An Essay on the Life of the Honourable Major-General Israel Putnam

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Overview

David Humphreys was aide-de-camp to Washington during the American Revolution. His Life of Israel Putnam, originally published in 1788, has rightly been described as “the first biography of an American written by an American.” It is, as William C. Dowling observes, “a classic of revolutionary writing, very readable and immensely interesting in what it says about the temper of the new republic in the period immediately after the American Revolution.” The subject—General Israel Putnam—is remembered to history and legend as exclaiming: “Don’t fire ’til you see the whites of their eyes!” to American soldiers at the Battle of Bunker Hill. As Professor Dowling notes, “All the episodes are retold—Bunker Hill, the Battle of White Plains, the crossing of the Delaware, the Battle of Princeton—but from the perspective of one who was there throughout, and who always permits us to see Putnam as the sort of character by whom history is, in the last analysis, made.” Humphreys wrote the biography when formation of the Society of the Cincinnati, composed of men who were officers in the Revolution, “focused debate in the new republic about the competing claims of individual liberty and the good of the community.”

William C. Dowling is a Professor of English at Rutgers University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780865972636
  • Publisher: Liberty Fund, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 6/1/2000
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 172

Table of Contents


Foreword, ix A Note on the Text, xxiii Letter to the Honourable Colonel Jeremiah Wadsworth, 1
An Essay on the Life of the Honourable Major-General Israel Putnam, 5
An Oration on the Political Situation of the United States of America in the Year 1789, 127 Index, 141
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