George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Henry Knox, 16 November 1791

From Henry Knox

War Department [Philadelphia], 16th November 1791.


I have the honor to submit the draft of a Letter to the Governor of Virginia, which seems necessary to be transmitted, from the information of Mr Moore—as some surprize has been excited in the representatives of Wythe, Montgomery and Washington of the Assembly of Virginia, that they had not the same protection as was permitted for Russell—Montgomery it appears is part of Russell or Wythe, erected into a new County the last session.1

The doubt must have arisen by not adverting to former letters, which were pretty explicit on the occasion.2

If it should be your pleasure that the Letter should be transmitted, it shall be done immediately.3 With the highest respect I have the honor to be sir Your most obedt hum. servt

H. Knox
Secy of War


For previous correspondence concerning the efforts of the administration to provide for the protection of the Virginia and Kentucky frontier against Indian depredations, see Beverley Randolph to GW, 29 Nov., 10 Dec. 1790, 4 Jan. 1791, n.1, GW to Randolph, 14 April 1791, and Henry Knox to GW, 5, 15 Jan. 1791.

1Andrew Moore represented the third district of Virginia (consisting of Augusta, Botetourt, Greenbrier, Montgomery, Pendleton, Rockbridge, Rockingham, Russell, and Washington counties) in the First through Fourth, as well as in the Eighth, U.S. Congresses before serving in the U.S. Senate from 1804 to 1809. Wythe County was created from Montgomery, and part of Botetourt was added to Montgomery by legislative act on 1 Dec. 1789 (Hening description begins William Waller Hening, ed. The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619. 13 vols. 1819–23. Reprint. Charlottesville, Va., 1969. description ends , 13:76–78).

2The “former letters” were probably Knox to Randolph, 2 April, 28 Oct. 1791 (see Knox to GW, 28 Oct. [second letter], nn. 2–3).

3Knox’s letter to Randolph of this day reads: “Upon a statement of Mr. Moore, representative of Virginia, in Congress, it appears that some doubts exist, whether the protection authorized by the President of the United States on the 28th ultimo, and transmitted to the Governor of Virginia, should be extended to the exposed parts of the counties of Wythe, Montgomery, and Washington, I am authorized by the President of the United States to assure your Excellency that it is his desire that the defensive protection for the above-mentioned counties should be as effectual as the defence of Russell county; and further to inform your excellency that the expence of any measures which you may think necessary on the occasion proportioned to the object and consisting of the militia, and to be supplied with provisions in the manner as pointed out in my said letter of the 28th of the last month, will be paid by the General Government, on the accounts and vouchers of the services and supplies being produced at this office” (Calendar of Virginia State Papers, description begins William P. Palmer et al., eds. Calendar of Virginia State Papers and Other Manuscripts. 11 vols. Richmond, 1875–93. description ends 5:394–95). Tobias Lear informed Knox this day that the president approved Knox’s letter to Randolph (DLC:GW). Randolph replied to Knox on 24 Nov., transmitting the 17 Nov. act of the executive council providing for the defense of Russell County (ASP, Indian Affairs, description begins Walter Lowrie et al., eds. American State Papers. Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States. 38 vols. Washington, D.C., Gales and Seaton, 1832–61. description ends 1:221), and Knox wrote to his successor, Gov. Henry Lee, on 2 or 5 Dec. that “I am directed, Sir, by the President to inform you, that having confided the defence of the exposed counties of the Southwestern parts of Virginia to the Executive thereof, he feels satisfied that the defence will be proportioned to the object, and that the means to be employed will be such only as he is authorized by the laws to use for defensive protection of the frontiers. In raising therefore the company of militia mentioned in the aforesaid letter . . . the President . . . requests that it may be clearly understood, that he conceives the law passed the 30th of April, 1790, authorizes him to call out mere militia, who shall be entitled to receive the same pay and subsistence only as the troops of the United States, which are specified in the said law. To this may be added such means of transportation as shall be indispensible, but he cannot promise either bounties, clothing, or any other compensation than the pay and subsistence before mentioned” (ibid.; Calendar of Virginia State Papers, description begins William P. Palmer et al., eds. Calendar of Virginia State Papers and Other Manuscripts. 11 vols. Richmond, 1875–93. description ends 5:405).

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