George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Robert Morris, 31 January 1777

From Robert Morris

Philada Jany 31st 1777


I have been honoured with several of Your favours lately but as they did not require an immediate acknowledgement and I have been much pressed with business it did not appear necessary to interrupt You or myself. We are told here the Troops have left Rhode Island & burnt Newport how true this [is] I do not know, but it is Certain they had embarked part of the Troops there before a Mr McCleary lately from thence came away, wherefore I expect it will soon be known where they are to reinforce.1

I wrote to Congress respecting the removal of the Stores from hence they are averse to it unless absolutely necessary but as the Acct we then gave of Genl Putnams Force at Prince Town was too Sanguine I will mention it again and be governed by their orders for I confess I think such removal at this time woud have a bad effect & retard many usefull operations.2

I take the Liberty to enclose you the Copy of a letter from Hugh Wallace Esqr. of New York to Mr Nesbitt here and hope it may be in your Excellencys power to Save his property for altho he has the Misfortune to differ from us in Politics yet if he does not take an active part I conceive it is not right to Confiscate his property, I don’t know any such instance hitherto.3 Here are Capt. Jones & several other people in this City that want to go into New York. I wish they was there for they poison our peoples minds daily, I think it best to send Jones in on parole because Capt. Hamond sent up Capt. Hallock of the Lexington on those terms & if Your Excellency thinks proper I will propose an exchange between those two, the other persons we don’t hold as prisoners being taken in Merchantmen but I woud put them all under parole & send them by Crosswix to South Amboy & let them Cross from thence, I think it can do no harm, & they do much mischief here, amongst the Number is also Mr Palmer Commissary of Provisions &c. under Mr Chamier who will get in Exchange a Capt. Deane asked for by the Councill of Safety or any other You please to Name, or return back.4 I have a Ship arrived in our Bay with 10000 bushls of Salt but unfortunately she is run aground I am sending down assistance & hope to Save her. By her I got King George’s Speech & you Will find a Copy enclosed,5 I have no doubt of a Rupture in Europe this next Summer & his Majesty seems to entertain some doubts about it. With the Warmest Wishes for Your Success I am sir Your Obedt Servt

Robt Morris

P.S. I laid your letter respecting the Arms &c. delivd to associators before the Council of Safety & your plan must be adopted.6

You will please to receive herewith Mr Commissary Towers’s returns of Arms & Ammunition & we will Continue to furnish you with them.7

ALS, DLC:GW; LB, DNA:PCC, item 133.

1For British troop movements around Newport, R.I., and the erroneous report of the town’s burning, see William Heath’s first letter to GW of 30 Jan., and Joseph Spencer to GW, 30 Jan. 1777.

2Morris is referring to a letter of 22 Jan. that the Continental Congress executive committee wrote to Hancock after receiving GW’s letter to Morris of 19 Jan. 1777. The committee’s letter contains a report that estimates Major General Putnam’s forces at Princeton to be “not less than 6000 Men.” “As there certainly are or will be 10,000 Men in arms between us & the Enemy,” the committee writes, “we are very unwilling to incur the expence, waste & loss that will arise by a removal of the Stores, at the same time our situation becomes very disagreable if we leave them here & an accident happens after the General has recommended that measure” (DNA:PCC, item 137; see also Smith, Letters of Delegates description begins Paul H. Smith et al., eds. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774–1789. 26 vols. Washington, D.C., 1976–2000. description ends , 6:130–31). The committee requested Congress to take the responsibility for not moving the stores, and on 28 Jan. Congress resolved to retain the stores in Philadelphia (see 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 , 7:66; see also the Continental Congress Executive Committee to Hancock, 1 Feb. 1777, in Smith, Letters of Delegates description begins Paul H. Smith et al., eds. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774–1789. 26 vols. Washington, D.C., 1976–2000. description ends , 6:188–89).

3Hugh Wallace’s letter to John Maxwell Nesbitt has not been identified. John Maxwell Nesbitt (c.1728–1802), an Irish immigrant who settled in Philadelphia and became prominent in the city’s mercantile and financial affairs, served as a Continental agent during the Revolutionary War. “He is a Man of honor & Fortune and may be depended on,” writes Morris, who together with Nesbitt and others financed the outfitting of several privateers (Morris to Silas Deane, 31 Jan. 1777, ibid., 176–79). Nesbitt served as director of the Bank of North America from 1781 to 1792 and as the first president of the Insurance Company of North America from 1792 to 1796. He visited GW at Mount Vernon in September 1788 (see Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 5:398).

4Daniel Chamier (c.1720–1778), acting surveyor and searcher for the port of Boston from 1768 to 1774, had emigrated from London to Maryland in 1753. Appointed commissary of stores and provisions in North America on 7 Feb. 1774, Chamier fled from Boston to St. Augustine in the summer of 1775 only to return the following fall. Chamier openly encouraged the Americans to remain loyal to the British crown. In a letter to the Maryland council of safety of 30 Jan. 1777, James Calhoun writes that Capt. Charles Ridgely, a delegate to the assembly, “has a letter from Daniel Chamier at New York ‘recommending this as a proper time for the Moderate Men to Step forth & make their Peace with Lord Howe”’ (Calendar of Maryland State Papers, No. 5, Executive Miscellanea [Annapolis, 1958], 76). At the time of his death Chamier was auditor and comptroller of accounts. In 1780 GW recalled Chamier’s generosity to American prisoners when considering a request from Chamier’s wife for permission to have her furniture conveyed behind British lines at New York (see GW to Thomas Sim Lee, 10 Mar. 1780, in DLC:GW). John Dean of Queen Annes County, Md., who served as a captain in the Maryland flying camp from June to December 1776, had been captured at the Battle of Fort Washington in November 1776. On 10 Dec. 1776 Dean was named a captain in the 5th Maryland Regiment, in which he served until March 1779 when he became major of the 4th Maryland Regiment. Dean transferred to the 2d Maryland Regiment on 1 Jan. 1781 and served to the close of the war.

5For George III’s address to the British Parliament of 31 Oct. 1776, see Force, American Archives description begins Peter Force, ed. American Archives. 9 vols. Washington, D.C., 1837–53. description ends , 5th ser., 3:961–62. The copy enclosed in this letter has not been identified.

7The letter-book copy does not contain this paragraph of the postscript. The returns of Robert Towers, commissary for the Pennsylvania committee of safety since November 1775, have not been identified.

Index Entries