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Knox, Henry (1750-1806) to George Washington [incomplete]

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02437.03087 Author/Creator: Knox, Henry (1750-1806) Place Written: Boston, Massachusetts Type: Autograph letter Date: 21 January 1785 Pagination: 4 p. ; 32.2 x 19.8 cm.

Summary of Content: Comments on a recent trip Washington took to his western lands. Expresses relief that Washington did not travel as far west as he originally planned due to "the indians being in a bad temper." Referring to settlers on Washington's lands, writes "You must have been chagrined to have found your Lands possessed by a... people who hold in contempt equity- the first principle of Society." Discusses disunity among the states, writing, "We are entirely destitute of those traits which should Stamp us one nation- and the Constitution of Congress does not seem to promise any capital alteration for the better." Reports on his tour with General Benjamin Lincoln to the eastern line of Massachusetts (present-day Maine, in the area of Passamaquoddy Bay). Writes, "We went to the eastern line of this State, and found that the british have made excessive encroachments upon our territories." Contains two dockets, one on the first page and another in pencil on page four.

Full Transcript: [draft]
Boston 21 January 1785
I have [struck: the satisfied] the satisfaction my dear Sir to aknowledge [sic] the receipt of your kind favors of Decr [inserted: and Jany 5th. ] for which ...I beg you to receive my warmest thanks. I [struck: esteem it] [inserted: regard these letters] as a fresh proof of your [inserted: unchanging] friendship and kindness [struck: which is not changed by absence or altered by [inserted: circumstances] altered by an alteration of situations.] which I shall ever hold as [struck: a] [struck: valuable] [inserted: one] of the first blessings of my Life -
[struck: In the state temper]
The indians being in a bad temper when you went to the Westward, [struck: I] [strikeout] I felt [struck: an extreme] [inserted: great] solicitude on your account as I was apprehensive you would have proceeded to the utmost [struck: length] [inserted: distance] you at first intended. I [struck: am happy] [inserted: was glad] to learn that you altered your determination. You must [struck: however] have been chagrined to [struck: find] to have found your Lands possessed by a [inserted: lawless] people who [struck: not only disregard your services but the claims of equity and Justice - your equitable claims] - the first principle of Society - These and other circumstances my [struck: gen] dear sir you will experience as exercises to your [2] to your Philosophy - But it will be to you a [struck: sufficient] consolation, full of peace, to reflect that you have in all your actions obeyed the dictates of a mind [struck: Philantropic mind] [inserted: [struck: for] replete with patriotism and universal benevolence] - This is a happiness that few possess, and perhaps not one on Earth has reason to possess it in [struck: so] [inserted: a more] eminent a degree than you [struck: have] -
[struck: Were I [inserted: a person] to argue of the future character of America as a Nation, from the dispositions the several states have evinced since the peace, [struck: I should] they would pronounce much evil. [struck: We have] [inserted: The states have] as you justly observe different views [sic]]
Your remarks on the present situation of our Country are indeed too just - The different states have not only different views upon the same subject, but some of them have views that sooner or later must [struck: end in blood] [inserted: involve the Country in all the horrors [struck: of] [strikeout] [inserted: of civil War]] If There is any [inserted: good] policy which prevades [struck: their] [inserted: general] [strikeout] [inserted: our public] measures [struck: generally] it is too mysterious to to be comprehended by people out of the secrets - A neglect in every state of those principles which lead to Union and national greatness - An adoption of local [struck: measu] [3] in preference to general measures appear to actuate [struck: the] the greater part of the state politicians - We are entirely destitute of those traits which should stamp us one nation - and the Constitution of Congress does not [struck: seem to] promise any capital alteration for the better - [strikeout] [struck: every] Great measures will not be carried [inserted: in Congress] so much by the [struck: ability] propriety [inserted: utility] and necessity of things but as a matter of compromise for some other thing which may [inserted: may be evil itself or] may have a tendency to evil - This is not so much the fault of the Members as the defect of human nature - every state [struck: ser] considers their representatives at Congress not so much the [struck: political fathers] [inserted: Legislatures] of the whole [inserted: Union], as their own immediate Agents or Ambassadors, to negociate [struck: for them &] to endeavor [sic] as much as possible [struck: to exonerate them from] [4] [struck: Their just proportion of the expence of the whole] - and to create in [inserted: an influence in to favor] Congress [struck: certain dispositions [strikeout] particular views &c - With [struck: such] a constitution producing such dispositions is it possible that the Americans can ever rival the roman name?
The [struck: attempt] operation of opening of [inserted: navigation of the powtomack at its source] [struck: tho] is truly noble - and if successful, of which I hope there is not a doubt [inserted: it] must [struck: have the] be followed by the most extensively beneficial consequences, which will [struck: grow with] encrease in exact proportion to the encrease of the population of the Country - I am pleased that you [struck: have] are so much interested in this great work -
You are so kind as to ask whether Genl Lincoln and myself had [struck: and] an agreable tour to the Eastward? - [struck: we have] and [inserted: whether -] the state societies making moves towards obtaining charters? - We went to the eastern Line of this State, and found that the british had made excessive encroachments upon our territories - There are several rivers [inserted: in the bay of Passamaquoddy to which they have [struck: given the] within 20 years [struck: last] past given the name of St Croix but the ancient St. Croix is the the most eastern one - They have settled on the middle one called Scudac - although the mouth [struck: of those rivers are] [inserted: those two rivers Scudac & St Croix run north about sixty miles to their sources] are only nine miles apart yet their sources are

[docket on page 1]
From Genl Knox Jany 21st 1785
See More

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

Historical Era: The New Nation, 1783-1815

Subjects: US ConstitutionLand TransactionAmerican Indian HistoryRevolutionary War GeneralPresidentTravelFrontiers and ExplorationWestward ExpansionArticles of ConfederationContinental CongressCongressBoundary or Property DisputeCanadaMilitary HistoryGlobal History and US Foreign PolicyGlobal History and US Foreign PolicyFinance

Sub Era: Creating a New Government

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