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Forwards Lafayette's Military Proceedings; Requests History of Revolution; Trade Politics with France & England

Sources & Images
Source Name Image(s)
CollectionLibrary of Congress: MMC, McHenry, James view image
MicrofilmJames McHenry Papers (no image)
Document Information
Date August 1, 1785
Author Name James McHenry (primary) Location: New York
Recipient Name George Washington (primary)
Summary Sends the "military and patriotic proceedings" of the Marquis de Lafayette. Requests history of Lafayette for Doctor Gordon for inclusion in an upcoming account of the American Revolution. Expresses opinions about trade politics with France and England.
Document Format Autograph Letter Signed
Document Notes [not available]
Content Notes [not available]
Related Persons/Groups George Washington; James McHenry; Doctor Gordon; Marquis de Lafayette; Congress; French; English; ;
Related Places New York; France; Great Britain; West India;
Keywords imports; navy; shipping; trade; nobleman; history; war; navigation act; ;
Key Phrases It is incumbent upon history to render her aid in paying a debt to those characters which America cannot pay.

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New York 1 Augt. 1785
Dr. Sir.
Whilst the Marquis de la Fayette was on his late visit to this country he suggested to me that if I could recollect that aim of his military proceedings and commit them into paper, that you would send them to Doctor Gordon, who was engaged in writing a history of the revolution; at least so I understood him on this Strike-through text occasion, for it being delicate I did not seek explanation. --My desire that the military and patriotic proceedings of the Marquis may be truly stated by the Doctor, has been a further in-ducement with me to execute his wish notwithstanding it interfered with my other avocations. I have therefore comprehended in the inclosed [undecipherable] every material feature of that noblemans history, [undecipherable] as the same is connected with our revolution, which I hope you will introduce to Doctor Gordon in such a manner as may render it of utility to his undertaking. It is incumbent upon history to render her and in in paying a debt to those characters which America cannot pay.
The Marquis wishes by every packet such information as he thinks may be of service to the union, and frequently tells Congress what they do not hear from any other quarter, and does them acts of kindness which no other person could do them. The court of France (through his mediation I imagine) has ordered them change his affairs to withdraw the demand made come time since for the surrending of Lonchamp, which relieves Congress from much embarrassment. Yet one can see
that the French court is not pleased and hence that we are not likely very soon to have a French minister [undecipherable] Congress do something more than [undecipherable] has been to satisfy the insult. Strike-through text
Since I have [undecipherable] congressional politics I must take the liberty to detain you a little longer. Congress have [undecipherable] to the several States to vest them with the power of regulating the trade in the States [undecipherable] with each other as with foreign nations. This power constituted a part of that [undecipherable] and to be exercised by nine States in Congress assembled. Its object to enable congress to cary as heavy duties and restrictions [undecipherable] the trade of foreign nations, as foreign nations lay the trade of the United States. I apprehend that both the serious and interest of the southern States will be found to be opposed to granting this power. I believe the Easter States in York & Pennsylvania are exceedingly anxious for it; but I do not wonder at their anxiety to obtain a monopoly of the carrying trade of the union. Strike-through text What would be the consequence in foreign vessels to be restricted from carrying out [undecipherable] to the Southern States in particular. Strike-through text They would for example Strike-through text having only American vessels to carry off their products haveStrike-through text fewer purchases for them -- hence, their prices Strike-through text would unavoidable be lowered Strike-through text. They would also have less foreign goods imported, which would oblige the consumers to pay dearer for what they must Strike-through text. It would seem therefore to be [undecipherable] in the Southern States, to [undecipherable] for what they have to sell, Strike-through text when a naval defence would be easily established, or would some [undecipherable] without the aid of restrictions. In the mean
while however it may be said, that we ought to lay a foun-dation for a marine Strike-through text, and therefore ought to begin by discouraging foreign shipping and encouraging our own, for that the [undecipherable]Small Text from buying what we want [undecipherable] & selling what we [undecipherable] dear will avail us nothing without a navy to protect them. But is it true that a navy is at present necessary? Strike-through text and if necessary, is it true that our people could go to the expence of supporting it? Would it be right to Strike-through text add to our present burthens; can we pay our present debts? Are we in a situation to enter into a war of imports and prohibitions to force Great Britain or France to open Small Text to our shipping their West India possessions? Strike-through text Have we shipping enough to carry on our exports and imports? When Great Britain passed the navigation act she had in her harbours more than a sufficient number of vessels for her own trade. Great Britain too was well peopled at that period [undecipherable] the capital of her merch-ants [undecipherable] to the exportation Small Text purchase of her products. but our situation is different in both respects, and yet it is said we ought to force a navy,that we ought to prohibit British ships from exporting out products. Perhaps the point of true policy lays between forcing the growth of our shipping and oing nothing to forward their increase. Perhaps the Southern States should give up something, and the other States should not ask everything. Were Congress under the latter idea to frame a navigation act, the operation of which would gradually Small Text and slowly tend to augment the seamen and shipping of the States without sesnsible wounding in tis pro-gress the interests of any State, and recommend the same to their adoption, is it not highly probable in such a case that they Small Text the good sense of the States would readily come into Small Text induce them to the measure. they would see what they were to give -- that it could not hurt
them, and that it might work a general benefitStrike-through text. --They could repeal it too if it was found to hurt them which alone would be a great inducement with some States to pass it. You will excuse me for being particularly [undecipherable] the subject Strike-through text[undecipherable] the most interesting, and that [undecipherable] me to it,Strike-through text well knowing Strike-through text that although you have withdrawn yourself from public employments yet that ther is nothing so near to the heart as the public welfare.
With respectful compliments to Mrs. Washington and [undecipherable] for your health
I am very sincerely [undecipherable]
[undecipherable] to Geor Washington Your [undecipherable]
James McHenry