George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Johann Eckstein, 28 May 1793

From Johann Eckstein

Potsdam [Prussia] 28th May, 1793.


You will please to excuse the freedom I take in addressing to you a few lines. I beg leave to make known to you that I am now at Potsdam as carver and portrait painter to the king of Prussia, and as I wish to remove myself with my wife and family to America, I am not without hopes of meeting with encouragement in that country, in my profession, under your patronage.

As the expences of travelling, and making a voyage to America are great, I should be extremely happy would your excellency be so kind as to pay my passage to Philadelphia, where I mean to spend the remainder of my days, provided I could meet your approbation. I have a son that understands architecture and Surveying to the greatest degree of perfection. I should be very happy to be enabled to get to America, that the public might have an opportunity of witnessing my ingenuity, in the line of carver and portrait painter. I therefore earnestly beg your excellency would consider my situation, and assist me in paying my passage to Philadelphia. A Letter directed to Mess. Robrahn and Hildebrandt in Hamburgh would Soon reach me.1 I Subscribe myself—&c.

John Eckstein

Translation, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; ALS, in German, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters. The original German text appears in CD-ROM:GW.

Johann (John) Eckstein (1736–1817) was a painter and sculptor at the court of Frederick the Great in the early to mid–1790s, and he was responsible for making the king’s deathmask in 1797. Several portions of the German ALS, which is signed “Joh. Eckstein,” were not translated for GW. In them Eckstein described his skills and specific works and gave details about his family.

1The mercantile firm of Robrahn & Hildebrandt was located at number 93 Alten Wandrahm in Hamburg (Neues Hamburger und Altonaer Addreß-Buch auf das Jahr 1793 [Hamburg, 1793], 181). No evidence has been found to indicate that GW responded to Eckstein’s request; however, Eckstein was residing in Philadelphia by 1801, when he applied to Thomas Jefferson for employment as the sculptor and designer of a planned monument to GW (Eckstein to Jefferson, 27 Feb. 1801, DLC: Jefferson Papers).

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