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To Alexander Hamilton from Baron von Steuben, 27 March [1794]

From Baron von Steuben1

New York ce 27 de Mars [1794]2

Je Vous Evoie Mon Cher Ami à Cachet Volant, une Lettre a Mons: King,3 avec un Memoire du Marq: de Rouvray4 Concernant Les Emigrant de St: Domingo, et des autres isles françoises.5 Si Vous avez le Loisir de Le parcourrir Vous y trouverai peut etre quelques Idee pour nous débarrasser de ces malheurcaux étranger qui deviennent à Charge aux Etats Unies.

Sans Vous importuner par ma Correspondence, je Suive à la Piste tout Vos Opération Politique, Je defend avec Vigeur la conduite de Notre Gouvernement Executif, Mais Vos plans Militare, Sur la Défence de la Ville de New-york6 Sont hors de mon pouvoir de defendre. et tout ceque je peut faire est de Garder le Silence.

je Suis le Votre


ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1H had become friends with Steuben during the American Revolution when the baron was inspector general of the Continental Army. At the close of the war Steuben settled in New York and engaged in the development of a large tract of land north of Utica which the New York legislature granted to him in 1786. He died on November 28, 1794.

2This letter is dated March 27, 1799, in JCHW description begins John C. Hamilton, ed., The Works of Alexander Hamilton (New York, 1851–1856). description ends , VI, 405.

3Steuben’s letter to Rufus King, dated March 27, 1794, is in the Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

4Laurent-François Lenoir, Marquis de Rouvray, was one of the wealthiest planters of Santo Domingo before the French Revolution. Born in 1743, he had served in Canada with the French army, was made a maréchal des camps et armées in 1788, and was a member of the Order of St. Louis and of the Society of the Cincinnati. In 1789 he was one of the deputies from Santo Domingo to the Estates-General, and in June, 1790, he returned to Santo Domingo where he took charge of one of the armies in 1791. He was forced to resign when his suggestions to the government for the deployment of fresh troops from France were considered to be counterrevolutionary. After he came to the United States, his lands in Santo Domingo were sequestered.

5Steuben is referring to refugees from the civil war in Santo Domingo. See Edmond Charles Genet to H, July 19, 1793, note 3. The United States had appropriated a small sum for the relief of the Santo Domingan refugees. See George Washington to H, March 4, 1794.

6Steuben is referring to the estimates, dated February 28, 1794, which Henry Knox made up for the use of the committee of the House of Representatives charged with the question of fortifications. The estimates are printed in ASP description begins American State Papers, Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States (Washington, 1832–1861). description ends , Military Affairs, I, 62–65, and give details for Knox’s plan for the fortification of the New York area.

A newspaper report of March 18, 1794, stated that Steuben had already examined the New York harbor to try to find “for his private satisfaction, the best place for erecting fortifications …” ([Philadelphia] Gazette of the United States & Evening Advertiser, March 19, 1794). In his letter of March 27, 1794, to King, Steuben promised to send “The Plan of the Harbor with the proposed fortifications at the Narrows” (ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress).

A copy of Steuben’s plan was enclosed in William North to H, June 7, 1798.

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