George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Goddard, 14 June 1785

From William Goddard

Baltimore, June 14th 1785.


I have now the Honour to present you with a Copy of the proposals, for publishing Miscellaneous Collections of General Lee’s Papers, agreeable to my last.1 I hope it will come safe to your hands; and am most respectfully, Your Excellency’s most obedient & very humble Servant

William Goddard


1Goddard enclosed his printed Proposals for Printing by Subscription of Charles Lee’s papers, dated 10 June 1785 at Baltimore. The prospectus included the statement that the three volumes would be sent to the press “as soon as a competent Number of Subscribers can be obtained.” The price was to be one guinea, one-half guinea to be paid upon subscription and the other one-half upon delivery of the volumes. The Proposals notes: “The most difficult Task the Editors met with in collecting and arranging these posthumous Papers, arose from their Desire of not giving Offence to such Characters as had been the Object of the General’s Aversion and Resentment. Unhappily his Disappointments had soured his Temper; the Affair of Monmouth, several Pieces of Scurrility from the Press, and numerous Instances of private Slander and Defamation, so far got the better of his Philosophy, as to provoke him in the highest Degree, that he became, as it were, angry with all Mankind.

“To this exasperated Disposition we may impute the Origin of his Political Queries, and a Number of satirical Hints, thrown out both in his Conversation and Writing, against the Commander in Chief. Humanity will draw a Veil over the involuntary Errors of Sensibility, and pardon the Sallies of a suffering Mind, as its Presages did not meet with an Accomplishment. General Washington, by his Retirement, demonstrated to the World, that Power was not his Object; that America had nothing to fear from his Ambition; but that she was honoured with a Specimen of such exalted Patriotism, as could not fail to attract the Attention and Admiration of the most distant Nations.” Subscriptions were to be paid at Goddard’s printing shop in Baltimore or to the printers Frederick Green at Annapolis and George Richards at Alexandria (Maryland Journal [Baltimore], 15 July 1785). Not enough people subscribed to make publication feasible.

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