George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Henry Babcock, 25 February 1784

From Henry Babcock

Stonington [Conn.] 25th Feby 1784

Great illustrious, Sir! I have for these several Years set down to my desk to congratulate Your Excellency, upon your unparreled Successes in Arms.

There is a Gentleman that lives in Northampton who studies under the great Doctor Stiles, President of Yale College, in the State of Connecticut; has a true Poetick Vain, superior to any Man, I am acquainted with, who would (if possible[)] do Justice to your matchless Achievements, perhaps equal to Alexander Pope, Swift or Driden, when arrived to the Years of Homer would equal his Poetry: I intend writing him upon the Subject—If he could be informed from your own Cabinet; it would be better Information; than any History yet wrote, not excepting Mr Gordons history of the american Revolution; It would be read with Great Avidity, thro out the Globe; If it could, as & if translated into the language of Ciceronian Latin, which, Mr Dwight could easily do. He certainly is one of the most learned Gentleman I am acquainted with.1 I certainly should be greatly indebted to Your excellencey, for the acknoleding of my Letter. This I certainly can say that the Minister of Great Britain did send to America; the very best Generals they had: And notwithstanding there great Superiority in Numbers, of veteran Troops, your Excellency out generald them all. had General Bradock attended to your advise, he would with your Assistance been triumpant; and those that remained, owed their lives to your great Exertions; otherwise, there would scarce been a Messenger to inform the Pub[l]ick. I have the Honor to be with every Sentiment of Esteem, & profoundest Respect, Your Excellencys most obedient & most humble Servant

Henry Babcock


Col. Henry (Harry) Babcock (1736–1800), a graduate of Yale College

(1752) and colonel of a regiment at the attack on Fort Ticonderoga in 1775, was dismissed in 1776 from the command of the Rhode Island forces because of his “distemperd mind” (GW to Nicholas Cooke, 28 April 1776).

1Timothy Dwight (1752–1817), one of the Hartford, or Connecticut, Wits, gave up his position as tutor at Yale College in 1777 to become an army chaplain. In January 1779 he returned to his home in Northampton, Mass., where he remained for five years. While in Northampton, Dwight composed an epic poem, The Conquest of Canaan (1785), in which he made many allusions to contemporary events in America.

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