WASHINGTON, GEORGE. 1732-1799.
WASHINGTON DECLINES A FREE SUBSCRIPTION TO A BOSTON PAPER.
Autograph Letter Signed (Go: Washington), 1 p, 4to, Mount Vernon, May 10, 1786, to the Reverend Dr. Eckley, page toned, lightly stained, and creased, ink erosion to one word at center left, closed tear at upper right corner (repaired) and expert reinforcements to creases on verso.
Washington writes this letter to a Boston clergyman who has offered to continue sending him along copies of the Boston Independent Chronicle, an important early paper supporting independence. In part: I am indebted to the Rev.d Doct.r Gordon before he left the Country for the Boston Independent Chronicleand am so since, to your goodness, for two or three more; and for your offer to continue them. The Doct.r sent these papers unasked (after having read them himself, being a subscriber) but as their continuance must be attended with expence & trouble, you would oblige me by withholding of them. To be candid, my avocations are so numerous, that I rarely find time to look into Gazettes as a distance from me, after they come. I feel myself however, not less indebted to your politeness, and obliging offer, from my non-acceptance of them.
The recipient of this letter, the Reverend Joseph Eckley [1750-1811] was most likely the former assistant of the Reverend William Gordon [1728-1807] mentioned by Washington. Gordon was a British Presbyterian minister who expressed early support for the colonists and immigrated to America in 1770. He became the pastor of the Third Congregational Church in Roxbury, Mass, and was the author of an early work in support of pensions for widows. He was appointed Chaplain to both houses of the provincial Congress, and, after the outbreak of war, determined to collect materials to write a comprehensive history of the revolution. Convinced that he would not be able to publish an impartial version in the United States, he returned to London in 1786 (not long before this letter was written). He ran into similar difficulties back in England, and finally published a heavily revised version of his history in 1788. For many years Gordons book was considered authoritative, but later research discredited his work as largely plagiarized from the Annual Register.
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