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EUSTIS, WILLIAM (Revolutionary War Surgeon, later Governor of Massachusetts). Autograph letter signed to Dr. David Townsend giving a first hand account of an assassination attempt on Washington and the arrival of the British Navy to New York Harbor
. New York: 28 June - 1 July 1776. 4 pp. autograph letter signed "W. Eustis" with a lengthy postscript in Eustis' hand. 9 x 7 1/4 inches (23 x 18 cm). Split along one horizontal fold, remnants of mounting to left margin, some light staining. The letter was published in Boston in 1869 as The assassination plot in New-York in 1776: A letter of Dr. William Eustis ...; Together with an 1876 newspaper printing of the letter.
An emotional and descriptive account of the 1776 attempt on Washington's life in New York. Eustis informs Townsend of the "infernal plot to have murdered, (with trembling I say it) the best man on Earth: Genl Washington was to have been the first subject of their unheard of Sacricide." Eustis continues, mentioning other aspects of the "diabolical" plot such as further assassinations and the blowing up of the gunpowder magazines. Eustis describes the perpetrators of the plot as being members of Washington's personal life-guard and that once discovered "we are hanging them as fast as we can find them out." Eustis then describes the hanging of Thomas Hickey (the ntirety of the plan is often referred to as the Hickey Plot), the Irish-born British army deserter and member of Washington's life-guard who was quickly tried and hung in front of 20,000 spectators on the day this letter was penned. Hickey is the only known conspirator to be hung for this plot and was also the first American soldier in in the Continental Army to be executed. The letter closes with comments on the fighting at Quebec and mention that "General Howe lays at the Hook with a number of troops; how many is uncertain" but in a very dramatic turn Eustis resumes the letter on July 1st with a startling description of the arrival of the British fleet. He writes "we have counted 140 topsail vessels, some say there are 160. I think we must very soon come to action. The Flower of our Reg. is picked for a field fight which I imagine will take place on Long Island. Heaven preserve us to meet again."

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