[WASHINGTON]. ROBESPIERRE, Maximilien Marie Isidore (1758-94). Letter of state signed ("Robespierre") TO GEORGES WASHINGTON, "President du Congrs des tats Unis de Amerique," on behalf of "les represntants du peuple franaise, Membres du Comit de Salut public," also signed by Lazare Carnot (1753-1823), C.-A. le Prieur, Bertrand Barre (1755-1841), Jean Marie Collot d'Herbois (1750-1796), Jacques Billaud Varennes (1756-1819), J.-B. Robert Lindet (1746-1825), Georges Couthon (1755-1794), and Jeanbon de St. Andr of the Comit de Salut Public, Paris, 22 pluvoise an 2 [10-11 February 1794].
2 pages, large folio, (14 x 9 3/8 in.), in a large clerical hand, the first page headed "Libert Egalit ou la Mort," with large allegorical engraved vignette, small ownership stamp on blank page 4, bound with transcription in a red cloth album. verso with endorsement of former Secretary of State THOMAS JEFFERSON: "French Republic recd. Ap. 19 1794."
DIPLOMATIC TENSIONS BETWEEN TWO REPUBLICS: FRANCE'S REVOLUTIONARY GOVERNMENT DEMANDS THE RECALL OF THE AMERICAN MINISTER, GOUVERNEUR MORRIS
Morris's repeated grants of asylum to citoyens designated for the guillotine, put him in the bad graces of Robespierre and hi Second Committee for Public Safety, in whose name the document is drafted.
The committee points out--in high-flown revolutionary prose--that "The conceit of a despot is easily compromised, but the majesty, the dignity of a republic, and the majesty of the people is inviolable." They remind Washington of a recent furor in the Unites States over the actions of Edmond Charles Genet, France's former emissary to the US, dismissed at Washington's request: "the envoy sent to you by a factious and corrupt minister," was in fact "an unfaithful agent and a slave of his accomplices," who "wanted to disrupt our friendship."
Finally, the Committee lays out the crux of their complaint. In light of the long-term friendship between France and the United States (dating back to the alliance of 1778), they report that the Committee has "powerful reasons to be dissatisfied with your ambassador. Morris has conducted himself in a reprehensible way. He has given asylum to conspirators. All his proceeedings he has stamped a character far from the one he should have displayed, out of respect for the Republic..." Granting Washington, "the full measure of our trust and esteem," the Committee asks that the President "accept our complaints in the very same spirit. On the basis of principles as well as sentiments our relations ought to be ever-lasting, inviolable and sacred."
Morris's recall was a retaliatory measure in reaction to American treatment of Edmond Charles Genet ("Citizen Genet"), 1763-1834, had been sent by the Girodin-controlled French government as French charg d'affaires to the U.S. He actively encouraged Americans to aid revolutionary France against Britain, and, after he had stirred up considerable controversy, Washington finally asked for his recall. Immediately on receipt of this letter, Washington acted to remove Morris and appointed James Monroe in his place, an appointment confirmed by the Senate on 27 May. Provenance: Mrs. Philip D. Sang, (sale, Sotheby's, 31 October 1985, lot 179).