George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major Apollos Morris, 18 February 1777

From Major Apollos Morris

Philadelphia Feby 18th 1777


I have sifted my expressions, & can find no way of reconciling them or my public or private principles to the determin’d part I am to take, but by sending the Letter deliverd with this to Colonel Fizgerald, who will assure you, having read it, that I therein take nothing on me in the stile of a Negotiator. My returning to the Charge will I hope convince you that I have the best inclination to follow your fortune & obey your orders, & I believe that will be the best proof I can give of attachment to this Country.1 I am Sir with all respect Your Excellencys most humble & obedt servt

Apollos Morris

Copy, DLC:GW. This copy of Morris’s letter is in the writing of GW’s aide-de-camp John Fitzgerald.

1Morris is referring to his letter to William Howe of 17 Feb. 1777, which GW’s aide-de-camp John Fitzgerald copied and sent to GW on 19 February. “Not having the Honor to be personally Known to his Lordship,” writes Morris to Howe, “nor taking on me to Speak to him as a Commissioner, I address myself to your Excelly, first declaring that I write under the Influence of no Person, nor have any Political Connextion whatever. Tho’ brought in by a Privateer I own I have been Indulg’d with more Liberty than came to the share of one deem’d an Enemy. This however has not hinder’d me from professing a friend to G. Britain as well as to the Colonies & to a Reconciliation, looking on this last as most desirable to both; on Independance only as preferable to a dependance, which must be maintain’d by force, preferable I say to Britain whether in point of Honor or Interest. I cannot suppose that what I think will appear of any Importance, but from your Character I must believe you Inclin’d to have every Individual here inform’d of what the Country is to Expect from a Submission. The Signification of his Majesty’s most gracious disposition, can give no Assurance beyond its own extent, which in the Apprehension of most here reaches, after Pardon, only to a revisal. A Submission so Circumstanc’d, has the appearance of leaving all they contend’d for, to the mercy of a Majority which hath already decided against ’em, & of an Imply’d Surrender of every Civil and Religious right, for its real extent the only good Authority must be in those acquaint’d with the Powers given. I therefore humbly request from you that Satisfaction which no Publication here has given; Submiting the following Questions.

“Are his Majesty’s Commissioners Impower’d, or were they if Independance was out of the Question?

“1st To treat with any persons treating for all the Colonies Jointly.

“2 To fix on any Act or Instruction proper to be repeal’d or alter’d, & give Assurances (Satisfactory at least in honor) that the repeal & alteration fix’d on should, as far as depend’d on Administration be carried into Effect?

“3 To come to a Settlement abot Taxation so as by like assurances of Acceptance of a Stipulat’d Quota (unalterable but With an Increase of foreign Trade) or otherwise to remove all just fear of Oppression from a Parliamentary exercise of it?

“4 Or to agree to a Cessation of Hostilities ’till such Power can be obtain’d.

“If you condescend to give an answer, or to Signify by the Bearer if I am to Expect one, it will be esteem’d a favor by Sir &C.” (DLC:GW).

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