George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Gordon, 26 October 1780

Jamaica Plain Octr 26. 1780

My Dear Sir

I congratulate your Excellency with the utmost sincerity upon the late discovery of Arnolds treachery. This is the second time, that Heaven has prevented the enemy’s ruining us by secret attempts. While the baseness & villainy of individuals, who had been greatly confided in, must tend to discourage, the special remarkable interpositions of Providence preventing the execution of their wicked plans must hearten you beyond measure.

Our public affairs have been strangely neglected; but the sentiments of people appear to be altering, & I am in hopes that some effectual measures will be taken to procure a sufficient standing army & to provide for & pay the same properly, that so our cause may not be lost for want of it. Dtr Cooper in his sermon yesterday upon occasion of the election, failed not to take notice of it to the General Court. The [prints] will inform you that Mr Hancock is governor. The Lt Governor will be chosen by the General Court, as no one had the majority of the peoples votes. Mr Bowdoin will most probably be elected, & I am not without expectation that he will accept. This State I can’t but suppose will act much better for the common cause than has been the case of late. Reforms must take place, or we have small ground for promising ourselves either a speedy or honorable peace. Your Excellency has not met with due support, answerable to the engagements the United States have laid themselves under to you, but the greater has been your patriotism in continuing to serve them. Your firmness, perseverance & influence have kept us from ruin. The time is coming, I flatter myself, when You will have an army together early enough to begin the campai[gn wi]th offensive operations. What discoveries to our hurt the enemy may have made by the capture of the mail, it is impossible I should conjecture; but considering the season of the year there may be an opportunity of preventing the greatness of the injury that might be occasioned by it otherwise.

Our friend Col. Sears is labouring to convince persons, that our plans must be changed, & that we must pursue a different line of conduct, do we mean to be successful. What he says & the letters he communicates have weight with several: but others will not see, & pretend that there is no danger, even tho’ the enemy should take West Point; for then we should rouze. It is strange how weakly some men will argue, & yet we cannot impute their talk to bad intentions. Would your Excellency favour me with a free letter, setting forth the state & sufferings of the army, the number it should consist of, what should be done to make them comfortable, & the eminent danger of neglecting or delaying to do it, which I might communicate to friends in & out of the General Court, it would I am persuaded answer a good end. The esteem the public have for & the confidence they place in you, would impel them to exertions: but the letters wrote in an official way are not so known out of doors, by the people at large, as should be: & it is too much the case, that the people within have their own selfish views & study to ease or serve their electors rather than the common cause. Besides a private letter in the way of friendship might have a different cast & be viewed in another light than a public one, & therefore have the greater weight. Many suppose that persons declare their mind more fully in the former than the latter. I am desirous of promoting the public good, & therefore have wrote as above, & not from any doubt of the truth of the representations made by other gentlemen in the army. Their names give weight to their private informations: your Excellency’s would add greatly. Mrs Gordon joins in wishing you all desirable blessings, & in praying to be remembered to your Lady. Your Excellency’s sincere Friend & most humble Servant

William Gordon

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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