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Letter from Josiah Quincy to General Washington



Braintree, March 21, 1776.

MAY IT PLEASE YOUR EXCELLENCY: Nothing less than an inveterate nervous head-ache has prevented my paying, in person, those compliments of congratulation which are due to you from every friend to liberty and the rights of mankind, upon your triumphant and almost bloodless victory, in forcing the British Army and Navy to a precipitate flight from the capital of this Colony. A grateful heart now dictates them to a trembling hand, in humble confidence of your favourable reception.

Whilst the faithful page of history records the British codes of blood against America, carried into execution by military murderers, to the utter destruction of the British empire, and the eternal infamy of those who devised them; you, sir, must be happy, I hope, in the unenvied certainty, in the unrivalled glory of having your name handed down to posterity with the illustrious character of being the Saviour of your country! God grant that the success of your future endeavours for its safety and prosperity may be equal to the past, and an adequate reward to your merit in both.

Since the ships and troops fell down below, we have been apprehensive of an attack from their boats, in pursuit of live-stock; but yesterday, in the afternoon, we were happily relieved by the appearance of a number of whale-boats stretching across our bay, under the command (as I have since heard) of the brave Lieutenant-Colonel Tupper, who, in the forenoon had been cannonading the ships with one or more field-pieces from the east head of Thompson' s Island, and I suppose last night cannonaded them again from the same place, or from Spectacle-Island.

This judicious manoeuvre had its genuine effect; for, this morning, the Admiral and all the rest of the ships, except one of the line, came to sail, and fell down to Nantasket-Road, where a countless number is now collected. In


revenge for their burning the Castle last night, were we provided with a sufficient number of fire-ships and fire-rafts, covered by the smoke of cannon from a few row-galleys, this night might exhibit the most glorious conflagration that was ever seen upon the watery element; and the probable consequence of it, a period to the present war. Otherwise, humanity revolts at the destruction of so great a number, even of our enemies.

If my wishes must not be gratified, either in a visit to, or from your Excellency, the best I can form will constantly attend you, whilst memory and reflection are continued to your Excellency' s faithful and obedient, humble servant,


To General Washington.