George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Henry Knox, 5 December 1794

From Henry Knox

Dec: 5. 1794.


I have the honor to submit to your view a draft of a letter to the Governors of Virginia, Maryland Pennsylvania, and New Jersey1—Perhaps as Brigadier General Samuel Smith was at the head of the militia of a State the same ought to be transmitted him excepting as to the thanks. Most respectfully, Your obedt Servt

H. Knox
secy of war


1On this date Knox wrote to Virginia governor Robert Brooke: “The President of the United States has instructed me to transmit to your Excellency, the enclosed resolve containing the unanimous thanks of the House of Representatives to the militia in actual service for the suppression of the late insurrection, with a request that you will please to make the same known to the militia of Virginia.

“The President having personally been a witness to the military merits of the embodied militia, experiences the highest gratification in communicating this honorable approbation, the most precious recompence that could be offered to enlightened Freemen. It is his devout hope that Militia of the United States may ever be found to be the faithful & invincible protectors & Vindicators of the great principles of Law and Liberty.

“The Citizens of America fixing in their minds as an indelible truth, that obedience to the Laws, and the defence of their Country are sacred & indispensable duties, will render its Freedom and Happiness perpetual” (Vi: Executive Papers of Governor Robert Brooke, 1794–1796 [Accession 40723]; see also 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 , 7:392).

Knox wrote essentially the same letter to Maryland governor John Hoskins Stone (Maryland Herald & Eastern Shore Intelligencer [Easton], 16 Dec.), but he added a paragraph to his letter to Pennsylvania governor Thomas Mifflin: “The President embraces cordially the present occasion, to tender your Excellency his sincere thanks for your zealous and powerful co-operation in the suppression of the late insurrection; as well for your exertions in calling out the Militia, as for your services in the field” (PHi: Papers of William Irvine).

For the congressional resolution of 4 Dec. thanking “the gallant officers and privates of the militia” who “rallied round the standard of the laws, and in the prompt and severe services which they encountered, bore the most illustrious testimony to the value of the constitution, and the blessings of internal peace and order,” see Journal of the House description begins The Journal of the House of Representatives: George Washington Administration 1789–1797. Edited by Martin P. Claussen. 9 vols. Wilmington, Del., 1977. description ends , 7:67.

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