George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Lord Drummond, 17 August 1776

From Lord Drummond

[New York Harbor] August 17th 1776


Being deeply intarested in the welfare of America I think it my Duty to communicate a Matter of Intelligence which I flatter myself may be rendered conducive to the Restoration of a Disirable Peace And in this View I request your Excellency’s Permission to land at New York to go to Philadelphia in Order to lay the same before the General Congress.

In the course of a Conversation I have had with Lord Howe I perceive that the powers he is vested with as well as his Disposition for establishing an Equitable and permament Peace are Altogether misunderstood by the Colonies—For in Consequence of a Sketch of some Propositions being offer’d for his Consideration he very frankly assured me he was willing to confer upon those Grounds with any Gentlemen of the Greatest Influence in this Country.

As I am at Liberty to declare his Sentiments I have the Honour to inclose for your Excellency’s Information, a Copy of my Corrispondence with his Lordship and of the Propositions referred to in his Letter which are the Motives of my Present Request.1 Attending in the Boat to be Indulged with your Answer—I have the Honour to be Your Excellency’s Most Obbt Humbe Servant


L, DLC:GW. The text and signature of this letter are in an unidentified handwriting, but the docket in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing on the reverse indicates that it is the letter that GW received from Drummond. The address on the manuscript reads: “General Washington &c. &c. &c.” The copy of this letter that GW enclosed in his letter to Hancock of 18 Aug. has not been found. Drummond’s letter and GW’s reply to him of this date were printed by order of Congress in the Pennsylvania Evening Post (Philadelphia) of 17 Sept. 1776.

1Drummond, who had gone to Bermuda for his health in April, returned to New York Harbor on 9 Aug., and the next day he dined with Lord Howe aboard his flagship, the Eagle (see GW to Drummond, 23 April 1776, and Tatum, Serle’s Journal description begins Edward H. Tatum, Jr., ed. The American Journal of Ambrose Serle: Secretary to Lord Howe, 1776–1778. San Marino, Calif., 1940. description ends , 61). From his quarters on the sloop Polly, Drummond wrote to Lord Howe on 12 Aug. enclosing “the Sketch of Propositions refered to in my late Conversation with your Lordship, which Propositions I have understood the Colonies were disposed not many months ago to make the Basis of a Reconciliation with Great Britain” (DLC:GW). Drummond is referring to the Olive Branch Petition of 5 July 1775. His six-point plan, which allowed each colony’s assembly to impose the taxes necessary to pay its allotted share of the empire’s expenses, was the same one that he had tried without success to persuade the Americans to accept the previous winter (see “Sketch of Propositions communicated to Lord Howe on the 12th August, 1776,” DLC:GW, and Thomas Lynch to GW, 16 Jan. 1776, and note 3). Lord Howe expressed vague approval of Drummond’s propositions in his reply to him of 15 August. “As I think they contain matter that upon a conference and cool Discussion might be wrought into a plan of permane[n]t Union,” Howe wrote, “I shall with great Satisfaction embrace the first opportunity that may be offered upon those grounds, to promote so desirable an Event” (DLC:GW). Drummond’s renewed peace initiative was short-lived. See GW to Drummond, this date, GW to Hancock, 18, 26 Aug., Drummond to GW, 19 Aug., and Hancock to GW, 24 August.

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