George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Board of War, 25 October 1780

Hd Qrs October 25. 1780


I am honored with your letter of the 18th. The enemy seem to be practicing the arts of corruption so extensively that I think we cannot be too much upon our guard against its effects nor ought we to neglect any clues that may lead to discoveries; but on the other hand we ought to be equally circumspect in admitting suspicions or proceeding upon them, without sufficient evidence. It will be the policy of the enemy to distract us as much as possible by sowing jealousies, and if we swallow the bait, no characters will be safe, there will be nothing but mutual distrust. In the present case, from every thing I have heard of your informant, I should suspect him of the worst intentions—and notwithstanding what we are told about the motives which obliged him to leave the enemy, I still think it probable he came out as a spy and that the assigned causes are either altogether fictitious, or being real were made the inducement with him for undertaking the errand to avoid punishment, as well as obtain a reward—The kind of information he is willing to give may be received; but in my opinion, it would be a very improper foundation for an inquiry, unless the circumstances of it have much more weight than the character of the Witness. I have the honor to be with perfect respect Gentlemen Your Most obdt

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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