"Thou shalt make castels thanne in Spayne, And dreme of joye, alle but in vayne." 
John Maximilian Maurice, and Eliza Crawford Anderson Godefroy,
Louisiana, Aaron Burr, and the Mystery of the Mahogany Box
Edward C. Papenfuse, Maryland State Archivist Retired
Maximilian Godefroy, 1814?, artist uncertain, Maryland State Archives, Peabody Collection,
on loan to the Maryland Historical Society
It was a particularly gloomy day in August 2014 when we arrived in Edinburgh, Scotland. I was not very keen on traipsing through the underground tour of the city that so intrigued the grandchildren. When the bus bringing us into the city dropped us off, I looked up to see that we were in front of the National Archives of Scotland. I made excuses to the family and said I would meet them at the appointed time at the bus stop for our return to the cruise ship and made my way to the Archives. As I always do on visits to any Archives, I went to the catalog to see what they might have relating to Maryland, and on this trip, specifically to Baltimore, my current focus of study. There were some 55 catalog entries relating to “Baltimore,” but one in particular stood out. Buried in the papers of the Hope family were two items and an enclosure relating to Aaron Burr and Maximilian Godefroy. The catalog described them as:
Unfortunately the items were in remote storage and could not be seen by me that day, but I was given instructions on how to order copies and went on to examine a number of the other references until my time was up and I left to meet the family for the return trip to the ship.
The copies would arrived in late September. In the meantime I tried to puzzle out what a portable ‘cheval de frize’ would be and how Aaron Burr, the disgraced Vice President of the United States, slayer of Alexander Hamilton, then a fugitive in Britain under an assumed name (Colonel George Henry Edwards), was acquainted with the Baltimore based engineer and architect Maximilian Godefroy. There is no mention in the papers of Aaron Burr as edited by Mary Jo Klein in print, and on microfilm, of Maximilian Godefroy, and very little about Baltimore.
The history of a ‘cheval de frize’ was easy to ascertain. The article in Wikipedia was informative and explained that it was a spiked device used initially to defend against cavalry and infantry charges. By the 20th century it was a term applied to anti tank devices and the barbed wire so familiar in the images of the trench warfare of the First World War. The Scots made fun of the idea of portability, as can be seen in this image from a celebration of Scottish artistic success.
Was this what was meant by portable? Who was Godefroy and how did he know to engage Aaron Burr in an effort to retrieve his models?
The copies of the documents in the Scottish National Archives arrived in late September, 2014. There were three pieces, an authorization in French from Maximilian Godefroy, dated Baltimore, February 5, 1809, and two letters to General Alexander Hope (1769-1837), dated the 11th and the 16th of April, 1809 signed by A. Burr.
Elborg Forster provided me with a translation of the authorization from Godefroy to Burr in which Godefroy used Burr’s assumed name:
This is a request and authorization for Colonel George Henry Edwards to take in my name from the offices of his Royal Highness the Duke of York a mahogany box containing the following items: 1.) Three iron models of a portable cheval de frise [ the French word is used for this thing, a portable wire entanglement, says the dictionary] that I have invented. 2.) The memorandum about it in three parts, to wit, its description, its manipulation, and the use of this weapon; altogether some 60 manuscript pages, and 3.) Original explanatory drawings that are attached and which I had the honor of sending from here to His Royal Highness the Duke of York with the aid of Mr. D.M. Erskine, minister plenipotentiary of His British Majesty to the United States, under the date of 9 September 1808, and which His Royal Highness acknowledged receiving along with sending his negative decision as to the adoption of this weapon under the date of 24 November.
(Translated by Elborg Forster)
Burr in turn wrote to General Hope enclosing Godefroy’s authorization:
In compliance with the request of M. Godefroy specified in the order herewith enclosed, I wish to withdraw from the office of the Com in Chief the several articles therein mentioned, but being ignorant of the heads of application, I take the liberty of asking your aid. If you should do me the favor to make application, be pleased to direct that the box be sent to my address at J. Bentham, Esq. …
Six days later on April 16, 1809, he again wrote General Hope:
I am very desirous of concluding the business of Mr G. before my departure which, as you probably know, is fixed for Thursday next the 20th inst.
Aaron Burr (1802), by John Vanderlyn, New York Historical Society, New York City.
Aaron Burr had a meteoric political career out of New York, from a family rooted in a tradition of education, and religious controversy (his grandfather was Jonathan Edwards of “sinners in the hands of an angry god” fame). His father was President of Princeton. The son was fluent in French, an advocate of equality for women, at least intellectually, and a political enemy of Alexander Hamilton who he killed in a duel in 1804 while Vice President of the United States. He was a heavy speculator in all sorts of get rich quick schemes, mostly involving land, and in the end was pursued relentlessly by his former colleague in the Democratic-Republican party, Thomas Jefferson, for his presumed adventures in the Louisiana territory, all to the point that by 1809, he was on the run in Europe as a fugitive from American justice. In England Burr sought first to be recognized as a citizen of Great Britain, with the unrequited dream of assistance in a scheme to invade Mexico. When that failed in April 1809 and Burr was expelled from England, he wandered through Sweden and other countries that would permit it, looking for backing for his ‘castles in the air’, until deciding at last to return to ground and remake his fortune in New York as a lawyer, arriving on the eve of the second war between the United States and Great Britain. There he would remain a successful lawyer, still dreaming and spending other people’s money, but also demonstrating his loyalty to his most singular Baltimore supporter, his defense lawyer in his treason trial, Luther Martin. After Martin had a debilitating stroke in 1819, Burr brought him into his home in New York City and cared for him until Martin’s death in 1826. There is no evidence that Burr had any further contact with the Godefroys upon his return to New York in 1812.
Nowhere in any of the collected papers and published biographies of Burr is there mention of Maximilian Godefroy and his 'cheval de frize portatif'. There is reference to General Alexander Hope, however, brother to the former aide to the Duke of York,
commander-in-chief of the British Army.General Alexander Hope’s brother, Sir, John Hope, was a prominent aide to Lt.-Gen. Sir Arthur Wellesley, later the Duke of Wellington (1814).
The British depended heavily on wheat imports from Baltimore to feed the army during the Peninsular Campaign (1808-1809) against Napoleon’s army, to which Wellesley, temporarily on leave, returned to command in April of 1809, the month Burr left England.
Wellesley’s connections with Baltimore would become notorious through his liaison with Charles Carroll of Carrollton’s granddaughter, Charles Carroll of Carrollton. Carroll, influenced by his son-in-law, Robert Goodloe Harper, had been a supporter of Burr in the 1800 election that almost made Burr president instead of Vice President.
It is not known if Burr had direct contact with General John Hope or Sir Arthur Wellesley (later the Duke of Wellington), but he was a definite admirer of Sir John’s wife, as he was of many women who helped him along the way. He met Sir John’s wife at a party and undoubtedly conversed, noting in his diary: “Mrs. Hope, wife of General Hope, now in Spain, belle, interess. y chev. jaune [Fine-looking, interesting, yellow hair]”.
According to the Secret Diary of Aaron Burr, Burr met fairly frequently with General John Hope’s brother, General Alexander Hope and other members of the family in Scotland. At one point General Alexander Hope and Burr talked for about an hour during which General Hope apparently made it clear that that he was intimately acquainted with Burr’s troubles with James Wilkinson. Wilkinson was the commanding general of the U. S. Army, spy in the paid service of Spain, and the first governor of the Louisiana Territory where Burr had intended to settle with a large contingent of supporters, some said, even to establish a new country, although a jury in Richmond failed to convict him of treason on that count.
What became of Burr’s efforts to retrieve the mahogany box and the accompanying drawings and instructions remains a mystery. Perhaps they still repose among the papers of the Grand Old Duke of York, brother to King George III, and at the time of Burr’s sojourn in England and Scotland, was the scandal plagued commander-in-chief of the British Army?
But who was Maximilian Godefroy? What was this invention called 'cheval de frize portatif,’ and how did Godefroy in Baltimore in the fall of 1808, know Burr and his ‘non de plume’ Colonel George Henry Edwards?
For answers it is best to begin in Baltimore and and move from there to what can be learned of Maximilian Godefroy and his 'cheval de frize portatif'.
Source: Maryland Historical Society, Baltimore from the Northwest, ca. 1800, watercolor, 12 ¾ x 15 9/16 in. – Artist Unknown, see: the February 1951 issue of Maryland History Notes
In the first decade of the 19th Century Baltimore’s trade expanded dramatically. At base, its success was its export of wheat as a neutral carrier to feed the armies of all sides in the European conflicts and to feed the slave populations of the West Indies. Neither the French nor the English were too happy with America serving their enemies and both began attacking American shipping. The response of the administration of President Jefferson (1800-1808) was to stop trading with all belligerents and to place an embargo on trade in 1807. It didn’t work. It proved debilitating, as far as Federal revenue was concerned, ultimately contributing to a second war with Great Britain (1812-1815). In 1807 net revenue from duties on imports and tonnage from the Chesapeake was $2,266,544.34, the highest it had been since the creation of the government under the Constitution, and the highest it would be until peace came in 1815. In 1808 revenue from the Chesapeake dropped to $723,730.89, and in 1809 to $468,823.38.
On the whole, Baltimoreans did not blame the President, and managed to find ways to get around the embargo by clandestine exports and illegal trading. Instead they decried the policies of the British in attacking shipping ,stealing seamen for service in the British Navy, and perhaps most damning of all, reducing the need for wheat exports to Britain. In April of 1809 the Baltimore American and Commercial Advertiser editorialized favorably on a speech in the House of Commons by a relative of the last Proprietary Governor of Maryland, Sir Robert Eden, denouncing the government’s proposal to curb the consumption of wheat in the production of alcohol:
In a recent debate in the British House of Commons, on the bill for prohibiting distillation from grain, Mr. Ede made the following pungent remarks:
[taken from the] Pub. Adv.
“he noticed the want of their usual supply of grain from the U. States, which in the last year of intercourse, he said, amounted in value to nine hundred thousand pounds sterling. He said it was in the power of the ministers if they had chosen, to reconcile the misunderstandings with the U. States; but probably they were too much employed building castles in Spain [emphasis added], to think of the humble measure of supply of the country. They probably thought that the smart epigrams of the Foreign Secretary would satisfy the people, though as the price of them, they should have to pay 15 pence for the quartern loaf.”
Too often the faults seen in others are our own, although to “Dream the Impossible Dream,’ the modern counterpart to ‘building castles in Spain’ has long been ascribed as one of the most positive aspects of the American Character. In the first decade of the 19th century ‘building castles in spain’ was not a reference to Cervantes’ Don Quixote, however, but to a much older poem in French, transformed into English by Chaucer. In both the theme is the hopelessness of dreaming the impossible dream, of building fanciful castles in Spain.
People who are obsessed with pipe dreams and building castles in the air, i.e. “castles in Spain,” are often ridiculed and considered a bit “touched in the head”, yet their schemes may be not recognized as such, and certainly are well-known to contribute to what some refer to as the “boom and bust” cycles so characteristic of the American economic history. The tradition of speculative pipe dreams wreaking havoc with the economy is a long one, with investment in tulip bulbs, land speculation in the Louisiana Purchase, and investment in subprime mortgages, but a few well known examples. The sea captain merchants of Baltimore were no exception. They were masters at challenging the constraints of trade placed upon them by the British Government prior to the American Revolution, and speculating on Baltimore’s future as a bustling center of world trade during the war through privateering. Initially it did bring them them great wealth and clandestine connections for exports and imports in the West Indies that they pursued aggressively after the war with great expectations. By 1809 great fortunes were being made in Baltimore, and the schemes for the future were plentiful including great plans for the development and re-shaping of the landscape of Baltimore City, especially after the consolidation and city charter of 1797. Real estate speculation went hand in hand with commercial speculation, all in the quest for great wealth and personal glory. By 1803 the greatest speculative venture of the United States was the purchase of Louisiana from France who had only just recently gotten it back from Spain, and New Orleans became one of the many targets for wealth from trade, including slaves, that became one of Baltimore’s obsessions.
In France in the days of the Revolution and of Napoleon, being seen as one who spent time ‘building castles in Spain’, meant someone who was “wooly headed” or mentally ‘fatigued’, perhaps from battle, much like the ‘shell shocked’ veterans of the First and Second World Wars. One such soldier was a middle-aged Frenchman by the name of John Maximilian Maurice Godefroy (1765-1842?), a geographical engineer who served briefly in the French Army (1793-1794). 
There his fellow soldiers insisted he assume the name ‘Maximilien’ to distinguish himself from the rest of the many Godefroys in service. In 1794, struck with ‘fatigue’ he was released from military service into the care of his family, primarily his sister.
Trained in geography as a military science, possibly at an ecole in Paris established by the government for that purpose, Godefroy applied his education to estate management for the family and, through the patronage of those who favored a constitutional monarchy, secured clerical jobs in the tax and treasury departments. With the rise of Napoleon, he lost his patronage jobs, associated himself with those who opposed the new regime, and by 1803 was under surveillance by the much feared Police of Paris headed by “The Executioner of Lyons”, Joseph Fouché.
Like Aaron Burr, Godefroy was obsessed with the prospects of Louisiana. His papers seized by the police included schemes for making his fortune there along with his pamphlet printed in Paris in 1803 decrying the sale of Louisiana to the Americans. The pamphlet, without attribution, sold at Christies in 2004 for $3824, but it is highly unlikely that in 1803 that it made Godefroy any money. All it did was add to the concern of the police that he was a danger to the regime of Napoleon, and who, after interviewing him at some length, made him a prisoner of state, never bringing him to trial, and to his mental instability.
Out of work, Godefroy knew he was in trouble and in a rambling 17 page manifesto on “Building Castles in New Spain [Louisiana]”, he tried to write out his frustrations, beginning with a quotation from Job:
I am full of things I have to say, and my mind is as if in labor, until I bring forth my thoughts. I am filled as if with a wine that has no air, and I am about to burst like new vessels into which it s put. Therefore I will speak, and then I will breathe.
and including this excerpt
...Since everyone today, tired of having used the mine of the constitutions, takes his ease in admirable works and inundates us with other romances, one more bizarre than the next, why should I fight an epidemic that is so sweet to the imagination? When so many others have freely and with impunity troubled the imagination of the public with most burlesque and absurd imagination, why should I not pamper my own [imagination] on lonely paths within the vast probabilities of the future, and why, finally, should I allow my soul, forever agitated as it is and as it were in perpetual ebullience, to evaporate without leaving anything for me because of such eternally useless work.
In contrast to the ramblings of his manifesto, the pamphlet on why France should retain Louisiana is erudite and not without insight. Godefroy mastered the geographical literature about Louisiana and argued that all of Europe should be concerned about it being added to the new United States for fear that the sale only contributed to the likelihood that America would become a world power, a threat to the nations of Europe.
Napoleon sold Louisiana, anyway, the year of Godefroy’s pamphlet, triggering his manifesto, and while confining his most distressing thoughts the manifesto, Godefroy turned his attention to inventing a way to help England defend itself from invasion by Napoleon, and lending his support to those who favored the claims of the Bourbons to the throne of France, especially the Orleans branch which later would see Louis Philippe become ‘citizen King’ in 1830. Louis Philippe proved to be a great admirer of England and made friends in Baltimore. In exile he had traveled extensively in America in 1797-1798, before being welcomed to England, his permanent home in exile. When Louis Philippe stopped in Baltimore, he was feted by the mercantile elite and provided with a generous letter of credit to support his travels. He kept a diary of his adventures in the new world which would be published in an English translation in 1997. It is not known whether Godefroy was aware of the diary, given his claim to have been patronized by Louis Philippe’s mother, who herself was in exile in a nursing home in Spain during the time of Godefroy’s incarceration, but his path from that of prisoner of state in 1803 to his release for emigration to America in early 1805, would follow that of the Citizen King to Baltimore, where some of the hosts of Louis Philippe would become his patrons.
For a person ‘fatigued’ by war and a dreamer of “castles in Spain,” prison was a horrifying experience. As his sister, Dieu-Donnee Godefroy lamented, she “is rightly alarmed about the health of a brother she loves tenderly” beseeching the authorities “in the name of humanity to grant her permission to see him, which will be a great consolation for both… “The total privation of any society … can also become pernicious for his reason, and his very existence, considering the excessive irritation of his nerves... “ She worked tirelessly in her brother’s defense. She petitioned Fouché to let him go, asserting that he would do no harm.
For a time, Godefroy had lived with his sister, and she clearly was an important element in helping him adjust to the world about him. Godefroy would need that kind of devotion and attention for the rest of his life. Fortunately for him he would find it in Baltimore, although together he and his Baltimore bride would never realize his most ambitious dreams.
Initially as a prisoner of state, accused, but not tried, for conspiring against Napoleon, Godefroy was treated reasonably well. After first being incarcerated briefly in the Temple in Paris (where Louis the XVI had been held prior to his execution), Godefroy was moved to Bellegarde prison in the South of France and there the warden proved kind. He may have even been allowed reading material such as Voltaire’s History of Charles XII, with which he was most familiar and which would have a singular impact on the direction of his post prison career.
While Godefroy’s sister bombarded the chief of police with petitions and pleas for her brother’s release, the decision was made to move him to the Chateau d’if, a hell hole of a prison in Marseilles harbor, later to be made famous by Victor Hugo in the Count of Monte Cristo and the location for a well-known scene in the 1971 film the French connection. Godefroy’s reaction to the transfer was to escape and he did, setting off an extensive manhunt, only to have Godefroy turn himself in. He told the authorities he was on his way to Spain, but that he could not bear to have his jailer at Bellegarde prison suffer the consequences of his escape. That may have been so, but it is more likely that he realized that it would not help his sister’s efforts to secure his freedom, and that his escape would be interpreted as a sign of guilt.
The experience of being imprisoned in Chateau d’if had a profound impact on Godefroy and shaped his future as a teacher of art and military engineering in Baltimore, where a wife and a talented friend would help transform his visions of castles in spain, his knowledge of engineering, and his artistic talents into a career as an architect of banks, churches and a monument to fallen heroes.
While his sister worked to free him from prison, hiding from the authorities a defensive weapon he had invented for use of the British, Godefroy occupied his time,not writing another manifesto, but creating what he considered his masterpiece, a charcoal drawing of the Battle of Pultowa (1709) at which the Russians defeated Charles XII of Sweden. It was a remarkable tour de force, executed on 120 separate small pieces of papers (the only paper he could obtain in prison) using charcoal he created in the fire he was allowed for warmth.
The moment he chose was the point in the battle where Charles XII, rising from his stretcher, thought he had won. Voltaire describes the scene:
The King, carried in a litter at the head of his infantry, conducted the march. A party of the cavalry advanced by his order to attack that of the enemy and the battle began with this engagement at half an hour past four in the morning. The enemy's cavalry was posted towards the weft, on the right side of the Russian camp. Prince Menzikoff and Count Gallowin had placed them at certain distances between redoubts lined with cannon. General Schlipenback, at the head of the Swedes, rushed upon this body of cavalry. All thofe who have served in the Swedish troops know that it is almost impossible to withstand the fury of their first attack. The Muscovite squadrons were broken and routed. The Czar, who ran up to rally them in person, had his hat pierced with a musket ball; Menzikoff had three horses killed under him; the Swedes cried out " Victory !" Charles did not doubt but that the battle was gained...
Charles had not won. The battle was lost, but Godefroy focused on the moment when victory seemed to be a hand incorporating the traditional cheval de frize in the detail of his drawing as an important element in the defense of the King’s forces.
detail from The Battle of Pultowa by Maximilian Godefroy, courtesy of the Maryland Historical Society. Note the spiked cheval de frize in front of the firing soldiers, middle right in the detail above.
The quality and the detail of Godefroy’s drawing is truly remarkable. It would be his ticket to a teaching position with the Sulpician fathers when he arrived in Philadelphia from New York with the drawing, which he said he had pasted together and completed on the voyage from France.
Godefroy’s sister had succeeded in obtaining his release on condition he would emigrate to America and not be a further nuisance to Napoleon. With permission of Fouché, he met her in Orleans where he picked up his papers, probably the mahogany box containing the working models of his 'cheval de frize portatif'. and departed on Le Rose, arriving in New York in April of 1805. Without delay he proceeded to Philadelphia with the “Battle of Pultowa” in his baggage. There the Sulpician fathers admired his skill as an artist, and sent him to Baltimore as a teacher of drawing and military engineering at St. Mary’s College which they had recently opened to the sons of wealthy Americans, not all of whom were Roman Catholic. He would teach at St. Mary’s for 12 years, well liked by at least two of his students who would remain loyal to him. One, Henry, brought him in close contact with his father, an aspiring architect emigre from England of the same age as Godefroy, Benjamin Henry Latrobe. In 1806, after Godefroy had been Henry’s teacher for only a few months his father wrote that:
Henry has always been kept at the best school which the country could boast, and is now at St. Mary's college at Baltimore, by far the best, tho' the most expensive school in America. He is already an excellent latin and Greek scholar, and speaks french as fluently as English ... and he is besides a good Draftsman ....
and in 1817 in Henry’s obituary written after Godefroy had begun to quarrel with him, Latrobe noted:
[Henry’s] irresistible propensity to follow his father's profession [as an architect], of which he had studied both the civil and military theory, under Mr. Godefroi, prevailed to place him in his father's office, where in a short time he gained so much experience in the great public works then executing in Washington, and acquired so much influence among the persons employed, that he was appointed clerk.
The other pupil, Ebenezer Jackson, the son of a wealthy rice planter from Savannah Georgia, who would prosper as a merchant in Connecticut, serve as a member of Congress, and come to the aid of his aged, impecunious tutor, by purchasing the Battle of Pultowa in 1837.
More important than his students and his new friends, was the woman he met not long after he arrived in Baltimore.
Eliza Crawford Anderson had herself just returned from an abortive voyage to France with her close friend Betsy Patterson, daughter of one of the most wealthy of Baltimore merchants, William Patterson.
a copy of the Gilbert Stuart portrait of Betsy Patterson attributed to Thomas Sully, owned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Source: http://www.metmuseum.org/
Betsy had enchanted Napoleon’s brother Jerome who had visited Baltimore, and they had been married by Catholic Archbishop Carroll Christmas Eve, 1803. Eliza, who was fluent in French, had accompanied a pregnant Betsy and Jerome to France where an irate Napoleon refused to permit her to land, had his brother divorced by the French Senate and married off to a German Princess. Betsy made it to London in time for the birth of her son Jerome, witnessed by Eliza, and then both returned to Baltimore in early 1805 a few months before Maximilian Godefroy arrived.
Eliza was very well educated, the daughter of a prominent Baltimore Physician with an international reputation for his theories on epidemics and disease. They lived in a house on Hanover street, the site of which today is Charles Center Plaza. Eliza was an heiress in her own right. The niece of prominent merchant John O’Donnell (1749-1805), he left her the house on Hanover Street. She was also a skilled writer and editor, assisting her father in the publication of a journal “The Companion and Weekly Miscellany” which in 1806 she transformed into the controversial, short lived “The Observer” (1806-1807), in which she included essays on epidemics by her father, and portions of a translation she did of a pamphlet on military preparedness written by Maximilian Godefroy. In that same period, through her printer, the noted Baltimore publisher and bookseller Joseph Robinson, she published an English translation of a racy French novel, apparently one of the first (in English) to contain a sexually explicit reference. Her acerbic comments about the intellectual life and culture of Baltimore did not sit well with her peers and the her magazine folded as her attachment to Godefroy deepened.
Eliza clearly wanted to marry Godefroy, but there was one major problem. She was already married to a Baltimore merchant (Henry Anderson) who had deserted her in 1801 leaving her a single parent with a daughter, also named Eliza but called Polly. To rectify matters she went alone to New Jersey with letters of introduction and a mission to obtain a divorce. Informed that she needed proof of infidelity, on her own she traveled up the Hudson to Aaron Burr’s old stomping grounds, Albany, N. Y. the last known address she had for Henry. Obtaining what she needed from him, who it was said was hiding as a fisherman on the river, she got her divorce and returned to marry Maximilian Godefroy on December 29, 1808, who in turn moved into the House on Hanover where they would live until leaving Baltimore for good in 1819.
Benjamin Latrobe has left a graphic description of their living arrangements:
… I did not go out in the evening but supped and slept at Godefroi’s … This house is miserably out of sorts: but it so like the house of men of Genius with whom I have been all my life more or less acquainted that everything appears right. Godefroi’s room or study is very neat and handsome, furnished with marble statues and the walls hung with expensive pictures well framed. The dining room is very dirty and dark and has a stove in it. Dr. Crawford’s library is black with smoke, and covered with dust, cumbered with papers, and choked with books, bookcases and desks. … I slept in a little room very neatly furnished with a good fire in Godefroi’s military bed, very well. Every place is full of books. I had a hundred or two to choose out of in my room. Their chamber is shelved all round, I believe from the peep I got of it. She says she has four hundred books of her own. Godefroi has as many in his large study.
For the whole of his stay in Baltimore, Godefroy would work from the House on Hanover, teaching at St. Mary’s, but also offering courses in drawing and his services as a military engineer and architect. Advertisements in 1815, tout his accomplishments to date, and offer his services at the house on Hanover Street:
Images Source: http://bearings.
Aaron Burr paid a fleeting visit to Baltimore in the fall of 1807 from his trial for treason in Richmond. He had stopped at his lawyer, Luther Martin’s home on Charles Street, not far from the Godefroys and Dr. Crawford’s house on Hanover. When the mob attacked Martin’s residence on the night of November 3, 1807, Burr fled to New York and his made his escape to England. The day after the attack on his house, Martin addressed a letter to the editor of the Federal Gazette & Baltimore Daily Advertiser, warning Baltimore that such unbecoming behavior would earn the city the reputation of being a mob town and scare business away.
Little did Luther Martin know that the reputation of that night would linger and grow with periodic outbursts such as the attack on the newspaper offices of the Federal Republican in the summer of 1812.
In September 1808, a few weeks before his marriage to Eliza, Maximilian sent the mahogany box containing his models of the 'cheval de frize portatif' to the Grand Old Duke of York. The rejection letter, but not the box came quickly, arriving on the 24th of November. The following April, Burr would be commissioned to retrieve the box, but apparently without success. By then Godefroy was well established as a teacher of “drawing, painting, architecture, and fortifications’ both privately at the house on Hanover, and at St. Mary’s College. Retrieving the Box was all a part of Godefroy’s efforts to establish himself as an expert on military engineering and defense. Before they were married, Joseph Robinson had published Godefroy’s treatise on how the United States should defend itself, translated by Eliza, excerpts from which Eliza published in her periodical the Observer.
The pamphlet met with some acclaim by other writers on American military policy and tactics, but Congress rejected it, one advocate suggesting that it was because of a strong anti-French bias prevalent at the time, while a local newspaper found it to be controversial.
In two issues of the Baltimore American & Commercial Advertiser, October 13, 1807, and October 20, 1807, while another controversy raged about Eliza’s recent translation of a racy French novel, Godefroy’s pamphlet was condemned as being too harsh on the current French government, labeling such criticism “totally erroneous”. The flattering review that followed the editorial conveyed quite a different impression, praising Godefroy for his wisdom. In reply, Godefroy was much gentler on his critics than Eliza was on hers. He simply wrote that his pamphlet was meant as a warning and he would leave the political interpretations to others. Indeed it calls for the equivalent of a National Guard at strategic locations along the Atlantic Seaboard, a not unfamiliar concept in today’s world.
How Godefroy came by Burr’s alias is not known, in his quest for the return of his 'cheval de frize portatif’', but the authorization to Burr to retrieve the mahogany box probably traveled by diplomatic pouch. Perhaps it will never be known what happened to the mahogany box, but how the 'cheval de frize portatif' worked was discovered first in the dossier created by the French police when the arrested Godefroy and made him a prisoner of state.
While Godefroy was under observation by the French Police in 1803, prior to his arrest, the police conducted a sting operation as described by an informant:
When the arrest of Godefroy was ordered by the Grand Judge it became known that he was working on bringing to England a machine useful for the defense of the coasts against an invasion. He was hoping to make a great deal of money with this instrument, but he did not have the means to get it to the English ministry and told the young chouan that he wished to find an educated and proper English gentleman through whom he could send the machine to England. I knew an English naval officer who had just arrived in France, bringing some maps useful to our navy. Having spoken to this Englishman, I made the young chouan introduce him to Godefroy, who made a rendezvous, had lunch with him, and told him about his mechanical device. (It is a kind of cheval de frise in iron, with six blades, which one pulls back into sheath and carries like a sabre. Godefroy deployed it, launched it, and retraced it ten times. I am going after this machine and its inventor. It is sufficient to say that the Englishman entirely confirmed to me the idea I had previously formed of the dangerous temper and the violent words Godefroy had uttered against the First Consul.
When interrogated, Godefroy denied all these facts. Nothing was said to him about the machine in order not to compromise the Englishman and the young chouan officer. His worry about having spoken about his machine caused him to hide all of his papers, but we know where they were taken and we do not despair of laying hands on them. Godefroy is wooly headed. He has a clever wit, though, and wide knowledge: thus we have found at his dwelling a long memoir on Louisiana.
When the police searched Godefroy’s apartment the device was not found and there is no further effort indicated to discover its whereabouts.
In 1808, Louis de Tousard published a flattering account of Godefroy’s military expertise in his American Artillerist’s Companion. He probably was well acquainted with Godefroy personally, having seen the device, and includes the following footnote on p. 509:
Mr. Maximilien Godefroy, of Baltimore, has invented a portable chevaux-de-frizes, which is composed of six bayonets, which can be displayed, and by means of a bolt, fastened in a few seconds, ready to prevent a charge either of horse or foot. They are folded again in as short a time, when the danger is over, and carried in a scabbard hanging from the shoulder. Its weight does not exceed seven pounds. this weapon could still be improved by the ingenious inventor (who, likewise is the author of ‘Military reflections on four modes of defence for the United States,’ published in 1807,) and become an excellent arm in defensive wars, the only wars, indeed, to which this country can be exposed.
Godefroy never gave up his dreams of being considered an expert on military matters, especially fortifications and military engineering, and he actively sought the patronage of Jefferson and Madison, only to be rejected:
From Thomas Jefferson to George Logan, 8 March 1806
Washington Mar. 8. 06
I return you the drawings of M. Godefroi, which certainly prove him to possess fine talents in that way. In a letter to mr Madison lately he has expressed something like disappointment at not receiving from me an answer to a letter he wrote me. That letter was a tender of his services in some employment analogous to his talents. In the first place you know our situation well enough to know we have no employ for talents in the engineering line or indeed in any military line. ... a moment’s reflection should convince anyone that I can never answer a letter concerning offices; because no answer can be written to any such letter, either affirmative or negative which may not commit one in some way. with me therefore the answer is always to be read in what is done or not done. Perhaps you may have an opportunity of explaining this to him, and making him sensible that my silence does not proceed from a want of respect to him, but to the laws of my situation. Accept my friendly salutations & assurances of great esteem & respect.
Nor did Godefroy give up his dreams of a future in Louisiana, if the testimony of his colleague, and colleague, Benjamin Henry Latrobe, is any indication. Latrobe was attracted to Aaron Burr’s plans for his Louisiana lands. His association with Burr began long before Godefroy’s arrival in Baltimore, and ended in acute anxiety over being called as a State’s witness at Burr’s treason trial in Richmond in 1807 which, fortunately for Latrobe, did not materialize.
The year before the trial, with Latrobe working with Godefroy on a number of projects, and contributing to Eliza’s periodical the “Observer,” it is more than likely that Godefroy became well acquainted with Burr’s schemes, and supportive, if not complicit in them. Indeed Latrobe, in November of 1806 wrote that when first contacted by Burr to come West with him “I confess that had I been single, or less attached to my family I could not easily have resisted the tempting solicitations which were made to me. In the mean time I recommended his [Burr’s] application to Godefroi of Baltimore, but I find that he did not write to him as he said he would.”
From soon after his arrival in 1805 and until 1817, Maximilian Godefroy, Eliza Anderson (after 1809, Godefroy), and Benjamin Henry Latrobe were good friends, supporting each other, and learning from each other.
While Latrobe worked on his commission to build the Catholic Cathedral, Godefroy was testing his architectural skills on the building of St. Mary’s Chapel for the Sulpicians and the Unitarian Church a block away from the Cathedral.
St. Mary’s Chapel, designed by Maximilian Godefroy, Image Source: http://baltimoreheritage.org/
Unitarian Church, designed by Maximilian Godefroy. Image Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
Together in 1806-1807, the Godefroys and Latrobe, with the help of others, tried to keep the “Observer” afloat with their writing and editing but to no avail.
Godefroy also called upon powerful friends for help in recovering debts he left behind in France. In 1806 he was owed money by the father of E. I. Dupont, who was living in Paris. It was a small amount, 600 francs, but Godefroy wanted it paid to either his sister or to a female friend in France.
I am embarrassed, Monsieur, to bother you with such a small matter, but please see to it that this money is given in Paris to these persons.
Remember me to Madame and to the other persons who graciously received me when I came through your town. ...
Adieu, Monsieur, I wish you joy, health, and fortune, also to our friend the lover of the arts.
The response from DuPont implies that the money was owed and would be paid.
In the years leading up to the second war with Great Britain, known in America as the War of 1812, Maximilian Godefroy honed his skills as an architect while exhibiting his art, including the Battle of Pultowa in the Baltimore Library in 1807, and the Pennsylvania Academy in 1811. By 1814 he seriously considered becoming an American citizen, declaring to the Baltimore County Court, in April 1814, of his intent, but he would never follow through.
He never gave up dreaming of a military engineering career. In 1811, in a revealing letter to Henry Clay, Benjamin Henry Latrobe advocated on behalf of his friend, translating Godefroy’s original letter to Clay, who could not read French, and pointing out the obstacles, beyond language skills, that Godefroy faced in promoting himself as a military engineer in the service of the Nation:
The Honble Henry Clay. Washington, Decr. 11h. 1811
I herewith send you a hasty translation of the letter of my excellent
friend Godefroi. It is not a true image of the original, for
it wants its elegance as well as its force, & that marked a decided
character which is stamped upon the style as well as the substance
of the writings of genius, which always possess an individuality
of which they cannot be deprived, & which of course is lost when they are translated.
I have also ventured to soften the expression of disapprobation
which this old Soldier uses when censuring a mistake of the importance
of which his experience in the Vendean War has made
him a competent judge. Perhaps I ought to have omitted these
passages, but the truth of his remarks, as well as my confidence
in your care that they shall not injure him, forbad it.
During the presidency of Mr. Jefferson, & the Secretaryship of
Genl Dearborne, I tried to serve this [ex]cellent Officer of whose
talents & experience our Country might make such important use.
But from the Secretary of War I received a short reply, that "we
cannot & will not employ foreigners” & from Mr Jefferson's remark
that he heard he was a good draughtsman, I [s]aw through the
impression which the President had received at one glance, namely
that Godefroi was a good Engineer on paper. In fact, my
own importance was, & is, too small to enable me to serve my
country by serving Godefroi, but could I procure for him the good
opinion of yourself and & others to whose talents, penetration, &
influence [i]t is intrusted to decide who shall be the subordinate
[a]gents in promoting the public welfare, I should [in]deed deserve
public thanks. …
Mr Godefroi, will probably spend a few days with me at Christmas
when I will have the honor to introduce him ...
B H LATROBE.
I must beg you to excuse the marks of haste on the note as well
as on the translation
Senator Clay did not prove to be of much help, although Godefroy would gain one commission in Kentucky the following year in Bardstown. The future for the Godefroys would not be in the West.b
That Godefroy was a skilled draftsman with artistic talent is clear from the Battle of Pultowa, as well as his one of the last drawings he prepared for publication in 1819 on the eve of the Godefroys’ departure from Baltimore. The drawing depicts the site of his last public commission, the Baltimore Battle Monument.
Source: Darlington Digital Library
With the commencement of the war with Great Britain, Godefroy at last had an opportunity to demonstrate his military engineering skills, and in the year following the successful defense of Baltimore against the British, he won the commission to erect a battle monument to his fallen comrades. He was never able to master English sufficiently to promote his career, and depended on Eliza to write in English for him, perhaps even to present his proposals to prospective clients including the committee overseeing the erection of a monument to those who lost their lives in the defense of Baltimore.
To defend the city against the British, a committee of Vigilance and Safety was formed. It exercised considerable power including the financing of the formidable fortifications that were undertaken in and about the city, and the selection of General Samuel Smith to head the military operations. Beginning in August of 1814, the committee, flush with funds supplied on loan by Baltimore banks on the promise of reimbursement by the Federal Government, employed practically every able bodied citizen, free black and slave in building the defensive positions surrounding the city. Maximilian Godefroy was among those chosen to design and superintend the works, although not until after the September attack when his friend, Robert Goodloe Harper, assumed command of the troops defending the city. In December, 1814, Latrobe wrote to Godefroy from Pittsburg:
… by letter from Mr. [Robert Goodloe] Harper I learn that you are at last consulted on the fortifications at Baltimore. I congratulate America on this event, both
because justice is done to your talents, and because your talents are employed in our defence.
What Godefroy actually was able to accomplish as a military engineer for the City is not fully documented, save for a cryptic entry in the journal of the committee:
31st Octo: 1814
The Committee received a communication from Maj Genl Scott inclosing one from Mr. Godefroy the Engineer respecting the works of Defence --- whereupon it was Ordered, that the same be & is hereby referred to the Superintendants of the Labourers in the Eastern Precincts with a request that they comply with the requisition therein contained--
and a couple of powder magazines at Fort McHenry after the bombardment which he asserts in a contemporary newspaper advertisement, but he did make friends on the Committee and among the military, especially General Robert Goodloe Harper, who succeeded General Samuel Smith in command after the defeat of the British in September, 1814.
Robert Goodloe Harper, Maryland Historical Society. For possible attribution to Charles Bird King, see: Eric Papenfuse, The Evils of Necessity: Robert Goodloe Harper and the Moral Dilemma of Slavery, Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1997
Image source: 1856 reprint offered on Ebay
With the retreat of the British and the ratifying of the Treaty of Ghent ending the war on February 18, 1815, the Committee of Vigilance found it had funds left over with which they determined to build a memorial to those who lost their lives in the defense of the city. Godefroy was chosen to design and build the Battle monument, which he did for a token amount of $900. It was sited prominently on the hill above the town which formerly had been the site of the old courthouse. Today obscured by tall and massive government buildings, in Godefroy’s day it would have been prominently visible from the harbor, although not as visible as the competing Washington Monument under construction at the same time.
To embellish the Battle Monument, he employed a number of craftsmen including Signor Capellano, who is best known for his work on the U. S. Capitol. Rembrandt Peale, who was a member of the Committee charged with overseeing the expenditures on the Battle monument records a curious memory of Godefroy and Eliza at the time of Capellano’s arrival to work on the monument:
The Battle Monument of Baltimore was designed by Maximilian Godefroy. For the execution of the Sculptures designed for it, Sig. Capellano, recently arrived in -New York, was recommended, who came on to Baltimore; but not finding Mr. Godefroy at home, made his house his domicile, much to the surprise of the black cook who had charge of the house with a limited supply of change. I was informed of her dilemma, and wrote to Mr. Godefroy, but received no •answer, as the artist, in a secluded spot,
was absorbed in making an elaborate drawing of the Natural Bridge, in Virginia, and forgot everything connected with the Battle Monument. The poor sculptor became impatient and talked of returning to New York. Not to lose the chance of detaining, perhaps, an excellent artist, an occupation was suggested. Robert Cary Long, the architect of St. Paul's Church, in anticipation of some future occasion of completing his design, had caused two large blocks of free-stone to be built in the upper front of his church—one, for the figure of Christ breaking the bread; the other, Moses holding the tables of the Law. Mr. Capellano was delighted with the idea of getting to work; but it was necessary to decide upon his ability, and I proposed to Mr. Long, that I would give forty dollars, if he would contribute an equal sum, to pay the sculptor for two small models in clay. They were executed to my satisfaction, and a subscription of a thousand dollars was soon raised for the Church. The sculptor was quickly installed on his elevated platform, and one of the figures was nearly completed before Mr. Godefroy returned to bargain for the proposed sculptures for the Battle Monument.
That the Godefroys were pursuing one of their ‘castles in Spain’ instead of Godefroy’s attending to business in Baltimore is confirmed by Thomas Jefferson’s correspondence, although Capellano credits Godefroy with getting him the work with Robert Cary Long.
On their visit to Natural Bridge in October 1816, after working on a commission in Richmond, the Godefroys stopped at Monticello to follow up an offer to acquire it, not that they had any money with which to do so. Clearly Godefroy was experiencing one of his particularly elevated moments with the dreams of Louisiana replaced by those of a bucolic retirement in Virginia:
[Godefroy to Jefferson]
From the Natural Bridge
12 October 1816
If you were not yourself a most distinguished Lover of Nature, I should certainly have to fear that the liberty I take in making bold to address this letter to you would strike you as indiscreet, and perhaps rather strange, when the reason that inspired it is known to you.
In the ten days since I came here, not a day – except this one – has gone by without my going to study the important effect of this Bridge, a marvel which the Notes on Virginia, no less than Nature itself, have made so justly famous. Forced to depart soon from this solemn site, which is so well suited to meditation and so analogous to the nature of both my memories and of the deep emotions of my soul, I wanted to try at least to take with me an image of it that would be more correct than all those I had seen so far, to serve as a pendant in my study of a view of Harper’s Ferry which I had made some years ago.
Some days ago, as I was I expressing my regrets at soon having to depart from this
grand scene, some inhabitants of the neighborhood to whom I was speaking gave me to believe that it might perhaps not be impossible that in view of the offer that you had earlier made to one of them to cede to him the parcel that includes this beautiful place, you might still be willing to agree, Monsieur, to let go of it, especially if it were in favor of the cult of art and for the purpose of preserving this noble solitude from the merciless hatchet If , and this is the case, discretion alone can forbid me when I leave Charlottesville to leave a note of homage and the expression of the keen regret that Madame Godefroy (daughter of the late Dr. Crawford of Baltimore), as well as myself, had felt at missing the opportunity to meet you in your Temple of the Muses, as we had hoped when we undertook our visit to Virginia, you can judge for yourself, Monsieur, that it cannot be without hesitation and some embarrassment that I dare to permit myself to present to you my timid petition. It cannot fail to be timid, for from what I said before you can already foresee, Monsieur, that its purpose is to ask you, in case you really are not particularly attached to this possession, to kindly accord me preference in transmitting this property to me, in keeping with the original title and under the conditions whose terms I take the liberty of asking you to make known to me.
My démarche demands, I believe, some elaboration, which I will permit myself to add
briefly. It is not born from any spirit of speculation, for I am a complete stranger to a
mercantile mentality; and as for the small Factory that has been established on the
Bridge, it does not appear to be able to continue functioning under the present circumstances. The step I have taken is thus what in popular parlance is called a Caprice, but what a man sensitive to the poetry of Nature and its effects will certainly judge more favorably. Strangely tossed about for 29 years by the variety of a capricious fate and human inconstancy, I decided years ago to die an American citizen and to live the remainder of my days under the aegis of a reasonable Liberty, which does not, and cannot, exist much longer anywhere on our unfortunate globe but here. In view of the flattering welcome I received from the citizens of Richmond, I have reason to believe that I could establish myself in Virginia and breathe there an air that suits me better than the kind that in ten years of steady work and unheard of efforts almost exhausted my physical strength and my courage in that Baltimore “on which” (to cite a phrase that is not unknown to you) the spirit of Good Taste has seemed “to have cast its curse,” at least until very recently. In the likely hypothesis of a change in this situation [i.e. Godefroy buying the property] I might be able, in my moments of leisure, to give some care that might be somewhat useful to the little area around the Natural Bridge, if Indeed your plans for it, Monsieur, are those about which I was told. In view of these considerations – and I would beg you, Monsieur, to forgive me for taking perhaps too much of your time – I make bold before leaving for Baltimore to send this letter to you, hoping that my approach will be met with sufficient leniency on your part to afford me the favor of a brief response on the topic and the absolution for my indiscretion – if indeed I am guilty of an indiscretion. In that case, I would ask you to forget it in consideration of the enthusiasm that the grandeurs of Nature always arouse in me and also the importance I would attach to owning a place that you have celebrated with I eagerly seize this occasion, Monsieur, to beg you to accept the respectful homage of my family, who have asked me to have the honor to remember them to yours, and I also beg you to accept the assurance of all the sentiments of respect…
Your very humble and obedient servant
Jefferson’s response from his Poplar Forest retreat was most gracious, but not encouraging. From his Western retreat, Jefferson explained that he wanted to keep it in trust for the Nation, and no longer wanted to dispose of it.
On his return to Baltimore, Godefroy resumed work on his commissions, including the Unitarian Church, but he became increasingly agitated with Benjamin Latrobe who he felt was scheming behind his back to steal his business and denigrate his reputation. By April of 1817, Eliza was having great difficulty coping. All their supposed friends were traveling abroad and debts were mounting. In a letter to Eliza’s friend, Betsy Patterson Bonaparte, who had abandoned Baltimore for Europe in 1815, Betsy’s brother Edward explained he was sending it by Robert Gilmore who was headed her way in quest of his health. “The people in your part of the world must think Baltimore a very stupid place. So many of its inhabitants migrate in pursuit of amusement or admiration--however I think with money & a little equanimity time can be killed pleasantly enough here …” Edward went on to gossip about the Godefroys, especially Eliza.
your [emphasis added] friend godefroy has behaved so badly of late that we have all determined to give her up. She made her appearance at two or three Soiries, so much intoxicated that the hostesses were obliged to put her to bed, & at a party given by herself the other evening, she was so far gone that the company was obliged to retire. They have made themselves so many enemies that I think they will be forced to leave the place. They are almost in a state of starvation, and with difficulty keep from making a visit up the falls [i.e. going bankrupt].
[John H. B. Latrobe], Picture of Baltimore, 1833, published by Fielding Lucas. Image source: Johns Hopkins University, Special Collections
Godefroy and Benjamin Henry Latrobe fell out over a joint commission to build the Exchange (torn down in 1904), a dispute for which Godefroy never forgave his former friend. Perhaps both would have done well to heed Franklin’s advice in his Autobiography.
Partnerships often finish in quarrels; but I was happy in this, that mine were all carried on and ended amicably, owing, I think, a good deal to the precaution of having very explicitly settled, in our articles, everything to be done by or expected from each partner, so that there was nothing to dispute, which precaution I would therefore recommend to all who enter into partnerships; for, whatever esteem partners may have for, and confidence in each other at the time of the contract, little jealousies and disgusts may arise, with ideas of inequality in the care and burden of the business, etc., which are attended often with breach of friendship and of the connections, perhaps with lawsuits and other disagreeable consequences.
Benjamin Henry Latrobe understood the Godefroys better than anyone, when he assessed the quarrel in a letter the year before (1816) addressed to the son of General Samuel Smith and the director of the Exchange:
It is the reputation, the immortality to be acquired in building the Exchange, of that I have robbed him! Nom noble, and of a military family, his views of celebrity were directed to the acquisition of military glory. To that he sacrificed his health, and the fairest portion of his life. the scene on which he was called to act was, however honorable, yet unsuccessful, and is swallowed up and forgotten in the grandeur of the revolutions of the same time. He then turned his attention to the arts, and at last an opportunity offers for him to found a name upon the Design and construction of the largest Edifice in one of the most important cities in America. His most intimate friend however steps in, and under pretence of assisting, robs him of this last means of leaving a name behind him. This appears to be his view of the case [against me].
To live according to the lifestyle of their more affluent friends, the Godefroys borrowed heavily, including a $1500 loan in 1809 from a very wealthy Baltimore merchant, Robert Oliver, of which $750 they never paid back. Interestingly enough, half the loan was secured by a Philadelphia friend and widow of one of Oliver’s business partners, Mrs. John Craig, who employed John H. B. Latrobe to rebuild her home, Andalusia into a remarkable mansion.
By 1819 the bleak prospects of the Godefroy’s financial future had darkened further with the financial collapse of many, if not most of Godefroy’s potential patrons in the panic of that year caused by speculation in the stock of the Second Bank of the United.
By May 1819, the Godefroy’s finances were such that Maximilian begged the Battle Monument Committee for $75, as he was “extremely pressed by the tax man,” which was sum part of the remainder of the $900 he had been promised as a commission for designing the monument and overseeing the works. At that point he still did not have the list of the names of the fallen to inscribe, and the contents of the cornerstone, laid in July of 1815, had been withdrawn, including the subscription book which a newspaper article indicated had been placed inside the column, not the cornerstone, but was found years later in the attic of City Hall.
courtesy of the Baltimore City Archives
As to the financial panic begun in 1819, Betsy Patterson would later point her finger at some of Godefroy’s high rolling, speculating acquaintances, accusing them of conspicuous consumption above their station:
I am sorry to express my conviction that General Smith’s fine house, and the extravagant mode of living he introduced into Baltimore caused the ruin of half the people in the place, who, without this example, would have been contented to live in habitations better suited to their fortunes; and certainly they only made themselves ridiculous by aping expenses little suited to a community of people of business.
It is to be hoped that in [the] future there will be no palaces constructed, as there appears to be a fatality attending their owners, beginning with Robert Morris and ending with Lem. Taylor. I do not recall a single instance, except that of [William] Bingham, of any one who built one in America, not dying a bankrupt.
Hezekiah Niles would be even harsher in his critique of the speculators in his weekly Register, and there was no likelihood that any bank would soon have the resource to commission a new building such as the one Godefroy had designed and built for the Commercial and Farmers Bank of Baltimore in 1810-1811.
In the summer of 1819, with the Battle Monument as yet unfinished (it would be 1822 before the work was complete), the Godefroys decided to pursue their dreams elsewhere and skip town. Godefroy wrote to Thomas Sully the artist in Philadelphia for letters of recommendation.
Baltimore, August 22d, 1819
Madam Godefroy had intended to go to Philadelphia, which prevented my writing to you before. The captain announcing his departure Thursday or Friday she is obliged to forgo her intention. I have time only for this word of Adieux! Recieve all our wishes for the Happiness of yourself and family ---I will write to you from London-- write me a line of adieu immediately, my Dear Sully, & if you know any respectable artist in London a letter of introduction from you will be very precious to me--when opportunity occurs do me the favor to present my cordial compliments to the artists of your city with whom I have had the pleasure of being acquainted-- …
In haste, Dear Sully, most truly yours,
Precipitously without much warning they boarded a ship for London with all their remaining worldly goods, Eliza having sold her interest in the house on Hanover to her cousin, John O’Donnell’s son, Christopher Columbus O’Donnell for $1500.
The trip was a family disaster with the sudden death of young Eliza en route of Yellow Fever, a disease her late grandfather, but hardly anyone else at the time, had attributed to the bite of a mosquito. After burying Eliza on the banks of the Chesapeake and a very rough voyage to London, taking with them the Battle of Pultowa, which Godefroy would exhibit in 1822 at the Royal Academy, they settled in London in an attempt to establish an architectural practice.
Looking back in a letter to an American in Paris, David Bailie Warden, congratulating him on the publication of his 3 volumes entitled Statistical, Political, and Historical Account of the United States of North America (Edinburgh, 1819), Eliza summed up her view of the American character:
I see your work is announced & I hope when I get to London, that mart of all literary delight, I shall get a peep at it. I don't know if you think & consequently speak of the Americans con amore—for my own part, I think them the most inimitable & unanswerable commentary upon the system of the perfectibility of the human species—their system of government is divine, & as the government of a nation is believed to have no small influence upon the people, one would expect that People of all others to approximate most nearly to perfection—now amongst the Americans there are some few here & there who have as they deserve all my esteem & admiration; but take them as a people, I think they have all the vices & none of the virtues that ever distinguished Nations Ancient or Modern—they are crafty perfidious, vulgar, ignorant, of bad faith, avaricious, insolent & vain—seek for the low impertinence of upstart pride, where will you find a more plentiful harvest than in Republican America— I defy the congregated Nobles of Europe, to evince more haughtiness than the body of wealthy Merchants of Baltimore New York & Philadelphia & this day as I observed to Mrs Patterson I would rather encounter all the Peers of Great Britain than an American who had ever spoken to a Lord— oh! I do loathe the very name of that People—it is true the cruel injustice & barbarous tyranny with which my Husband was treated amongst them may have infused the gall that mingles with my feelings towards them—• but in sober reason, setting all prejudice aside I think them a combination of all the vices which the decrepitude of age has brought on Europe, without the refinements which compensate in some degree for moral evil ...
Except for a few commissions, the London sojourn was a failure and in 1827 the Godefroys emigrated once again, this time to France. After a brief, tumultuous stay in Rennes, they moved permanently to Laval, some fifty miles to the East. There Godefroy became the Departmental architect where the remains of a few of his governmental buildings can be seen today.
Until her death, Eliza’s surviving letters are full of anger and unhappiness over the ill treatment of her husband and his unfulfilled dreams. She remained his chief advocate throughout their 30 years of marriage, a severe trial at times which led her to drink.
On October 2, 1839 at nine o’clock in the evening, Eliza Crawford Anderson Godefroy died a Roman Catholic, having once been a presbyterian in Baltimore. Her husband, in a neat hand, carefully composed a brief announcement which he penned to her friends. Two are known to have have survived, with the one to Ebenezer Jackson noting the funeral arrangements and the one to David Bailie Warden simply as follows:
Monsieur Maximilien Godefroy, ex-Colonel in the Engineering Corps serving the United States; member of Saint Mary's University of Baltimore; of the Academy of Philadelphia; of the Society of the Arts of the United States; and Architect of the Department of Mayenne, has the honor of inform you of the painful loss he has suffered in the person of Madame Elisabeth Godefroy (née Crawford), his spouse, who died today at 9 o'clock in the evening.
De Profundis [in the depths]
Laval, 2 October 1839
Maryland Historical Society, Godefroy Papers
Eliza had been certain, as had Godefroy, that he had been forgotten, and his accomplishments ignored, but she was not aware of the Boston Traveler account published five months before she died. The article failed to mention St. Mary’s Chapel, and did not attribute the Battle Monument to Godefroy, but it did praise the church he built for the Unitarians, making it clear that the Traveler recognized his brilliance, noting that “the whole building is in a state of great harmony and repose,” with a magnificent dome imitated from that of the Pantheon in Rome. She might also have relished the devastating critique of the Baltimore Exchange for which neither had forgiven Latrobe. “The Baltimore Exchange is a clumsy building , without any pretensions to architectural taste, and only distinguished for its size.”
The Godefroys might have been even more pleased if she had seen the little book published by Fielding Lucas in 1833, Pictures of Baltimore. It was ghost written by John H. B. Latrobe, Benjamin Henry Latrobe’s son, who would have been sixteen when the Godefroy’s left Baltimore and very well could have taken drawing lessons, as his brother Henry had done, from Maximilian. Godefroy is the only architect, including John’s father, who is prominently featured with drawings of his buildings accompanying the narrative with full name attribution for almost all. It was a fitting graphic acknowledgement of Godefroy’s talents from his former associate’s son. The drawings are charming:
All the above images of Godefroy’s architecture are from hand colored copies of the original line drawings taken from A Picture of Baltimore (1833), now in Special Collections of Johns Hopkins University, and placed online by Baltimore Heritage
There is no record of what happened to Maximilian Godefory, then 73, after Eliza’s death. The following year he annotates a brief biographical sketch of himself expressing “his distress at all she had suffered by returning with him to his native France,”and then completely disappears. His position at Laval was filled in 1842 by someone else. Where he lies buried is unknown.
As to the Battle of Pultowa, it is now in the collections of the Maryland Historical Society, given by the family of Godefroy’s faithful St. Mary’s student, Ebenezer Jackson.
courtesy of the Maryland Historical Society
Interestingly enough it had one last major public display at the famous National Academy of Design in 1842. By whom it was displayed is not yet known, but in all likelihood it was there as a memorial to a beloved teacher whose dreams were fulfilled more than he would ever know, but who throughout his life was haunted by his dreams of castles in Spain.
Maximilian Godefroy, 1814?, Maryland State Archives, Peabody Collection
Years later this portrait of Godefroy would surface (1853) in an exhibit at the Maryland Historical Society, and be given to the Peabody Library in 1881. It was said to have been by Rembrandt Peale painted about the time he began the Battle Monument, but to date no proof has been found. It could be by Charles Bird King.
The Godefroy portrait is yet another mystery to be solved in the life of Maximilian Godefroy, along with the intriguing thought that Eliza was so admired by the Italian sculptor [Capellano], that she and her visage appear as Lady Baltimore atop Godefroy’s most famous monument and presides over the official seal of Baltimore City. Look closely at her crown. It is a castle or fortifications, perhaps in part purposely symbolic of the weight Eliza had to bear of her husband’s dreams and schemes of “castles in Spain,” although it is also a traditional ‘mural crown’ symbolic of cities’.
from the Slippery Rock Gazette
As to the mahogany box--
I presume it rests among the collections of the Queen of England or wherever the papers and artifacts of the Grand Old Duke of York are stored. To my knowledge it was never returned.
 attributed to Chaucer and quoted from: https://books.google.com/
 For sources related to Aaron Burr including Mary Jo Klein’s printed and microfilm edition of Burr’s papers see: http://bioguide.congress.gov/
 The story of Aaron Burr is well known, largely through the efforts of Mary-Jo Kline to gather and edit all his surviving papers, and by his several biographers, premier among whom are Nathan Schachner, Aaron Burr. New York: Frederick A. Stokes Co., 1937, and Milton Lomask,. Aaron Burr. 2 vols. New York: Farrar, Straus Giroux, 1979-1982. See Schachner and Lomask for details about Burr summarized here. For Martin and Burr see; Paul S. Clarkson and R. Samuel Jett, Luther Martin of Maryland, Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1970, p.303.
 For the liaison with the Duke of Wellington and the marriage to his brother see the well-researched and accurate historical novel by Jehanne Wake, Sisters of Fortune: America's Caton Sisters at Home and Abroad, New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011. For Harper’s connections with Burr, see: Mary- Jo Kline, ed., Political Correspondence and Public Papers of Aaron Burr, 2 vols, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1983, index entries to both volumes.
 The Private Journal of Aaron Burr, Rochester, N. Y.: 1903, vol. I:52
 “To Horse Guards to meet General [Alexander] Hope by appointment. Had an hour's
confab and received an explanation. To testify his intimacy with Colonel Williamson, he showed me the
very chiffre* which I had given Williamson.” See: The Private Journal of Aaron Burr, 2 vols, Rochester, N.Y., 1903, I:32. Burr had in his possession a pamphlet signed Agrestis, attributed to his son-in-law, Joseph Alston, but possibly authored or co-authored by his daughter, Theo, that detailed Wilkinson’s duplicity. See: Private Journal, I:52. The Colonel Williamson that Burr refers to in his diary is Charles Williamson, close friend of Burr’s and a “Scottish-born secret-service officer” whose efforts to aid Burr’s plans and schemes are reviewed in Milton Lomask’s Aaron Burr, especially vol 22, pp 33-35, ff. JAMES WILKINSON [1757-1825, Maryland born] was transferred to the southern frontier in 1798 and was designated to treat with the regional Indian tribes; was again the senior officer of the United States Army, 15 June 1800-27 January 1812; with Governor William C. C. Claiborne, shared the honor of taking possession of the Louisiana Purchase on behalf of the United States, 1803; was appointed governor of Louisiana Territory, 1805; was the subject of a congressional inquiry prompted by his continuing private ventures and intrigues, and was cleared by a court-martial ordered by President Madison in 1811; married his second wife, Celestine Laveau, 1810; was commissioned a major general in the War of 1812 and assigned to the St. Lawrence River sector, 1813; was relieved from active service but cleared by a military inquiry for the failure of the Montreal campaign; published his memoirs, 1816; visited Mexico in pursuit of a Texas land grant, 1821; died in Mexico City on 28 December 1825. See: http://www.history.army.mil/
 The Grand old Duke of York he had ten thousand men
He marched them up to the top of the hill
And he marched them down again.
When they were up, they were up
And when they were down, they were down
And when they were only halfway up
They were neither up nor down
 See: 19th Congress, 1st Session, Document No. 189, March 25, 1826, Joseph Nourse, Register, A Statement shewing the Nett Amount of Revenue derived from Imports and Tonnage received by the Treasury of the United States from the Ports within the Bay of Chesapeake, from the first of January, 1790, to the last of December, 1825 ….
 Baltimore, under the leadership of Senator Samuel Smith, remained loyal to Jefferson and his embargo policies. The answer may well be the extensive clandestine and untaxed trade in wheat to the Peninsula to supply Wellington’s army, which even the President acknowledged as a necessary violation of the embargo. Baltimore merchants were masters of illicit trade. See: The American Grain Trade to the Spanish Peninsula, 1810-1814 by W. Freeman Galpin, The American Historical Review, Vol. 28, No. 1 (Oct., 1922), pp. 24-44.
 American and Commercial Daily Advertiser (Baltimore, Md), April 21, 1809.
 See note 1 above.
 see: Papenfuse, The map that made Baltimore, forthcoming, and A Plea for Better Privies and a Cleaner life-Baltimore's ...
 the assessment of Maximilian Godefroy before he came to Baltimore is taken from a careful review of the dossier kept by the Paris Police. The dossier is first referred to by Dorothy Quynn in “Maximilian and Eliza Godefroy,” Maryland Historical Magazine, vol 52, No. 1, March 1957, pp. 1-34. Quynn provides a succinct overview of the dossier including noting the first published references to Godefroy’s incarceration in La Police secrète du Premier Empire. Bulletins quotidiens adressés par Fouché́ à l'Empereur, 1804-1805 (1805-1806, 1806-1807, 1808-1809, 1809-1810). Publiés par E. d'Hauterive d'après les documents originaux inédits déposés aux Archives Nationales, etc. by Joseph Fouché́, Duke of Otranto.; Jean GRASSION; Ernest d' HAUTERIVE; Paris, 1908 The volume for 1804-1804 refers to Godefroy, prisoner of state, in entries 200, 211, 244, 365, 368, and 437, including an allowance for his military service! (entry 244). Quynn summarizes the dossier as follows:
On his arrest, his papers had been seized, and they included three essays which
are still to be found in his dossier among the police records at the Archives
Nationales, MS F7 6366, doss. 7484: (1) Sur la Louisiane, (2) Mes chateaux dans
la Nouvelle Espagne, (3) Une famille independante d'Hongrie. There must have
been more than one copy of the first, for when Godefroy's sister got family papers
back from the police, she signed a receipt for a copy of the paper on Louisiana.
This is also in the dossier. The last of the three papers, on a Hungarian family,
appears to be fictional and to bear no resemblance to biographical details of the
Godefroy family. The first two papers, however, were responsible for the fears
of the police ridiculous as this may seem today, for Louisiana had been sold to
the United States some months before Godefroy's arrest and about a year before
the police expressed these fears in a report to the Emperor. (Hauterive, I, 116, 140.)
" Arch. Nat. MS F7 6366 doss. 7484.
The dossier was also examined in some detail by Robert L. Alexander in The Architecture of Maximilian Godefroy, Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1974, ff.. Alexander was a careful and systematic scholar who demonstrates a command of all the extant evidence relating to Godefroy’s architecture. He has little if any interest in Godefroy’s obsession with military tactics, engineering, and defensive devices, but his published footnotes lead to most of the surviving evidence of that obsession. One that he missed is discussed below.
Neither Quynn nor Alexander utilized the dossier to the full in attempting to understand Godefroy’s mental state and its consequences for his Baltimore sojourn, and they largely ignored or discounted his obsession with Louisiana, military strategy and his invention the 'cheval de frize portatif' which, along with his “Battle of Pultowa,” so dramatically shaped the person he became with Eliza’s help.
Robert L. Alexander, p, 203, ff. does address Godefroy’s pride and his ‘social failure,’ but misses the underlying cause, what today would probably be diagnosed as severe manic depression, and despondency over the failure of his and Eliza’s dreams, despite the talents he was certain he possessed.
The details of Godefroy’s life prior to his coming to America as presented here are taken from the original police dossier, a copy of which was purchased from the National Archives of France (Arch. Not. MS F7 6366 doss. 7484). Elborg Forster graciously translated and abstracted the dossier, and the details presented here are drawn from her work. I am most grateful to her for her help and insights. The interpretation is my own.
 dossier 221 – p. 8 of the piece on My Castles in the New Spain. Translated by Elborg Forster. I am much indebted to Elborg for reviewing and translating the dossier for me, and for Robert and Elborg Forsters’ insights into French history during Godefroy’s life in France.
 Diary of my travels in America by Louis Philippe, King of the French, New York: Delacorte Press, ©1977, pp. 18-19, n. 3. “They were made very welcome in Baltimore, and dined in particular with Robert Gilmore, an associate of the banker Willing. They made a number of purchases to round out their equipment: pistols, sabres, powder, pipes, pouches, and flints, which cost them $40. to smooth their way, Gilmore wrote out the text of a letter of credit in his own hand on the flyleaf of the Duc d’ Orleans’ travel notebook: “Should M. d’Orleans have occasion for funds during his journey, he will apply to Mr. Burton at Richmond or Mr. Nicholas at Lexington, who will furnish for the bills on [signed] Robert Gilmore et Co.”
 dossier and Hauterive (see above, note 14), 1804-1805, entry 368 in which charges are levied against Godefroy’s jailer at the Bellegarde prison for letting him escape. Quynn does not cite this entry.
 The History of Charles XII King of Sweden by M. De Voltaire, Perth: printed by R. Morison, for Will. Morison, 1801, pp. 127-128. Copies in English were readily available in the United States. In 1807 it was one of many titles for sale by Samuel Bradford in Baltimore. See the Federal Gazette and Baltimore Advertiser, November 4, 1807, http://mdhistory.net/msa_
 Latrobe’s Papers, Carter edition, p. 183
 Jackson’s purchase of Pultowa.
 There are a number of biographies of Betsy Patterson that include a discussion of her association with Eliza Crawford Anderson Godefroy, including Betsy Bonaparte : the belle of Baltimore by Claude Bourguignon- Frasseto, Baltimore: Maryland Historical Society, ©2003, translated by Elborg Forster, Betsy Bonaparte by Helen Jean Burn: Baltimore, Md.: Maryland Historical Society, ©2010, and Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte : an American aristocrat in the early republic by Charlene M Boyer Lewis, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, ©2012. Eliza’s life is chronicled in fiction by Natalie Wexler whose research was exhaustive and accurate. See: The Observer by Natalie Wexler, Washington, D.C.: Kalorama Press,  © 2014, and her well-documented web site: http://nataliewexler.com/, especially http://nataliewexler.com/
 quoted by Carolina V. Davison, “Maximilian and Eliza Godefroy,” Maryland Historical Magazine, vol. 29, 1934, p. 10 from an original then privately owned.
 1807/11/04, Federal Gazette & Baltimore Daily Advertiser, http://mdhistory.net/msa_
 Eliza Anderson (not yet Godefroy) responded to her critics in a letter to the editor published on October 19, 1807. Having been accused of pirating the translation from another english translation, she lashed out with a characteristic attack on her accuser: “That two translations of the same work should have been made, one in England and one in America is no matter of surprize; but that such wanton malignity as this accusation evinces, should proceed from one human being towards another, is a circumstance which it requires some knowledge of the hypocrisy and malice which which reign in the world to believe.” Because of his acute deficiency in expressing himself in English, at times Eliza would become his spokesperson and would write the letters in English that he would sign.
 In the wake of the French Revolution, groups of royalists loyal to the House of Bourbon rose up against the new government. One group was the Chouans of Brittany, led by Jean Chouan. They allied themselves with counter-revolutionary forces in Vendée and by 1793 the Revolt in the Vendée had begun. The insurrection was put down by the republic, and within two years the royalist forces had been routed.
 American Artillerist’s Companion or Elements of Artillery. ….by Louis De Tousard, Volume I, (Philadelphia, Baltimore, Petersburg, and Norfolk: 1808
 See Latrobe’s letter to Albert Gallatin, November 19, 1806, outlining his association with Burr and his knowledge of Burr’s plans and offers to him. The Papers of Benjamin Latrobe, vol II, pp. 290-295, and Latrobe’s letter to Godefroy, ibid., pp.266-269.
 Latrobe, papers, II, p. 292
 Outgoing correspondence, 1796-1810, Box 2, 1806 Maximilian Godefroy, Eleuthère Irénée du Pont Papers (Accession LMSS:III), Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE
Godefroy’s architectural achievements have been carefully examined and a catalog of his known art compiled by Robert L. Alexander. See: The Architecture of Maximilian Godefroy by Robert L Alexander, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press , and “The Drawings and Allegories of Maximilian Godefroy,” Maryland Historical Magazine, Volume LIII, 1958, pp. 17-33.
 BALTIMORE COUNTY COURT (Naturalization Docket) 1796-1851, Book 1, Film Reel: CR 75564 MSA CM1329-1, f. 44.
 Papers of Henry Clay, vol. I, pp. 599-600, https://archive.org/details/
 Robert L. Alexander, The Architecture of Maximilian Godefroy, pp. 79-81.
quoted by Carolina Davison, Maryland Historical Magazine, vol. XXIX, 1934, p. 206.
see Alexander, pp. 46-47 for the source of the quote and other details relating to Godefroy’s work on the defenses of the city.
 The Crayon, vol. 3, 1856, p. 6.
 the best impartial account of the break with Latrobe is to be found in Talbot Hamilin, Benjamin Henry Latrobe, New York: Oxford University Press, 1955, esp. pp. 488-492.
 I am indebted to Alexandra Deutsch for a copy of this letter which was only partly transcribed by in the Maryland Historical Magazine and misreads the ‘your’ as ‘our’. Alexandra also sent me the text of the wrapper that Betsy later placed around Eliza’s letters, “From the talented good friend Mme Godefroy whose memory I always shall love—EP June 28th 1867, MS 142, Box 11.
 The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, edited by Frank Woodworth Pine (Garden City, N. Y.:Garden City Publishing Co., Inc., 1916, pp. 199-200.
 Edward C. Carter II, ed., The Papers of Benjamin Latrobe, Series IV, Correspondence and Miscellaneous Papers, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988 v. 3: 785.
 Lance Humphries supplied the following notes from the Robert Oliver Papers, Maryland Historical Society:
Box 17 Ledger 1807 --1821 f. 20
Maximilian Godefroy Town
1809 June 3 To Office of Discount 301 1500.00
[right hand column]
1810 June 28 By William Miller 486 750.00
1819 Decr. 31 By Profit + Loss 486 750.00
Journal 1808–1810, Box 18 f. 301
June 3, 1809
20. 202 Maximilian Godefroy Dr. to Office of Discount
20. 202 for Check 236 lent him pr. his Note of this date pble. on demd.
N.B. The above Loan is made on our + Mrs. John Craig's
joint accot. and she will be liable to us for one half
the amount with Interest, in case Mr. Godefroy
should be unable to pay 1500.00
June 28, 1810
588. 147 William Miller Dr. to Maximilian Godefroy
588. 20 for 1/2 of $1500. lent the latter the 3d. June last, for
which the Estate of John Craig is liable, it
being sanctioned by Mrs. Craig 750.00
 Elizabeth Patterson to William Patterson, May 22, 1823, as published in Eugene L. Dider, The Life and Letters of Madame Bonaparte (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1879), 142. I am indebted to Lance Humphries for this reference.
 Baltimore County Land Records, WG 153, f. 316, cited by Quynn, Maximilian and Eliza …, p. 21, n. 27.
 Maryland Historical Magazine, Volume 36 Issue 1 (1941), pp. 13=14.
 David Bailey Warden Papers, Maryland Historical Society. De Profundis: This lament, a Penitential Psalm, is the De profundis used in liturgical prayers for the faithful departed in Western liturgical tradition. In deep sorrow the psalmist cries to God (1-2), asking for mercy (3-4). The psalmist's trust (5-6) becomes a model for the people (7-8). v1. the depths: Here is a metaphor of total misery. Deep anguish makes the psalmist feel "like those who go down to the pit" (Psalm 143:7).
 The Traveller, Boston, Tuesday Morning, May 7, 1839.
 Picture of Baltimore (Baltimore: Fielding Lucas, 1833). John H. B. Latrobe claims authorship of the text and drawings in the volume in his memoir edited by Raphael Semmes, but nowhere there does he mention the Godefroys.
 Dorothy Quynn, Maryland Historical Magazine, vol. 52, no. 1, March 1957, p. 30.
 I am indebted to Judge James Schneider for the reference to the ‘mural crown’ that is to be found in the Baltimore Patriot for September 11, 1822, where it is described as “a Mural Crown emblematic of Cities”. The face on the Baltimore statue of victory, while certainly classical in form, is much more human even in its weathered state. For classical poses with the mural crown see such images as those found at: http://susannagalanis.com/