George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Ebenezer Hazard, 2 May 1776

To Ebenezer Hazard

[New York] Thursday Morng 2d May 1776.

The General presents his Compliments to Mr Hazard & thanks him for the perusal of Mr Gordons Letter. Having had intimations of the like kind before, he has wrote very urgently to General Ward—& Colo. Gridley (the Engineer) upon the Subject, & hopes for better Accts.1 The General is unable to Assign a Reason for the four Regiments, left at Boston, being reduced to 1430 effective Men, when one of those Regiments only (Officers included) contained, when he came away, upwards of 700 Men; & the others not Weaker than those which were March’d to this City.

AL, PPAmP: Hazard Papers.

Ebenezer Hazard (1744–1817), a New York bookseller, began receiving and forwarding mail in May 1775 when the royal postal service between New York and New England was discontinued, and on 21 Sept. 1775 the Continental postmaster general Benjamin Franklin appointed Hazard postmaster of New York City. When the Continental army abandoned the city in September 1776, Hazard attached himself to GW’s headquarters. “The Necessity of keeping the [post] Office near Head Quarters,” Hazard wrote to the president of N.J. College John Witherspoon on 14 Nov. 1776, “arose from the Importance of the General’s Dispatches, and his being near the Center of the Army, who are almost the only Persons for whom Letters now come per Post” (DNA:PCC, item 58). In January 1777 Hazard became surveyor of the post roads for the Continental post office, and in January 1782 Congress appointed him postmaster general of the United States. After the war Hazard undertook a long-delayed personal project, the publication of a five-volume editon of American “State Papers.” Although only two volumes were ever published, his work set a standard for historical editing in America (see Hazard, Historical Collections: Consisting of State Papers and Other Authentic Documents; Intended as Materials for An History of the United States of America [Philadelphia, 1792–94]).

1William Gordon’s letter to Hazard, c.20 April 1776, concerned the allegations that Gen. Artemas Ward and Col. Richard Gridley had neglected the defenses of Boston. “We left Boston with a good Garrison, plenty of Money, and most Ample Powers, and Instructions to General Ward,” Horatio Gates wrote to John Adams on 23 April. “Gridley also was station’d there, to Exert all his Talents in Fortifying the Harbour, but to my astonishment Parson Gordon writes these Words to Mr. Hazzard by Saturday nights Post ‘Tell G. Gates that the Spades and Pickaxes are resting here for want of use.’ Why will you doat so upon these Dreaming Deacons” (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 , 4:141–43). For GW’s previous action on this matter, see his letters to Gridley, 28 April, and to Artemas Ward, 29 April 1776. See also Robert Hanson Harrison to Artemas Ward, 2 May, quoted in Ward to GW, 9 May 1776, n. 1.

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