George Washington Papers
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To George Washington from the Continental Congress Committee for Foreign Affairs, 27 October 1778

From the Continental Congress Committee for Foreign Affairs

(In Committee for foreign Affairs)
Philadelphia Octr 27th 1778.

Sir

Congress having resolved upon the Expediency of attacking Canada the next Campaign, in Conjunction with the Forces of his most Christian Majesty; and a plan for that purpose having been reported to Congress; We are directed to send both the Resolve & plan to You.1

The latter of These we are to request your Observations upon previous to its being sent to Doctr Franklin for the Consideration of the Ministry of France.2

Be pleased therefore, Sir, to inclose the plan with your Observations to Doctor Franklin by the Marquis dela Fayette. We have the Honor to be with much Esteem & Regard, Sir, Your very humble Servants

Richard Henry Lee

James Lovell

LS, in Lovell’s writing, DLC:GW; two copies, DNA:PCC, item 79.

1The enclosed plan of attack on Canada, and the several resolutions of 22 and 24 Oct. relating to it, are all in DLC:GW. The undated plan, which is eight manuscript pages long, is in the handwriting of Secretary Charles Thomson and is signed by him and by President Henry Laurens. There is also an eight-page copy of it in DLC:GW. The plan is printed under 22 Oct. in 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 , 12:1042–48. The five resolutions of 22 Oct., which were inadvertently dated 26 Oct. on the enclosed copies, are signed by Thomson but are not in his writing. They direct (1) that a copy of the plan be sent to GW, “and that he be requested to make such Observations thereon as to him shall appear proper, transmit the same to Congress and deliver a copy thereof to the Marquis de la Fayette”; (2) that the members of Congress “be under the injunction of secresy with regard to the plan of attacking Canada, except what relates to the attacks of Detroit & Niagara”; (3) “that the Marine committee prepare a frigate with all possible expedition, for carrying dispatches to the Minister plenipotentiary at the Court of France [Benjamin Franklin], and for accommodating the Marquis de la Fayette with a passage”; (4) that GW “be directed to procure from Canada and Nova Scotia, as speedily as possible the most exact intelligence that can be obtained, respecting the number of troops in these provinces and their stations; also the number of Vessels of war, their force and stations; with the number, state and strength of the fortifications—And that he transmit such intelligence when received to the Marine committee”; and (5) that the marine committee forward GW’s intelligence “without delay” to Franklin, “by three successive conveyances” (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 , 12:1052–53). The resolution of 24 Oct., which also is signed by Thomson but is not in his writing, declares that “it is essential to the interest & safety of these States, that the most vigorous exertions should be made during the next campaign in conjunction with the forces of his most Christian Majesty to emancipate the province of Canada from its subjection to the crown of great Britain” (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 , 12:1060).

2GW expressed strong opposition to this plan in the long, detailed letter that he wrote to Henry Laurens on 11 Nov. (DNA:PCC, item 152), and after 1 Jan. 1779 Congress ceased discussing any invasion of Canada (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 , 12:1147, 1190–92, 1250; 13:11–14).

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