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To George Washington from John Hancock, 19 November 1779

From John Hancock

Boston 19th November 1779

Dear & Respected Sir,

When the Letter you did me the Honour to Address to me arriv’d, I was absent from Town, but it was Sent to me, and I immediately order’d the Inclosure to be deliver’d to Monr L’ombe [La Colombe], which he Rec’d, and it went by the French Frigate which Sail’d 15th Inst.1 It will ever give me the greatest Satisfaction to merit your Notice, & whenever I may in any Degree be Serviceable to you or any of your Connections & Friends, I beg you will Command me with the utmost Freedom—Will you be so obliging as to inform Major Gibbs that I have this moment Rec’d his favr & have deliver’d his Inclosures,2 & will Exert my self to carry his wish into Effect.

Give me Leave, Dear Sir, to Introduce to your Notice & Civilities the Bearer Mr Stockton who is just return’d from France & Holland,3 he is sensible & Agreeable, & I Judge exceedingly well Attach’d to the Liberties of this Country, you will Excuse this Liberty, & am Confident your Politeness will Countenance me in it.

May God Almighty shield you in every Danger, & that you may amply enjoy the Fruits of your Exertions here & hereafter, is the Real wish of Your most Obedt Hume ser.

John Hancock

ALS, PHi: Gratz Collection.

1This letter from GW to Hancock has not been found. The unidentified enclosure delivered to Captain La Colombe, aide-de-camp to Major General Lafayette and then to Maj. Gen. Johann Kalb, may have pertained to correspondence with Lafayette (see GW to Lafayette, 20 Oct.). For La Colombe’s return to France, see Kalb to John Adams, 15 Oct., in Papers of John Adams, description begins Robert J. Taylor et al., eds. Papers of John Adams. 17 vols. to date. Cambridge, Mass., and London, 1977–. description ends 8:202–3. Hancock witnessed preparations for the departure of the French frigate La Sensible, which left Boston on 15 Nov. and carried John Adams, recently chosen as minister to negotiate a treaty of peace and commerce with Great Britain (see John Adams to Abigail Adams, 13, 14, and 15 Nov., in Adams Family Correspondence, description begins Lyman H. Butterfield et al., eds. Adams Family Correspondence. 13 vols. to date. Cambridge, Mass., 1963–. description ends 3:224–36; see also Butterfield, Diary of John Adams, description begins L. H. Butterfield, ed. Diary and Autobiography of John Adams. 4 vols. Cambridge, Mass., 1961. description ends 2:400–2, and Allen, Diary of John Quincy Adams, description begins David Grayson Allen et al., eds. Diary of John Quincy Adams. 2 vols. Cambridge, Mass., and London, 1981. description ends 1:1–3).

An incomplete letter from John Adams to an unknown correspondent, written at Braintree, Mass., on 20 Oct., may have been intended for GW. It reads: “I expect to return to Europe, very soon, and should be very happy to carry with me such Intelligence as may be of Use, to the common Cause, particularly, respecting the Numbers and real Force of our Enemies in this Country. I know not where to apply with so much Probability of success, as to you sir, who must have made this a constant Object of Attention and Enquiry and who have undoubtedly the best Opportunities of, learning the real strength of the Enemy at New York, R. Is., Georgia, Hallifax, Canada and the West India Islands. It would be of great Use to such Gentlemen as Represent the United states in Europe to be possessed of this Information, as well as the real strength and Numbers of our Army from Time to Time” (Papers of John Adams, description begins Robert J. Taylor et al., eds. Papers of John Adams. 17 vols. to date. Cambridge, Mass., and London, 1977–. description ends 8:220).

2This letter from Maj. Caleb Gibbs, who hailed from Massachusetts and commanded a company of GW’s guards, to Hancock, and its enclosures, have not been identified.

3The Connecticut Journal (New Haven) for 10 Nov. printed a notice from Boston dated Friday, 5 Nov.: “The brig Amsterdam, Capt. Magee, arrived here on Friday last from Amsterdam in Holland. The names of the gentlemen who came passengers in her are … Samuel Stockton, Esq; of the State of New-Jersey.—We hear the last mentioned gentleman since the appointment of a[n] American Commissioner at the Courts of Vienna and Berlin, has acted as Secretary to that commission. By letters and papers we learn, That the Americans are treated with evey mark of attention and respect by the Hollanders, who give countenance to the commerce of America” (see also Nathaniel Scudder to Richard Henry Lee, 16 Nov., in 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 14:205–7).

Samuel Witham Stockton (1751–1795) received a bachelor’s degree from Princeton College in 1767 and a master’s degree in 1770. He practiced law in New Jersey and went to England in 1775. Stockton remained in Europe until late 1779, spending his final stretch overseas as secretary to William Lee, who served as American commissioner to the courts of Austria and Prussia, and seeking a ship to the United States (see Milton Rubincam, “Samuel Witham Stockton, of New Jersey, and the Secret Treaty with Amsterdam in 1778,” Proceedings of the New Jersey Historical Society 60 (1942): 98–116, and Stockton to Benjamin Franklin, 7 March, 28 April, 20 May, and 17 June 1779, in Franklin Papers, description begins William B. Willcox et al., eds. The Papers of Benjamin Franklin. 42 vols. to date. New Haven, 1959–. description ends 29:81–82, 390–91, 525–27, 695–96). Stockton carried letters to Congress in December 1779 and on 24 May 1780 was voted “three hundred pounds sterling per annum” for his secretarial services (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 17:454–55; see also 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 18:926–27). GW assisted Stockton after his possessions had been “plundered out of the waggons in the late robbery by the tories in the Clove” (Alexander Hamilton to the Officer Commanding a Party of Continental Troops, 1 June 1780, in Hamilton Papers, description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends 2:333). Stockton subsequently settled in New Jersey, held state and local offices, and unsuccessfully sought a federal judgeship (see Stockton to GW, 20 Aug. 1790, in Papers, Presidential Series, description begins W. W. Abbot et al., eds. The Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series. 19 vols. to date. Charlottesville, Va., 1987–. description ends 6:308–9). His brother Richard Stockton signed the Declaration of Independence.

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