George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Robert Hunter Morris, 1 January 1756

To Robert Hunter Morris

[Winchester, 1 January 1756]

To the Honourable Robert Hunter Morris. Governour of Pennsylvania.
Honourable Sir,

I am sorry it has not been in my power to acknowledge the receipt of yours until now. At the time that your Letter came to Winchester, I was at Williamsburgh; before I got back, it was conveyed thither; and so from place to place has it been tossing almost until this time.1

There is nothing more necessary than good intelligence to frustrate a designing Enemy: and nothing that requires greater pains to obtain. I shall therefore chearfully come into any measures you can propose to settle a correspondence for this salutary end: and you may depend upon receiving (when the provinces are threatened) the earliest and best intelligence I can procure.

I sympathized in a general concern to see the inactivity of your province, in a time of iminent danger: but am pleased to find, that a feeling sense of wrongs, has rouzed the spirit of your martial Assembly to vote a sum; which with your judicious application, will turn to a general good.2

We took some pretty vigorous measures to collect a force upon our frontiers, upon the first alarm; which have kept us peaceable ever since: how long this may last, is uncertain. Since that force (which were Militia) are disbanded; and the Recruiting Service almost stagnated.3

If you propose to levy Troops; and their destination is not a secret; I should be favoured, were I let into the scheme; that we may act conjunctly, so far as the nature of things will admit. Pray direct to me, at Alexandria; to which place I design to go, in about ten days from this.4 I am &c.5


LB, DLC:GW; Sparks transcript, MH; Pa. Archives description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds. Pennsylvania Archives. 9 ser., 138 vols. Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949. description ends , 1st ser., 2:541–42. The text of the letter printed here is taken from GW’s corrected letter book. The Sparks transcript and the printed version of the letter appear to have been taken either from the receiver’s copy or the receiver’s letter book; but they differ from one another as much as each does from GW’s copy. An important clause is omitted from the transcript and a paragraph from the printed version. Otherwise the differences in the three versions are of little significance except as noted below.

1Morris wrote his letter to GW on 31 Oct. or 1 Nov. 1755. GW arrived in Williamsburg on 3 Nov. He was not back in Winchester until 20 Dec., or shortly before.

2After receiving word of Indian attacks on the settlers along the Susquehanna in late October, Governor Morris summoned the Pennsylvania Assembly to Philadelphia on 3 Nov. The assembly raised the issue once again whether the proprietary lands were subject to provincial taxation, with the result that it was not until 28 Nov. that the assembly and the governor could agree on a bill appropriating £60,000 for the defense of the colony.

3When the Indians killed Virginia settlers beyond Winchester at the end of September, Lt. Col. Adam Stephen sent out a call for militia to aid the garrison at Fort Cumberland and the ranger companies on the frontier in providing some protection to the terrified inhabitants, particularly between Winchester and the South Branch of the Potomac, but only a few militiamen from Augusta and Frederick counties responded to the call. On 8 Oct. GW asked for a troop of horse from the militia of Prince William County to be sent up to Winchester and another to be raised from the militia of Fairfax County “to March at an hour’s warning” (GW to Henry Lee, to John Carlyle). The Prince William militia was at this time still stationed on the South Branch of the Potomac (Thomas Bryan Martin to GW, 4 Jan. 1756). The Sparks version of the text omits the parentheses in “(which were Militia)” and changes “were” to “was,” and the printed version substitutes commas for parentheses.

4Morris wrote to GW on 2 Feb. in some detail about the measures being taken for the defense of Pennsylvania. GW was in Winchester on 10 Jan. and in Alexandria 12 Jan.

5The Sparks transcript has the following closing: “I am with great regard & due respect your most obedient humble servant.” It also has this postscript, “I heartily wish you the compliments of the season. January 1st 1756.” The same words appear in the Archives version, but in different form.

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