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Posts Tagged ‘letter’

History Roundup 366 including American Exceptionalism

Today’s links follow. 1) Thorir Saga: Iceland 2) Vanishing Batallion: Gallipoli 3) Elegy to Hatra III: Iraq 4) Early Breast Cancer: Egypt 5) Beware Goblins Bearing Gifts: Morristown 6) Headless Frenchies: Comic 7) American Exceptionalism: WW1 etc and from the archives 8) Mysterious Medieval Chinese Weapon Other links: Wind turbine trouble (comic) Somewhere Over the […]

Come to History Camp, Saturday, 8 March

On Saturday, 8 March, Lee Wright of The History List is organizing a “History Camp” at the I.B.M. Innovation Center in Cambridge. This event is designed to be an “unconference,” or self-organizing, non-hierarchical conference, for anyone in greater Boston interested in history.

The program will depend on who signs up to speak in the next few weeks. The presentations are supposed to be short and lively. The only requirement is that they not be just a sales pitch for a book, tour, class, or other product. I imagine those presentations falling into two categories:

  • neat stories and findings about the past.
  • practical tips about researching, writing, and teaching history.

I proposed two topics to Lee, one in each of those categories: “The Boston Bankruptcy That Led to the American Revolution” and “Google Books Changed My Life, and You Can, Too!” In addition, Lee drafted me for a tentative panel on “Becoming a Published Author” because I was once an acquiring editor for a book publisher.

Lee had the idea for History Camp after last fall’s RevWar Schmoozer. That informal social event brought together people from our city’s historic sites, reenacting organizations, libraries, museums, tour companies, colleges, and other institutions. It would be great to an even broader turnout at this event, which isn’t confined to the Revolutionary period. Given its setting, this History Camp might be an especially good place to talk about using new technology to improve the study or presentation of history.

As a self-organizing conference, History Camp will take shape over the next few weeks based on the interests of the folks who volunteer their time or ideas. So check out the website, think about the stories you might have to tell or would like to hear, and start signing up!

Characteristics of the New England Colonies

Colonial America is often divided into three regions to help explain the different characteristics exhibited by each area. The New England colonies included Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New Hampshire. This area shared many common characteristics owing both to the region’s geographical aspects and the shared culture and religion of its people. Learn about these common characteristics of New England and how they affected its development and history.

Daughter gets WWII medals, letter from father she never knew

Twelve years ago, Donna Gregory was helping her then-husband go through his deceased grandparents’ home in Arnold, Missouri, when she came across a box in their bedroom closet labelled “War Department.” Inside she found a collection of documents, clippings and medals belonging to Army private first class John Farrell Eddington, including his Bronze Star, Purple Heart, draft card, dog tags, high school diploma and a letter from the War Department notifying the family that Private Eddington was killed in action in Italy on June 27, 1944. He was 25 years old.

In the box along with 16 letters he had written to his wife, Helen, there was one particularly moving letter Eddington had written to his infant daughter Peggy three weeks after she was born on February 5th, 1944. He was still training in Texas when he wrote the letter, but before he even got a chance to meet his beloved baby girl, John was deployed overseas. He died four months later, never having held little Peggy in his arms.

Touched and fascinated by the history and emotion inside the box, especially in the letter to baby Peggy, Donna Gregory took it home to St. Louis and researched the soldier off and on for the next dozen years. Gregory’s husband at the time had no idea who Eddington was or what connection he might have had to his grandparents. Eddington was born in Leadwood, Missouri, just 50 miles south of Arnold, but that tenuous geographical proximity is the only commonality we know of. Google and the library led her to some more details about John Eddington. She found that he was buried at the Jefferson Barracks in St Louis. Donna was able to trace Peggy to Nevada, but wasn’t able to find a current address.

A few months ago Donna picked up the search again, widening the parameters in the hope she could find John Eddington’s daughter before it was too late. She enlisted the help of friends and random Facebook people who read about the story and the crowdsourced effort worked. She found Peggy’s grandson, then she found her son, and then she found Peggy, now Peggy Eddington-Smith of Dayton, Nevada. Donna called Peggy and told her she had her father’s mementos and most poignantly, the letter he wrote her before he died.

Peggy was shocked. She knew almost nothing about her father other than that he had died in World War II. Her mother had been so devastated by John’s death that she couldn’t bear to speak of him. Helen never remarried because, as she put it the few times she spoke of him, she had once found the perfect man and would never again find the perfect man.

To present Peggy with her father’s things in proper style, Donna raised money to travel to Nevada. She also contacted the Nevada Patriot Guard to see if they could put her in touch with a World War II veteran in Dayton or environs so that he could be the one to place the Purple Heart in Peggy’s hands. The Patriot Guard found Navy veteran Quentin McColl, 93, to perform the duty and they organized a motorcycle escort to accompany Donna from Missouri to Nevada.

On Saturday, September 21st, Donna Gregory arrived at the Dayton Intermediate School gym. In a ceremony attended by Peggy Eddington-Smith, her family, members of Veterans of Foreign Wars who had fought in World War II, local dignitaries and residents, Peggy received her father’s Purple Heart, Bronze Star, personal documents, replicas of his dog tags, gold star flags and the letters. Donna read the very special letter John Eddington wrote to Peggy aloud before giving it to her.

The first page was written to Helen. John hoped she wouldn’t find it “silly” that he was writing to a baby who couldn’t read or understand his words. The next two pages were just pure sweetness from a doting Daddy. I was unable to find a transcript of the entire letter, sadly, but here are bits from various news stories:

My Darling Daughter,

You have never seen me or may never see me for some time. I’m sending you this so that you will always know that you have a very proud daddy somewhere in this world fighting for you and our country.

“I love you so much,” the letter said. “Your mother and daddy … are going to give you everything we can. We will always give you all the love we have.”

Eddington urged his daughter to “always treat your mother right. You have the sweetest mother on the Earth.” He closed the letter by writing, “I love you with all my heart and soul forever and forever. Your loving daddy.”

General sobbing ensued. Peggy, who had told reporters before the ceremony she wasn’t going to get “super-emotional,” abandoned that plan.

“The letter gave me more knowledge of who he was,” she told The Associated Press. “He poured out his heart to me, and a lot of men don’t put that kind of emotion in writing. I’m just overwhelmed by everything, trying to absorb everything.”

Then this happened:

Almost everyone in the crowd in the Dayton Intermediate School gym broke down when the VFW commander called roll for members who served in World War II.

Each old soldier shouted “Here sir.” Then he called for Pvt. John F. Eddington. There was silence. He called for Eddington again. A member replied that Private Eddington was killed in action.

Then the shots of a 21-gun salute rang out outside the gym, and taps was played in his memory.



Dolley Madison’s Letter

We’ve all heard the story of how Dolley was fleeing the
White House in the War of 1812.  We all
know about her famous letter as well. But where did we get it?  Well, David Mattern wrote an article for us
about this in White House History. 

We don’t actually have the letter – we have a copy of what
probably was a copy. As Mattern tells us, the letter isn’t written like her
others ones and talks about things her sister (and we aren’t sure which
sister!) would already know.  So what this
means is this letter was probably rewritten (or even written) to tell the
story.  Mattern tells us:

There is a formal quality to this letter that, despite its
dramatic narrative of events, makes it seem composed.  There are also details that she would not
have needed to clarify for either of her sisters. In short, internal evidence
suggestions that Dolley Madison rewrote at least part of this letter – soon
after the events or at a later date, perhaps in 1834, when Margaret Smith
request the material for her sketch.

As Mattern goes on to say, this doesn’t mean the story isn’t
true, just that the letter isn’t written as we might think. 

Here are some articles to follow up on:


WWI Christmas Truce letter on Antiques Roadshow

A previously unknown letter describing the famous Christmas Day soccer/football game between German and British troops held in No Man’s Land on the Western Front was revealed on the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow last month. It was written by Clement Barker of Ipswich, Suffolk, to his brother Montague on December 29th, 1914. A staff sergeant with the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, Barker wrote:

A messenger come over from the German lines and said that if we did not fire Xmas day, they (the Germans) wouldn’t so in the morning (Xmas day). A German looked over the trench – no shots – our men did the same, and then a few of our men went out and brought the dead in (69) and buried them and the next thing happened a football kicked out of our Trenches and Germans and English played football.

Night came and still no shots. Boxing day the same, and has remained so up to now.

This is an important contemporary eye-witness account of an event that even today is still questioned. Some historians have suggested that the football game was a later romanticization of the Christmas Day Truce events, that it never really happened. Soldiers’ letters testify that the match really did happen in the No Man’s Land between the trenches near Armentières, France, and that the Germans won 3-2.

Christmas Truces, mainly between British and German troops, broke out spontaneously at various points along the Western Front in 1914. The commands on both sides were not pleased. They considered it damaging to morale and a dangerous contravention of their propaganda programs which relied on demonizing the enemy to rally pro-war sentiment. After the events of Christmas 1914, troops were warned that any fraternization with the enemy would result in harsh punishment up to and including summary execution.

The letter was recently discovered by Rodney Barker, Sgt. Barker’s nephew. He found it when he was look through some of his father’s personal effects after his mother died. He never met his uncle who survived World War I but died in 1945 at age 61.

An interesting postscript to his description of the truce is a sadly inaccurate prognostication:

Our batt[allio]n went in the trenches again on Boxing Day. We have conversed with the Germans and they all seem to be very much fed up and heaps of them are deserting. Some have given themselves up as prisoners, so things are looking quite rosy.

It would take four years and more than 16 million deaths before the war’s end.


Napoleon Letter Breaks Estimates

An interesting letter was recently auctioned: written in code, and signed by Napoleon, it was sent when the French Emperor was pondering a retreat when his Russian campaign in 1812 was failing. What’s intrigued people, and the chief reason it far exceeded the estimate and sold for nearly a quarter of a million dollars, is that in it Napoleon promises to blow up the Kremlin in Moscow. In the end, of course, the Kremlin far outlived Napoleon’s empire (and a few Russian ones besides.)

Einstein Letter

So my history class is studying WWII and discussing the atomic bomb, so I thought I’d repost an older one here on Einstein’s Letter to FDR (which I make my students read).

Einstein’s First Letter in August of 1939 told President Roosevelt of the possibility of a nuclear bomb and that Germany might be also working toward this goal:
In the course of the last four months it has been made probable through the work of Joliet in France as well as Fermi and secularity in America–that it may be possible to set up a nuclear chain reaction in a large mass of uranium, by which vast amounts of power and large quantities of new radium-like elements would be generated. Now it appears almost certain that this could be achieved in the immediate future.

This letter garnered a quick response from FDR, who replied in October that he had acted on Einstein suggestions:
I found this data of such import that I have convened a Board consisting of the head of the Bureau of Standards and a chosen representative of the Army and Navy to thoroughly investigate the possibilities of your suggestion regarding the element of uranium.

In March of 1945, Einstein wrote to FDR again, this time telling him that there were problems between the scientists and the government officials the President had appointed:
The terms of secrecy under which Dr. Szilard is working at present do not permit him to give me information about his work; however, I understand that he now is greatly concerned about the lack of adequate contact between scientists who are doing this work and those members of your Cabinet who are responsible for formulating policy.

Einstein’s suggestions to FDR resulted in the creation of the atomic bomb, which President Truman dropped on Japan in August of 1945.

John and Abigail Adams’ Love Letter

Happy Valentine’s Day! So with that in mind, here is a love letter between my favorite presidential couple, John and Abigail Adams!
Miss Adorable

By the same Token that the Bearer hereof satt up with you last night I hereby order you to give him, as many Kisses, and as many Hours of your Company after 9 O’Clock as he shall please to Demand and charge them to my Account: This Order, or Requisition call it which you will is in Consideration of a similar order Upon Aurelia for the like favour, and I presume I have good Right to draw upon you for the Kisses as I have given two or three Millions at least, when one has been received, and of Consequence the Account between us is immensely in favour of yours,

John Adams
Octr. 4th. 1762

WWII Red Cross volunteer gets letter from 1944

Letter to R.T. Fletcher

On February 16, 2001, Gary McMaster, curator of the Camp Roberts Historical Museum on what is now a training base for the Califor­nia Army National Guard, received a letter postmarked August 9, 1944. The hand-written envelope was addressed to Miss R.T. Fletcher, at the base’s Red Cross hospital. Since the hospital had been torn down decades earlier, the mail carrier figured the historical museum would be a reasonable substitute.

Naturally McMaster was intrigued by this piece of World War II history dropped in his mailbox as if it had been sent days ago. He decided to try to find the addressee, but out of concern for their privacy, without reading the letter. USPS had no information. It could have come from the dead letter depot in Atlanta, but according to Joseph Brecken­ridge, a postal service spokesman in Atlanta, it’s more likely someone just found the letter in an attic somewhere and decided to pop it in the mail. The return address was obscured by a tear in the envelope, but the postmark marked its departure point as Montgomery, Alabama.

He decided to tell the Montgomery Advertiser about the letter, hoping against hope that the sender, the recipient or relatives who could perhaps recognize the letter might still live in the area and would see the article. The newspaper ran the story and it caused a little sensation. The AP picked it up, and soon McMaster was getting inquiries about the letter from press around the world.

One of the stories was seen by R. T. Fletcher’s daughter. She recognized her mother’s maiden name and the handwriting on the envelope as that of her uncle, her mother’s brother, who was a soldier stationed at Maxwell Field in Mont­gomery in August of 1944. She faxed McMaster copies of other letters he had written her mother during the war, and the handwriting did indeed match. Although sadly her uncle had passed away years ago, Miss Fletcher is 90 years old and still going strong.

There was also another, even more awesome, clue that this was the right person. Miss Fletcher had told her daughter stories about the time she performed on stage with comedian Red Skelton at Camp Roberts.

McMaster said Camp Rob­erts was one of the largest ar­tillery training centers in World War II.

“We had people from all over the country at Camp Roberts,” he said, including Robert Mitchum, William Holden and Red Skelton.

Fletcher had told her fami­ly that while she served at Camp Roberts, she was in a play that featured Skelton, a popular comedian. McMas­ter was able to find a pro­gram from that show at the museum.

Lo and behold, her name was on the program as a bit player in this Red Skelton scrapbook.”

Turns out that Fletcher was a Red Cross volunteer, and she was coordinating en­tertainment for the soldiers and patients at the hospital at Camp Roberts. Many of them were recuperating from combat injuries, McMaster said.

McMaster had just recently mounted an exhibit at the museum about Red Skelton’s time on the base, which is why he had the scrapbook handy.

With the Skelton evidence and the handwriting match, Gary McMaster was satisfied that he had found the addressee. The letter is currently winding its way to Miss Fletcher’s daughter via registered mail. She will then deliver it to her mother in person, 66 years after it was first sent.


Old Letter From Martha Washington Turns Up….in Kansas

The people of Concordia, Kansas have something rather extraordinary to talk about. It seems a letter penned by the First Lady, as in the very first First Lady, has turned up in their small, little town of 5,700 people. The letter was written by Martha Washington in 1793, during her husband’s presidency, and somehow made its way over the years to rural Kansas.

To read more about this very interesting story, click on the following link…

“Letter From Martha Washington Discovered in Small Kansas Town” 

Civil War Letter: One Man’s Reflection on the War, 1868

The letter is written and signed by R. G. Smith of Kokomo, Indiana. R.G. Smith who was born in Virginia in 1820. His wife, Elisabeth was born in Kentucky. Census records in 1850 reference that R.G. Smith was a Farmer and lived in Union, Indiana. Census records for 1880 reflect that he lived in Kokomo, Indiana and had four children living with him, Clarence, Carrie, Abram and Henry. He also had a traveling salesman living with him by the name of Milo Barns.

Mike a great many things have happened since you left this country. A great and bloody war has been waged. Thousands and thousands of lives have been lost, and millions and millions of money spent on carrying the said war. The Southern people have laid down their arms having lost their property in slaves, the great bone of contention of the war. It must be acknowledged that taking everything in consideration, the Southern people fought nobly, and bravely, but the Northern armies were too numerous for them to ever gain their Southern Independence.

But be the causes of the war as they may, we do know one thing and that is this. That the rebellion did exist, that many bloody battles were fought and that Lee surrendered to General Grant with the understanding that the Union should be restored and hence, once more reign supreme in the land.

About that time Mr. Lincoln was assassinated and Andy Johnson became President and the extreme radicals thought he would be very severe on the South, but he being a Southern man and already knowing that those people had suffered in lift and property enough, could not and did not inflict such penalties on them as ultras of the North desired, and Congress became divided and the breach became more and more widened as things transpired and to cap the climax they got up the impeachment bill and then they failed to impeach. Poor old Thad Stephens did all that human being could do, and afterwards have up the ghost and is dead. — R.G. Smith, September 12, 1868

1767 — Letter II From a Farmer in Pennsylvania to the Inhabitants of the British Colonies by John Dickinson

Editorial published in colonial newspapers


There is another late Act of Parliament, which appears to me to be unconstitutional and as destructive to the liberty of these colonies, as that mentioned in my last letter; that is, the Act for granting the duties on paper, glass, etc.

The Parliament unquestionably possesses a legal authority to regulate the trade of Great Britain and all her colonies. Such an authority is essential to the relation between a mother country and her colonies; and necessary for the common good of all. He, who considers these provinces as States distinct from the British Empire, has very slender notions of justice, or of their interests. We are but parts of a whole, and therefore there must exist a power somewhere to preside, and preserve the connexion due order. This power is lodged in the Parliament; and we are as much dependent on Great Britain as a perfectly free people can be on another.

I have looked over every statute relating to these colonies, from their first settlement to this time; and I find every one of them founded on this principle till the Stamp Act administration. All before are calculated to regulate trade and preserve or promote a mutually beneficial intercourse between the several constituent parts of the Empire; and though many of them imposed duties on trade, yet those duties were always imposed with design to restrain the commerce of one part, that was injurious to another, and thus to promote the general welfare. The raising a revenue thereby was never intended. Thus the king, by his judges in his courts of justice, imposes fines which all together amount to a very considerable sum and contribute to the support of government: but this is merely a consequence arising from restrictions that only meant to keep peace and prevent confusion; and surely a man would argue very loosely, who should conclude from hence that the king has a right to levy money in general upon his subjects. Never did the British Parliament, till the period above mentioned, think of imposing duties in America for the purpose of raising a revenue. Mr. Grenville first introduced this language, in the preamble to the 4 Geo. III, c. 15, which has these words: “And whereas it is just and necessary that a revenue be raised in Your Majesty’s said dominions in America, for defraying the expences of defending, protecting, and securing the same: We, Your Majesty’s most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of Great Britain, in Parliament assembled, being desirous to make some provision in this present session of Parliament, towards raising the said revenue in America, have resolved to give and grant unto Your Majesty the several rates and duties herein after mentioned,” etc.

A few months after came the Stamp Act, which reciting this, proceeds in the same strange mode of expression, thus: “And whereas it is just and necessary that provision be made for raising a further revenue within Your Majesty’s dominions in America, towards defraying the said expences, we Your Majesty’s most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of Great Britain, etc., give and grant,” etc., as before.

The last Act, granting duties upon paper, etc., carefully pursues these modern precedents. The preamble is, ” Whereas it is expedient that a revenue should be raised in Your Majesty’s dominions in America, for making a more certain and adequate provision for defraying the charge of the administration of justice, and the support of civil government in such provinces, where it shall be found necessary; and towards the further defraying the expences of defending, protecting, and securing the said dominions, we Your Majesty’s most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of Great Britain, etc., give and grant,” etc., as before.

Here we may observe an authority expressly claimed and exerted to impose duties on these colonies; not for the regulation of trade; not for the preservation or promotion of a mutually beneficial intercourse between the several constituent parts of the Empire, heretofore the sole objects of parliamentary institutions; but for the single purpose of levying money upon us.

This I call an innovation; and a most dangerous innovation. It may perhaps be objected that Great Britain has a right to lay what duties she pleases upon her exports, and it makes no difference to us whether they are paid here or there. To this I answer: these colonies require many things for their use, which the laws of Great Britain prohibit them from getting anywhere but from her. Such are paper and glass. That we may legally be bound to pay any general duties on these commodities relative to the regulation of trade, is granted; but we being obliged by the laws to take from Great Britain any special duties imposed on their exportation to us only, with intention to raise a revenue from us only, are as much taxes upon us as those imposed by the Stamp Act.

What is the difference in substance and right whether the same sum is raised upon us by the rates mentioned in the Stamp Act, on the use of paper, or by these duties on the importation of it ? It is only the edition of a former book, shifting a sentence from the end to the beginning.

Suppose the duties were made payable in Great Britain.

It signifies nothing to us, whether they are to be paid here or there. Had the Stamp Act directed that all the paper should be landed at Florida, and the duties paid there before it was brought to the British colonies, would the Act have raised less money upon us, or have been less destructive of our rights? By no means: for as we were under a necessity of using the paper, we should have been under the necessity of paying the duties. Thus, in the present case, a like necessity will subject us, if this Act continues in force, to the payment of the duties now imposed.

Why was the Stamp Act then so pernicious to freedom? It did not enact, that every man in the colonies should buy a certain quantity of paper – No: It only directed that no instrument of writing should be valid in law if not made on stamped paper.

The makers of that Act knew full well that the confusions that would arise from the disuse of writings would compel the colonies to use the stamped paper, and therefore to pay the taxes imposed. For this reason the Stamp Act was said to be a law that would execute itself. For the very same reason, the last Act of Parliament, if it is granted to have any force here, will execute itself, and will be attended with the very same consequences to American liberty. Some persons perhaps may say that this Act lays us under no necessity to pay the duties imposed, because we may ourselves manufacture the articles on which they are laid; whereas by the Stamp Act no instrument of writing could be good, unless made on British paper, and that too stamped.

* * *

Great Britain has prohibited the manufacturing iron and steel in these colonies, without any objection being made to her right of doing it. The like right she must have to prohibit any other manufacture among us. Thus she is possessed of an undisputed precedent on that point. This authority, she will say, is founded on the original intention of settling these colonies; that is, that we should manufacture for them, and that they should supply her with materials. The equity of this policy, she will also say, has been universally acknowledged by the colonies, who never have made the least objections to statutes for that purpose; and will further appear by the mutual benefits flowing from this usage ever since the settlement of these colonies.

Our great advocate Mr. Pitt, in his speeches on the debate concerning the repeal of the Stamp Act, acknowledged that Great Britain could restrain our manufactures. His words are these: “This kingdom, the supreme governing and legislative power, has always bound the colonies by her regulations and restrictions in trade, in navigation, in manufactures – in everything, except that of taking their money out of their pockets, without their consent.” Again he says: “We may bind their trade, confine their manufactures, and exercise every power whatever, except that of taking their money out of their pockets, without their consent.”

Here then, my dear countrymen, ROUSE yourselves, and behold the ruin hanging over your heads. If you ONCE admit that Great Britain may lay duties upon her exportations to us, for the purpose of levying money on us only, she then will have nothing to do but to lay those duties on the articles which she prohibits us to manufacture – and the tragedy of American liberty is finished. We have been prohibited from procuring manufactures, in all cases, anywhere but from Great Britain (excepting linens, which we are permitted to import directly from Ireland). We have been prohibited in some cases from manufacturing for ourselves, and may be prohibited in others. We are therefore exactly in the situation of a city besieged, which is surrounded by the works of the besiegers in every part but one. If that is closed up, no step can be taken, but to surrender at discretion. If Great Britain can order us to come to her for necessaries we want, and can order us to pay what taxes she pleases before we take them away, or when we land them here, we are as abject slaves as France and Poland can show in wooden shoes and with uncombed hair.

Perhaps the nature of the necessities of dependent states, caused by the policy of a governing one, for her own benefit, may be elucidated by a fact mentioned in history. When the Carthaginians were possessed of the island of Sardinia, they made a decree, that the Sardinians should not raise corn, nor get it any other way than from the Carthaginians. Then, by imposing any duties they would upon it, they drained from the miserable Sardinians any sums they pleased; and whenever that oppressed people made the least movement to assert their liberty, their tyrants starved them to death or submission. This may be called the most perfect kind of political necessity.


Columbus’ Letter to the King and Queen of Spain by Christopher Columbus

Most High and Mighty Sovereigns,

In obedience to your Highnesses’ commands, and with submission to superior judgment, I will say whatever occurs to me in reference to the colonization and commerce of the Island of Espanola, and of the other islands, both those already discovered and those that may be discovered hereafter.

In the first place, as regards the Island of Espanola: Inasmuch as the number of colonists who desire to go thither amounts to two thousand, owing to the land being safer and better for farming and trading, and because it will serve as a place to which they can return and from which they can carry on trade with the neighboring islands:

1. That in the said island there shall be founded three or four towns, situated in the most convenient places, and that the settlers who are there be assigned to the aforesaid places and towns.

2. That for the better and more speedy colonization of the said island, no one shall have liberty to collect gold in it except those who have taken out colonists’ papers, and have built houses for their abode, in the town in which they are, that they may live united and in greater safety.

3. That each town shall have its alcalde…and its notary public, as is the use and custom in Castile.

4. That there shall he a church, and parish priests or friars to administer the sacraments, to perform divine worship, and for the conversion of the Indians.

5. That none of the colonists shall go to seek gold without a license from the governor or alcalde of the town where he lives; and that he must first take oath to return to the place whence he sets out, for the purpose of registering faithfully all the gold he may have found, and to return once a month, or once a week, as the time may have been set for him, to render account and show the quantity of said gold; and that this shall be written down by the notary before the aIcalde, or, if it seems better, that a friar or priest, deputed for the purpose, shall be also present

6. That all the gold thus brought in shall be smelted immediately, and stamped with some mark that shall distinguish each town; and that the portion which belongs to your Highnesses shall be weighed, and given and consigned to each alcalde in his own town, and registered by the above-mentioned priest or friar, so that it shall not pass through the hands of only one person, and there shall he no opportunity to conceal the truth.

7. That all gold that may be found without the mark of one of the said towns in the possession of any one who has once registered in accordance with the above order shall be taken as forfeited, and that the accuser shall have one portion of it and your Highnesses the other.

8. That one per centum of all the gold that may be found shall be set aside for building churches and adorning the same, and for the support of the priests or friars belonging to them; and, if it should be thought proper to pay any thing to the alcaldes or notaries for their services, or for ensuring the faithful perforce of their duties, that this amount shall be sent to the governor or treasurer who may be appointed there by your Highnesses.

9. As regards the division of the gold, and the share that ought to be reserved for your Highnesses, this, in my opinion, must be left to the aforesaid governor and treasurer, because it will have to be greater or less according to the quantity of gold that may be found. Or, should it seem preferable, your Highnesses might, for the space of one year, take one half, and the collector the other, and a better arrangement for the division be made afterward.

10. That if the said alcaldes or notaries shall commit or be privy to any fraud, punishment shall be provided, and the same for the colonists who shall not have declared all the gold they have.

11. That in the said island there shall be a treasurer, with a clerk to assist him, who shall receive all the gold belonging to your Highnesses, and the alcaldes and notaries of the towns shall each keep a record of what they deliver to the said treasurer.

12. As, in the eagerness to get gold, every one will wish, naturally, to engage in its search in preference to any other employment, it seems to me that the privilege of going to look for gold ought to be withheld during some portion of each year, that there may be opportunity to have the other business necessary for the island performed.

13. In regard to the discovery of new countries, I think permission should be granted to all that wish to go, and more liberality used in the matter of the fifth, making the tax easier, in some fair way, in order that many may be disposed to go on voyages.

I will now give my opinion about ships going to the said Island of Espanola, and the order that should be maintained; and that is, that the said ships should only be allowed to discharge in one or two ports designated for the purpose, and should register there whatever cargo they bring or unload; and when the time for their departure comes, that they should sail from these same ports, and register all the cargo they take in, that nothing may be concealed.

In reference to the transportation of gold from the island to Castile, that all of it should be taken on board the ship, both that belonging to your Highnesses and the property of every one else; that it should all be placed in one chest with two locks, with their keys, and that the master of the vessel keep one key and some person selected by the governor and treasurer the other; that there should come with the gold, for a testimony, a list of all that has been put into the said chest, properly marked, so that each owner may receive his own; and that, for the faithful performance of this duty, if any gold whatsoever is found outside of the said chest in any way, be it little or much, it shall be forfeited to your Highnesses.

That all the ships that come from the said island shall be obliged to make their proper discharge in the port of Cadiz, and that no person shall disembark or other person be permitted to go on board until the ship has been visited by the person or persons deputed for that purpose, in the said city, by your Highnesses, to whom the master shall show all that he carries, and exhibit the manifest of all the cargo, it may be seen and examined if the said ship brings any thing hidden and not known at the time of lading.

That the chest in which the said gold has been carried shall be opened in the presence of the magistrates of the said city of Cadiz, and of the person deputed for that purpose by your Highnesses, and his own property be given to each owner.

I beg your Highnesses to hold me in your protection; and I remain, praying our Lord God for your Highnesses’ lives and the increase of much greater States.

1787 — Letter of Transmittal of the U.S. Constitution by Federal Convention President George Washington

September 17, 1787


We have now the honor to submit to the consideration of the United States in Congress assembled, that Constitution which has appeared to us the most advisable.

The friends of our country have long seen and desired, that the power of making war, peace, and treaties, that of levying money and regulating commerce, and the correspondent executive and judicial authorities should be fully and effectually vested in the general government of the Union: But the impropriety of delegating such extensive trust to one body of men is evident — Hence results the necessity of a different organization.

It is obviously impractical in the federal government of these states, to secure all rights of independent sovereignty to each, and yet provide for the interest and safety of all: Individuals entering into society, must give up a share of liberty to preserve the rest. The magnitude of the sacrifice must depend as well on situation and circumstances, as on the object to be obtained. It is at all times difficult to draw with precision the line between those rights which must be surrendered, and those which may be reserved; and on the present occasion this difficulty was encreased by a difference among the several states as to their situation, extent, habits, and particular interests.

In all our deliberations on this subject we kept steadily in our view, that which appears to us the greatest interest of every true American, the consolidation of our Union, in which is involved our prosperity, felicity, safety, perhaps our national existence. This important consideration, seriously and deeply impressed on our minds, led each state in the Convention to be less rigid on points of inferior magnitude, than might have been otherwise expected; and thus the Constitution, which we now present, is the result of a spirit of amity, and of that mutual deference and concession which the peculiarity of our political situation rendered indispensable.

That it will meet the full and entire approbation of every state is not perhaps to be expected; but each will doubtless consider that had her interest been alone consulted, the consequences might have been particularly disagreeable or injurious to others; that it is liable to as few exceptions as could reasonably have been expected, we hope and believe; that it may promote the lasting welfare of that country so dear to us all, and secure her freedom and happiness, is our most ardent wish.

With great respect, We have the honor to be, Sir,
Your Excellency’s most obedient and humble servants,

George Washington, President
By unanimous Order of the Convention.

His Excellency, the President of Congress