Russell M. Lawson's book chronicles the extensive late eighteenth-century correspondence between Jeremy Belknap and Ebenezer Hazard. Belknap was a Congregational minister who, at the time of his letters to Hazard (or at least the letters covered in Lawson's book), served as pastor of a church in rural Dover, New Hampshire. In addition to his ministerial duties, Belknap was writing what would eventually become his three-volume History of New Hampshire (1784–1792). Hazard, whose eclectic interests included history, classics, religion, and natural philosophy, became Postmaster General of the United States in 1782. He resided in New York and Philadelphia during the course of his correspondence with Belknap.
The Belknap-Hazard letters are valuable for their insights into American life at the time of the American Revolution. The two men corresponded on a host of topics, including history, science, geography, war, politics, and theology. Their letter-writing, as Lawson correctly notes, represents the kind of intellectual friendship that sustained the Enlightenment in America. Although Belknap and Hazard could not converse face-to-face (they met once, when Hazard visited Portsmouth, New Hampshire), their correspondence forged an imagined republic of letters in the burgeoning United States.
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