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Knox, Henry (1750-1806) to George Washington

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02437.06900 Author/Creator: Knox, Henry (1750-1806) Place Written: Boston, Massachusetts Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 13 January 1797 Pagination: 7 p. : docket ; 23.4 x 18.3 cm.

Summary of Content: Mentions the loss of two children and settling into his new home and the surrounding area. Also discusses Washington's retirement and the threat of war with France, "there will be no danger of the french attempting an invasion of our country. If they should we must resist..." Regarding the slave revolt in Santo Domingo, he says: "The whites will either starve or be murdered by the blacks." Noted as a draft in the docket. Knox's retained draft.

Full Transcript: [draft]
Boston 15th January 1797.
My dear Sir
[struck: Being well persuaded of your kindness]
Possessing as I do, a thousand evidences of your friendship [strikeout], I am persuaded that you ...will readily [struck: [illegible] me when I assure you] [inserted: believe me when I say] that my silence hitherto has been the effect of my unwillingness to intrude myself upon you [struck: during during the during the all important [illegible] to] [inserted: lest I should] prevent for a moment, the different views and considerations you [strikeout] give to the [struck: very] important subjects you have constantly before you - although the same causes continue to prevent my interruption yet I am apprehensive sometimes, that you may think, me unmindful of your kindnesses especially after, [inserted: the receipt of yr] the affectionate letter [struck: you transmitted] by Mr Bingham the last summer -
The loss of [2] two lovely children, on which you condoled in that letter, has been recently, [strikeout] revived and increased, by [inserted: the [struck: loss] [inserted: death] of] our son of seven year old bearing your name. [inserted: He has always been sickly, having been born permatured but we flattered ourselves that his health would encrese with his years but we have been dissaproved.] Unfortunate indeed have we been in the [struck: loss of our] [inserted: death of eight] children, requiring the excercise of our whole stock of Philosophy & religion [struck: and every other principle of support. However I hope we may say with propriety that God tempers his wounds to the shorn lamb] We find ourselves afflicted by an irresistible but invissible force to whom we must submit - But the [struck: loss] [inserted: conflict] is almost too great for the [struck: afflicted] [inserted: inconsolable] mother who will [struck: go mourning to her grave] go mourg to her grave.
We have [struck: recently] [inserted: lately] come from [struck: the our place in the country] [inserted: St. Georges] to pass [struck: our] [inserted: the] winter in this Town. Indeed this is our general plan [struck: for the present]. We may [struck: indeed] [inserted: however] as we grow [3] older find it inconvenent - [struck: at present it is a relatively easy ride,] we are distant about two hundred miles by land, which we may easily ride in six [struck: or seven days] days when the snow is on the ground, or [struck: indeed] with wheels with a very little improvement of the [inserted: a small portion] road - The taverns on the [struck: grounds] [inserted: route] are as good as any other two hundred miles on the Continent.
I am beginning to experience the good effects of my residence upon my [struck: estate and attention to my property [illegible]] [inserted: lands] I may truly say that is more than double in its value since I determined to make it my home. The only inconvenience we experience is the want of Society, [struck: and] This will probably lessen daily. Our communication by water to this [struck: place] [inserted: Town] is constant and cheap - We can obtain the transportation [here] the cheaper; than the [4] same article can be carted, from any store to the Vessel - This [struck: probably would require] egotism would require an an apology to any other than you -
For your own sake I rejoice at the near approach of your retirement. In it I pray God you may enjoy all the felicity of which the human condition is susceptible - The consiousness of having acted well would [struck: would] under [struck: all all] any circumstances, [struck: raised] [inserted: have] elevate[d] your soul abouve the feelings of [struck: the] storms raised by [inserted struck: the] malice and envy [struck: of the present moment.] But [struck: the] [inserted: in addition to this consciousness,] the consecration of your retirement, by the unlimited gratitude of your country must present [inserted: you in] the decline of your life with [struck: a doubtless [illegible] the most [struck: perfect] [inserted: [strikeout] perfect] reward.
I flatter myself that before you leave the helm you will have dissipated the clouds raised by the [struck: jealouslys and] causeless jealousy of the french adm [5] administration. If not, we must appeal from them mad and drunk with power as they may be to the time when they shall [strikeout] have recovered their senses - We have not injured them, but have only taken [struck: that] those due precautions which our own happiness required. If [struck: they [illegible]] [inserted: they] madly continue, to war against our innocent & rightful commerce we must make an account [inserted: therof] and [struck: expe] look for compensation through all the events of ages, and we shall assuredly find it at some period or other [inserted: with full interest -] - But I hope we shall not under any circumstances [inserted: at present] attempt reprisals - [struck: They might come out] Their fit of insanity cannot last long. St Domingo is and will be in the course of this winter the [strikeout] [inserted: victim] of the villany of its administration. The whites will either starve or be murdered [inserted: by the blacks] - as the negroes [6] [inserted: It cannot be expected there] their will be no danger of the french attempting an invasion [inserted: of our country]. If they should we must resist. and [strikeout] [inserted: that] appears [strikeout] [inserted: to be] the only case in which we should suffer ourselves to be dragged into a war. [struck: But we cannot be [largely] murdered]
What an eventful winter this will be at paris! [struck: Heaven forbid that any of my friends should be in such a scene of intrigue and [inserted: and [illegible]] [illegible] be], especially if the army of [struck: Itlay] [inserted: Italy] should be arrested, or defeated, in addition, to the retreat of the two armies of Jourdan and Moreau from Germany.
[struck: Everybody [inserted: Peop[l]e] here [struck: is] [inserted: are] crying out against a Mr. Skipwith Consul at Paris as one who vilifies our government in the most outrageous manner - Indeed] From some information which I have here received from a person who is himself [struck: of the opposite party] [inserted: much attached to the french], no doubt rests in our mind, but that the measures of the french [7] administration [inserted: towards this Country] have been excited, by the Americans in Paris, [struck: who mostly] in consequence of [struck: informa] [inserted: letters received from persons of the same] [strikeout] [inserted: opinions] in the US - [struck: The gentry in Paris are said generally] are [inserted: said to be] the most desperate adventurers] -
I did not intend to intermix a word of politcs in this letter which I meant as the [struck: near these great] recognition of a grateful heart, [inserted: but they thrust themselves in always] - Mrs. Knox unites with me in presenting our respectful and affectionate attachments to you and Mrs. Washington - [struck: if I am [illegible]]

I am my Dear sir
your ever [struck: obt respectfully] [struck: and] devoted friend HKnox

The President of the United States -

Boston Janry 15. 1797 draft to the President of the United States - Washington
See More

People: Knox, Henry, 1750-1806
Washington, George, 1732-1799

Historical Era: The New Nation, 1783-1815

Subjects: Children and FamilyDeathBuilding ConstructionPresidentMilitary HistoryGovernment and CivicsQuasi-warGlobal History and CivicsFranceSlaverySlave RebellionCaribbeanAfrican American History

Sub Era: The Early Republic

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