George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Samuel Holden Parsons, October 1780

October 1780

Dear General

About the 27th of August last a neighbour of mine shewed me a Letter which he received from a friend of his in New York, informing him that he had received the money on a Debt due to my Informant from a person lately dead; and that if he could procure a flag and come to New York he would pay it to him. He requested my assistance in procuring a flag for the purpose, I accordingly wrote to General Arnold in his behalf; informing him that I knew the person in question to be friendly to the Country and of such a character that he would faithfully perform whatever engagement he made. General Arnold after detaining him until the 30th of August, without giving him any reasons for his detention, granted him a flag and then brought from his private room the letter addressed to John Anderson which has since been delivered to your Excellency. He informd the bearer that it was a letter from a friend of his which he had inspected, at the same time pointing that it had been sealed with a wafer which he had broken and afterwards sealed with wax. This he desired the bearer to be careful of and deliver with his own hand if he went into New York or to the Commanding Officer of the outpost if he did not. The person to whom it was committed went into New York and effected his business; but the extraordinary precaution which Arnold had used respecting the matter excited his curiosity to examine the manner in which it was sealed, and finding the wafer had not been broken as Arnold had told him, he suspected it might contain something illicit, and upon consulting some of his friends there, concluded to bring it back again; and on the 10th of September brought it and delivered it to me. It should have been forwarded earlier to your Excellency but as I supposed it to refer merely to commerce chose rather to make it a subject of private conversation than of letter; on my arrival your Excellency was just leaving camp, so that it was left to the [illegible] of the horrid event to detect his unsuspec[ted] instrument. I am yr Excellency’s Obedt Servt

Sam. H. Parsons

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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