Thomas Jefferson Papers

Enclosure: Will of Tadeusz Kosciuszko, 28 June 1806


Will of Tadeusz Kosciuszko

Know all men by these presents that I Tharde Kosciusko formerly an officer of the United States of America in their Revolutionary War against Great Britain, & a Native of Lituanie1 in Poland, at present residing at Paris do hereby will & direct that at my decease the sum of Three thousand seven hundred & Four Dollars Currency of the aforesaid United States shall of right be possessed by & delivered over to the full enjoyment & use of Kosciusko Armstrong the son of Genl John Armstrong Minister Plenipotentiary of said States at Paris; for the security & performance whereof, I do hereby instruct and authorize my only lawful Executor in the said United States, Thomas Jefferson President thereof to reserve in trust for that special purpose, of the Funds he already holds belonging to me, the aforesaid sum of Three thousand seven hundred & four Dollars in principal to be paid by him the said Thomas Jefferson immediately after my decease to him the aforesaid Kosciusko Armstrong & in case of his death to the use & benefit of his surviving Brothers.2

Given under my hand & seal at Paris this twenty eighth day of June One thousand eight hundred & six.

Thade Kosciuszko

In presence of

Charles Carter,

James M Morris

MS (DNA: RG 21, CCDCCR, old series case files, 1801–78, box 23, case 913); in an unidentified hand, signed by Kosciuszko, Carter, and Morris; sealed by Kosciuszko; beneath text in a second unidentified hand, signed and sealed by Fulwar Skipwith: “Commercial Agency of the United-States—Paris On this Twenty eighth day of June in the year of our Lord One Thousand Eight hundred and Six and of the Independance of the United States of America The Thirtieth, before the undersigned: commercial Agent & Agent of Prize-Causes for the United States of America at Paris, personally appeared Thadé Kosciuszko, late officer of the Said United States, who in his presence Signed & Sealed the foregoing Transfer in favor of Kosciuszko Armstrong the Son of Genl John Armstrong Minister Plenipotentiary of the United-States at Paris & in Case of his Death to the use & benefit of his Surviving Brothers, & did acknowledge it as his own Act & Deed for the purposes therein Specified.— In Testimony whereof he the Said undersigned as aforesaid has hereunto Signed his Name & affixed his Seal of office at Paris the day & year above written./.” Tr (DNA: RG 267, SCACF, box 141, case 1303, Armstrong v. Lear); at head of text: “Complainants Exhibit, A”; docketed as filed 15 Mar. 1824 and affirmed 21 Feb. 1827. Tr (DNA: RG 21, CCDCCR, Chancery Dockets and Rules Case Files, 1804–63, Rules 4, box 151, case 547); with 8 Jan. 1840 attestation, seal, and signature of Edward N. Roach, register of wills. Tr (same), with Roach’s 26 Sept. 1848 attestation and signature. Printed in U.S. Reports description begins Cases Argued and Decided in the Supreme Court of the United States, 1790–  (title varies; originally issued in distinct editions of separately numbered volumes with U.S. Reports volume numbers retroactively assigned; original volume numbers here given parenthetically) description ends 25 (Wheaton 12), 170. Enclosed in TJ to William Wirt, 5 Feb. 1820.

This was one of several wills left by Kosciuszko at his death. TJ excused himself from acting as executor of Kosciuszko’s American estate in 1819. Benjamin L. Lear succeeded TJ as executor. James Kosciuszko Armstrong pursued his claim against Lear, but the United States Supreme Court decided in 1827 that the will could not be acted on until it was admitted to probate. Armstrong then joined with other claimants and had the will proved in the Orphans’ Court of the District of Columbia. This action, too, was appealed in 1834 to the Supreme Court, which remanded the case to a lower court pending further investigation into French and other applicable international laws, Kosciuszko’s domicile at the time of his death, and the claims of others on his American assets. In 1852 the Supreme Court finally declared that an 1816 will revoked both the 1806 and a 1798 will and that Kosciuszko had died intestate as regarded his American funds (Louis Ottenberg, “A Testamentary Tragedy: Jefferson and the Wills of General Kosciuszko,” American Bar Association Journal 44 [1958]: 22–6; James S. Pula, Thaddeus Kościuszko: The Purest Son of Liberty [1999], 287–99; PTJ description begins Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 1950– , 41 vols. description ends , 30:333n).

1MS, RG 267 Tr and 1st RG 21 Tr: “Liloanie.” 2d RG 21 Tr: “Lithuania” (the anglicized form of the French “Lituanie”). Printed text: “Liloane.”

2Printed text: “brother.”

Index Entries

  • Armstrong, James Kosciuszko; and T. Kosciuszko’s estate search
  • Armstrong, John; family of search
  • Carter, Charles; witnesses document search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Business & Financial Affairs; and T. Kosciuszko’s estate search
  • Kosciuszko, Tadeusz (Thaddeus) Andrzej Bonawentura; estate of search
  • Kosciuszko, Tadeusz (Thaddeus) Andrzej Bonawentura; wills of search
  • Lear, Benjamin Lincoln; and T. Kosciuszko’s estate search
  • Morris, James M.; witnesses document search
  • Skipwith, Fulwar; and T. Kosciuszko’s will search
  • Supreme Court, U.S.; and T. Kosciuszko’s estate search
  • Washington, D.C.; Orphans’ Court of the District of Columbia search