Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to George Washington, [5 March 1783]

To George Washington

[Philadelphia, March 5, 1783]1


I had the honor of writing to your Excellency lately on a very confidential subjec⟨t⟩2 and shall be anxious to know as soon as c⟨on⟩venient whether the letter got safe to han⟨d⟩.3 The bearer Shattuck4 thinks he can poin⟨t⟩ out the means of apprehending Wells & Knowle⟨ton⟩ the two persons whom Your Excellency was authorised to have taken into custody.5 I hav⟨e⟩ desired him to call upon you to disclose th⟨e⟩ plan. I will not trouble Your Excellency w⟨ith⟩ any observation on the importance of getting hold of those persons. The surmise that Mr. Arnold a member of Congress gave intellige⟨nce⟩ to them of the design to take them mak⟨es⟩ it peculiarly important. I have the hon⟨or⟩ to be

Your Excellency’s most ob’t serv’t

A. Hamilton.

To His Excellency General Washington⟩

AL, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1The letter is endorsed “From Alexander Hamilton, Esq., 5th March 1783.”

2Material in broken brackets is taken from JCHW description begins John C. Hamilton, ed., The Works of Alexander Hamilton (New York, 1851). description ends , I, 342.

3H probably referred to his letter to Washington of February 13, 1783.

4William Shattuck’s claim for property seized by Vermont had been validated by a report of Congress (“Motion on Vermont,” December 5, 1782). He had carried George Clinton’s letter of February 25, 1783, to the New York delegates in Congress.

5Samuel Wells, pre-Revolutionary member of the New York Assembly from a part of the New Hampshire Grants and a staunch supporter of New York’s claim to the area claimed by Vermont, became a Loyalist after the outbreak of the American Revolution. Luke Knoulton (also spelled “Knowlton”), who had come to Vermont from Massachusetts, also supported the British.

On November 27, 1782, a committee of Congress recommended that Washington be empowered to apprehend Knoulton and Wells on suspicion of their having corresponded with the enemy (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (Washington, 1904–1937). description ends , XXIII, 756). On January 20, 1783, Washington forwarded to Congress a report of the officer sent to apprehend them. The report stated that the two men had received a letter from Jonathan Arnold, delegate in Congress from Rhode Island, “which informed them that affairs in Congress were unfavorable to them & wd. have them look out for themselves” (“Notes of Debates in the Continental Congress,” MS, James Madison Papers, Library of Congress).

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