Front Page Titles (by Subject) FORGED LETTER. TO LUND WASHINGTON. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. IV (1776)
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FORGED LETTER. TO LUND 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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New York, 16th July, 1776.
How cruelly are all my hopes in one sad moment blasted and destroyed! I am positively ordered to wait for the enemy in our lines; and lest I should be mad enough not to obey their mandates, not a single tittle of any thing I had asked for, is granted. Thus has a second opportunity of rendering my country an essential service, in the way of my profession, been unwisely, and in the most mortifying manner denied me. I profess, I hardly know how to bear it: having to regret not only, that two opportunities, such as may never again occur, have been suffered to pass by us unimproved, but that none can happen, we can improve. Managed as matters are, we neither are, nor ever shall be, a military people; and yet, in the train in which things are now put, unless we are, it were idiotism to hope for either freedom or independence.
I remember well, in a conversation I once had with a friend, now, most unjustly as unwisely, driven from his friends and his home, on the subject of monarchies and republics, he objected to the unavoidable slowness and dilatoriness of the executive power in the latter. Aiming to answer him in his own way, I replied that, if popular councils were slow, they yet were sure, and that in the multitude of counsellors there is safety. His answer was prophetical. If ever (he said) we of these countries should rashly put these things to the proof it would be found, that, however true this adage might be in the cabinet, it was not so in the field. Convinced, by melancholy experience, that this is the case, and, that without some different system, we shall but expose ourselves to contempt and ruin, I resolve this evening honestly & openly to say so to the Congress. I will go farther, and add, that if they cannot in fact, as well as in appearance, trust me with the uncontrouled command of their army, I will no longer be their puppet. Why should I? it being now morally certain that by going on as we have hitherto done, I can neither bring honor nor profit to them; and yet am sure to lose all the little of either which I have or might have, possessed.
I want words to express to you what I have felt, and still do feel on this disappointment of all my hopes: I had allowed myself to build too much on my scheme; and I seem to be in the situation of one who should be allowed to rise, on purpose only to be thrown down. The enemy, in the midst of all our blusterings, must despise us; and did not shame or some better principle restrain them, I should be but little surprized to find General Howe, even with his present little handful attacking us; yes, attacking us in our entrenchments—What shall I do? to retreat is to entail on myself the curses of every public man in my country; and to go on is certain ruin and disgrace. Were the world to know only my true history on this trying occasion, I persuade myself, all the candid and considerate in it would acquit me of blame. But this the world can know only by my resolving to tell a tale, which, considering the rank I now hold in it, must involve my country in such internal broils and quarrels, as must be fatal to the glorious cause in which we have embarked. And this, I trust, I shall have the virtue never to do, be my private wrongs and sufferings ever so great.
I have finished my letter to the Congress, to whom I have, at length, spoken in a more peremptory tone, than, I fancy, they have been used to. It was absolutely necessary; and I should ill deserve their confidence, if through any mistaken complaisance or diffidence, I hesitated to point out to them the mischievous consequences of their interference. I have also insisted on precise instructions in what manner I am to conduct myself towards the British commissioners, if peradventure, as is possible, their overtures should be made through me. Their answer will have a great influence on all my future measures; as I shall then know, (and surely it is time I should) on what ground I stand. The very decided and adventurous measure, which Congress itself has just taken is big with the most important consequences, not only to the community at large, but to every man in it. The temper and judgment which they shall now manifest, on their first avowed assumption of the reins of government, will be indicative of what we may hereafter expect. Hoping for the best, I yet will watch them most carefully.
’Tis all fearful expectation! Every man I see seems to be employed in preparing himself for the momentous rencontre, which every man persuades himself must shortly come on. There is an ostensible eagerness and impetuosity amongst us, I could willingly have excused: I should have been better pleased with that steady composure which distinguishes veterans. One thing is in our favor, the passions of our soldiery are seldom suffered to subside; being constantly agitated by some strange rumor or other. Happen what will, it can hardly be more extraordinary, than some one or other is perpetually presaging. And, we have already performed such feats of valor whilst we have no enemies to engage but such as our own imaginations manufacture for us, that I cannot but hope we shall do well, merely because no one ever seems to entertain a suspicion that we shall not. I can as yet give no guess, where or when they will approach us: I conclude, however, that they will hardly stir, till they are joined by all the men they expect. Desponding as I am, I wish they were arrived, and that, at this moment they were in a condition to attack us: They may gain by procrastination, but we are sure to lose.
I wrote to Mrs. Washington, lately, and shall again in a week or two, if I do not hear of her, ere that in Philadelphia. It has surprized me, that after what I wrote she should hesitate. I beg of you, if she be still fearful, to second my persuasions by every means in your power. Exposed as she must be to so many interviews with people in the army, all of whom are in the way of the small-pox, I have the most dreadful apprehensions on her account. I know not well how the notion came into my head, but it is certain, I have, for several days, persuaded myself that she is already inoculated, and that out of tenderness and delicacy, she forbears to inform me of it, till she can also inform me she is out of danger.
I note sundry particulars in your letter, to which I am not solicitous to give you answers. Why, when you have so often asked me in vain, will you press me for Congress-secrets? Whatever your or my private sentiments or wishes may be, it is sufficient for us that we know the highest authority in our country has declared it free and independent. All that is left for us to do is, so far as we can, to support this declaration, without too curiously enquiring into either its wisdom or its justice. I firmly believe, that the advocates for this measure, meant well; and I pay them but an ordinary compliment in thinking that they were fitter to determine on a point of this sort, than either you or I are. At any rate, the world must allow it to be a spirited measure; and all I have to wish for is, that we may support it with a suitable spirit.
I am, my Dear Lund,