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An Essay on the Life of the Honourable Major-General Israel Putnam

David Humphreys

Publication Year: 2012

David Humphreys was aide-de-camp to Washington during the American Revolution. His Life of Israel Putnam, originally published in 1788, has rightly been described as “the first biography of an American written by an American.” It is, as William C. Dowling observes, “a classic of revolutionary writing, very readable and immensely interesting in what it says about the temper of the new republic in the period immediately after the American Revolution.” The subject—General Israel Putnam—is remembered to history and legend as exclaiming: “Don’t fire ’til you see the whites of their eyes!” to American soldiers at the Battle of Bunker Hill. As Professor Dowling notes, “All the episodes are retold—Bunker Hill, the Battle of White Plains, the crossing of the Delaware, the Battle of Princeton—but from the perspective of one who was there throughout, and who always permits us to see Putnam as the sort of character by whom history is, in the last analysis, made.” Humphreys wrote the biography when formation of the Society of the Cincinnati, composed of men who were officers in the Revolution, “focused debate in the new republic about the competing claims of individual liberty and the good of the community.”

William C. Dowling is a Professor of English at Rutgers University

Published by: Liberty Fund

Title Page, Copyright

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Table of Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Foreword

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pp. ix-xxii

David Humphreys, author of An Essay on the Life of the Honourable Major-General Israel Putnam, is today remembered less as a writer than as a historical personage. As principal aide-de-camp to Putnam and subsequently to George Washington, Humphreys passed through the darkest hours of the American Revolution, ...

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A Note on the Text

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pp. xxiii-xxiv

The texts of both the Life of Israel Putnam and the Oration on the Political Situation of the United States in I789 have been taken from the last-published edition of The Miscellaneous Works of David Humphreys, printed in New York in 1804. In keeping with the principles governing Liberty Fund editions, ...

An Essay on the Life of the Honourable Major-General Israel Putnam

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Letter to the Honourable Colonel Jeremiah Wadsworth

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pp. 1-4

Unavoidable absence will prevent me from performing the grateful task assigned me by the State Society of the Cincinnati on the fourth day of July next. Though I cannot personally address them, I wish to demonstrate, by some token of affectionate remembrance, the sense I entertain of the honour they have ...

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An Essay on the Life of the Honourable Major-General Israel Putnam

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pp. 5-126

To treat of recent transactions and persons still living, is always a delicate, and frequently a thankless office. Yet, while the partiality of friends, or the malignity of enemies, decides with rashness on every delineation of character, or recital of circumstances, a consolation remains, that distant nations, ...

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An Oration on the Political Situation of the United States of America in the Year 1789

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pp. 127-140

Since the last Anniversary of Independence, my dear fellow-citizens, we have been witnesses to the complete establishment of a new general government. On an event of such magnitude, the voice of congratulation has already been heard from one extreme of our land to the other. But as our felicitations can never ...

Index

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pp. 141-149

Publication Information

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E-ISBN-13: 9781614878018
E-ISBN-10: 1614878013
Print-ISBN-13: 9780865972636

Page Count: 172
Publication Year: 2012

Edition: None

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Subject Headings

  • Putnam, Israel, 1718-1790.
  • Generals -- United States -- Biography.
  • United States. Army -- Biography.
  • United States -- History -- Revolution, 1775-1783 -- Campaigns.
  • United States -- History -- French and Indian War, 1754-1763 -- Campaigns.
  • United States -- History -- Revolution, 1775-1783 -- Personal narratives.
  • United States -- History -- French and Indian War, 1754-1763 -- Personal narratives.
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