George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Hancock, 10 February 1790

From John Hancock

Boston February 10th 1790


At the request of the Senate and House of Representatives of this Commonwealth, I have the honor to enclose you some papers evidential of the encroachments made by the Subjects of the King of England upon the Eastern Frontier of this Commonwealth.1

If the papers transmitted do not give satisfactory proof upon this point, I wish that Congress would direct a mode in which a proper and speedy enquiry may be made.

A speedy investigation of this dispute may have a tendency to prevent a disagreeable contention which is likely to take place between the people in the frontiers of the two nations. I have the honor to be with sentiments of Esteem Sir Your most obedient humble Servant

John Hancock

Copy, DNA: RG 46, First Congress, Records of Executive Proceedings, President’s Messages—Foreign Relations.

For background to this letter, see GW to the U.S. Senate, 9 Feb. 1790 (first letter), source note.

1Among the enclosures was a resolution of the Massachusetts legislature requesting the governor to “write to the President of the United States in behalf of this Commonwealth informing him that the subjects of his Britannick Majesty have made and still continue to make encroachments on the eastern boundary of this Commonwealth, in the opinion of the Legislature, contrary to the treaty of peace; and that his Excellency be further requested to forward such documents as may be necessary to substantiate the facts” (DNA: RG 46, First Congress, President’s Messages, Foreign Relations). In his letter to the Senate of 18 Feb., transmitting Hancock’s letter, GW described the enclosures as “copies of some of the papers which were delivered to you with my communication of the ninth of this month.” Tobias Lear listed the enclosures in his letter to Roger Alden of 19 Feb.: “I am directed by the President of the United States to transmit to you—to be deposited in the Office of the Secretary of State, a Letter from His Excellency John Hancock to the President of the United States, dated Feby 10th 1790—together with a Resolve of the Senate and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts—and sundry documents respecting the eastern boundary of the United States. The documents are as follow—

Extract from a letter from His Excellency Jno. Adams Oct. 25th 1784—

Nathan Jones’s deposition—March 17th 1785

John Mitchell’s—do—Octr 9th 1784

Generals Lincoln & Knox report relative to the British encroachments—Octr 19th 1784.

Letter from Rufus Putnam Esqr. directed to the Committee on Eastern lands, relative to the eastern boundary of the United States” (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters). See also DHFC, description begins Linda Grant De Pauw et al., eds. Documentary History of the First Federal Congress of the United States of America, March 4, 1789-March 3, 1791. 20 vols. to date. Baltimore, 1972–. description ends 2:364–66, 367, 373, 368–73.

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