George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 26 October 1789]

Monday 26th. The day being Rainy & Stormy—myself much disordered by a Cold and inflamation in the left eye,1 I was prevented from visiting Lexington (where the first blood in the dispute with G. Britn.) was drawn. Recd. the Complimts. of many visits to day. Mr. Da⟨l⟩ton and Genl. Cobb2 dined with me and in the Evening I drank Tea with Govr. Hancock & called upon Mr. Bowdoin on my return to my lodgings.

1GW was apparently one of the early victims of an epidemic of colds and influenza that followed his visit to Boston. Because it afflicted many of the spectators who stood in the bitterly cold wind during the festivities, the ailment was thereafter referred to as the “Washington influenza.” In fact, it was part of a widespread epidemic of respiratory ailments which had already swept through the central and southern states and was now spreading into New England (Pa. Packet, 18 Nov. 1789; Am. Mercury, 9 Nov. 1789).

2David Cobb (1748–1830), a graduate of Harvard, was practicing medicine at Taunton, Mass., at the beginning of the Revolution. In 1777 he became lieutenant colonel of Jackson’s Regiment and was promoted to colonel of the 5th Massachusetts Regiment in Jan. 1783. Cobb was one of GW’s aides-de-camp 1781–83 and was brevetted brigadier general in Sept. 1783. After the war he held a number of judicial posts in Massachusetts, was appointed major general in the state militia in 1786, and in 1789 was speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. At this time he was living in Taunton with his wife, Eleanor Bradish Cobb, and nine children (SIBLEY description begins J. L. Sibley et al. Sibley’s Harvard Graduates: Biographical Sketches of Those Who Attended Harvard College. 18 vols. to date. Boston, 1873–. description ends , 16:351).

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