George Washington Papers
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From George Washington to Bouvinghausen, 18 November 1795

To Bouvinghausen

United States, Philadelphia Novr 18. 1795,


I received your Excellency’s letter dated at Stoutgard the 10th of June last, in which you ask my aid in securing to you the payment of certain legacies which you represent to have been destined for yourself, your three sons, & Mr Franc, by the will of the late major general baron de Steuben, my highly valued friend.1

Immediately on the receipt of your letter, I caused enquiry to be made about the subject of it; and lose no time to transmit to you the result. This you will find in the inclosed letter from Colonel Pickering (Secretary of War) to Colo. Benjamin Walker, in his answer, and in a copy of the Baron’s last will.2

If the fortune of the Baron de Steuben had been as ample as his heart was benevolent, none of his friends would have been omitted in the dispositions of his will. I have the honour to be, with great consideration & respect, your Excellency’s most obedient servant,

Df, in the writing of Timothy Pickering, DLC:GW; LB, DLC:GW. Baron Alexander Maximilian Friedrich von Bouvinghausen von Wallmerode (Bouwinghausen; 1728–1796) identified himself in his letter to GW of 10 June as “Lieutt General-Head of a Regiment of Hussars, in the service of the reigning Duke of Wertemberg in Souabia” (translation, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters).

1Bouvinghausen’s letter to GW of 10 June (in French) is in the Pickering Papers at MHi. The translation in DNA reads in part: “Your Excellency will be pleased to permit me to intrude a moment on your as glorious as important functions. I should hesitate to do this, if the matter in question were not to retrace to your great mind the memory of a meritorious man, whom your Excellency honored with your esteem and benevolence, and who was at the same time my intimate friend—that of the late major General de Steuben, who died on the 28 November 1794. A considerable time before his death he himself transmitted to me a copy of his Will, in which I find that your Excellency has been pleased to undertake to be the first testamentary Executor, conjointly with Colonel Everhard Mead; Colonel John [Benjamin] Walker is also mentioned therein as Trustee. This venerable and worthy friend, Steuben, has thought proper on this occasion to think of me, by leaving me a golden snuff box, of the value of 50 Guineas (Louis), with a legacy of 200 Louis for each of my 3 sons; of whose baptism I take the liberty of inclosing an extract.

“Mr Franc an intimate Counsellor of the Prince of HohenZollen, also charges me with his interests, and I produce his power of attorney for the legacy of 400 Louis d’or which should be received by him according to the tenor of the said Will.

“Your Excellency will pardon me for addressing you immediately and requesting the necessary information for drawing those several legacies and putting myself in possession of them.

“In order to avoid delay on account of the considerable distance which we are from each other; I venture to request your Excellency will be pleased to give orders that the payments may be made in the least expensive manner, either by the way of London, or by any other mode which shall appear to your Excellency to be more proper.”

A notarized certificate of 30 April, enclosed with Bouvinghausen’s letter of 10 June, identifies his sons (MHi: Pickering Papers). Franz Maximilian Friedrich, Baron Bouvinghausen (1753–1813), was a colonel and adjutant general of the Württemberg cavalry; Gottfried Maximilian Friedrich, Baron Bouvinghausen (1766–1796), was a captain of a regiment in the service of the margrave of Baden; and Carl Friedrich Christian, Baron Bouvinghausen (1771–1825), was a student of medical science.

Daniel Marianus Frank (1723–1800) was chancellor to the prince of Hohenzollern.

2Pickering wrote to Benjamin Walker on 9 Nov., enclosing a translation of Bouvinghausen’s letter and requesting for GW “full information respecting Baron Bouvinghausen’s demands of legacies.” Walker replied to Pickering on 14 Nov., enclosing a copy of Steuben’s will and adding that the value of Steuben’s estate, mostly in land, was estimated at $16,000, but that Walker expected “his Debts will swallow up every thing” (both MHi: Pickering Papers). A copy of the will, dated 12 Feb. 1794, is in MHi: Pickering Papers. It makes none of the bequests described by Bouvinghausen.

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