George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Hancock, 31 July 1776

From John Hancock

Philadelphia July 31st 1776.

Sir,

The enclosed Resolves, which I do myself the Honour of transmitting, are so explicit, that I need only refer your Attention to them.1

You will please to give such Orders, with Regard to building Boats for the Service of the Flying Camp, as you shall judge necessary. A Copy of Genl Mercer’s Letter to Congress on this Subject, you have enclosed.2

I have wrote to the Council of Safety of this State to forward to Genl Mercer ten six Pounders, and an equal Number of four Pounders, with the greatest Expedition.3

Your Favour of the 29th came safe to Hand, and was immediately laid before Congress. I have forwarded to Generals Schuyler and Mercer a Copy of the enclosed Resolves, as far as they relate to their respective Departments.4 I have the Honour to be with Sentiments of the greatest Respect & Esteem Sir your most obed. & very hble Servt

John Hancock Presidt

P.S. Upon conversing with Genl Sullivan, and stating to him the Reasons of Congress promoting Genl Gates over him, he desired Me to move for Leave to withdraw his Application to resign—in which the Congress have acquiesced. He has now Orders to repair to New York, where you will please to assign him such Post of Duty as you shall think proper.5

LS, DLC:GW.

Before dispatching this letter to GW, Hancock added to the cover some intelligence regarding recent ship arrivals. The cover apparently was discarded at GW’s headquarters, but Robert Hanson Harrison summarized Hancock’s intelligence on the reverse of the letter: “Con[tinenta]l Ship arrivd at Chester with 366 pigs of Lead—54 Boxes Musqt Ball, 1000 Stand of Arms with Bayonetts, 1 Barl Flints, 193 Whole Barls powdr. Indorsed on Cover of Letter by J. H. Esqr. Also a Priv[atee]r had brought in a West India[man] bound to London havg on board besides produce, 1100 Joans., 700 Guins. &c.” (see also Smith, Letters of Delegates description begins Paul H. Smith et al., eds. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774–1789. 26 vols. Washington, D.C., 1976–2000. description ends , 4:590, n.5, and GW to Hancock, 5 Aug.). The ship at Chester, which had been outfitted by the secret committee of Congress, came from Marseilles. The prize vessel was the brig Richmond, which had been captured by the Pennsylvania privateer Congress (see Josiah Bartlett to John Langdon, 5 Aug., 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 , 6:63–64; Pennsylvania Gazette [Philadelphia], 7 Aug.; and Extract of a Letter from Philadelphia, 1 Aug., in Purdie’s Virginia Gazette [Williamsburg], 16 Aug.).

1These resolutions of 30 and 31 July concern Congress’s inquiry “into the Causes of the Miscarriages in Canada,” money and gunpowder for GW’s army, boats and cannon for the flying camp, rations and pay for Massachusetts militiamen called out to replace Continental troops, recruiting allowances for officers, Indian affairs in the northern, middle, and southern departments, and various measures for the defense of North Carolina. The enclosed copy of the resolutions is in DLC:GW (see also 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 , 5:617–21, 623–24).

2In his letter to Hancock of 20 July, Mercer points out “the Necessity of having Boats of a proper Construction built for the Service of this Army, either to afford a safe and speedy Passage to the Troops for the Attack of the Enemy on Staten Island, or to move our Men with Expedition to New York or Philada should the Service require their Assistance at either Place” (DLC:GW; see also the ALS in DNA:PCC, item 159, part of which is quoted in Mercer to GW, 19 July, n.1).

3See Hancock to the Pennsylvania Council of Safety, this date, in Smith, Letters of Delegates description begins Paul H. Smith et al., eds. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774–1789. 26 vols. Washington, D.C., 1976–2000. description ends , 4:588–89.

4See Hancock to Schuyler and to Hugh Mercer, both this date, ibid., 588, 590, n.3. See also Force, American Archives description begins Peter Force, ed. American Archives. 9 vols. Washington, D.C., 1837–53. description ends , 5th ser., 1:691.

5The entries in Congress’s journals concerning Sullivan’s submission of a letter “with sundry papers” on 26 July and his request on 29 July “to recall his petition for leave to resign his commission” have been struck out (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 , 5:612–13).

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