George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Lord Drummond, 17 August 1776

To Lord Drummond

Head Quarters New York Augt 17. 1776

My Lord

I have your Lordships Favour of this Day, accompanied by Papers on Subjects of the greatest Moment, & deserving the most deliberate Consideration.

I can allow much for your Lordships well meant Zeal upon such an Occasion, but I fear it has transported you beyond that Attention to your Parole which comprehends the Character of a Man of strict Honour.

How your Lordship can reconcile your past or present Conduct with your Engagement, so as to satisfy your own Mind, I must submit to your own Feelings, but I find myself under the disagreeable Necessity of objecting to the Mode of Negotiation proposed, while your Lordships Line of Conduct appears so exceptionable.1

I shall by Express forward to the Congress your Lordship Letter, & the several Papers which accompanied it.2 The Result will be communicated as soon as possible.

I am sorry to have detained your Lordship so long, the unavoidable Necessity must be my Apology. I am my Lord, Your Lordships most Obed. & very Hbble Servt.

L, in Joseph Reed’s writing, Drummond Castle Papers, Scottish Record Office; LB, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The copy of this letter that GW enclosed in his letter to Hancock of 18 Aug. has not been found, but it was printed by order of Congress in the Pennsylvania Evening Post (Philadelphia) of 17 Sept. 1776.

1Before leaving New York for Bermuda in April, Drummond gave his parole of honor that he would not “communicate any information or intelligence whatever” regarding American forces or fortifications and that he would “take every care and precaution to avoid speaking with any British vessel or vessels belonging to the British navy” (N.Y. Prov. Congress Journals description begins Journals of the Provincial Congress, Provincial Convention, Committee of Safety, and Council of Safety of the State of New-York, 1775–1776–1777. 2 vols. Albany, 1842. (Microfilm Collection of Early State Records). description ends , 1:419). Drummond violated the latter part of his parole when he visited Lord Howe aboard his ship on 10 Aug. (see Drummond to GW, this date). In addition, while sailing out of New York Harbor in April, Drummond’s vessel had been stopped in the Narrows by the British warship Asia, and although the Asia’s captain, George Vandeput, had immediately released the vessel upon seeing Drummond’s parole and had not questioned him or any of the passengers or crew, that incident also was a technical violation of the parole (see Klein, “Failure of a Mission,” 371, 373–74). For Drummond’s explanation of his behavior, see his letter to GW of 19 Aug., and note 2.

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