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Letter from Thomas Lynch to General Washington



Philadelphia, January 16, 1776.

DEAR SIR: I am happy to be at last able to write you, that every thing you desired me to get done, is accomplished for the present. Our President assures me he has sent you the determination of Congress, concerning the trial of captures. Courts of Admiralty have been appointed in the Colony for that purpose. Colonel Frye has been appointed Brigadier in your Army, (Mr˙ Arnold precedes him in that of Quebeck;) and I enclose copies of the resolutions for the direction of the Postmaster, relative to letters of officers and soldiers in our service.

The delays in procuring the money has given me much concern, being sensible of the injury occasioned thereby to the service, but the calls for money from every quarter so far outran the diligence of the signers, that my reiterated solicitations could get the sum no sooner.

We have resolved to raise, exclusive of your Army, in New-Hampshire one battalion, in Connecticut one, in New-York


one, in Jersey three, in Pennsylvania five, in the Lower Counties one, in Virginia six, in North-Carolina three, and South-Carolina three, in Georgia one, and in Canada two, exclusive of Canadians; besides these, I have no doubt New-York will have four more, and Maryland two, which, with the Regiments of Artillery, will be sixty-two or three battalions, and the expense not less than ten millions of dollars. How quick a transfer of property from the rich to the poor such an expenditure must produce, you are well able to judge. The prospect is far from receiving light when it is considered how each Colony lavishes away its private treasure at the same time, or when we view the amazing and unaccountable supineness of all our Governments. Not a single individual, any where in civil department, seems to consider himself as interested in publick matters, unless he can get money by them. The idea of all the paper being mortgages on their private estates is totally lost and forgotten.

In this state of things, I have, besides my dependence of the continuance of the favour of Heaven, trust in two supports alone, the one on your vigorous exertions, the other on the weakness of our enemies. Should they lose footing in America this Winter, I should despise their thirty thousand Russians, scattered by storms, arriving, one transport after another, fatigued and debilitated by the fatal effects of a long voyage, without a spot to collect and recruit themselves for the field, and depending for every necessary on supplies from a country three thousand miles distant.

Do not the speeches of the King and his Ministers hold very different language from those of the last year? America is no longer the abject, cowardly, and defenceless wretch she was then; now his Lordship would have despised, had they not bravely supported their rights, seems to approve their vigorous support of them, and offers the terms of 1763. A gentleman, well known to Maryland, Lord Drummond, just from England, assures me, he will give much more; he tells me that he has had many conversations with Ministry on this subject, and showed me a paper, approved by each of them, and which he is sure will be supported in both Houses. The substance of it is, America to be declared free in point of taxation, and internal police; judges to be approved by the judges of England, and commissioned during good behaviour, upon stated and sufficient support be statedly assigned by the Colonies; all charters to be held sacred; that of Boston restored: Britain to regulate trade sub modo, all duties laid for the purpose of regulation, be paid into the Colony Treasury, where they arise, applicable to its uses by its own Legislature, in lieu of which, America shall, by duties, on such articles as will probably keep pace in its consumption, with the rise or declension of the Colony, laid up by each legislature, by permanent act of Assembly; grant towards the general support of the empire, annual sums in proportion to five thousand pounds sterling, for this Colony: as this sum is little more than half of what did arise by duties heretofore paid in this place, I doubted his information, but was assured, that Ministry wanted nothing but a show of revenue to hold up to Parliament, as they are afraid to propose reconciliation, without saving, what the stiff old Englishmen call, the honour of the nation. His Lordship came hither through Halifax, Boston, and York, where, I fancy, he saw what induced him to hint once or twice at beginning with a suspension of arms; to which I turned a very deaf ear, well knowing that the Winter season is ours, and that much may be done by April next. I sincerely wish I had your sentiments on these heads. I shall propose them to the consideration of Congress, as soon as the most urgent affairs are over; I think they merit it.

Congress has ordered you fifteen ton of gunpowder from New-York, and we have saltpetre enough here, to make eighty tons more, so that I hope we shall not soon want again; larger quantities are every day expected. I beg you will make our compliments to your lady, and to the rest of your family, and all my friends. Dear, sir, your most obedient,


P˙ S. We have just heard from Charlestown, that they have mounted on the batteries there above one hundred and sixty cannon, from twelve to forty-two pounders, and


seventy more in different parts of the Province, that the party raised by Kirkland and his gang are totally suppressed; he is come, but I have not yet seen him.