From Augustine Washington
Wmsburg Octr 16th 1756
I came down here the first of the Court, to consult yr friends on that unlucky 10th Centinel1 the author of which I think has reason to keep his name concealed for being so general in his reflections on a sett of Gentlemen who deserves better treatment at his hands &c. Was not the paper to go further than our own Colony I am sensible it wou’d not be worth your while giving yr self the lest concern abt it for I am certain Your Character does not in the lest suffer here, for I do assure you as far as I can inform myself (& I have taken great pains) you are in as great esteem as ever with the G⟨ent⟩n here & especially the house of Burgesses, but what effect it may have in the Neighbouring Colonies I can’t venture to say, but it is the opinion of those w⟨ho⟩ wishes you well & especially the speaker & Mr Power2 that the best way is to take no notice of it or at least yet a while as there is a very modest piece published in the Gazette which will oblige him to answer & I flatter myself will do you Justice by distinguishing the Inocent from the Guilty.3 as it was the Opinion of the speaker not to publish yr letter to me I have postponed it. he promised me he wou’d write to you very fully on the subject.4 It is his opinion, mine & all your friends you ought not to give up yr commission, as your country never stood more in need of yr assistance & we are all apprehensive if you give up Innis will succeed & then only consider how disagreeable it will be to the whole Colony (a few Scotchmen excepted) & I must believe as much so to you as any in particular. I am very desirous of your holding yr Commission till you see Lord Louden then you will know what prospect you stand to be put on the British establishment & you Ought to wait at lest ’till we have some acct from home how our address to his majesty in favr of the Virga Regiment was received.5 I hope Sr for the above reasons you will calmly consider of it & not at this time of eminent danger give up yr commission in doing of which it will in some measure be giving up yr Country, cons⟨ider if⟩ you resign; what will be the consequences, all the officers (but those who wou’d be a proper subject for the Centinel) will follow your example, & the common soldiers will all desert, our Country then left defenceless to a barbarous & savage Enemy & you will then give a handel to that Scandalous Centinel—I am sensible you will be blamed by your Country more for that than every other action of yr life. I wou’d have you to consid⟨er⟩ what liberties are taken at home with men of the greatest power & Characters nay even the king himself does not escape the liberty of the Press. (I have consulted several Lawers & they are unanimous Lee has no right to the Claim he pretends to.)6
I must own you have great reason ⟨mutilated⟩ the paper is a most scurrilous one ⟨mutilated⟩ is more scandalous than general re⟨mutilated⟩ by any means agree to yr giving up ⟨mutilated⟩ notwithstanding the great regard ⟨mutilated⟩ not flatter you but hon⟨mutilated⟩ for my Country believe m⟨mutilated⟩ regard for your Character ⟨mutilated⟩7 yr af⟨mutilated⟩
1. The general court of the colony convened at Williamsburg on 10 October and 10 April each year. This year 10 October was on Sunday, and the law directed that in such cases the opening of the court be delayed until the next day. Virginia-Centinel No. X appeared in the Virginia Gazette (Williamsburg), 3 Sept. 1756. The portion of Virginia-Centinel No. X, relating to the Virginia Regiment is quoted in John Kirkpatrick to GW, 22 Sept. 1756, n.2.
2. This was probably James Power, burgess from New Kent County in the assemblies of 1752–55 and 1756–58.
3. No issue of the Virginia Gazette in 1756 after that of 3 Sept. has been found, but there is in manuscript form in GW’s papers an eleven-page response to the charges about the officers of the Virginia Regiment made in Virginia-Centinel No. X. Signed “Philo patria,” the piece tells the story of Virginia’s involvement with the French and Indians from November 1753 when GW went to the French commandant with Dinwiddie’s message until the decision was made in 1756 to build a chain of forts along the frontier for defense. The conclusion that “Philo patria” draws from all of this is that the shortcomings in Virginia’s military performance should be attributed not to the officers of the regiment but to the House of Burgesses whose appropriations of funds were usually too little and too late and hedged with damaging restrictions. GW docketed the letter: “Written It is supposed by Richd Bland Octo. 1756.” He was almost certainly correct in identifying Bland as its author. Bland wrote it, probably for publication in the Virginia Gazette, not long after Virginia-Centinel No. X appeared. The manuscript is misfiled in DLC:GW after the incoming letters for 1757.
4. GW’s letter to his brother has not been found. See John Kirkpatrick to GW and Wiliam Ramsay to GW, both 22 Sept. 1756, for earlier but similar advice with regard to Virginia-Centinel No. X. Speaker John Robinson delayed writing to GW about it until 16 Nov., when he simply reaffirmed what Augustine Washington had written.
5. “A Memorial signed by Col. George Washington and most of the Officers of the Virginia Regiment, praying that this House will address His Majesty, to put the said Regiment on the English Establishment, was presented to the House and read” on 9 April 1756 (JHB description begins H. R. McIlwaine and John Pendleton Kennedy, eds. Journals of the House of Burgesses of Virginia. 13 vols. Richmond, 1905–15. description ends , 1752–1755, 1756–1758, 362). At the end of the session, on 5 May 1756, the council and the speaker of the House signed an “Address and Representation to His Majesty,” which presumably included a request that the Virginia Regiment be put upon the regular army establishment (ibid., 396). The memorial was undoubtedly similar to, if not identical with, the memorial GW presented to William Shirley in March 1756. See GW to Dinwiddie, 14 Jan. 1756, n.5. Neither memorial has been found.
6. For the aborted meeting in September between George Lee and the Washington brothers, see GW to Dinwiddie, 14 Aug. 1756, n.7. There are in the Washington Papers at the Library of Congress two opinions from noted lawyers regarding the dispute between George Lee and the Washingtons. One, dated 13 Dec. 1754, is from John Mercer of Marlborough; the second, an undated document from Edmund Pendleton, has been placed at the end of December 1754. In addition, Ledger A, 18, contains an entry dated December 1754 for a payment made by GW for “Lawyer [George] Johnston’s opinion on Colo. Lee’s claim.”
7. The lower right-hand corner of a page of the manuscript has been torn off and lost.