March 24, 1776

george-washington-writing-at-his-desk-by-candlelight

In Paris, France, Count de Vergennes, French Foreign Minister, directs his ambassador in London to deny charges that French agents had met with George Washington and the Continental Congress.  In fact, two French merchants had met Washington on December 14, 1775 and Congressional delegates on December 30, 1775.

In Boston, although the British have all left the land and have entered the harbor, they have not left the harbor, making Washington suspicious that they have plans to enact some kind of attack before they leave.    “The Enemy still continuing in the harbour, without any apparent cause for it, after Winds and Weather have favoured their sailing; leaves abundant reason to suspect, that they may have some design of aiming a blow at us before they depart—The General therefore in the strongest terms imaginable, recommends to the commanding Officer of every Corps, to prevent his men that are off duty, from straggling, but to have them ready to turn out at a moments warning, with their Arms, & Ammunition in good order—For this purpose a strict attention is to be paid to Roll-calling, and all delinquents severly punished.  The General Officers in their several departments, are to take care that proper Alarm posts are assign’d every Corps, that no confusion, or disorder may ensue, in case we should be called out: In a particular manner General’s Putnam and Sullivan, are to attend to those of the Centre, and Left Division: As the Enemy’s evacuation of Boston, will render a new dispostion proper, they are to meet and consult on this point without delay. Genl Green will dispose of the Regiments in Boston, to the best advantage.”

General Washington writes to John Hancock, President of the congress, regarding the issues of those Tories who had been in Boston and what should be their treatment.  “It having been suggested to me that there was considerable property &c. belonging to persons who had from the first of the present unhappy contest manifested an unfriendly & invetarate disposition, in the Town of Boston, I thought it prudent to write to the Honourable General Court upon the subject, that It might be inquired after & secured, a Copy of the Letter I herewith send you, and submit It to Congress thro you, whether they will not determine how It is to be disposed of, & as to the appropriation of the money arising from the sale of the same.”

Washington is aware that members of the British are expected to arrive to discuss terms with Washington, and is concerned that he be treated with the respect due to a commanding general of an independent nation.  In his letter to Hancock, however, he asks not about their treatment of him, but his treatment of them.  There have been so many accounts from England all agreeing that Commissioners are coming to America to propose terms for an accomodation as they say, that I am Inclined to think the time of their arrival not very far off—If they come to Boston, which probably will be the case, If they come to America at all—I shall be under much embarrasment respecting the manner of receiving them & the mode of treatment that ought to be used—I therefore pray that Congress will give me direction & point out the line of conduct to be pursued—Whether they are to be considered as Ambassadors & to have a pass or permit for repairing thro the Country to Philadelphia or to any other place, or whether they are to be restrained in any & what manner. I shall anxiously wait their orders & whatever they are, comply with them litterally.”

Join us for Philadelphia’s best historical walking tours at Bow Tie Tours.  We have a number of tours regarding George Washington, including Washington’s Footsteps, Valley Forge, Washington’s Crossing and Battle of Trenton, the Battle of Brandywine, and the Battle of Monmouth.  Contact us at Bow Tie Tours to learn more about this man and the exciting time he lived.

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