Thursday, June 29, 2023

Not THAT Josiah Bartlet

First page of handwritten letter, Nathaniel Folsom to Josiah BartlettDartmouth counts many famous people connected to the school. For the Fourth of July this year, we feature Josiah Bartlett... no, not the fictional one "t" President Bartlet on West Wing who taught economics here, but his actual namesake, two "tt" Josiah Bartlett, first Governor of the State of New Hampshire, the state's delegate to the Continental Congress and signer of the Declaration of Independence. A successful doctor, he was also a trustee of Dartmouth and was awarded an honorary degree at the 1790 graduation where he spoke.

We have a wonderful stash of letters in his papers (MS-181) that includes this gem perfect for the day. Writing to Bartlett from Exeter in August, 1776, Nathaniel Folsom enthuses:

The Declaration is well receivd here, has been duely published etc. As to myself and some of my particular friends with whom I have the happiness to agree in almost every publick measure it was extremely agreeable--it will (I doubt not) have a happy tendency to unite us in the present glorious struggle for by it many of the objections of wavering (tho' perhaps otherwise well disposed) persons are entirely answered--In short, it is the first principle of every virtuous man to keep a conscience void of offense toward God & man, it is the second thing he has in view to make it appear to the World. By the Declaration you make evident to the World that you are neither ashamed to own the Cause of Liberty nor afraid to defend it, and I doubt not it will be defended even against the Ultimo Ratio Regis.

The last line a reference to the news of most of the remainder of the letter which was almost exclusively concerned with the state of the troops, the building of a new fort and equipping a powder mill. We will be closed for the Fourth, but come in this week and look over Bartlett's communications as the country formed.