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Letter from a French officer in America to a French nobleman in Paris



Philadelphia, July 5, 1776.

MY LORD: After the permission you were pleased to grant me to come to this country, I am at last arrived; not without many dangers and great expense. I found here a happy people, averse to oppression, without any spirit of sedition, active and laborious, with all the necessary qualifications required to the foundation of a powerful Republick, able to support itself without the assistance of Europe. This immense country possesses all advantages, and its true riches consist in the produce of its soil. It is, as yet, in its infancy; but still it is a vigorous child, that, in reality, has no more need of its mother nor its neighbours, provided it never meddle with the balance of Europe. Perhaps, my Lord, you will not consider these things in the light I do; but this country might be the greatest market for our manufactures, could we once give those people a taste for those which we have in great abundance, and with which Great Britain used to furnish them, to the amount of immense sums. I found the people generally inclined for absolute independency, and willing to support it with their lives and fortunes. I was surprised to see their troops exercise and manoeuvre as well as they do; and were they not animated by the love of liberty, they would be an unparalleled prodigy; but when that takes place, all wonder ceases. I visited many of their fortifications, which have been raised with an amazing celerity. I never knew so many, and such good works, performed in so short a time. I was accompanied in this tour by several General Officers, particularly by Majors General Putnam and Gates, and a Member of the Congress. I told them my opinion of those works, and I have been desired to raise some necessary ones here where they are required.

This Government, its form, its liberty, are so similar to that of the ancient and once happy people of Bretagne, (the country of my nativity,) that I am delighted with it. And,


if I can be useful to the United States, I intend to end my days in them. I shall regard my original country and its subjects as my family; and if I can be useful to them, and anything advantageous to the American States, and equally agreeable to France, could be proposed here, I would undertake to offer it with the greatest pleasure, without requiring from the King of France either honours, pecuniary rewards, or any other mark of gratitude. All my satisfaction would consist in the inward feelings of my soul if I could once, by my endeavours, set on foot a commercial correspondence — equally beneficial to my former country and that which I now adopt. You will imagine, my Lord, that I am too hasty; but permit me to assure you, that after mature deliberation, and positive information of the strength of America, I am convinced they are able to resist against all their enemies. If the Americans have not the greatest knowledge in the art of war, they have great advantages from the situation of their country, undaunted courage, determined resolution, and the best and most glorious cause. Nothing will be able to divide them. Every precaution is taken against their interior enemies, whose number is insignificant. Such a solemn and well supported resolution gives me the highest opinion of these privileged souls, who defend their rights without ostentation or faction, and who desire only liberty and independency. They already feel that such a state is not a chimera, as too generally thought in Europe, Switzerland excepted.

I have the honour, my Lord, to enclose you the Declaration of Independency, published yesterday by the honourable the Congress of the United American States, and to prevent the danger of my letter miscarrying, shall send it by duplicate.

I have the honour to be, with respect, my Lord, your most humble and most obedient servant.