George Washington Papers

From George Washington to James McHenry, 11 December 1781

Philadelphia 11h December 1781

Dear Sir

I have received your favor of the 3d Inst. inclosing your Resignation which I have delivered in to the Secy at War. I am convinced your transition from the Military to the Civil Line will be attended with good consequences, as you will be able to communicate that kind of information to the Body of which you are now a Member, which they often stand in need of in times like the present—And as you seem of opinion that my sentiments on public affairs will give weight to your endeavours, I with great pleasure open a correspondence on that subject.

You know it is an old and true Maxim that to make a good peace, you ought to be well prepared to carry on the War. This, the sentiment of our Ally, is not only strongly pressed upon Congress by his Minister here, but by the Gentlemen at the heads of our three great departments—Finance—Foreign Affairs and War—My stay in Town is merely to assist in and forward the several arrangements which are upon the Carpet, and I believe you are sufficiently acquainted with me to suppose that I do not fail to urge vigorous measures. I am happy in finding no want of disposition in Congress to adopt the measures recommended by their Committees and their executive Officers. The requisitions which they have made and which they will shortly, make upon the States will evince this—It will afterwards lay with the States to determine whether we are, early in the next Campaign, to take advantage of what we have gained this, or whether we are as usual to suffer the enemy to bring their reinforcements from Europe before we draw ours from the neighbourhood of the Army as it were.

I need not say more to you at this time indeed I hope you will have no occasion to make use of the hints I have given. For I have the highest opinion of the good will and Vigor of your Legislature. I am with very great Esteem Dr Sir yr most obt and hble Servt

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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