Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Marbois, Francois de Barbe

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MARBOIS, Francois de Barbe, Marquis de. French diplomatist, b. in Metz, France, 31 Jan., 1745 ; d. in Paris, 14 Jan., 1837. His father was director of the mint at Metz. The son excelled in literary studies and in jurisprudence, and at an early age was appointed tutor to the children of the Marquis de Castries, minister of marine, through whom he obtained in 1779 the post of secretary of legation to the United States during the Revolution. Marbois was the principal agent in the most important operations of the embassy, and, on the return of Luzerne to France, remained in this country as charge d'affaires until 1785, and organized all the French consulates in the United States. He married in Philadelphia, in 1783, the daughter of Gov. William Moore, of Pennsylvania. In 1785 he became intendant of Santo Domingo, where he administered justice with a firm hand, and reorganized the finances. The troubles in 1789 induced him to retire, and in 1792 he was sent by Louis XYI. as ambassador to the German diet. In 1790 he was summoned before the constituent assembly as being a party to the famous "Pacte de famine," or wheat-ring, and as having stored enormous quantities of that grain in the warehouses of his father-in-law, Moore. He presented a refutation of this charge, signed by the most influential citizens of Philadelphia. In September, 1797, the Republican members, who composed the minority of the two assemblies, condemned Marbois, with 52 other deputies, to be transported to Guiana, but no true bill of indictment was found agamsthira. On his return he became first councillor of state in 1800, and in 1801 secretary of the treasury. In 1803 he was appointed to cede Louisiana to the United States for 50,000,000 francs, but was successful in obtaining 80.000,000, a diplomatic measure for which he was liberally rewarded by Napoleon. He was president of the Cour des comptes in 1808, senator in 1813-'14, and in 1814 was the first to vote for the deposition of Napoleon. Louis XVIII. created him a peer. He was keeper of the seals in 1815-'16, and soon afterward was created marquis. Just before Lafayette's death Marbois invited him, with the American minister and several of the latter's compatriots, including Col. Nicolas Fish, to dine with him. Before the repast the company was shown into a room that was in strong contrast with the other elegant apartments. It looked like a large room in a Dutch or Belgian farm-house. On a long, rough table was spread a dinner in keeping with the room: a single dish of meat, uncouth pastry, and wine in bottles and decanters, accompanied by glasses and silver goblets. "Do you know where we are'?" said Marbois to Lafayette and the other guests. The marquis looked at the low ceiling with its heavy, bare beams, and, after a brief pause, exclaimed: "Ah! the seven doors, and the one window, and the silver goblets, such as the marshal of France used in my youth! My friends, we are in Washington's headquarters on the Hudson fifty years ago." Marbois published ^several essays on agriculture and finance, and "Etatdes finances de Saint Domingue " (Port au Prince, 1788); "Reflexions sur la colonie de St. Domingue" (Paris, 1796); "Complot d'Arnold et de Sir Henry Clinton contre les Etats-Unis d'Amerique" (1816; translated, with notes, by William B. Lawrence, Philadelphia, 1830); "L'Histoire de la Louisiane et de la cession de cette colonie" (1828; translated, with notes, by William B. Lawrence, Philadelphia, 1830); and "Memoires de ma vie" (2 vols., Paris, 1835).