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TO JOHN AUGUSTINE WASHINGTON. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. IV (1776) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1889). Vol. IV (1776).
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TO JOHN AUGUSTINE WASHINGTON.
Philadelphia, 31 May, 1776.
Since my arrival at this place, where I came at the request of Congress to settle some matters relative to the ensuing campaign, I have received your letter of the 18th from Williamsburg, and think I stand indebted to you for another, which came to hand some time ago in New York.
I am very glad to find that the Virginia Convention have passed so noble a vote, and with so much unanimity.1 Things have come to that pass now, as to convince us, that we have nothing more to expect from the justice of Great Britain; also, that she is capable of the most delusive arts; for I am satisfied, that no commissioners ever were designed, except Hessians and other foreigners; and that the idea was only to deceive and throw us off our guard. The first has been too effectually accomplished, as many members of Congress, in short, the representation of whole provinces, are still feeding themselves upon the dainty food of reconciliation; and, though they will not allow, that the expectation of it has any influence upon their judgment, (with respect to their preparations for defence,) it is but too obvious, that it has an operation upon every part of their conduct, and is a clog to their proceedings. It is not in the nature of things to be otherwise; for no man, that entertains a hope of seeing this dispute speedily and equitably adjusted by commissioners, will go to the same expense and run the same hazards to prepare for the worst event, as he who believes that he must conquer, or submit to unconditional terms, and its concomitants, such as confiscation, hanging, &c., &c.
To form a new government requires infinite care and unbounded attention; for if the foundation is badly laid, the superstructure must be bad. Too much time, therefore, cannot be bestowed in weighing and digesting matters well. We have, no doubt, some good parts in our present constitution; many bad ones we know we have. Wherefore, no time can be misspent that is employed in separating the wheat from the tares. My fear is, that you will all get tired and homesick; the consequence of which will be, that you will patch up some kind of a constitution as defective as the present. This should be avoided. Every man should consider, that he is lending his aid to frame a constitution, which is to render millions happy or miserable, and that a matter of such moment cannot be the work of a day.
I am in hopes to hear some good accounts from North Carolina. If Clinton has only part of his force there, and not strongly entrenched, I should think that General Lee will be able to give a very good account of those at Cape Fear. Surely administration must intend more than five thousand men for the southern district, otherwise they must have a very contemptible opinion of those colonies, or have great expectations from the Indians, slaves, and Tories. We expect a very bloody summer of it at New York and Canada, as it is there I expect the grand efforts of the enemy will be aimed; and I am sorry to say, that we are not either in men or arms prepared for it. However, it is to be hoped, that, if our cause is just, as I do most religiously believe it to be, the same Providence, which has in many instances appeared for us, will still go on to afford its aid.
Your Convention is acting very wisely in removing the disaffected, stores, &c., from the counties of Princess Anne and Norfolk; and are much to be commended for their attention to the manufacture of salt, saltpetre, powder, &c. No time nor expense should be spared to accomplish these things.
Mrs. Washington is now under inoculation in this city; and will, I expect, have the smallpox favorably. This is the thirteenth day, and she has very few pustules. She would have written to my sister, but thought it prudent not to do so, notwithstanding there could be but little danger in conveying the infection in this manner. She joins me in love to you, her, and all the little ones. I am, with every sentiment of regard, dear Sir, your most affectionate brother.
TO MAJOR-GENERAL PUTNAM.
Philadelphia, 3 June, 1776.
I received your favor by yesterday evening’s express, with the several letters and intelligence from General Schuyler, and am much concerned for the further misfortunes, that have attended our arms in Canada. I have laid the whole before Congress, who had before resolved to send a considerable augmentation to our army there; and doubt not that General Schuyler may receive assistance from the militias, most convenient to him, for securing the different passes and communications, till they can be. As to sending a reinforcement from New York, neither policy nor prudence will justify it, as we have the strongest reasons to believe the day not far distant, when a large armament will arrive and vigorously attempt an impression there; to oppose which the forces we have will not be more than equal, if sufficient.
Congress have determined on building sundry gondolas and fire-rafts, to prevent the men-of-war and enemy’s ships from coming into the New York Bay or Narrows. I must therefore request, that you make inquiries after carpenters, and procure all you can, with materials necessary for building them, that they may goe on with all possible expedition, as soon as the person arrives from hence, whom I have employed to superintend the work. He will be there in a day or two. I am, dear Sir, &c.1
[1 ]On Wednesday, May 15, the Virginia Convention, consisting of one hundred and twelve members resolved unanimously to instruct their delegates in the Continental Congress to propose “to that respectable body to declare the Colonies free and independent States, absolved from all allegiance to, or dependence upon, the Crown or Parliament of Great Britain,” pledging their support to such a declaration, and “to whatever measures may be thought proper and necessary by the Congress for forming foreign alliances, and a confederation of the colonies, at such time, and in the manner, as to them shall seem best: Provided, that the power of forming government for, and the regulation of the internal concerns of each colony, be left to the respective colonial legislatures.”
[1 ]On the 3d, Hancock conveyed to Washington the thanks of Congress for the “unremitted attention you have paid to your important trust; and in particular, for the assistance they have derived from your military knowledge and experience in adopting the best plans for the defence of the United Colonies. . . . Having, therefore, fully accomplished the views of Congress in requesting your attendance in this city, I am commanded to inform you that they submit to your choice the time of returning to head quarters, well knowing you will repair thither when ever the exigency of affairs shall render your presence there necessary.”