George Washington Papers

To George Washington from James Mitchell Varnum, 23 June 1782

Providence June 23d, 1782.


Colo. Olney will have the Honor of delivering this to your Excellency: His Attention to the good of the Service, during his late Residence here, has been equal to his former Assiduities, and I am confident will meet your full Approbation. I wish to Heaven the same Application could be made to the Legislation of this State, so far as respects their political Measures. They have granted Money; they collect it as rapidly as could be supposed; & they have done well in raising of Recruits; but they have suffered their Glory to be tarnished in Matters of Finance. Such is the dreadful Situation of this Country that it is in the Power of any State to frustrate the Intention of all the others! This Calamity is so Founded in the Articles of Confederation, and will continually increase ’till that baseless Fabric shall yield to some kind of Government, the Principles of which may be correspondent to the Tone of the Passions. The Citizens at large are totally destitute of that Love of Equality which is absolutely requisite to support a democratic Republick: Avarice, Jealousy & Luxury controul their Feelings, & consequently, absolute Monarchy, or a military State, can alone rescue them from all the Horrors of Subjugation. The circulating Cash of the Country is too trifling to raise a Revenue by Taxation for supporting the War, & too many of the People are obstinately averse to those artificial Aids which would supply its Deficiency. In this Situation, every Moment augments our Danger, by fixing the Habits of Licentiousness, and giving Permanency to British Persevearence: And should Dejection in our Ally succeed to Misfortune, the Instability of national Policy may give Place to the Sentiments of the mediating Powers, "that we are too young to govern ourselves." At all Events, this Country hangs upon the Issue of the present Campaign! If a great Exertion could be made, by Militia or otherwise, to repossess ourselves of New York, we may possibly realise the Blessings of Independence, But Time alone will unfold the Decrees of Fate. I have taken the Liberty of inclosing to your Excellency a Deposition, wch will explain the Wishes of a destressed Woman, respecting a Servant. If the Regulations of the Army will admit of his Discharge, she will be happy; & particularly so, in your Excellency’s permitting Colo. Olney to transmit your Orders upon her Application. I have the Honor of being, with the most perfect Esteem & Regard, Your Excellency’s most obedient & very humble Servt

J.M. Varnum

DLC: Papers of George Washington.


State of Rhode Island &c. Providence 3d April 1782.

I Joseph Mason of Swanzey in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Yeoman being of Lawful Age do depose and say That Charles Hascall a Negro Boy of about Eighteen years of Age, who was put by his Mistress Miss Sarah Hascall of Rehoboth to live with Mr Moses Fessenden of Heverhill for the Term of three years or till he should be Twenty one years of Age is the Proper slave of the said Sarah Haskall, said Boy being born in the Family of the said Sarah and of a Negro Woman who then did and now belongs to the said Sarah, And that I have since seen sd Boy at Boston, at Major Pettingales, Whom he serves. That Major Pettingale informed me that he had Enlisted into the first Massachusetts Regiment by the Procurement of the sd Mr Fessenden for the term of three years, and that Major Pettingale further informed me that he Believed that Mr Fessenden Received of the Class for which he Enlisted Three Hundred Dollars.

Joseph Mason

When personally appeared the above [signed by Major and Made solemn Oath to the Truth of proceeding Deposition by him submitted Before me].

James Arnold Jus.Peace

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