George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Lord Stirling, 2 October 1775

From Lord Stirling

Baskenridge [N.J.] Octobr 2d 1775

My dear Sir

I wrote you this Morning by Mr Scott1 Since which Mr John Stevens my Nephew informs me he intends to pay your Camp a Visit, he is a Young Gentleman who has taken a Warm part in the Cause of American Liberty, his Jaunt into the Eastern Colonies is to get a knowledge of that part of his Country, But principaly to get some improvement in Military knowledge in that best and only School which is to be found in your Camp.2

The province I live in, has lately Called me forth in a Military Caracter; on this occasion I am Severely Attacked by Govr Franklin, on account of my being a Counsellor, several letters have passed between us on this Occasion, of which I will send you Copies by the first good oppertunity for your Amusement, I am afraid he has brought himself into a disagreable Scrape by his [unt]oward forwardness,3 at present I have Only to add that I am very Sincerely and affectionty your Most Humble Servant


ALS, MH: Jared Sparks Collection, Autographs During the Revolution.

William Alexander (1726–1783) of Basking Ridge, N.J., was generally known as Lord Stirling in both America and England despite the fact that in 1762 a committee of the House of Lords had disallowed his claim to be the sixth earl of Stirling. At the request of the New Jersey provincial congress, Stirling, who had served as secretary and aide-de-camp to Gov. William Shirley during the French and Indian War, began raising a regiment of volunteers late in the summer of 1775, and on 7 Nov. 1775 the Continental Congress appointed him colonel of the 1st New Jersey Regiment. Personally acquainted with GW before the war, Stirling served him well in subsequent campaigns, becoming a brigadier general on 1 Mar. 1776 and a major general on 19 Feb. 1777. Stirling died of illness at his headquarters in Albany, N.Y., on 15 Jan. 1783 while commanding the northern department.

1Letter not found.

2John Stevens (1749–1838), who became a well-known engineer and inventor later in life, was treasurer of New Jersey during most of the war years. In 1778 Stevens attempted to build “a Machine in the river, at West Point, for the purpose of setting fire to any of the Enemy’s Shipping that might attempt a passage up it,” but apparently failed for want of sufficient labor (GW to William Malcom, 11 and 24 Aug. 1778).

3William Franklin (1731–1813), son of Benjamin Franklin, was governor of New Jersey from 1763 to 1776. Declared an enemy to American liberties by the New Jersey provincial congress in June 1776, Franklin was arrested and held in Connecticut until 1778 when he was exchanged. He went to England a short time later. For a discussion of Stirling’s exchange of letters with Franklin in September 1775, see Valentine, Lord Stirling description begins Alan Valentine. Lord Stirling. New York, 1969. description ends , 153–55. The copies of the letters enclosed to GW have not been identified.

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