George Washington Papers

To George Washington from the Massachusetts Council, 16 July 1776

From the Massachusetts Council

Watertown [Mass.] 16 July 1776. Asks GW’s assistance in procuring the release of the officers and men of the Privateer Yankee Hero, “which was taken after a brave and manly resistance, by the Milford Frigate,” and of James Lovell, “who suffered a long and severe imprisonment in Boston, and was carried off in the Fleet to Hallifax where he has remain’d a close prisoner ever since.”1

LS, DLC:GW; Df, M-Ar: Council Papers. The draft is undated except for a memorandum at the bottom which reads: “This draft—accepted July 18. 1776. and ordered to be signd & sent to Genel Washington.” The LS is signed by Benjamin Greenleaf (1732–1799), a prominent dry goods merchant from Newburyport who served on the old colonial council from 1770 to 1774 and was elected to the new reconstituted council by the house of representatives in July 1775.

1The privateer Yankee Hero, owned by the Newburyport mercantile firm of Jonathan Jackson, Nathaniel Tracy, and John Tracy, was captured by the British frigate Milford near Cape Ann on 6 June 1776. At the time of its capture, the Yankee Hero carried 17 cannon, 12 swivel guns, and 52 men (see Master’s Log of H.M.S. Milford, 6 June, in Clark and Morgan, Naval Documents description begins William Bell Clark et al., eds. Naval Documents of the American Revolution. 11 vols. to date. Washington, D.C., 1964–. description ends , 5:391–92). Capt. James Tracy and the other officers of the Yankee Hero were exchanged in November 1776. For James Lovell’s efforts to obtain his freedom, see his letters to GW of 19 Nov. and 6 Dec. 1775. Lovell was exchanged for Philip Skene in October 1776.

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