George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Henry Laurens, 4 April 1778

From Henry Laurens

York Town [Pa.] 4th April 1778


Since my last of the 30th Ulto per Barry I had the honour of receiving & presenting to Congress Your Excellency’s favour of the 29th of that Month which having been taken under consideration the Inclosed Act was this day Resolved—for empowring Your Excellency when you shall judge it necessary to call on the States of Maryland Pennsylvania & New Jersey for Five Thousand Militia Men, Armed & accoutred.1 I have the honour to be With great Esteem & Respect Sir, Your Excellency’s Most obedient & Most humble servant

Henry Laurens, President of Congress.

P.S. Evening 9 oClock Monsr de Francy this moment delivered me Your Excellency’s favour of the 1st Inst. which shall be presented to Congress on Monday2—mean time permit me Sir to intimate, that I had backed the Report of Your Excellency’s Letter of the 27th ffebruary with an information to Congress that, one Gentleman of the late Committee on the Ticonderoga Enquiry had retired, & that it was impracticable for me to give that attention which was due to an affair of such importance3—a new Committee was immediately appointed, these Gentlemen some 8 or 10 days ago offered a Report;4 when Mister Duer interposed arguments which induced the House to postpone the Consideration, for two days—I have taken the liberty to name that Gentleman because his declared motives for delay were coupled with assurances of particular considerations respecting General Schuyler—this very Morning I called on Mister Duer & reminded him of his engagements, urging the painful situation in which his friend & the other General Officers remained—he replied “I will soon bring on that business” Your Excellency’s present Letter will prove a further incitement. I have very long felt, for the Gentlemen who are subjects of the Enquiry & although it was with extreme reluctance I obeyed the order of Congress, to be of the original Committee, after having urged such reasons for exemption as appeared to me very forcible—yet I cannot charge my self with delinquincy at any stage in the course of our proceedings. to account for the uncouth & entangled state of this Enquiry, would not be half so difficult as it might be impertinent to the proper line of my correspondence, from this consideration I shall only add, that I trust Your Excellency’s present application will have that weight which is justly due.


ALS, DLC:GW; LB, DNA:PCC, item 13.

1The enclosure reads, “Resolved, That general Washington be impowered, if he shall deem it necessary, to call on the States of Maryland, Pensylvania, & New-Jersey, for 5000 of their militia, in such proportions from the respective States as he shall think proper, to remain in service for such time as general Washington shall recommend: the said militia to be armed & accoutred by the respective States to which they belong; to whom it is earnestly recommended to use every exertion in complying with the general’s request” (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 , 10:309–10).

2The following Monday was 6 April.

3The “late committee,” appointed 27 Aug. 1777, consisted of John Adams, who had left Congress in November 1777; Richard Henry Lee, who did not return from Virginia until May; and Laurens.

4The “new Committee,” appointed on 6 Mar., included William Ellery, James Smith, Eliphalet Dyer, and James Lovell. For its report of 28 Mar., see GW to Laurens, 1 April, n.1.

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