George Washington Papers
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To George Washington from John Hancock, 23 December 1776

From John Hancock

Baltimore Decr 23d 1776.

Sir,

I do myself the Honour to acknowledge the Receipt of your several Favours of the 12th 13th and 15th inst. in the Order of their respective Dates, and to inform you that they were duely laid before Congress.

As Genl Lee by the Fortune of War, has become a Prisoner in the Hands of our Enemies, the Congress are anxious to afford him all the Relief in their Power during his Confinement. They have therefore resolved that a Flag be immediately sent to Genl Howe to know in what Manner Genl Lee is treated; and have directed Mr R. Morris (to whom I have written on the Occasion) to forward to you for his Use, one Hundred Half Johannes.1 The United States from every Principle of Justice and Generosity, are bound to render the Situation of that Gentleman as easy as possible during his Captivity. His Loss must be extremely regretted by every Friend to this Country.

The Congress, upon reconsidering the Vote of the 11th inst. have come to a Resolution expressing their Approbation of your Conduct in declining to publish it in general Orders.2 They also approve of your sending General Armstrong to Pennsylvania, and Genl Smalwood to Maryland to stimulate the People to exert themselves on this Occasion.3 I have the Pleasure to acquaint you that the Militia in the upper Parts of Maryland are in Motion, and seem at last sensible of the Danger which threatens them.

The Multiplicity of Business which the Congress left unfinished at the Time of their Departure from Philada has induced them to appoint a Committee of three Gentlemen with full Powers to perfect the Business in such Manner as they shall judge proper.4

You will please to pay the Militia who reinforce your Army, in the same Manner as you pay your other Troops, and on their Discharge, allow them a Penny per Mile to bear their Expences on the Way to their respective Homes.5

The enclosed Resolves of Congress, I transmit by their Order, and beg Leave to request your Attention to them.6 I have the Honour to be with the utmost Esteem and Respect Sir, your most obedt & Very hble Sevt

John Hancock Presidt

LS, DLC:GW; LB, DNA:PCC, item 12A.

1The enclosed resolution of 20 Dec. directs Hancock to write GW and “desire him to send a flag to General Howe & inquire in what manner General Lee is treated, & if he finds th[a]t he is not treated agreeable to his rank & character to send a remonstrance to General Howe on the subject, and further to enquire of General Howe, whether he will grant permission to send General Lee such supplies of money as may be necessary to support him during his confinement, in a manner suitable to his rank in the service of the United States of America” (DLC:GW; 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 , 6:1029; Richard Henry Lee’s draft of this resolution 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 , 5:644, n.2; and Hancock to Robert Morris, this date, ibid., 642–43).

2The enclosed copy of this resolution of 21 Dec. is in DLC:GW. It and the resolution of 11 Dec. directing GW to contradict in his general orders the rumor that Congress was about to disperse are both struck out in Congress’s journal (see 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 , 6:1023, 1031; see also Charles Thomson to GW, 11 Dec., and GW to Hancock, 12 December).

3The enclosed copies of these two resolutions of 21 Dec. are in DLC:GW (see also ibid., 1031–32, and GW to Hancock, 13 December).

4Congress resolved on 21 Dec. “that Robt Morris, G[eorge] Clymer & G[eorge] Walton Esquires be a Committee of Congress with powers to execute such Continental business as may be proper and necessary to be done at Philadelphia,” and “that Two hundred Thousand Dollars be immediately sent to Mr Commissary Mease subject to the disposition of the said Committee for providing the Militia going into service, for paying the Soldiers from Ticonderoga, and for such other public uses as they shall think proper.” If the executive committee needed more money, it was authorized “to call on the Commissioner of the loan Office in Pennsylvania for such further sums as the Continental Use there may demand.” The executive committee was instructed to “keep up a regular Correspondence with Congress.” Congress endorsed the previous actions of the three men in handling public business in Philadelphia, and it specifically approved Morris’s plan to send the Continental frigates there to sea as soon as possible (DLC:GW; see also ibid., 1032, and Hancock to Robert Morris, this date, 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 , 5:642–43).

5A copy of this resolution of 21 Dec. is among the enclosed copies of Congress’s resolutions (DLC:GW; 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 , 1034).

6In addition to the resolutions of 20–21 Dec. discussed in nn.1–5, this enclosure includes copies of Congress’s resolutions of 21 Dec. authorizing the establishment of provision magazines in Pennsylvania and a ordnance magazine at York, Pa., the sending of $18,000 to the Frederick County, Md., committee of safety “for the Use of the militia of the Counties of Frederic, Washington & Montgomery who march to reinforce General Washington,” and the paying of officers on the new establishment “from the time of their being appointed by their respective States” (DLC:GW; see also ibid., 1031–33).

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