Nathanael Greene, In Introducing the “Blind Doctor” Henry Moyes to Benjamin Rush, States as His Goal: “To make one philosopher acquainted with another”

His "philosophical enquiries are as honorable to him as beneficial to mankind"

Purchase $6,500

Letters of Greene from this period are very uncommon, and we have not seen one demonstrating his interest in philosophical subjects, nor one connecting him with some of the great minds of the time.

During the American Revolution, Greene was the head of the Southern Theater and for a period George Washington’s...

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Nathanael Greene, In Introducing the “Blind Doctor” Henry Moyes to Benjamin Rush, States as His Goal: “To make one philosopher acquainted with another”

His "philosophical enquiries are as honorable to him as beneficial to mankind"

Letters of Greene from this period are very uncommon, and we have not seen one demonstrating his interest in philosophical subjects, nor one connecting him with some of the great minds of the time.

During the American Revolution, Greene was the head of the Southern Theater and for a period George Washington’s second in command of the Continental Army. But his interests were also intellectual and philosophical. Greene was an avid reader, eventually acquiring a large library. His father purchased a mill in Coventry for Nathanael to manage. He took an active part in community affairs and helped establish the first public school in Coventry. He also added books on military science to his library which he studied diligently. In 1784, Greene handed in his commission and declined appointment to a commission tasked with negotiating treaties with Native Americans, but he agreed to attend the first meeting of the Society of the Cincinnati. His health faltered but he looked to return to his pre-war life.

Dr. Henry Moyes was a blind Scottish lecturer on natural philosophy. As an itinerant public speaker he helped raise 18th century popular interest in the new field of chemistry. He mixed with the greatest engineers and scientists of the day and attended the Lunar Society. In London he shared a room in George Street, Hanover Square with Adam Walker where lectures were given to small groups of gentry. Moyes was described as an excellent lecturer in philosophy by Joseph Priestley. In 1766 he was befriended by Adam Smith, when the latter was in Kirkcaldy writing his “Wealth of Nations”.

During 1784–86, Moyes toured the United States giving successful lectures in Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Princeton and Charleston, South Carolina. He was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1785. While in the states, Moyes mingled in the highest intellectual circles, and it appears through this and other communications came to know Nathanael Greene.

The peace of the postwar environment allowed science and research to take hold and Philadelphia was at the center of that. Men like Benjamin Franklin and Benjamin Rush led the way.

Greene sought to introduce Dr. Moyes to America’s first great medical doctor, Dr. Benjamin Rush, whose name also appears on the Declaration of Independence. This is that letter of introduction.

Autograph letter signed, New York, Christmas 1784, to Dr. Benjamin Rush. “Dear Sir, This letter will be handed you by Doctor Moyes, whose philosophical enquiries are as honorable to him as beneficial to mankind. To make one philosopher acquainted with another is the object of this letter. You will the Doctor a pleasing companion and a sound philosopher.”

Letters of Greene from this period are very uncommon, and we have not seen one demonstrating his interest in philosophical subjects, nor one connecting him some of the great minds of the time.

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