George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Henry Laurens, 28 August 1778

From Henry Laurens

[Philadelphia] 28th Augt [1778]

Dear Sir

I am indebted for Your Excellency’s favors of the 20th and 25th, the former receiv’d three days since, and the latter while I was in Congress this Morning; this takes my immediate attention—I feel convinc’d that had Your Excellency named a sum in Gold and apply’d for it to Congress, an order for the Amount would have pass’d without hesitation—but from circumstances which I have more than a few times observed to attend Motions made from private Letters by Gentlemen of Merit and influence transcending far, any that I presume to claim I feared on your Account Sir, to hazard a question in the present case—there is a jealousy in the Minds of Men as unaccountable and unreasonable, as it is unnecessary to add a word more upon the subject; to contribute, however, towards forwarding Your Excellency’s labours for public good, and from a melancholly conviction of the policy and necessity for constantly prosecuting the measures for which Gold in the present critical moment is wanted, I have pack’d up a few pieces, the particulars noted below, which had been lying by me altogether useless and which do not comprehend my whole stock; these may possibly be of immediate service and I may be reimburs’d when Congress shall order a supply, which I am persuaded will be in the instant of Your Excellency’s demand; be this as it may I intreat Your Excellency will permit me to insist upon the receipt and application of this mite. I do not presume to offer it to General Washington but as a loan to our Country who will repay me amply even by permitting my endeavours to serve her.

I do not remember that ever an application was made by the Camp Committee of Congress. I am more inclined to believe those Gentlemen relied on each other and that neither of them attempted the business, but I may be mistaken. I shall without waiting for a dispatch from Your Excellency to Congress which I would wish to receive seperately from all other business, and with permission to deliver or return it as occasion may require, consult a few friends on the point, and if they approve the Measure prevail on one of them to move under a proper introduction for 2 or 300 Guineas to be remitted to Your Excellency for public service. If more hundreds are necessary Your Excellency will be pleas’d to signify it, and even thousands.

I return Your Excellency my hearty thanks for the kind intimation respecting my Son, or as I now hold him, my worthy fellow Citizen, Lieut. Colonel Laurens, which came the more acceptably as full three weeks had elapsed since the date of his last Letter. I am With the most sincere Esteem & Regard Sir Your Excellency’s much Obliged Humble Servant.

Two double & six single Joannes Two Doubloons Two Pistoles Eleven Guineas Contain’d in a Packet to be deliver’d by Messenger Jones.1

P.S. Baron Steuben was much surpris’d at the Act of Congress requesting him to repair to Rhode Island, and seems to be very apprehensive the measure will be displeasing at Head Quarters. I had been directed during the sitting of Congress to communicate the Intelligence receiv’d from General Sullivan to Monsr Girard, and to confer with that Gentleman.2 I found at my return the Resolves on the Table.

LB, ScHi: Henry Laurens Papers. A note on the letter-book copy indicates that this letter was carried “by [William] Jones.”

1The word “Returned” was written on the manuscript with this list.

2For the direction to Laurens and the resolution regarding Steuben, both of 28 Aug., 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 , 11:848–49.

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