George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Henry Laurens, 29 August 1778

From Henry Laurens

Philadelphia 29th Augt 1778

Dear sir.

I did my self the honour of writing to Your Excellency yesterday by Jones to which I beg leave to refer.1

this Morning upon enquiry I was confirmed in my belief that the former Camp Committee had made no application to Congress for Gold or Silver to be deposited in Your Excellency’s hands for public uses, wherefore I suggested to two or three Members the necessity & utility of establishing such a fund & prevailed upon one of the Gentlemen to move the House for that purpose, the motion was accepted, & without a pause, the sum of five hundred Guineas voted, these I shall presently receive & if possible convey them to Your Excellency under the protection of Capt. Josiah Stoddard of the Light Dragoons.2

I have just received new addresses to Congress from the British Commissioners at New York—Govr Johnstone, in graceless & almost scurrilous terms without exonerating himself from the charges alleged against him submits to the Decree of Interdiction lately pronounced by Congress, Nor do the Gentlemen, late his Coadjutors so highly resent the proceedings on our part as to refuse to treat without the support of the Governor’s name.

Your Excellency will judge best from their respective performances on the present occasion, Copies of which shall accompany this Letter.3

I take the liberty of inclosing with the present dispatches a Letter directed to Lieutt Colo. Laurens under a flying Seal & of requesting Your Excellency to peruse a paragraph contained in it which speaks of a Monsr Galvan.4

Monsr Girard is exceedingly affected by the late determinations on the Water near Rhode Island & has communicated his sentiments to me with great candor. Good accounts from General Sullivan will do more towards recovering him from a slight intermittent which really seized that Gentleman immediately after he had received Monsr Chouin’s Letter, than four Ounces of Bark5—indeed I never saw people in general more anxious than my acquaintances are, under the present suspense—within the next two hours I make no doubt there will be fifty enquirers for news within this door. I remain with the utmost Regard Dear sir Your Excellency’s Obliged & hum. servt

Henry Laurens

ALS, DLC:GW; LB, ScHi: Henry Laurens Papers. A note on the letter-book copy indicates that this letter was carried by Josiah Stoddard.

1Laurens was referring to his private letter to GW of 28 Aug. (second letter).

2For Congress’s order for Laurens to send GW 500 guineas, voted on 29 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 , 11:851. Josiah Stoddard (d. 1779), who took part in the expedition against Ticonderoga in May 1775, was commissioned a lieutenant of Col. Philip Burr Bradley’s Connecticut State Regiment in June 1776 and was appointed a captain in the 2d Continental Light Dragoons on 31 Dec. 1776. In January 1779 Stoddard was granted a furlough to go to France for his health, but he died at Boston in August of that year.

3The enclosed copies have not been identified. Laurens had received a cover letter by Adam Ferguson; a declaration signed by George Johnstone; another declaration signed by the other commissioners, William Eden, Henry Clinton, and Frederick Howard, earl of Carlisle; and a representation about the “unjust Detention” of the Convention Army from Eden, Clinton, and Carlisle, all dated 26 August. The representation is in DNA:PCC, item 57, while the other documents are in DLC: Peter Force Collection (copies of all four are in DNA:PCC, item 184). Both declarations respond to Congress’s charges of bribery and corruption by Johnstone. Johnstone indicated that he would cease participation in the commission but characterized the charges as an “excuse” for not responding to complaints about the continued detention of the Convention Army and as “a pretext to the unhappy constituents of the Congress who are suffering under the various calamities of war, for disappointing the good effects of the commission which the real friends of America had so long requested.” The other commissioners impugned French motives for entering into the treaty with America and suggested that Congress should consult colonial assemblies before rejecting the British peace overtures.

4For Henry Laurens’s letter of 29 Aug. to his son John Laurens, see Laurens Papers description begins Philip M. Hamer et al., eds. The Papers of Henry Laurens. 16 vols. Columbia, S.C., 1968–2003. description ends , 14:243–45. The letter explained that William Galvan, who had recently resigned his commission as a lieutenant in the 2d South Carolina Regiment, had solicited from Laurens letters to GW and to Maj. Gen. John Sullivan. Despite Laurens’s discouragement, Galvan persisted, expressing his willingness “to act as a Volunteer,” until Laurens agreed to write John Laurens on his behalf. Laurens also wrote that Silas Deane had informed him “of some very naughty tricks this young French Adventurer had play’d in Paris.” Galvan, who claimed to have a commission as captain in the French army in the West Indies, remained in America, serving, according to his memorials to Congress, as a volunteer on the staffs of major generals Johann Kalb and Horatio Gates. In January 1780 he was appointed a major and inspector in the Continental army. Galvan continued to petition Congress for promotion, but he was removed from the inspectorship in March 1782 and committed suicide in July of that year.

5The marquis de Choin’s letter to Conrad-Alexandre Gérard has not been identified. For Gérard’s response to the controversy, see his letter to French foreign minister Vergennes of 29 Aug. (Meng, Despatches of Gérard description begins John J. Meng, ed. Despatches and Instructions of Conrad Alexandre Gérard, 1778–1780: Correspondence of the First French Minister to the United States with the Comte de Vergennes. Baltimore, 1939. description ends , 236–39).

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