George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Hancock, 28 June 1775

From John Hancock

Philadelphia June 28th 1775


By Direction of the Congress I now Transmitt you severall Resolutions pass’d yesterday, by which you will Observe they have Directed Major General Schuyler to Examine into the State of the Posts at Ticonderoga & Crown Point, and of the Troops Station’d there, as also to Enquire into the Disposition of the Canadians and Indians. You will likewise find they have Directed him to Take or Destroy all Vessells, Boats or Floating Batteries prepar’d by Governor Carlton on or near the Waters of the Lakes, and to Take possession of St Johns & Montreal if he finds it practicable, & not Disagreeable to the Canadians—The Alteration of the Sentiments of Congress since your Departure relative to making an Impression into Canada was Occasion’d by a Letter they Receiv’d from the Committee of Albany, a Copy of which you have Inclos’d, they gave their Directions upon these important matters directly to Major General Schuyler, as he would be near the Posts abovemention’d, and as their being Sent to you would Occasion such Delay as might prove Detrimental to the Service.1

I Send you the Remainder of the Commissions Sign’d, should you have Occasion for more, please to Acquaint me, & they shall be immediately Transmitted you.

Brigr Genl Gates not yet Arriv’d in the City, I Expect him to morrow, and shall Deliver him his Commission, and promote his Joining you as soon as possible—Inclos’d is a Letter from him.2 With my best wishes for every personal Happiness, and Success in all your undertakings, I have the Honor to be, Sir Your most Obedt Hume servt

John Hancock President

ALS, DLC:GW; ADf, sold by John F. Fleming, Some Fundamental Documents in the Early History of the United States, New York, 1974, pp. 8–10.

1On 1 June, the day after Congress resolved to garrison Ticonderoga and Crown Point, it forbade military action “by any colony, or body of colonists, against or into Canada” (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 2:75). The matter, nevertheless, continued to be discussed in the ensuing weeks. “Whether We Should march into Canada with an Army Sufficient to break the Power of Governor Carlton, to overawe the Indians, and to protect the French has been a great Question,” John Adams wrote to James Warren on 7 June. “It Seems to be the general Conclusion that it is best to go, if We can be assured that the Canadians will be pleased with it, and join” (Taylor, Papers of John Adams description begins Robert J. Taylor et al., eds. Papers of John Adams. 17 vols. to date. Cambridge, Mass., and London, 1977—. description ends , 3:17–18). The issue was settled by the four resolutions of 27 June. Schuyler was directed to seize not only St. Jean and Montreal, if he could and the French Canadians did not object, but also to take “any other parts of the country, and pursue any other measures in Canada, which may have a tendency to promote the peace and security of these Colonies” (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 2:109–10). The letter dated 21 June from the Albany committee of safety which prompted the change asserted that the Caughnawaga Indians “had taken up the Hatchet” on behalf of the king and “that Governor Carelton was giving them presents daily.” The committee also reported that Carleton was “building Floating Batteries and Boats” at St. Jean, but that his preparations had been hampered by the refusal of English merchants at Montreal “to take up arms against the yankees” (DNA:PCC, item 67). On this date Hancock sent a copy of the Albany committee’s letter and Congress’s resolutions of 27 June to Schuyler at New York (Smith, Letters of Delegates description begins Paul H. Smith et al., eds. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774–1789. 26 vols. Washington, D.C., 1976–2000. description ends , 1:554). The copies of those documents that Hancock enclosed in his letter to GW are in DLC:GW.

Guy Carleton (1724–1808), a career soldier with the rank of major general in the British army, was appointed governor of Quebec on 10 Jan. 1775 and served until 1778. At this time he had four to five hundred regulars defending the strategically important town of St. Jean, 15 miles east of Montreal, and two armed sloops under construction there for use on the Richelieu River and Lake Champlain. His attempt to call out the militia on 9 June was defied by both the English merchants and the French inhabitants. Carleton served as British commander in chief in America from May 1782 to November 1783 and was again governor of Quebec between 1786 and 1796. He was created Baron Dorchester in 1786.

2The enclosed letter may have been that of 22 June 1775 from Horatio Gates to GW.

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