George Washington Papers

From George Washington to William Livingston, 9 March 1777

To William Livingston

[Morristown, 9 March 1777]


The Council of Safety of Pennsylvania has done me the honour to communicate to [me a] piece of Intelligence of Importance, which they received from Colo. Gurney: A Copy of which is inclosed.1 I wish it may rouse the Gentlemen of your Assembly to prepare for the worst Event—In my Opinion the present Time is of infinitely greater Worth than is generally supposed.2

Vain and useless will all our Civil Institutions, however wise, prove, unless the State of Independence, in which alone they can operate, is secured. And as this must necessarily depend on the success of our Arms, Military preparations should possess an eminent degree of our Deliberations and Care.

Altho’ the Enemy may not move as Colo. Gurney thinks, Yet common prudence must dictate the necessity of making an instant Attempt to deprive them of such Articles, lying in the Country thro’ which they may march, as can be of Use to them. For which purpose, I have directed Genl Putnam to afford all the Aid in his power to any measures which your Assembly may think will be productive of the End designed.3 I have the honor to be with great Respect Yr most Obedient Servant

Go: Washington

LS, in George Johnston’s writing, MHi: Livingston Papers; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The copyist inadvertently omitted the dateline and the text in square brackets when copying the LS from the draft, and both the draft and Varick transcript contain the date 9 Mar. 1777.

1For the Pennsylvania council of safety’s letter of 5 Mar. 1777 and its enclosure, neither of which have been found, see GW to the Pennsylvania Council of Safety, 7 Mar. 1777.

2On the draft the words “more Importance” are marked through and the words “greater Worth” inserted above them.

3No written instructions from GW to Putnam about this matter have been identified.

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