Saturday, January 29, 2011

Fellow's Perspective: Peter Gilmore on William Irvine

 Today's entry begins a new series showcasing the work of David Library Fellows. Every year the Library awards residential research fellowships that include a stipend and one month's lodging on the Library's campus in the Feinstone Residence for Scholars. Dr. Peter Gilmore, a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, joined us over the summer to conduct research on western Pennsylvania politics and Presbyterians. 


William Irvine: Distinguished Revolutionary Veteran and Political Moderate Outraged by the Excesses of Conservative Politicians

by Dr. Peter Gilmore

William Irvine (1741-1804), a physician from County Fermanagh in the north of Ireland, emerged a major figure in Pennsylvania during the Revolutionary and Early Republic eras. As a brigadier general, Irvine had responsibility for operations based at Fort Pitt in the latter years of the war, and returned west to the Ohio Country in 1794 in command of the Pennsylvania militia assembled to quell the Whiskey Rebellion. He was a Congressman and trustee of Dickinson College. Irvine is often regarded as a Federalist because of his firm support for ratification of the United States Constitution. However, upon examining the correspondence of General Irvine contained in the Draper Manuscripts, it gradually became clear to me that he might better be described as a moderate, without respect to partisan political designations. While certainly not a radical like some other prominent Irish immigrants (William Findley and John Smilie come to mind), Irvine responded critically, even testily, to the conservative direction of politics in post-war America.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Swain Report Special: War Office 28, Regimental HQ Papers Part 2

War Office 28, Regimental Headquarters Papers
Swain Report Special, Installment 2

This post continues the special installment of the Swain Report series: while most of David Swain's reports have provided a general finding aid to the collections they cover, this series constitutes a full catalog of all items in the War Office 28 microfilm rolls held by DLAR. The miscellaneous nature of the documents, which seem to be leftover returns and correspondence from British and Royal Provincial regiments in Canada, make composing a standard finding aid difficult. A full catalog is necessary for fully realizing the importance of these sources, which help to fill in the gaps left by other collections and provide important insights into the daily minutiae of military life, and to make them more user-friendly for researchers. We are very thankful that David has undertaken this intensive task, which has already revealed a number of interesting documents that might otherwise have been lost in the shuffle. For Installment 1, please click here.


British War Office 28—American Headquarters Records
Annotated List of Contents—Part 3 (Reel 2)

by David Swain

The David Library holds microfilm copies of the British War Office 28 Records, parts 2 through 10 (1775-1785), contained on 8 reels.

Note: The compiler of this annotated list has numbered the microfilmed documents consecutively within each reel. These numbers do not appear on the microfilm and are used here only to maintain a sense of order in the contents.

“Letterbooks” among these documents are not actually bound books but are folders of separate-page letters kept at the time by regiments. The microfilm copies of these letters are mostly in chronological order, with a few exceptions. Apparently at a later time, archivists added consecutive printed numbers to the letter pages within each part xxor reel??xx These printed numbers are noted in this list for each letterbook.

28.3. Letterbooks (Reel 2)

Summary contents:

-- 53rd Regiment of Foot field officer letters 1778: 16 letters; documents 1 through 16; printed page numbers 1 through 40

-- 53rd Regiment of Foot field officer letters 1781-1783: 22 letters; documents 17 through 38; printed page numbers 41 through 92

-- 84th Regiment field officer letters 1777-1778: 28 letters; documents 39 through 66; printed page numbers 93 through 157

-- 84th Regiment field officer letters 1778-1779: 22 letters; documents 67 through 88; printed page numbers 158 through 211

-- 84th Regiment field officer letters 1780: 27 letters; documents 89 through 115; printed page numbers 212 through 285

-- 84th Regiment Field Officers letters 1781: 28 letters; documents 116 through 143; printed page numbers 286 through 356

-- 84th Regiment Field Officers letters 1782: 34 letters; documents 144 through 177; printed page numbers 357 through 443

-- 84th Regiment Field Officers letters 1783: 20 letters; documents 178 through 197; printed page numbers 444 through 493

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Was George Washington a swinger?

From the David Library Archives

On April 2, 1973, the Bucks County Courier Times carried an article by Staff Writer Maryann Bird, entitled "Was George Washington a swinger?" The article (linked in pdf format) followed Sol Feinstone's claim that he owned "the only love letter written by George Washington after he married Martha," and asked if then-General Washington had cheated on his wife in 1783. The letter was addressed to Mrs. Annis Boudinot Stockton, of Morven House, now in Princeton, New Jersey, who was the widow of Richard Stockton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. A full transcript of the letter, document number 1600 in the Sol Feinstone Collection, appears below. It is not known if Stockton's original letter to Washington survives.

What do you think? Does this letter constitute a suggestion of a love affair, as Sol Feinstone argued? Or is there something else at work in Washington's text? Please record your thoughts in the comments section.