The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799 - Vol. 1

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799 - Vol. 1

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799 - Vol. 1

The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799 - Vol. 1

Excerpt

For the past century all we have known of the George Washington manuscripts has been the less than fifty per cent of them that have been published since his death. The first extensive publication was by Jared Sparks, president of Harvard College, in 1834-1837, in twelve volumes, and the second by Worthington C. Ford, in 1889-1893, in fourteen volumes. Sparks printed upwards of twenty-five hundred letters and documents; Ford, by eliminating many that Sparks printed, and including new material, added about five hundred to the total, so that both Ford and Sparks together have published from three to four thousand only of Washington's letters. (An actual count of the total number of letters and documents written or signed by Washington has never been made, but a conservative estimate would place the number at from eight to ten thousand.) Neither of these editions is satisfactory, though they have been for years the available basis of our knowledge of George Washington. Ford's work was hampered by the exigencies of commercial restrictions. Sparks suffered from an editorial hypnosis to which it is unnecessary now to call attention, as his peculiar theory of editing aroused controversy at the time and has been thoroughly discredited. It is hope. lessly at variance with accepted canons of historical ethics. A comparison of the textual exactness of this Bicentennial Edition with any of the important letters printed in Sparks . . .

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