George Washington Papers
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To George Washington from John Hancock, 19 June 1776

From John Hancock

Philadelphia June 19th 1776.

Sir,

Since my Letter on the 18th Inst. I have Nothing further in Charge from Congress that particularly relates to yourself, or the Army immediately under your Command.

I have wrote to the Conventions of the Jerseys and New York, and to the Assembly of Connecticut on the Subject of the Resolve, Inclos’d in my last and have pressed them to a Compliance with the Request therein contained.1

Mr Bedford who is appointed Muster Master General, I have directed to repair to Head Quarters immediately, and have delivered him his Commission. You will please to appoint a Deputy Muster Master General for the Department of Canada.2

I do myself the Honour of writing to Govr Trumbull by this Conveyance, and transmitting a Copy of sundry Resolves respecting his Government. I also forward him blank Commissions.3

Your several Favours to the 17th Inst. have been duely received, and are at this Time before Congress. As soon as I have it in my Power, I shall, with particular Pleasure, transmit the Result.

The Carpenters mentioned in the Resolve of the 17th I shall send to Genl Schuyler directly from this City.4 I have the Honour to be Sir your most obedt & very hble Servt

John Hancock Presidt

The Inclos’d Resolves I Transmitt, to which I beg Leave to refer you.5

I have been so Engag’d that I have not Oppory to Confer with the other Delegates of Massachusts on the Subject of your Letter, but beg leave to Refer the matter to you, fully Convinc’d that you will Send such officer as will effectually Execute your & our wish,6 I will do my self the honour to address you by next Post.

LS, DLC:GW; LB, DNA:PCC, item 12A. The postscripts to the LS are in Hancock’s writing. The second postscript does not appear in the LB.

1Hancock wrote to these legislative bodies on 18 June requesting that they “empower the General at New York to call such Part of the Militia to his Assistance, as may be necessary to repel our Enemies” (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 , 4:264–65; 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 , 5:452).

2Gunning Bedford (1747–1812), a lawyer from Philadelphia who is often confused with his cousin Lt. Col. Gunning Bedford (1742–1797) of Haslet’s Delaware Regiment, was named deputy mustermaster for the New York department on 17 July 1775 and was promoted to mustermaster general of the army by Congress on 18 June 1776 (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 , 2:186, 5:460; see also Hancock to Bedford, 18 June 1776, DNA:PCC, item 12A). Bedford’s dissatisfaction with his pay and lack of rank apparently prompted him to resign his office in April 1777 (see Bedford to GW, 15 Jan. 1777, DNA:PCC, item 152). The following June Bedford challenged delegate Jonathan Dickinson Sergeant of New Jersey to a duel for making allegedly disparaging remarks about his character on the floor of Congress (see Bedford to Sergeant, 11, 12 June, and Sergeant to Bedford, 11 June 1777, 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 , 7:183–84, and note 1). Although no duel was fought, Congress viewed Bedford’s action as a threat to its much-cherished right of free debate and forced him to apologize in person to the whole Congress on 14 June 1777 (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 , 8:458–61, 466–67). In February 1778 Bedford was captured by Loyalist dragoons while returning home from a visit to GW’s headquarters at Valley Forge. He was confined in a Philadelphia jail until he was exchanged a few weeks later (see Bedford to GW, 9 Mar. 1778, PHi: Gratz Collection, and Samuel Chase to GW, 20 April 1778, DLC:GW). In the summer of 1779 Bedford moved to Delaware and eventually settled near Wilmington. He served as a Delaware delegate to Congress between 1783 and 1785, and he was a member of the state’s delegation to the Constitution Convention in 1787. In 1789 GW appointed Bedford to a federal judgeship.

3See Hancock to Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., 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 , 4:268–69.

4In this resolution, a copy of which Hancock enclosed in his letter to GW of 18 June, Congress directed Schuyler to “build, with all expedition, as many gallies and armed vessels as, in the opinion of himself and the general officer to be sent into Canada, shall be sufficient to make us indisputably masters of the lakes Champlain and George; and that, for this purpose, there be sent to him a master carpenter acquainted with the construction of the gallies used on the Delaware, who shall take with him other carpenters, and models also if requisite” (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 , 5:450; see also Hancock to Schuyler, 6 July 1776, 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 , 4:395–96).

5These resolutions of 18 and 19 June concern the mustermaster appointments, settlement of debts in Canada, Sullivan’s commissions to Canadian officers, and the appropriation of $300,000 for the army (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 , 5:460, 463, 465).

6Hancock apparently is referring to the anticipated appointment of a new commanding officer for the eastern department, about which the Massachusetts delegates had written GW on 16 May 1776. No reply to that letter has been found.

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