George Washington Papers

To George Washington from James Duane, 19 September 1780

From James Duane

Philadelphia 19th September 1780

My dear General

I am to acknowledge the Honour of your Excellency’s favour of the 9th Instant on the Subject of the Hospital Department. your Sollicitude that Gentlemen of distinguished Merit shoud be employed is a continued Proof of your Attention to the publick good; & those you particularize will not fail of being supported.1

We are deeply engaged on the Subjects of your Excellency’s several Letters; considerable Progress is made in that which is the principle—the raising a permanent Army: Congress unite in Sentiment that it is essential: that it is the surest and the only mean of producing an honourable peace: to render it practicable and certain is the difficulty. There is in my Mind no Question but that it will be submited for your Opinion before it becomes conclusive.2

I wish it was in my power to communicate agreeable Events to co[u]nterballance our Southern Misfortunes; the weight of them daily diminishes by a comparison of Facts with the hasty Information of the commanding officer of the Detachment. The Loss however of Artillery and Baggage, and above all of small Arms, must be severely felt, and the precipitate Flight of the Militia expose us to Insult, after every Alleviation. Of one Comfort we cannot be deprived: Our regular Troops have acquired unfading Glory!3

I find with great Satisfaction that the Legislature of New York have fallen in with the Views of the Eastern Convention and particularly to strengthen the Hands of Congress and enable them to enforce their Decisions:4 We can never manage the publick Interests with Success ’till this Disposition becomes general: Nor can any thing else, under the divine Blessing, be necessary to give Us a decided Superiority over our Enemies. We have now obtaind Military Knowledge in an eminent Degree We have internal Resourses and Reputation abroad: we have a great and respectable Ally: of what then are we destitute but Vigour and Confidence in Government, and publick Spirit in Individual.

I shall be happy to be honourd with a Line after your Interview at Hartford if your Leisure admit I hope it will prove some Relaxation from the severe and anxious Cares which have fallen to your Share too long and with too much Weight.5 permit me to add that I am with every Sentiment of the most affectionate Attachment and most perfect Regard Dear Sir, Your most Obedient humble Servant

Jas Duane


1For GW to Duane, 9 Sept., see GW to John Mathews, same date, source note.

2See Samuel Huntington to GW, 26 Oct., and n.1 to that document.

3Duane comments on Maj. Gen. Horatio Gates and the Battle of Camden (see Huntington to GW, 31 Aug., n.1).

4See George Clinton to GW, 1 Sept., and n.6; see also Alexander McDougall to GW, 30 Oct. (DLC:GW).

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