Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 75,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World to soldiers’ letters from World War II and Vietnam. Explore primary sources, visit exhibitions in person or online, or bring your class on a field trip.

Wadsworth, Jeremiah (1743-1804) to Henry Knox

High-resolution images are available to schools and libraries via subscription to American History, 1493-1943. Check to see if your school or library already has a subscription. Or click here for more information. You may also order a pdf of the image from us here.

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02437.03637 Author/Creator: Wadsworth, Jeremiah (1743-1804) Place Written: Hartford, Connecticut Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 19 August 1787 Pagination: 6 p. : address : docket ; 25.1 x 20 cm.

Summary of Content: Discusses a business plan proposed to him by Major [Winthrop] Sargent for an upcoming voyage and the risks that accompany the proposal. (See GLC02437.03638 for Winthrop's views on the voyage) Mentions one of his officer's requests for payment. Describes the financial ruin and plight of Nathanael Greene's (Catherine Greene) widow and children. Asks Knox to forward the Marquis's [Lafayette's] letter to her. Worries about Greene's sons and their education. Complains about the numerous payment applications and loans requests he has received along with requests from people who wish him to speculate. Begs Knox to financially assist their late friend. Noted as private. "Free" handwritten on address leaf with no signature. See GLC02437.03644, GLC02437.03647, and GLC02437.03652 for related documents. "Free" handwritten on address leaf with no signature.

Full Transcript: [draft]
Hartford August 19th 1787
My dear Sir
Major Sargent delivered me your favor of the 9th instant and stated to me the plan of a Voyage were the profits as ...certain as his stateing is plausible it would be impossible for me to meddle with it as I have more navigation now than I can manage but [strikeout] willing to do what was in my power I have tryed for a subscription among my friends here to raise part of a Capital but without success - Sargents Idea of a ship of 600 Tons being necessary is enough to scare every body - as the expence of Sailieng [sic] & ware & Tare of such a ship is immense & a much less one would bring Tea enough with [2] with other rich goods to swallow up the Capital he proposes &c ye credit intended to be had and should any accident prevent ye credit it would ruine all concerned. he would have had me write to The Re[illegible] & other of my friends in Boston & propose a voyage. but his name & intentions to be secret - this was impossible as I had no Capital to offer & I am persuaded S- has nothing to expect from the [Mercantile] People in Boston the contempt with which he has ever since ye if Peace treated those People they never will forget - but were they all his friends the Voyage on the great scale he proposes it will not go down - you will ask me if I reasoned this with Sargent - I did not - I left this for you who have so much influence over him as to make him attend [3] to you he expressed his fears if it was known that - he was providing an India Voyager it might hurt him with Congress on his plans of a Western Voyage
I wish him success in his Eastern one - but am persuaded the other is more easily performed.
Yesterday Sargent Webster sent to know the result of my application for his wages - his wife had thought of coming on to intreat your assistance - he is established in a printing press at Springfield with one [Russell] and would probably obtain [board] for him self & family if he could pay the small sum he has engaged his Partner & which he can no way get but from his wages - I have persuaded her to return & wait your answer to this letter - I would advance him the ballance due him - but the truth is I have advanced so much & made so many bad debts that I am really distressed to have sacrificed more than one thousand pound since I saw you to save my credit - our friend Greens family [4] must from this moment bill the next years remittance from [struck: Charleston] the SouthO [receive] all their supplies from me as way of [shilling] of the last years remittance was spent before it arrived- I wish you to send the Marquises letter to Mrs Greene & write her your opinion freely respecting George I am very anxious about his education not less so about Nats they are both Boys of genius but dissipated artfull & not inclined to learn - few Mothers are capable of taking care of Boys - perhaps none less so than our friend. I have not had an hours good health since I saw you [strikeout] not a moment I could call my own, my house has been thronged with company - and in the course of the last week only I have had more than Twenty applications some very pressing ones to Loan money or to enter into some extravagent speculation. I have almost resolved to go abroad indeed if my children were otherwise circumstanced than [5] they are I should and I have in contemplation to - carry them & Mrs W with me - but what to do with the family of our deceased friend. I know not but for them my scheme would soon be put in execution My sons Health is bad & would justify the trip - I hinted to you a connection that was possible it is less likely than when I saw you & I fear from the foibles you mentioned to me than any other cause - you will swear I have got the spleen - indeed I am not in the very best spirits but [strikeout] I never suffer my self to despond. if it is noticible for you to help ye poor Sargent you will save him & family from ruine - & tho the public have starved so many I wish this family may not be added to ye number - this long letter will be painfull to you but as I do not often write such you will pardon me - if I loved you less than I do I should not say things to you that no other [6] Person on earth but myself know - Adieu my dear friend present me affectionately to your family and be assured of my esteem & attachment & that the confidence I have in your friendship is one of the circumstances [struck: alluding] in my life that pleases me more than any other out of my own family - I am as ever dear sir
Your very hum ser
Jere Wadsworth

PS. Old Pluckemin is such a leacherous dog - that no fence will keep him & so accustomed to Hay & grain that no [Parton] will fullen him - The flees & his lechery have made him very poor. I have given him to a farmer to ride about his farm till I hear from you what shall I do with the old rascal -
[address leaf]
The Honorl Major Genl Knox
New York
Colo Wadsworth
19 Augt 1787
Recd by
forward 26th
See More

People: Knox, Henry, 1750-1806
Wadsworth, Jeremiah, 1743-1804
Greene, Nathanael, 1742-1786

Historical Era: The New Nation, 1783-1815

Subjects: Revolutionary War GeneralMerchants and TradeCommerceMaritimeTravelAsiaFinanceSoldier's PayWomen's HistoryEstateChildren and FamilyEducationFriendshipGlobal History and US Foreign PolicyGlobal History and US Foreign Policy

Sub Era: Creating a New Government

Order a Copy Citation Guidelines for Online Resources