July 16, 1776


Once again, General Howe sends a soldier under a flag of truce with a letter addressed to “George Washington Esq.”  This letter was refused for the same reason that the letter addressed in the same way had been refused on the 14th – it was not stating Washington’s proper credentials, and was thus a rebuff to not only himself but his cause.  The British agent, Ambrose Serle, was furious, remarking that the letter “was refused for the same idle and insolent reasons as were given before.”  Why he thought there would be a different outcome is difficult to fathom.  Serle continued that “it seems to be beneath a little paltry colonel of militia at the head of banditti or rebels to treat with the representative of his lawful sovereign because ‘tis impossible for him to give all the titles which the poor creature requires.

Meanwhile, John Adams receives words that not only his children are to be given the smallpox vaccination, but that his wife is as well, and is anguished to be so far apart from her.  “In a Letter from your Uncle Smith, and in another from Mr. Mason which I received by this days Post I am informed that you were about taking the Small Pox, with all the Children. . . .It is not possible for me to describe, nor for you to conceive my Feelings upon this Occasion. Nothing, but the critical State of our Affairs should prevent me from flying to Boston, to your Assistance…I can do no more than wish and pray for your Health, and that of the Children. Never—Never in my whole Life, had I so many Cares upon my Mind at once. I should have been happier, if I had received my Letters, before Mr. Gerry went away this Morning, because I should have written more by him.—I rely upon the tender Care of our Friends. Dr. Tufts and your Uncle Quincy, and my Brother will be able to visit you, and give you any Assistance. Our other Friends, I doubt not will give you every Advice, Consolation and Aid in their Power.—I am very anxious about supplying you with Money. Spare for nothing, if you can get Friends to lend it you. I will repay with Gratitude as well as Interest, any sum that you may borrow.—I shall feel like a Savage to be here, while my whole Family is sick at Boston. But it cannot be avoided. I cannot leave this Place, without more Injury to the public now, than I ever could at any other Time, being in the Midst of scaenes of Business, which must not stop for any Thing. . . . Make Mr. Mason, Mr. any Body write to me, by every Post—don’t miss one for any Cause whatever.—My dearest Love to you all.”

Join Bow Tie Tours for Philadelphia’s Best Walking Tours.   Take our Independence Tour Extraordinaire, which includes tickets to Independence Hall.   To learn more about George Washington, take our  Valley Forge Tour.  Or, if you’re a real history and Washington aficionado, contact us about our upcoming weeklong American Revolution Vacation Package about Washington.  You can also check out our American history podcast, which is currently discussing the early years of Washington.  If the Civil War is your interest, you won’t want to miss our Gettysburg Tour!



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