George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Jay, 8 August 1779

From John Jay

Philadelphia 8th Augt 1779

Sir,

Herewith enclosed is a copy of a Letter from Coll Simmes respecting leave of Absence1—Congress refer This Request to Your Excellency2—The Colonel will be The Bearer of this Letter, & will more fully explain the reason of his applying to Congress in the first Instance.3 I have the honor to be With great Respect & Esteem Your Excellency’s Most Obedt Servant.

LB, DNA:PCC, item 14. Jay also enclosed Congress’s order referring Simms’s request to GW (see GW’s reply to Jay, 19 Aug.). The enclosed copy of the order has not been identified, but 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 14:933.

1Lt. Col. Charles Simms’s letter to Jay, dated 6 Aug. at Philadelphia, reads: “I am so circumstanc’d as to be under a necessity of retiring from the army for sometime and have therefore taken the Liberty of addressing you on that subject.

“My principal reason for requesting leave of absence is this. The assembly of Virginia have open’d a Land office for Granting the Waste and unappropriated Lands within that State.

“The Greater part of the Property I possess consist in Lands on the Waters of the Ohio which I Claim by Improvements &c. and which are unpatented—there is a limitted time allowed by the assembly for ascertaining such Claims.

“I must therefore request leave of absence to attend to that busines—what time it will take to transact it I can’t say; but I will Join the army again as soon as I possibly can with any degree of conveniency” (DNA:PCC, item 78).

2See 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 14:933.

3For GW’s refusal to grant Simms’s request as “incompatible with the public service,” see GW to Jay, 19 August. Despite GW’s refusal, Simms pressed his request with Congress and Congress granted him leave of absence with stipulations (see Simms to Jay, 2 Sept. [DNA:PCC, item 78], and 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 15:1024–25; see also Jefferson Papers, description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 40 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950—. description ends 3:83–84). Despite the grant of leave of absence, Simms claimed that his circumstances would not allow him to rejoin the army, and in November he resigned his commission, which Congress accepted (see Simms to the President of Congress, 18 Nov. [DNA:PCC, item 78] and Samuel Huntington to Simms, 8 Dec. [DNA:PCC, item 14]).

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