George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Benjamin Lincoln, 25 November 1780

From Major General Benjamin Lincoln

Boston Novbr 25th 1780

My dear General

I was yesterday honored with your Excellencys favor of ⟨the⟩ 8th instant announcing my ⟨ex⟩change—an event extrem⟨ely⟩ felicitating.1

The General Assembly of this commonwealth, is now sitting, the first on our new c⟨on⟩stitution.2 Had I arrived fro⟨m⟩ camp a few days sooner, I shoul⟨d⟩ probably have been honored wi⟨th⟩ a seat among them.

Though I am happy to inform your Excellency, that the Court are seriously disposed to raise and support an army; yet cannot but lament, that they have fostered an idea, that it is impossible, that men should be engaged for the war—reasoning on such mistaken principles they have digested a plan for raising an army immediately, not for the war, but for three years only—As for many months past my lips have been sealed though in company where raising an army, feeding and clothing them have been the important topics of conversation, I have felt the painful necessity of listening in silent sadness to schemes & propositions, evidently, in my opinion, founded on error. But as soon as the certificate of my exchange was handed me, I readily intermixed with the members of the Assembly, endeavoured to convince them of the fatal consequences, attending a measure of this kind, the necessity of immediately attempting to procure men for the war, and of relinquishing every idea of procuring them for three years only. I think, I have some reason to expect that they will adopt a measure, so evidently having policy & national interest for its basis.

The General Court have appointed a committee on way’s & means, consisting principally of Gentlemen of great patriotism & abilities. I am honored by the court as a member of it. I readily accepted the appointment as every matter respecting our quota of troops, providing funds for the subsistance of the army, magazines &c. &c. will come before them & be the subject of their deliberations.3

I lament the deranged state of our finances, which so shades our public concerns I cannot but flatter my self, considering the wishes of the Court to do what shall be right, that all necessary sums will in fact be raised. From the late numerous arrivals, I have no doubt, but that the army may be clothed, and, if proper attention is paid to the matter, a sufficient supply of meat may be had for the winter—However as the committee is to meet on the morrow, I then can better determine these matters, & will soon do my self the honor of writing again to your Excellency on these subjects.4 I have the honor to be My dear General with all the esteem & respect which the warmest sentiments of affection & the highest confidence can inspire your Excelcy most Ob. se[r]vant

B. Lincoln


2For the adoption and implementation of a new constitution in Massachusetts, see James Bowdoin to GW, 6 April, and William Gordon to GW, 26 Oct., n.2.

3The proposed “Committee of Ways and Means,” to be composed of Lincoln and nine other men, was “non concurred” in the Massachusetts Senate on 30 Nov. and never came into existence (“Mass. Senate Journal, 1780–81” description begins “Journal of [Massachusetts] Senate, 1780–81.” (Microfilm Collection of Early State Records). description ends ).

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