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Revolutionary letter

Posted: Friday, Jul 12th, 2013

Thomas Kehr, historian; William Dunlap, executive director of the New Hampshire Historical Society; David Beck and brother Clark Beck meet at the site of Fort William and Mary, where Beck donated a letter relating to an important event in the fort’s and the nation’s history. The fragile document, in photo at left, written before the American Revolutionary War, contains information relayed to colonists in Portsmouth, N.H., from colonists in Boston. (courtesy photos)

We all know of the legendary midnight ride of Paul Revere to Lexington to warn the colonists that the British were coming. Many, however, do not know of another Revere ride, four months earlier, that brought on a rebellious raid by American patriots against the royal Fort William and Mary. Some claim this event marked the real beginning of the Revolutionary War.

A local link to that point in history is David Beck of Westlake, who last month returned a nearly 240-year-old document relating to the incident to its rightful home, 3,100 miles away in New Hampshire.

The letter, dated Dec. 14, 1774, came into Beck’s possession in the mid-1970s, after his brother, Clark, purchased it from an antiques dealer in New Jersey.

“My brother is a collector, but he wasn’t into letters; it came in a box of other stuff he bought,” said Beck. “He sent it to me and suggested I give it to one of my kids someday.”

Beck thought it was interesting, but it was kind of hard to read. He put the letter away and didn’t pay much attention to it until about 35 years later, in 2010, during a visit from his brother.

“One night he said to me, ‘Hey, have you still got that old letter?’”

Beck found it and the brothers read it together. Sent by John Giddinge to Col. Josiah Bartlett, it referred to the British as “our Enemies.” It mentioned the Committee of Correspondence and William Cooper.

For the complete article see the 07-13-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 07-13-2013 paper.

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