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To George Washington from Gouverneur Morris, 14 March 1779

From Gouverneur Morris

Phila: 14th March 1779.

Dr General—

You will excuse in me the Liberty I have taken in requesting Colo. Morgan to call on you. That Gentleman can give you much and important Information relative to the State of our Western Frontiers. From the first View of the Commander in that Department at York Town he struck me as one of those who excel in the Regularity of Still Life from the Possession of an indolent Uniformity of Soul. The little Eagerness he shewed to go thence when every Thing almost depended on Vivacity gave no good Omen of his Success. I observed in Silence & untill this Moment no one hath known any Reflections I then made and perhaps I am even at this Moment much very much deceived. When I heard of some Proceedings in the Department I ventured to say aloud that no Good would follow from the Exertions of the Army under his Command. Unfortunately I have not been mistaken. I have Reason to beleive that his Recall hath become necessary from a Variety of Causes—For a Successor I think you will be puzzled.1 Good Sense Genius Activity and a Habit of Business These are Qualities which appear to me better adapted to this Office than all the military Science in all the military Books put together. Excuse one more observation. It is that the Reason why a good Partizan Officer is so rare a Thing among regular Soldiers may be deduced from this that in order to become such a Man must unlearn all that he has learnt or the greater Part of it which few have good Sense enough to do. One good Mohawk would on such Occasion do more with one hundred Men than Prince Ferdinand with a thousand or Braddock with ten thousand. I must here again beg your Pardon for intermeddling with Things out of my Line and beyond my Reach. But you will I am sure excuse me for thinking loud to you upon a Subject which presses itself upon my Sensibilities, especially when I assure you what I beleive you well know that such Liberties with you arise from personal Confidence & Esteem—I beleive it is unnecessary for me to say that Colo. Morgan is a Man of Honor and Truth as he is of your Acquaintance but as you may not know him so well as to know how much he may be relied on permit me to assure you that I have the highest Reason to beleive that you cannot derive Information from a more certain Source or thro a surer Channell Adieu. My Respects to Mrs Washington who I am told has no Great Opinion of me as a Christian Priest and yet I am sure we are of the same Religion expressed in the one Word Benevolence.2 yours

Gouvr Morris

ALS, DLC:GW. Morris addressed the cover to “Genl Washington By Colo. Morgan.”

1Morris is referring to Brig. Gen. Lachlan McIntosh, western department commander with headquarters at Fort Pitt, then being replaced by Col. Daniel Brodhead, and an officer who had clashed with Morris’s friend Col. George Morgan (see McIntosh to GW, 12 March, and n.3, and GW to Morris, 20 March; see also GW to McIntosh and to Brodhead, both 5 March).

2Morris may be alluding to an essay—”To the Quakers, Bethlemites, Moderate men, Refugees and other the Tories whatsoever, and wheresoever, dispersed. Peace.”—that is attributed to him and was published in the Pennsylvania Packet or the General Advertiser (Philadelphia), 27 Feb. 1779 (see also Smith, Letters of Delegates description begins Paul H. Smith et al., eds. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774–1789. 26 vols. Washington, D.C., 1976–2000. description ends , 12:114–20). Begun with extensive religious rhetoric, this essay exhorted Americans to continue their struggle for independence.

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