George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Jacob Gerhard Diriks, 24 January 1785

From Jacob Gerhard Diriks

New-York 24th Jany 1785


The honor of having served under your Excellency engages me, arrived in America lately, to take a view of the States made happy by a peace, after a war ended with glory under you—to testify my great respect for you, as the Officer, under whose auspices, I received my Military Education—How happy should I be, if I could in person renew the acknowledgements I so justly owe you—But the distance of your dwelling, the rude season of the year, wc. renders travelling difficult, the little time I have to stay, before my departure for Holland, my country; and my business with Congress assembled here all deprive me of this pleasure. Your Excellency will permit me I hope to sollicit a continuation of your former kindness—I was once honored with it, and this engages me the more, still to sollicit it—Yes Sir, I feel my bosom animated on this present occasion, with the same fire as formerly; and I desire nothing, but to be able to be useful to my Country; at present menaced by a neighbouring power—Your Excellency, as my General, is acquainted with my conduct in the American war—If then you will be pleased to favor me with a letter to the count de Maasdam, General of the army of the united Provinces; a soldier devoted to liberty & his Country; and who, tho’ personally unknown to you, has the highest esteem for you, I am persuaded, it will place me in the service of my Country, agreeable to my rank, where following the lessons I learned from you, I hope to acquit myself with honor—I hope Your Excellency will not refuse me this gracious mark of your friendship wc. will be ever dear to me, & crown my highest wishes 1—I have the honor to be with profound respect, your Excellency’s Very Hble & Obent servant

J. G. Diriks

Translation, in the hand of David Stuart, DLC:GW; ALS, in French, DLC:GW. A transcript of the ALS is in CD-ROM:GW.

In November 1776 Jacob Gerhard Diriks of the Netherlands received a commission in one of the Pennsylvania regiments of the Continental line and subsequently served as an assistant quartermaster general under Gen. Thomas Mifflin, with the rank of lieutenant colonel. Diriks went back to Holland in 1779 and attempted to float a loan for the United States. Diriks asserted in his petition to Congress of 3 Feb. 1785 (DNA:PCC, item 41) that he had returned from Holland to America in 1779 and remained in the army until 1782. On 17 May 1781 Congress voted to give him lieutenant colonel’s pay from the time that he received, by brevet, that rank in November 1778. On 14 Mar. 1785 Congress ruled that Diriks had “no remaining Claims against the U.S. Congress,” but it agreed to give him a certificate attesting that both in the line in the army and as an assistant to the quartermaster general, the Dutchman had “been justly esteemed for his Bravery and Vigilance, and that in all Cases he has recommended himself by his Zeal, Industry, and Integrity” (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 28:151–53).

1On 15 Mar. GW offered to give Diriks “a certificate of service,” but he declined to write to Count von Maasdam, being unwilling, as he usually was, to take “liberties with exalted characters to whom I am not personally known.”

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