George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Hancock, 8 September 1776

From John Hancock

Philada Sepr 8th 1776. Sunday 6 OClock P.M.


I am this Minute honored with your Favour of the 6th Inst.; and am to acknowledge the Receipt of your several Favours to that Date.

The Congress, concurring with the Proposal of exchanging Generals Prescot & McDonald for Genls Sullivan & Stirling, have authorized the Board of War to send the two former to you for that Purpose, as soon as possible.1

In Consequence of the Message which Genl Sullivan delivered to Congress from Lord Howe, respecting a Conference with some of their Members, they have, after great Debate, been Induced to pass the first Resolution of the 5th of Sepr; and have since appointed three Gentlemen on that Business, as you will observe by a subsequent Resolution, to which, without any Comment, I beg Leave to refer you. But in Order to prevent similar Messages for the future, they have passed a Resolve directing the Mode in which all Applications shall hereafter be made, either to Congress, or the Commander in Chief of the Army, and to which only any Attention is to be paid. I beg Leave to refer you to the Resolve itself, as the future Rule of your Conduct with Respect to every such verbal Application, until it shall be altered, or you shall hear further from Congress on the Subject.2

The List of Officers, who are Prisoners with the Enemy, which you mention as enclosed in your Favour of the 6th, it is probable, was thro Hurry omitted, as it has not come to Hand.3

Before this reaches you, a Supply of Money will doubtless be arrived, it being now two Days since it was sent. Henceforth you will be more regularly supplied with that Article.

The Congress have ordered a large Stock of Cloth here to be immediately made up into Tents, and to be forwarded to you with all possible Dispatch. They have likewise ordered some Duck in the Eastern States be made into Tents & sent you.4

Tomorrow Morning I will lay your Letter before Congress and acquaint you immediately of the Result. Genl Sullivan went from here two Days ago. The Committee to wait on Lord Howe will set out tomorrow Morning for New-York.

The interesting State of our Affairs, and the Anxiety of Congress to hear from you as often as possible, will naturally suggest to you the Propriety of giving them all the Information in your Power, as often as your important Concerns will admit of it.

My most ardent and incessant Wishes attend you, that you may still rise superior to every Difficulty, and that your great & virtuous Ex[e]rtions on Behalf of your Country, may be crowned with that Success, which from the Supreme Being’s Love of Justice, and the Righteousness of our Cause, in Conjunction with our own Endeavours, it is not irrational to expect.

I am to request you will direct Major Hausackre to repair to this City as soon as possible to take the Command of the German Battalion, of which he is appointed Colonel, being extremely wanted.5 I have the the Honour to be with every Sentiment of Respect & Esteem Sir your most obed. & very hble Sert

John Hancock Presidt

LS, DLC:GW; LB, DNA:PCC, item 12A. The LB omits the last paragraph.

1Hancock enclosed a copy of Congress’s resolution of 4 Sept. approving this exchange (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 , 5:735), but he did not include the resolution of 5 Sept. ordering the Board of War to send Richard Prescott and Donald McDonald under escort to GW (see ibid., 736).

2For a discussion of the background of these resolutions, see GW to Hancock, 31 Aug., n.5. The first enclosed resolution of 5 Sept. requests Sullivan to inform Lord Howe that “this Congress being the Representatives of the free and independant States of America, cannot, with Propriety, send any of its Members to confer with his Lordship in their private Characters; but, that ever desirous of establishing Peace on reasonable Terms, they will send a Committee of their Body to know whether he has any Authority to treat with Persons authorized by Congress for that Purpose, in Behalf of America; and what that Authority is, and to hear such Propositions as he shall think fit to make respecting the same.” The second enclosed resolution of 5 Sept. directs Hancock to inform GW that “no Proposals for making Peace between Great Britain and the United States of America, ought to be received or attended to, unless the same be made in Writing, and addressed to the Representatives of the said States in Congress, or Persons authorized by them; And if Application be made to him by any of the Commanders of the British Forces on that Subject, that he inform them, that these United States, who entered into the War only for the Defence of their Lives and Liberties, will cheerfully agree to Peace on reasonable Terms, whenever such shall be proposed to them in Manner aforesaid.” Congress appointed Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Edward Rutledge to the conference committee on 6 Sept. (DLC:GW; see also ibid., 737–38). On 7 Sept. Congress resolved to send copies of these resolutions to GW (see ibid., 743).

3This list, which has not been identified, was enclosed in GW’s letter to Hancock of 11 September.

4Congress on 30 Aug. resolved that “the duck, in the hands of Mr. Green, at Rhode Island, be made up into tents, and forwarded, with all possible expedition” to GW. On that date Congress also ordered James Mease, commissary of Pennsylvania troops, to purchase all the linen in Philadelphia and have it made into tents as soon as possible (see ibid., 718–19). When Mease reported on 4 Sept. that the only suitable cloth he could find in the city was a parcel of light sailcloth in the hands of the marine committee, Congress ordered that committee to deliver it to him and directed the secret committee to request the Continental agents in the eastern states to purchase duck and “other cloth fit for tents” (ibid., 735).

5Nicholas Haussegger (d. 1786), who emigrated to America from Hanover, Germany, about 1744, served as an officer in the French and Indian War before moving to Lebanon, Pa., in 1764. On 4 Jan. 1776 he was commissioned a major in the 4th Pennsylvania Regiment, and on 17 July Congress named him colonel of the German Regiment, which he commanded until he retired in the summer of 1778 (see ibid., 571, 734–35). Hancock also enclosed with this letter copies of Congress’s resolutions of 6 Sept. appointing John Paul Shott a captain in the Continental army and 7 Sept. filling vacancies in the 2d Pennsylvania Regiment that resulted from Arthur St. Clair’s recent promotion to brigadier general (DLC:GW; see also ibid., 740, 746).

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