Bollmann and Huger


Justus Erich Bollmann was a German physician who played an important political role during French Revolution . 

He was born in Hoya , in Lower Saxony, in a rich family of merchants and was sent  to the medical school in Göttingen. 

In 1791, once graduated , Justus, who was overall idealist (in accordance to his Christian name...), decided to participate to the French Révolution and  arrives in Paris in 1792, in the midst of the Terror[1] [2] 

In Paris, Bollemann met, through the chaplain of the Swedish embassy,  the highly famed author of this time, Germaine de Stael, and on her demand, helped successfully her friend Comte de Narbonnes to escape the revolutionnaries and flee to London.

 Now Bonnemann was hired to organize the escape of La Fayette from his Moravian jail with the help of a young american physician, Francis Huger

 Francis Kinloch Huger (1773 - 1855)

 Francis was son to an old companion of George Washington, Major Benjamin Huher, who had a plantation 50 miles north of Charleston. La Fayette happenened to stay there for a while and  he met there the young Francis who later went to England to enter medical studies. Afterwards, in 1794 he decided, as customary in those days for a young student, to tour Europe.

 There he happened to meet Justus Bollman, they  became friends and both decided to help Lafayette escape from his jail[3].  Francis had grown up hearing stories of the great Lafayette and his glorious action with General Washington.

  The Olomuc expedition

 The two friends devised an intricate plan to get Lafayette out of the Moravian fortress of Olomouc[4].  They bribed a guard, with help of a surgeon of the nearby hospital,  into letting them pass letters to Lafayette.  The letters had in margins, written in lemon juice, a clever plan for escape. Lafayette was taken out daily for a walk accompanied by three Austrian guards. However, according to Lafayette, the driver was an “over-large, clumsy man” and the other two guards “a pair of crippled old soldiers, no longer good for anything except guard duty”.

 On November 4, 1794, Lafayette was taken out for his “exercise” while Huger and Bollman were following behind in a  carriage at a safe distance.  Lafayette got out of his carriage for his walk and seeing the approach of his friends, grabbed for the sword of the “clumsy man” who fought back stubbornly and at one time had Lafayette on the ground strangling him, whereupon Huger knocked the guard off Lafayette and yelled “get to Hof![5]” The problem is that La Fayette did not understand and wandered several days in the country until he met a group of peasants who were very suspicious of this man all over stained with mud and blood, speaking with a strong French accent and they turned him over to Austrian authorities. 

 Huger and Bollman were shirtly after captured and thrown into the dungeons of the old castle, with Huger in solitary confinement shackled to the walls. They spent 8 months in prison, but were finally given a light sentence thanks to the judges who were apparently paid by american authorities to grant them leniency.

Further destiny of Francis Huger 

Once free, Huger returned to the U.S. where he could meet again,  in 1825 Lafayette who was on his last visit to America.  Later  Huger married the daughter of Thomas Pinckney, an important diplomat from Charleston. His son,  Benjamin, served as general officer in Confederate armies during the Civil War

What hapened to Justus Bollmann ? 

As for Justus, when he got out from jail , he went back to London where he tried to open a vinegar factory but it went quickly bankrupt. After, Bolleman worked as agent for the well-lnown Barings Bank. 

Justus career did not stop there : he attended as non-official US representative the famed 1815 Vienna Congress. He was received several times by Chancelor  Metternich to discuss a project of  Trade Agreement between Austria and the United States.  

Shortly after , Bollmann , never short of  imagination, went in the platinum market, which was booming at that time. Thus, Bollmann sold in 1820 a large amount of the precious ore to William Wollaston, the well known British scientist. From 1820 to 1821 Justus sold on the London market platinum for a total of 40,000 £. At that time, he entered also in long negotiations with Don Francisco Antonio Zea , vice president of the new Republic of Colombia[6]

 Stirring constantly new projects, Bollmann decided to  comme back to America but died during the voyage and was buried in Kingston's cemetery , Jamaica. 

The Justus Bollmann history was related in détail in a success  book written by Albert Heinrich Oppermann "One Hundred Years ", the "best seller" of its time[7].


[1] "The spectator's Archives" du 26 mars 1881 (page 15)

[2] See E. Bollmann, "Brief an seinen Vater vom 12.8.1792, zit. nach: Behschnitt, W. Die Französische Revolution, Quellen und Darstellungen", in Politische Bildung, Materialien für den Unterricht. Stuttgart 1978, S. 65f

[3] All référence are in the very interesting paper of Bill Stanton "The Strange, True Story of Dr. Francis Kinloch Huger and the Marquis de Lafayette" issued in "Charleston stories" from the inyernet site ""

[4] Olomouc (or Olmutz) is located in Moracia, now in the Czech republic.

[5] Hof is a Franconian city near Bayreuth

[6] See from John Chadlecott, " Justus Erich Bollmann and his platinum enterprises : activities in North America and Europe before the year 1816 " (Ed. Scientific Museum, Londres, 1982) 

[7]Albert Heinrich Oppermann, "Hundert Jahre"  is published on "Google Books" (")






Date de dernière mise à jour : 29/05/2014

Créer un site gratuit avec e-monsite - Signaler un contenu illicite sur ce site