A Yankee Jeffersonian: Selections from the Diary and Letters of William Lee of Massachusetts, Written from 1796 to 1840

A Yankee Jeffersonian: Selections from the Diary and Letters of William Lee of Massachusetts, Written from 1796 to 1840

A Yankee Jeffersonian: Selections from the Diary and Letters of William Lee of Massachusetts, Written from 1796 to 1840

A Yankee Jeffersonian: Selections from the Diary and Letters of William Lee of Massachusetts, Written from 1796 to 1840

Excerpt

Entrepreneur, public servant, and lifelong democrat, William Lee of Massachusetts lived through the colorful and crucial years from 1772 to 1840 that saw the beginning and early growth of the American republic. Although Lee was not himself a chief character in American history, he gives us through his diary and letters a candid and telling glimpse of the struggles by which the hard-won independence of the young republic was assured. His activities as commercial agent of the United States at Bordeaux spanned the administrations of Jefferson and Madison, and his career as auditor of the Treasury in Washington brought him into close association with two other presidents -- Monroe and Adams. His own record reveals him as a man of character and charm, an upright citizen and an able public servant.

On another, more private, level, William Lee's diary and letters give an intimate picture of a devoted American husband and father in the early nineteenth century: deeply attached to the wife who followed him to foreign shores, eager to form his daughters in the graces and accomplishments of proper young ladies, full of ambitious projects that might better his position.

The diary and letters passed from William Lee to his elder son, William Barlow Lee, who in turn handed them on to his son, Dr. William Lee of Washington, D.C. With a lively appreciation of the career and the writings of his ancestors, Dr. Lee preserved the letters in two large bound volumes; and it was these, together with the diary and another volume prepared by Dr. Lee's nephew, Charles Addison Mann, Jr., that I inherited from my mother -- Dr. Lee's sister, Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Lee Mann. The three volumes of Lee's letters, as well as a number of unbound letters, a memorandum book running from 1794 to 1816 . . .

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