George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Edmund Randolph, 7 November 1780

To Edmund Randolph

Hd Qrs Passaic Falls 7th Novr 1780.

Dr Sir,

The Inclosed will make the third letter I have written to Mr Nicholas within twelve months upon an interesting matter to Colo. Fairfax, without receiving an answer. As I am convinced a miscarriage of my letters, and not inattention in him is the cause of it, I take the liberty of addressing the inclosed to your care, & shall thank you for the bare acknowledgment of it.1

At this moment, we are in a disagreeable state of suspence respecting the military operations to the Southward—having heard almost in the same breath—that Leslie had made a landing in Virginia (in more than one place) & had reimbarked with precipitation—owing it is said, to the retreat of Lord Cornwallis; which is again attributed to a considerable force of French or Spanish Troops having Landed in his rear. A confirmation of these reports wholly—or in part, would be very acceptable.2

The Military harvest which the early part of this Campaign promised to yield us has vanished as the morning dew leaving not a trace behind it, but disappointment & sorrow & the recollection of past distresses3— Congress, at length, have resolved to do that which an adoption of four years ago, would ’ere this have put an end to the War and left us in peace under our Vines & fig trees I mean the raising of an Army for the War—but now there are wanting many concomitants to bring about this event—among which, placing our finance upon a proper footing is not the least difficult.4

The Wisdom of the States, and all their exertions should be called forth to effect these great ends; for well convinced I am, till we get an army for the War, and proper funds to support it we never shall obtain an honourable Peace; but must sink under the Expence of temporary enlistmts and th[ei]r attendant evils.

I should be glad to know if a letter of mine to you, dated the 12th of April last, on the affairs of Colonel Mercer & his Mortgagees, ever reached your hands? and if it did what has been done in consequence of it?5 My best respects to Mrs Randolph.6 With much truth and Affection I am—Dr Sir Yr Most obedt Servt

Go: Washington

ADfS, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. GW addressed his draft to Randolph at Richmond, where he then served as Virginia’s attorney general. No reply from Randolph to GW has been found.

2The defeat of a largely Loyalist force at Kings Mountain, S.C., caused Lt. Gen. Charles Cornwallis and his command to retreat from North Carolina (see General Orders, 27 Oct., and n.2). No French or Spanish troops landed in the British rear. For Maj. Gen. Alexander Leslie’s expedition to Virginia, see GW to Samuel Huntington, 17 Oct., n.2, and Nathanael Greene to GW, 31 Oct., and n.4 to that document.

3GW refers to an allied assault on New York City that never materialized (see GW to James Bowdoin, 28 Aug., and n.2 to that document).

4For the new arrangement of the Continental army, see Huntington to GW, 26 Oct., n.1, and General Orders, 1 November.

GW made similar observations when he wrote William Fitzhugh on 8 November.

6Elizabeth Nicholas Randolph (1753–1810), the youngest daughter of Robert Carter Nicholas, had married Randolph in August 1776.

Letter not found: from Abraham Skinner, 7 Nov. 1780. GW wrote Skinner on 8 Nov.: “I have recd yours of the 7th.”

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