George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Christoph Daniel Ebeling, 10 October 1793

From Christoph Daniel Ebeling

Hambro’ [Germany] October 10th 1793.


Your Excellency will kindly pardon the liberty I take, to offer You my Description of America. You know, it is the right, as it is the heartfelt pleasure of every freeborn feeling man, to admire the great and good benefactors of mankind. This pleasure I very often enjoyed, when I endeavoured to describe that country, whose daily increasing happiness is principally Your Work and that of those who think and act like You.

I am sensible that my Book is as imperfect, as great were the difficulties wherewith I had to struggle in order to get authentic documents and materials for the same. But my country is to desirous of, and the present times require a more particular knowledge of Your Republic, whose felicity it has much reason to look at with envy. The aspect of so many States enjoying all the blessings, which virtue, wise laws and liberty bestow upon mankind, may have some influence on the councils of our Rulers, now united against liberty, because most of them know but that which degenerated into french Anarchy or british corruption. These reasons induced me to venture an undertaking, which I feel is rather above my forces.

As soon as the Descriptions of the several States are finished, a general Introduction will complete my Work. This is to contain a View of the federal Constitution of the United States, and the History of Your glorious Revolution.

Nothing could be a greater reward of my feeble endeavours than that to be honoured with Your Excellency’s protection. I have no other materials for the historical part besides the immortal Franklin’s Works, the State-papers published during the Revolution, Adams’s and Ramsay’s Histories, Gordon’s more partial one,1 and the Journals of Congress from 1774 to 1777, as also those of 1781. If Your Excellency would graciously countenance my Undertaking, perhaps one of the many worthy men who were witnesses to Your deeds, might be enduced to point out to me the defects or errors of the abovementioned Histories and furnish me with more valuable materials.

I shall not presume to ask Your high favour for that purpose, untill my Description of the single States, whereof I also most humbly offer a Copy to Your illustrious Congress, is wholly published, and as I very ardently wish is found not to be quite unworthy of the noble and great subject, it treats of. I have the honour to be with sentiments of the most profound respect Sir Your Excellency’s most obedient and most humble Servant

Christoph Daniel Ebeling
Professor of History in the great College at Hambro’

ALS, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters. This letter was docketed in part, “need not be answered, ’till his more particular work arrives.” Christoph Daniel Ebeling’s (1741-1817) Erdbeschreibung und Geschichte von Amerika: Die Vereinten Staaten von Nordamerika, published at Hamburg in seven volumes from 1793 to 1816, begins with a volume on New England and ends with the volume on Virginia. He did not complete volumes on the Carolinas or Georgia. No further correspondence with Ebeling has been identified, but GW did receive the first volume of the work (Griffin, Catalogue of the Washington Collection description begins Appleton P.C. Griffin, comp. A Catalogue of the Washington Collection in the Boston Athenæum. Cambridge, Mass., 1897. description ends , 72).

1Ebeling evidently was referring to Works of the Late Doctor Benjamin Franklin: Consisting of His Life, Written by Himself: Together with Essays, Humorous, Moral & Literary, Chiefly in the Manner of the Spectator (1793); David Ramsay’s The History of the American Revolution (1789 and other editions); William Gordon’s The History of the Rise, Progress, and Establishment, of the Independence of the United States of America: Including an Account of the Late War; and of the Thirteen Colonies, from Their Origin to that Period (1788 and other editions); and possibly John Adams, History of the Dispute with America (1784).

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