Ramsay, David: A Bibliography

Related Links:

Source: In Ramsay's The History of the American Revolution, Foreword by Lester H. Cohen (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund 1990). Vol. 1.

Bibliography: The Writings of David Ramsay


    Ramsay’s papers are scattered among almost two dozen repositories. Listed below are institutions with significant holdings:

  • Library Company of Philadelphia
  • Historical Society of Pennsylvania
  • Library of Congress
  • Massachusetts Historical Society
  • American Philosophical Society
  • South Carolina Historical Society
  • New York Public Library


  • Robert L. Brunhouse, ed., David Ramsay, 1749–1815: Selections from His Writings, American Philosophical Society, Transactions, New Series, 55 (1965), Part IV.


  • “A Sermon on Tea,” (Lancaster, Pa., 1774).Reprinted in Brunhouse: 170–182.
  • “An Oration on the Advantages of American Independence. . .” [July 4, 1778], (Charleston, S.C., 1778).Reprinted in Brunhouse: 182–190.
  • The History of the Revolution of South-Carolina, from a Britsh Province to an Independent State (2 vols.; Trenton, N.J., 1785).French translations: London, 1787; Paris, 1796.
  • “An Address to the Freemen of South-Carolina, on the Subject of the Federal Constitution, Proposed by the Convention, which met in Philadelphia, May 1787. By Civis,’’ (Charleston, S.C., 1788).American Museum, 3 (1788): 413–418.
  • Paul Leicester Ford, ed., Pamphlets on the Constitution of the United States, Published During Its Discussion by the People, 1787–1788 (Brooklyn, 1888): 371–380.
  • The History of the American Revolution (2 vols.; Philadelphia, 1789).London, 1790, 1791, 1793; Dublin, 1793, 1795; Trenton, N.J., 1811; Lexington, Ky., 1815; Campen, Holland, 4 vols., 1792–1794; Berlin, Germany, 4 vols., 1794–1795.
  • “Observations on the Decision of the House of Representatives of the United States, on the 22d of May, 1789; Respecting the Eligibility of the Hon. William Smith, of South-Carolina, to a Seat in that House,” (New York, 1789).
  • “A Dissertation on the Means of Preserving Health in Charleston, and the Adjacent Low Country. Read Before the Medical Society of South-Carolina, on the 29th of May, 1790,” (Charleston, S.C., 1790).New-York Magazine, or Literary Repository, 6 (1795): 514–519, 585–593.
  • [Supposed Author], “Observations on the Impolicy of Recommending the Importation of Slaves, Respectfully Submitted to the Consideration of the Legislature of South-Carolina. By a Citizen of South-Carolina,” (Charleston, S.C., 1791 [?]).
  • “An Oration, Delivered in St. Michael’s Church, before the Inhabitants of Charleston, South-Carolina, on the Fourth of July, 1794, in commemoration of American Independence … ,” (Charleston, S.C., 1794).Reprinted in Brunhouse: 190–196.
  • “A Review of the Improvements, Progress and State of Medicine in the XVIIIth Century” [Delivered January 1, 1800], (Charleston, S.C., 1800).Reprinted in Brunhouse: 196–217.
  • “An Oration on the Death of Lieutenant-General George Washington, Late President of the United States, who Died December 14, 1799. Delivered in Saint Michael’s Church, January 15, 1800 … ,’’ (Charleston, S. C., 1800).
  • The Life of George Washington, Commander in Chief of the Armies of the United States of America, throughout the War which Established their Independence, and First President of the United States (New York, 1807).London, 1807; Boston, 1811; Baltimore, 1814, 1815, 1818, 1825, 1832.French translation: Paris, 1809.Spanish translations: Paris, 1819, 1825; New York, 1825; Philadelphia, 1826; Barcelona, 1843.
  • The History of South-Carolina, from its first Settlement in 1607, to the Year 1808 (2 vols.; Charleston, S.C., 1809).Newberry, South Carolina, 1858.Photo-facsimile of 1858 ed. (Spartanburg, S.C., 1959–60).
  • Memoirs of the Life of Martha Laurens Ramsay. . . (Philadelphia, 1811).Charlestown, Mass., 1812; Boston, 1812, 1814, 1824, 1827; Philadelphia, 1813, 1845, 1895; Glasgow, 1818; Chelmsford, 1827.
  • Historical and Biographical Chart of the United States (n.p., n.d.).
  • A Chronological Table of the Principle Events which have taken Place in the English Colonies, now United States, from 1607, til 1810 … (Charleston, S.C., 1811).
  • “An Eulogium upon Benjamin Rush, M.D. … Delivered … on the 10th of June, 1813 … ,” (Philadelphia, 1813).
  • History of the United States, from their first Settlement, as English Colonies, in1607, to the Year 1808, or the thirty-third of their Sovereignty … Continued to the Treaty of Ghent, by S.S. Smith … and other Literary Gentlemen (3 vols.; Philadelphia, 1818).
  • Universal History Americanised; or, an Historical View of the World, from the earliest Records to the Year 1808. With a particular reference to the State of Society, Literature, Religion and Form of Government, in the United States of America . . . (12 vols.; Philadelphia, 1819).
  • A list of Ramsay’s articles published in the Medical Repository, 1801–1808, is in Brunhouse, Selections, 230–231.


The starting point for Ramsay studies is Robert L. Brunhouse, ed., David Ramsay, 1749–1815: Selections from His Writings, American Philosophical Society, Transactions, New Series, 55 (1965), Part IV. Brunhouse’s superb collection includes a biography of Ramsay, some three hundred letters, and reprints of “A Sermon on Tea” (1774), “An Oration on the Advantages of American Independence” (1778), “An Oration … on the Fourth of July, 1794,” and “A Review of … Medicine in the XVIIIth Century” (1800). Robert Y. Hayne, Ramsay’s friend and the executor of Ramsay’s estate, published a view of Ramsay’s life and work in “Biographical Memoir of David Ramsay, M.D.” Analectic Magazine, 6 (1815): 204–224.

Studies of historical writing in the Revolutionary Era include Arthur H. Shaffer, The Politics of History: Writing the History of the American Revolution, 1783–1815 (Chicago, 1975), in which Ramsay figures prominently; William Raymond Smith, History as Argument: Three Patriot Histories of the American Revolution (The Hague, 1966), which focuses on Ramsay, John Marshall, and Mercy Otis Warren; and Lester H. Cohen, TheRevolutionary Histories: Contemporary Narratives of the American Revolution (Ithaca, N.Y., 1980); “Creating a Useable Future: The Revolutionary Historians and the National Past,” in Jack P. Greene, ed., The American Revolution: Its Character and Limits (New York, 1987): 309–330; and Mercy Otis Warren’s History of the Rise, Progress and Termination of the American Revolution (Indianapolis, 1988): xvi-xxxvii. Wesley Frank Craven’s The Legend of the Founding Fathers (Ithaca, N.Y., n.d.) remains a lively and provocative study of the image of the founding of America in the writings of successive generations of American histories.

The best interpretation of Ramsay’s historical writings and political thought include Page Smith, “David Ramsay and the Causes of the American Revolution,” William and Mary Quarterly, 3d Series, 17 (January 1960): 51–77 (this was reprinted in Page Smith, The Historian and History (New York, 1960), which rescued Ramsay and his work from the pall cast over them by Orrin Grant Libby); Lawrence J. Friedman and Arthur H. Shaffer, “David Ramsay and the Quest for an American Historical Identity,’’ Southern Quarterly, 14 (July 1976): 351–371, and “History, Politics, and Health in Early American Thought: The Case of David Ramsay,” Journal of American Studies, 13 (April 1979): 37–56; and Arthur H. Shaffer, “Between Two Worlds: David Ramsay and the Politics of Slavery,” Journal of Southern History, 50 (May 1984): 175–196.