George Washington Papers

To George Washington from the Rhode Island General Assembly, 19 March 1776

From the Rhode Island General Assembly

Colony of Rhode Island &c.
East Greenwich March 19th 1776


The General Assembly of the Colony of Rhode Island &c. acknowledge with Gratitude the timely Notice you have been pleased to give them of the late Movement of the Ministerial Troops.1 The necessary Orders have in Consequence thereof been given to the Militia of this Colony to hold themselves in Readiness should any Attack or Lodgment be made here by said Troops. But we must inform your Excellency that the Great Number of Troops sent out of this Colony have considerably thinned our Numbers; that the Troops raised and stationed within this Colony have necessitated the Colony to take the Arms out of the Hands of a great Part of the Militia which hath made us greatly deficient in Arms. The singular Situation of this Colony will we hope excite your Excellency’s immediate Attention; Rhode Island and the many other Islands in our Bays and Rivers with the extensive Sea-Coast renders it very difficult to defend ourselves against the present ministerial Forces. What our Situation must be if a large armed Force should make a Landing upon Rhode Island or any other Part of the Colony your Excellency may as easily suggest as we can describe. It will we are sure be your Excellency’s great Concern to defend every Part of the Continent as far as possible. Should your Excellency see fit to order any Part of the Forces from the Vicinity of Boston to any of the Southern Colonies we would wish your Excellency to order their March through this Colony by the Sea Shore that we might have the Chance of their being present should the Colony be immediately invaded, and whether it may not be nec[e]ssary that a considerable Force should be immediately stationed here till the Intention of the Enemy can be known, We also submit to your Excellency: We are extremely solicitous of all the Assistance your Excellency can afford us consistent with the general Good; and doubt not but the utmost Attention will be paid by your Excellency to our peculiarly distressed and dangerous Situation. At the Request and in Behalf of the General Assembly I subscribe myself Your Excellency’s Most obedt and Most hble Servt

Nichs Cooke

D, DLC:GW; Df, R-Ar; copy, DNA: RG 93, Manuscript File. The general assembly approved this memorial on this date and then resolved “that Henry Marchant, Thomas Greene and William Ellery, Esqs., be, and they are hereby, appointed to wait upon His Excellency General Washington, with the memorial of this Assembly. That they give the best information in their power, of the state of this colony to His Excellency, or in his absence, to the commander in chief for the time being, and use the most pressing instances for stationing a body of troops from the Continental army in this colony, until the destination of the army, which hath lately been obliged to evacuate Boston, shall be ascertained; and that they pray the general to recommend to the Honorable Continental Congress the placing such a force in this colony, as shall appear necessary for the defence thereof” (Bartlett, R.I. Records description begins John Russell Bartlett, ed. Records of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, in New England. 10 vols. Providence, 1856–65. description ends , 7:471–72; see also the copy of the assembly’s resolution approving this memorial, dated 19 Mar., that is written on the draft copy in the Rhode Island Archives).

1This is probably a reference to GW’s letters to Nicholas Cooke of 8 and 14 Mar., which have not been found. See Cooke to GW, 18 Mar. 1776, n.1.

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