George Washington Papers

From George Washington to General Henry Clinton, 22 October 1780

To General Henry Clinton

Head Quarters [Preakness] Octr 22nd 1780


In answer to my proposals for a Resident Commissary with the respective Armies, Major General Phillips has transmitted me another set of proposals substantially the same; except that they require these Commissaries to be appointed by the Commanders in Chief, each by his own authority.1 It is impossible for me to enter into such an agreement, as I have no power to act but by a derived authority from Congress, and all my stipulations necessarily suppose this—I now send a new set of proposals under the only form admissible on my part, which if agreeable to Your Excellency we will sign and interchange.2 I shall be glad to receive your determination as speedily as possible, and I hope there will be found no unnecessary impediments to a business, in which the convenience and accomodation of the prisoners on both sides are so much interested.3 I am Sir Your Most Obedient Servt

Go: Washington

LS, in David Humphreys’s writing, P.R.O.: 30/55, Carleton Papers; Df, dated 21 Oct., DLC:GW; copy, DNA:PCC, item 152; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; Varick transcript, dated 21 Oct., DLC:GW.

1See GW to Huntington, 24 Aug., and n.6, and William Phillips to GW, 23 Sept., and n.2 to that document.

2GW’s aide-de-camp Tench Tilghman drafted the undated “Propositions respecting the Agents to be appointed for prisoners.” It reads: “These are General Washingtons propositions: 1st The respective Agents are to be permitted to visit the prisoners confined where they reside, at least once a Week, in the presence of an Officer appointed for the purpose, in order to collect Returns—see that they are regularly served, with provisions to which they are intitled—to hear their complaints if any—and in general to examine into the state of their health, accommodation or wants; all which, they may report to the Commander in Chief in whose Lines they are, and also to their own Commander in Chief, if they deem it essential. They are to be permitted, in like manner, and for the same purposes, to visit such other prisoners as may be confined at more remote posts, whenever they judge it necessary.

“2d The Agents are to be allowed to receive and distribute, among the prisoners, such provision, Cloathing and Necessaries as may be transmitted for their use from time to time. they shall also be at liberty, in addition, to purchase these Articles from the adverse party—and to negociate Bills of Exchange for the purpose of paying for such purchases—the Board of the Officers—and for their own Exigencies.

“3d Each Agent to be allowed to dwell by himself, with his family if he has one, without having any person billetted with him, or being subjected to any impositions whatever, under such general regulations as the respective Commanders in Chief or other proper Officers may direct.

“4th Each Agent to be at liberty to pass to the Army to which he belongs, whenever he may think it necessary, for obtaining supplies for the prisoners, or settling his accounts, subject to the controul however of the Commander in Chief within whose Lines he is, in case circumstances should require his being delayed. The Agents upon this and all occasions to consider themselves under parole not to divulge or do any thing prejudicial to the party with whom they reside.

“5th In case of misbehaviour, or a charge of misbehaviour, in either Agent, on a complaint thereof, and request to the Commander in Chief under whom he acts, he shall be recalled and another appointed.

“6th If an Agent should resign or be recalled, he is to be permitted to return with his family and effects under the sanction of a Flag.

“7th Each Commander in Chief to be answerable for the good Behaviour of the Agent appointed on his part, who shall not intermeddle with public Affairs or the politics of the place where he is Resident.

“8th The Agents on either side to be secure in their persons and Effects and to be treated with suitable respect while they continue in Office” (DLC:GW; variant copy in P.R.O.: 30/55, Carleton Papers).

3Clinton assented when he replied to GW on 4 Nov. (DLC:GW).

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