George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas Lynch, 16 January 1776

From Thomas Lynch

Philaa Jany 16. 1776

Dear Sir

I am happy to be at last able to write you that every thing you desired me to get done is accomplished, for the present. our President asures me he has sent you the determination of Congress concerning the Trial of Captures, Courts of Admiralty have been appointed in the Colony for that purpose. Colo. Frye has been appointed Brigadier in your Army (Mr Arnold preceeds him in that at Quebec) and I inclose Copies of the Resolutions for the direction of the Post Master, relative to Letters of Officers & Soldiers in our Service.1

The delays in procuring the money has given me much concern, being sensible of the injury occasioned thereby to the Service, but the Calls for money from every Quarter, so far outrun the diligence of the Signers, that my reiterated solicitations coud get the sum no sooner.

We have resolved to raise exclusive of your Army, in New Hampshire 1 Batn in Connecticut one in N. York one, in Jersey three, in Pensilvania five, in the lower Counties one, in Virginia six, in North Carolina three, & South Carolina three, in Georgia 1, & in Canada two, exclusive of Canadians2 besides these, I have no doubt New York will have four more & Maryland two, which with the Regiments of Artillery will be 62 or 3 Battalions & the Expence not less than ten Millions of Dollars How quick a transfer of property from the Rich to the Poor, such an Expenditure must produce, you are well able to Judge. the Prospect is far from receiving light when ’tis considered how each Colony lavishes away its private Treasure at the same Time, or when we view the amazing and unaccountable supiness of all our Governments. Not a single [one] anywhere in civil Department, seems to consider himself as interested in public matters, unless he can get money by them. the Idea of all the Paper being mortgages on their private Estates is totally lost and forgotten.

In this State of things, I have, besides my Dependance on the Continuance of the Favour of Heaven, Trust in two Supports alone, the one, on your Vigorous Exertions, the other on the Weakness of our Enemies, shoud they lose footing in America this Winter, I shoud despise their thirty thousand Russians, scattered by Storms, arriving one Transport after another, fatigued & debilitated by the Fatal Effects of long Voyages, without a Spot to collect and recruit themselves for the Field & depending for every Necessary on Supplies from a Country 3000 Miles distant.

Do not the Speeches of the King and his Minister hold very different Language from those of the last year! America is no longer the abject cowardly and defenceless Wretch she was then, Now his Lordship woud have dispised had they not bravely supported their Rights, seems to approve their vigorous support of them & offers the terms of 1763: a Gentleman wel⟨l⟩ known to Moyland, Ld Drummond just from Englan⟨d,⟩ assures me, he will give much more. he tells me that he has had many Conversations with Ministry on the Subject & Shewed me a Paper approved by each of them & which he is sure will be supported in bot⟨h⟩ Houses. The Substance of it is America to be declared free in point of Taxation & internal Police, Judges to be approvd by the Judges of England and commissioned during good Behaviour, upon Stated & sufficient Support be statedly assigned them by the Colonies, all Charters to be held Sacred, that of Boston restored, Britain to regulate Trade sub modo, all Duties laid for the purpose of Regulation be paid into the Colony Treasury where they arise, applicable to it’s uses by it’s own Legislature, in Lieu of which America shall, by Duties, on such Articles as will probably keep pace in it’s Consumption with the Rise or declention of the Colony, laid by each Legislature by permanent Act of Assembly, Grant towards the general Support of the Empire, annual Sums in proportion to £5000 Sterling for this Colony. As this sum is little more than half of what did arise by Duties heretofore paid in this place, I doubted his information, but was assured that Ministry wanted nothing but a Shew of Reve⟨nue⟩ to hold up to Parliament, as they are affraid ⟨to⟩ propose Reconciliation, without saving what the stiff old Englishmen call the Honor of the Nation his Lordship came hither thro’ Hallifax, Boston & york, where I fancy he saw, what induced him to hint once or twice at beginning with a Suspention of Arms, to wh[ich] I turned a very deaf Ear, well knowing that the Season Winter is ours, and that much may be done by April next, I sincerely wish I had your sentiments on these heads, I shall propose them to the Consideration of Congress, as soon as the most urgent affairs are over I think the[y] merit it.3

Congress has Ordered you 15 ton of Gun Powder from New York & we have Salt Petre enough here, to make 80 Ton more so that I hope we shall not soon want again,4 large Quantities are every day expected I beg youl make our Compliments to your Lady and to the rest of your Family and all my Friends. Dr Sir your most Obedt

Tho. Lynch

We have just heared from Charles Town that they have mounted on the Batteries there above 160 Cannon from 12 to 42 Pounders & 70 more in different parts of the Province that the Party raised by Kirkland & his Gang are totally suppressd, he is come but I have not yet seen him.5


1Hancock enclosed in his letter to GW of 22 Dec. 1775 a copy of Congress’s resolution of 25 Nov. directing the colonies to establish admiralty courts. Joseph Frye and Benedict Arnold were named brigadier generals on 10 January. Free postage was granted on 9 Jan. “for any letters to or from private soldiers, while engaged in actual service in the defence of the United Colonies,” but that privilege apparently was not given to officers until sometime later (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 , 3:371–75, 4:43, 47, 155).

2These battalions had been authorized or adopted at various times over the past three and a half months. See ibid., 3:285, 291, 325, 387–88, 418, 463; 4:40, 47, 59.

3Thomas Lundin, Lord Drummond (1742–1780), arrived in Philadelphia with his plan for reconciliation in late December 1775, and during the first two weeks of January he discussed it informally with several sympathetic members of Congress including Lynch. Drummond, who had first come to America from Scotland in 1768 to defend his family’s rights to lands in New Jersey, assumed the role of intermediary between the colonies and the mother country because he had many influential friends on both sides of the Atlantic. His peace plan was based on conversations with American moderates in New York during the fall of 1774 and with Lord North and Lord Dartmouth in England between December 1774 and September 1775. Drummond did not claim any official authorization from the British government but intimated to members of Congress that Lord North knew and approved of his plan. By 16 Jan. Lynch was ready to propose formal negotiations with the ministry along the lines suggested by Drummond, but the arrival the next day of news of the American defeat at Quebec stirred feelings of hostility toward the British and weakened the American negotiating position. “I had before we heard of our Misfortune,” Lynch wrote to Schuyler on 20 Jan., “resolved to move for a Mode of application for Peace, being assured by Ld. Drummond that Ministry were very desirous of it on very generous Terms, such indeed as I woud have dictated had I them, as they wished to have us, that is at their Feet. It must wait a little; we cool & Set ourselves on a Footing in Canada” (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 , 3:125–26). Lynch and Drummond met again at New York in early February and attempted to revive the stalled peace negotiations. Washington’s refusal to cooperate with them dealt a serious blow to their efforts (see Lynch to GW, 5 Feb., and GW to Hancock, 14 Feb. 1776). By early March Drummond’s peace mission had failed. Drummond subsequently acted as an adviser to Gen. William Howe. He returned to Britain in November 1778 and died in August 1780 at Lisbon, where he had gone for his health. For fuller discussions of Drummond’s mission, see 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 , 3:24–26, n. 1, and Klein, “Failure of a Mission,” description begins Milton M. Klein. “Failure of a Mission: The Drummond Peace Proposal of 1775.” Huntington Library Quarterly 35 (1971–72): 343–80. description ends 343–80.

5Moses Kirkland, a prominent South Carolina Loyalist, was captured on his way to Boston in December and was sent to Congress for examination. See GW to Hancock, 18, 25, 31 Dec. 1775.

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