UNION, N.J. – A letter written by the first president of the United States detailing the Constitutional Convention was found among the poetry and party invitations of a 10-year-old girl who grew up in the early 1800s, a newspaper reported.
George Washington wrote in 1787 — two years before he would become president — a letter of just 111 words to Jacob Morris, grandfather of Julia Kean, who put the note, along with a portrait of the president, in her scrapbook in 1826. The letter was recently found among the private papers of a prominent New Jersey family, according to the New York Times.
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"The happiness of this Country depend much upon the deliberations of the federal Convention which is now sitting," the note read. "It, however, can only lay the foundation — the community at large must raise the edifice."
Washington was writing from Philadelphia, where the Convention took place. Two years later, he became president.
Scholars told the Times that while Washington did write letters often, finding ones that actually include interesting information is rare, and to find one in a child's scrapbook is even more uncommon. The most recent find was two years ago; the owner said it had been hanging on a friend's wall.
The letter was bequeathed to Kean University in Union, N.J., this spring with the rest of the contents of Liberty Hall, a 50-room Italianate mansion that was home to generations of Keans and is near the campus.
"It gives me goose bumps," said the university president, Dawood Farahi. "I believe it is one of the last great undiscovered collections of Revolutionary America."