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Humphreys, David (1752-1818) to Henry Knox

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02437.03624 Author/Creator: Humphreys, David (1752-1818) Place Written: Hartford, Connecticut Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 27 July 1787 Pagination: 4 p. : docket ; 23.7 x 19.3 cm.

Summary of Content: Writes to Knox about his last trip to Portsmouth and Boston. Says he was present and "highly delighted" with most of the "Academic Excercises" held at the University of Cambridge [Harvard], including one by a young Mr. [John Quincy] Adams, who "distinguished himself by a manly & dignified oration on public Credit." Also discusses the government, saying "We are gladdened with Reports that the federal Convention is likely to adopt almost unanimously some energetic form of Government, & that it is made so palatable, there are hopes entertained, that it will be swallowed by the People - I wish it may be so, but I must confess I have yet my apprehensions." Writes about the possible appointment of "some diplomatic characters for England, Holland, &c" and how it will affect him. Discusses his writings on the "Anarchiad" and the blasphemers of the [Society of] Cincinnati. Writes, "the Philosophers who have taught that every thing degenerates in America. Yet plague on these same Americans if they do not reform their morals & politics soon, I shall wish them all safe in the land of Annihilation."

Background Information: Humphreys, Washington's former aide-de-camp, is likely referring to the Constitutional Convention held in Philadelphia from May to September of 1787. The Convention ultimately led to the rewriting of the Constitution.

"The ...Anarchiad: A New England Poem" was written by David, Joel Barlow, John Trumbull, and Lemuel Hopkins.See More

Full Transcript: [draft]
(Private) Hartford July 27. 1787

My dear Sir
I have lately returned from Portsmouth & Boston, at the last of which places I was made very happy in the Society of many ...of your intimate friends, particularly in an acquaintance with most of the members of the Stone House Club.
Much greater tranquility appears to prevail, under the new Administration in Massachusetts, than I had expected.
I was present at the Commencement in your University of Cambridge & highly delighted with most of the Academic Exercises, in particular young Mr Adams distinguished himself by a manly & dignified oration on public Credit.
We are flattered with Reports that the federal [2] federal Convention is likely to adopt almost unanimously some energetic form of Government, & that it is made so palatable there are hopes entertained that it will be swallowed by the People - I wish it may be so; but I must confess I have yet my apprehensions.
Will there not, at all events be some arrangement in the Department of foreign affairs -that is, will there not in the course of this fall be some appointment of Diplomatic Characters for England, Holland &c? In that case, what must one do to be remembered in this partial Resurrection after the second Death? To be serious, should Congress take up this business, & absolutely overlook me, ten to one if I should be in the best imaginable humour. Tho' I hate to throw away a thought on so paltry [3] paltry an object as Self, yet, patient as I am, I fear I may grow petulant, if this scurvy world should not go better, one day or another. It is true I detest to hear any body abuse our Country but myself. -
Apropos - I must cut short my letter & go to assist a friend in decyphering, for publication, one portion of that antient Heroic Poem called the Anarchiad. Luckily we have just found some of the worst things that are said in it, against the Blasphemers of the Cincinnati & the Philosophers who have taught that every thing degenerates in America. - yet plague on these same Americans, if they don't reform their morals & politics soon, I shall wish them all safe in [4] in the land of Annihilation. - This is a newly discovered Country, from whose bourne tho no traveller returns, yet you may probably, one day or another, see a very elaborate discription of it.
Do you recollect what the name of the writer is, who has made the Article in the Encyclopedia respecting the Cincinnati?
When I have nothing to please me & nothing to provoke me, I feel too lazy to attempt any exertion of Genius. I should be sorry to entertain a presentiment that sometimes comes across my breast. But there is nothing like adversity &irritation to give an independent mind confidence in itself & call forth all the latent Powers of Soul. - Adieu - present my best Complts to Mrs Knox, & believe me an honest man, who cares but precious little for the World, and who is
Your Sincere friend
D. Humphreys
Genl Knox

[docket]
Colo Humphreys
27 July 1787
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People: Knox, Henry, 1750-1806
Humphreys, David, 1752-1818

Historical Era: The New Nation, 1783-1815

Subjects: Society of the CincinnatiPost OfficeLiterature and Language ArtsMilitary HistoryContinental ArmyRevolutionary WarPhilosophyMorality and EthicsPoliticsUS ConstitutionFraternal OrganizationUS Constitutional ConventionGlobal History and US Foreign PolicyGlobal History and US Foreign PolicyRevolutionary War GeneralEducationPresidentEconomicsGovernment and CivicsUS ConstitutionFederalistsDiplomacy

Sub Era: Creating a New Government

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