Leray de Chaumont Correspondence

Image result for Jacques-Donatien Le Ray de Chaumont

Image from Domaine de Chaumont sur-Loire

List of Names of Authors and Recipients

List of Letters in Chronological Order

Jacques-Donatien Leray de Chaumont (1725-1803) was born in the city of Nantes of Brittany, France to parents Rene-François Leray de La Clartais and Françoise Bouvet.

He was a very wealthy aristocrat from France who was considered one of the “Fathers of the American Revolution” due to his financial assistance to the United States during the war.

Chaumont rose to wealth with several successful business endeavors such as shipping goods in the 1750s and glassmaking and ceramics workshops in the late 1760s and early 1770s.

During the American Revolution, Chaumont served as the intendant of the Hotel des Invalides, the French veterans' hospital, in Paris and the Grand Master of Waters and Lands of Blois under King Louis XVI of France at the Court of Versailles.

Due to both his wealth and political influence, Chaumont worked as a liaison between the government of France and the American government to encourage and aid its involement the American Revolution (Wikipedia par. 4).

To further this agenda, Benjamin Franklin was sent to Paris, France in December of 1776 to obtain aid for America. During this time, Franklin became friends with Chaumont and stayed in Chaumont’s home in Passy, which was just outside of Paris, for several years.  This friendship resulted in Chaumont helping Franklin obtain both financial and military aid for America from France (par. 5).

Chaumont also worked with John Adams, the Marquis de Lafayette, and the Comte de Vergennes, French minister of Foreign Affairs, during the American Revolution.  Chaumont provided his own funds (most were reimbursed) to purchase weapons, supplies, and clothing for the American forces and worked with French Admiral Charles-Hector Estaing to convert a merchant vessel to a warship for Captain John Paul Jones’s use (par. 6).

After the war was over, Chaumont’s son James (1760-1840) moved to America in 1785 where he purchased land in New York and Pennsylvania (in which several towns are named after him) (par. 8).

This collection of 62 letters consists of correspondence between Chaumont, Franklin, Lafayette, Minister de Sartines, secretary of the French navy,Vergennes, and other historical figures.  After Chaumont’s death, James received several letters from Lafayette as well as Rochambeau.

St. Bonaventure University purchased this collection from La Marquise de Bausset, who was the heir of the last direct descendant of Chaumont, in 1955 for the total of five thousand dollars with a gift received by the university from the Altman Foundation.


Wikipedia- Jacques-Donatien_Le_Ray_de_Chaumont

France and America in the Revolutionary Era by Thomas J. Schaeper

Chaumont Home Page

Archives Home Page