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General Greene to Jacob Greene



Prospect-Hill, December 20, 1775.

Wallace, I hear, continues a thorn in your side; burning and destroying wherever he can get an opportunity. It is to me a most astonishing thing that the Committee of Newport are desirous of nourishing such a serpent in the bosom of the country. If his depredations were to cease in all parts of the country, there might be some small reason for listening to his propositions. But, for him to obtain his supplies, and grant an indemnity only to the town of Newport, is sacrificing the rest of the Province to the benefit of that town only; for he will be continually committing piracies upon all the islands and shores that he can get footing upon. I think Wallace' s conduct has been such, from the insults and abuses he has offered to Government, that it is highly dishonourable to have any further intercourse or commerce with him. Besides, these separate treaties weaken the chain of connection and injure the general interests of the Continent, We must expect to make partial sacrifices for the publick good. I love the Colony of Rhode-Island, and have ever had a very great affection for the town of Newport; but I am not so attached to either as to be willing to injure the common cause for their particular benefit.

It is a very great unhappiness that such a division of sentiment in political matters prevails in the Colony; it distracts her councils and weakens her exertions. The Committee in the town of Newport, you say, seem inclined to counteract the prevailing sentiment in the Government. It is astonishing that ancient prejudices and selfish motives should prevail, at a time when every thing that is dear and valuable is at stake. I hear some of the inhabitants of Newport are very jealous of the views of the town of Providence; fearing that the latter has in view the destruction of Newport, for their own private advantage. I cannot harbour a thought so derogatory to the patriotism of the people of Newport, as to suppose that such a fear can have any real existence. Can the inhabitants of Newport suppose that the Legislature of the Colony acts upon such absurd principles as to make a sacrifice of one town for the benefit of another?

George the Third' s last speech has shut the door of hope for reconciliation between the Colonies and Great Britain. There are great preparations going on in England, to prosecute the war in the spring. We have no reason to doubt the King' s intentions. We must submit unconditionally, or defend ourselves. The calamities of war are very distressing, but slavery is dreadful. I have no reason to doubt the success of the Colonies, when I consider their union, strength, and resources. But we must expect to feel the common calamities which attend even a successful war.


We are now driven to the necessity of making a declaration of independence. We can no longer preserve our freedom and continue the connection with her. With safety we can appeal to Heaven for the necessity, propriety, and rectitude of such a measure.

I flatter myself the King' s speech will induce the Congress to raise one large Continental army proportionable to the extent of our undertaking; to be under one command, and by him directed to the security and preservation of the several united Governments. This will unite and cement the whole strength of the several Colonies. If this method is not adopted, some Governments, from their natural situation, will be subject to fourfold the expense of others, for their own particular security. As we have one common interest in the opposition, and it is merely accidental and uncertain where the enemy may exert their greatest force, I think the Continent ought to provide for the security of every Colony.

Letters were received this day from General Montgomery, near Quebeck. He says he expects to be master of the place in a very little time. He has powder and all kinds of military stores to facilitate the reduction. He and his troops are in good health, and he speaks very highly of Colonel Arnold and his party. Many officers, and a large number of the privates, belong to our Government.

The regiments fill up very slowly here. It is really discouraging. I fear the advantages proposed from so large an armament as our establishment was to consist of, will be defeated by the length of time it takes to fill the army. However, I still hope for better things, and pray God my expectations may not be defeated. If the Congress had given a large bounty, and engaged the soldiery during the war, the Continent would be much securer, and the measures cheaper in the end. The wisest may sometimes err. To profit rightly by past evils is the only right use that can be made of former misfortunes. God grant that our future measures may be so taken as to render our success equal to our wishes.