George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Steuben, 25 August 1789

From Steuben

New York Augt 25. 1789.


I beg leave to have the honor of submitting to Your perussal the copy of a Memorial, which I intend shortly to present to the Congress, accompanied by a statement of the facts and circumstances, on which I found a claim to a further compensation from the United States.1

As the first Magistrate of the Nation,2 You Sir cannot but have a peculiar sensibillity to whatever may in its consequences affect the reputation of your Country.

As the Commander of the late American Army—as the best Judge of the services rendered by me to the United States, which from your suffrage have received the most flattering, as well as the most authentic, stamp of their value and extent. And as the known friend of Justice—you will I am persuaded3 be equally solicitous that every reasonable expectation on my part should be fulfilled. How far in the one View, or in the other, my pretensions may have a title to Your patronage, I now chearfully submit to your discernment and equity.4 with the most cordial wishes for the Success of your administration and for your personal happiness and with the profoundest respect, I have the Honor to be Sir Your most Obedient and most humble Servant


LS, DNA:PCC, item 164; Df, in the writing of Alexander Hamilton, DLC: John K. Porter Autograph Collection.

Friedrich Wilhelm Ludolf Gerhard Augustin, baron von Steuben, settled in New York City after the Revolution. In the late 1780s he was extensively engaged in land speculation in northern New York and in Massachusetts and at this time was about to embark on another of his numerous attempts to secure additional compensation for his Revolutionary War services. See GW to Thomas Jefferson, 15 Mar. 1784.

1Steuben’s memorial to the United States Senate and House of Representatives, 25 Aug., pointed out that “the late Congress having adjourned without determining on his claims against the United States, he feels himself under the necessity of renewing his application upon the same subject” and recapitulated his services and the history of his claims (DNA:PCC, item 164). The petition was presented in the House on 14 Sept., referred to a committee on 21 Sept., and to Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton on 25 Sept. (DHFC, description begins Linda Grant De Pauw et al., eds. Documentary History of the First Federal Congress of the United States of America, March 4, 1789-March 3, 1791. 20 vols. to date. Baltimore, 1972—. description ends 3:206, 219, 233). Hamilton’s favorable report, 29 Mar. 1790, is in Syrett, Hamilton Papers, description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends 6:310–27). On 4 June Congress passed “An Act for finally adjusting and satisfying the claims of Frederick William de Steuben,” which allowed Steuben the sum of $2,500 a year for life (6 Stat. description begins Richard Peters, ed. The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, from the Organization of the Government in 1789, to March 3, 1845 . . .. 8 vols. Boston, 1845-67. description ends 2).

2At this point in the draft Hamilton wrote and crossed out “as well as the first Patriot.”

3Hamilton wrote in the draft “cannot but” and amended it to “well I am persuaded.”

4At this point in the draft Hamilton inserted a marginal notation “only adding that detail a picture of my present situation would present,” deleted it, and wrote “a picture of such accumulated mortification and distress as to a feeling mind forms the severest test of human fortitude.” He then deleted the entire passage.

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