George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Henry Laurens, 12 September 1778

To Henry Laurens

White-plains Septr 12th 1778.

Dear Sir,

A few days ago I wrote, in haste, a Letter to you by Major Morris, and took the liberty of returning the gold you were so obliging as to send me by Jones1—For your kind intention of forwarding that sum, and goodness in bringing Congress acquainted with my want of specie you will please to accept my sincere and hearty thanks—These are also due to you for your polite attention in forwarding, for my perusal, the late exhibitions of Governor Johnstone, and his brethren in Commission2—That of the former is really a curious performance—He trys to convince you, that he is not at all hurt by, or offended at, the interdiction of Congress—and, that he is not in a passion; while he exhibits abundant proof that he is cut to the quick, and biting his fingers in an agony of passion.

Your Letter to Colo. Laurens respecting Monsr Galvan was forwarded to Rhode Island while he was on his return from Boston, by which means he missed it—This Gentn (if he may be so called, Monsr Galvan) waited on me a few days ago, and met with the reception due to his merit & conduct to you.3 The beginning of the next paragraph of that Letter,4 excited my curiosity to pursue it to the end, and to my shame, was reminded of my inattention to your favor of the 18th of June, which coming to hand upon my march thro Jersey, and being laid by to be acknowledged at a time of more liezure, was entirely forgot5 till your enquiry after the Letters from Messrs Oswald & Manning recalled it to my recollection—I now return these Letters, together with Govr Johnstones, & a tender of my thanks for the favor of perusing them. I am convinced that no apology can be more agreeable to you, in excuse for my neglect, than a plain narrative of the truth—& this I have offered.

I am sorry to find by your favor of the 29th Ulto that Monsr Gerard was indisposed—I hope his disorder was not of long continuance, & that he is now perfectly recovered. Having often heard this Gentleman spoken of as a well wisher to, and promoter of the rights of America, I have placed him among the number of those we ought to revere— Should you therefore see no impropriety in my (being a stranger to Monsr Gerard) presenting compliments to him, I would give you the trouble of doing this, and of assuring him, that I could wish to be considered (by him) as one of his admirers. With every sentiment of esteem & regard I am Dr Sir Yr oblig’d & affecte Hble Servt

Go: Washington

ALS, PPRF; ADfS, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The ALS is docketed in part, “Received 15th.”

1GW was referring to his private letter to Laurens of 4 Sept. (second letter).

3John Laurens discussed William Galvan’s reception when he wrote his father on 15 Sept.: “The Genl asked me in private whether this was not the person alluded to in your letter; I told him he was; the General then left the room without taking any further notice of him” (Laurens, Army Correspondence description begins The Army Correspondence of Colonel John Laurens in the Years 1777–8, now First Printed from Original Letters Addressed to His Father, Henry Laurens, President of Congress, with a Memoir by Wm. Gilmore Simms. New York, 1867. description ends , 224).

4Laurens had sent his letter to John Laurens of 29 Aug. open for GW’s perusal. The paragraph to which GW refers reads: “When I was at York town I sent Letters which I had receiv’d thro’ Governor Johnstone from my friends Mr. Oswald and Mr. Manning either to Your General or to yourself for perusal. I request you, my dear Son, return them as soon as you can” ( Laurens Papers description begins Philip M. Hamer et al., eds. The Papers of Henry Laurens. 16 vols. Columbia, S.C., 1968–2003. description ends , 14:244). Henry Laurens had enclosed the letters written to him by William Manning, 11 April, and Richard Oswald, 12 April (ibid., 13: 103–5, 107–13), with his letter to GW of 18 June.

5On the draft, the remainder of this paragraph, after revisions, reads: “till reminded thereof by your enquiry after the Letters from Messrs Manning & Oswald which I then, and not till then recollected had been sent for my perusal. I now return them & Govr Johnstone’s Letter with my thanks for the favor of the perusal of them. I am convinced that no appology to you can be of equal weight with the recital of a fact—I must therefore take shame to myself & acknowledge that this is the truth which I have here related—I hope no inconvenience has arisen from the detention of these Letters contrary to my intention & much more so to my wish.”

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