George Washington Papers

To George Washington from the Pennsylvania Committee of Safety, 2 September 1775

From the Pennsylvania Committee of Safety

Philadelphia September 2nd 1775


We receiv’d last night Mr Reeds Letter of the 24th ult. respecting Major French & the Gentn made Prisoners with him & you will find by what we wrote by Capt. Willing & Capt. Wharton, those Prisoners were sent off for your Camp long before the receipt of this letter,1 The Cloathing taken with them we had declared in a Certificate given Major French was detained untill the meeting of Congress on the 5th of this month to be disposed of as they may direct, consequently we cannot Consistantly send it forward without their order, but we will lay the matter before them the first day of their meeting and follow such directions as they think proper to give.2 It is with great concern we learn your want of further supplys of Powder & altho. we are farr from being well provided for our own defence; Yet being extreamly anxious to promote your success, We dispatch herewith Two Tons of Powder which we hope will arrive safe & soon to your Command.3 We are Sir Your Obediennt humble Servts

Signed by order & on behalf of the Committee of Safety

Robt Morris, President pro tempore4


1Joseph Reed wrote the committee on 24 Aug.: “Several Letters from Philada having mentioned the Capture of Major French & some other Gentlemen & that you proposed to send them forward to this Camp: General Washington has directed me to request that you would order them to Hartford or some other Inland Town, as their coming hither would be attended with many Inconveniencies. If there have been any late Arrivals of Powder it is of the utmost Importance to forward as soon as possible all that can be spared from the necessary Defence of the Province—It is not within the Limits or Propriety of a Letter to enumerate our Difficulties in the Article of Ammunition. The late Supply was very seasonable but far short of our Necessities. It is also the Generals Opinion that the Cloathing lately intercepted should be secured & forwarded hither as soon as possible. The Army is in a very destitute Situation in this Respect & such a Supply would greatly relieve it” (DNA:PCC, item 169). The committee’s letter to GW by captains Richard Willing and John Wharton was apparently the one of 17 August.

2A list of the military clothing captured on the British ship Hope was appended to the committee’s certificate of 12 Aug. (Pa. Col. Records description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds. Pennsylvania Archives. 9 ser., 138 vols. Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949. description ends , 10:303–4). See also Pennsylvania Committee of Safety to GW, 17 Aug. 1775, nn. 1 and 3. The committee resolved on 12 Aug. that the clothing “shall be stored ’till this Committee shall receive directions from the Continental Congress for the disposal of the same, unless it may be thought necessary by this Committee, before the meeting of the said Congress, to remove or otherwise dispose of them” (ibid., 304). On 14 Sept. Congress read Reed’s letter to the Philadelphia committee of 24 Aug. and resolved “that the . . . cloathing be immediately forwarded, under a proper guard, by the delegates for Pensylvania, to Genl Washington, for the use of the American Army” (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 , 2:248).

3The committee resolved on 2 Sept. “that two tons of Gun Powder be immediately sent to his Excellency General Washington, and that William Jordan go with and take proper care of the Powder, until he has directions from the General” (Pa. Col. Records description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds. Pennsylvania Archives. 9 ser., 138 vols. Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949. description ends , 10:330).

4Robert Morris (1734–1806), a partner in Willing, Morris & Co. of Philadelphia, was one of America’s wealthiest merchants. Elected to the Pennsylvania committee of safety on 30 June 1775, he frequently presided at meetings in the absence of committee president Benjamin Franklin. Morris served in the Continental Congress from November 1775 to November 1778 and played a prominent role in supplying the army and managing the finances of the war. From May 1781 to September 1784 he was superintendent of finance. GW may have dined at Morris’s mansion on the Schuylkill River in May 1773 and certainly did on 4 June 1775 (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 3:181, 334).

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