From John Lathrop, Jr.
Boston Jany 29 1795
Will the illustrious Washington pardon the ambition of a young citizen, who ventures to lay the enclosed performance at his feet?1 Much as I have to expect from his candor and his goodness, yet much I have to fear from my own imperfection and presumtion. To intrude one tedious moment into the scanty portion of leisure which the Father of his country enjoys, would be most unpardonably criminal; but to give him one moment’s entertainment, is an object worthy of the most ardent desire—Should I effect this, I know not which would be most unbounded, my own felicity or my gratitude to heaven.
At a time when the American Militia are deserving of the highest Eulogy, the oration, which I have the honor to present you, may perhaps claim a perusal on account of it’s subject. May the demons of Anarchy and the furies of contention ever tremble at the name of a nation’s best defence—it’s citizen Soldiery!
Long, Sir, may you continue the laurelled Bulwark of America—the guardian of virtue and the patron of the arts! Heavens best blessings be your portion here, and its most sublime delights your reward hereafter! With the most profound respect and the most lively gratitude I am Sir your humble servant
Jno. Lathrop junr
ALS, DLC:GW. John Lathrop, Jr. (1772–1820), a son of the Boston minister John Lathrop (c.1739–1816), was at this time a Boston lawyer. A graduate of Harvard College, he is best known as a poet.
1. Lathrop presented GW with An Oration, Written at the Request of the Officers of the Boston Regiment, And intended for Delivery, October 20, 1794 (Boston, 1795). The oration was dedicated “To GEORGE WASHINGTON, President of the United States, and Commander in Chief of the Armies of America,” and it praised GW in the following terms: “Although assimulated by his boundless benevolence and his irradiated mind, to the highest orders of angelic beings, the ILLUSTRIOUS WASHINGTON still deigns to rule with righteous sway his grateful country, and to enliven our world with the effulgence of his glory! The millions of freemen, which he led to battle and victory, have placed him on the throne of chief magistracy, and committed to his hand the sceptre of the law. Long may he continue to dignify that throne! Long may that sceptre be wielded by the man, who, ever controled by his own virtues, CANNOT abuse the authority with which he is invested!” (p. 16).
GW responded to Lathrop on 2 March: “Your favor of the 29th of January came duly to hand—and I pray you to accept my thanks for your politeness in sending the intended Oration therewith enclosed; and for the favorable mention you have been pleased to make of Sir, Your Obedt Hble Servt” (ALS, NNC; ALS [letterpress copy], DLC:GW). The volume remained in GW’s library at his death (Griffin, Catalogue of the Washington Collection description begins Appleton P.C. Griffin, comp. A Catalogue of the Washington Collection in the Boston Athenæum. Cambridge, Mass., 1897. description ends , 120).