Head Quarters New Windsor Febry 1. 1781
I have received your favor of the 16th of January, announcing your promotion, and soliciting my influence in obtaining your exchange.
I desire you to be persuaded, that I rejoice in your prosperity, & wish you an increase of well-merited honors & felicities—but at the same time, I cannot conceive that the private concerns of any individual should be preferred to the public good—or that general Rules established for the benefit of all those unfortunate men, whom the fortune of War has placed in the power of the Enemy, should be dispensed with, on ordinary occasions.
Priority of Capture has been an invariable principle, in making those exchanges which have been negotiated under my immediate direction—And I see no reason for departing from so equitable a rule—the inconveniences I foresee would be innumerable. the danger of partiallity would alone be a sufficient objection.
Besides this, from the number of Letters I have received from you, since your Captivity, you must be sensible, Sir, that were a door opened for all our Officers, who are Prisoners to expect partial exchanges would be made for them, my whole time and attention must be devoted to their applications.
In fine, Sir, I cannot interefere in this Matter, without violating an express Resolution of Congress—counteracting my own sentiment, introducing a New System, & doing the Most palpable injustice. I am &c.
DLC: Papers of George Washington.