George Washington Papers

From George Washington to George Clinton, 10 December 1780

To George Clinton

New Windsor 10th Decemr 1780

Dr Sir,

I thank you for the perusal of the inclosed proceedings of the Convention at Hartford.1

The letter herewith, left open for your perusal to Genl Clinton, calls for Majr Davis; and such Officers as you may want, & he can spare, for the purpose of Recruiting Men for the York Battalions. You will be so good therefore as to act in this matter as you shall think best.2 With much esteem & respect I am Dr Sir Yr Most Obedt & Affe Hble Servt

Go: Washington

ADfS, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Clinton had visited GW (see GW to Udny Hay, 27 Nov., n.4, and the letter from Clinton to his brother referenced at n.2 below).

1The enclosed proceedings from the convention of delegates from New York and the New England states held at Hartford has not been identified, but the proceedings, which broadly promised more punctual and effective support for the Continental army in men and supplies, can be found at William Bradford to Thomas Jefferson, 22 Nov., in Jefferson Papers description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 41 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950–. description ends , 4:138–41; see also Alexander McDougall to GW, 30 Oct., and n.5.

GW wrote William Bradford, president of the convention, from New Windsor on 22 Dec.: “I have received the Proceedings of the Convention at Hartford, which you did me the honor to enclose. It is but just to acknowledge, that I was much pleased with the salutary measures recommended, and cannot but flatter myself, if carried into execution, they will be attended with very happy consequences” (Df, in David Humphreys’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW). The enclosed proceedings cover twenty-six manuscript pages and are docketed: “Proceedings of the Convention of the four Eastern States and New York at Hartford. transmitted by Govr Bradford the President. Novr 1780” (DLC:GW).

British general Henry Clinton received a copy of a letter in cipher from Connecticut on 4 Feb. 1781. The informant had sounded “members of the secret Convention” and reported its “real business” was “to form and cement an union or coalition between the Eastern and York Colonies (it being apprehended they must ultimately fight for themselves); and [to] raise the necessary supplies for the army; to recommend (’tho this was done in the language of despair) to their respective Assemblys to instruct their delegates in Congress to urge the completion of the confederacy; and to vest the chieftain with a dictatorship for a limited time; and this with a view to get riddance of Congress. However this last met with warm opponents and the consideration of it is deferred till the next session of the Assembly.

“A defection on the part of the Southern colonies induces these measures” (“Clinton’s Secret Record,” description begins “Sir Henry Clinton’s Original Secret Record of Private Daily Intelligence.” Contributed by Thomas Addis Emmett, with an Introduction and Notes by Edward F. DeLancey. Magazine of American History with Notes and Queries 10 (1883): 327–42, 409–19, 497–507; 11 (1884): 53–70, 156–67, 247–57, 342–52, 433–44, 533–44. description ends 10:410–11, brackets in source). The term “chieftain” referred to GW.

2GW enclosed his letter to Brig. Gen. James Clinton written at New Windsor on this date: “Upon receipt of this you will send Majr Davis of Wisenfeldt’s Regiment to his Excellency Governr Clinton, whose Orders he is to obey—You will be pleased to send such other Officers as the Governor may require, & the State of the Regimts in the York line can spare, to his Excellency, for the purpose of recruiting—They will receive their Instructions from him—and a reimbursement of their Expences from the State.

“As it will be a less waste of time (every moment of which is precious) it is probable the Governor may furnish the means, & send his Instructions through you to the Officers who may recruit in the Northern & Western parts of the State—In this case you will give every assistance in your power to facilitate this important business” (ALS, NjP: De Coppet Collection; ADfS, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW; the cover of the ALS, which GW also signed, is addressed to Clinton at Albany; for its forwarding and related instructions, see George Clinton to James Clinton, 12 Dec., found at James Clinton to GW, 5 Dec., n.2). James Clinton replied to GW on 20 December. The new establishment of the Continental army created urgency for this recruiting (see General Orders, 1 Nov.).

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