George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Thomas Jefferson, 13 September 1779

To Thomas Jefferson

Head Quarters West-point Septr 13th 1779


I have the honor to inclose your Excellency the Copy of a Letter from Mr Loring British Commissary of Prisoners to our Commissary of prisoners respecting the measures which have been taken in the Case of Lieutenant Govener Hamilton and the enemys intentions of retaliation in Consequence.1 By this your Excellency will be able to Judge how far it may be expedient to relax in the present treatment of Mr Hamilton2—Colo. Mathews, who will have the honor of delivering this, comes out at the request of the Virginia Officers in Captivity to solicit such indulgence for him and his companions, as will induce the enemy to relinquish the Execution of their threats.3 I have the honor to be With perfect Respect & Esteem Your Excellencys Most Obed. Serv.

G. Washington

Copy, in Caleb Gibbs’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1The enclosure has not been identified. However, in his reply of 2 Oct., Jefferson indicated that it contained a threat not to exchange any captive officers from the Virginia Continental Line until the alleged mistreatment of Henry Hamilton came to an end. Hamilton, the former lieutenant governor of Detroit, had been captured by Virginia forces at Vincennes in the Illinois Country (now Indiana) in February. For Hamilton’s capture and subsequent confinement by the Virginia council, see Daniel Brodhead to GW, 29 May, n.1, and Jefferson to GW, 19 June and 17 July; see also GW to Jefferson, 10 July.

2For the Virginia council’s justification of their close confinement of Hamilton and for GW’s advice to the council on his treatment, see GW to Jefferson, 6–10 Aug., and n.1 to that document.

3For more on this affair, see Frederick Haldimand to GW, 29 Aug., and also Jefferson to GW, 1 and 8 October.

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