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1790 to 1797 Archive of LettersWritten to Revolutionary War Brigadier General William Shepard of Massachusetts
(GENERAL WILLIAM SHEPARD) (1737-1817). Revolutionary War, War of 1812 and Shay's Rebellion Era Massachusetts Major General and Congressman. Col. William Shepard was at the Battle of Trenton, N.J. with George Washington, and his likeness appears in the painting The Capture of the Hessians at Trenton, December 26, 1776, by John Trumbull.
Archive of Four historical content Manuscript Letters, written by Abel Whitney to Militia General and Congressman from Massachusetts, William Shepard. They focus on major themes regarding payment to Whitney, and mention the great esteem of George Washington, and Shepard's failing health. Each letter is in excellent condition. Please contact us for a full transcription of each letter, if desired.

1. December 26, 1797, brown ink manuscript letter written on laid paper, two pages, 8.75" x 7". In this letter, Abel Whitney writes to confirm that the Congressman, Hon. William Shepard, received his previous letter and petition for 350 dollars a year. There has been no reply, and Whitney is beginning to become concerned. There is a 1/2" hole on the front page, and on the back there are red wax remnants from original mailing. The script is beautiful and the creases from the integral (self-made envelope) are almost invisible. Overall this is a wonderful document. Shepard was a famous war General and honorary figure of the time, who had much power in the region. If Whitney could get Shepard to promote his petition in Congress, it would surely be accepted.

2. May 30, 1797, two pages, 8.75" x 7.25", Choice Extremely Fine. A 1-1/2 page letter from Abel Whitney to the "Hon. William Shepard Esquire" of Philadelphia, with outstanding political content focused on Whitney's interest in feedback on the political climate in the House of Representatives and seeking intelligence about perceived reactions to the President's upcoming speech. It is written in brown ink on laid paper, the letter is clear, bold and easy to read. The integral (self-mailing envelope) has retained much of the original red wax seal. There are a few slight creases throughout that are barely visible from the front and do not hamper the text in any way.

3. May 3, 1790, Letter from Abel Whitney about the report from the Secretary of the Treasury regarding his petition of "furnishing reward to the officers employed" and the Secretary's mention of seven percent of the monies collected. As Whitney's own salary will be affected by this decision, he let's Shepard know that ten percent would not be perceived as too lavish a reward. This three-page letter measures 8.75" x 7", Choice Extremely Fine. The letter was written in brown ink on laid paper, and is in excellent condition. The typical creases from the integral (self-made envelope), are hardly noticeable and in no way detract from the text. There are no tears, holes or chipping, and the red wax from the original seal is present. The script text is beautiful, bold and clear.

4. January 16, 1790, brown ink manuscript letter on laid paper, 2 pages, 9" x 7". Whitney expresses displeasure with the procrastination of the Secretary of the Treasury (in releasing the) report. "Suppose for example, that I should resign, should die, or lack satisfaction will it afford me or my family, that my succesor in office is well paid; when I got nothing." He writes to Shepard, currently in Congress, in hopes that he can help with the desired pay increase. There is a 1" hole on the front page caused from the wax remnants seal that does not affect the text on the front side and removes the word "humble" on the back side. It is clear and easy to read.

A historic, original archive collection of four related letters. (4 items)
William Shepard (1737-1817) was a United States Representative from Massachusetts (1797"1802), and a military officer in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. As a state militia leader he protected the Springfield Armory during Shays' Rebellion, firing cannon into the force of Daniel Shays and compelling them to disperse. He was also served in town and state government and was a member of the Massachusetts Governor's Council.

Born in Westfield, Mass. he attended the common schools, engaged in agricultural pursuits, and served in the French and Indian wars for six years. He was a member of the committee of correspondence for Westfield in 1774, and was a lieutenant colonel of Minutemen in April 1775 and served under Colonel Timothy Danielson.

He entered the Continental Army in May 1775 as lieutenant colonel and was commissioned Colonel of the 4th Massachusetts Regiment on October 6, 1776, serving throughout the Revolutionary War, including winter at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, where he commanded the 4th Division of the Massachusetts militia, under the overall command of General John Glover.

His name is immortalized along with his comrades on stone monuments there. Many letters still exist between Shepard and other commanders, including General George Washington, the Marquis de Lafayette, John Hancock, Samuel Adams, Thomas Jefferson, General Henry Knox and other illustrious founding fathers.

Col. William Shepard was at the Battle of Trenton, N.J. with George Washington, and his likeness appears in the painting The Capture of the Hessians at Trenton, December 26, 1776, by John Trumbull.

Shepard was a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1785 and 1786 and was selectman for Westfield from 1784 to 1787. In this time local farmers and veterans of the war began to rebel after months of destitution and taxation they believed to be unfairly levied by the powers from Boston. Many were consigned to debtors' prison.

Shepard, then a major general in the state militia, called to duty the Fourth Division of the Massachusetts militia in 1786 and defended the Springfield Armory during what became known as Shays' Rebellion (after one of its principal leaders, Daniel Shays), ordering defenders of the arsenal to fire cannons at attacking the rebels at "waist height" with cannons filled with anti-personnel grape shot. Two of the insurgents were mortally wounded. Messages to Governor James Bowdoin express his deep regret at the shedding of blood. He kept in constant contact with Governor Bowdoin, Sam Adams, John Hancock, and General Benjamin Lincoln, who arrived in a blizzard from Boston just after the Springfield arsenal attack to pursue Shays and his men into the surrounding towns.

That order would earn Shepard a lasting reputation as the "murderer of brethren." The local neighbors were so angry that they mutilated his horses, gouging out their eyes, to his horror. He was a member of the Governor's council of Massachusetts from 1792 to 1796, and was appointed in 1796 to treat with the Penobscot Indians and, in 1797, with the Six Nations.

Shepard was elected as a Federalist to the Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Congresses, serving from March 4, 1797 to March 3, 1803; he resumed his agricultural pursuits and died in Westfield, essentially penniless. Interment was in the Mechanic Street Cemetery. A statue of him stands in Westfield, sculpted by Augustus Lukeman. Each year on Patriots' Day, a ceremony is held in Westfield, wherein his descendants and those of four other founding families of Westfield join city and state government representatives, members of the armed forces, clergy, local school children and residents in giving prayer and remembrance of the town's history.

From a mid-western paper c.1928 he was reported to have been quoted as saying, "Hang On! If the motherhood of America ever lets go, it will serve us right if America turns to the saloon or its equivalent. But the motherhood of America will not let go."
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