George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Hancock, 27 May 1777

From John Hancock

Philada May 27th 1777.


I have the Honour of transmitting at this Time sundry Resolves, to which I beg Leave to refer your Attention.1

From them you will learn, that Congress have ascertained the Limits of the Northern Department, and that they have ordered Genl Schuyler to take the Command therein.2

The Regulations respecting Chaplains in the Army are highly necessary. By encreasing their Pay, and enlarging the Bounds of their Duty, the Congress are in Hopes of engaging Gentlemen of superior Learning & Virtue to fill those Stations.3

Your several Favours to the 24th Inst: have been duely received and laid before Congress. I have the Honour to be, with perfect Esteem & Respect, Sir, your most obed. & very hble Servt

John Hancock Presidt

LS, DLC:GW; LB, DNA:PCC, item 12A.

1Hancock enclosed copies of Congress’s resolutions of 14–15, 21–22, and 26–27 May, which, in addition to the matters mentioned in the text of this letter, concern clothing for Virginia troops who had been in Continental service the past winter, the regimenting of Capt. Bartholomew Burke’s independent company, the referring to GW of a petition from James Norris, Fleury’s assignment as a captain of engineers, La Balme’s appointment as a lieutenant colonel of horse, a recommendation that Coppin de La Garde be a subaltern in General Sullivan’s division, permission for GW to appoint a previously commissioned general to command the light horse, the commander in chief’s power to pardon and mitigate punishments, a proposal to raise one or more light-horse troops in the vicinity of Albany, and the brevetting of Ebenezer Stevens as a major of artillery (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 , 7:353, 362, 364, 8:380, 385–86, 390–91).

2The copies of these resolutions of 22 May are in DLC:GW (see also ibid., 375).

3The copies of these resolutions of 27 May are in DLC:GW (see also ibid., 390–91). Pennsylvania delegate Daniel Roberdeau, in a letter to GW that is dated 26 May but evidently was written on this date, says: “Congress has this day made a new arrangemt of the Chaplain’s department, by reducing that part of the Staff to one for each Brigade to be recommended by the Brigadiers and appointed by Congress, with the pay rations and Forrage allowed to Colonels. This new and honorable Establishment is designed to suppress the horrid Sins of Cursing swearing and other Vices with which, I am sorry to say, our Army Vies with the most abandoned of the English Troops; to strengthen the Officers hands by publick and private exortations to obedience of General and Regimental Orders; to discourage Disertions by recommending the Service; to encourage Enlistsments; to recommend cleenlyness as a virtue conducive to health, and to reprehend the neglect of it. . . . With submission I think an early recommendation to Congress will be best in every view, particularly to prevent the application of such as would marr in[s]tead of promoting the Service, and as I know you may have what influence you please with the Genl Officers in this measure, for these Reasons permit me to mention at the foot of this some Gentlemen who would be of great Service in our Army, as probably you are not as well acquainted with that order of Gentlemen, zealously attached to our Cause, as I am.” Although the twelve clergymen on Roberdeau’s list represent various states and denominations, six of them were Presbyterian as was Roberdeau, but only one was from Pennsylvania. The list includes GW’s friend William Gordon of Jamaica Plains, Mass. (DLC:GW; 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 , 7:129–31).

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