George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas Mifflin, 28 March 1794

From Thomas Mifflin

Phil: 28 Mar. 1794


The Secretary at war, has transmitted to me, by your instructions, a copy of a law relatively to the fortification of the Ports and harbours therein mentioned; and he has, at the same time, communicated your request, that, as Commander in Chief of the Militia of Pena., I would take upon me the general direction of the business, as far as respects the works to be established within this State.1

I undertake the proposed trust with great chearfulness; and you may be assured, Sir, that on this, and on every other occasion, I shall be happy to facilitate the execution of the duties of your arduous station.

Permit me to take the present opportunity of transmitting for your information, a copy of an Act of the Ge[nera]l Ass[embly] of Pena., entitled “An Act[”] &c (define law)2 of an Act for laying out a town at Presqu’ Isle,3 and of the proceedings which have been instituted, for the purpose of carrying those laws into effect.4

I have, likewise, inclosed a statement of the number & condition of the Cannon, belonging to the State of Pena., that are above the calibre of Eighteen pounds, and fit to be appropriated to the Fortification of the Port of Philadelphia.5 I am, with perfect respect, Sir—

Df, PHarH: Executive Correspondence; LB, PHarH: Executive Letter-Books; Copy (extract), DNA: RG 46, Third Congress, 1793–95, Senate Records of Legislative Proceedings, President’s Messages.

1Knox wrote Mifflin on 27 March: “I am instructed to transmit to your Excellency the enclosed Copy of a law relatively to the fortifications of the ports and harbours therein mentioned.

“And as a judicious choice of the places to be fortified and vigorous prosecution of the works may be of great importance to the State of Pennsylvania the President of the United States requests that your Excellency as the Commander in chief of its Militia would please to take upon you the general direction of the business.

“An Engineer will as soon as possible be appointed. He will be directed to prepare and submit plans of the works to your consideration and upon your approving thereof to have them put into a train of immediate execution—some suitable provision will also be soon made to obtain the necessary materials and workmen.

“The number of Men and Cannon designed for the Port of Philadelphia, and also the amount of the expence to be incurred at that place will hereafter be transmitted.

“If the State of Pennsylvania is in possession of any good Cannon of and above the Caliber of eighteen pounds and which could be appropriated for the fortifications within the said State, a return of them is requested, together with the condition of their carriages and apparatus in order that the necessary repairs be provided without delay” (PHarH: Executive Correspondence). For “An Act to provide for the Defence of certain Ports and Harbors in the United States,” 20 March, see Stat description begins Richard Peters, ed. The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, from the Organization of the Government in 1789, to March 3, 1845 . . .. 8 vols. Boston, 1845-67. description ends . 1:345–46.

2The letter-book copy at PHarH contains the full title of this legislation. For the provisions of “An ACT for more effectually securing the trade, peace and safety of the port of Philadelphia, and defending the Western Frontiers of the commonwealth,” 28 Feb., see Acts of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, passed at a session, which was begun and held at the city of Philadelphia on Tuesday, the third day of December, in the year one thousand seven hundred and ninety-three (Philadelphia, 1794), 463–65.

3For the provision of “An ACT for laying out a town at Presqu’-Isle,” 8 April 1793, see Acts of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, passed at a session, which was begun and held at the city of Philadelphia on Tuesday, the fourth day of December, in the year one thousand seven hundred and ninety-two (Philadelphia, 1793), 346–48.

4According to an entry in GW’s executive journal of 31 March, Mifflin also enclosed “Appointmts. in the four defence Companies & the Detachment fo Presqu’ isle,” a letter from Mifflin to the captains of the four companies, and a letter from Mifflin to Ebenezer Denny “Capt. of the Alleghany Co. &c.” (JPP description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends , 294). For these and other documents, dated from 1 to 28 March, concerning the establishment of a town at Presque Isle and the defense of western Pennsylvania, see Pa. Archives description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds. Pennsylvania Archives. 9 ser., 138 vols. Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949. description ends , 2d. ser., 6:673–84.

5According to a report of this date by Alexander J. Dallas, on “the number and condition of the Cannon belonging to Pennsylvania, at Fort Mifflin,” there were nine eighteen-pounders and four twenty-four-pounders, all “well mounted on Garrison Carriages,” and one thirty-two-pounder, “Without Trunnions and not mounted” (PHarH: Executive Letter-Books). For GW’s response to the information contained in this letter, see Bartholomew Dandridge, Jr., to Knox, 30 March.

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