George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Robert R. Livingston, 19 March 1783

Newburgh 19th March 1783

Dear Sir,

I am much obliged to you for your letter of the 12th and for the enclosures—The early communication of such important occurrances rendered the favor double acceptable—Would to God the Articles for a general pacification were as well advanced as those between America and Great Britain but I am not with out fears that that event is at a greater distance than the sanguine one I imagine.

The policy of G. Britain now, if I have formed a right judgment, is to sooth America as much as possible in order to weaken the band and make her uneasy under the Alliance if the policy, or situation of France with respect to the other Belligerent powers renders it necessary to continue the War another Campaign. This, or some Manoeuvre which may be performed with safety during the equipment of the Fleet at Cadiz must undoubtedly, be the cause of the present procrastination of the Negociations at Paris.

What the final issue of them may be, Heaven knows—such an avidity appears among our People to make money—and so feeble the reins of Government (where there is an attempt to exercise them) to restrain the illicit & pernicious entercourse of Trade with the enemy at New York that the fence between them and us is entirely broken down and nothing but an Army quite sufficient to form a close investiture of that place can repair it. Five such Armies as I command would be incompetent—employed in any other way.

The Boats which have been Commissioned to obstruct this trade, are instrumental in carrying it on—and have been caught in the Act—as many other Trading parties also have been by the Guards & Patroles I keep for this purpose, but it avails nothing—for, by Hook, or by Crook—they are certain of acquittal. In truth, I am quite discouraged and have nothing left but to lament the want of virtue & depravity of my Countrymen.

The insidious attempt which has been made to disturb the Peace of this Army and to sow the Seeds of distrust between Civil & Military powers of; and the proceedings consequent thereupon; having been sent to Congress (where you will have an oppertunity of seeing them) I shall add nothing on that head, but a wish that the propriety of early decision may strike that Honble body as sensibly as I feel it.

Your Packet for Govr Clinton was forwarded in the moment of my receiving it. I have the honor to be Dr Sir Yr Most Obedt & Obligd Ser.

Go: Washington

NHi: Robert Livingston Papers.

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