George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major Apollos Morris, 30 January 1777

From Major Apollos Morris

New Bromley Mills [N.J.] Jany 30th 1777


I wish not to take off your attention from so many better objects, but think it incumbent on me to assure you, that I, when at Morris town, understood, you meand to judge of the propriety of my letter, otherwise I must have chosen to have sent it seal’d.1 To have shewn Genl Howes dispositions in Return to any peace overture could have been no disadvantage. my Intention was that you might or might not be suppos’d (at your own option) to know any thing of it. I came to this country intending to Devote my person & little fortune to the Support of its rights, & of independence if they were refus’d; but I cannot devote my opinions, I asserted in print the same wishes for a Reconciliation & that America did not mean Independence.2 When on my arrival I found no terms short of it would be listen’d to on this side, The only way I had to reconcile my conduct to my assertions was to seek justification from the measures of the otherside, & to convince myself from unquestionable authority that no scheme of dependence consistent with the rights of the Colonys could be agreed to. If as is asserted the Comms: have no powers Gl Hows letter or his silence must have given me the justification I sought, & I was decided never to look back.

I confess the Presumption of an unauthoris’d individual like me meddling with public affairs; & so much expected a rebuke on that head from Genl Howe that I took from him as far as possible every other pretense for refusing an answer.

I have not the vanity to suppose my services worth the sacrifice of any propriety, & my presence in a Camp where I cannot be usefull must be an incumbrance.3 I shall therefore by to morrow Noon, when I hope to be pretty free from my cold set off for Philadelphia, where I shall without meddling with politics remain with Esteem & Respect Sir Yr most obedt & most humble sert

Apollos Morris

I am sorry for having expressed any wish that might seem to engage you in the matter.

ALS, DLC:GW; ADf, NNGL. The draft was composed on the cover of GW’s letter to Morris of 29 January. The cover to Aide-de-camp John Fitzgerald’s reply to this letter of 31 Jan. contains part of a draft of another letter from Morris to GW, his third: “Yesterday I receivd the inclosd letters . . . enjoining me to suppress any thing improper which I think it my duty to leave to your judgment as it was by your indulgence I took the opportunity of sending these letters to which they are answers by a private hand that went with a Flag . . . The Contents will shew you it is impossible for me consistently to take any employment whilst I am under a conviction that almost every thing short of Independence will be granted our side & no question ask’d on the other from any Authority tending to a reconciliation no even an Equitable offer made for Independence . . . At the same time give me leave to Assure you that My attachment to your merits had very near got the better of my consistency as I know I should be happy in serving under you . . . I should add that tho I was bound to act from my professions & from internal Conviction Candour & Truth require I should acknowledge The Ministry have justify’d every Step taken by America. And were the measure of Right & Wrong the same for me as for them, I should be too sensible of the honour of having a Conspicuous Employ in so great a Community” (Connolly Papers, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland).

1Morris is referring to his letter to Gen. William Howe that he sent to GW on 28 Jan. 1777, and which GW returned on the following day (see Morris to GW, 28 Jan., and GW to Morris, 29 January).

2The word “mean” is written over the words “wish for.”

3GW’s aide-de-camp John Fitzgerald wrote to Morris on 31 Jan.: “I saw your favor of yesterday to his Excellency, & am sorry to find you of Opinion that Returning your Letter intend’d for Genl Howe was meant to cast the least Slight or reflection on you, as I can assure you it was not—I now by the Generals Consent Invite you here to Morrow (to dinner) that Matters not easily adjusted at a distance, or indeed fit to be, commit’d to paper may be clear’d up by a personal Interview” (Connolly Papers, Trinity College Library, Dublin, Ireland).

Index Entries