Worthy Partner: The Papers of Martha Washington

By Joseph E. Fields; Martha Washington | Go to book overview

From Reverend Mason Locke Weems

( March 8, 1800)

The honor of Mrs Washingtons Acceptance of this little book is requested.

By her Sincere Wellwisher Mason L. Weems2

March 8. 1800 Dumfries (Address) Mrs Martha Washington (Docket by Tobias Lear) From The Revd Mr. Weems 8 March 1800

ALS, DTP.

1.
Mason Locke Weems ( 1759- 1825), Episcopal clergyman, bookseller, and author, was a native of Maryland. He was ordained in England in 1784 and then returned to America where he served several churches in Maryland. He began writing and publishing books about 1791. Thereafter bookselling interests dominated his life. In 1794 he became an agent for Mathew Cary, the young Philadelphia publisher. He traveled tirelessly up and down the country, peddling books. In the meantime he found time to write biographies of Frankllin, Francis Marion, and William Penn, as well as other moralizing religious publications. He would probably be unremembered today except for his Life and Memorable Actions of George Washington, c. 1800. From 1800 until 1927 it passed through some seventy editions. Additional ones have found their way into print since then. Most of his life, when not traveling, was spent at Dumfries, King William County, Virginia. See, Cunliffe (ed), The Life of Washington By Mason L. Weems, Cambridge, 1962, pp. ix-xiii. As early as June 1799 Weems had begun preparing a small pamphlet entitled The Beauties of Washington. On June 24,1799, six months before the death of Washington, he wrote Mathew Cary, the Philadelphia publisher, offering it to him for publication. GW's death, notwithstanding, Cary did not respond. On January 12, 1800 Weems again wrote to Cary, revealing his plan for a Washington biography, and again Cary waas unresponsive. Weems then wrote to Cary for the third time, on February 2, stating he had sent him an excerpt from "The History of Washington." Not obtaining a response, had a small number printed at his own expense. This was the first edition, a pamphlet consisting of eighty pages, and published anonymously by George Keating, a Baltimore printer. This was probably the edition sent to MW. The seond edition followed shortly after and was published by Breen & English, of Georgetown. It was dedicated to MW and bore the authorship of Weems. The third edition was published by John Bioren of Philadelphia, in the spring of 1800. It was also dedicated to MW. See E. E. F. Skeel, (ed) Mason Locke Weems His Works and Ways, N.Y. 1929, 1:1-13.

From Janet Livingston Montgomery

Madam

Will you accept (for it is all I have to offer) the tears of a fellow suffer; and a fellow Mourner; I will make no attempts to comfort you? I well know how vain the project: twenty four years are gon away since I lost my husband - And still my tears flow and my heart sighs. - and my tongue repeats his name, in anguish - 1

-360-

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