet within those walls in the days when the existence of the
nation was at stake, and on the famous Declaration signed there by them.
The purport of it, said the new President, is "that in due time the
weights should be lifted from the shoulders of all men, and that all
should have an equal chance." And he added: "Now, my friends, can this
country be saved on that basis? If it can, I will consider myself one of
the happiest of men in the world if I can help to save it.... If it
cannot be saved upon that principle ... I would rather be assassinated
on this spot than to surrender it."[234]

France was then an empire, governed by Napoleon III. During the great
struggle of four years, part of the French people were for the North,
and part for the South; they should not be blamed: it was the same in

But, to a man, the increasing numbers of French Liberals, making ready
for a definitive attempt at a republican form of government in their own
land, were for the abolition of slavery and the maintenance of the
Union. The American example was the great one which gave heart to our
most progressive men. Americans had proved that republican government
was possible in a great modern country by having one. If it broke to
pieces, so would break the hopes of those among us who trusted that one
day we would have one, too--as we have. These men followed with dire
anxiety the events in America.

They had all known Lafayette, who died only in 1834, a lifelong apostle
of liberty and of the American cause. The tradition left by him had been
continued by the best thinkers and the most enlightened and generous
minds France had produced in the course of the century, such men as
Tocqueville, Laboulaye, Gasparin, Pelletan, and many others. Constant
friends of the United States, and stanch supporters of the liberal
principles, they had, so to say, taken the torch from the hands of dying
Lafayette and passed it on to the new generation. Tocqueville, who was
not to see the great crisis, had published in 1835, with extraordinary
success, his work on American democracy, showing that individual
liberty, equality for all, and decentralization were the goal toward
which mankind was steadily moving, and that such a system, with all its
defects, was better than autocratic government with all its guarantees.
Although living under a monarchy, he could not help sneering at the
kindness of those omnipotent governments who, in their paternal desire
to spare the people they govern all trouble, would like to spare them
even the "trouble of thinking."

Those who felt like him eloquently defended in their books, pamphlets,
and articles, when the crisis came, the cause of the Union, and strongly
influenced public opinion in European countries. Such was the case, for
example, with the _America before Europe_ of Agénor de Gasparin, full of
enthusiasm for the States, and of confidence in the ultimate issue.
"No," said the author in the conclusion of his work, published early in
1862, "the sixteenth President of the Union will not be its last; no,
the eighty-fifth year of that nation will not prove her last; her flag
will come out of the war, rent by bullets, blackened by powder, but more
glorious than ever, and without having dropped in the storm any of its
thirty-four stars."[235]

To Gasparin Lincoln wrote thereupon: "You are much admired in America
for the ability of your writings, and much loved for your generosity to
us and your devotion to liberal principles generally.... I am very happy
to know that my course has not conflicted with your judgment of
propriety and policy. I can only say that I have acted upon my best
convictions without selfishness or malice, and that, by the help of God,
I shall continue to do so."[236]

But there were, withal, men among us who, remembering the trials of our
revolutionary years, the most terrible any nation had gone through,
inclined to consider that, as Tocqueville had said, "to think" was
indeed a real trouble, and that thinkers might prove very troublesome
people. Those men, too, watched with care what was going on in America;
the quiet development of the country under democratic institutions
caused them little enough joy, as being the actual condemnation of their
most cherished theories. They kept saying: the country has no neighbors,
it is exposed to no storm; any system is good enough under such
exceptional conditions. If there was any storm, the worthlessness of
such institutions would soon be obvious. And it had come to pass that
the storm had arisen, and that a man "almost unknown" had been placed at
the helm.

Then developed that famous struggle between equally brave opponents,
with its various fortunes, its miseries, its hecatombs, and the coming
of days so dark that it often seemed as though there remained little
chance for the survival of one great, powerful, united nation: the
hatreds were so deep, the losses so immense. One of the generals who
served the cause of the Union was French, and as a colonel first
commanded a regiment, the 55th New York, otherwise called the Lafayette
Guards, in which French blood predominated, and who wore the red
trousers, red képi, and blue coats of the French army. It was before the
war one of those regiments whose functions, owing to the prevalence of
peace, had for a long time been of the least warlike, mainly consisting
in parades and banquets, so much so that, with that tendency to irony
rarely lacking in Gauls, those Gardes Lafayette had nicknamed themselves
"Gardes La fourchette."[237] War came, the country was changed, a new
spirit pervaded the nation, and the Gardes La fourchette became
Lafayette again, and worthy of the name.

General de Trobriand has left a captivating account of the campaign[238]
and of what his first regiment did in it, beginning with military
instruction hastily imparted before the start by French sergeants,
"some of whom had made war in Algeria, others in the Crimea or Italy,
familiar, all of them, with field service"; then the coming of his
soldiers to Washington, as yet a small, sparsely peopled city, with
"Pennsylvania Avenue for its principal artery"; their following Rock
Creek, not yet a public park, "cadencing their march by singing the
_Marseillaise_ or the _Chant des Girondins_, hymns unknown to the echoes
of the region, which repeated them for the first time, perhaps the
last," and crossing Chain Bridge to camp beyond the Potomac.

On one memorable day, in the winter of 1862, the regiment, encamped then
at Tennallytown, entertained Lincoln himself. The occasion was the
presentation to it by the hands of the President of two flags, a French
and an American one. The day chosen had been the 8th of January, as
being the anniversary of the battle of New Orleans, won by Andrew
Jackson, some of whose troops were French creoles, who, they too, had
fought to the sound of the _Marseillaise_.

Mrs. Lincoln had accompanied the President. There was a banquet which
the regiment had had cooked by its own soldier-cooks, who surpassed
themselves. "The President heartily partook of the meal. Never, was he
pleased to say, had he eaten so well since he had entered the White
House. He wanted to taste of everything, and his gayety and good humor
showed well enough how much he enjoyed this diversion in the midst of
the anxious cares with which he was oppressed at that moment."[239]

There were toasts, of course; the then Colonel de Trobriand drank to the
"prompt re-establishment of the Union, not so prompt, however, that the
55th may not first have time to do something for it on the battlefield."
President Lincoln answered good-humoredly: "Since the Union is not to be
re-established before the 55th has had its battle, I drink to the battle
of the 55th, and wish that it may take place as soon as possible."

The 55th had its battle, and many others, too; the beautiful American
flag handed to it on the 8th of January was torn to shreds by
grape-shot; at Fredericksburg only the staff was left; during the course
of that terrible day even the staff was broken, and that was the end of
it. It was also the end of the 55th: reduced to 210 men, it was merged
into the 33d.

Lincoln's instinct, his good sense, his personal disinterestedness, his
warmth of heart for friend or foe, his high aims, led him through the
awful years of anguish and bloodshed during which, ceaselessly,
increased the number of fields dotted with tombs, and no one knew, so
great were the odds, whether there would be one powerful nation or two
less powerful, inimical to one another. They led him through the worst
and through the best hours; and that of triumph found him none other
than what he had ever been before, a shrewd man of sense, a convinced
man of duty, the devoted servant of his country, but with deeper furrows
on his face and more melancholy in his heart. "We must not be enemies."

A French traveller who saw him at his second inauguration has thus
described him: "I shall never forget the deep impression I felt when I
saw come on to the platform the strange-looking great man to whom the
American people had been so happy as to intrust their destinies. The
gait was heavy, slow, irregular; the body long, lean, over six feet,
with stooping shoulders, the long arms of a boatman, the large hands of
a carpenter, extraordinary hands, with feet in proportion.... The
turned-down shirt-collar uncovered the protruding muscles of a yellow
neck, above which shot forth a mass of black hair, thick, and bristling
as a bunch of pine-boughs; a face of irresistible attraction.

"From this coarse bark emerged a forehead and eyes belonging to a
superior nature. In this body was sheathed a soul wondrous by its
greatness and moral beauty. On the brow, deep-furrowed with lines, could
be detected the thoughts and anxieties of the statesman; and in the
large black eyes, deep and penetrating, whose dominant expression was
good-will and kindness mixed with melancholy, one discovered an
inexhaustible charity, giving to the word its highest meaning, that is,
perfect love for mankind."[240]

The nation was saved, and when the work was done Lincoln went to his
doom and fell, as he had long foreseen, a victim to the cause for which
he had fought.

When the news of his tragic death reached France, the emotion was
intense; party lines at that solemn hour disappeared for a moment, and
the country was unanimous in the expression of her horror. The Emperor
and Empress telegraphed their condolences to Mrs. Lincoln; the Senate
and Chamber voted addresses of sympathy; M. Rouher, the premier,
interrupted by applause at every word, expressed himself as follows in
proposing the vote: "Mr. Abraham Lincoln has displayed in the afflicting
struggle which convulses his country that calm firmness which is a
necessary condition for the accomplishment of great duties. After
victory he had shown himself generous, moderate, and conciliatory." Then
followed these remarkable words: "The first chastisement that Providence
inflicts on crime is to render it powerless to retard the march of
good.... The work of appeasement commenced by a great citizen will be
completed by the national will."

Addressing the Chamber in the same strain, its President, Mr. Schneider,
said: "That execrable crime has revolted all that is noble in the heart
of France. Nowhere has more profound or more universal emotion been felt
than in our country.... After having shown his immovable firmness in the
struggle, Mr. Lincoln, by the wisdom of his language and of his views,
seemed destined to bring about a fruitful and durable reconciliation
between the sons of America.... France ardently desires the
re-establishment of peace in the midst of that great nation, her ally
and her friend."

But more noteworthy than all was the feeling of unofficial France, that
of the whole people. Trying to describe it, the American minister to
France, but recently taken from among us, Mr. Bigelow, wrote home: "The
press of the metropolis shows sufficiently how overwhelming is the
public sentiment"; and sending, only as samples, a number of
testimonials of sympathy received by him, he added: "They will suffice
to show not only how profoundly the nation was shocked by the dreadful
crime which terminated President Lincoln's earthly career, but how deep
a hold he had taken upon the respect and affections of the French

Once more, owing to the death of a great American, the whole nation had
been moved. From thirty-one French cities came addresses of condolence;
students held meetings, unfavorably seen by the imperial police, little
pleased to find how closely associated in the sentiments expressed
therein were admiration for Lincoln's work and the longing for a
republic similar to that over which he had presided. The youthful
president of such a meeting thus conveyed to Mr. Bigelow the expression
of what was felt by "the young men of the schools": "In President
Lincoln we mourn a fellow citizen; for no country is now inaccessible,
and we consider as ours that country where there are neither masters nor
slaves, where every man is free or is fighting to become free.

"We are the fellow citizens of John Brown, of Abraham Lincoln, and of
Mr. Seward. We young people, to whom the future belongs, must have the
courage to found a true democracy, and we will have to look beyond the
ocean to learn how a people who have made themselves free can preserve
their freedom....

"The President of the great republic is dead, but the republic itself
shall live forever."

Deputations flocked to the American legation, "so demonstrative" that
the police more than once interfered, as if to remind the delegates that
they were not living as yet in a land of liberty. "I have been occupied
most of the afternoon," Bigelow wrote to Seward, "in receiving
deputations of students and others who have called to testify their
sorrow and sympathy. Unfortunately, their feelings were so demonstrative
in some instances as to provoke the intervention of the police, who
would only allow them in very limited numbers through the streets.... I
am sorry to hear that some have been sent to prison in consequence of an
intemperate expression of their feelings. I can now count sixteen
policemen from my window patrolling about in the neighborhood, who
occasionally stop persons calling to see me, and in some instances, I am
told, send them away."[241]

A unique thing happened, unparalleled anywhere else. A subscription was
opened to offer a commemorative medal in gold to the unfortunate widow,
and this again did not overplease the police. The idea had occurred to a
provincial paper, the _Phare de la Loire_; its success was immediate.
All the great names in the Liberal party appeared on the list of the
committee, Victor Hugo's conspicuous among them, and with his those of
Etienne Arago, Louis Blanc, Littré, Michelet, Pelletan, Edgar Quinet,
and others. In order to allow the poorer classes to take part, and so as
to show that the offering was a truly national one, the maximum for each
subscriber was limited to two cents.

The poorer classes took part, indeed, with alacrity; the necessary sum
was promptly collected; the medal was struck, and it was presented by
Eugene Pelletan to Mr. Bigelow, with these words: "Tell Mrs. Lincoln
that in this little box is the heart of France." The inscription, in
French, is an excellent summing up of Lincoln's character and career:
"Dedicated by French Democracy to Lincoln, President, twice elected, of
the United States--Lincoln, honest man, who abolished slavery,
re-established the Union, saved the Republic, without veiling the statue
of liberty."[242]

The French press had been unanimous; from the Royalist _Gazette de
France_ to the Liberal _Journal des Débats_ came expressions of
admiration and sorrow, by the writers of greatest repute, present or
future members, in many cases, of the French Academy, Prévost-Paradol,
John Lemoine, Emile de Girardin, the historian Henri Martin, the
publicist and future member of the National Assembly of 1871, Peyrat,
and with them some ardent Catholics, like Montalembert.

"Who among us," said the _Gazette de France_, "would think of pitying
Lincoln? A public man, he enters by the death which he has received in
the midst of the work of pacification after victory into that body of
the _élite_ of the historic army which Mr. Guizot once called the
battalion of Plutarch. A Christian, he has just ascended before the
throne of the final Judge, accompanied by the souls of four million
slaves created, like ours, in the image of God, and who by a word from
him have been endowed with freedom."[243]

In his _La Victoire du Nord aux Etats Unis_, Montalembert expressed,
with his usual eloquence and warmth of heart, the same sorrow at
Lincoln's death, and the same joy also at the "success of a good cause
served by honorable means and won by honest people.... God is to be
thanked because, according to the surest accounts, victory has remained
pure, unsullied by crimes or excesses.... That nation rises now to the
first rank among the great peoples of the world.... Some used to say:
Don't talk to us of your America with its slavery. She is now without
slaves; let us talk of her."

But happy as he was at the results, Montalembert rendered, nevertheless,
full justice to the South and its great leaders: "The two parties, the
two camps, have shown an equal courage, the same indomitable tenacity,
the same wonderful energy ... the same spirit of sacrifice. All our
sympathies are for the North, but they in no way diminish our admiration
for the South.... How not to admire the Southerners, while regretting
that such rare and high qualities had not been dedicated to an
irreproachable cause! What men, and also, and especially, what women!
Daughters, wives, mothers, those women of the South have revived, in
the midst of the nineteenth century, the patriotism, devotion,
abnegation of the Roman ones in the heyday of the republic. Clelia,
Cornelia, Portia have found their equals in many a hamlet, many a
plantation of Louisiana or Virginia."[244]

Many among the Liberals seized this opportunity to praise the American
system of government as opposed to European ones: "Democracy," said
Peyrat, "is not incompatible with great extent of territory or the power
and duration of a great government. This has been demonstrated on the
other side of the Atlantic, and that is the service which the United
States have rendered to liberty.

"They have rendered another, equally important to human dignity, in
showing that the citizen has become among them great and powerful,
precisely because he has been little governed; they have proved that the
real grandeur of the state depends upon the high personal qualities of
the individuals. In our old societies, power put man into tutelage, or
rather, man put himself in that position at the hands of the government,
to which he looked for everything he wanted in life and for solutions
which no government, whether monarchical or republican, could give.

"The United States, on the contrary, have granted to public power just
what it is fit that that power should possess, neither more nor

In the _Journal des Débats_, Prévost-Paradol, one of the best writers of
the day, said: "The political instinct which caused enlightened
Frenchmen to be interested in the maintenance of American power, more
and more necessary to the equilibrium of the world, the desire to see a
great democratic state surmount terrible trials and continue to give an
example of the most perfect liberty united with the most absolute
equality, assured to the cause of the North a number of friends among
us.... Lincoln was indeed an honest man, if we give to the word its full
meaning, or rather, the sublime sense which belongs to it when honesty
has to contend with the severest trials which can agitate states and
with events which have an influence on the fate of the world.... Mr.
Lincoln had but one object in view from the day of his election to that
of his death, namely, the fulfilment of his duty, and his imagination
never carried him beyond it. He has fallen at the very foot of the
altar, covering it with his blood. But his work was done, and the
spectacle of a rescued republic was what he could look upon with
consolation when his eyes were closing in death. Moreover, he has not
lived for his country alone, since he leaves to every one in the world
to whom liberty and justice are dear a great remembrance and a great

Accounts of Lincoln's career multiplied in order to answer popular
demand. The earliest one, by Achille Arnaud, was printed immediately
after his death, and concluded thus: "There is in him a more august
character than even that of the statesman and reformer, namely that of
the man of duty. He lived by duty and for duty.... No mistake is
possible; what Europe honors in Lincoln, whether or not she is aware of
it, is _duty_. She thus affirms that there are not two morals, one for
the masters, the other for the slaves; one for men in public life, the
other for obscure citizens; that there is only one way to be great:
never to lie to oneself, nor to others, and to be just."[247]

Régis de Trobriand, whose loyalty to Lincoln never wavered, and who had
believed in him even in the darkest hours, well saw the importance for
the whole world of the issue of the great conflict, and justly stated
that, though more directly concerning the United States, the fight had
been for "those grand principles of progress and liberty toward which
modern societies naturally tend, and to which civilized nations
legitimately aspire. Such a cause is worth every sacrifice. By
defending it at all costs the United States have done more than fulfil a
task worthy of their power and patriotism, for their triumph is a
victory for mankind."

Lectures were delivered in France on Lincoln and America, one, under the
chairmanship of Laboulaye, by Augustin Cochin, a member of the
Institute, showing that Lincoln was "not only a superior type of the
American race, but one of the highest and most respected of the human
race," something more than a great man: a great honest man.[248]

As a sort of pendant and counterpart for the funeral ceremony held in
the Invalides at the death of Washington, the French Academy gave as the
subject of its grand prize in poetry: _La mort du Président Lincoln_.
Selected in the year following the event, the subject excited immense
interest; almost a hundred poets (some of whom, truth to say, were only
would-be poets) took part in the competition, which was decided in 1867;
several of the productions proved of great literary merit. The prize
went to a former secretary of embassy, Edouard Grenier, who had already
made his mark as a gifted literary artist, and whom many of us still
remember: a lovable old man, of upright ideas, a model of courtesy,
counting only friends in the very large circle of his acquaintances. He
ended with these admirable lines:

                      Tous ces fléaux célestes,
    Ces ravageurs d'États dont les pieds triomphants
    Sur les pères broyés écrasent les enfants,
    Grâce à toi, désormais, pâliront dans l'histoire....
    L'humanité te doit l'esclavage aboli....
    L'Amérique sa force et la paix revenue,
    L'Europe un idéal de grandeur inconnue,
    Et l'avenir mettra ton image et ton nom
    Plus haut que les Césars--auprès de Washington.

When, in a log cabin of Kentucky, over a century ago, that child was
born who was named after his grandfather killed by the Indians, Abraham
Lincoln, Napoleon I swayed Europe, Jefferson was President of the United
States, and the second War of Independence had not yet come to pass. It
seems all very remote. But the memory of the great man to whom these
lines are dedicated is as fresh in everybody's mind as if he had only
just left us; more people, indeed, know of him now than was the case in
his own day. "It is," says Plutarch, "the fortune of all good men that
their virtue rises in glory after their death, and that the envy which
any evil man may have conceived against them never survives the
envious." Such was the fate of Lincoln.


[227] _Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States_,
vol. XIII, col. 33 ff., November 2 and 3, 1803. Senator White had also
objected that the price, of fifteen million dollars, was too high; while
the French plenipotentiary, Barbé-Marbois, had observed that the lands
still unoccupied, to be handed to the American Government "would have a
value of several billions before a century had elapsed," in which he was
no bad prophet. Marbois added: "Those who knew the importance of a
perfect understanding between these two countries attached more value to
the twenty million francs set apart for the American claims than to the
sixty offered to France." In accordance again with Senator White, the
deciding motive had not been that longing for "a perfect understanding"
mentioned by Marbois, but a feeling that Louisiana would, at the next
war, "inevitably fall into the hands of the British." "Of course, it
would," future Marshal Berthier, who was averse to the cession, had
observed when the point had been mentioned at the council held at the
Tuileries, before the First Consul Bonaparte, on Easter Day, 1803, "but
Hanover would just as soon be in our hands, and an exchange would take
place at the peace.... Remember this: no navy without colonies; no
colonies without a navy." Barbé-Marbois, _Histoire de la Louisiane_,
Paris, 1829, pp. 295, 315, 330.

[228] May 10, 1786.

[229] September 9, 1786.

[230] July 8, 1783.

[231] "Short Autobiography, written at the request of a friend,"
_Complete Works_, ed. Nicolay and Hay, 1905, pp. 26, 27.

[232] _Ibid._, 28, 29.

[233] Some French settlements were still in existence in the region, and
were still French. "The French settlements about Kaskaskia retained much
of their national character, and the pioneers from the South who visited
them or settled among them never ceased to wonder at their gayety, their
peaceable industry, and their domestic affection, which they did not
care to dissemble and conceal like their shy and reticent neighbors. It
was a daily spectacle which never lost its strangeness for the
Tennesseeans and Kentuckians to see the Frenchman returning from his
work greeted by his wife and children with embraces of welcome 'at the
gate of his dooryard, and in view of all the villagers.' The natural and
kindly fraternization of the Frenchmen with the Indians was also a cause
of wonder." Nicolay and Hay, _Abraham Lincoln_, 1904, I, 58.

[234] February 22, 1861.

[235] _L'Amérique devant l'Europe_, Paris, 1862; conclusion.

[236] Washington, August, 4, 1862.

[237] "L'esprit Gaulois, toujours moqueur, avait saisi le côté plaisant
de cet inutile étalage d'épaulettes et de tambours, et les officiers du
55º New York qui, à l'heure du danger, prodiguèrent pour leur nouvelle
patrie le sang français sous la direction d'un chef habile et vaillant,
M. de Trobriand, s'étaient donnés à eux-mêmes, dans l'un des repas de
corps qui terminent toujours ces cérémonies, le titre joyeux de 'Gardes
La fourchette.'" Comte de Paris, _Histoire de la Guerre civile en
Amérique_, 1874, I, 311.

[238] _Quatre ans de campagnes à l'armée du Potomac, par Régis de
Trobriand, ex-Major Général au service volontaire des Etats Unis
d'Amérique_, Paris, 1867, 2 vols. As is well known, two French princes
took part in the war as staff-officers in the Army of the Potomac, the
Comte de Paris and the Duc de Chartres. An American officer who was
present told me that, whether on foot or on horseback, the Comte de
Paris had the habit of stooping. During a severe engagement he was asked
to carry an order across an open field, quite exposed to the enemy's
fire. He took the order, straightened on his saddle, crossed the field
quite erect, fulfilled his mission, recrossed the field, keeping
perfectly straight, and when back in the lines, stooped again.

[239] _Quatre ans de campagnes_, I, 131.

[240] _Abraham Lincoln_, by Alphonse Jouault. The work was begun in
Washington at the time of Lincoln's assassination, which the author
witnessed, but printed only in 1875. The text of the second inaugural
address had been read in France with great admiration. The famous bishop
of Orleans, Dupanloup, wrote concerning it to Augustin Cochin: "Mr.
Lincoln expresses with solemn and touching gravity the feelings which, I
am sure, pervade superior souls in the North as in the South.... I thank
you for having made me read this beautiful page of the history of great
men, and I beg you to tell Mr. Bigelow of my sympathetic sentiments. I
would hold it an honor if he were so good as to convey an expression of
them to Mr. Lincoln." Orleans, April 2, 1865; an appendix to
Montalembert's _Victoire du Nord_, Paris, 1865.

[241] April 28, 1865. Text as well as that of the documents just quoted
in _The Assassination of President Lincoln_. _Appendix to Diplomatic
Correspondence of 1865_, Government Printing Office, 1866.

[242] "Dédié par la Démocratie Française à Lincoln, Président deux fois
élu des Etats Unis--Lincoln, honnête homme, abolit l'esclavage, rétablit
l'union, sauva la République, sans voiler la statue de la liberté." The
medal is now the property of the President's son, Mr. Robert T. Lincoln.

[243] A very long article by L. de Gaillard, April 30, 1868.

[244] _La Victoire du Nord_, Paris, 1865, pp. 7, 11, 20, 23.

[245] In the _Avenir National_, May 3, 1865.

[246] April 29, 1865.

[247] _Abraham Lincoln, sa naissance, sa vie, sa mort, par Achille
Arnaud, Rédacteur à "l'Opinion Nationale."_ Paris, 1865, p. 96.

[248] _Bibliothèque Libérale--Abraham Lincoln_, by Augustin Cochin,
Paris, 1869.





On the occasion of the second centennial of Franklin's birth, a solemn
celebration, lasting several days, was held in Philadelphia, under the
auspices of the American Philosophical Society, founded by himself more
than a century and a half before.

Many Americans of fame took part in the celebration, such men as the
Secretary of State Elihu Root, Senator Lodge, Horace H. Furness, former
Ambassador Joseph Choate, the President (not yet emeritus) of Harvard,
Charles W. Eliot, Doctor Weir Mitchell, and many others. Several foreign
nations were represented; England notably by one of her sons who has
succeeded in the difficult task of adding lustre to the name he bears,
Sir George Darwin.

In accordance with a law passed by Congress two years before, a
commemorative medal was, on that occasion, offered to France. The speech
of acceptance is here reproduced solely to have a pretext for reprinting
the generous and memorable address of presentation by the then Secretary
of State, Mr. Elihu Root; and also in order to help in better
preserving the souvenir of a more than graceful act of the United States
toward France.


EXCELLENCY: On the 27th of April, 1904, the Congress of the United
States provided by statute that the Secretary of State should cause to
be struck a medal to commemorate the two-hundredth anniversary of the
birth of Benjamin Franklin, and that one single impression on gold
should be presented, under the direction of the President of the United
States, to the Republic of France.

Under the direction of the President I now execute this law by
delivering the medal to you as the representative of the Republic of
France. This medal is the work of fraternal collaboration by two artists
whose citizenship Americans prize highly, Louis and Augustus
Saint-Gaudens. The name indicates that they may have inherited some of
the fine artistic sense which makes France pre-eminent in the exquisite
art of the medallist.

On one side of the medal you will find the wise, benign, and spirited
face of Franklin. On the other side literature, science, and philosophy
attend, while history makes her record. The material of the medal is
American gold, as was Franklin.

For itself this would be but a small dividend upon the investments which
the ardent Beaumarchais made for the mythical firm of Hortalez and
Company. It would be but scanty interest on the never-ending loans
yielded by the steady friendship of de Vergennes to the distressed
appeals of Franklin. It is not appreciable even as a gift when one
recalls what Lafayette, Rochambeau, de Grasse, and their gallant
comrades were to us, and what they did for us; when one sees in
historical perspective the great share of France in securing American
independence, looming always larger from our own point of view, in
comparison with what we did for ourselves.

But take it for your country as a token that with all the changing
manners of the passing years, with all the vast and welcome influx of
new citizens from all the countries of the earth, Americans have not
forgotten their fathers and their fathers' friends.

Know by it that we have in America a sentiment for France; and a
sentiment, enduring among a people, is a great and substantial fact to
be reckoned with.

We feel a little closer to you of France because of what you were to
Franklin. Before the resplendence and charm of your country's
history--when all the world does homage to your literature, your art,
your exact science, your philosophic thought--we smile with pleasure, for
we feel, if we do not say: "Yes, these are old friends of ours; they were
very fond of our Ben Franklin and he of them."

Made more appreciative, perhaps, by what France did for us when this old
philosopher came to you, a stranger, bearing the burdens of our early
poverty and distress, we feel that the enormous value of France to
civilization should lead every lover of mankind, in whatever land,
earnestly to desire the peace, the prosperity, the permanence, and the
unchecked development of your national life.

We, at least, can not feel otherwise; for what you were to Franklin we
would be--we are--to you: always true and loyal friends.


On behalf of the French Republic, with feelings of gratitude, I receive
the gift offered to my country, this masterful portrait of Franklin,
which a law of Congress ordered to be made, and which is signed with the
name, twice famous, of Saint-Gaudens.

Everything in such a present powerfully appeals to a French heart. It
represents a man ever venerated and admired in my country--the
scientist, the philosopher, the inventor, the leader of men, the one who
gave to France her first notion of what true Americans really were.
"When you were in France," Chastellux wrote to Franklin, "there was no
need to praise the Americans. We had only to say: Look; here is their

The gift is offered in this town of Philadelphia where there exists a
hall the very name of which is dear to every American and every French
heart--the Hall of Independence--and at a gathering of a society founded
"for promoting useful knowledge," which has remained true to its
principle, worthy of its founder, and which numbers many whose fame is
equally great on both sides of the ocean.

I receive it at the hands of one of the best servants of the state which
this country ever produced, no less admired at the head of her diplomacy
now than he was lately at the head of her army, one of those rare men
who prove the right man, whatever be the place. You have listened to his
words, and you will agree with me when I say that I shall have two
golden gifts to forward to my government: the medal and Secretary Root's

The work of art offered by America to France will be sent to Paris to be
harbored in that unique museum, her Museum of Medals, where her history
is, so to say, written in gold and bronze, from the fifteenth century up
to now, without any ruler, any great event, being omitted. Some of the
American past is also written there--that period so glorious when French
and American history were the same history, when first rose a nation
that has never since ceased to rise.

There, awaiting your gift, are preserved medals struck in France at the
very time of the events, in honor of Washington, to commemorate the
relief of Boston in 1776; a medal of John Paul Jones in honor of his
naval campaign of 1779; another medal representing G. Washington, and
one representing General Howard, to commemorate the battle of Cowpens in
1781; one to celebrate the peace of 1783 and the freedom of the thirteen
States; one of Lafayette; one of Suffren, who fought so valiantly on
distant seas for the same cause as Washington; one, lastly, of Franklin
himself, dated 1784, bearing the famous inscription composed in honor of
the great man by Turgot: "Eripuit cælo fulmen, sceptrumque

My earnest hope is that one of the next medals to be struck and added
to the series will be one to commemorate the resurrection of that great
city which now, at this present hour, agonizes by the shores of the
Pacific. The disaster of San Francisco has awakened a feeling of deepest
grief in every French heart, and a feeling of admiration, too, for the
manliness displayed by the population during this awful trial. So that
what will be commemorated will not be only the American nation's sorrow,
but her unfailing heroism and energy.

Now your gift will be added to the collection in Paris; it will be there
in its proper place. The thousands who visit this museum will be
reminded by it that the ties happily formed long ago are neither broken
nor distended, and they will contemplate with a veneration equal to that
of their ancestors the features of one whom Mirabeau justly called one
of the heroes of mankind.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Franklin ceremony had occurred at the time of the San Francisco
catastrophe, at a moment when, communication having been cut, anxiety
was intense.

I had spoken without instructions, but the French Government took their
representative's words to the letter. The medal was ordered, and was for
Bottée, the artist, a former recipient of the "Grand Prix de Rome," a
work of love. It shows on one side the city rising from its ruins,
surrounded with emblems of recovered youth and prosperity. On the other
side the image of the French Republic is seen offering from over the sea
a twig of laurel to America.

One single copy in gold was struck, and the presentation took place in
rebuilt San Francisco, in 1909, the medal being received by the
statesman and poet, the translator of the sonnets of Heredia, Edward
Robeson Taylor, then mayor of the city.


[249] An official note informed the Secretary of State, in the following
December, of the arrangements made by the French Republic for the
preservation, among proper surroundings, of the Franklin medal: "In the
centre of the Hall of Honor in the Museum of Medals at the Paris Mint,
stand four ancient show-cases of the time of Louis XVI. One of these has
been selected for the Franklin medal, which has been surrounded with the
medals herein below enumerated, which were deemed the fittest to make up
a worthy retinue, if the phrase be permissible." There follows a
description of sixteen medals commemorative of Franco-American history,
placed in the same case. "House of Representatives," 59th Congress, 2d
session, Document No. 416.





We meet on a solemn occasion.

One has recently disappeared from our midst whose work was a model;
whose life, too, was a model; whose benign influence, exerted for many
years from the seclusion of a quiet retreat, was felt far beyond the
limits of his own country; whose views, always expressed in the gentlest
terms, will outlive the thunder of many a noisy writer, as ever-renewing
flowers survive earthquakes.

A member of the American Philosophical Society, founded in his own city
by Franklin "to promote useful knowledge," Furness was true to the motto
of the society and lived the life of a true philosopher. I call him
Furness, without Doctor or any other title, not because he is no more,
but to obey a request of his. "I do not like titles in the republic of
letters," he wrote me in the early times of our acquaintance; "if you
will drop all to me, I will do the same to you. One touch of Shakespeare
makes the whole world kin."

All those whom the spirit of philosophy has penetrated and who stanchly
adhere to its ideal count among the noblest types of humanity and,
whatever their rank in life or the period when they lived, resemble each
other. When Furness died numerous eulogies, biographies, and portraits
of him, penned, many of them, by the hands of masters, were published. I
wonder if any better resembled him than this one:

"Remember his constancy in the fulfilling of the dictates of reason, the
evenness of his humor at all junctures, the serenity of his face, his
extreme gentleness, his scorn for vainglory, his application to
penetrate the meaning of things. He never dismissed any point without
having first well examined and well understood it. He bore unjust
reproaches without acrimony. He did nothing with undue haste.... A foe
to slander, he was neither hypercritical, nor suspicious, nor
sophistical. He was pleased with little, modest in his house, his
clothing, his food. He loved work, ate soberly, and thus was able to
busy himself, for the whole day, with the same problems. Let us remember
how constant and equable was his friendship, with what open mind he
accepted a frank contradiction of his own views, with what joy he
received advice that proved better than his own, and the kind of piety,
free from all superstition, that was his. Do as he did, and your last
hour will be comforted, as his was, by the conscience of the good

In those higher regions where true philosophers live, equality reigns;
they resemble each other by their virtues; this portrait, which, to my
mind, gives such a vivid idea of the life Furness led at Wallingford,
near Philadelphia, was drawn eighteen centuries ago, by that noblest of
antique minds, Emperor Marcus Aurelius, describing his predecessor, the
first of the Antonines, he who, on the last night of his life, being
asked for the password, had answered: "Æquanimitas."

After studies at Harvard and Philadelphia and a visit to Europe and the
Levant, having taken such part in the Civil War as his infirmity allowed
him, a happy husband, a happy father, Horace Howard Furness decided to
devote his life to the "promotion of useful knowledge." He withdrew, in
a way, from the world, settling in a quiet retreat, and started on his
life's work with the equipment of a modern scientist and the silent
enthusiasm, the indefatigable energy of mediæval thinkers, the compilers
of _Summæ_ of times gone, regretting nothing, happy with his lot, at one
with that master mind of old English literature, the author of _Piers
Plowman_. "For," said centuries ago the man "robed in russet,"

    "If heaven be on this erthe · and ese to any soule,
    It is in cloistre or in scole · be many skilles I finde;
    For in cloistre cometh no man · to chide ne to fihte,
    But all is buxomnesse there and bokes · to rede and to lerne."

Such a cloister, with ease to his soul, with buxomness, with books to
read and learn, was for our departed friend his house in Wallingford,
where he lived surrounded by that extraordinarily gifted family of his:
a wife to whom we owe the Concordance to the poems of Shakespeare, a
sister who translated for him the German critics, sons and a daughter
and a sister's relative[250] who have all made their mark in their
country's literature. There, for years, he toiled, never thinking of
self nor of fame, busy with his task, and even in his seclusion, with
his tenderness of heart and ample sympathies, listening to

    The still sad music of humanity.

What that task was all the world now knows. A passionate admirer of
Shakespeare, he wanted to make accessible to all every criticism,
information, comment, explanation concerning the poet which had appeared
anywhere at any time. Each volume was to be a complete encyclopædia of
all that concerned each play. The first appeared in 1871, the sixteenth
is the last he will have put his hand to.

In the introduction to each volume, his purposes and methods are
explained, and never has any writer more completely and more unwittingly
allowed us to look into his own character than Furness when writing
what he must have considered his very impersonal statements. What
strikes the reader, before all, is the philosophical spirit which
pervades the whole work. A worthy member of the American Philosophical
Society, he wanted to be "useful." Lives are and will be more and more
encumbered; the acquisition of knowledge should, therefore, be made more
and more easy of reach. "To abridge the labor and to save the time of
others" was, said he in his first volume, what impelled him to write. No
pains of his were spared to lessen those of others. And all specialists
know the extraordinary reliability of his texts and statements.
"Nowhere, perhaps," Sir Sidney Lee wrote in his _Life of Shakespeare_,
"has more labor been devoted to the study of the works of the poet than
that given by Mr. H.H. Furness, of Philadelphia, to the preparation of
the new Variorum edition."

The labor was one of love, and a lover naturally forgets himself for the
beloved one. Furness tried not to show the ardor of his sentiments; but
it now and then appears, usually in small details when he would, more
naturally, be off his guard. Shakespeare calls Cæsar's Ambassador
Thidias, and not Thyreus, as the later-day editors do, under pretense
that it was the real name. They are wrong: "Shakespeare in his
nomenclature was, as in all things, exquisite.... For certain reasons
(did he ever do anything without reason?) he chose the name of

In the privacy of intimate correspondence Furness would be more
outspoken, being not restrained by the thought that he would be imposing
his own views upon the mass of readers. On Cleopatra, about whom I had
risked opinions somewhat different from his, he wrote me--it seems it
was yesterday: "Of course, Shakespeare's Cleopatra is not history. But
who cares for history? Of this be assured, that, if you had lived with
her as I have for two years, you would adore her as deeply as I do."

The truth is that, as he said, he actually _lived_ with the personages
of the plays, and he rapturously listened to those far-off voices, which
came clearer to his infirm ears than to those of any one of us, meant
only for commonplace uses. He had a better right than any to form an
opinion, but was ever afraid to seem to force it on others. Of his
edition itself he had written: "I do not flatter myself that this is an
_enjoyable_ edition of Shakespeare. I regard it rather as a necessary
evil."[251] On another occasion, having been criticised about a certain
statement of his, he wrote: "I now wish to state that my critic was
entirely right and I entirely wrong." His work was a work of love, but
it was also a work of reason, as befits a philosopher. He leaned
throughout toward conservative methods, which have doubtless the fault
of attracting less tumultuous attention to the worker: a great fault in
the eyes of the many, a great quality in Furness's own.

His shrewd good sense, seconded by a no less enjoyable good humor, never
failed him. When he began, one important question had first to be
decided: would he admit in his work only textual and philological
criticisms or also æsthetic criticism, mere poetry, sheer literature? To
many the temptation would have been great to exclude the latter, the
fashion being among the most haughty, if not the most learned, of the
learned to doubt the seriousness, laboriousness, usefulness of any who
can enjoy, in a play of Shakespeare's, something else than doubtful
readings and misprints. This school is less new than is generally
believed, and in his _Temple du Goût_ Voltaire had already represented
the superb critics of the matter-of-fact school answering those who
asked them whether they would not visit the temple:

          "Nous, Messieurs, point du tout.
    Ce n'est pas là, grâce à Dieu, notre étude;
    Le goût n'est rien, nous avons l'habitude
    De rédiger au long, de point en point,
    Ce qu'on pensa, mais nous ne pensons point."

The fact is that, as Furness well perceived from the first, the two
elements should no more be separated than soul from body. Without
accuracy, literary criticism is mere trumpery; without a sense of the
beautiful, mere accuracy is deathlike. Much so-called æsthetic
criticism, wrote Furness, "is flat, stale, unprofitable.... But shall we
ignore the possible existence of a keener insight than our own?... Are
we not to listen eagerly and reverently when Coleridge or Goethe talks
about Shakespeare?"

With such a rule in mind he made his selections, pruning what he deemed
should be pruned: "_rejectiones et exclusiones debitas_," as Bacon would
have said. But one more kind of thing he excluded, and this is an
eminently characteristic trait of his. His gentleness (not a weak, but a
manly one) rebelled at others' acerbity, and when he saw appear that
unwelcome and somewhat abundant element in modern criticism, he simply
left it out: no admittance for any such thing within the covers of a
gentleman-scholar's gentlemanly and scholarly work. True it is that,
while Shakespeare is the author most read--after the Bible, it is also
the one about which the most furious and unchristian disputes have been
waged--after the Bible. The Philadelphia scholar wanted all the critics
admitted within his fold to keep the peace there, and he adopted the
following rule: "First, all unfavorable criticism of fellow critics is
excluded as much as possible.... To confound Goethe, Schlegel, or Tieck
is one thing, to elucidate Shakespeare is another." He went even
further, and since he could not quote whole books and had to select,
"the endeavor," he said, "in all honesty has been to select from every
author the passages wherein he appears to best advantage." What critic,
then, can be imagined so blind to the service rendered, so much in love
with his own harshness, that would not feel toward Furness as Queen
Katharine toward Griffith:

    After my death I wish no other herald,
    No other speaker of my living actions,
    To keep mine honor from corruption,
    But such an honest chronicler as--_Furness_.

His friendly appreciation of French critics (who, with all they lacked
in early days, were, after all, the first to form, outside of England,
an opinion on Shakespeare, the oldest one being of about 1680) cannot
but touch a French heart. "It has given me especial pleasure," he said
in the Introduction to his first volume, "to lay before the English
reader the extracts from the French; it is but little known, in this
country at least, outside the ranks of Shakespeare students, how great
is the influence which Shakespeare at this hour is exerting on French
literature, and how many and how ardent are his admirers in this
nation." He had even, at a later date, a good word for poor Ducis and
his Hamlet, a Hamlet truly Ducis's own.

Nor shall I ever forget in what tones, amidst friendly applause, the
great scholar spoke of France in his own city of Philadelphia, at the
memorable gathering of April 20, 1906, when, in accordance with the will
of the nation as expressed by Congress, a medal was offered to my
country to commemorate her reception of Franklin at the hour when the
fate of the States was still weighing in the balance.

In the early years of manhood one sees, far ahead on the road, those
great thinkers, scientists, master men, tall, powerful, visible from a
distance, ready to help the passer-by, like great oaks offering their
shade. They seem so strong, so far above the common that the thought
never occurs that we of the frailer sort may see the day when they will
be no more. Who was ever present at the death of an oak? Whoever thought
that he could see the day when he would accompany Robert Browning's
remains to Westminster or mourn for the disappearance of Taine or Gaston
Paris? The feeling I had for them I had for Furness, too. Was it
possible to think that this solid oak would fall?

He himself, however, had misgivings, and it seemed, of late years, as if
the dear ones who had gone before were beckoning to him. "Do you
remember," he wrote me in 1909, "my sister, Mrs. Wister, to whom I had
the pleasure of introducing you at the Franklin celebration? I am now
living under the black and heavy shadow of her loss. She left me last
November, solitary and alone, aching for the 'sound of a voice that is
silent.'" And at a more recent date: "I have been so shattered by the
blows of fate that I doubt you'll ever again receive a printed
forget-me-not from me."

And now, in our turn, members of the American Philosophical Society,
members of the Shakespeare Societies of the world, members innumerable
of the republic of letters, we too ache for "the sound of a voice that
is silent." On the signet with which he used to seal his letters,
Furness had engraved a motto, which is the best summing up of Emperor
Marcus Aurelius's firm and resigned philosophy: "This, too, will pass

For him, too, the august sad hour struck. But so far as anything in this
fleeting world may be held to remain, so long as mankind shall be able
to appreciate honest work honestly done, the name of Furness will not
pass away, but live enshrined in every scholar's grateful memory.


[250] Owen Wister.

[251] Introduction to _Hamlet_.





Does peace mean progress? Is the disappearance of war a sign of
improvement or of decay? At a yet recent date learned men, their eyes to
their microscopes, were teaching us that among the various kinds of
living creatures they had studied, war was the rule; that where struggle
ceased, life ceased; and that, since more beings came into the world
than the world could feed, the destruction of the weakest was both a
necessity and a condition of progress. Struggle, war, violence meant
development; peace meant decay. And a bold generalization applied to
reasoning man the fate and conditions of unreasoning vermin. Since it
was fate, why resist the inevitable and what could be the good of peace

But the stumbling-block that Science had placed on the road to better
days has been removed by Science herself. The sweeping conclusions
attributed to that great man Darwin by pupils less great have been
scrutinized; other experiments, such as he would have conducted himself
had he been living, were tried, and their results added to our book of
knowledge. Great results, indeed, and notable ones; it turned out that
the explanation of transformism, of progress, of survival, was not to be
found in a ceaseless war insuring the predominance of the fittest, but
in quiet and peaceful adaptation to environment, to climate, and to
circumstances. And we French are excusably proud to see that, for having
unfolded those truths years before Darwin wrote, due honor is now
rendered almost everywhere, and especially in America, to Jean Baptiste
de Lamarck, author of the long obscure and now famous _Philosophie
Zoologique_, 1809.

As for the undue multiplication of individuals, statistics unknown to
Darwin have since shown that, whatever may be the case with beetles or
fishes (and let them work out their own problems according to their own
laws), there is, for man at least, no need of self-destruction to ward
off such a peril: the general decrease of the rate of reproduction, so
striking throughout the world, is all that is wanted, and in some cases
is even more than is wanted.

War, therefore, is not our unavoidable fate, and that much of the road
has been cleared: a long road followed amid terrible sufferings by
mankind through centuries. The chief danger in times past, and partly
still in our own, does not result from an ineluctable fate, but from
the private disposition of men and of their leaders. And we know what
for ages those dispositions were. Former-day chroniclers are wont to
mention, as a matter of course, that "the king went to the wars in the
season," as he would have gone a-fishing. People at large saw not only
beauty in war (as there is in a just war, and of the highest order,
exactly as there is in every duty fulfilled), but they saw in it an
unmixed beauty. Men and nations would take pride in their mercilessness,
and they were apt to find in the sufferings of an enemy an unalloyed

Such were the feelings of the time. To none of the master artists who
represented the day of judgment on the walls of Rome, Orvieto, or Padua,
or on the portals of our northern cathedrals, did the thought occur to
place among his fierce angels driving the guilty to their doom, one with
a tear on his face: a tear that would have made the artist more famous
than all his art; a tear, not because the tortures could be supposed to
be unjust or the men sinless, but because they were tortures and because
the men had been sinful. _Dies iræ!_

Artists belonged to their time and expressed their time's thought. The
teaching of saints and of thinkers long remained of little avail. War,
that "human malady," as Montaigne said, was considered as impossible to
heal as rabies was--until the day when a Pasteur came. Yet protests
began to be more perceptibly heard as men better understood what they
themselves were and commenced to suspect that the time might come when
all would be equal before the law. Nothing, Tocqueville has observed, is
so conducive to mercy as equality.[253]

All those who, in the course of centuries, led men to the conquest of
their rights can be truly claimed as the intellectual ancestors of the
present promoters of a sane international peace: men like our Jean
Bodin, who, while upholding, as was unavoidable in his day, the
principle of autocracy, yet based his study of the government of nations
on the general interests of the commonwealth, and who, in opposition to
Machiavelli, who had called his book _The Prince_, called his _The
Republic_. To Bodin, who protests against the so-called right of the
strongest, have been traced some of the principles embodied much later
in the American and in the French "Declaration of the Rights of

Such thinkers truly deserve the name of forerunners; such men as that
great Hugo Grotius, whose ever-living fame was not without influence on
the selection of his own country as the seat of the peace conferences of
our day, and who, being then settled in France, near Senlis, dedicated
to King Louis XIII his famous work on war and peace, so memorable for
its denunciation of frivolous wars and wanton cruelties.[255]

Soon the names of those to be honored for the same cause became legion:
men like Pascal, Saint-Pierre, the Encyclopedists, Kant, Bentham,
Tocqueville, and many others.

Among Pascal's _Thoughts_ is this memorable one, which forecasts and
sums up much of what has since been or will be done: "When it is a
question of deciding whether war should be waged, of sentencing so many
Spaniards to death, one man only decides, and one who is interested. The
decision ought to rest with an impartial third party."

A little later, that strange Abbé de Saint-Pierre was writing those
works considered as so many wild dreams in his day and no longer read at
all in ours. But if he were to return now, he would, according to one of
his latest critics, feel not at all dismayed, but say: "This is all for
the best; you need not study my works, since you have put in practise
nearly all my ideas; there remains only my _Perpetual Peace_;[256] but,
like the others, its turn will come."

If its turn has not come yet, great practical steps have surely been
taken toward it, chief among them that move, so unexpected a few years
ago, so dubiously wondered at when it occurred, and now so thoroughly
accepted, that, as in the case of all great inventions, one wonders how
things could go on before it existed: the calling of the first
conference at The Hague by the Emperor of Russia, Nicholas II.

"The maintenance of general peace," read the Russian circular of August,
1898, "and a possible reduction of the excessive armaments which weigh
upon all nations, present themselves in the actual situation of the
world, as the ideal toward which should tend the efforts of all
governments.... The ever-increasing financial expense touches public
prosperity at its very source; the intellectual and physical powers of
peoples, labor and capital, are, most of it, turned aside from their
natural functions and consumed unproductively.... To put an end to
those ceaseless armaments and to find means for preventing the
calamities which threaten the entire world, such is the supreme duty
which to-day lies upon all states."

When one man, then another, then another, had come and said: I can draw
the lightning from the clouds; I can rise in the air; I can flash your
words and thoughts to any distance you please; I can cure rabies by
inoculating rabies; I can make you talk with your friend miles away; I
can navigate a boat under the sea, scepticism had scarcely been greater
than when the circular took the world by surprise. The issue seemed more
than doubtful; many among the most sanguine barely hoped to succeed in
preventing the absolute failure that would have killed such a project
for generations.

Shortly afterward I happened to be in St. Petersburg and had the honor
of being received by the Emperor. The conversation fell on the "Great
Design," to give it the name used for the very different plan (implying
coercion) attributed two centuries before to the French King Henry IV. I
was struck by the quiet conviction of the originator of the new movement
as to its ultimate results, and his disposition not to give up the plan
if at first it met with difficulties and delays. Emperor Nicholas summed
up his views with the remark: "One must wait longer when planting an oak
than when planting a flower."

Longer, indeed, yet not so very long, after all. The first conference
took place, and in it, I may say, the delegations of our two Republics
presided over by such statesmen and thinkers as Andrew D. White and Léon
Bourgeois, failed not to fulfill the part assigned to our democracies by
their ideals and traditions. In spite of scepticism, that first
conference reached an unexpected measure of success. Eight years later a
second one was convened on the felicitous suggestion of President
Roosevelt, and now the supposedly useless mechanism from dreamland has
been so heartily accepted by mankind at large, all over the globe, that
the approximate date for a third one has already been selected.
Governments at first doubted that one would be of any use; now they want

The word had been spoken indeed at the proper moment. The teachings of
philosophers and of experience, the outcome of revolutions, a more vivid
sense of equality among men imbuing them with mercy, according to
Tocqueville, had caused the seed to fall on prepared ground. We scarcely
realize, looking at it from so near, how great the movement thus started
has already become. The practical ideas put forth less than a dozen
years ago have progressed so much that more treaties of arbitration have
been signed between the first Hague Conference and now than between the
day of creation and that conference. I take, if I may be permitted to
allude to my own feelings, no small pride in having concluded the first
one, duly ratified by both countries, ever signed by the United States
with any European Power, and I was glad to thus continue an
old-established tradition, since, in the matter of treaties with the
United States, be they treaties of commerce, alliance, or amity, France
has been accustomed to take the lead among nations.[257]

Quicker, indeed, than was anticipated by the sower himself, the oak has
grown and the nations can rest under its shade. Several important
appeals have been made to the court of The Hague, the United States
taking the lead and giving to all the best example. Those experiments,
which most of the great Powers have already tried, have had manifold
advantages: they have shown that dangerous quarrels _could_ thus be
honorably settled; they have shown also that defects in the working of
the court exist and should be remedied.

Public utterances and circulars from Presidents Roosevelt and Taft and
from Secretaries of State Root and Knox have pointed out the importance
of trying to establish a permanent court, with judges ever present, paid
by the associated nations, selected from among men of such a high moral
standing as to be above influence of creed or nationality, true citizens
of the world, fit magistrates to judge the world.

In these views, the future realization of which the second conference
has insured, France heartily concurred, having indeed, during the first
conference, initiated an early preliminary move toward continuity and

Given these more and more enlightened dispositions among governments, it
may seem that the work of a private society like this must needs be of
comparatively little import. The reverse is the truth. It has an immense
power for good, for it can act directly on the lever that moves the
world: public opinion. So powerful is such a lever that even in the
past, in times when men were not their own masters, public opinion had
to be reckoned with; such imperious leaders of men as a Richelieu or a
Napoleon knew it better than any one. _Opinio veritate major_, had even
cynically said the great philosopher Francis Bacon. But if opinion can
occasionally defeat truth, much better can it defend truth. With the
spreading of instruction and with an easier access to men's minds
through books, journals, public meetings, and free discussion, its power
against truth has been considerably diminished and its power for good
increased and purified.

You know this and act accordingly. Though doing so in your private
capacity, you conform in fact to the instructions drawn by a masterly
hand for the American delegates at the second conference at The Hague.
In these instructions Secretary Root told the delegates never to forget
that "the object of the conference was agreement, not compulsion," and
that the agreements reached should be "genuine and not reluctant."

This is, undoubtedly, the road to follow, a road not yet smooth, nor
cleared of its rocks and pitfalls. The dangers continue to be many. One
of the dangers is of asking too much too soon and of causing nations to
fear that, if they make any little concession, they will be led by
degrees to a point where, being peacefully disarmed, their continuance
as a nation will depend upon the will, the good faith and the excellent
virtues of some one else. Another is to describe war as being such an
abominable thing in itself, whatever be its occasion, as to cause that
public opinion on which so much depends to rebel against the preacher
and his whole doctrine.

Let us not forget that, even in the land of "Utopia," the country of
Nowhere, in which every virtue of good citizenship was practised, and
war held as a monstrosity, _rem plane beluinam_, all wars had not been
abolished. Sir Thomas More informs us that Utopians make war for two
causes and keep, therefore, well drilled. The causes are: First, "to
defend their own country"; second, "to drive out of their friends' land
the enemies that have invaded it."[258] We have waged in the past such
wars and cannot pretend to feel repentant.

Such wars continue to be unavoidable to-day, and to deny this is only to
increase the danger of a revulsion of feeling among well-disposed
nations. What we may hope and must strive for is that, with the
development of mankind, a better knowledge of our neighbors, an
understanding that a difference is not necessarily a vice, nor a
criticism a threat, with that better instruction which a society like
this one is giving to the many, a time may come when that same public
opinion will render impossible the two sorts of _casus belli_ for which
More deems war to be not only necessary but noble and virtuous.

No less dangerous is it to load war with all the sins in Israel, thus
running the same risk of making people rebel not only against the
preacher but against his very creed. When we are told by the pacifist
that, owing to the wars of the early nineteenth century, only inferior
people were left in France to perpetuate the race, we wonder how it is
that she got a Victor Hugo, an Alexandre Dumas, a Louis Pasteur, sons of
soldiers of Napoleon, all three. We wonder how, in spite of this
supposed survival of "the weakest," that country got so many thinkers,
philosophers, poets, artists, soldiers, explorers; how the venturous
spirit of the former "coureurs de bois" awoke again in our days with
such notable results in Asia, Africa, and elsewhere; how birth was given
in our land to the inventors of the dirigible, the automobile, the
submarine, photography, and radium; how the love of sport in the race
has reappeared of late, as active as it had ever been in the remote
times when football and cricket found in France their rough-hewn cradle.

Exaggeration will not help, but on the contrary surely hurt. Truth, if
we follow her, is certain to lead to better times. She has already. Wars
in former centuries lasted a hundred years, then they lasted thirty
years, then seven years; and now, as disastrous as ever, it is true, but
separated by longer intervals, they last one year.[259] You are about
to celebrate a hundred years' peace with England; so are we.

That move toward truer, longer, perhaps one day definitive peace, has
been prophesied long before our time, not merely by a dreamer like Abbé
de Saint-Pierre, but by one who had a rare experience of men, of war,
and of peace, and who, considering especially the influence of trade on
nations, once said:

"Although I pretend to no peculiar information respecting commercial
affairs, nor any foresight into the scenes of futurity, yet as the
member of an infant empire, as a philanthropist by character, and (if I
may be allowed the expression) as a citizen of the great republic of
humanity at large, I cannot help turning my attention sometimes to this
subject. I would be understood to mean that I cannot help reflecting
with pleasure on the probable influence that commerce may hereafter have
on human manners and society in general. On these occasions I consider
how mankind may be connected like one great family in fraternal ties. I
indulge a fond, perhaps an enthusiastic idea that, as the world is
evidently less barbarous than it has been, its amelioration must still
be progressive; that nations are becoming more humanized in their
policy, that the subjects of ambition and causes for hostility are daily
diminishing; and in fine that the period is not very remote when the
benefits of a liberal and free commerce will pretty generally succeed to
the devastations and horrors of war."

Thus wrote to Lafayette, on the 15th of August, 1786, that "citizen of
the great republic of humanity," George Washington.[260]

That practical results have been secured is certain; that better ones
are in store, if we act wisely, is no less certain. Mankind longs for
less troubled days, and moves toward this not inaccessible goal. Such is
the truth; and we may feel confident that, according to the oft-quoted
word of dying Wyclif, "Truth shall conquer."


A few years after this address had been delivered threatening clouds
began to gather. Germany, who had prevented, at the first conference of
The Hague, anything being done toward a limitation of armaments as
proposed by Russia,[261] suddenly, in full peace, when other nations
were inclined to think that they were rather too much armed than not
enough, passed a law increasing, in a prodigious degree, her military

On this move of hers, on what peace-loving democracies ought to do in
the presence of such an unexpected event, on the future of the peace and
arbitration ideas, after such a blow, the former president of the French
delegation at The Hague, Mr. Léon Bourgeois, wrote in May, 1913, little
more than a year before the present war, a noteworthy letter,[262] in
which we read:

     "One fact strikes us most painfully and might at first disturb our
     minds. The bills presently submitted to the Reichstag are going to
     increase in a formidable manner the armaments of Germany, and to
     necessitate on the part of France an extraordinary effort, and
     sacrifices to which we must manfully and promptly consent....

     "No one more than myself deplores that folly of armaments to which
     Europe is yielding, and I do not forget that it was I who, in 1899,
     at the first Hague Conference, drew up and defended the resolution
     in favor of a limitation of the military load weighing on the
     world. But I do not forget either what I said before the Senate, in
     1907, after the second conference: 'As for us, confirmed partisans
     of arbitration and peace, _disarmament is a consequence, not a
     preparation_. For disarmament to be possible, one must first feel
     that one's right is secure. The security of right is what must be
     organized first of all. Behind that rampart alone, nations will be
     able to lay down their arms....

     "Let us be pacific, but let us be strong. And let us know how to
     wait. The very excess of the load weighing on Europe will
     originate, sooner than is sometimes believed, that irresistible
     movement of opinion which will cause a policy of wisdom, mutual
     respect, and real security, to become an unavoidable necessity."

The chief factor will be public opinion. Present events will, one may
hope, have served to educate public opinion throughout the world.


[252] The text of this address is reproduced exactly as it was
delivered, December 17, 1910, only a few notes and references being

[253] On this he is very insistent. He speaks of "cette disposition à la
pitié que l'égalité inspire." According to him, "les passions guerrières
deviendront plus rares et moins vives, à mesure que les conditions seront
plus égales," and elsewhere: "Lorsque le principe de l'égalité ne se
développe pas seulement chez une nation, mais en même temps chez plusieurs
peuples voisins ... ils conçoivent pour la paix un même amour ... et
finissent par considérer la guerre comme une calamité presque aussi grande
pour le vainqueur que pour le vaincu." But this goal has not yet been
reached, and in the meantime, "quel que soit le goût que ces nations aient
pour la paix, il faut bien qu'elles se tiennent prêtes à repousser la
guerre ou, en d'autres termes, qu'elles aient une armée." _Démocratie en
Amérique_, 14th ed., 1865, III, 444, 445, 473, 474.

[254] _Les six livres de la République de Jean Bodin, Angevin_, Paris,
1576; innumerable editions, so great was the success. The work is
expressly written in opposition to that of Machiavelli, "this procurer
of tyrants." Kings may be a necessity, yet the thing of the state is not
theirs, but is the common property of the citizens, _res publica_. No
one on board the ship can play the part of an onlooker, especially in
stormy weather; all on board must bestir themselves and bring such help
as they can: "Depuis que l'orage impétueux a tourmenté le vaisseau de
nostre République avec telle violence que le Patron mesme et les pilotes
sont comme las et recreus (worn out) d'un travail continuel, il faut
bien que les passagers y prestent la main, qui aux voiles, qui aux
cordages, qui à l'ancre, et ceux à qui la force manquera, qu'ils donnent
quelque bon advertissement, ou qu'ils présentent leurs vœux et prières
à Celuy qui peut commander aux vents et appaiser les tempestes, puisque
tous ensemble courent un mesme danger." (Preface, to the magistrate and
poet, the friend of Ronsard, Guy du Faur de Pibrac.) For Bodin, peace is
the ideal; yet "war must be waged to repel violence, in case of
necessity.... The frontier of a well-ordered republic is justice, and
not the point of the lance." ("La frontière d'une république bien
ordonnée est la justice ... et non pas la pointe de la lance.") Such is
the ideal, but since it has not been reached yet, the keeping up of a
permanent military force is a necessity, "and to bestow on it a third of
the revenue is not too much," especially when you have warlike
neighbors, which is the case of "peoples living in fertile and temperate
regions, like France." Bk. V, chap. 5.

[255] _De Jure Belli ac Pacis Libri III_, Paris, 1625.

[256] _Projet pour rendre la paix perpétuelle en Europe_, 1713-17, 3
vols. The abbé dreamed of a league of all governments in favor of peace;
any of them breaking the pledge, to be attacked by the others.
Differences between states should be arbitrated. A French predecessor of
the abbé had been Emeric Crucé, whose _Nouveau Cynée ou Discours d'Estat
représentant les occasions et moyens d'establir une paix générale et la
liberté du commerce par tout le monde_, was published in Paris, 1623
(modern edition, with an English translation by T.W. Balch,
Philadelphia, 1909). Crucé was in favor of the establishment at Venice
of a Supreme Court of Arbitration, in which every sovereign would have
had his representative: "If any one rebelled against the decree of so
notable a company, he would receive the disgrace of all other princes,
who would find means to bring him to reason" (Balch's ed., p. 104)--a
plan which, in fact, is still under discussion.

In connection with the works of these theorists should be read, _e.g._,
Alberico Gentili's _De Jure Belli_, 1588-98.

[257] First (and only) treaty of alliance, 1778; first treaty of amity
and commerce, 1778; first consular convention, 1788; first treaty for
the aggrandizement of the territory of the United States, 1803. The only
example lacking, and for good reasons, is that of a treaty of peace
following a war.

[258] "Thoughe they do daylie practise and exercise themselves in the
discipline of warre, and not onelie the men but also the women upon
certen appointed daies, lest they should be to seke (_inhabiles_ in the
Latin) in the feate of armes, if nede should require, yet they never go
to battell, but either in defence of their owne countrey, or to drive
out of their frendes lande the enemies that have invaded it, or by their
power to deliver from the yocke and bondage of tirannye some people,
that be therewith oppressed. Which thing they do of meere pitie and
compassion." Ralph Robinson's translation, 1st ed., 1551; ed. Arber, p.

[259] Most of them much less. In this, however, as in so many other
respects, the present war, declared by Germany against Russia, August 1,
1914 (five days before Austria could be persuaded to act likewise),
against France the 3d, against Belgium the 4th, which was tantamount to
declaring it on England too, is an exception.

[260] In connection with Washington's views, those of Franklin
concerning amicable relations between great countries may appropriately
be quoted. He wrote from Passy, on October 16, 1783, to his friend David
Hartley, one of the British plenipotentiaries for the peace: "What would
you think of a proposition, if I sh'd make it of a family compact
between England, France, and America? America would be as happy as the
Sabine girls if she could be the means of uniting in perpetual peace her
father and her husband. What repeated follies are those repeated wars!
You do not want to conquer and govern one another. Why, then, should you
continually be employed in injuring and destroying one another? How many
excellent things might have been done to promote the internal welfare of
each country; what bridges, roads, canals, and other public works and
institutions tending to the common felicity, might have been made and
established with the money and men foolishly spent during the last seven
centuries by our mad wars in doing one another mischief!" _Works_, ed.
Smythe, IX, 107.

[261] "Notwithstanding the support given to the Russian proposition by
France, one of the most martial of the nations, and by various other
governments, the objections voiced by the German delegates were too
serious to be overcome." John W. Foster, _Arbitration and The Hague
Court_, Boston, 1904, p. 32.

[262] Text, _e.g._, in the _Temps_, May 12, 1913.

       *       *       *       *       *


The spellings "Bastile" and "Bastille", "beforementioned" and
"before-mentioned", "Fraunces'" and "Fraunces's", "ibid." and "Ibid.",
"Potowmac" and "Potomac" appear in this text.

The following alterations have been made to the text:

p. 17: "it is their _interest_" amended to "it is in their

p. 127: double quotation marks added before "Taxation".

p. 142: double quotation marks added before and after "I was".

p. 201: period replaced by comma after "what any man durst".

p. 235: "dominant trait in in" amended to "dominant trait in".

p. 240: "philanthrophy" amended to "philanthropy".

p. 245: "a devil of fool" amended to "a devil of a fool".

p. 250: "postcript" amended to "postscript"; also comma deleted
after "Ternant".

p. 314: "W. Washington" amended to "G. Washington".

On p. 253 "represent for you" should perhaps be "represent you" but has
been left unchanged.

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