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General Washingto to President of Congress



[Read February 29, 1776. — Referred to Mr˙ Chase, Mr˙ J˙ Adams, Mr˙ Penn, Mr˙ Wythe, and Mr˙ Rutledge.]

Cambridge, February 14, 1776.

SIR: Through you, I beg leave to lay before Congress the enclosed letter from Lord Drummond to General Robertson, which came to my hands a few days ago, in order to be sent into Boston. As I never heard of his Lordship being vested with power to treat with Congress upon the subject of our grievances, nor of his having laid any propositions before them for an accommodation, I confess it surprised me much, and led me to form various conjectures of his motives, and intended application to General Howe and Admiral Shuldham for a passport for the safe conduct of such Deputies as Congress might appoint for negotiating terms of reconciliation between Great Britain and us. Whatever his intentions are, however benevolent his designs may be, I confess that his letter has embarrassed me much, and I am not without suspicion of its meaning more, than the generous purposes it professes. I should suppose that, if the mode for negotiation which he points out should be adopted, which I hope will never be thought of, it ought to have been fixed and settled previous to any application of this sort, and, at best, that his conduct in this instance is premature and officious, and leading to consequences of a fatal and injurious nature to the rights of this country. His zeal and desire, perhaps, of an amicable and constitutional adjustment taking place, may have suggested and precipitated the measure. Be that as it may, I thought it of too much importance to suffer it to go in, without having the express direction of Congress for that purpose, and that it was my indispensable duty to transmit them the original, to make such interpretations and inferences as they may think right.

Messrs˙ Willard and Child, who were sent to Nova-Scotia, in pursuance of the resolve of Congress, have just returned, and made their report, which I do myself the honour to enclose you. They have not answered the purposes of their commission, by any means, as they only went but a little way into that country, and found their intelligence upon the information of others. You will see the


reasons they assign in excuse or justification of their conduct, in the report itself.

Last night, a party of Regulars, said to be about five hundred, landed on Dorchester-Neck, and burned some of the houses there, which were of no value to us, nor would they have been, unless we take post there. They then might have been of some service. A detachment went after them, as soon as the fire was discovered, but, before it could arrive, they had executed their plan, and made their retreat.

Enclosed, is a letter for David Franks, Esq˙, from Mr˙ Chamier, in Boston, upon the subject of victualling such of the King' s troops as may be prisoners within the limits of his contract, which I beg the favour of you to deliver him, and that proper agents may be appointed by him to see that it is done. I could wish, too, that Congress would fall upon some mode for supplying the officers with such money as they may really stand in need of, and depute proper persons for that purpose, and furnishing the privates with such clothing as may be absolutely necessary. I am applied to, and wearied by their repeated requests. In some instances, I have desired the Committees to give the prisoners within their appointments what they should judge absolutely necessary for their support, as the only means in my power of relieving their distress. But I can imagine that, if there were persons to superintend this business, their wants would be better attended to, and many exorbitant charges prevented and saved to the Continent, and the whole would then be brought into a proper account.

I am, sir, with great esteem and regard, your most obedient, humble servant,

George Washington.

P˙ S. I send a return of the strength of the Regiments.