Daily Archives: April 2, 2007

Item of the Day: The History of the Rise, Progress, and Establishment, of the Independence of the United States of America (1788)

Full Title:  The History of the Rise, Progress, and Establishment, of the Independence of the United States of America:  Including An Account of the Late War; and of the Thirteen Colonies, from their Origin to that Period. By William Gordon, D.D. Quid Verium***Curo, et Rogo, Et Omnis in Hoc Sum. Horat. 1 Ep. 1 Lib. In Four Volumes. Volume IV.  London:  Printed for the Author and Sold by Charles Dilly, in the Poultry; and James Buckland, in Pater-Noster-Row.  MDCLXXXVIII.

Several detached articles remain to be mentioned.

A gentleman of Philadelphia has favored me with the following one.  “At ten o’clock on Wednesday evening, October 2, major gen. (Charles) Lee died, after being confined to his bed from the evening of the preceding Friday.  His disorder was a defluxion on the lungs of three months standing, which produced something like a spurious  inflammation of the lungs, accompanied with an epidemic remitting fever.  The character of this person is full of absurdities and qualities of a most extraordinary nature.  His understanding was great, his memory capacious, and his fancy brilliant.  His mind was stored with a variety of knowledge, which he collected from books, conversation and travels.  He had been in most European countries.  He was a correct and elegant classical scholar; and both wrote and spoke his native language, with perspicuity, force, and beauty.  From these circumstances he was, at times, a most agreeable and instructive companion.  His temper was naturally sour and severe.  He was seldom seen to laugh, and scarcely to smile.  The history of his life is little else, than the history of disputes, quarrels and duels, in every part of the world.  He was vindictive to his enemies.  His avarice had no bounds.  He never went into a public and seldom into a private house, where he did not discover some marks of ineffable and contemptible meanness.  He begrudged the expence of a nurse in his last illness, and died in a small dirty room in the Philadelphia tavern called the Canastoe-waggon, [designed chiefly for the entertainment and accommodation of common countrymen] attended by no one but a French servant, and Mr. Oswald the printer, who once served as an officer under him.  He was both impious and profane.  In his principles he was not only an infidel, but he was very hostile to every attribute of the Deity.  His morals were exceedingly debauched.  His manners were rude, partly from nature and partly from affectation.  His appetite was so whimsical as to what he eat and drank, that he was at all times, and in all places, a most troublesome and disagreeable guest.  He had been bred to arms from his youth; and served as lieut. colonel among the British, as colonel among the Portuguese, and afterward as aid de camp to his Polish majesty, with the rank of major general.  Upon the American continent’s being forced into arms for the preservation of her liberties, he was called forth by the voice of the people, and elected to the rank of third in command of their forces.   He had exhausted every valuable treatise, both ancient and modern, on the military art.  His judgment of war was generally found. — He was extremely useful to the Americans in the beginning of the revolution, by inspiring them with military ideas, and a contempt for British discipline and valor.  It is difficult to say, whether the active and useful part he took in the contest, arose from personal resentment against the king of Great Britain, or from a regard to the liberties of America.  It is certain he reprobated the French alliance and republican forms of government, after he retired from the American service.  He was, in the field, brave in the highest degree; and with all his faults and oddities was beloved by his officers and soldiers.  He was devoid of prudence, and used to call it a rascally virtue.  His partiality to dogs was too remarkable not to be mentioned in his character.  Two or three of these animals followed him generally wherever he went.  When the congress confirmed the sentence of the court marital, suspending him for twelve months, he pointed to his dog and exclaimed, “Oh! that I was that animal, that I might not call man my brother.” — Two virtues he possessed in an eminent degree, viz. sincerity and veracity.  He was never known to deceive or desert a friend; and he was stranger to equivocation, even where his safety or character were at stake.”


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Filed under 1780's, American Revolution, Posted by Rebecca Dresser