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During the next century, the pistols passed down through three generations of the Lafayette family who in their wills and loans to exhibitions recognized the pistols' importance to the history of America. George Washington Lafayette gave the pistols to his son, Edmond de Lafayette (1818-1890). Like his father and grandfather, Edmond was an ardent supporter of American liberty. In 1865, he was one of a small group of Frenchmen who met with the artist Frederic Auguste Bartholdi to arrange the commission of a monument to celebrate the American-French pursuit of liberty. Erected in New York harbor nineteen years later, the Statue of Liberty was officially given to America by a deed of gift signed in France on July 4, 1884. As a representative of the Committee of the Franco-American Union, Edmond was one of the five signers of the document. He also visited America in 1881 to participate in the Yorktown Centennial Celebration, an event commemorating the decisive victory in which his grandfather had played such a central role.22
Edmond died in 1890 leaving no direct heirs and bequeathed the pistols to his nephew, Antonin de Beaumont (d. 1910). Edmond's will, which accompanies the sale of the pistols (figs. 10, 11), includes the following (translated from French):
I bequeath with all title to my Nephew Antonin de Beaumont, the pistols that belonged to Jackson the Defender of New Orleans. The pistols came from General Washington, which were then bequeathed by Jackson to my Father George de Lafayette. (see fig. 11)
Antonin left the pistols to his daughter Madame Edmond Hennocque (nee Marie de Beaumont) in his will of 27 December 1910. During her ownership of the pistols, she loaned them for temporary exhibitions on at least two occasions: "The United States and France during the 18th Century," mounted June-July 1929 at the Hotel Jean Charpentier in Paris; the second was for the 1934 Centennial Exhibition of "La Fayette, 1757-1834," held at the Musee de L'Orangerie. It was probably due to this public display that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt heard of their existence and referred to them during his speech, "Address on the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Death of Lafayette" given on May 20, 1934. In 1958, Mme. Hennocque sold the pistols to Charles Marchal, a noted French antique arms dealer. He then sold them to a French private collector, Charles Dresser, in whose hands they remained until consigned back by his estate and sold by public auction at the Hotel Drouot, Paris, on 19 October 1983, at which time they again passed into private ownership.23
OTHER PISTOLS OWNED BY GEORGE WASHINGTON
The inventory of the contents of Mount Vernon conducted after Washington's death included four pairs of pistols. In the Study, there were "3 pr Pistols" with a combined value of $50 and another pair of "Steel Pistols" valued at $50. The latter pair of pistols may be the "finely wrought steel Pistols, taken from the enemy in the Revolutionary War" that Washington gave by bequest to the Marquis de Lafayette and which are reportedly still among the contents of La Grange, Lafayette's country estate in France, today.24 Besides the
Lafayette-Washington pistols offered here, there are at least three
other known pairs of pistols thought to have been owned by the first
President. Made by London gunsmiths Richard Wilson and John Hawkins in 1748, a pair was given in 1778 by Thomas Turner to Washington, who in
turn gave them to his personal secretary, Bartholomew Dandridge. After passing through several owners in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the pistols were presented in 1953 to the West Point Museum, where they remain today.25 The second pair is also thought to have been given by Lafayette to Washington, and presented at the close of the Revolutionary War. After descending through several hands of Washington Family descendants, and after the loss of one pistol, the remaining pistol was given to its current owner, the New York State Library in 1873.26 The third pair of pistols known to have been owned by Washington bear the mark of the London gunsmith Robert Wooley and are now in the collection of Mount Vernon.
1. For Lafayette's account of this meeting, see Michael de la Bedoyere, Lafayette: A Revolutionary Gentleman (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1934), p. 39.
2. Cited in Idzerda, "Lafayette, Apostle of Liberty," Lafayette, Hero of Two Worlds (London, 1989), p. 15.
3. James Breck Perkins, France in the American Revolution (Williamstown, MA: Corner House Publishers, 1970), pp. 169-170, 173. Peter Bruckman, Lafayette (New York: Paddington Press, 1977), pp. 8-28.
4. Douglas Southall Freeman, George Washington: A Biography, vol. 4 (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1951), pp. 471-482.
5. John B. B. Trussell, Jr., Birthplace of an Army: A Study of the Valley Forge Encampment (Harrisburg, PA: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1976), passim. Louis Gottschalk, ed., The Letters of Lafayette to Washington 1777-1799 (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1976), pp. 13-44.
6. Perkins, pp. 284-294.
7. Cited at http://www.ushistory.org/valleyforge/served/lafayette.html. See also, George Washington to Lafayette, November 15, 1781, The George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress (available at: http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/gwhtml/gwhome.html) and John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799, vol. 23.
8. Cited at http://www.ushistory.org/valleyforge/served/lafayette.html.
9. Idzerda, pp.23-24.
10. See www.xenophongroup.com/mcjoynt/lafy-4.htm.
11. James L. Kochan, "The Washington-Jackson-Lafayette Pistols," (Unpublished mss., 2001), p. 13.
12. Kochan, pp. 6-7.
13. Cited in Robert and Carol Simpson, "Andrew Jackson's Historic Pistols, Part I," The Gun Report (January 1985), p. 16.
14. Ibid., p. 16
15. Ibid., p. 16.
16. Ibid., p. 16.
17. Cited in Simpson, p. 16; Auguste Levasseur, Lafayette in America, in 1824 and 1825 (New York: White, Gallaher & White, 1829), pp. 172-173. For accounts of visitors to the Hermitage who viewed the pistols, see Simpson, Part I, p. 17.
18. John Spencer Bassett, The Correspondence of Andrew Jackson, vol. 6 (Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Institution, 1929-1933), p. 222. Cited in Simpson, Part I, p. 17.
19. Library of Congress, Manuscripts Division, Papers of President James K. Polk. Cited and illustrated in Simpson, Part I, p. 17, plate 2.
20. Cited in Simpson, Part I, p. 18.
21. Kochan, p. 13.
22: See www.geocities.com/pn3754/Statue_of_Liberty.htm; www.cr.nps.gov/history/online_books/hh/11/hh11i.htm; www.breeseusa.org/Bk_Monograph_part05.htm.
23: See Robert and Carol Simpson, "A Pair of Pistols 'Of French Origin,' Part II, The Gun Report (February 1985), pp. 16-20; Photostat of the will of Antonin de Beaumont, 27 December 1910; Les Etats-Unis & la France au XVIIIe Siecle (Paris, 1929), 65; Exposition du Centenaire de La Fayette 1757-1834 (Paris: Musee de l'Orangerie, 1934), 220; letter, Charles Marchal, 6 February 1984, re: purchase from the Hennocque family and subsequent history of the pistols. Kochan, p. 14. For Roosevelt's speech, see www.presidency.ucsb.edu/docs/pppus/rooseveltfd/1934/89.htm.
24. Kochan, pp. 7, 14.
25. See www.marsteller.org/philip_marsteller.htm.
26. See, Fifty-Sixth Annual Report of the Trustees of the New York State Library For the Year 1873 (Albany, 1874), pp. 140-141, 144.
END OF AFTERNOON SESSION