One of the most important skills for a transcriber to master is how generously to read misspellings. For example, if an 18th-century writer did not differentiate between their “i’s” and “e’s” very well, then the question of spelling must be decided by the transcriber. Do you transcribe every letter without a dot above it as an “e,” even if that results in a misspelled word? Or do you trust that the author meant to spell the word correctly and just didn’t dot the “i”?
One of the most significant periods of George Washington’s public career was his service as president of the Constitutional Convention. It is also one of the least well-known. This is probably because Washington said little during the convention debates—records indicate that he only spoke twice—and he did not publicly participate in the ratification process. Nevertheless, he did preside over the convention, and impeachment was a topic the delegates debated.
Perhaps Bushrod’s most famous verdict was the one in which he defined the concept of natural rights as those rights conferred unto individuals by nature. His verdict also explored the difference between natural and constitutional, or legal, rights, which he maintained were bestowed upon individuals by their government. The debate regarding which rights are natural and which are legal, set in motion by Bushrod Washington’s 1823 judgment of Corfield v. Coryell, continues to this day.
After growing up in Forsyth County, Ga., I was intrigued when I found a reference to Robert Forsyth in the Papers of George Washington. I had to dig deeper. And, boy, did the stories surrounding Robert Forsyth make it worth the effort!