155
155
Steuben, Friedrich Wilhelm Augustus, Baron von
Estimate
12,00018,000
JUMP TO LOT
155
Steuben, Friedrich Wilhelm Augustus, Baron von
Estimate
12,00018,000
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

The JAMES S. COPLEY LIBRARY: MAGNIFICENT AMERICAN HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS: FIRST SELECTION

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New York

Steuben, Friedrich Wilhelm Augustus, Baron von
"Memoire pour M: le comte de Vergennes," autograph draft manuscript, signed in the text, 4 pages on a bifolium (12 3/4 x 8 1/4 in.; 324 x 210 mm), [Headquarters, Newburgh, New York, ?December 1782], separate cut signature pasted on last page; formerly folded, guarded in gutter margin which is yet separating, a few small stains touching several words, tear at foot of first leaf affecting a few words on second page, numerous authorial corrections and ink smudges. Blue half-morocco drop-box, gilt-stamped gray morocco title label on spine.
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Literature

Partially printed in translation in F. Kapp, Life of Frederick William von Steuben (1859), pp. 682-683, and in J.B. Doyle, Frederick William von Steuben and the American Revolution (1913), p. 291

Catalogue Note

Baron von Steuben campaigns for financial support: "It will be the reward of an old soldier who has sacrificed all to attain so interesting an object as the independence of America."

As the war was winding down, Von Steuben was, like many officers,  naturally thinking about his future and a return to civilian life. His was a peculiar position as a foreigner without a country. French officers had their permanent positions and pensions, while the Americans could look forward to business and professional life, but Von Steuben's profession had been solely military, pursued in a foreign country. In the latter part of 1782 he began writing to various French officials, Luzerne, Chattelux, and Vergennes, on his prospects. A letter sent to Vergennes through Chattelux was accompanied by a memorial recounting his service both in Europe and in America. The present manuscript is a draft of that memorial.

The memorial discusses his appointment as grand marshal to the Prince of Hohenzollern in 1764, honors conferred on him by the Margrave of Baden in 1767, his negotiations in 1777 with the French Minister of War, the Count de St. Germain, about serving in America, and his discussions with the American agents Benjamin Franklin and Silas Deane. He tells of being introduced to them by Beaumarchais, spurning their offer, then of being persuaded by Beaumarchais to accept and serve in the Continental Army. He relates his arrival in America in December 1777, his promotion by Congress to Major General, and his training of American troops.

He explains that he intends to return and "end my days in the states of His Majesty." In fact, he became an American citizen in 1784 and lived out his life in New York City and on a farm, given him by the state, in Oneida County.

The JAMES S. COPLEY LIBRARY: MAGNIFICENT AMERICAN HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS: FIRST SELECTION

|
New York