George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Jeremy Belknap, 19 July 1784

From Jeremy Belknap

Dover, N.H. July 19th, 1784.

To General Washington:

Great and Good Sir, After the multitude of addresses which have been presented to you in the course and at the conclusion of the late war, it would be needless for an obscure individual to repeat the voice of admiration and gratitude which has resounded from every part of America for the eminent services which you have rendered to this country. It shall be my part, Sir, to ask your acceptance of the first volume of a work, in which, you will see the early struggles and sufferings of one of those states which now claim the honor of being defended by your sword. Though in the late arduous contest it has not been so much exposed as in former wars, yet, having long been a nursery of stern heroism, it has bred an hardy race of men, whose merits as soldiers are well known to their beloved general, and who will always glory in having assisted to plant the laurel which adorns his brow.

I am, Sir, with a degree of respect approaching to veneration, Your Excellency’s most obedient servant,

J. B.

Life of Jeremy Belknap, D.D., the Historian of New Hampshire, with Selections from His Correspondence and Other Writings, Collected and Arranged by His Grand-Daughter (New York, 1847), 137.

Jeremy Belknap (1744–1798), a Congregational clergyman in Dover, N.H., published the first volume of his celebrated three-volume history of New Hampshire in 1784. Belknap’s friend, Ebenezer Hazard, supervised its printing in Philadelphia, and on 24 May Belknap asked Hazard what he thought of “sending a copy to General Washington” (Belknap Papers, description begins The [Jeremy] Belknap Papers. 3 vols. Boston, 1877-91. In Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 5th ser., vols. 2–3; 6th ser., vol. 4. description ends 1:345–49). Hazard was enthusiastic: “I think it will be quite polite to present General Washington with a copy of your History, and it will produce a letter from him in his own handwriting, which will be worth preserving. I have several, which I intend to hand down carefully to posterity as highly valuable” (ibid., 355–57). Belknap sent Hazard this letter to GW for Hazard to send on to GW along with the volume of the History. On 31 July Hazard wrote that he would direct the printer, Robert Aitkin, “to bind one of your books neatly” and that he would “forward it with your letter” (ibid., 377–80). It was early winter, however, before Hazard sent Belknap’s book and letter to GW (see GW to Belknap, 5 Jan. 1785).

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