George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Alexander Martin, 4 February 1798

From Alexander Martin

Philadelphia Feby 4th 1798.


I beg you to permit the enclosed little dramatic piece to wait on you in your present Retirement, it was written by me this Session of Congress partly for Amusement, and partly with a view by bringing forward in this Manner the most prominent Characters in our late Revolution, to reconcile in some Measure if possible the present jarring political Sentiments that unfortunately distract our public Councils. As in the great Events of the Revolution, so in this ⟨mutilated⟩ poetic Essay you Sir, justly hold the most distinguished place, and should the perusal afford you any agreeable Entertainment it will give me Pleasure; otherwise it may be treated as other Trash and flung away.1 I have the Honour to be with very great Respect Sir, your most humble Servant

Alex. Martin


Alexander Martin (c.1740–1807), a graduate of Princeton in 1759, was elected to the U.S. Senate from North Carolina in 1792 and served for one term.

1Martin’s twelve-page play printed by Benjamin Franklin Bache in Philadelphia in 1798 is entitled: A New Scene Interesting to the Citizens of the United States of America, Additional to the Historical Play of Columbus, by a Senator of the United States . . . Lately Performed with Applause at the New-Theatre in Philadelphia. Martin inscribed on the flyleaf of the copy that he sent to GW: “To George Washington, Late President of the United States of America most respectfully presented by His very humble Servant Alex. Martin” (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 137). GW responded from Mount Vernon on 22 Feb.: “Sir The last Post brought me your favour of the 4th instant, accompanied by a Dramatic piece of Poetry. For both I thank you.

“The latter I have read with pleasure; highly applauding the motives wch gave birth to it: for lamentable, and much to be regretted indeed it is, that in a crisis like the present, when all hearts should be united and at their Posts—ready to rejoice at the good, or repel the evil, which await us, that nothing but internal dissentions & political hostilities are to be found in the Councils of our common Country.

“Although no longer an Actor on this Theatre myself, I cannot but view these things with deep concern. I have the honor to be Sir Your Most Obedt Servt Go: Washington.

“I do not know what Road you usually travel to & from the Seat of Government, but if it be by the way of Alexandria I should always be glad to see you at this place of my retreat” (letterpress copy, DLC:GW; LB, DLC:GW).

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