Benjamin Rush letter, 1801

Last page of a handwritten letter

Last page of a letter from Benjamin Rush to David Steuart Erskine, 11th Earl of Buchan, written in Philadelphia on 30 September 1801.


Benjamin Rush (1746-1813) was one of America's Founding Fathers, and played a considerable — though at times strained — role in the American Revolution.

He was a celebrated physician, after having studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh between 1766 and 1768.

Rush signed the Declaration of Independence as a member of the Pennsylvania delegation and was instrumental in persuading another signatory, Scotsman John Witherspoon (1723-1794), to move to America.

Here he writes to the Earl of Buchan (1742-1829), a staunch supporter of America who counted Benjamin Franklin and George Washington among his friends.

Rush's striking words in the final paragraph of the letter seem to foreshadow the United States' rise to become the world’s most powerful country. He writes of America's 'unlimited and productive commerce' indicating 'the immense influence of liberty and equal government'.

[NLS reference: MS.3873, no. 259]


This item featured in our display about American independence, which ran from 4 July to 16 September 2012.


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