George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Richard Derby, Jr., 2 August 1776

From Richard Derby, Jr.

Watertown [Mass.] 2 August 1776.

“The Inclosed letter I have this day laid before the Council of this State, who have directed me to inclose it to your Excellency, desiring (if you think proper) when a convenient opportunity offers it may be forwarded agreeable to its directions.”1

Sprague transcript, DLC:GW.

Richard Derby, Jr. (1712–1783), a merchant and shipowner from Salem, was elected to the Massachusetts council in May 1776, but he devoted much of his time during this year to building and outfitting two armed vessels for the state (see Derby’s petition to the Massachusetts General Court, 1 Jan. 1777, in Clark and Morgan, Naval Documents description begins William Bell Clark et al., eds. Naval Documents of the American Revolution. 11 vols. to date. Washington, D.C., 1964—. description ends , 7:825).

1Derby apparently enclosed the council’s letter of this date to the Massachusetts delegates in Congress. “The Bearer hereof Capt. Jonathan Edy,” the council writes, “has brought us a Petition from the Town of Onslow in Nova Scotia representing their distress’d situation & praying relief either by sending them Forces, or Vessels to bring them away. We are truly concern’d for their unhappy condition, and should be glad to afford them assistance were it in our power; but as the General Court is not sitting, we conceive that we are not authorised to do any thing in the matter. We must therefore refer Capt. Edy to you. He will give you a particular account of the circumstances of that Province, and what he thinks may be done for their relief and the service of the common cause—We leave it with you, Gentlemen to take such steps in the affair as you may judge best.” The letter, which is signed by John Winthrop, is in DNA:PCC, item 65 (see also Force, American Archives description begins Peter Force, ed. American Archives. 9 vols. Washington, D.C., 1837–53. description ends , 5th ser., 1:733–34). For Jonathan Eddy’s previous effort to convince GW and Congress to intervene militarily in Nova Scotia, see a citizen of Nova Scotia to GW, 8 Feb. 1776, and source note, and GW to Hancock, 27 Mar. 1776 and 1 April 1776 (second letter).

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