George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Philip Schuyler, 18 May 1777

From Major General Philip Schuyler

Philadelphia 18th May 1777

Dear Sir

I do myself the Honor to inclose your Excellency a Return of the Troops in the Town1—We have not a Blanket to cover them with The Quakers refused to furnish any to the Committee appointed to collect from the Inhabitants. I have written to John Pemberton on the Subject, and am determined if they do not voluntarily afford us a thousand, to make Use of coercive Measures.2 This Jesuitical Set do us much Injury. The Board of War have reported to Congress, that I ought again to be invested with the Command in the Northern Department, and that General Gates should continue to serve under me, or join your Excellency. This occasioned a warm Debate which will be renewed to Morrow.3 I am Dr Sir with the greatest Respect and Esteem Your Excellency’s most obedient humble Servant

Ph: Schuyler

LS, DLC:GW; LB, NN: Schuyler Papers.

1This return has not been identified.

2See Schuyler to John Pemberton, 17 May, 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 , 7:89–90. John Pemberton (1727–1795), an influential Quaker preacher in Philadelphia who steadfastly opposed all wars whether against Indians or the British crown, replied to Schuyler on 21 May that a meeting of the city’s Quakers had considered his letter and had rejected his request on the grounds that supplying blankets to the Continental troops was a violation of their religious consciences because it involved them in preparations for war. In spite of Schuyler’s threat to use coercive measures against the Quakers, he returned a soft answer to Pemberton on 22 May (see ibid., 107–8). In early September 1777, as the British army approached Philadelphia, Pemberton and a number of other prominent Quakers in the city were arrested for their continuing opposition to the war and were sent to Winchester, Virginia. Pemberton was released the following April, and Tench Tilghman on 29 April 1778 signed a pass by GW’s command permitting Pemberton and three other Quakers to return unmolested to Philadelphia (see Pa. Mag., 39:221; see also Crane, Elizabeth Drinker Diary description begins Elaine Forman Crane et al., eds. The Diary of Elizabeth Drinker. 3 vols. Boston, 1991. description ends , 1:226–27, 303).

3The Board of War’s report of 15 May concerning the northern department was read in Congress on that date, and action on it was postponed (see 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 , 7:364–65). For Congress’s resolutions of 22 May defining the department’s limits and directing Schuyler to take command of it, see ibid., 8:375, and Hancock to GW, 27 May.

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