DescriptionJohn Hancock Autograph Letter Signed as governor of Massachusetts. One page with integral blank, 7.5" x 8.75", [Boston], September 30, 1783, to Rufus King regarding the health of his sister. He writes, in full:
"Judging it would not be disagreeable to you to be inform'd of the Situation of your Sister's Health, I Take the oppory. of Mr. Gill's Visit to your place, to acquaint you that I last Eveng. came up from Point Shirley, where my Family is with my only Child under Inoculation, & left your Sister in Mrs. Hancock's Room as well as you could Expect, her Symptoms were such as undoubtedly would bring out the Small Pox in the course of last night, they are all in a fine way, & I dare say will have it very lightly. I carried your Sister down Sunday last week, in my Barge with Mrs. Hancock, & Mrs Hancock Takes all the Care she can of her." Inoculation was a common, if extremely dangerous, way to counteract smallpox. During the epidemic that had gripped the country through the years of the Revolutionary War, George Washington applied the procedure to his army. The process involved exposing otherwise healthy individuals to someone that was infected with the disease in the hope that they would contract it. If they survived, they would likely be immune to further exposure.
A second Hancock signature appears on the address leaf, but has been partially covered with tape that has been applied to repair spots of separation. Tear across the face of the letter located approximately 1" above Hancock's signature has also been repaired and does not affect the legibility of the text. Chipped lower edge; slight separation of left vertical fold at upper edge. Small spot of staining also near the upper edge.
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