George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Andrew Hamilton, 16 August 1775

From Andrew Hamilton

Watertown [Mass.] 16th August 1775.


Your Excellencys known Character for Candor, & humanity, has encouraged me to take the liberty of troubling you with this letter, & as I am certain you must be much engaged at present, will be as Concise as possible. I was made an Ensign in the 16th Regt in—59, a Lieut. in—65 & sold out in—71,1 since which time I have lived in Annapolis, N: Scotia, on a farm, which, with a small stock on it, has afforded me a Comfortable maintenance, but insufficient, let my inclination be ever so great, to spare either a bundle of a hay, or a peice of meat of it.

The last of June I had a letter from my Brother (who is a Lieutenant in 52d Regt)2 & another from my friends in Ireland, from whom I had not heard for three years before, & some affairs which I was obliged to settle with my brother, made me embrace the opportunity of sailing for Boston, in a sloop that was bound there with Hay. The hands of the sloop took possession of her, & Carried her into Kinnebeck river. The Committee at Georgetown examined me. The letters I had with me & the hands of the vessel cleared me of being Concerned either in the cargoe, or any other particular as an enemy to America. As I had been in the army, they suspected me & sent me to the General Court. I have been examined three different times & the only thing the Court suspects me of, is, my intentions, should I get into Boston, of entering into the regular service. They therefore have determined to detain me & send me to some interior part of the Country.3 I must beg Your interposition in my favor. If I am not allowed to return to my farm, the servants I left on it, who are only hired for a few months, may destroy my interest there, & I shall then be worse than a beggar. The only chance I can have of returning this fa⟨vor⟩ is, by getting leave to go into Boston. If I can have that liberty, my Honor & oath (which is the only security I can offer at present) I will freely give that I had not any intention of applying for any Commission, nor will I accept of any under General Gage, but will sail in the first vessel that is bound to any part of N. Scotia. If I can not have this liberty, I will be much obliged to Your Excellency, if You will allow me to go with the gentlemen of the Navy, as I am acquainted with them, & their Society will make Captivity less irksome. I am with the greatest respect Your Excellency’s most Obedt Humble Servant

Andw Hamilton


1Andrew Hamilton’s regiment came to America from Ireland in 1767 and was stationed at Pensacola when Hamilton sold his commission.

2George Hamilton was commissioned an ensign in the 52d Regiment of Foot on 13 Feb. 1762 and a lieutenant on 26 Dec. 1770. The 52d Regiment moved to Boston from Quebec in October 1774 and fought at Bunker Hill on 17 June 1775.

3On 8 Aug. the Massachusetts General Court appointed a committee to examine Hamilton, and three days later it reported that he “appears to be a crafty, designing Person, formerly held a Commission under the Crown, does not give any good Reason for his taking Passage for Boston, and has been very officious in prying into the Management of the public Affairs of this Colony.” On the committee’s recommendation, Hamilton was ordered on 12 Aug. to be sent to the Springfield jail, where he was “to have the Liberty of the Yard during his good Behaviour, otherwise to be put under close Confinement” (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 ., 53, 67; also in “Mass. Council Journal,” July 1775–Feb. 1776 sess., 71).

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