George Washington Papers

From George Washington to John Mathews, 26 February 1781

To John Mathews

Head Quarters New Windsor 26th Feby 1781.

Dear Sir

your favor of the 15th was not receivd till this Morning.1 I am so totally unacquainted with the State of southern prisoners, that I did not chuse to enter into a negociation with Sir Henry Clinton on the idea of a General exchange, altho’ liberty was given me by Congress2—Nothing particular has therefore been done respecting the Gentlemen who are confined at St Augustine, as it could not be supposed that the enemy would consent to a partial exchange of persons of the most considerable influence in the southern States: and who besides are pretended to have rendered themselves obnoxious. Indeed, whenever a negociation is entered into, I foresee difficulties in procuring the liberation of those Gentlemen, who are most of them of eminence in the Civil line, as we have none of similar Rank in our possession to apply to them. However, whenever the matter is gone into, you may be assured that all possible attention shall be paid to them, not only from my own inclination to serve them, but in obedience to an act of Congress which directs that particular regard shall be had to them in the negociation of the exchanges of southern prisoners.3 The interest you take in them will be an additional consideration.

Df, in Alexander Hamilton’s and Tench Tilghman’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Mathews replied to GW on 6 March.

1GW wrote the final six words of the sentence on the draft. See Mathews to GW, 15 February.

3For this resolution, 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 , 18:1031; see also Samuel Huntington to GW, 12 Nov. 1780, and n.3.

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