George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Moultrie, July 1790

From William Moultrie

Charleston S. Carolina July 1790


I have the honor to transmit to you a Resolve1 of this States Society of the Cincinnati enter’d into the 8th instant, expressing the Society’s disapprobation of the conduct of the Secretary General in not sending forward in proper time the notice required by the letter from the Chairman of their standing Committee & addressd to him dated the 2nd March 1790.

The conduct of the Secretary General on this occasion carry’s with it such marks of indignity and a want of respect to the Society, that they conceive themselves fully justified in calling for an explanation and that reasons may be assigned for a behaviour from which they feel an injury.

They not only have been unrepresented in the last Triennial meeting,2 but they have been precluded from having that general communication with their Bretheren which the other State Societies have enjoy’d & which is evidently calculated to preserve the Bond of union & to support the harmony of the whole.

The application made by letter from the Chairman of the Standing Committee was in consiquence of the directions which he had received—it was official—and ought to have been particularly attended to as such—Nevertheless no answer whatever was given to this Letter unless the enclosed copy3 of a letter from the Secretary General directed to Major Genl Moultrie can be taken as one, and which could not possibly answer any other end, than a continued mark of want of attention and respect, the very date of it shew’d the impossibility of its being useful in giving timely information.

Thus Sir in compliance with their desire I have given you, as President General, the sence of the society upon the behaviour of the Secretary General on this occasion. I have the honor to be—Sir Your Most Obed. huml. Servt

Willm Moultrie

LS, NNGL: Knox Papers.

William Moultrie served as president of the South Carolina Society of the Cincinnati until his death in 1805. GW sent the above letter and its enclosure to the secretary general of the Society of the Cincinnati, Henry Knox, on New Year’s Day 1791, noting that they were “lately put into my hands. I send them for your information, and will transmit such answer as you may incline to make” (ALS, NNGL: Knox Papers). No further correspondence referring to them has been found.

1The enclosure, dated Charleston, July 1790, reads: “At an adjourned meeting of the State Society of Cincinnati for South Carolina; The Report of the Committee on the conduct of Major Genl Knox Secretary General to the General Society of the Cincinnati respecting his letter giving information of the place for the triennial meeting being Read and agreed to—Resolved that a Copy of this Report, with a letter to be drawn up by the standing Committee and signed by the President be directed and transmitted to the President General.”

“‘The Standing Committee to whom was referr’d the letter of Major General Knox Secry Genl of the Genl Society of the Cincinnati to Major Genl Moultrie—Report that it is their opinion that Genl Knox has not treated the Society of this State with proper attention in omitting to forward his notification of the place of the general meeting of the Society in time for our Delegates to attend thereat; and also that his not answering the letter of Colo. Drayton Chairman of the Standing Committee of the 2nd March last desiring information for the government of the Delegates of this States Society in this particular were the causes of our not being represented in the last triennial meeting; And the Committee do recommend that a Letter be wrote to the President General of the Cincinnati expressive of the Society’s disapprobation of the conduct of the Secretary General in this case’” (NNGL: Knox Papers).

2For the triennial meeting of the General Society of the Cincinnati on 3 and 4 May 1790, see GW to the Delegates of the State Societies of the Cincinnati, May 1790, n.1.

3The enclosed copy of Knox’s letter to “The President of the Cincinnati of the State of So. Carolina,” dated New York, 14 April 1790, reads: “The State Society of the Cincinnati of So. Carolina will please to remember that the triennial meeting of the Cincinnati is to be held in the City of Philadelphia on the first monday in May next agreable to the Circular Letter written by the members assembled by adjournment at the City of Philadelphia on the 18th day of May 1788.” It is noted on the copy that the letter was received on 25 May 1790 (NNGL: Knox Papers).

Index Entries