George Washington Papers
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From George Washington to John Hancock, 15 July 1776

To John Hancock

New York July the 15. 1776

Sir

This will be handed you by Mr Griffin who has also taken upon him the charge and delivery of Two packets containing sundry Letters which were sent to Amboy Yesterday by a Flag, and forwarded to me to day by Genl Mercer. The Letter addressed to Governor Franklin came open to my hands.1

I was this morning honoured with yours of the 13 Instant with Its important and necessary Inclosures, and in obedience to the commands of Congress have transmitted Genl Howe, the Resolves intended for him—those for Genl Burgoyne I inclosed and sent to Genl Schuyler with directions immediately to forward to him.2 The Inhuman Treatment to the whole, and murder of part of our people after their surrender & capitulation, was certainly a flagrant violation of that faith which ought to be held sacred by all civilized nations, and founded in the most Savage barbarity. It highly deserved the severest reprobation, and I trust the spirited measures Congress have adopted upon the occasion, will prevent the like in future; But If they should not, and the claims of humanity are disregarded, Justice and policy will require recourse to be had to the Law of retaliation however abhorrent and disagreable to our natures in cases of Torture and Capital punishments. I have the honor to be with great respect Sir Yr Most Obedt Servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DNA:PCC, item 152; LB, DLC:GW; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; copy, DLC: Hancock Papers; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Congress read this letter on 18 July (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 5:574).

1For the arrival at Perth Amboy of these letters from the British warship Eagle, see Hugh Mercer to GW, 14 July, and note 1. A copy of Lord Howe’s letter of 20 June to Gov. William Franklin of New Jersey and a copy of Howe’s declaration of that date offering pardons to repenting American Patriots are in DLC:GW. The packets included nearly identical letters addressed to the other royal governors of the middle and southern colonies as well as a number of private letters from Lord Howe’s friends in England to correspondents in America regarding reconciliation. Samuel Griffin was appointed deputy adjutant general to the flying camp by Congress on 19 July (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 5:592).

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