George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Hancock, 19 July 1775

From John Hancock

Philadelphia, 19 July 1775

Introduces the bearers, “Mr Ogden & Mr Burr of the Jerseys,” who “Visit the Camp not as Spectators, but with a View of Joining the Army & being Active during the Campaign.1 . . . Your Dispatches Reach’d me last Eveng. I shall forward you the Papers immediately. The Results of Congress you shall know as early as possible.”2

ALS, DLC:GW. The address includes the words “Favd by Mr Burr.”

1Matthias Ogden (1754–1791) and Aaron Burr (1756–1836) grew up together in the house of Burr’s uncle in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Following the battles of Lexington and Concord, Burr, who was then studying law in Litchfield, Conn., wrote to Ogden at Elizabeth, proposing that they join the American army outside Boston. Ogden at first declined to go, but after the Battle of Bunker Hill, Burr went to Elizabeth and persuaded his friend to come with him. Both young men accompanied Arnold’s march to Quebec in the fall of 1775 as unattached volunteers. Ogden was wounded at Quebec on 31 Dec. but joined the 1st New Jersey Regiment as a lieutenant colonel in March 1776. He was promoted to colonel on 1 Jan. 1777, and in October 1780 he was captured in a skirmish with the British at Elizabeth. Following his exchange the next spring, Ogden resumed his duties and remained in the army until April 1783. Burr returned from Quebec to New York City in the spring of 1776 and apparently served for a few weeks on GW’s staff before becoming an aide to Maj. Gen. Israel Putnam on 22 June. On 4 Jan. 1777 Burr was made lieutenant colonel of Col. William Malcolm’s additional regiment. He resigned from the army on 3 March 1779 on the grounds of ill health.

2Congress took GW’s GW’s letter to Hancock of 10–11 July 1775 under consideration on 19 July (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 , 2:190). For Congress’s actions, see Hancock to GW, 24 July 1775.

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