To James McHenry
[New York, January 19, 1797]
My Dear Sir
This will probably be handed you by Mrs De Neuville widow of Mr. De Neuville of Holland a Gentleman who embarked very zealously and very early in the cause of this country—was instrumental in promoting it and as I understand an object of persecution in consequence of it, which was a link in the chain of his pecuniary ruin.1 I think his widow has a strong claim upon the kindness of our country as far as general considerations will admit relief—and she has a particular claim upon every body’s good will, that of being a distressed & amiable woman. I ask for her your patronage & good offices.2 Adieu My Dr. Friend
J. McHenry Esqr &c
ALS, New-York Historical Society, New York City.
1. Anna de Neufville, a resident of Boston, was the widow of John de Neufville of Amsterdam. The firm of John de Neufville and Son had been the Holland agents of the Continental Congress for refitting John Paul Jones’s squadron in 1779 and had also attempted to help John Adams in his efforts to obtain a loan for the United States in 1780.
On February 3, 1797, the House of Representatives received a “memorial of Anna de Neufville, widow of John de Neufville, deceased, formerly a merchant in the city of Amsterdam, in behalf of herself and her infant daughter …, praying compensation for services rendered, and losses sustained by the deceased, in support of the American cause, during the late war” (Journal of the House description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States (Washington, 1826). description ends , II, 678). On March 2, 1797, Congress passed an act authorizing the President “to cause to be paid … the sum of one thousand dollars to Anna de Neufville, widow of the said John de Neufville; a like sum for the use of Leonard de Neufville, his son; and a like sum for the use of Anna de Neufville, his infant daughter” (6 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America [Private Statutes] (Boston, 1846). description ends 29). The Treasury warrant to Mme Neufville was issued on March 17, 1797 (D, RG 217, Miscellaneous Treasury Accounts, 1790–1894, Account No. 8721, National Archives). Leonard, the older of the Neufville children, had been his father’s partner (Tobias Lear to H, September 21, 1789) and was now insane. An order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, dated March 10, 1798, which placed him in the custody of Théophile Cazenove of Philadelphia, stated that he had been insane for more than two years and that he had “one Sister of the half Blood aged about twelve years resident in Boston” (D, RG 217, Miscellaneous Treasury Accounts, 1790–1894, Account No. 9658, National Archives). It appears from this order that Cazenove had attempted to have Leonard de Neufville transferred to the custody of Stephen Higginson of Boston. The warrant for Leonard de Neufville’s share of the award was issued on April 11, 1798 (D, RG 217, Miscellaneous Treasury Accounts, 1790–1894, Account No. 9658, National Archives). John de Neufville’s account with the United States was finally settled on March 3, 1851, when Congress passed the following joint resolution: “That the Secretary of the Treasury be, and he is hereby, directed to examine and adjust the accounts of John De Neufville and Son, merchants of Amsterdam, with the United States, and pay any balance which may be found to be due to said firm, to the party or parties legally entitled to receive the same: Provided, That the amount to be paid shall not exceed the sum of eight thousand seven hundred and sixty-seven dollars and sixty cents, with interest from the thirty-first day of May, seventeen hundred and eighty-two, to the first day of July, eighteen hundred and thirty-two, at the rate of five per centum per annum, deducting all payments heretofore made” (9 Stat. description begins The Statutes at Large and Treaties of the United States of America (Boston, 1851). description ends 814).
2. During her visit in Philadelphia, Anna de Neufville sought the assistance of several prominent men including George Washington and Representative Robert G. Harper of South Carolina. See Washington to H, January 22, 1797; Harper to Andrew Craigie, January 24, 1797 (ALS, New-York Historical Society, New York City).