George Washington Papers

To George Washington from James Mease, 16 December 1777

From James Mease

Summerseat Bucks County [Pa.] Decembr 16 17771


I beg leave to inform you Excellency that I left White marsh the day after the Army moved,2 in order to get some necessaries which my family stand in need of removed from this place to Lancaster, & have had the misfortune of being confined by sickness ever since I came here occasioned by a severe cold caught either at or on my journey to Camp.

I am sorry to acquaint your Excellency that I find my constitution is so weakened & has suffered so much from several severe fits of illness this last year, that I am become incapable of any great fatigue & therefore unfit for any very active employ for which reason I must entreat that your Excellency will be pleased with all convenient speed to nominate some more suitable person to the office of Clothier General.

As nothing but the infirm & precarious state of my health, & my desire to promote the public good induces me to wish to quit the service of the public at this time I shall continue to do the best that I can in the department untill a new appointment takes place & shall be ready to afford every assistance & information to my successor in my power.

Inclosed are the returns of the Clothing & materials on hand at Lancaster when I left it which I had not an opportunity of laying before your Excellency when at Camp owing to the fluctuating situation of the Army at that time.3

None of the Cloth taken from Carson was come to hand except one bale the rest have been sent for & are I expect there by this time this parcel will furnish about one thousand men.4

As soon as I can venture to travel wh. hope will be in a day or two I propose returning to Lancaster in order to put forward these affairs & as fast as possible to wind up the business of the department & Am in the Interim with all possible respect Your Excellencis most obdt Hble servt

James Mease Clr Gen.

ALS (duplicate), DNA:PCC, item 78; Sprague transcript, DLC:GW. The cover of the letter originally sent to GW is in DLC:GW.

1The 14 Oct. 1772 issue of the Pennsylania Gazette (Philadelphia) describes the Bucks County, Pa., Summerseat plantation as being “situated near (below) the Falls of Trenton . . . bounded eastward by the river Delaware, 29 miles from Philadelphia, and near the post road from the city to New-York, containing 224 acres.” At that time the property was part of the estate of Mease’s father-in-law Adam Hoops of Philadelphia, who had used it as a summer retreat before his death in 1771. GW in December 1776 had headquartered at the plantation’s large Georgian-style brick house, built in the early 1760s, which had passed by that time to Hoops’s daughter Mary and her husband, Thomas Barclay (see GW to John Hancock, 8 Dec. 1776). Summerseat was later owned by Robert Morris and eventually by George Clymer.

2Mease is referring to the movement of the Continental army to Swede’s Ford, Pa., on 11 Dec. (see General Orders, that date).

3The enclosed return, “Sketch of Clothing on hand at the Clothier Genls Store Lancaster,” made by Mease on 3 Dec., is in DLC:GW.

4Joseph Carson (c.1738–1791), an Irish immigrant who had settled in Philadelphia by 1761, opened a dry goods store near the corner of Second and Market streets in early 1771. Carson fled to the country a few days before the British army took possession of Philadelphia in September 1777 (Pennsylvania Gazette [Philadelphia], 26 April 1786). Bucks County sublieutenants Samuel Smith and Andrew Keachline gave the following account of the seizure of Carson’s cloth in their letter to Pennsylvania supreme executive council president Thomas Wharton, Jr., of 14 Dec.: “On receving information of a large quantity of woolen Cloaths Being convaid to the grate swamp said to Be private property—ingaged us to Do Every thing in our power to make the Discovery—and found said goods Depozed in the hands of Robert Barr in said swamp which we have taken into our possion the quantity is nine Large Bales of Cloathes & five small Bales of Sattens.

“As the said goods seems to us to be very proper to Cloath our army we should be very glade to be further advised By your Execy what further steps to take in said affair as we apprehend the goods are not at present in a proper place of Safety. . . . N.B. We Receved the first information of said goods By Col. More of Phila. County who have Ben out on said Bussiness for sum Concide time ther is sum cost acrued in this affair which we make no Doubt of Being allowed.”

An invoice of the “Sundry Woolens” seized at the Great Swamp in Bucks County and “applied to the Cloathing of the Continental Troops” by 7 Jan. 1778 accounts for fourteen bales of various kinds and sizes of cloth valued at £16,043.10. The Pennsylvania supreme executive council ordered payments to Carson of £7,000 on 7 Jan. and £9,043.10 on 10 April 1778 (PHarH: Records of Pennsylvania’s Revolutionary Governments, 1775–1790; see also Pa. Archives description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds. Pennsylvania Archives. 9 ser., 138 vols. Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949. description ends , 1st ser., 6:92, 146, 187; Pa. Col. Records description begins Colonial Records of Pennsylvania. 16 vols. Harrisburg, 1840–53. description ends , 11:397).

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