G.M. SENTER (ca. 1785-1837) was a Rhode Island native and an author and
lecturer. He claimed to have read law under Richard Harrison in New York. He traveled to England in 1802, purchased an
ensign’s commission in the British Army, was stationed in India the following
year and promoted to lieutenant. He gave
up his commission and returned to the United States. In 1812, he published
articles supporting the War of 1812 and became a captain in the 25th
Infantry Regiment, United States Army on the Canadian border. He was suspected
of being a British spy. In 1813, he resigned his commission and was
incarcerated twice, but not convicted.
In periodicals and lectures, he expounded on his travels, natural events
and politics. Some journalists suspected that his autobiographical accounts
were fabricated. He also published A
Vindication of the Character of Nathaniel G.M. Senter against the charge of
being a Spy and a Traitor. Senter
wrote an extensive letter to Thomas Jefferson, enclosing his writings and
hoping for a patronage. Jefferson wrote
him back, thanking and complimenting his writings.
Offering a one-page, 7 x 12, manuscript extract from Senter’s lecture delivered at Hopkinton, NH, July 31, 1818. Somewhat eccentric, this extant seems to express Senter’s style and perhaps the style of early 19th century orators.
“On leaving the ruins of Rosanante, we discovered two lazy bodies flying from the Capital of our state. Folly, ignorance, pride, self-conceit, vain glory and hypocrisy were all concentrated in two mortal worms and they seated in an old chaise drawn by a poor hired horse and thus they rode in triumph to pawn their ignorance upon the sober honest and industrious citizens of this town. Darkness had veiled the eastern hemisphere of concord because Senter had taken his lofty flight to Hopkinton in the west. We behold him for the small sum of twenty five cents struggling to make himself a consummate fool and an imposing rascal. It was reserved for the thirty first day of July 1818 to witness the full completion of his object and feel the mortifying effects of his labors. Genius seems to have fled and the most consummate folly to have attained the ascendency, and to rule with an irresistible sway. Science now shrunk back in confusion and disgrace. Men of literature, and scientific knowledge pitied, but they could not save from the borders of Concord to the fertile plain of Hopkinton he scattered his baneful contagion and his (if possible) more contemptible accomplice, a fluid that a twelve month since made all Merimac blush. The number of nine of our worthy citizens fell victims to this infamous imposter and, proud of his conquest, he, in the hour of darkness commenced the work of returning and return.”
Folds, toning, but very readable and a nice example of the work of a controversial figure once accused of being a spy.
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