George Washington Papers

To George Washington from the Pennsylvania Council of Safety, 17 December 1776

From the Pennsylvania Council of Safety

In Council of Safety Philadelphia December 17. 1776


We lament the loss of General Lee both as it relates to the public and to a General whom we so highly esteem & respect—yet we hope it may be in the power of your Excellency to close the Campaigne with honour to yourself and to leave General Howe in a situation which may afford him little reason to boast—We assure you, sir, this Council will not suffer any thing to abate their exertions, but that they will use every hour, which the enemy shall delay their approach, in preparing for the defence of this City and state in the best manner possible and shall most cheerfully afford your Excellency every assistance in our Power.

By the enclosed Resolution you will see the sentiments of the Council respecting the Militia who refuse to do their duty on the present occasion.1

A servant of Brigadier General Dickinson’s, last Friday afternoon, requested a pass to your Camp, he having as he said, a letter from Mr Dickinson to his Master—The Council thought it proper to examine the contents, a copy of which we have enclosed—The original appears to be in the hand writing of John Dickinson Esqr.—General Dickinson has requested that the letter may be sent to him, but we think it proper to retain the Original in our hands and have referred him to your Excellency for the Copy, if you shall think proper to deliver it to him.2 By order of Council I have the Honor to be with great respect Sr Your Obedient Servant

Tho. Wharton junr Prest

LS, DLC:GW; Df (incomplete), PHarH: Records of Pennsylvania’s Revolutionary Governments, 1775–90. The closing of the LS is in Wharton’s writing. The cover of the LS is addressed to “His Excellency General Washington Lieut. Davis.” The draft consists only of the last paragraph regarding John Dickinson’s letter.

1The enclosed copy of this resolution of this date, which is signed by Jacob S. Howell, secretary to the council of safety, reads: “Resolved That it be recommended to General Washington to issue Orders immediately for the Militia of Bucks and Northampton Counties forthwith to join his Army, and to Send out parties to disarm every person who does not obey the Summons and to seize and treat as Enemies all those who shall attempt to oppose the execution of this measure and likewise every person in those Counties who are known or suspected to be Enemies to the United states” (DLC:GW).

2The previous Friday was 13 December. The enclosed copy of this unsigned and undated letter reads: “Receive no more continental money on your Bonds and Mortgages—The British Troops having conquered the Jerseys and your being in Camp are sufficient Reasons. Be sure you remember this. It will end better for you.” A note by Howell at the end of this document says: “Copy of a Letter found in the possession of Brigadier General Philemon Dickinson’s servant directed to the sd General at Camp” (DLC:GW). John Dickinson, who since September had withdrawn from active politics, admitted writing this note to his brother Philemon Dickinson on 14 Dec. at New Castle, Del., while moving to his estate near Dover, but he strongly denied any intention of injuring the Continental currency. For Dickinson’s explanation of this episode in the vindication that he published in 1783, see Stillé, John Dickinson description begins Charles J. Stillé. The Life and Times of John Dickinson. 1732-1808. Philadelphia, 1891. description ends , 400–406.

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