George Washington Papers

To George Washington from the Boston Selectmen, 8 March 1776

From the Boston Selectmen

Boston March 8. 1776

As his Excellency General Howe is determined to leave the Town with the Troo⟨ps⟩ Under his Command. a Number of the Respectable Inhabitants being very Anxious for its preservation & Safety, have Applyed to General Robertson for this purpose, who at their request has communicated the same to his Excellency Genl Howe, who has assured him that he has no intention of destroying the Town Unless the Troops under his Command are molest⟨ed⟩ during their Embarkation, or at their departure by the Armed force without, which declaration he gave Genl Robertson leave to communica⟨te⟩ to the Inhabitants; If such an Opposition should take place we have the greatest reason to expe⟨ct⟩ the Town will be exposed to Intire destruction. a⟨s⟩ our fears are quieted with regard to Genl Howe’s Intentions. we beg we may have some Assurances that so dreadfull a Calamity may not be brought on by any measures without—as a Testimony of the truth of the Above we have signed our Name⟨s⟩ to this paper Carried out by Mesrs Thomas & Jonathan Amory & Peter Johonnot who have at the earnest Intreaties of the Inhabitants through the Lt Governor Sollicited a flag of Truce for this purpose.1

John Scollay Thos Marshall
Timo. Newell Samuel Austin

D, DLC:GW; copy, enclosed in GW to Hancock, 7–9 Mar. 1776, DNA:PCC, item 152; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; copy, NHi: Miscellaneous Manuscripts; copy, CSmH. For background on this unaddressed document that was delivered to GW on this date, see GW to Joseph Reed, 26 Feb.—9 Mar. 1776, and note 21, and GW to Hancock, 7–9 Mar. 1776, and note 18. John Scollay (c.1711–1790), Timothy Newell (c.1718–1799), Thomas Marshall (1718–1800), and Samuel Austin (c.1721–1792) were elected selectmen on 13 Mar. 1775 along with John Hancock, John Pitts, and Oliver Wendell. All seven men were reelected on 29 Mar. 1776. Thomas Marshall served as colonel of the 10th Massachusetts Regiment from November 1776 to the end of 1780.

1Thomas Oliver (1734–1815) was appointed lieutenant governor and president of the Massachusetts council in 1774 by the king’s writ of mandamus, which American Whigs refused to recognize as legitimate. Forced by the threat of mob action to leave his estate at Cambridge in September 1774, Oliver lived in Boston until March 1776 when he went to Halifax with the British army. He soon proceeded to England where he spent the remainder of his life. Peter Johonnot (c.1730–1809), a distiller in Boston, also fled to Halifax when the British evacuated Boston and subsequently took up residence in England. Thomas Amory (1722–1784) was another Boston distiller, and his brother Jonathan Amory (1726–1797) was one of the city’s merchants. A passive Loyalist, Thomas Amory was banished to Waltham for two months after the Americans regained control of Boston, but he was allowed to return and continued living in the city.

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