George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Tucker, 16 July 1785

From John Tucker

Barbados July 16, 1785

Dear Sir

The sensible pleasure I feel at being Personally known to you, has Induced me to send you the Inclosed Dissertation on the Revolutions of States and Empires. It is the performance of a Worthy Clergyman of this Island; a Gentleman of a most amiable Character, and who I have the Happiness of being Intimately acquainted with.

As this Treatise Breaths Liberal sentiments, Favourable to the Future Happiness and Prosperity of my Country; so I please my self it will not only meet with Your Approbation, but also with the Approbation of all America.1

Inclosd I send you a Letter Mr Bowcher wrote to me on the Subject; and to which I beg leave to Refer you by which you will find he has under Contemplation a Code of Laws respecting the future Prosperity and Happiness of America.2

This Worthy Gentleman has a Numerous Family, and the Living of his Parish does not admit him to make that Provision for them that his Friends wish him the Power of doing, a Circumstance that has in some Measure Induced many of his Friends to undertake the disposal of these Treatises, and as I have the pleasure of being of the Number, so I shall by the first Vessel to Norfolk, send to Mr Thos Newton and to Mr Wm Pennock at Richmond One Hundred Copies to be disposed of at a Dollar Each; so that should this Gentlemans Sentiments Coincide with your Ideas, Permit me, Sir, to request the Favor of your Countenance in the Disposal of them; An Obligation that I shall be Happy to make you any return for in this Island. I am, Believe me, Dear Sir, Your very Obedt hum. Servt

John Tucker


This is most likely John Tucker of St. George, Bermuda, the son of Chief Justice John (Jacky) Tucker of Bridge House and the brother of two influential assembly members, Henry Tucker of Somerset and Speaker James Tucker. Partners of the privateer and merchant firm, Jennings, Tucker and Company, this prominent family actively supported the American cause and flourished during the Revolution (Wilkinson, Bermuda in the Old Empire, description begins Henry C. Wilkinson. Bermuda in the Old Empire: A History of the Island from the Dissolution of the Somers Island Company until the end of the American Revolutionary War: 1684–1784. London, New York, and Toronto, 1950. description ends 192; Kennedy, Biography of a Colonial Town, description begins Jean de Chantal Kennedy. Biography of a Colonial Town: Hamilton, Bermuda, 1790–1897. 2d ed. Hamilton, Bermuda, 1963. description ends 27–28). GW may have met Tucker during his visit to Barbados in 1751.

1GW’s copy of the sixteen-page treatise, A Dissertation on the Revolutions of States, and Empires, with Some Considerations on the Blessings of Peace, and the Evils of War, printed in Barbados in 1785 “for the Author,” the Rev. Robert [Francis] Boucher, is in the Washington Collection of the Boston Athenæum (Griffin, Boston Athenæum Collection, description begins Appleton P.C. Griffin, comp. A Catalogue of the Washington Collection in the Boston Athenæum. Cambridge, Mass., 1897. description ends 29–30).

2In Robert Boucher’s letter to Tucker, dated 6 June 1785, which Tucker enclosed in his letter to GW, Boucher expresses his gratitude for Tucker’s offer “to inclose a Copy of my Treatise to His Excellency Genl Washington.” He went on to say that it would give him “a sensible Pleasure, & confer the highest Honor, to be known tho’ only in a literary Point of View to so illustrious a Personage equally renowned with the most celebrated Worthies of Antiquity, unrivalled by any Patriot, or Hero, of the present Age & whose Memory will be perpetuated thro’ the loud Trump of Fame, with distinguished Lustre to the latest Posterity.” Boucher explained that his treatise had begun as a sermon and expressed his chagrin that GW would find it “shockingly stopped, misspelt in some Places, & erroneous in the Application of great & small Letters,” because of the inexperienced printer (ibid.).

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