George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Hancock, 23 April 1776

From John Hancock

Philadelphia April 23d 1776.


I am to acknowledge the Receipt of your Favour of the 19th of April enclosing several Papers: all which were immediately laid before Congress.

The important Intelligence they contain, makes it necessary that the most vigorous Measures should be adopted, as well to defend our Troops against the Canadians themselves, as to ensure Success to the Expedition. The Congress being determined on the Reduction of Quebec and the Security of that Country, for Reasons too obvious to be mentioned, have left Nothing undone, which can any Ways contribute to that End. Whatever may be the Causes of the late Insurrection, good Policy requires, that while we endeavour to prevent every Thing of the Kind for the future, we should also make Provision, in Case it should happen. Accordingly Congress have come into sundry Resolutions calculated to quiet the Minds of the Canadians and to remove the Sources of their Uneasiness & Discontent. They have likewise ordered six more Battalions to be sent into Canada from the Army at New York as you will see by the enclosed Resolve. Whether any further additional Forces will be wanted there is a Matter of some Uncertainty with Congress. Should you, from your Knowledge of Facts, the State of Canada, the Possibility that Genl Howe will attempt to relieve Genl Carlton, and comparing the Circumstances together, be of Opinion, that an additional Force is still necessary, you will please to signify it to Congress; and at the same Time inform them whether in that Case, such additional Force can be spared from the Army now at New York.

I transmit herewith sundry Resolves of Congress for your Direction,1 and have the Honour to be Sir, your most obedt and very hble Serv.

John Hancock Presid⟨t⟩

The Inclos’d Letter for Commodore Hopkins, I leave unseal’d for your perusal only, after which I beg the favour of you to Seal & forward by Fessenden, or a fresh Express.2

I have paid Mr Fessenden Twelve Dollars, which you will please to Note on Settlement with him.


LS, DLC:GW; LB, DNA:PCC, item 12A. The postscript, which appears only in the LS, is in Hancock’s writing. The letter-book copy, which contains several deletions and insertions, apparently was a draft of the letter.

1Of these resolutions, all of which were passed on this date, the one that most immediately concerned GW directed him to send six more regiments from New York to Canada. The other resolutions requested Hancock to seek GW’s views about further reinforcement of Canada, instructed Congress’s commissioners there to redress Canadian grievances, ordered the American commander in Canada “to be very attentive to military discipline,” appropriated $300,000 for his army, fixed the rate of pay for Pennsylvania and New Jersey troops who might be sent to Canada, and thanked Col. Moses Hazen for his “attention to the public good” (DLC:GW; see also 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 , 4:301–2).

2The marine committee’s letter to Esek Hopkins of this date contains intelligence about British warships in the waters of Virginia and North Carolina and urges the commodore to undertake an expedition to destroy those vessels (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 , 3:575–76).

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