George Washington Papers

To George Washington from James Cannon, 28 August 1780

From James Cannon

University. Philada Aug. 28th 1780


I have it in Charge by Message from Mr Gadsden to apply to your Excellency on his Behalf to obtain his Exchange. Your Knowledge of Mr Gadsden, & Disposition to serve your Fellow Citizens, particularly Men of Mr Gadsden’s rank & Merit, who must feel very unhappy, & meet with many Insults while in the Hands of the Enemy, make it unnecessary to urge your Excellency on the Occasion—I would only apologize for the application not coming directly from himself by informing, that, as the Enemy seemed somewhat particular in his Parole, he has made it a Point not to write to anyone of his Friends, among whom he has the Honor of ranking your Excellency, & for whom he has The highest Esteem. Mr Gadsden was Lieut: Governor of South Carolina when Charles-Town fell.1

As a flag will shortly sail for Charles Town2 a Line informing what prospect there is of his Exchange being effected, to be forwarded by the flag would be very acceptable to Mr Gadsden.3 I Have the Honor to be Your Excellency’s most obedt Servt

James Cannon


James Cannon (1740–1782) came from Scotland to attend the College of Philadelphia, where he graduated in 1767 and became a professor of English and mathematics in 1773.

1For the British capture of Charleston, see Duportail to GW, 17 May, n.1.

3GW replied to Cannon from headquarters in Bergen County on 3 Sept.: “I have received your favr of the 28th ulto on the subject of the Exchange of Lt Govr Gadsden. I am at a loss to know what means will be fallen upon to procure the release of the Gentlemen in the Civil line who were made prisoners in South Carolina, as we have few or none of similar Ranks or circumstances in our hands, and our military Officers in captivity considerably exceeded those of the enemy before the surrender of Charles town, which has very much increased the Balance agt us—Partial exchanges are sometimes agreed upon between Gentlemen in the Civil line which may require my interposition to carry them into execution—should such an occasion present itself, or any other in which I can with propriety interest myself I shall with great pleasure embrace an opportunity of being servicable to Govr Gadsden” (Df, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW). For the eventual exchange of Christopher Gadsden, see his letter to GW, 10 Aug. 1781 (DLC:GW).

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