George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Henry Knox, 2 April 1794

From Henry Knox

War Department, April 2d 1794.


I submit to, you the draft of instructions prepared for Mr L’Enfant—Similar instructions were yesterday transmitted, by the post, to Mr Vincent at Brunswick, and I presume he will be to day, or to morrow morning, in New York—I also submit, the copy of a letter to Governor Clinton, by Mr Vincent.1

Under therefore the circumstances of the case, I respectfully submit to your consideration, whether it may not be proper for Mr L’Enfant to go forward, and make his plan, and let the person whose plan should be adopted, execute the works—If Mr L’Enfants plan should be adopted, I presume he might, without injury, be suffered to repair here, for a day or two, once or twice in the course of a month.2 I have the honor to be Sir, most respectfully, Your obedient Servt

H. Knox.


1In order to implement “An Act to provide for the Defence of certain Ports and Harbors in the United States,” 20 March 1794 (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), the United States employed Pierre L’Enfant as a temporary engineer for the fortifications at Philadelphia and at Wilmington, Delaware. Charles Vincent, residing in New Brunswick, N.J., became the temporary engineer responsible for fortifying the harbor and city of New York. For the instructions sent by Knox, see his letters to Vincent of 1 April and to L’Enfant of 3 April, ASP, Military 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 , 1:72–73, 82. Knox’s letter to George Clinton has not been identified.

2Knox’s instructions to L’Enfant stated that he was “to proceed in the execution of this business, under the general directions of the Governors respectively of the States of Pennsylvania [Thomas Mifflin] and Delaware [Joshua Clayton]. . . . The choice of the ground on which the batteries and works are to be erected, together with all the combinations and effects dependent thereon, will rest upon your judgment under the directions of the Governors.” For the assignment of the general oversight of this construction to the state governors, see Knox to GW, 19 March (first letter), and n.3.

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