George Washington Papers

From George Washington to James Warren, 6 August 1775

To James Warren

Camp at Cambridge Head Quarters Augt 6. 1775.


I should be very glad to procure Mr Hitchbourns Release agreeable to your Favour of yesterday if I could think of any Mode in which it was practicable. To propose it on any other Footing than an Exchange would I fear expose the Application to Contempt. As I observe he is included in the Vote delivered me this Morning by a Committee from the General Court. I apprehend it had best be left on that Footing, & is the most likely to be successful.1

It is very surprizing if the Letters intercepted are of Consequence, that those Gentlemen should act so imprudent a Part—if their suffering only affected themselves I should not think it improper that they should feel a little for their Misconduct or Negligence.2 I am with much Truth & Regard Sir Your most Obed: & very Hbble Servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Joseph Reed’s writing, MHi; LB, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1On 5 Aug. the Massachusetts General Court resolved that two Loyalists who were being held in the Concord jail might be exchanged for several Patriots being held in Boston (“Mass. Council Journal,” July 1775–Feb. 1776 sess. description begins In Journals, Minutes, and Proceedings, State of Massachusetts Bay, 1775–1780. (Microfilm Collection of Early State Records.) description ends , 49; Mass. House of Rep. Journal, July–Nov. 1775 sess description begins A Journal of the Honorable House of Representatives of the Colony of the Massachusetts-Bay in New-England. Watertown, Mass., 1775. (Microfilm Collection of Early State Records). description ends ., 47). Hichborn was specifically included in this resolution, but the proposed exchange did not occur. On the night of 18 Oct. 1775 Hichborn escaped from the British warship in Boston Harbor, where he was imprisoned, by lowering himself into a canoe tied to the stern of the vessel and paddling ashore (Hichborn to John Adams, 25 Nov.—10 Dec. 1775, in 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 , 3:320–27). For a discussion of Hichborn’s capture, see GW to Hancock, 4–5 Aug. 1775, n.34.

2“General Washington does not yet appear altogether Satisfied with my Conduct,” Hichborn wrote to John Adams on 28 Oct. 1775. “The only Satisfaction I have at present arises from the generous Reception I met with from Coll. Warren” (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 , 3:255–57). A few weeks later in another letter to Adams, Hichborn reported that “a Gentleman called me aside and whispered that he had the day before been in a large Company, among whom were Collel. [James] Otis, Doct: [John] Winthrop and his Lady [Hannah Fayerweather Tollman Winthrop]. That Mrs. Winthrop censured my Conduct respecting the letters very highly; in which she was joined by her Husband and Col. Otis. One of the Company suggested that I had satisfied General Washington, but was answered by Colel. Otis, with a good deal of warmth, that he knew neither the General nor any of the Officers about him, were in any degree satisfied with my Conduct” (Hichborn to Adams, 25 Nov.—10 Dec. 1775, ibid., 320–27).

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