To Elbridge Gerry
[New York, September 6, 1788]
I am a member of a Committee, to whom the Baron De Steuben’s application to Congress1 founded upon a certain statement supported among other testimonials by a certificate from you, has been referred.2 Among the papers committed to us is the copy of a written report made by the Committee appointed to confer with the Baron at York Town.3 As this report is of a nature to create difficulties in the case, I have thought proper to inclose it for your perusal and shall be obliged to you for any explanations which may serve to throw further light on the subject.4
I remain with esteem & regard Sir Yr. Obed serv
E. Gerry Esqr.
ALS, Yale University Library.
2. Gerry was a member of the Continental Congress which early in 1778 had accepted the services of von Steuben in the American Army. Gerry’s “certificate,” dated November 23, 1785, stated that he “has considered the claim of the Baron, for a full indemnification and compensation, as a claim of justice founded in the verbal contract of the parties.” Gerry’s statement appeared in a pamphlet, privately printed by von Steuben, giving an account of his claims against the United States. The pamphlet is in the Papers of the Continental Congress, National Archives.
3. Soon after the arrival of the Baron in the United States, he went to York, Pennsylvania, then the seat of Congress, where a committee of the Continental Congress consisting of John Witherspoon, John Henry, Thomas McKean, and Francis Lightfoot Lee was appointed to confer with him. The committee, after talking with the Baron, informed Congress that as von Steuben “heard before he left France, of the dissatisfaction of the Americans with the promotion of Foreign Officers” he made “no terms, nor will accept of anything but with general approbation.” The committee report is in the Papers of the Continental Congress, National Archives.
4. In the report made by the committee of which H was a member, Gerry’s reply, dated September 8, 1788, was quoted. See the committee report on von Steuben’s claim dated September 11, 1788, JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (Washington, 1904–1937). description ends , XXXIV, 510–12.