George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Hancock, 19 January 1781

To John Hancock

Head Quarters [New Windsor] 19th Jany 1781.

Dear Sir.

My Aide de Camp Col. Laurens is charged with a commission of the most critical importance from Congress to the Court of Versailles.1 The Alliance Frigate is ordered to convey him to France, but from the exhausted state of our continental resources in every department, delays which would be fatal to the objects of his mission are to be apprehended unless the influence of yr Exy or2 assistance of your state can be obtained in manning and fitting the Vessel for sea—In these circumstances there is new reason to rejoice that Your Excellency fills a station which gives efficacy to your constant desire of promoting the general interest3—The urgency of the present business demands every effort of influence and authority, and gives Yr Excellency an opportunity of rendering the most essential service to the United States, by interposing as far as may be consistent4 such measures as will give instant dispatch to the Frigate.

Persuaded that it is sufficient to apprise Yr Excellency of the occasion, to engage you to correspondent exertions5—I will only add the assurances of esteem and respect with which I am Dr Sir Yr Most Obedt and Most Hbe Servt6

Go: Washington

DfS, in John Laurens’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1Congress had named GW’s aide-de-camp John Laurens special minister to the court of France (see his letter to GW of 6 Nov., and n.2 to that document; see also GW to Laurens, 15 Jan., first letter).

2GW wrote the previous five words above the line on the draft.

3Hancock again sat as governor of Massachusetts (see his letter to GW, 17 Nov. 1780, and GW to Hancock, 9 Jan. 1781).

4GW wrote the previous six words above the line on the draft.

5For the report of Laurens on the readiness for sea of the Continental frigate Alliance, see his letter to GW of 4–7 Feb.; see also Hancock to GW, 5 February.

6GW wrote the previous thirteen words on the draft.

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