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Reception of the French Minister

From Diary of the American Revolution, Vol II. Compiled by Frank Moore and published in 1859.

August 6.—This being the day appointed by Congress for the reception of Sieur Gerard, Minister Plenipotentiary from his Most Christian Majesty, that Minister received audience accordingly. In pursuance of the ceremonial established by Congress, the Honorable Richard Henry Lee, Esquire, one of the Delegates from Virginia, and the Honorable Samuel Adams, Esquire, one of the Delegates from Massachusetts Bay, in a coach and six provided by Congress, waited upon the Minister at his house. In a few minutes, the Minister and the two delegates entered the coach, Mr. Lee placing himself at the Minister’s left hand on the back seat, Mr. Adams occupying the front seat. The Minister’s chariot being behind, received his secretary. The carriages being arrived at the State House, Philadelphia, the two members of Congress, placing themselves at the Minister’s left hand, a little before one o’clock, introduced him to his chair in the Congress chamber, the President and Congress sitting; the chair was placed fronting the President. The Minister being seated, he gave his credentials into the hand of his Secretary, who advanced and delivered them to the President. The Secretary of Congress then read and translated them, which being done, Mr. Lee announced the Minister to the President and Congress; at this time, the President, the Congress, and the Minister rose together; he bowed to the President and Congress, they bowed to him; whereupon the whole seated themselves. In a moment the Minister arose and made a speech to the Congress, they sitting. The speech to the Congress being finished, the Minister sat down, and giving a copy of his speech to his Secretary, he presented it to the President. The President and the Congress then rose, and the President pronounced their answer to the speech, the Minister standing. The answer being ended, the whole were again seated, and the President giving a copy of the answer to the Secretary of the Congress, he presented it to the Minister. The President, the Congress, and the Minister then again arose together. The Minister bowed to the President, who returned the salute, and then to the Congress, who also bowed in return. The Minister, having again bowed to the President, and received his bow, he withdrew, and was attended home in the same manner in which he had been conducted to the audience.

Within the bar of the house, the Congress formed a semicircle on each side of the President and the Minister: the President sitting at one extremity of the circle, at a table upon a platform elevated two steps, the Minister sitting at the opposite extremity of the circle, in an arm chair, upon the same level with the Congress. The door of the Congress chamber being thrown open, below the bar, about two hundred gentlemen were admitted to the audience, among whom were the Vice-President of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania, the Supreme Executive Council, the Speaker and Members of the House of Assembly, several foreigners of distinction, and officers of the army.

Thus has a new and noble sight been exhibited in this new world— the representatives of the United States of America, solemnly giving public audience to a Minister Plenipotentiary from the most powerful prince in Europe. Four years ago, such an event, at so near a day, was not in the view even of imagination: but it is the Almighty who raiseth up; he hath stationed America among the powers of the earth, and clothed her in robes of sovereignty.

The audience being over, the Congress and the Minister, at a proper hour, repaired to an entertainment by Congress, given to the Minister, at which were present, by invitation, several foreigners of distinction, and gentlemen of public character. The entertainment was conducted with a decorum suited to the occasion, and gave the most perfect satisfaction to the whole company.1


1 New York Journal, August 24.