WEEMS, MAsoN LOCKE (e.1760-1825). An American preacher and writkir, the author of a famous biography of George Washington. He was a native of Maryland, was educated for the Protestant Episcopal ministry in London, and in 1784, there being no bishop of the Church of England in America, applied, but without suc cess, to various bishops in England for admission to holy orders. An account of his difficulties in this respect may be found in MeMaster's His tory of the People of the. United States, vol. i. (New York, 1900). The incident has received considerable attention from historians, as it was an important factor in the establishment in the United States of the Episcopal Church, distinct in organization from the Church of Eng land. After Weems's return, lie preached at various places, though he never seems to have had a regular rectorship, and about 1790 he became a hook agent for Matthew Carey (q.v.). In order to ingratiate himself with the people, he called into requisition his pow'ers as a mimic and comedian, and his facility as a fiddler. Thus he frequently furnished the music at country dances and weddings. and sold a small hook, writ ten by himself. entitled The Drunkard's Looking Glass, Reflecting a Faithful Likeness of the Drunkard in sundry rery interesting Attitudes with Lively Representations of the Many Strange Capers which he cuts in different Stages of his Disease (6th ed. 1818). Weems is remembered, however. chiefly for his Life of Washington. one
of the most popular and widely read books ever published in America, which has been largely responsible for the creation of the 'traditional Washington.' It was first published in 1800, and up to 1891 more than seventy editions had been issued. In the fifth edition (1806) first appeared various familiar anecdotes concerning Washington's youth, including that of the cherry tree and the hatchet., which have long been gen erally discredited by historians. He was not, as he claimed. rector of Mount Vernon Parish, as there was no such parish, but lie probably preached occasionally in Pohiek Church, though not until long after Washington had ceased at tendance there. In addition to the works already mentioned. his publications include: Life of Gen. Francis Marion (1805) ; The Philanthropist, or Political. Peacemaker Between All Honest Men of Both Parties (10th ed. 1809) ; God's Rcrenqe Against Gambling (3d ed. 1816) : Life of Ben jamin Franklin with Essays. ( 1s17); Life of William Pena (1819) : Hymen's Recruiting Ser geant, or the Xcir Matrimonial Tat-too for the old Bachelors (7th ed. 1821) ; and Time Bad 'll'ife's Looking Glass, or God's Rcrenge Against Cruelty to Husbands (2d ed. 1823)—all of which are characterized by a stilted, turgid style, by a, profusion of anecdotes• by inaccuracy of state ment, and by an abundance of cheap moralizing.