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COMPREHENSIVE PRINTED AUTHORITIES UPON THE GENERAL
AND UPON SOME SPECIAL PHASES OF THE HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES, 1776-1850.
By the Editor.
1. AMERICAN. ." The records of the British government," wrote John Adams to Thomas McKean in 1815, " and the records of all the thirteen colonies, and the pamphlets, newspapers, and handbills of both parties, must be examined and the essence extracted before a correct history can be written of the American Revolution.” 1
There was found among the papers of Gov. William Livingston, and given to the N. Y. Hist. Soc.2 in 1847, a manuscript History of the American Revolution, commencing with the settlement of the American colonies and coming down to 8th Nov., 1775. It had never been printed.
Thomas Paine in 1779 had formed a plan — never executed — of writing a history of the Revolution.3
At the end of the struggle, John Jay wrote to Charles Thomson, who had been the faithful secretary of the Continental Congress, urging him at least to take one hour of the twenty-four and give to posterity a truthful account of the political course of the Revolution, since he considered no one so well able to do it; but Thomson passed the long years of his retirement without so much as putting pen to paper to this end, so far as we know.
The third volume of Gov. Hutchinson's History of Massachusetts Bay is for the most part occupied with the history of the political agitation, centring in that province, and is brought down to the moment of his leaving the country in June, 1774. He carried the manuscript with him to England, and continued to work upon it till he completed the final revision in October, 1778.5 A committee of the Mass. Hist. Society had opened communication in 1817-1820 with Elisha Hutchinson, the son of the governor, with an aim to secure the governor's historical papers and to publish this manuscript of this third volume. Finally, after the death of Elisha, Mr. James Savage, in behalf of the society, effected a decision of the heirs to print the volume, which, edited by Elisha's son, the Rev. John Hutchinson, was published in London in 1828.6
The long delay in the publication of this third volume gave time for passions to cool, and when we consider the vilifications which Hutchinson experienced from his patriot contemporaries, and the injuries to property which he had suffered, we can read with satisfaction the temperate expressions of his treatment of those furious controversies, which make up a large part of this posthumous volume. The opinion expressed of him by Pownall, in 1774, that America had not a more determined, insidious, and inveterate enemy,s the denunciation of Warren, and the lingering antipathy of John Adams, who professed to have tried to disabuse his mind of prejudice against him,10 were a general inheritance of the community from which.Hutchinson fled that the new generations found it difficult to forget. Hutchinson says that in England he refused honors which would have been thrust upon him; 11 but John Adams professes to have learned there, later, that the despised man was almost shouldered out of the best English circles. There is nothing, however, to indicate this in Hutchinson's diary, and the tone of his history is that of an arbiter, conscious of his rectitude. The view of his character held by the patriot party has dissolved slowly. The governor was ambitious, perhaps grasping of power ; he had but a dim conception of the patriots' overpowering zeal,12 and always misjudged it. but they as generally misinterpreted him, and gave him no credit for that deep love of his country which his diary now discloses. This and time have done much to bring the better side of his character into prominence, while the grandson of one who shared the aversion of his contemporaries has fitly said that his faults will be perhaps thought by posterity to have been expiated by his misfortune.” 13
1 John Adams' Works, x. 180. John Adams (Familiar not included in the American copies (Mass. Hist. Soc. Letters, p. 210) again records that as early as 1776 the Proc., i. p. 286 ; iji. 144). The editor was subsequently artist Du Simitière, when consulted about a device for a made a corresponding member of the society. Ibid. i. 413. medal to commemorate the siege of Boston, showed him There is also an account of him in Ibid. xi. 148. the progress he was making in gathering material, snipping 7 Hutchinson says that when he departed from New newspaper slips, and indexing pamphlets, to serve for a his- England, in 1774, he abandoned property amounting to tory of the Revolution.
£1,000 for his house, movables, and farm in Milton ; to 2 Proc., 1847, p. 135.
£1,500 for mortgage on real estate in Middleboro; beside 3 F. Moore's Laurens Correspondence, p. 158.
his houses, warehouses, and wharves in Boston (Mag. of • Wm. B. Reed's Address before the N. Y. Hist. Soc., A mer. Hist., Nov., 1884, p. 463). See on his town house, Dec. 19, 1839, p. 39.
Mass. Hist. Soc. Proc., XXX. 74; Mem. Hist. Boston, iv. 6 P. O. Hutchinson's Diary and Letters of Gov. Hutch- 468. inson, ii. 78, 172, 218.
8 Quincy's Life of Josiah Quincy, fr., p. 205. 6 Five hundred copies were sent to the American mar- 9 Frothingham's Warren, pp. 483-86. ket, and called vol. iii. of the History (Mass. Hist. Soc.
10 In 1816, etc.
Cf. Works, x. 230, 261, 285. Proc., i. 397. Certain Boston gentlemen assumed the cost 11 P. (). Hutchinson's Governor Hutchinson, i. 127, 128, of these copies, – about $1,500).
283. Another five hundred, intended for the English trade, 1. Cf. Bancroft in N. Am, Rev., April, 1839, p. 477. were given out as an independent work, with a long preface 13 Edmund Quincy, Haunted Adjutant, etc., 343.
William Gordon, when a man of about forty years, came to America in 1770, drawn thither, perhaps, by his love for the American cause, and known in some measure from a correspondence which he had begun with James Bowdoin. He was soon settled as a preacher at Roxbury, near Boston, and a sermon which he delivered in December, 1774, on a Thanksgiving Day, marked the urgent nature of his adherence to the popular cause. He was made chaplain of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress in 1775, and was given for a while the custody of the Hutchinson Papers, from which he extracted for Bowdoin 3 the passages objectionable to the patriots. He preached the election sermon at Watertown in July, 1773, and gave the discourse before the General Court on the first anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1777.4
He seems to have begun to make his collections on the American Revolution in 1777, and we have a letter to him of that year from John Adams, in which he tells Gordon that his own habit had been so far from col
lecting papers that he had often destroyed such, and even his own minutes of events and their causes. Adams advises him to begin his story as far back at least as 1761. Adams took his measure of Gordon as a very well-meaning, very zealous man, but too talkative, indiscreet, and vain.6 Washington at first refused to let him have access to his papers, because it was not becoming to throw them open to historians before Congress had unbarred the public archives for the same period. This was early in 1784.7 His application to Congress was equally unsuccessful, but a second attempt prevailed, and in June of that same year he was at Mount Vernon examining Washington's papers. “ He is indefatigable, and will make a valuable collection," wrote Ebenezer Hazard of him at this time.
1 Mass. Hist. Soc. Proc., vii. 291.
? Washington's Works, ix. 29. Washington had earlier 2 Thornton's Pulpit of the Rev., 188.
written (Oct. 23, 1782) to Gordon, who had applied to see 3 Mass. Hist. Soc. Proc., vii. 293.
his papers, saying, “ Mine, while the war continues, I con4 The only attempt we have of a biographical memoir of sider as a species of public property, sacred in my hands. Gordon is a scattering essay by Mr. James $. Loring in When Congress shall open their register, and say it is the Hist. Mag., Feb. and March, 1862. Gordon died in proper for the servants of the public to do so, it will give 1807, aged seventy-seven.
me much pleasure to afford aid to your labors" (Sparks o Il'orks, ix. 461.
MSS., no. Ixv. vol. iii. p. 359). 6 l'orks, ii. 424.
* Reproduced from an engraving by Chapman after Hayter. Cf. Catal. Cab. Mass. Hist. Soc., no. 118.
In the preface of his history, Gordon speaks of the encouragement he had had from the late commander-inchief to collect material, oral and written, and that Congress, as well as Washington, Gates, Greene, Lincoln, and Otho Williams, had opened their papers to him. It is alleged that his maps of the Southern campaigns were drawn by Ramsay and revised by Greene. He is supposed to have written his history in the main before he returned to England, and have made the first draft more pronounced against the English government and certain officers than he thought prudent to let stand in the printed work.2 Finally, in 1788, his book appeared in London in four volumes under the title The History of the Rise, Progress, and Establishment of the Independence of the United States of America. His preface is dated at London, Oct. 28, 1788.4
The earliest copies reached New York in February, 1789. In March Hazard was telling Belknap that it was a valuable book, and that its author wished corrections for a second edition.5 The New York newspapers soon began to print large extracts from it, day after day, and an American edition in three volumes was put to press. Hazard before long was writing to Belknap 6 that Gordon was “ a valuable friend, but an indifferent historian. His collection of facts will be useful to some future writer, who will hold a better pen.” Belknap? quite agreed with his friend, and says that Samuel Adams was hurt at Gordon's representation of his being engaged at one time in an effort to remove Washington, and considered Gordon to indulge in reminiscences “which are below the dignity of history," and thought it a pity the author could not have let his book be seen by some judicious friends. “I am persuaded,” Belknap says, that Gordon“ might have profited by their advice; but he had too much of the self-sufficient principle in him.” Again he speaks 8 of Gordon's giving offence in what he said of Washington. “Gordon was not much beloved nor regarded while he was here, and the stories he has told of one and another in his book have helped to sink him in the general estimation, though now and then I find some who are rather inclined to speak favorably of him.” Hazard in reply says, “I know that Gordon's intention was to state facts truly,” and he cites Ramsay as praising Gordon's valuable collection of materials.9 In England, if we may believe a correspondent of John Adams,10 it was “a story that nobody liked to read,” and in America there was a suspicion, probably groundless, that Gordon had by his subserviency in England injured his record as an advocate of the American cause.
Gordon was the earliest to work in an historical spirit among the original records that had not been made public during the progress of the war, and therefore had advantages which he availed himself of with inquisitiveness and pertinacity, so that subsequent writers have found him valuable for material which is difficult to find elsewhere. 11 In his treatment of his story he was at times far from wise ; but Bancroft is content to pronounce his book on the whole invaluable.12
W. B. Reed 13 says : “Gordon's ponderous history of the war is a curious and ill-digested collection of ma. terials. He had access to much that was authentic, but made strange and often mischievous use of what he had.” One of the most temperate of English writers, Wm. Smyth, in his Lecture on Modern History, calls him “impartial.”
A better trained writer, and one better supplied with the historic sense and capable of broad and condensed expression, placed himself on record as a contemporary authority of the first importance. This was David Ramsay, who undertook first his history of the part sustained by South Carolina 14 to the conflict.
He said in his preface that “his knowledge of the affairs of the Middle and Northern States was not sufficiently particular to warrant his attempting the history of the whole.” He then states that as a witness to many of the events in the South, from his official connections, his acquaintance with the actors, his familiarity with the fields of battle, and also from his access to official papers, he had been better qualified for the more local task.
1 There are specimens of the kind of inquiries which 12 Original ed., iv. 376; ix. 123, - saying that Gordon Gordon made of Greene in his letters (G. W. Greene, Life always cites documents correctly. "Notwithstanding all of Gen. Greene, ji. 417). See, also, Hist. Mag., xiii. 24, its faults, the book is invaluable, but by no means free 160.
G. W. Greene (i. 516) says Gordon “was generally from tales that on examination are found untrustworthy." well informed ; and though he sometimes mistakes, seldom James Sullivan says that Gordon never obtained political if ever invents.”
confidence here, and returned to England to exhibit his illJohn Adams to Gerry, April 20, 1813; Dr. Water. nature and revenge. “There are in his work," says Sullihouse's Junius ; J. W. Francis, Old New York (1858), pp. van, very few facts truly stated, and these are badly 112-13; Niles' Principles and Acts (1876), p. 516. Sam. arranged, while the effects for which he assigns causes are Adams thought Gordon went back to England with undue generally as much estranged to what he supposes they flow hopes of a speedy reconciliation of the two peoples (John from as his is from a pure historical style" (Life of Sulli. Adams' Works, ix, 547).
van, by T. C. Amory, i. 258). Hamilton had such an 3 Sabin, vii. p. 347.
It was reprinted in New York, opinion of Gordon as might be expected from the resent1789, in 3 vols. ; again in 1794. Brinley, ii. no. 4018. ment he expressed at what he deemed a slander. Hamil.
• He writes to Washington, Feb. 16, 1789, that the print- ton's Works, Lodge ed., vii. 570–76, 586. ing of 1200 copies ( 200 on best wove paper) had cost him 13 Life of Joseph Reed, i. 240. £700. Sparks MSS., no. Ixvi.
14 The History of the Revolution of South Carolina from 5 Belknap Papers, ii. 102.
a British Province to an Independent State (Trenton, 6 Ibid. ii. 144.
.1785, in two volumes). It was reprinted in London in 7 lbid. ii. 151.
1787, and appeared in a French version by Lefort, the 8 Ibid. ii. 161.
same year, both at London and Paris, and again at Paris in 9 Cf. Mass. Hist. Soc. Proc., xiv. 91.
1796, in five volumes. Continued to 1809, it was republished 10 Works, ix. 550.
at Charleston in 180g in two volumes, and in 1859 at New11 C. F. Adams in John Adams' Works, ii. 423.
berry (S. C.) and Charleston (Sabin, xvi., nos. 67,686, 67,705).
He was, nevertheless, beginning even then to collect material for a wider study of the times, and when he was a member of Congress, in 1785–86, he increased his opportunities by the access which he then had to the national archives, many of which he hoped, as he said, one day to print as documentary proofs in a separate publication, - a labor which he never performed, though a few years later he made public his History of the American Revolution.1 Ramsay brought an ardent patriotism 2 to the task, and a literary skill hardly surpassed among his compatriots. He had a reputation for justness, and Gen. Greene is said to have expressed satisfaction with his narrative so far as his personal acquaintance with the events qualified him to judge it. Smyth, in his Lectures,3 gives a long summary of his early chapters, as best showing on the American side
the motives and impulses of the earlier periods of the Revolution; and while he finds him candid and impartial, he criticises him in no respect but as being forgetful of the training of the king's soldiers, which the American raw levies had to encounter, and thinks, consequently, that Ramsay's palliation of the defeats which the Americans received was in some degree needless.
1 It was published at Philadelphia in two volumes, in complete, but which was finished by S. S. Smith, and 1789; and later at London, 1791, 1793 ; Dublin, 1793 and printed at Philadelphia in 1816-17, and in a second revised 1795; Trenton, 1811; and Lexington, Ky., 1815. There edition in 1818 (Sabin, xvi, no. 67,694). There was in the are French, Dutch (1792), and German (1794) translations Rush C. Hawkins sale, March, 1887, a copy of the proofs (Sabin, xvi., nos. 67,687-67,688). A letter of Charles of Ramsay's United States, with his corrections. Cf. Thomson, addressed to Ramsay and criticising his history Madison's Letters, iii. 205. in the manuscript draft, is in the N. Y. Hist. Soc. Coll., . Cf. his oration at Charleston, S. C., in July, 1778, on 1878, p. 215
The substance of this book was made the the advantages of independence, cited in Niles' Principles basis of the second volume of a History of the United and Acts, 1876 ed., p. 374. States, 1607-1808, which Ramsay did not live wholly to s Lecture xxxiii.
After an engraving in the Analectic Mag., vol. vi., marked " I. B. White, pt., Gimbrede, sculpt." There is a like ness in Independence Hall.
A memoir of Ramsay appeared in the Analectic Mag., vol. vi. p. 204 ; was reprinted in vol. i. of his Hist. of the U.S., and again in the Nat. Portrait Gallery, 1836, vol. iii., and 1852, vol. ii. Cf. Vol. V., Inder.
The next contemporaneous general account of the war was Thomas Pemberton's so-called Historical Jour. nal of the American War, 1765-1784, published first in the second volume of the Mass. Hist. Soc. Collections, and then separately at Boston in 1793. Two years later (1795) the little work of John Lendrum appeared in two editions, the first at Boston and the second at Philadelphia : A concise and impartial history of the American revolution. Prefixed, a general history of North and South America [etc.], in two volumes ; and The history of America, in two books. Containing 1. A general history of America. 2. A concise history of the late revolution. [Anon.] Extracted from the American edition of the Encyclopædia. 2d ed. in one volume.1
The Monthly Military Repository of Charles Smith, which reached two volumes (New York, 1796–97), shows six maps of the war, and its descriptions are said to have been supplied by Gates and Steuben.2 It appeared in 1797, independently, as The American War from 1775 to 1783 (New York, for Charles Smith), and is now a very rare book.3
A History of the British Empire, 1765–1783, containing an impartial history of the origin, progress, and
1 Sabin, X. 207.
xii. 50, 185.
s Brinley, no. 4151; Menzies, no. 1841.
After a painting owned by Winslow Warren, Esq., of Dedham. Cf. Perkins' Copley, p. 116, and the engravings in Higginson's Larger History, p. 353, and in Mrs. Ellet's Women of the Revolution, vol. i.