Adams Papers

IV. John Hancock to George Washington, 2 April 1776

IV. John Hancock to George Washington

Philadelphia, April 2d. 1776


It gives me the most sensible Pleasure to convey to you, by Order of Congress, the only Tribute, which a free People will ever consent to Pay; the Tribute of Thanks and Gratitude to their Friends and Benefactors.1

The disinterested and patriotic Principles which led you to the Field, have also led you to Glory: and it affords no little Consolation to your Countrymen to reflect, that, as a peculiar Greatness of Mind induced you to decline any Compensation for serving them, except the Pleasure of promoting their Happiness, they may, without your Permission, bestow upon you the largest Share of their Affections and Esteem.

Those Pages in the Annals of America, will record your Title to a conspicuous Place in the Temple of Fame, which shall inform Posterity, that under your Directions, an undisciplined Band of Husbandmen, in the Course of a few Months, became Soldiers; and that the Desolation meditated against the Country, by a brave Army of Veterans, commanded by the most experienced Generals, but employ’d by bad Men in the worst of Causes, was, by the Fortitude of your Troops, and the Address of their Officers, next to the kind Interposition of Providence, confined for near a Year, within such narrow Limits, as scarcely to admit more Room than was necessary for the Encampments and Fortifications, they lately abandoned.

Accept therefore, Sir, the Thanks of the United Colonies, unanimously declared by their Delegates, to be due to you, and the brave Officers and Troops under your Command: and be pleased to communicate to them, this distinguished Mark of the Approbation of their Country.

The Congress have ordered a Golden Medal, adapted to the Occasion, to be struck, and when finished, to be presented to you.2

I have the Honour to be, with every Sentiment of Esteem, Sir, Your most obedt. and very hble Sert.

John Hancock, Presidt.

RC (DLC:Washington Papers); Dft in John Jay’s hand (PHi:Conarroe Papers).

1On 25 March JA made a motion to accord Washington the formal thanks of the congress by resolution and by having a gold medal struck. He was made chairman of the committee of three, the others being John Jay and Stephen Hopkins, to prepare a suitable letter, which was apparently adopted without amendment and ordered transcribed for the president’s signature (JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends , 4:234; Diary and Autobiography description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends , 3:375–376).

2On the medal see Diary and Autobiography description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends , 3:xii, 375–376, note 1, and the illustration facing p. 257; Adams Family Correspondence description begins Adams Family Correspondence, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1963– . description ends , 2:96. For the medal finally presented to Washington in 1790, see Jefferson, Papers description begins The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Julian P. Boyd and others, Princeton, 1950– . description ends , 16:xxxvi, 53–54, 69–70, and illustration No. I among the illustrations of medals following p. 52.

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