George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Thomas Wharton, Jr., 6 April 1778

To Thomas Wharton, Jr.

Head Quarters Valley Forge 6th April 1778


Mrs Jones, Mrs Pleasants and two other Ladies connected with the Quakers confined at Winchester in Virginia waited upon me this day for permission to pass to York Town to endeavour to obtain the release of their Friends.1 As they were admitted by the Officer at the advanced picket to come within the Camp, I thought it safer to suffer them to proceed, than to oblige them to return immediately to the City. You will judge of the propriety of permitting them to proceed further than Lancaster, but from appearances, I imagine their request may be safety granted.2 As they seem much distressed, humanity pleads strongly in their behalf. I have the Honor to be Sir Yr most obt Servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, ICU; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1Susanna Evans Jones (1719/20–1801) had married Owen Jones, Sr. (1711–1793), in 1740. Her son, Owen, Jr. (1744–1825), was among the Quakers exiled to Virginia in September 1777. Mary Pemberton Pleasants (1738–1821), a daughter of the exiled Israel Pemberton by his first wife, had married Samuel Pleasants, another of the exiled Quakers, in 1762. The “two other Ladies” were wives of exiled men: Phoebe Lewis Morton Pemberton (b. 1738), who had married Israel Pemberton’s brother James in 1775, and Elizabeth Sandwith Drinker (1734–1807), wife of Henry Drinker (1734–1809). Drinker left a record of the ladies’ visit with GW in her diary entry for 6 April: “left J. Roberts after Breakfast, and proceeded on to the American Picket guard, who upon hearing that we were going to head-quarters, sent 2 or 3 to guard us further on to another guard where Colll. Smith gave us a pass for Head Quarters where we arriv’d at about ½ past one; requested an audience with the General—set with his Wife, (a sociable pretty kind of Woman) untill he came in; a number of Officers there, who were very complient, Tench Tillman, among the rest, it was not long before GW. came and discoarsd with us freely, but not so long as we could have wish’d, as dinner was serv’d in, to which he had invited us, there was 15 of the Officers besides the General and his Wife, Gen. Green, and G. Lee we had an eligant dinner, which was soon over; when we went out with the General Wife up to her Chamber, and saw no more of him,—he told us, he could do nothing in our busyness further than granting us a pass to Lancaster, which he did, and gave a Letter to Il. Morris for T. Wharton” (Crane, Elizabeth Drinker Diary description begins Elaine Forman Crane et al., eds. The Diary of Elizabeth Drinker. 3 vols. Boston, 1991. description ends , 1:297). The ladies left the camp that day and arrived at Lancaster on 9 April, where they were joined by the exiles on 24 and 25 April. According to Drinker the exiles were not granted “a proper discharge,” but they were allowed to return to Philadelphia, where they arrived on 30 April (ibid., 297–98, 302–3; see also Baurmeister, Revolution in America description begins Carl Leopold Baurmeister. Revolution in America: Confidential Letters and Journals, 1776–1784, of Adjutant General Major Baurmeister of the Hessian Forces. Translated and annotated by Bernhard A. Uhlendorf. New Brunswick, N.J., 1957. description ends , 167–68).

2By the time the women arrived at Lancaster, the Pennsylvania supreme executive council had already voted to discharge the prisoners, so the women remained at Lancaster until 27 April when the men met with the council there (Crane, Elizabeth Drinker Diary description begins Elaine Forman Crane et al., eds. The Diary of Elizabeth Drinker. 3 vols. Boston, 1991. description ends , 1:298–303; see also Mary Pemberton to GW, 31 Mar., n.1).

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