Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. III (1775-1776)
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TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. III (1775-1776) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1889). Vol. III (1775-1776).
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TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
Cambridge, 24 March, 1776.
When I had the honor to address you on the 19th instant, upon the evacuation of the town of Boston by the ministerial army, I fully expected, as their retreat and embarkation were hurried and precipitate, that, before now, they would have departed the harbor, and been far on their passage to the place of destination. But, to my surprise and disappointment, the fleet is still in Nantasket Road. The purpose inducing their stay is altogether unknown; nor can I suggest any satisfactory reason for it. On Wednesday night last, before the whole of the fleet fell down to Nantasket, they demolished the Castle, and houses belonging to it, by burning them down, and the several fortifications. They left a great number of the cannon, but have rendered all of them, except a very few, entirely useless, by breaking off the trunnions, and those they spiked up, but may be made serviceable again; some are already done.
There are several vessels in the docks, which were taken by the enemy, some with and others without cargoes, which different persons claim as their property and right. Are they to be restored to the former owners, on making proof of their title, or to belong to the Continent, as captures made from the enemy? I wish Congress would direct a mode of proceeding against them, and establish a rule for decision. They appear to me to be highly necessary. In like manner, some of the cannon, which are in Boston, are said to have come from the Castle. Supposing them, with those remaining at the Castle, to have been purchased by and provided originally at the expense of this province, are they now to be considered as belonging to it, or to the public? I beg leave to refer the matter to the opinion of Congress, and pray their direction how I am to conduct respecting them.
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 and inveterate disposition, in the town of Boston, I thought it prudent to write to the honorable General Court upon the subject, that it might be inquired after and secured. A copy of the letter I herewith send you, and submit it to Congress, whether they will not determine how it is to be disposed of, and as to the appropriation of the money arising from the sale of the same.
As soon as the town was abandoned by the enemy, I judged it advisable to secure the several heights, lest they should attempt to return; and, for this purpose, have caused a large and strong work to be thrown up on Fort Hill, a post of great importance, as it commands the whole harbor, and, when fortified, if properly supported, will greatly annoy any fleet the enemy may send against the town, and render the landing of their troops exceedingly difficult, if not impracticable. This work is almost done, and in a little time will be complete; and, that the communication between the town and country may be free and open, I have ordered all the lines upon the Neck to be immediately destroyed, and the other works on the sides of the town facing the country, that the inhabitants from the latter may not be impeded, but afforded an easy entrance, in case the enemy should gain possession at any future time. These matters I conceived to be within the line of my duty; of which I advised the General Court, and recommended to their attention such other measures, as they might think necessary for securing the town against the hostile designs of the enemy.
I have just got an inventory of stores and property belonging to the Crown, which the enemy left in Boston, at the Castle, and Bunker’s Hill, which I have the honor to transmit to you; and shall give strict orders, that a careful attention be had to any more that may be found. I shall take such precautions respecting them, that they may be secure, and turn to the public advantage, as much as possible, or as circumstances will admit of.
A Mr. Bullfinch from Boston who acted as clerk to Mr. —, having put into my hands a list of rations drawn the Saturday before the troops evacuated the town, I have enclosed it for your inspection. He says neither the staff officers or women are included in the list; from which it appears that their number was greater than we had an idea of.1
Major-General Ward and Brigadier-General Frye are desirous of leaving the service, and, for that purpose, have requested me to lay the matter before Congress, that they may be allowed to resign their commissions.2 The papers containing their applications you will herewith receive. These will give you a full and more particular information upon the subject, and, therefore, I shall take the liberty of referring you to them. I would mention to Congress that the Commissary of Artillery stores has informed me that whatever powder has been sent to the camp, has always come without any bill, ascertaining the number of casks or quantity. This it is probable has proceeded from forgetfulness or inattention in the persons appointed to send it, or to the negligence of those who brought it, tho’ they have declared otherwise, and that they never had any. As it may prevent in some measure embezzlements (tho’ I do not suspect any to have been made) and the Commissary will know what and how much to receive, and be enabled to discover mistakes, if any should happen, I shall be glad if you will direct a bill of parcels to be always sent in future. There have been so many accounts from England, all agreeing that Commissioners are coming to America, to propose terms for an accommodation, 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 embarrassment respecting the manner of receiving them, and the mode of treatment, that ought to be used.1 I therefore pray, that Congress will give me directions, and point out the line of conduct to be pursued; whether they are to be considered as ambassadors, and, to have a pass or permit for repairing through the country to Philadelphia, or to any other place; or whether they are to be restrained in any and what manner. I shall anxiously wait their orders and, whatever they are, comply with them literally. I have the honor, &c.1
[1 ]This return shows a total of 7,579.
[2 ]These resignations were accepted by Congress 23 April, 1776.
[1 ]In Congress May 6th.—“Resolved, that General Washington be informed, that Congress suppose, if Commissioners are intended to be sent from Great Britain to treat for peace, that the usual practice in such cases will be observed, by making previous application for the necessary passports or safe conduct; and on such application being made, Congress will then direct the proper measures for the reception of such Commissioners.”
[1 ]Read in Congress April 2nd. Referred to Johnson, Jay, and Wilson.