James Madison Papers

Peter G. Washington to James Madison, 16 November 1833

Washington. Nov 16 1833


The fund of information you are known to possess of the events of our Revolutionary struggle, induces me to hope that you may have, and not be unwilling to impart, some that may aid the claim of the family of a patriot of that day, for remuneration for his services and losses. The following are a few leading particulars of the case.

Genl Wm Macpherson (late of Phila.) tho an American by birth, was an officer in the British army when the War commenced. Avowing his determination not to fight his Countrymen, he was nevertheless detained in the enemies service, tho not near the scene of action for several years. It is believed that he formed a part of Col Dixons Command which surrendered to the Spaniards at Pensacola in 1778. He was subsequently in the Battle of Monmouth, but refusing to partake in the contest, altho still wearing a british uniform, he received a wound from the Americans. Upon the return of the army to New York the circumstance was represented to Sir Henry Clinton, and Macpherson was permitted to throw up his Commission. In December of 1778 he made his escape thro the British lines from New York and offered his services to the American Congress. He performed the Virginia Campaign under Lafayette.

Whether he was permitted to sell out & receive the value of his British Commission or was expected to sacrifice it, is a point which it is desirable to establish. His family have never doubted that he was compelled to sacrifice it and With this understanding, agree the letters of several officers of the Revolution who testify to the general report and belief of that day, but it would be satisfactory to have some further evidence, and if possible derived from some letter document or publication of that day.

I hope sir this letter may find you and your respected lady in good health, and if I am not altogether presumptuous in addressing you upon this subject, I would beg the favor of an early reply, if Convenient, as Congress will Soon be in session With the highest respect yr mo ob Sert

P. G. Washington


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