George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Hancock, 9 January 1781

To John Hancock

Head Quarters New Windsor 9th Jany 1781.


I have been honored with your Excellency’s favors of the 17th of November and 22d of December. The first, by some accident, had gone forward to Philadelphia and only reached me, by the post from thence, the 7th instant. Your Excellency will have had good reason to suppose me guilty of neglect, in not answering, sooner, so polite a renewal, on your part, of the correspondence which had been maintained between us while you presided in Congress.1 Independant of personal regard, I am extremely happy in seeing you elected to your present dignified station, as, from my knowledge of your attention to public business, I am assured that every measure which is committed to your care, will be zealously promoted and pointedly executed.2

I am at a loss in what manner to comply with the Act of the Honble the House of Representatives of the 16th of Novemr calling for a Return of all the Arms and Accoutrements that have been taken from the Men of the State of Massachusetts and no compensation made therefor. I know of the detention of no Arms since the dissolution of the first Army in 1775, and they were paid for. There may have been partial stoppages since, but so great has been the change of Officers, that I doubt whether it will be possible to ascertain facts with any degree of accuracy. I will however make enquiry among the Officers who have been longest and most constantly with the army, and see whether a Return can now be obtained, by which justice may be done to the public as well as to individuals. I have the honor to be with the greatest Respect and Esteem Your Excellency’s most obt and humble Servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Tench Tilghman’s writing, M-Ar; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. The docket of the LS reads: “Rec’d Januy 18th. 1781.”

1Hancock resigned as president of Congress on 29 Oct. 1777 (see Charles Thomson to GW, 31 Oct. 1777).

2Hancock had been elected governor of Massachusetts.

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