Monday, April 30, 2007

Washington Letter Found

The New York Times reported recently that a letter written by George Washington in May, 1787 has been discovered in a scrapbook compiled by a 10-year-old Julia Kean in 1826. The scrapbook, along with many other documents (and a house) was recently bequeathed to Kean University by members of the Kean family.

Washington's letter, written at Philadelphia and sent to Kean's grandfather Jacob Morris, is short but significant; it includes a reference to the Constitutional Convention which got underway late in May: "The happiness of this Country depend much upon the deliberations of the federal Convention which is now sitting. It, however, can only lay the foundation - the community at large must raise the edifice."

Washington also mentions sending along several "enclosures" for General Horatio Gates, which has scholars drooling about what those might have been (the two men were not on the best of terms after Gates had tried to oust GW as commander late in the Revolution).

A very interesting and tantalizing find, to be sure. I wonder what else they'll come across in going through this collection? (one possible indication: "an icehouse is full of documents yet to be read").

[h/t fade theory]

1 comment:

Donna said...

That is no less than fascinating info. Funny how you'd think everything that's left to be found in old attics would have already been found. Back in the 60's my family lived in what had been Philadelphia's Postmaster General's house; the house was already over 50 years old back then. Anyhow my mom mentioned to me after we moved that she had once come across a bundle of handwritten and signed letters by the Pope (don't know which one). I can't believe that neither she nor my father gave any thought that these letters had any "value" so they just gave them away. (And she was a mensa member??)

I never let my folks live that one down and I am to this day kinda angry and embarrassed about the idiocy of it all.

What I wonder is just how many times the person who took these "old" letters off their hands told this story, too.

I so wish I had been old enough to have gotten into that attic (the house was super big and I never could get into the ceiling better yet really know what to look for). But I know back then I thought about all the old newspapers and other things were stacked up there...

Thanks for the info and the ability to confess an embarrassing family mistake.