[ELBRIDGE GERRY], NATHANIEL BOND
Bond signs a desperate autograph letter to the future Declaration signer and
Vice President, his fellow townsman, one week after the Battles of Lexington and
Concord (April 1775), seeking armed protection until he can vindicate himself at
a court martial: "I am in danger of my life every moment, thousands having
sworn to kill me at first sight."
Autograph Letter signed: "N. Bond", 3 pages, 6x7¼, with integral
address leaf. Marblehead, Massachusetts, 1775 April 26. "To/Mr.
Elbridge Gerry/There". In full: "Every species of Misfortune seem
to fall to my share, those things which I had no reason to fear no less than
those which I had, a story that in the simplicity of my Heart I supposed true I
had last Wednesday morning. For the sole purpose of removing what I believed
extreme needless distress and anyone can presume as I can make it appear though
as I did in my situation but my conduct is so strongly and barbarously
cruelly represented that I am in danger of my life every moment. Thousands
having sworn to kill me at first sight. What I must beg and entreat of you Sir
is that you will be kind enough to appeal to the Commanding
Officer to send immediately a strong guard to carry me to the camp for a
trial by Court Marshall [sic]. This Sir is the only way by which I
can be alive to hope one day longer. Though Sir I have done nothing worthy of
the smallest punishment, having in this affair touching which the rage of many
thousands is exercised against me, with a view to the general good for the
truth of which I appeal to the Judge of Souls. If you have any faith in my
[1 word illegible] or if you should regret to hear of my being hunted
to an untimely Grave by murderous hands pray hear and immediately get [2
words illegible] Prayer of this letter and then I shall have an opportunity
of saying many Things which I conceive may operate for the general salvation
that otherwise I cannot convey. From your despised Friend and much obliged
Servant" [signature] "To Mr. Gerry: If you cannot attend to the matter
you will undoubtedly soon hear that I am gone from this life." Nathaniel
Bond (1747-1777), a Harvard-educated doctor, lived in the seacoast
town of Marblehead, which was also the birthplace of Elbridge Gerry.
Gerry, a member of the state legislature, which was still meeting in spite of
the royal governor's order dissolving it, would soon attend the Continental
Congress, sign the Declaration of Independence, attend the Constitutional
Convention (though opposing the resulting document), serve as Governor of
Massachusetts (credited with inventing the "gerrymander") and die in
office as Vice President of the United States. (Gerry had also had an
eventful week; he and two fellow legislators had spent a night hiding in a field
in their bedclothes from British soldiers sent to seize them.) Bond does not
detail the facts of the incident which prompted this letter, evidently assuming
that Gerry would already have heard of them. What transpired to so enrage Bond's
fellow citizens in the week which began the American Revolution? As a medical
doctor, had he treated injured British soldiers ("removing what I believed
extreme needless distress")? The answer may lie buried in an archive
somewhere. What is known is that Nathaniel Bond did resolve the suspicions of
his neighbors, becoming the chief surgeon in the 21st Massachusetts Provisional
Regiment, commonly known as "Glover's Regiment," composed of men from
Marblehead. When that unit was reorganized as the 14th Continental Regiment,
Bond continued to serve with the rank of captain. (Glover's regiment rowed
Washington's army across the Delaware for his morale-boosting victory at
Princeton.) Bond died while defending the new nation, March 7, 1777.
Multiple fold creases. A paper border edge has been affixed to the edges of
pages 3 and 4. Minor staining from original wax seal. Lightly soiled and toned.
Minor show-through, front to verso. Overall, fine condition.
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