A Congressional Appeal to a “Friend of Science”

Some things can’t wait for matters of war or peace…

From the Baxter Manuscripts, containing a documentary history of the conduct of the American Revolution in Maine:

Letter to the Commandg Officer of the British at Penobscot—
Similar One to Genl Wadsworth.
Boston Sept. 12, 1780
Sr
It is expected that there will be a very remarkable Eclipse of yeSun on ye 27th of Octo next, and that it will be central & total at or near the british Post at Penobscot where you command: the centre of ye Moon’s Shadow if the longitude & latitude of that place by ye Maps can be depended on, being by calculation to pass over Penobscot Bay,  As accurate observations of this Eclipse at a place so situated may be greatly beneficial especially in Geography & Astronomy, the Genl Assembly of this State have made provision for Suitable persons to observe it at any place most proper for that purpose, and to which they can have access.  The Gentleman who will be employed is ye Revd Mr SamlWilliams Hollisson Professor of Mathematics & Natl Philo at our University at Cambridge with such assistants as he shall take with him.  If he shd judge your Post or any other place within your command most suitable for making his observations it is not doubted that as a Friend of Science you will not only give him yr permission for that purpose, but every assistance in your power to render the observation as perfect as possible.  Though we are politically enemies, yet with regard to Science it is presumable we shall not dissent from the practice of all civilized people in promoting it either in conjunction or separately as occasions for it shall happen to offer.
Please favour me with an answer, and with Passes for the safe going & return of Mr Williams & his associates, and of the Vessel and Mariners.
I am respectfully Sr yr most obt hbble Servt
John Hancock   Spkr

Sounds like the kernel of a great story to me — and I had a lot of fun telling it!

Send to Kindle