George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Joseph Jones, 21 February 1781

From Joseph Jones

Phila: 21st Febry 1781

Dear Sr

I beg leave to mention to you a young Gentleman captured by the Enemy when the Buckskin fell into their hands in Chesapeake Bay and who was put on shore under parole and wishes to be discharged from the Obligation as soon as possible as he conceives it restrains him not only from acting in the Field should the situation of his Country require his Services but even from attending the Hospitile for his instruction wch he is very desirous of doing The person I speak of is Dr Jno. Lewis a Son of the late Mr Charles Lewis whose name I mentd to you some years ago while he was in New York and being refused the liberty of coming out was at length obliged to return to Great Britain. His parole is I think singular as it extends only to his not doing or speaking any thing to the prejudice of the Enemy witho[u]t the clause of rendering himself when called for.1

You will receive from the president a Copy of a Report which has passed in Congress in consequence of Col. Harrisons Communications2—you will also be informed of the arrival of Provost with a reinforcement to the Enemy in the South and of his progress since his arrival3 Arnold’s position at Portsmouth Provost in North Carolina and Cornwallis in South Carolina will I fear effectually obstruct the supplies from our State or so delay them as to render Greenes situation critical. If the French Ships from Rhode Island shall suceed in their enterprise in the Chesapeake the event will be propitious and produce the happiest effects—Our state will be thereby further aided by a supply of 1000 stand Arms and some Stores retaken in the Comité and sent forward in one of the French Frigates.4 The arrival of Provost and the great want of Arms in the Southern States it must be confessed presents a rather gloomy prospect and under this temper of Mind you will receive a Letter reiterating what has I think been several times intimated, a desire that you will pay particular attention to the Southern department5—I wish we could but content ourselves with a communication of Facts and any reflections upon them for illustration leaving the combination and execution of the various operations of a Campaign to those whose business it is to project and execute them. P. Jones’s arrivel gives us no releif in cloathing or Arms, a disappointment the more to be regretted as our wants increase yet we know not whom to blame—Jones will I expect unfold this dark and as yet mysterious business.6 I presume you must have been informed that Virga has receded from her former instructions to her Delegates in Congress respecting the claim on her part to the free Navigation of the Mississippi wch if approved by Congress will probably bring abt an alliance with Spain and an acknowledgmt of our Independence.7 No doubt this event if it takes place will give us more Credit in Europe but we pay dear for it. We are abt appointing the Officers who are to be at the head of our great Departments. yesterday Mr Morris withot a vote agt him (tho S.A. and his Colleague Genl W. declined to ballot) was chosen Financier—I cannot say he will accept, but have some hopes he will8—Our Finances want a Necker to arrange and reform them9—Morris is I believe the best qualified of any our Country affords for the arduous undertaking. we shall in a day or two appoint the Officers for the foreign affairs and the Marine—I wish we had Men in these Offices as well qualified to execute them as Morris in the Treasury—Some however that are nominated if they can be chosen will do very well. We are under difficulties abt the War Office, least any person we could now put into it may answer so well as the present Commissrs—this may and I expect will postpone that appointment. with great esteem I am Dr Sr yr aff. Servt

Jos: Jones

ALS, enclosed in Jones to GW, 27 Feb., DLC:GW. GW replied to Jones on 24 March (CSmH).

1John Lewis apparently was captured on the “BUCKSKIN HERO, (A Prize to his Majesty’s Ship Iris) a Rebel Frigate, pierced for 28 Guns,” which was advertised for auction in The Royal Gazette (New York) for 3 Jan. 1781.

4For the sailing of this small French squadron, see Destouches to GW, 7 Feb. and this date; see also Rochambeau to GW, 12 February.

5This request was contained in Huntington’s second letter to GW of 20 February.

6For Capt. John Paul Jones’s arrival at Chester, Pa., just downriver from Philadelphia, see Edward Hand to GW, 18 February.

7See JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 19:151–54.

8For the election of Robert Morris to serve as superintendent of finance, and for his acceptance on 14 May, see JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 19:180 and 20:499. Samuel Adams and Artemas Ward were delegates from Massachusetts.

9Jacques Necker was the French minister of finance.

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