George Washington Papers

To George Washington from James Smith, 28 December 1792

From James Smith

Barrow [England] Dec. 28th 1792


As your Servant has not recd any answer as yet to his last, datd Hull June 22th 1792.1 He take the liberty of sending a second, hoping it will arrive safe and find you in an agreeable state of health, and the enjoyment of much happiness. Sir, the purport of my last, was as follows—That having read Gordon’s History of the United States,2 and perceiving therein the glorious conquest which you were instrumental (under a kind providence) of obtaining over the arms of Despotism & oppression, and hearing of the wholesome laws that now obtain among you, together with the fertility of the soil of many parts of the united states—It likewise informed you, that I was the Son ⟨mutilated⟩ a Farmer in the west of yorkshire, a young man, unmarried, have been a short time at an Academy near Halifax, am now entering upon the work of the ministry, in the independant connection, & have a strong desire to come over to America, in order to see your person, and afterwards fix in some part of the united states—And lastly it requested your patronage & assistance in procuring me agreeable connections (upon the conditions of my being an honest man and peaceable Citizen) in order to encourage my coming over to America—Sir, I still continue to have thoughts of coming over to the united states, this next Summer, but having no connection with any persons there at present, I send these lines in order to commence an acquaintance with you—and to request the following favours, first, that you will acquaint me, whether there are any vacant independant congregations in Maryland, pensilvania, Virginia, or the North & South Carolinias—Second, that you will recommend me (upon the above conditions) to Dr Whitherspoon,3 or some steady independant Ministers, as a person desirous of becoming an inhabitant of the united states, and to join in concert with them, in holding forth the glories of Emmanuel to poor Sinners—Third, that you will give me your advice upon the subject, and inform me whether I can meet with encouragement, or not, And lastly that you will answer this letter as soon as possible, after it comes ⟨mutilated⟩ sir, I shall think myself happy in receiving a few l⟨mutilated⟩ou whether you approve of my request or not—Bu⟨mutilated⟩ short account of the Commercial & Civil states of br⟨mutilated⟩ hope may not be unacceptable—Sir, trade of all ⟨mutilated⟩ is very brisk, foreign demands are more than can b⟨mutilated⟩ However I cannot assert any thing pleasing with ⟨mutilated⟩ to her civil state—The F. king and goverment are ⟨mutilated⟩ one way and many of the people another—and ⟨mutilated⟩ roits are expected breacking out at Hull and man⟨y⟩ other principles Towns—Mr paines rights of man have been tryed, in Court and condemned as libellous—The Effigy of Mr paine was hurried upon a sledge at Lincoln, afterwards hanged, Gibbeted, and then burnt about two weeks since It is to be feared there are going to be troublesome times in England.4 Sir, I am your humble and Obedt Sert

James Smith

N.B. please you may direct for me—at Mr Murrays Linen Draper Barrow, near Barton Lincolnshire.

ALS, DLC:GW. The letter is docketed: “The Revd Jas Smith 20 Decr 1793.” Both sides of the lower half of the second page of the manuscript are torn.

1There is no evidence that GW replied to the letter of 22 June or this letter.

2See William Gordon’s 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 (London, 1788).

3John Witherspoon (1723–1794), a Presbyterian minister and a native of Scotland, was president of the College of New Jersey at Princeton from 1768 until his death. A signer of the Declaration of Independence, he was a New Jersey delegate to the Continental Congress from 1776 to 1782, serving on the Board of War and the committee on secret correspondence for much of that time. GW’s nephew George Lewis, a son of Betty Washington Lewis, had obtained a degree from the College of New Jersey in 1775. His brother Charles Lewis (1760–1775) and Martha Washington’s grandson, George Washington Parke Custis, also attended this college, but neither graduated from it.

4Revolutionary pamphleteer Thomas Paine had returned in 1787 to his native England, where he published part 2 of Rights of Man in February 1792. Paine’s call for the abolition of the British monarchy, the creation of a republican form of government, and social reform in Great Britain found favor with radical reform groups but not with the British government. Fearing arrest, Paine fled to France later that year. The British government charged him with treason and tried him in absentia in December 1792. For the radical reform movement in Great Britain, see Edward Newenham to GW, 29 Sept., n.6.

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