Item #List2307 Letter Written to George Washington at Newburgh Seeking Passage for Smallpox Doctor James Latham, the Smallpox Specialist who Treated Both Armies during the American Revolution, 1782. American Revolution - Medicine - Smallpox, Ann Hawkes Hay, George Washington.
[American Revolution - Medicine - Smallpox] Hay, Ann Hawkes [Washington, George]

Letter Written to George Washington at Newburgh Seeking Passage for Smallpox Doctor James Latham, the Smallpox Specialist who Treated Both Armies during the American Revolution, 1782.

Haverstraw: 1782. Single page measuring 7 x 9 inches. Trimmed at margin with very small amount of loss to text else fine. Fine. Item #List2307

An interesting and significant letter written by Ann Hawkes Hay to George Washington in 1782, seeking passage for a family member of the loyalist physician James Latham, a prominent doctor who treated smallpox during the conflict. Latham was a practitioner of the ‘Suttonian’ method of smallpox inoculation, developed by the english physician William Sutton. Latham built out a large network of Suttonian hospitals that inoculated soldiers from both armies, and despite his loyalist tendencies was allowed to operate during the conflict. “The revolution,however, introduced ideological conflict for Latham , whose residence in Livingston Manor brought him in contact with Robert R. Livingston and other large landowners. They themselves were divided on the path the Revolution should take. Latham was evidently torn between his loyalty to Britain and his desire to protect his investment in the community in which he had become established. Be resigned his conmission before August 1775 , " ~ but whether this was to avoid entering British service, as Robert Livingston later stated, or because of the "great and flattering prospect of succeeding in his profession," as Latham maintained, is a matter of judgement.” (Tunis, Barbara. Doctor James Latham: Pioneer Inoculator in Canada. Canadian Bulletin of Medical History, Volume 1 Issue 1, Spring 1984, pp. 1-11) In 1783 Latham rejoined the British Army, though his exact whereabouts at the close of the conflict are not known. He appears in ledgers at his home in Livingston manor into the late 1870s.

Offered here is a letter from Ann Hawkes Hay seeking passage for Latham from George Washington, written from Haverstraw on April 4, 1782. It is interesting that at this period, Latham was allowed by the British to pass and repass their lines on the Hudson. That he was granted passage by Washington is significant, showing the degree to which his standing as a physician he was allowed to travel freely despite his known loyalist tendencies. We find other letters from Hay to Washington from the conflict in the National Archives and elsewhere, but no record of this one, which we purchased from a private collector in New York. Overall a significant letter that would be of interest to historians of the medical history of the American Revolution.

Full transcription follows:

Haverstraw, April 4, 1782

Sir.

This will be handed to your Excellency with a Letter from Doctor Latham, who has Gov Clinton’s Permission for his siter in law to come out of New York and reside with him at Manor Livingston, for which purpose he has proceeded thus far on his way to Elizabeth Town, intending to send for her to meet him there, and to carry her and her Baggage in Waggons Home with him, to save my Friend such a vast Expense I ahve advised him to apply to your Excellency for Premission for her to come by water in a Falgg to this Place, and that he may be permitted to hire a vessel here to take her and Baggage out of the Flagg & proceed up the River to Manor Livingston.

I will be greatly obliged to your Excellency if you will be so kind as to grant his Request and I am
with great Respect Your Excellency’s
most obt Servt
A Hawkes Bay.

Price: $3,250.00