George Washington Papers

Circular to Six States, 22 September 1778

Circular to Six States

Qrs Fredericksburg Septr 22d 1778

Sir Head

I do myself the honor of transmitting you, Copies of two Letters from Colo. Biddle and Charles Pettit Esquire, upon the subject of forage.1 The representations of these Gentlemen are so full and so well founded, respecting the difficulties that attend the getting this important article, from the reluctance of the Holders to part with it—and the enormous & exorbitant prices they demand for it, that I shall not trouble you with many2 observations upon the occasion. However, I think it necessary to add, that unless some effectual means can be devised, by which the Army may be supplied with forage, with more certainty—and on terms much more moderate, than it is at present, it will be impossible for it to exist long. What the means will be, I shall not attempt to point out, for I confess the subject appears to me to be involved in great intricacy; and I am the less inclined to enter upon it, from a perfect conviction that you and the3 branches of your Legislature will be forward to adopt every expedient, that shall seem calculated, to afford the smallest relief in this interesting and essential point. I have the Honor to be with great respect & esteem Sir Your Most Obedt servt

Go: Washington

p.s. The rates of Waggonage and Cartage also call for the interposition of the Legislature. They are now exorbitant in the extreme.

LS, addressed to Jeremiah Powell, in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, M-Ar; LS, addressed to William Greene, in Alexander Hamilton’s writing, R-Ar; LS, addressed to George Bryan, in James McHenry’s writing, DLC:GW; LB, addressed to Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., Ct; Df, addressed to all, in Harrison’s writing, DLC:GW; copy, addressed to William Livingston, MHi: William Livingston Papers; copy, addressed to all, enclosed in GW to Henry Laurens, 23 Sept. 1778, DNA:PCC, item 152; copy, addressed to all, DNA:PCC, item 169; Varick transcript, addressed to all, DLC:GW.

The six states to which this circular letter was sent are: Massachusetts (Council President Jeremiah Powell), Rhode Island (Gov. William Greene), Connecticut (Gov. Jonathan Trumbull, Sr.), New York (Gov. George Clinton), New Jersey (Gov. William Livingston), and Pennsylvania (Vice President George Bryan). On the draft, Harrison wrote above the postscript: “P.S. to Letters to Honble Jeremiah Powell & Govr Trumbull & Greene.” In addition to those three letters, the postscript appears on the copy of the letter to Livingston in the Livingston Papers at MHi, but it is not on the LS to Bryan in DLC:GW. Neither the letter to Clinton nor any copy of it has been found. Notations on the LS to Powell indicate that the Massachusetts council and house of representatives read that letter on 28 Sept. and that the house committed it to “the Committee on General Greenes Letter.”

1The enclosures were copies of Charles Pettit’s second letter to GW of 10 Sept., and its enclosure, Clement Biddle’s letter to Pettit of 6 Sept., which is printed in note 1 to Pettit’s letter.

2On the draft manuscript, the “m” in “many” is struck out, and the word appears as “any” on all of the surviving manuscript versions except the LS to Powell.

3The word “other” appears at this place on the other surviving manuscript versions.

Index Entries