George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Dunn, 9 January 1798

From John Dunn

Philadelphia Jany 9th [1798]


The charming Poem which accompanies this was committed to my care near four weeks ago by Mrs Morton for the purpose of being forwarded to you. By delays on the Road I have unfortunately retarded your Perusal of a Poem dictated by Taste and Genius and displaying like its author an exalted Veneration for you—In transmitting it thus late I thought it necessary to mark explicitly that the Delay is not attributable to any want of Zeal or Respect in Mrs Morton, but is solely attributable to me. I have the Honour to be with the most perfect respect Sir your most devoted and obedient Servt

John Dunn

P.S. May I flatter myself with the hopes of hearing that this Package has arrived safe?1


A Mr. Dunn came to dinner with Thomas Law and his wife at Mount Vernon on 10 July 1799 and remained until 16 July (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 6:356, 357).

1No letter from GW to Dunn has been found, but before the end of the month (the day has been obliterated) GW wrote from Mount Vernon to Sarah Morton: “Madam, Through the hands of Mr Dunn, I have been honoured by the first Book ‘Beacon Hill’ and delay not a moment to acknowledge the receipt of it, and my sensibility of the polite address with which it was accompanied.

“From the character the Poem bears I am sure I shall read it with the pleasure and gratitude it is entitled to expect from Madam, Your most Obedient and Very Hble Servant Go: Washington” (ALS, PWacD). Sarah Wentworth Apthorp Morton (1759–1846), at this time living in Dorchester, Mass., with her husband Perez Morton and her children, had already established herself as a noted poet. She published in Boston in 1797 Beacon Hill: A Local Poem, Historic and Descriptive, book 1. See Griffin, Boston Athenæum Washington Collection, description begins Appleton P.C. Griffin, comp. A Catalogue of the Washington Collection in the Boston Athenæum. Cambridge, Mass., 1897. description ends 147.

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