Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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MARBOIS, Francois de Barbe, Marquis de, French diplomatist, born in Metz, France, 31 January, 1745; died in Paris, 14 January, 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 Governor William Moore, of Pennsylvania. In 1785 he became intendant of Santo Domingo, where he administered justice with a firm hand, and reorganized the finances. A revolution in 1789 compelled him to retire, and the next year he was sent by Louis XVI. as ambassador to the German diet. In 1790 he was arrested by 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 wall-houses of his father-in-law, Moore. He presented a refutation of this charge, signed by the most influential citizens of Philadelphia, and was honorably discharged on 9 January, 1791. Having defended the council of elders, of which he was a member in 1795, against the Directory, he was exiled to Cayenne for two years and a half. On his return he became first councillor of state, 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 1812 was the first to vote for the deposition of Napoleon. Louis XVIII. created him a peer and confirmed him in the presidency of the Cour des comptes. 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 Colonel 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 "Des reflexions sur St. Dominique" (Paris, 1789); 'Complot d'Arnold et Sir Henry Clinton "contre les Etats-Unis d'Amerique" (1816" 2d ed., 1831; translated, with notes, by William B. Lawrence, Philadelphia, 1830); "Memoires de ma vie" (Paris, 1827) ; and "L'Histoire de la Louisiane et de la cession de cette colonie" (1829 : translated, with notes, by William B. Lawrence, Philadelphia, 1830).
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