George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Arthur St. Clair, 12 September 1793

From Arthur St. Clair

Fort Washington September 12th 1793


General Wayne has informed me that Ensign Morgan, who has been tried upon the charges exhibited against him by me, is found guilty, and sentenced to be dismissed from the Army; but that the Court Martial having been held by Orders from th⟨e⟩ W⟨ar⟩ Office to him, he does not think himself at Liberty ⟨mutilated ⟩ Sentence into execution, but refers it back to you ⟨mutilated ⟩ approbation or disaproval; otherwise, the Application I am about to trouble you with, would have been made to him.1

I should despise myself Sir, were I capable of prostituting a public prosecution to the gratification of private resentment. And although there can be no doubt that Mr Morgan intended an Injury to me, at the same time that he was committing a public Offence, he failed in effecting it; and I have not, nor have had any resentment, but that of contempt. My sole Object in arresting him was, to vindicate the military Laws and the discipline of the Army, which I considered as a Duty incumbent on me; and that Object is, perhaps, as much effected by the condemnation as it would be by inflicting the punishment: If then, Sir, it should appear to you, in the same light, and there be no impropriety in it, I would request that the punishment may be remitted.

Mr Morgan is a young Man, Sir, who, in this case has, I suppose, been misled by others, without much considering what he was about. (Why others should have either engaged in calumniating me, or inducing him to do it, I know not: And the Business has led me to a very serious retrospection; and I declare that I cannot find the instance, in my whole life, where I have given any person an unprovoked cause of offence) ⟨mutilated⟩ has no other profession, and, if the risque he has now run ⟨mutilated ⟩r Effect, he may yet be of Service to his Country ⟨mutilated h⟩ave another reason for interceding for him, which is the great Affection I bore to his Grand father Mr John Baynton, a Man who was truly amiable, and respectable in every sense of the Word.2 With the greatest Respect and regard I have the honor to be Sir, Your most obedient Servant

Ar. St Clair

ALS (retained copy), OHi: Arthur St. Clair Papers.

1For discussion of the court-martial of John Morgan, see Henry Knox to GW, 28 July 1792, and n.8, and Knox to GW, 15 Sept. 1792, and n.10. The charges were based on St. Clair’s letter to Knox of 29 March 1792 (see copy in Anthony Wayne’s general orders of 30 Dec. 1793, PHi: Wayne Papers). For an account of the trial sympathetic to Morgan and critical of St. Clair, see Federal Gazette and Philadelphia Daily Advertiser, 17 Oct. 1793. For the final disposition of the case, see Edmund Randolph to GW, 24 Nov. 1793, and source note to that document.

2John Baynton (1726–1773) was a partner in the Philadelphia mercantile firm of Baynton and Wharton (after 1763, Baynton, Wharton and Morgan), which was active in western trade and land speculation. A Quaker, Baynton represented Philadelphia County in the Pennsylvania legislature from 1756 through 1761.

Index Entries