To Henry Laurens
Valley Forge April 25th 1778
I beg leave to inform Congress, that the report of the Commissioners coming, according to intelligence received yesterday by a Person of Philadelphia, is confidently believed, and it is there thought, that they will very soon arrive. I think it almost certain, that the matter will not be delayed, as the conduct of Ministry in not sending them immediately after their former propositions has been much reprobated;1 and as it may be of much importance to improve the first impressions of the people upon the occasion. Lord Amherst, Admiral Kepple & General Murray are said to be the persons appointed, & it is likely they are vested with both civil & military powers.2 The information was thro the channel of a sensible—intelligent man well known & of esteemed credit. He is connected with the British Army, having Two or three Brothers in it. I shall transmit the earliest accounts, I may receive from time to time on this very interesting subject. I have the Honor to be with great respect Sir Yr Most Obedt St
LS, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DNA:PCC, item 152; Df, DLC:GW; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; copy, ScHi: Henry Laurens Papers; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The LS is docketed in part, “read 26” (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 , 10:396).
2. On the draft Harrison continued this sentence, “pretty similar to those of Howe & Howe,” but he crossed that text out. For discussion of the peace commission, see GW to Laurens, 18 April, and note 6, and 20 April, and note 2. This intelligence was incorrect. The commissioners, who arrived in early June, were William Eden, George Johnstone, and Frederick Howard, earl of Carlisle. The unidentified informant may have been influenced by reports that Lord Jeffrey Amherst would assume command of the British army in America and that Adm. Augustus Keppel would bring a fleet to America in the spring (see Pennsylvania Gazette [York], 11 April; see also William Heath to GW, 24 Mar., and note 2). Augustus Keppel (1725–1786), who had entered the Royal Navy in 1735, reached the rank of rear admiral in 1762, vice-admiral in 1770, and admiral in January 1778. At this time he commanded the British channel fleet. Keppel had represented Windsor in House of Commons in 1761, 1768, and 1774 and was considered an opponent of the ministry. Lt. Gen. James Murray (1719?–1794), an army officer since the 1740s and a former governor of Quebec, was at this time governor of Minorca.