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Friedrich Sorge was born on 9th November 1828 in Bethau, Germany. His father was a parson, who held radical political views.
As a young man he became aware of the work of Karl Marx. In 1848 he read the Communist Manifesto was published in Germany in February, 1848. Later that month a police spy in Belgium reported that: "This noxious pamphlet must indisputably exert the most corrupting influence upon the uneducated public at whom it is directed. The alluring theory of the dividing-up of wealth is held out to factory workers and day labourers as an innate right, and a profound hatred of the rulers and the rest of the community is inculcated into them. There would be a gloomy outlook for the fatherland and for civilisation if such activities succeeded in undermining religion and respect for the laws and in any great measure infected the lower class of the people." (1)
Inspired the pamphlet Sorge joined a group of armed revolutionaries in Saxony, but after they were defeated he was forced to take refuge in Switzerland. Sorge was condemned to death in Germany for his role in the 1848 Revolution. In 1851 he was expelled by the Swiss and moved to Belgium. In March 1852 he was expelled from Belgium and moved to London, where he met Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. (2)
In June 1852, he boarded a ship for New York City. He became a music teacher, married and moved to Hoboken, New Jersey. In 1857 he helped form the New York Communist Club, which was an educational society involved in the anti-slavery movement. (3)
On September 28th, 1864, a meeting took place in St. Martin’s Hall in London. The meeting was organised by George Howell and attended by a wide array of radicals, including Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Wilhelm Liebknecht, August Bebel, Élisée Reclus, Ferdinand Lassalle, William Greene, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Friedrich Sorge and Louis Auguste Blanqui. The historian Edward Spencer Beesly was in the chair and he advocated "a union of the workers of the world for the realisation of justice on earth". (4)
In his speech, Beesly "pilloried the violent proceedings of the governments and referred to their flagrant breaches of international law. As an internationalist he showed the same energy in denouncing the crimes of all the governments, Russian, French, and British, alike. He summoned the workers to the struggle against the prejudices of patriotism, and advocated a union of the toilers of all lands for the realisation of justice on earth." (5)
The new organisation was called the International Workingmen's Association. Karl Marx attended the meeting and he was asked to become a member of the General Council that consisted of two Germans, two Italians, three Frenchmen and twenty-seven Englishmen (eleven of them from the building trade). Marx was proposed as President but as he later explained: "I declared that under no circumstances could I accept such a thing, and proposed Odger in my turn, who was then in fact re-elected, although some people voted for me despite my declaration." (6)
Friedrich Sorge agreed to be IWMA's representative in New York City. By December 1869 it had 46 members and the following year he established the Central Committee of the North American IWMA. In September 1871 he organized a demonstration of 20,000 workers, including black workers, demanding an eight-hour day and supporting the Paris Commune. (7)
Karl Marx continued to write on a regular basis to Sorge. In one letter Marx made some predictions about the future that included the First World War and the Russian Revolution: "What the Prussian jackasses don't see is that the present war leads just as necessarily to war between Germany and Russia as the war of 1866 led to war between Prussia and France. That is the best result that I expect of it for Germany. Prussianism as such has never existed and cannot exist other than in alliance and in subservience to Russia. And this War No. 2 will act as the mid-wife of the inevitable revolution in Russia." (8)
The IWMA National Congress took place at the Hague, in September, 1872. According to newspaper reports, local people were warned "not to go into the streets with articles of value upon them" as the "International is coming and will steal them". Vast crowds followed the delegates from the railway station to the hotel, "the figure of Karl Marx attracting special attention". Marx dominating the proceedings "his black broadcloth suit contrasted with his white hair and beard and he would screw a monocle into his eye when he wanted to scrutinise his audience." (9)
At the congress a report was presented that showed Mikhail Bakunin had tried to establish a secret society within the IWMA and was also guilty of fraud. It also revealed details of the letter sent by Sergi Nechayev to Marx's publisher in Russia. The delegates voted twenty-seven votes to seven, that Bakunin should be expelled from the association. (10)
Marx had decided to retire from the IWMA and concentrate on the second volume of Das Kapital. Marx decided that the General Council of the IWMA should be moved to America. Engels proposed at the congress that the organisation should be transferred to New York City. The vote was very close with twenty-six for, twenty-three against and 9 abstentions. (11)
Friedrich Sorge now became general secretary of the International Workingmen's Association. The rival anarchists held a rival congress immediately following the IWMA congress. In 1873 they had another congress that was attended by anarchists from England, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands. Sorge attempted to organise a congress in Geneva in 1873, but it was poor attended after Marx instructed his followers not to attend. Marx wrote to Sorge in 1874 that "in England the International is for the time being as good as dead". (12)
In 1874 a group of socialists led by Sorge formed the Workingmen's Party. Three years later it was renamed the Socialist Labor Party. Some members of the party came under the influence of the anarchist ideas of the German revolutionary, Johann Most.
In 1886 the party became involved in helping organize the campaign for the eight-hour day. At one meeting on 4th May, in Chicago, the Haymarket Bombing took place and several former members of the party, including August Spies, Albert Parson, Adolph Fisher and George Engel, were found guilty of conspiracy to murder and executed.
Friedrich Sorge died on 26 October 1906 in Hoboken, New Jersey. His grandnephew, Richard Sorge was also an important revolutionary socialist.
What the Prussian jackasses don't see is that the present war leads just as necessarily to war between Germany and Russia as the war of 1866 led to war between Prussia and France. 2 will act as the mid-wife of the inevitable revolution in Russia.
Child Labour Simulation (Teacher Notes)
Richard Arkwright and the Factory System (Answer Commentary)
Robert Owen and New Lanark (Answer Commentary)
James Watt and Steam Power (Answer Commentary)
The Domestic System (Answer Commentary)
The Luddites (Answer Commentary)
Handloom Weavers (Answer Commentary)
(1) Report of a police agent spying on Karl Marx (27th May, 1848)
(2) David McLellan, Karl Marx: A Biography (1973) page 373
(3) Robert Ernst, Immigrant Life in New York City, 1825-1863 (1994) page 119
(4) Martha S. Vogeler, Edward Spencer Beesly : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-2014)
(5) Yuri Mikhailovich Steklov, History Of The First International (1928) page 45
(6) Karl Marx, letter to Friedrich Engels (26th September, 1866)
(7) Daniel Gaido, The Formative Period of American Capitalism: A Materialist Interpretation (2006) page 101
(8) Karl Marx, letter to Friedrich Sorge (1st September, 1870)
(9) David McLellan, Karl Marx: A Biography (1973) page 371-72
(10) Francis Wheen, Karl Marx (1999) page 347
(11) David McLellan, Karl Marx: A Biography (1973) page 372
(12) Karl Marx, letter to Friedrich Sorge (27th September, 1873)
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Friedrich Sorge - History
Published: Gesamtausgabe , International Publishers, 1942
Additional text from Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected Correspondence, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1975
Transcribed: Sally Ryan
HTML Markup: Sally Ryan.
[London,] 20 June, 1881
. Before your copy of Henry George  arrived I had already received two others, one from Swinton  and one from Willard Brown  I therefore gave one to Engels and one to Lafargue. Today I must confine myself to a very brief formulation of my opinion of the book. Theoretically the man [Henry George]  is utterly backward! He understands nothing about the nature of surplus value and so wanders about in speculations which follow the English model but have now been superseded even among the English, about the different portions of surplus value to which independent existence is attributed--about the relations of profit, rent, interest, etc. His fundamental dogma is that everything would be all right if ground rent were paid to the state. (You will find payment of this kind among the transitional measures included in The Communist Manifesto too.) This idea originally belonged to the bourgeois economists it was first put forward (apart from a similar demand at the end of the eighteenth century) by the earliest radical followers of Ricardo, soon after his death. I said of it in 1847, in my work against Proudhon: “We can understand that economists like Mill” (the elder, not his son John Stuart, who also repeats this in a somewhat modified form) “Cherbuliez, Hilditch and others have demanded that rent should be paid to the state in order that it may serve as a substitute for taxes. This is a frank expression of the hatred which the industrial capitalist dedicates to the landed proprietor, who seems to him a useless and superfluous element in the general total of bourgeois production.”
We ourselves, as I have already mentioned, adopted this appropriation of ground rent by the state among numerous other transitional measures, which, as we also remarked in the Manifesto , are and must be contradictory in themselves.
But the first person to turn this desideratum [requirement] of the radical English bourgeois economists into a socialist panacea, to declare this procedure to be the solution of the antagonisms involved in the present method of production, was Colins, a former old Hussar officer of Napoleon’s, born in Belgium, who in the latter days of Guizot and the first of Napoleon the Less, favoured the world from Paris with some fat volumes about this “discovery” of his. Like another discovery he made, namely, that while there is no God there is an “immortal” human soul and that animals have “no feelings.” For if they had feelings, that is souls, we should be cannibals and a realm of righteousness could never be founded upon earth. His “anti-landownership” theory together with his theory of the soul, etc., have been preached every month for years in the Parisian Philosophie de l’Avenir [Philosophy of the Future] by his few remaining followers, mostly Belgians. They call themselves “rational collectivists” and have praised Henry George. After them and besides them, among other people, the Prussian banker and former lottery owner Samten from East Prussia, a shallow-brained fellow, has eked out this “socialism” into a thick volume.
All these “socialists” since Colins have this much in common that they leave wage labour and therefore capitalist production in existence and try to bamboozle themselves or the world into believing that if ground rent were transformed into a state tax all the evils of capitalist production would disappear of themselves. The whole thing is therefore simply an attempt, decked out with socialism, to save capitalist domination and indeed to establish it afresh on an even wider basis than its present one.
This cloven hoof (at the same time ass’s hoof) is also unmistakably revealed in the declamations of Henry George. And it is the more unpardonable in him because he ought to have put the question to himself in just the opposite way: How did it happen that in the United States, where, relatively, that is in comparison with civilised Europe, the land was accessible to the great mass of the people and to a certain degree (again relatively) still is, capitalist economy and the corresponding enslavement of the working class have developed more rapidly and shamelessly than in any other country!
On the other hand George’s book, like the sensation it has made with you, is significant because it is a first, if unsuccessful, attempt at emancipation from the orthodox political economy.
H. George does not seem, for the rest, to know anything about the history of the early American anti-renters,** who were rather practical men than theoretical. Otherwise he is a talented writer (with a talent for Yankee advertisement too) as his article on California in the Atlantic proves, for instance. He also has the repulsive presumption and arrogance which is displayed by all panacea-mongers without exception.
1. Marx is referring to Henry George, Progress and Poverty [available at Ludwig von Mises Institute — MIA].
2. John Swinton (1830-1901) — American journalist of Scottish descent, socialist, editor of several New York newspapers, friend of Marx.
3. Willard Brown — American journalist, socialist.
* GEORGE, HENRY (1839-97) American bourgeois economist, earlier a sailor, gold-digger and printer. He was the founder of the land reform movement.
** Settlers in New York State in the ’thirties and ’forties of the 19th century who refused to pay rent for their land and shot down the sheriffs’ officers who came to enforce payment. The no-renters numbered thousands and turned the scale at several elections.
China 1930 [ edit | edit source ]
Sorge moved to Shanghai in 1930 to gather intelligence and foment revolution. Officially, he worked as the editor of a German news service and for the Frankfurter Zeitung. He contacted another spy, Max Clausen. Sorge also met German Soviet spy Ursula Kuczynski Η] and American journalist Agnes Smedley, both his lovers. ⎖] Smedley, a well-known left-wing journalist, worked for the Frankfurter Zeitung. She introduced Sorge to Hotsumi Ozaki, who was employed by the Japanese newspaper, Asahi Shimbun. Later Ozaki agreed to join Sorge's spy network, as well as Hanako Ishii, Sorge's next lover. ⎗]
As a journalist, Sorge established himself as an expert on Chinese agriculture. This gave him the freedom to travel around the country making contacts with members of the Chinese Communist Party. In January 1932, Sorge reported on fighting between Chinese and Japanese troops in the streets of Shanghai. In December he was recalled to Moscow.
References [ edit | edit source ]
0=denotes a character who was a POV in How Few Remain only
1=denotes a character who was a POV from American Front through In at the Death
2=denotes a character who was a POV for all or part The Great War trilogy only
3=denotes a character who was a POV for The Great War and all or part of the American Empire trilogy
4=denotes a character who was a POV for the The Great War trilogy, the American Empire trilogy, and part of the Settling Accounts series
5=denotes a character who was a POV for the American Empire trilogy and the Settling Accounts series
6=denotes a character who was a POV for all or part of the Settling Accounts series only
† denotes a deceased character.
Soviet master spy is hanged by the Japanese
On November 7, 1944, Richard Sorge, a half-Russian, half-German Soviet spy, who had used the cover of a German journalist to report on Germany and Japan for the Soviet Union, is hanged by his Japanese captors.
Sorge fought in World War I in the German army, and then earned his doctorate in political science at the University of Hamburg. He joined Germany’s Communist Party in 1919, traveling to the USSR in 1924. His first major assignment for Soviet intelligence was in the late 1920s, when he was sent to China to organize a spy ring. Returning to Germany, he joined the Nazi Party in 1933 to perfect his cover as a loyal German. He proceeded to develop a reputation as a respected journalist working for the Frankfurter Zeitung, finally convincing his editors to send him to Tokyo as a foreign correspondent in the mid-1930s. Once in Japan, Sorge proceeded once again to create a spy ring, which included an adviser to the Japanese cabinet and an American communist, who was also working for Soviet intelligence as Sorge’s interpreter.
Sorge had so successfully ingratiated himself with the German diplomatic community in Japan that he was allowed to work out of the German embassy, giving him access to confidential files. At the same time, he also befriended Japanese government officials, attempting to convince them not to go to war with the Soviet Union.
In May 1941, Sorge reported back to Moscow that Hitler was planning an invasion of the Soviet Union, and that 170 divisions were preparing to invade on June 20, but Stalin ignored the warning. Sorge was also able to report, in August 1941, that Japan had plans to attack targets in the South Pacific, not in the Soviet Union. This enabled Stalin to remove troops from the Manchurian border, freeing them up for when the Germans finally invaded, as there would be no stern front.”
Obituary of Friedrich Sorge 
Franz Mehring, F.A. Sorge † , Die Neue Zeit, Vol.25 No.1 (1906-07), pp.145-47.
Reprinted in Mehring, Aufsätze zur Geschichte der Arbeiterbewegung [Essays on the History of the Working Class Movement], Berlin: Dietz Verlag, 1963, pp.487-89.
Transcribed by Ted Crawford.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
A few weeks ago we wrote about the precious gift, that our contributor and comrade, Friedrich Adolph Sorge, made to the international working class movement with the publication of his correspondence with Marx and Engels , and today we must already write the obituary of the loyal man.
The loyal man, because loyalty was his innermost essence. Inseparably united to this loyalty was an absolute sincerity. As the first contact between Marx and Engels was unfriendly, so was the first contact between Marx and Sorge. Even during his last weeks Sorge remembered a sharp judgment, which Marx in a letter to other American comrade had brought down on him. When he sent us that letter together with others, he added: “Publish all that seems valuable to you, but what Marx wrote about me, should not be suppressed. I wouldn’t like that.” He never for a moment allowed himself to be suspected of being motivated by petty vanity, though he knew that Marx, through a friendship of many years, had corrected his initial mistake.
Thus was Sorge in everything: loyal and sincere, and of an inflexible rectitude. But he was completely free from what so often goes together with inflexibility: narrowness. The son of a German vicar’s family, he knew none of the usual prejudices which, for instance, confused the judgment of the vicar’s son Albert Lange, for all his often excellent qualities. Sorge’s father was a free thinking parson, one of those Saxon “friends of the enlightenment” which played a most respectable role in the liberalism of the days before May . The house of Sorge’s father was a station in the underground railroad that led from France and Belgium to Poland. Polish revolutionaries frequently spent the night there, from where they were transported five or six miles further to the next station. That was the time in which Robert Blum, the first revolutionary hero of the boy Sorge, in the quiet nights filed the key, which during the Polish insurrection would open the gates of Krakow’s citadel.
Sorge’s home was blessed with the proverbial abundance of children of the protestant parsons. For that reason the father educated his numerous children himself, giving them a considerable grounding in the classical languages, history and literature. He bequeathed to the young Sorge those teaching abilities that would later enable him to survive the miseries of exile. When Robert Blum was being murdered in Vienna and the counterrevolution triumphed in Berlin, he could no longer remain in his father’s house. He set out to Switzerland, from where he was called back by the news of the uprising in Baden. He took part in the armed insurrection and fought together with Ubstadt. Sentenced to death in his fatherland, he was compelled to flee to Genf and Lüttich, and finally forced by police harassment to cross the ocean.
The United States became his second fatherland. At first he regarded the country with antipathy, because of the slavery in the Southern states and the infamous Fugitive Slave Law. His original intention was to migrate to Australia, and it was only by chance that he boarded the ship that took him to America. But in that way he reached the land which enabled him to carry out a historically significant activity. True, at first he had to dedicate all his forces to the crude struggle for survival. When the German Kaiser and the President of the Union exchanged, a few days ago, sonorous words about the blessed influence of German immigrants on the historical development of the United States, the statement made a rare impression. But it should not be forgotten, that those carriers of culture were thrown out of their country by violence and hunger, and were received as importunate beggars. As Sorge didn’t like to make any fuss about his person, he didn’t speak about the time of want. Only once did he mention it. When we reached the magnificent view from the banks of the battery over the New York harbor, he remarked dryly: “Yes, in those banks I have spent many hungry and freezing nights.”
But the miseries of exile cannot have lasted for long. As teacher of music and singing, Sorge secured for himself a comfortable existence, and a few years after his arrival to America married a young German woman, with whom he shared more than fifty years of the happiest marriage, until his death. His household life was certainly not spared bitter suffering due to the loss of children in their prime of life. When he began to take part in public life, he became the most successful pioneer of the [First] International in America, and towards the end its last standard-bearer. From his correspondence with Marx and Engels, which deals in a detailed fashion with our splits, we can see that towards the end of the International he was united to them by the deepest bounds of friendship and intellectual communion.
Sorge spent the last years of his life in peaceful contemplation, living on the rich treasures of his remembrances and enjoying the loyal friendship of his comrades, especially Julie Romm and Hermann Schlüter. They used to visit him alternately every Sunday at his quiet home in West Hoboken, where he finally retired. Those visits were always a great joy to him he was particularly fond of comrade Romm. He also had a close relationship with the children of his friend Joseph Dietzgen, which were like his own children for him.
But his foremost interest always continued to be the fate of the working class movement, and especially of its German branch. When we visited him last summer, he received us with truly touching hospitality. We spent unforgettable hours in his modest house, where Marx and Engels greeted us from the walls of the library and Beethoven and Wagner from the music room. He had always been a jolly drinker, and when, as a farewell, we had a last bottle of wine, which he received as a present for his golden wedding celebration, he drank to an early reunion.
Like all people who can look back to a fertile daily task, he was fond of life and didn’t think about death. But because he had a bad winter behind him and was approaching his eightieth birthday, comrade Room, his medical adviser, feared for the coming winter. For that reason his German friends, to whom he had entrusted the honorable task of publishing the manuscript of his correspondence, edited by himself, made haste as far as possible to bring it out. But death proved to be faster than them, and Sorge couldn’t see the finished book.
But his name will live on in that book and in the history of the International, as well as in his precious contributions to Die Neue Zeit, which mourns him as one of its most loyal friends, readers and contributors.
1. Sorge wrote a history of the American working class movement from its origins to 1896, which first appeared as a series of articles in Die Neue Zeit. It was published in English in two volumes, the first of which was unfortunately edited by the arch-Stalinist historian Philip Foner. See Friedrich A. Sorge’s Labor Movement in the United States: A History of the American Working Class from Colonial Times to 1890, edited by Philip S. Foner and Brewster Chamberlin, Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1977, and Friedrich A. Sorge’s Labor Movement in the United States: A History of the American Working Class from 1890 to 1896, translated by Kai Schoenhals, Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1987. See also Sorge’s memoirs of his participation in the 1848 revolutions: Erinnerungen eines Achtundvierzigers [Remembrances of a Forty-Eighter], Die Neue Zeit, Vol.17 No.2 (1898-99) 150-60, 189-92, 252-56, 284-88, 317-20, 381-84, 414-16, 445-48. – Translator’s Note
2. Franz Mehring, Der Sorgesche Briefwechsel [The Sorge Correspondence], Die Neue Zeit, Vol.25 No.1 (1906-07) pp. 10-19, 50-57. Reprinted in Mehring, Aufsätze zur Geschichte der Arbeiterbewegung, Berlin: Dietz, 1963, pp.50-72.
Friedrich von Steuben arrives at Valley Forge
Friedrich Wilhelm Rudolf Gerhard August, Freiherr von Steuben, a Prussian military officer, arrives at General George Washington’s encampment at Valley Forge on February 23, 1778 and commences training soldiers in close-order drill, instilling new confidence and discipline in the demoralized Continental Army.
Baron von Steuben, as he is better known, was the son of a military engineer and became a Prussian officer himself at the age of 17. He served with distinction and was quickly promoted from infantry to Frederick the Great’s General Staff. In 1763, at age 33 and with the rank of captain, he was discharged for unknown reasons. His title of freiherr, or baron, came with his subsequent post as chamberlain (or palace manager) to the petty court of Hohenzollern-Hechingen in Swabia, or the southwestern Holy Roman Empire, in what is now Baden-Wuerrtemberg. Employed by an indebted prince, von Steuben searched for more lucrative employment in foreign armies. The French minister of war recommended von Steuben to Benjamin Franklin as a resource to the Continental Army in 1777. Franklin in turn passed on word of Steuben’s availability to Washington, and by February 23, 1778, he was among the desperate Continentals camped at Valley Forge.
Von Steuben, who did not speak English, drafted a drill manual in French, which Alexander Hamilton and Nathanael Greene then translated into English. The Prussian drill techniques he shared were far more advanced than those of other European armies, let alone those of the ragtag Patriots. The ego-crushing methods of modern boot camp were practiced among the shoeless soldiers of Valley Forge with remarkable efficacy. Most important for 18th-century battle was an efficient method of firing and reloading weapons, which von Steuben forced the Patriots to practice until it became second nature.
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