George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Hancock, 4–8 April 1777

From John Hancock

Philada April 4[-8]th 1777.


The enclosed Resolves of Congress, which I have the Honour of transmitting, will naturally claim your Attention from their great Importance.1

The Regulations relative to the Payment of the Troops and the Department of the Paymaster General, will I hope be the Means of introducing Order and Regularity into that Part of the Army; where, it must be confessed, they were extremely wanted.2

General Gates having laid before Congress the Proceedings and Sentence of a Court Martial on a certain James Molesworth who was accused and found guilty of being a Spy, they immediately approved the same. He has since suffered the Punishment due to his Crime. From his repeated Confession, it appears, that Mr Galloway was extremely active in engaging him to undertake this infamous Business, and was the Person employed to make the Bargain with him. He says indeed, Lord Howe was present: but from the Description he gave of his Person, it is supposed he must be mistaken.3

The Congress have directed Genl Gates to take Genl Fermoy with him to Ticonderoga, and such other french Officers as he may think proper. Genl St Clair being ordered to Ticonderoga, but previously to repair to this City to wait the further Order of Congress, you will please to direct him to repair here accordingly as soon as possible.4 I have the Honour to be with the most perfect Esteem & Respect Sir Your most obed. & very hble Serv.

John Hancock Presidt

P.S. April 7th. Since writing the foregoing, Congress has passed sundry other Resolves, which I enclose, and to which I beg Leave to refer your Attention.5

The Hospital Departmt will be perfected this Day, & shall be Transmitted to you immediately after.6

LS, DLC:GW; LB, DNA:PCC, item 12A. The undated second postscript on the LS is in Hancock’s writing. Apparently written on 8 April, it is not included in the letter-book copy (see note 6).

1The enclosed copy of these resolutions of 29, 31 Mar. and 1–2 April is in DLC:GW. Several of the resolutions are mentioned in the text of the letter (see notes 2, 3, and 4). The other resolutions concern Congress’s refusal to send members to confer with Gen. Charles Lee, pay for paymasters and GW’s secretary, prisoner lists for the Board of War, compensation for James Warren, Ephraim Blaine’s appointment as a commissary, promotions of Edward Hand, Charles Scott, and Ebenezer Learned to brigadier general, lottery tickets for the army, ranking of officers, defense of the Chesapeake Bay, appointment of a committee to study Dr. William Shippen’s hospital plan, and rewards for the pilots who informed against James Molesworth (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 , 7:207, 209, 212–19). For additional resolutions enclosed in this letter, see note 5.

2These regulations, which Congress adopted on 1 and 2 April, are included in the enclosed resolutions (DLC:GW; see also ibid., 214–15, 218).

3Congress approved Molesworth’s sentence on 31 Mar., and he was executed on that date (see the enclosed resolutions in DLC:GW; see also ibid., 210, and the Pennsylvania Board of War to GW, 31 March). Joseph Galloway (c.1731–1803), a prominent Philadelphia attorney who had served in the first Continental Congress in 1774, steadfastly championed a plan of imperial union to safeguard American rights and abhorred independence. Finding himself increasingly unable to remain neutral as the war progressed, Galloway joined Howe’s army in New Jersey in late 1776. He arrived in New York City by 31 Dec. 1776, and by 18 Feb. 1777 he was plotting to raise a Loyalist militia in Pennsylvania, seize Congress, and destroy “the Bridge of Boats wch Washington has thrown over the Schuylkill to effectuate his Retreat from Philadelphia” (Tatum, Serle’s Journal description begins Edward H. Tatum, Jr., ed. The American Journal of Ambrose Serle: Secretary to Lord Howe, 1776–1778. San Marino, Calif., 1940. description ends , 190; see also ibid., 165, 177–78, 200). It was in conjunction with his efforts to aid the British that Galloway employed Molesworth “to procure Pilots for the Delaware at Philadelphia” (ibid., 206). General Howe on 1 July 1777 commissioned Galloway a colonel in the provincial forces, and on 4 Dec. 1777 Howe appointed Galloway superintendent of police for British-occupied Philadelphia. When the British evacuated that city the following spring, Galloway returned to New York, and in December 1778 he sailed to England, where he testified about the war to the House of Commons. Refused permission to return to Philadelphia in 1793, Galloway remained in England until his death.

4Congress’s orders to Gates of 31 Mar. and to St. Clair of 1 April are among the enclosed resolutions (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 , 7:211, 217).

5Several resolutions of 4 and 5 April were added to the enclosed copy of earlier resolutions (see note 1). They concern Gen. John Armstrong’s resignation, regulations for the mustermaster general’s department, the raising of an independent company at Lewes, Del., the ordering of Colonel Arendt to GW’s headquarters, the advancing of money to Ephraim Blaine for provisions and to Benjamin Flower for military stores, and the continuing consideration of the new plan for the hospital department (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 , 7:220–23, 225–26, 228).

6Congress approved part of the new plan for the hospital department on 7 April and the rest of it the next day. Hancock enclosed a copy of the plan in his letter to GW of 9 April. Those circumstances suggest that this postscript, which Hancock wrote on the LS to the left of his signature and above the first postscript, was added on 8 April. The letter-book copy includes only the 7 April postscript.

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