George Washington Papers

From George Washington to George Clinton, 31 March 1794

To George Clinton


Dear Sir,Philadelphia Mar. 31st 1794.

Your favor of the 20th instt, with its enclosures, came duly to hand; and for which you have my particular thanks.

As there are those who affect to believe that Great Britain has no hostile intention towards this Country, it is not surprizing that there should be found among them characters who pronounce the Speech of Lord Dorchester to the Indians to be spurious. No doubt however remains in my mind of its authenticity: but as it is of importance to be satisfied (as far as the nature of the thing will admit) of the fact, I would thank you for such information as you are enabled to give, respecting this matter.1

How far the disappointments, experienced by the combined powers in Europe, may have wrought a change in the political conduct of G. Britain towards this Country, I shall not take upon me to decide. That it has worn a very hostile appearance latterly, if it has not been so uniformly, no one, I conceive, will be hardy enough to deny: and that Lord Dorchester has spoken the sentimts of the British cabinet at the period he was instructed I am as ready to believe. But, foiled as that Ministry has been, whether it may not have changed its tone, as it respects us, is problamatical. This, however, ought not to relax such enquiries on our part into the existing state of things, as might enable us, if matters should come to extremity, to act promptly, and with vigour.

Among these enquiries, it appears important to me to know the present state of things in upper and lower Canada—that is the composition of the Inhabitants (especially in upper Canada): how they stand affected to their Government; What part they would be disposed to act if a rupture between this Country & G. Britain should take place, &ca. The proximity of our settlements from the Northwestern to the North Eastern parts of the State of New York with the Lake Ontario & River St Lawrence; the strength thereof; and of their neighbours on the other side of the line—Regulars & Militia—especially about Niagara—and Oswego.

As you have, I am certain, a pretty accurate knowledge of many of these matters yourself; and have the means from your acquaintance with characters (on whose adroitness and integrity you can rely) bordering on the British settlements, to obtain information from others, you would oblige me very much by such communications as relate to the above, or any other points that you may conceive worthy of attention.2 With great esteem & regard I am—Dear Sir Yr Obedt & Affecte Sert

Go: Washington

ALS, NHi: George and Martha Washington Papers; ALS (letterpress copy), DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; LB, DLC:GW.

1For Clinton’s response on the authenticity of Lord Dorchester’s speech to the Indians of 10 Feb., see Clinton to GW, 7 April.

2Clinton promised to make the requested inquiries and provided some information on British military strength in his letter to GW of 7 April.

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