George Washington Papers

Address from the Boston Selectmen, March 1776

Address from the Boston Selectmen

[March 1776]

May it please Your Excellency

The Select-men of Boston, in behalf of themselves, & Fellow-Citizens, with all gratefull Respect, congratulate Your Excellency on the Success of your military Operations, in the Recovery of this Town, from an Enemy, collected from the once respected Britons, who, in this Instance, are characterized by Malice & Fraud, Rapine & Plunder, in every Trace left behind them.

Happy are we, that this Acquisition has been made with so little Effusion of human Blood, which, next to the divine Favor, permit us to ascribe to Your Excellency’s Wisdom, evidenced in every part of the long Besiegment.

If it is possible to enhance the noble Feelings of that Person, who, from the most affluent Enjoyments, could throw himself into the Hardships of a Camp, to save his Country—uncertain of Success—’tis then possible this Victory will heighten Your Excellency’s Happiness, when You consider You have not only saved a large, elegant, & once populous City, from total Destruction, but relieved the few wretched Inhabitants from all the Horrors of a besieged Town, from the Insults & Abuses of a disgraced & chagrined Army, and restored many Inhabitants to their quiet Habitations who had fled, for Safety, to the Bosom of their Country.

May Your Excellency live to see the just Rights of America settled on a firm Basis; which Felicity we sincerely wish You, and at a late Period may that Felicity be changed into Happiness Eternal.

Samuel Austin
Oliver Wendell
John Pitts
John Scollay
Timo. Newell
Thos Marshall
} Select Men
of Boston

D, DLC:GW. This undated document is endorsed “March 1776. Select Men of Boston. Address.” Because there are no entries in the selectmen’s minutes from 19 April 1775 to 20 May 1776, it is not known when they adopted this address. GW received it by 31 Mar. (see GW to John Augustine Washington, that date), and it may have been presented to him on 28 Mar. when the selectmen were among the gentlemen who escorted GW to the lecture at the First Church and dinner at the Bunch of Grapes Tavern (see GW to Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., 28 Mar. 1776, n.1).

Oliver Wendell (1733–1818), a prominent candle manufacturer, was elected a selectman and a member of the Boston committee of correspondence in 1772. During the siege of Boston he lived at Newburyport. John Pitts (1737–1815), who began serving as a selectman in 1773, was also absent from Boston during the siege, for he represented the town in the second and third provincial congresses and the General Court which sat at Watertown during those months. For identifications of the other selectmen who signed this address, see the source note to the document that they sent to GW on 8 Mar. 1776.

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