George Washington Papers

From George Washington to the Continental Congress, 25 June 1775

To the Continental Congress

New York June [25] 1775


The Rain on Friday Afternoon & Saturday—the Advice of several Gentlemen of the Jerseys & this City, by no Means to cross Hudsons River at the Lower Ferry, and some other Circumstances, too trivial to mention,1 prevented my Arrival at this Place untill the Afternoon of this Day.2

In the Morning, after giving General Schuyler such Orders as, from the Result of my Enquiry into Matters here, appear necessary, I shall set out on my Journey to the Camp at Boston; and shall proceed with all the Dispatch in my Power.3 Powder is so essential an Article that I cannot help again repeating the Necessity of a Supply—The Camp at Boston, from the best Account I can get from thence, is but very poorly supplied—At this place they have scarce any—How they are provided in General Worster’s Camp I have not been able yet to learn.4

Governor Tryon is arriv’d and General Schuyler directed to advise you of the Line of Conduct he moves in—I fear it will not be very favorable to the American Cause.5 I have only to add that I am with great Respect & Regard Gentlemen, Your most Obedt & Oblid hble Serv.

L, in Thomas Mifflin’s writing, DNA:PCC, item 152; LB, DLC:GW; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; copy, NjMoHP; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The cover of the letter is addressed in GW’s writing. All copies of this letter are dated 24 June 1775. GW did not reach New York City until the afternoon of 25 June, however (see note 2). His letter of this day to John Hancock was also incorrectly dated.

1The letter-book copy reads “& some other Occurrencies too trivial to mention (which happened on the Ro⟨ad)⟩.”

2GW’s traveling party reached New Brunswick, N.J., on 24 June. From there Philip Schuyler wrote to Peter Van Brugh Livingston, president of the New York provincial congress, then sitting in New York City: “General Washington . . . proposes to be at Newark by nine to-morrow morning. The situation of the men of war at New-York, (we are informed,) is such as may make it necessary that some precaution should be taken in crossing Hudson’s river; and he would take it as a favour if some gentlemen of your body would meet him to-morrow, at Newark, as the advice you may then give him, will determine whether he will continue his proposed route, or not” (Journals of the Provincial Congress, Provincial Convention, Committee of Safety and Council of Safety of the State of New-York, 1775–1776–1777, 2 vols. [Albany, 1842], 2:10–11, Microfilm Collection of Early State Records). Shortly after nine o’clock on the morning of 25 June, the provincial congress ordered Thomas Smith, John Sloss Hobart, Gouverneur Morris, and Richard Montgomery to meet GW at Newark. The advice they gave him was sound. The lower Hudson River ferry, running between Paulus Hook (now Jersey City) and a wharf at the foot of Cortlandt Street in New York, was within a mile of the Battery, off which lay the British warship Asia, ready to protect the king’s friends in the city with its sixty-four guns. GW crossed this afternoon on the upper ferry from Hoboken to Col. Leonard Lispenard’s country estate some two miles north of the city (near the foot of present-day Laight Street), where he landed about four o’clock in the afternoon. Nine companies of uniformed New York militiamen and a host of local Patriot leaders greeted GW and his companions on the beach. According to Loyalist Thomas Jones of New York, they were then conducted “amidst the repeated shouts and huzzas of the seditious and rebellious multitude” to Lispenard’s house, “where they dined, and towards evening were escorted to town, attended and conducted in the same tumultuous and ridiculous manner” (Thomas Jones, History of New York during the Revolutionary War description begins Thomas Jones. History of New York during The Revolutionary War, and of the Leading Events in the Other Colonies at that Period. Edited by Edward Floyd De Lancey. 2 vols. New York, 1879. description ends . . ., ed. by Edward F. DeLancey, 2 vols. [New York, 1879], 1:556). A newspaper reported that the escorting throng included “a greater Number of the principal Inhabitants of this City, than ever appeared here on any Occasion before” (New-York Gazette: and Weekly Mercury, 26 June 1775), and a Moravian pastor noted in his diary that “at one Church the Minister was obliged to give over; for the People went out, when the General came, who was received with much ado” (Shewkirk’s diary in Isaac Newton Phelps Stokes, The Iconography of Manhattan Island, 6 vols. [New York, 1915–28], 4:894). The procession ended on Broadway at Robert Hull’s tavern, where GW probably lodged for the night.

3See GW’s instructions to Philip Schuyler, dated 25 June 1775. GW left New York City for Cambridge sometime after two-thirty in the afternoon on 26 June.

4David Wooster (1711–1777), who was appointed a major general of the Connecticut forces in April 1775 and a Continental brigadier general on 22 June, marched about this time from his camp at Greenwich, Conn., with approximately eighteen hundred Connecticut soldiers to assist in the defense of New York City. GW encountered Wooster and his men at New Rochelle, N.Y., on 27 June. Wooster camped on the outskirts of New York City the next day and remained near the city or on Long Island throughout the summer. Despite his previous service on the Louisburg expedition of 1745 and as a Connecticut colonel during the French and Indian War, the garrulous Wooster proved to be a slack and undependable commander in the Revolution. For the scarcity of gunpowder, see GW to Hancock, this date, n.2.

5William Tryon (1729–1788), royal governor of New York since 1771, went to England in the spring of 1774 to consult with the ministry. By chance he returned to New York on the same day that GW arrived there. News that Tryon was expected to land at the city about one o’clock in the afternoon put the members of the New York provincial congress in a quandary. They were prepared to fight in defense of American rights and wished to assure GW of their support. Most, however, were not yet ready to break all ties with the mother country, nor had they any desire to offend an energetic and resourceful governor who remained personally popular in the colony. They decided to send two companies of militia to meet generals Washington, Schuyler, and Lee, while ordering the other companies to stand “ready to receive either the Generals or Governor Tryon, which ever shall first arrive, and to wait on both as well as circumstances will allow” (N.Y. Prov. Congress Journals description begins Journals of the Provincial Congress, Provincial Convention, Committee of Safety, and Council of Safety of the State of New-York, 1775–1776–1777. 2 vols. Albany, 1842. (Microfilm Collection of Early State Records). description ends , 1:54). As it happened, Tryon did not land until about eight o’clock in the evening. He was welcomed by most of the city’s leading citizens, including many who had greeted GW only a few hours earlier. “What a farce! What cursed hypocrisy!” remarked Thomas Jones (Jones, History of N.Y. description begins Thomas Jones. History of New York during The Revolutionary War, and of the Leading Events in the Other Colonies at that Period. Edited by Edward Floyd De Lancey. 2 vols. New York, 1879. description ends , 1:57). William Smith of New York viewed events a bit differently: “Mr Tryon was only attended by a Crowd who received him at the Ferry Stairs & escorted him to Mr [Hugh] Wallace’s. . . . He appeared grave this Evening & said Little. . . . There was much Shouting in the Procession—A Proof that the Populace esteem the Man, tho’ they at this Instant hate his Commission & would certainly have insulted any other in that Station” (Sabine, Smith’s Historical Memoirs description begins William H. W. Sabine, ed. Historical Memoirs . . . of William Smith, Historian of the Province of New York. 2 vols. New York, 1956–58. description ends , 1:228d).

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