Guide to the Madame de Staël letter to LeRoy, Bayard & McEvers


Madame de Staël (1766-1817) was a French literary figure whose writings were highly influential in late 18th and early 19th century Europe. She was a political polemicist whose famous confrontation with Napoléon Bonaparte led to her exile from Paris until the Bourbon Restoration. This letter was written in 1814 towards the end of her life. She writes from Paris to the prominent New York mercantile firm LeRoy, Bayard & McEvers concerning a financial transaction in the amount of $20,000. She states that she has transferred the sum to McEvers in London, and wishes to confirm that they will, in turn, transfer it to her account with another firm. At the time she wrote this letter, Madame de Staël owned a large tract of land in upstate New York. Her father originally purchased the land in the event that the family wanted to escape France's instability and settle in America. Although she and her children never moved to the United States, de Staël both increased her land holdings and invested in developing her property. LeRoy, Bayard & McEvers represented Europeans purchasing property in New York State, so it's highly likely that the $20,000 was used to either increase or develop Madame de Staël's American land holdings. This letter is evidence of a degree of financial and business independence that was highly unusual for a woman at the time.

Collection Details

Collection Number
Madame de Staël letter to LeRoy, Bayard & McEvers
1814 October 12
0.1 Linear Feet, 1 item
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Materials in English

Collection Overview

Collection consists of a single one page autograph manuscript letter from Madame de Staël to the firm LeRoy, Bayard & McEvers in New York City regarding a financial transaction of $20,000. The letter is dated 1814 October 12; a note on the back states that it was received in New York 1815 March 10. In the letter, de Staël writes that she is sending their partner in London, Mr. McEvers, a note for $20,000. She asks if they have received her letter of July 25 in which she asked them to transfer the $20,000 to her account with the firm Doxat & Divett, and reiterates this request in the event that they have not received it. The letter is signed Necker de Staël Holstein. At the time, Madame de Staël owned an estimated 30,000 acres of land in what is now upstate New York, (Sakolski) and it's likely that this transaction was related to her American property holdings. Madame de Staël's father purchased land in America for his daughter and her children with the thought of leaving unstable France and settling in America. Although she never lived there, de Staël increased her American land holdings and reportedly invested $20,000 in developing the property. -- Sakolski, The Great American Land Bubble (1932)

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How to Cite

[Identification of item], The Madame de Staël letter to LeRoy, Bayard & McEvers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Contents of the Collection

Folder 1

Historical Note

Madame de Staël (Anne Louise Germaine Necker de Staël-Holstein) was a French woman of letters who was active during the period of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic era. Her father, Jaques Necker, was a Swiss banker who served as the finance minister for Louis XVI, and her mother hosted a popluar Paris salon. de Staël was an independent woman of means who was very active in both the political and intellectual life of her times. She published novels and literary criticism, as well as political and philosophical essays. She was a vocal supporter of the French Revolution and an opponent of Napoleon, who consequently banished her from Paris. She was celebrated for her social and conversational abilities, and hosted long-running salons in both Paris and Switzerland. She is an important figure in the history of ideas who contributed to European Romanticism and to the transition from the Age of Enlightenment to the 19th century.

LeRoy, Bayard, & McEvers was a prominent New York City mercantile firm. They represented the Holland Land Company in the United States, which was formed so that Dutch investors could buy land in what is now upstate New York and western Pennsylvania in 1792-1793.

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The Madame de Staël letter to LeRoy, Bayard & McEvers was received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a purchase in 2015.

Processing Information

Processed by Megan E. Lewis, March, 2017

Accessions described in this collection guide: 2015-0050-LUBMSS462