George Washington Papers

Enclosure: Newspaper Publication, 1779

Newspaper Publication

Pennsylvania (Philadelphia)—, 1779.

>Some QUERIES, political and military, humbly offered to the consideration of the Public.

  • I. WHETHER George the First did not, on his accession to the Throne of Great-Britain, by making himself King of a party, instead of the whole nation, sow the seeds not only of the subversion of the liberties of the People, but of the ruin of the whole empire?
  • II. Whether, by proscribing that class of men to which his Ministry were pleased to give the appellation of Tories, he did not, in the end, make them not only real Tories, but even Jacobites?
  • III. Whether the consequence of this distinction, now become real, was not two rebellions—and whether the fruit of those rebellions, although defeated, were not septennial Parliaments, a large standing army, an enormous additional weight and pecuniary influence thrown into the scale of the Crown, which in a few years have born down not only the substance, but almost the form of liberty, all sense of patriotism, the morals of the people, and, in the end, overturned the mighty fabric of the British Empire?
  • IV. Whether the present men in power, in this State, do not tread exactly in the steps of this pernicious Ministry, by proscribing and disfranchising so large a proportion of citizens as those men whom they find it their interest to brand with the denomination of Tories?
  • V. Whether liberty, to be durable, should not be constructed on as broad a basis as possible?—and whether the same causes, in all ages, and in all countries, do not produce the same effects?
  • VI. Whether it is not natural, and even justifiable, for that class of people (let the pretext be ever so plausible) who have been stripped of their rights as men, by the hard hand of power, to wish for and endeavour to bring about, by any means whatever, a revolution in that State, which they cannot but consider as an usurpation and tyranny?
  • VII. Whether a subject of Morocco is not (when we consider human nature) a happier mortal than a disfranchised citizen of Pennsylvania, as the former has the comfort of seeing all about him in the same predicament with himself; the latter, the misery of being a slave in the specious bosom of Liberty—the former drinks the cup, but the latter alone can taste the bitterness of it?
  • VIII. Whether an enlightened member of a French Parliament is not a thousand times more wretched than a Russian cirf or peasant— as to the former, the chains, from his sensibility, must be extremely galling; and on the latter, they fit as easy as the skin of his back?
  • IX. Whether it is salutary or dangerous, consistent with, or abhorrent from, the principles and spirit of Liberty and Republicanism, to inculcate and encourage in the people an idea, that their welfare, safety and glory depend on one man? Whether they really do depend on one man?
  • X. Whether, amongst the late warm, or rather loyal addresses, in this city, to his Excellency General Washington, there was a single mortal, one Gentleman excepted, who could possibly be acquainted with his merits?1
  • XI. Whether this Gentleman excepted, does really think his Excellency a great man, or whether evidences could not be produced of his sentiments being quite the reverse?2
  • XII. Whether the armies under Gates and Arnold, and the detachment under Stark, to the Northward, or that immediately under his Excellency, in Pennsylvania, gave the decisive turn to the fortune of war?3
  • XIII. Whether, therefore, when Mons. Gerard, and Don Juan de Miralles, sent over to their respective Courts the pictures of his Excellency General Washington at full length, by Mr. Peale,4 there would have been any impropriety in sending over, at the same time, at least a couple of little heads of Gates and Arnold, by M. de Simitierre.5
  • XIV. On what principle was it, that Congress, in the year 1776, sent for General Lee quite from Georgia, with injuctions to join the army under General Washington, then in York-Island, without loss of time?6
  • XV. Whether Congress had reason to be satisfied or dissatisfied with this their recall of General Lee, from what subsequently happened on York-Island, and at the White-Plains?7
  • XVI. Whether Fort-Washington was or was not tenable? Whether there were barracks, casemates, fuel, or water, within the body of the place? Whether, in the outworks, the defences were in any decent order? And whether there were even platforms for the guns?
  • XVII. Whether, if it had been tenable, it cou’d have answered any one single purpose? Did it cover, did it protect a valuable country? Did it prevent the enemy’s ships from passing or repassing, with impunity.8
  • XVII. Whether, if General Howe manifestly gave over all thoughts of attacking General Washington, in the last strong position in the rear of White-Plains, and fell back towards York-Island, orders should not have been immediately despatched for the evacuation of Fort-Washington, and for the removal of all the stores of value from Fort Lee to some secure spot, more removed from the river?— Whether this was not proposed, and the proposal slighted?
  • XIX. Whether the loss of the garrison of Fort-Washington, and its consequent loss of Fort-Lee, with the tents, stores, &c. had not such an effect on the spirits of the people, as to make the difference of twenty thousand men to America?9
  • XX. Whether, in the defeat of Brandewine, General Sullivan was really the person who ought to have been censured?10
  • XXI. In one of the numerous publications which have lately infested Philadelphia, it was brought as a crime against Mr. Deane, that he had, directly or indirectly, made some overtures to Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick, to accept the command of the American army—who must, of course, have superseded General Washington.—This crime appeared to all the foreign Officers, who are acquainted with the Prince’s reputation as a soldier, in so very ridiculous a light, that they can never think or speak of it without being thrown into violent fits of laughter.11 Whether, if Duke Ferdinand had commanded at German-Town, after having gained, by the valour of his troops, and the negligence of his enemy, a partial victory, he would have contrived, by a single stroke of the Bathos, to have corrupted this partial victory into a defeat?12
  • XXII. Whether our position at Valley-Forge was not such, that if General Howe, or afterwards General Clinton, had been well informed of its circumstances, defects, and vices, they might not, at the head of ten, or even of eight, thousand men, have reduced the American army to the same fatal necessity as the Americans did General Burgoyne?13
  • XXIII. Whether the trials of General St. Clair, of which Court-Martial General Lincoln was President, and that on General Lee, were conducted in the same forms, and on the same principles?—Whether, in the former, all hearsay evidences were not absolutely rejected; and, in the latter, hearsay evidence did not constitute a very considerable part?
  • XXIV. Whether, if the Generals Schuyler and St. Clair had been tried by the same Court-Martial as General Lee was, and, instead of Congress, General Washington had been the prosecutor, those Gentlemen (unexceptionable as their conduct was) would not have stood a very ugly chance of being condemned? And whether, if instead of General Washington, Congress had been the prosecutor, General Lee would not probably have been acquitted with the highest honour?14
  • XXV. Whether it must not appear to every man, who has read General Washington’s letter to Congress, on the affair at Monmouth, and the proceedings of the Court-Martial, by which General Lee was tried, that if the contents of the former are facts, not only General Lee’s Defence must be a tissue of the most abominable audacious lies, but that the whole string of evidences, both on the part of the prosecution and prosecuted, must be guilty of rank perjury, as the testimonies of these Gentlemen, near forty in number, delivered on oath, scarcely in one article coincide with the detail given in his Excellency’s letter?15

The Maryland Journal, and Baltimore Advertiser, 6 July 1779.

This anonymous attack on GW provoked an outcry, and William Goddard, publisher of The Maryland Journal, and Baltimore Advertiser, issued an apology in which he identified Charles Lee as the author of the queries. For discussions of the controversy, which faded away rapidly, see Alden, General Charles Lee, description begins John Richard Alden. General Charles Lee: Traitor or Patriot? Baton Rouge, La., 1951. description ends 279–86, and Miner, William Goddard, description begins Ward L. Miner. William Goddard, Newspaperman. Durham, N.C., 1962. description ends 168–73.

Goddard’s apology, dated Baltimore, 9 July, reads: “A Publication, entitled, ‘Some Queries, political and military, humbly offered to the consideration of the Public,’ having appeared in the Maryland Journal of the 6th inst. derogatory of the French Nation; tending to distract the minds of the people; and in particular aimed at the reputation of the Commander in Chief of the American army—The inhabitants of this town, resenting this publication, and considering it as calculated for invidious and malevolent purposes, called on the Printer for the Author of the Piece which had given the offence; and have directed to be published, in the same paper, his acknowledgment on the occasion, with the annexed letters from General Lee, the author of the aforesaid Queries.

“I, William Goddard, do hereby acknowledge, that by publishing certain ‘Queries political and military,’ in the Maryland Journal of the 6th inst. I have transgressed against truth, justice, and my duty as a good citizen; and, in reparation, I do most humbly beg his Excellency General Washington’s pardon, and hope the good people of this town will excuse my having published therein a piece so replete with the nonsense and malevolence of a disappointed man” (Supplement to the Maryland Journal, and Baltimore Advertiser, 14 July 1779).

The letters from Lee to Goddard, both printed in a Supplement to the Maryland Journal, and Baltimore Advertiser (14 July), are dated 7 and 17 June, the earlier one written at Needwood, and the later one written at Shepherdstown, Maryland. Lee’s letter of 7 June in part reads: “As I am acquainted with your just way of thinking, liberality and impartiality, and as I think the time is now arrived, when the people will bear Truth, I inclose you some Queries, which I believe you have seen before.—If you are of opinion that they will be of use, I could wish you would insert ’em in your Paper, with the following introduction:

Baltimore (the date you may put yourself.)

Mr. Goddard,

“The following Queries, political and military, were some time ago handed about Philadelphia. The import of some of ’em is so curious, that they may, perhaps, afford amusement, if not information to your Readers.”

Lee’s letter of 17 June in part reads: “I have many papers which will be of service to you, and you may be assured, that to you alone they shall be consigned.—I hope you will not think it improper to insert the Queries I inclosed. You have, and ought to have the first reputation for impartiality, as a Printer, on the Continent.”

In a memorial to Maryland governor Thomas Johnson written at Annapolis on 13 July, Goddard retracted his apology, explaining that it had been forced by “an angry Cabal, who fearing they knew not what, immediately formed themselves in Baltimore-Town, for the cruel purpose of wreaking their vengeance on the head of your Memorialist, the innocent, but devoted Printer, who was ridiculously accused, before a deluded Rabble, of printing ‘Nonsense’ for the destruction of General Washington and his country—Folly, Passion, and Prejudice usurping the Empire of Reason and Justice, a Band of Ruffians, composed of Continental Recruits, Mulattoes, or Negroes, Fifers and Drummers, to the number of about thirty, headed by Thomas Cromwell, John Bayley, and Stephen Shermadine [Shelmerdine], Continental Officers, were detached from the Head-Quarters of your Memorialist’s Presecutors, to invade the sanctuary of his dwelling, and seize on his person.” Goddard persuaded his assailants to meet him the next morning, 9 July, but he again found himself in a predicament: “To elude the proposed indignities and outrages against his person, his friends advised him to submit to their arbitrary demands, and even to sign a paper, containing the most ridiculous and absurd Concessions, altogether foreign to the language of his pen and his heart, and for which, he is persuaded, his Excellency General Washington will execrate these self constituted Advocates and Champions. Your Memorialist flattering himself that, in such a situation, no man of honour would censure him for his Condescension, he reluctantly submitted to the detestable Tyranny he was under. By these means your Memorialist happily extricated himself from their power—while he observed, with anguish of soul, two of his less fortunate Neighbours, whose sensibility of heart got the better of their prudence, dragged, (amidst the din of insulting music) in carts thro’ the streets, with halters about their necks, and occasionally cudgelled, for the diversion of the inhuman part of the spectators. One of these hapless men, an Officer in the Militia, having effected his escape, fled to his own house for refuge. His faithful Wife in attempting to secure him, was beaten and abused, with circumstances of barbarity that must have melted the flinty heart of a Savage” (Maryland Journal, and Baltimore Advertiser, 20 July). For GW’s assessment of events in Baltimore, see his letter to Joseph Reed of 29 July.

A petition from Thomas Burling and many others, signed at Baltimore on 14 July, appeared in the Pennsylvania Packet or the General Advertiser (Philadelphia) for 29 July. It reads: “WHEREAS several publications of a very exceptionable nature, (evidently intended to serve the enemies of the United States) have lately appeared in Goddard’s Journal, published in this town, particularly in the weekly papers of the 29th June and 6th instant: the former tending to impeach the justice and humanity of the Governor and Council of Virginia, as well as the national honor of the United States: The latter to misrepresent and impeach the character of our illustrious and beloved Commander in Chief.

“We the subscribers, inhabitants of this town, conceiving it our duty to envince our detestation and abhorrence of the authors and publishers of papers, so plainly intended to injure the cause of our country, do hereby publicly engage and promise no longer to support or encourage a press subservient to the interests of our enemies; and that we will not any longer subscribe for or take the Baltimore Journal, whilst published by its present author or authors.”

Goddard published another declaration, dated 17 July, that reads: “I, William Goddard, having extricated myself from the immediate and absolute power of their High Mightinesses the MOB of Baltimore-Town, by the signature of a paper, containing Concessions as absurd as they are repugnant to the sentiments of my heart and, at this juncture, feeling myself restrained by no other considerations than what are dictated by TRUTH and JUSTICE, do hereby solemnly declare, that ‘By publishing certain “QUERIES, Political and Military,” in the Maryland Journal, of the 6th instant, I have NOT “transgressed against Truth, Justice, or my Duty as a good Citizen;” and, as I have never given just cause or offence to “His Excellency General Washington, or the good people of this town,” I have NO “reparation” to make them, or “pardon” to solicit’—This voluntary Declaration, I flatter myself will fully excuse me, in the opinion of Men of Honour (whose approbation alone I am seeking) for having signed a paper of a contrary tenor, especially when they consider the apparatus of insult and indignity which was set before me by the cowardly tyrants, into whose horrid fangs I was inhumanly betrayed by the infamous Magistracy of this unhappy enslaved Town” (Maryland Journal, and Baltimore Advertiser, 27 July 1779). Goddard continued as a prominent publisher in Baltimore for another decade and subsequently retired to Rhode Island.

1Lee probably is referring to addresses GW received while in Philadelphia from 22 Dec. 1778 to early February 1779 (see GW to Stirling, 21 Dec. 1778, n.1). For two of these addresses, see GW to Reed, 24 Dec. 1778, and n.2 to that document, and GW to the Magistrates of Philadelphia, 25 Dec. 1778, and the source note to that document. The “Gentlemen excepted” was Joseph Reed.

2For Reed’s refutation of Lee’s insinuations, see his letter to GW of 15 July, and n.2 to that document.

3Major generals Horatio Gates and Benedict Arnold compelled the surrender of Lt. Gen. John Burgoyne’s army at Saratoga on 17 Oct. 1777. John Stark led an independent force to victory at the Battle of Bennington on 16 Aug. 1777.

4For Charles Willson’s Peale’s full-length portrait of GW at Princeton, see GW to the Pennsylvania General Assembly, 20 Jan. 1779, and notes 1 and 2 to that document. French minister Conrad-Alexandre Gérard and the unofficial Spanish minister Juan de Miralles both acquired copies of this portrait for their governments (see Miller, Peale Papers, description begins Lillian B. Miller, ed. The Selected Papers of Charles Willson Peale and His Family. 4 vols. New Haven, 1983–96. description ends 1:302–4, 326).

5Pierre Eugène du Simitière (1737–1784) studied drawing in Geneva, Switzerland, his birthplace, and then lived in Amsterdam and the West Indies before arriving in New York City in 1763. He eventually settled in Philadelphia, where he was recognized as an artist and a collector of natural artifacts and historical documents. Despite several attempts to profit from his collections and artistic abilities, Du Simitière died in poverty.

6See 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 5:638, and John Hancock to GW, 8 Aug. 1776; see also President of Congress to Lee, 8 Aug. 1776, in Lee Papers, description begins [Charles Lee]. The Lee Papers. 4 vols. New York, 1872-75. In Collections of the New-York Historical Society, vols. 4–7. description ends 2:205–6.

7For the military actions around Manhattan Island and White Plains, N.Y., during September and October 1776 that resulted in British control of New York City, see GW to Hancock, 18 Sept., and Robert Hanson Harrison to Hancock, 20, 25, 29, and 31 October. Lee did not join GW until 14 Oct. (see Harrison to GW, 14–17 Oct.).

8For the surrender of Fort Washington, N.Y., in November 1776, see GW to Hancock, 16 Nov. 1776; see also Council of War, 16 October. For Lee’s criticisms shortly after the loss, see Lee Papers, description begins [Charles Lee]. The Lee Papers. 4 vols. New York, 1872-75. In Collections of the New-York Historical Society, vols. 4–7. description ends 2:288–89. GW candidly reviewed his decision to defend the fort in a letter to Reed of 22 Aug. 1779 (RPJCB).

9For the evacuation of Fort Lee, N.J., in November 1776, see GW to Hancock, 19–21 Nov. 1776.

10For the Battle of Brandywine, at which Lee was not present, and the disorderly retreat of Maj. Gen. John Sullivan’s division, see the editorial note and associated documents under “The Battle of Brandywine, 11 September 1777,” and GW to Hancock, 13 Sept. 1777, n.2.

11This passage originally appeared in italics following an asterisk at the end of the newspaper item, but it is inserted here because of an asterisk after XXI.

12Lee likely is referring to “Common Sense to the Public, on Mr. Deane’s Affair,” part of an anonymous letter written by Thomas Paine and printed in the Pennsylvania Packet or the General Advertiser (Philadelphia) for 5 Jan. 1779 (the other parts appeared in the issues for 31 Dec. 1778 and 2, 7, and 9 Jan. 1779). The pertinent paragraph reads: “In Speaking of Mr. Deane’s contracts with foreign officers, I Concealed, out of pity to him, a circumstance that must have sufficiently shewn the necessity of recalling him, and, either his great want of judgment, or the danger of trusting him with discretionary power. It is no less than that of his throwing out a proposal, in one of his last foreign letters, for contracting with a German Prince to command the American army. For my own part I was no ways surprised when I read it, though I presume almost every body else will be so when they hear it, and I think when he got to this length, it was time to ‘saddle’ him.” For the letter from Silas Deane, then an American commissioner in Europe, to the secret committee of Congress, written at Paris on 6 Dec. 1776, that suggested “Prince Ferdinand” as commander in chief of the American army, see Wharton, Diplomatic Correspondence, description begins Francis Wharton, ed. The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States. 6 vols. Washington, D.C., 1889. description ends 2:218–19.

Ferdinand (1721–1792), duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, was a Prussian field marshal. He had distinguished himself as a general under Frederick II of Prussia and later commanded the Hanoverian army.

For the Battle of Germantown, Pa., on 4 Oct. 1777, a failed attack on a British camp that still boosted American morale, see General Orders for Attacking Germantown, 3 Oct. 1777, and GW to Hancock, 5 and 7 Oct., and the notes to those documents.

13For the choice of Valley Forge, Pa., for a winter encampment, see General Orders, 20 Dec. 1777, and n.1 to that document; see also GW to Henry Laurens, 22 Dec. 1777.

14For the courts-martial of major generals Philip Schuyler and Arthur St. Clair for the evacuation of Fort Ticonderoga in July 1777, and their eventual acquittal, see the Continental Congress Evacuation Committee to GW, 7 Feb. 1778, and n.2 to that document; General Orders, 30 Sept. 1778, and n.1 to that document; GW to Laurens, 3 Oct. 1778 (second letter), n.8, and 6 Oct. 1778, n.1; and Gouverneur Morris to GW, 26 Oct. 1778, n.7. Lee’s conduct during the Battle of Monmouth on 30 June 1778 prompted his court-martial, which found him guilty of disobedience, misbehavior, and disrespect to GW. Lee’s sentence was suspension from command for twelve months (see General Orders, 1 July 1778, and n.1 to that document; GW to Laurens, 16 Aug. 1778, and n.1 to that document; Lee to GW, 15 Sept. 1778, and n.2 to that document; and 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 12:1195. See also Lee to GW, c.30 June 1778, and GW to Lee, 30 June 1778).

15See GW to Laurens, 1 July 1778, and the source note to that document.

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