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    "You will enjoy your wealth at the expense of their blood, for what is property without liberty."

    [Revolutionary War]. Nathanael Greene Autograph Letter Signed "Nath Greene." Three pages, 7.75" x 12.5", South Carolina, November 14, 1781. Under relentless attack from the British, the Southern port cities of Savannah and Charleston fell into British hands. On August 16, 1780, the British attacked the Southern army under the command of Gen. Horatio Gates and scattered it to the winds. Gen. Washington was given leave by Congress to select an able-bodied commander who could restore order to the South and push the British out. Washington wasted no time selecting Nathanael Greene as his man. By March 1781, Greene had forced the British, under the command of General Lord Cornwallis, north into Virginia and Greene's army began the retaking of South Carolina.

    This letter, addressed to James Calhoun, the first mayor of Baltimore, was written just one month after Cornwallis surrendered his army to Gen. Washington, effectively ending the war, and in it, Greene scolds him for not participating in the war, but focusing on the pursuit of money, in part: "This will be handed to you by Col. Howard, as good an officer as the world affords . . . He has been wounded but is happily recovered, and now comes home to pay a little attention to his own private affairs, and to the charge of the fifth Maryland Regiment running in your state. I have never had the honor of a line from you since I have been in this department. Having separated yourself from any military connections, you are so eager in the pursuit of wealth as not to write a line of remembrance to your former friends for want of time for I will not suppose is to proceed from a want of friendship. Go on and buy house to house and field to field and pursue [illegible] with all the avidity of a rich man; but don't forget the poor soldiers because they are the [illegible] part of community. You will enjoy your wealth at the expense of their blood, for what is property without liberty. You have never felt the ravaging hand of war nor the insolence of British tyranny, and god grant you never may. But until then you cannot speak and reason justly. This country has groaned under oppression and cruelties of every kind, and such as would [illegible] even from savages. I congratulate you upon our great good fortune in Virginia [the British surrender at Yorktown]. But I think the enemy made a poor defence. This event is no less important to the public than it is glorious to General Washington. Your address to him through Baltimore was excellent, his answer delightful. Nature in her gifts is commonly too sparing to be great and good at the same time, but those qualities are happily combined in him."

    The document has had extensive restoration to repair multiple separations. It has been lined (recto and verso) with archival tissue. With areas of paper loss affecting some words, but not context. It remains fully legible.


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    Auction Dates
    April, 2015
    9th Thursday
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