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To George Washington from John Hancock, 22 December 1775

From John Hancock

Philada Decr 22d 1775.

Sir,

Your letters of the 30th of November and of the 4th 7th & 11 of December being duly received were laid before Congress. To prevent the ill consequences, that might ensue from the backwardness of the men in the present service to reinlist, the Congress, as I informed you in my last,1 have written to the governors of Connecticut & Rhode-island, the council of Massachusetts bay and the president of the convention of New Hampshire; In consequence of which letters they have strong hopes & confidence, that measures will be taken to compleat your army. As to the article of butter, the Congress desirous to obviate whatever may have a “tendency to give the soldiery room for complaint” have instructed me to inform you, that the same may be continued, until further order.2

The Congress receive, with great satisfaction, your congratulations on the success of Capt. Manly. By the enclosed resolves you will perceive their determination on the captures already made, as well as those which may be made hereafter. It is expected the several colonies will erect courts of admiralty, and that the judges in those courts will regulate their decisions by the law of nations, except where it is relaxed by the enclosed resolutions.3

I am further directed to inform you, that the Congress approve your taking such of the articles found on board the Concord, as are necessary for the army. The necessity of the case will, they apprehend, justify the measure, even though the vessel, upon trial, should, contrary to their expectation, be acquitted.

I am Authorized to inform you that it is the pleasure of Congress that Mr Mifflin the Quarter Master General hold the Rank of Colonell in the Army of the United Colonies, and that you Establish his Rank accordingly.

I must Beg leave to Refer you to the Inclos’d Resolutions of Congress for your future proceedings, which I am Directed to Transmitt you—You will Notice the last Resolution Relative to an Attack upon Boston, this pass’d after a most serious Debate in a Committee of the whole house, and the Execution Referr’d to you, and may God Crown your Attempt with Success, I most heartily wish it, tho’ individually I may be the greatest sufferer.4

I have paid Mr Fessenden the Express in full for his three Journies as Express to Philadelphia, Deducting only Sixty Dollars, which he Says, yo⟨u⟩ order’d him, that there will be no pay due to him for Services perform’d heretofore, only for his Expences now from this place to you, if this Adjustment be not Right, please to inform me.5 I have the Honour to be with sincere sentiments of Esteem, Sir Your most Obedt hume sevt

John Hancock Presidt

Fessenden being indispos’d, I have Sent a special Express, as Congress were Anxious their Resolves should Reach you as quick as possible.

LS, DLC:GW; LB, DNA:PCC, item 12A. The dateline, salutation, and first three paragraphs of the LS are in Charles Thomson’s writing. The remainder of the document is in Hancock’s writing.

2The quotation is taken from GW’s letter to Hancock of 11 December. Richard Smith, delegate from New Jersey, wrote in his diary entry for 20 Dec.: “Gen. Wash’s Letters proceeded upon & Answers agreed to. Debate Whether Butter shall be Continued to his Army and carried in the Affirmative. Motion by [John] Jay to allow it to the rest of the Troops, denied or shuttled off” (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 , 2:500–501).

3Hancock enclosed a copy of Congress’s resolutions of 25 Nov. and 20 Dec. regulating the disposal of captured vessels and their cargoes (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 3:371–75, 439).

4Congress resolved on 22 Dec. “that if General Washington and his council of war should be of opinion, that a successful attack may be made on the troops in Boston, he do it in any manner he may think expedient, notwithstanding the town and the property in it may thereby be destroyed” (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 3:444–45). For a discussion of Congress’s debates on this subject, see 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 , 2:503, n.1.

5The committee of claims reported on 16 Dec. “that there is due to Josiah Fessenden, for riding express three times to the Camp at Cambridge, and once to Rhode Island, and for expences and horse hire, &c. a balance the sum 126 dollars” (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 3:433).

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