George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Major Apollos Morris, 29 January 1777

To Major Apollos Morris

Morris Town 29 January 1777


I have your favr of the 28th with Copy of a Letter, addressed to Genl Howe, inclosed.1

Your wish, to be the instrument of restoring peace, to a much oppressed and more injured people, is certainly most laudable, but you must very well know that this is not to be effected by the interposition of any person in a private Character, and Lord and General Howe have refused to negotiate with the only great representative Body of this Continent.

If therefore, your letter had gone in to General howe, it must have been, merely as one to satisfy yourself in regard to the powers that were intrusted to the Commissioners; as to myself, I am fully satisfyed that they never exceeded the express words of the Act of Parliament,2 for if they did, they are answerable for the Blood that has been spilled, perhaps in consequence of their not making them known to the only Body that could receive them.

If I had never been made acquainted with the Substance of your letter, I should not have had the least objection to its going in, but as you have submitted it to my inspection, my permitting it to pass, may be construed into an Approbation of its Contents.3

I am therefore under the Necessity of objecting to it, least I should be thought to delegate that power to others, which I do not possess myself. I mean, that of Negotiation, in this great dispute.4

I should not have detained your Express so long, but I was from home when he arrived. I am Sir Yr most obt Servt.

Go: Washington

LS, NNGL; Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; copy (fragment), Connolly Papers, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The draft contains the following postscript, which does not appear on the LS: “I return you the Letter for Genl Howe.” Morris’s reply to this letter of 30 Jan. was drafted on the addressed and docketed cover of the LS.

1Morris’s letter to William Howe has not been identified.

2The beginning of this phrase in the draft initially read: “I have no doubt that they exceeded.”

3Before writing this paragraph Tilghman struck out a paragraph that reads: “I have no Objection to your sending in the letter, as I said before, for your own Satisfaction, but as I myself have not the least Authority to enter into any Negotiation upon this great subject, I have no power to delegate it to another.” The copy, which is in Morris’s writing, ends in the middle of this paragraph.

4Before writing this paragraph Tilghman struck out a sentence that reads: “But as I am certain it can be attended with no good Effects in its present form I must object to it for the Reason just before given.”

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