George Washington Papers

Authority to Collect Clothing, 1 November 1777

Authority to Collect Clothing

Head Quarters [Whitemarsh, Pa., c.1] Novr 1777.

By Virtue of the powers Vested in me by the Honorable Congress I hereby Authorize [ ] to Collect all such blankets Shoes, Stockings and other Cloathing Suitable to the Use of the Army, within the Counties of [ ] in the State of Pensilvania, As the Inhabitants Can spare without greatly distressing their families.1 In doing this you are to take Care, that, the unfreindly Quakers and others Notoriously disaffected to the Cause of American Liberty do not escape your Vigilance: You are to give Certificates to the Inhabitants of the Quantity & Value of each Species you receive from them, directed to James Mease Esqr. Clothier General at Lancaster of which you are to keep an Exact Entry: And at the End of this Service you are to Make an Exact Return of Each Certificate to the Clothier General and another to me. Whatever Blankets & Clothing you may Collect, is to be sent with an account of it, to the Commanding Officer of the Brigade you belong to.

Df, in Caleb Gibbs’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. This document was in effect by the first week of November 1777, indicating that it was issued around the first day of the month (see n.1).

1On 17 Sept. Congress had authorized GW “to take, wherever he may be, all such provisions and other articles as may be necessary for the comfortable subsistence of the army under his command, paying or giving certificates for the same ... in such parts of these states as may be within the circumference of 70 miles of the head quarters of the American army” (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 , 8:752), and on 6 Oct. GW issued the warrants necessary to begin such efforts (see GW to David Forman, that date, source note). On 14 Nov. Congress resolved that GW’s powers to impress goods were to continue “till the first day of March next, unless sooner revoked” (ibid., 9:905). Although clothing was collected under this authority from the local inhabitants in the vicinity of the Continental army’s encampments (see GW’s letters to Thomas Johnson, 6 Nov., to George Read, 8 Nov., to Henry Laurens, 11 Nov., and to James Mease, 12 Nov., James Mitchell Varnum to GW, 6 Nov., and Adam Hubley, Jr., to GW, 16 Nov.), GW was uncomfortable with those efforts, and on 11 Nov. he requested Congress to call on various states to collect clothing from within their borders. Congress passed a resolution to that effect on 14 Nov. (see GW to Henry Laurens, 11 Nov., and note 2). GW recalled the men appointed to oversee the collection efforts in Pennsylvania when he learned that the state’s general assembly had appointed county commissioners for the purpose (see General Orders, 18 Nov.). GW halted similar efforts undertaken in New Jersey when that state’s general assembly also took action (see General Orders, 24 Nov., and note 2).

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