George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Thomas Sim Lee, 4 May 1780

Head Qrs Morris Town May 4th 1780


On the 2d Instant I received the Honor of Your Excellency’s Letter of the 8th Ulto and also one from the Board of War on the same subject. The information the Council had received, of particular States having made exchanges of prisoners taken by them for Officers belonging to their line, was well founded. It has been done in several instances, though without any interference in the business on my part—and therefore I could not but direct the Commissary of prisoners on Your Excellency’s application and the Board of War’s opinion that it was also warranted by a late Act of Congress respecting prisoners in the like predicament, to propose to the Enemy the Exchange of Lt Colo. Ramsay for Lt Colo. Conolly. For my own part I have wished to see the Exchanges of prisoners conducted on the broadest & most general footing—in the order of their captivity—as being the most equitable mode, and that all taken from the Enemy whether by the United or Individual States, should be considered as One—common stock, for the common relief of Ours according to this Rule. This has been the case with respect to the prisoners made by the Army in every instance of exchanges under my direction; but the System having not entirely prevailed—Maryland has certainly the same right to benefit her Officers by those of her own capture, that other States had. And the indulgence has not been exercised in any instance in favor of a more deserving Officer than Colo. Ramsay. He set out for New York yesterday and would carry with him the proposition for his release. I have the Honor to be with great respect & esteem Yr Excellency’s Most Obedt Servant

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MdAA: Brown Book, Vol. I.

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