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Major Hawley to Elbridge Gerry



Watertown, February 18, 1776.

DEAR SIR: I hope you will forgive me if I herein appear indelicate, by attempting to inculcate some things which I hinted to you in the minutes which you was pleased to


accept of me, as you was setting out on your journey to Congress, But, if you knew the infinite weight they are on my mind, you would not blame me, whether they impressed your mind in like manner or not. One was, that the most seasonable and effectual care should be taken that a sufficient number of the best of troops should be seasonably marched into Canada, and thorough provision made for their subsistence, pay, and clothing, full supplies of artillery, arms, and ammunition, that they be sure to repel and overcome all the efforts of the enemy in that quarter the approaching season. Depend on it, that the efforts of the enemy there and at New-York the next season will be the greatest and the earliest which they can possibly make. In the year 1760 I am certain that ships arrived at Quebeck from England some time in April, and I think as early as the middle of April, if not earlier. If they have any judgment or policy in England, their land forces for the reduction of America will be chiefly employed by the way of Quebeck and New-York; diversions may be given in other parts, but their main strength will be destined thither. I have no doubt but you are, by this time, fully sensible that the sharpest eye must be unremittedly kept on the people of New-York; their manoeuvres and tergiversations exceed the depths of Satan. But I will not school you any longer on this head.

I beg leave to let you know that I have read the pamphlet, entitled, "Common Sense, addressed to the Inhabitants of America," and that every sentiment has sunk into my well-prepared heart; in short, you knew that my heart before was like good ground well prepared for good seed; and without an American independent Supreme Government and Constitution, wisely devised and designed, well established and settled, we shall always be but a rope of sand; but that well done, invincible. I need not repeat what I said to you of the worthlessness and futility of all paper currency, without such a general, well established, and independent Government.

Your field of business is immense, and absolutely boundless; but industry, courage, application, and perseverance, will surmount every thing; some relaxation and exercise is absolutely necessary to mantain health and spirit; but sloth and dissipation, and turning off business toothers, and procrastination, if they gain any admission, will be our infallible ruin. I know you will not indulge to them, and I hope none others of your number. Solomon never uttered a truer maxim than when he said "Confidence in an unfaithful man, in time of trouble, is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint."

Two things I beg leave to hint: the one is, that it seems to us here that when Congress, by their late resolve, ordered an appeal from our Admiralty Courts to their honourable body, they did not well consider how dissonant such a mode of trial is from the genius of the times, to wit, by Jury; nor how much it is open to the exception which was made to the Stamp Act, of its exposing and making one of the parties liable to be carried for a trial to any remote quarter or part of the Continent, at the will of a Crown officer. Would it not have been more expedient and constitutional to have ordered the appeal to have been to the Superior Court of the Colony in which the first trial was had? Besides, it seems to bear hard on the maxim, "That the Legislative and Executive ought always to be distinct and diverse."

Secondly, I hope, sir, you will by no means forget to endeavour that there be the most peremptory and absolute order and injunction on all the Generals and officers of the American Army, that quarters for the army, or any part of them, shall, in no case, be impressed, but by the intervention of a civil magistrate, or direction of the Legislature of the Colony. They have again (I suppose through the resentment and pique of Park, the Assistant Quartermaster) quartered a company on Major Thompson, against his will. Our Assembly is so much on the wing, and the active members so generally gone, that it is impossible to make any proper remonstrance thereof to the General.

It is not easy to imagine what a handle such conduct as this gives to the Tories, and how much they rejoice to be able to take such exceptions; besides, it is downright and intolerably wrong. It is much more necessary that Congress should make some express order and regulation for their forces in every part, touching their behaviour in this


particular; because, you know that the Colonies in general, and this in particular, are in the hands and power of the Army, by reason of the Militia being, in a great degree, stripped of their arms and ammunition, for the sake of furnishing the Army.

I suggest one thing more, and I have done, to wit: I hope that the next period or term for which the Continental troops will be inlisted will be three, or at least two years; the disadvantages and risk of their being engaged and held for short terms, even for but one whole year, are many; at the same time they never will, nor can I say that I desire that they should engage for an indefinite time; but I believe they will, after a little while, be willing to engage for two or three years.

My letter is unconnected. I enter matters as they occur, without studying coherence; if you think them of any value you have full leave to communicate to your brethren of this Colony.

I am, sir, with great and most sincere respect, your obedient, humble servant,


To Mr˙ Gerry.