George Washington Papers
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To George Washington from Henry Laurens, 30 November 1777

From Henry Laurens

york [Pa.] 30th Novemr 77

Sir

On the 26th Currt by the Messenger Barry I paid my respects to your Excellency & conveyed Such Orders as I had then received from Congress1—pretty late last Night Jones brought in your Excellency’s favors of the 26th & 27th which Shall be presented to Morrow,2 in the mean time I dispatch Franis Seall with the undermentioned Resolves of Congress3—a packet containing one hundred Commissions4—two Copies of articles proposed to the States for Confederation—& Taxation5—Copy of a Letter by Major Genl Gates to Congress dated 16th.6

of the 27th on the appointment of three additional Members to the Board of War & Major Genl Gates President.

of the 28th appointing a Committee of three Members of Congress to confer with your Excellency for enquiries to the Causes of Losses & failures & for divers other matters.7

of the 29th Submitting to your Excellency the regulating Rank in the Causes of Majr Genl Arnold Brigadiers Woodford & Scott referring to a Subjoined Resolve of the 12th.8

29th Ordering Copy of Majr Gates’s Letter to be transmitted.

I take the liberty of Sending a packet directed for Govr Livingston which I request your Excellency will order to be forwarded by the earliest opportunity.9 I remain with very great regard.

LB, DNA:PCC, item 13; copy, ScHi: Henry Laurens Papers.

1Levellin Barry, an innkeeper in Chester County, Pa., at least until 1769, often carried letters for the Continental Congress in 1777 and 1778.

2See GW to Laurens, 26–27 Nov., and enclosures.

3For Congress’s resolutions of 27–29 Nov. that Laurens lists in this letter, 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 , 9:971, 975–76, 981. Laurens in his letter to GW of 1 Dec. gives the name of the express rider as “Thos Seale.”

4A partly printed undated blank commission signed by Laurens and attested by Congress’s secretary Charles Thomson is in DLC:GW.

5The enclosed copies of the Articles of Confederation, adopted by the Continental Congress on 15 Nov., have not been identified. For the text of the articles, 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 , 9:907–28.

6The enclosed copy of Maj. Gen. Horatio Gates’s letter to Laurens of 16 Nov. has not been identified, but Gates’s signed draft reads: “I am now to return you, Sir, & The Honourable The Congress, my most Gratefull thanks, for the Signal Honour done me, in their Resolve of the 4th Inst: and beg leave to Assure You, & Them, of my unalterable Attachment to the Freedom, &, Independency, of the United States; from which, neither the Cabals of private Interest, nor the Vice of party, shall ever Detach Sir Your much Obliged & most obedient Humble Servant” (NHi: Gates Papers).

7This resolution ordered inquiries into the evacuation of Fort Mercer, the failure of the secret expedition against Rhode Island, and the loss of forts Clinton, Montgomery, and Mifflin and made it “an established rule in Congress to institute an enquiry into the causes” of any failed expedition or loss of any major fort (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 , 9:975–76). For the background to the expedition to Rhode Island, see John Clark, Jr., to GW, 3 Nov., and note 11, and GW to William Heath, 5 Nov., and note 2.

8The “Subjoined Resolve” of 12 Nov. confirmed the ranks of the Pennsylvania field officers in accordance with the principles regarding rank set forth by a board of officers on 19 Aug. (see General Orders, 17 Aug., and note 4, and Laurens to GW, 13–15 Nov., and note 3). A partly printed commission of 29 Nov. appointing Benedict Arnold to the rank of major general, to date from 17 Feb. 1777, is in DLC:GW. The commission, which GW sent to Arnold in January 1778, was left among his headquarters papers when he defected to the British in 1780 (see GW to Arnold, 20 Jan. 1778, and Arnold to GW, 12 Mar. 1778).

9The enclosed packet for New Jersey governor William Livingston included a copy of Laurens’s circular letter to the states of 28 Nov., written to cover copies of the recently printed Articles of Confederation that had been adopted by Congress on 15 Nov., a copy of Congress’s address to the states on the subject, 17 Nov., and copies of several resolutions concerning the establishment of public credit (DNA:PCC, item 13; see also Laurens Papers description begins Philip M. Hamer et al., eds. The Papers of Henry Laurens. 16 vols. Columbia, S.C., 1968–2003. description ends , 12:104–5, and 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 , 9:953–58, 971).

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