Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 70,000 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.

Knox, Henry (1750-1806) to Marquis de Lafayette

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 #: GLC02437.03874 Author/Creator: Knox, Henry (1750-1806) Place Written: New York, New York Type: Manuscript letter Date: 15 May 1788 Pagination: 3 p. : docket ; 32.5 x 20.3 cm.

Marked "Copy." Letter in a secretarial hand. Says that Joel Barlow, later known as one of the Connecticut Wits, will deliver this letter. Knox identifies Barlow as the author of "The vision of Columbus," a long epic poem in heroic couplets. Barlow went to Europe as an agent for a company that wanted to sell western lands to French emigrants. Knox says Barlow is traveling with the son of Nathanael Greene, George Washington Greene, who is to study with Lafayette in France. Says Catharine Greene and Colonel Wadsworth have written him on the subject of "Master Washington's education," and he will not say much on it. Proceeds to say "The Classics and modern languages as being the work of memory will probably constitute his first studies, together with learning the necessary personal exercises to form his manners." Says mathematics, geography, astronomy, and drawing should come later. Says his removal to France will "honor the memory of his father." Praises the young man's character and disposition. Says his last letter to Lafayette was on 26 April. Thanks Lafayette for sending the Dutch patriot Vander Kemp to meet him. Updates him on state conventions on the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. Says Maryland was the 7th state to ratify. Says the election for the New York convention delegates has recently taken place, but that the results are not known yet. Believes it will be a balanced delegation of those for and against it. Says "Were the New Constitution to have required the Unanimous assent of all the states it would never have been adopted - But as it require only nine states in the first instance, it may be in full operation, in one year from the present time." In the hand of William Knox.

"The Vision of Columbus," published in 1787, was dedicated to the king of France and sponsored by George Washington. It brought Barlow something more than local fame as a forecaster in verse of what the new United States might become, both in commerce and in art.

[draft] [partial]

Maryland the 7th State has adopted the New Constitution 63 for it, & 11 against it - South Carolina Convention is sitting & will probably adopt the new Constitution - The Reports from Virginia are favorable - The Convention of that State will meet the first week in June.
The Elections for the Convention finished in this State, As the Pivots on which the elections turned were the adoption or rejection of the New Constitution the sentiments of the Citizens were pretty generally drawn forth on the occasion - The precise result cannot be ascertained at present but it is probable that the parties are [3] are nearly balanced - If nine States however should have adopted the Constitution previously to the setting of the Convention of this State, the measure will have a decisive influence on the deliberations of this State, and most probably the constitution will be adopted.

Order a CopyCitation Guidelines for Online Resources