Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO GOUVERNEUR MORRIS. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. VII (1778-1779)
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
TO GOUVERNEUR MORRIS. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. VII (1778-1779) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890). Vol. VII (1778-1779).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
TO GOUVERNEUR MORRIS.
White Plains, 24 July, 1778.
Whether you are indebted to me, or I to you, for a letter, I know not, nor is it a matter of much moment. The design of this is to touch, cursorily, upon a subject of very great importance to the well-being of these States; much more so than will appear at first view. I mean the appointment of so many foreigners to offices of high rank and trust in our service.
The lavish manner, in which rank has hitherto been bestowed on these gentlemen, will certainly be productive of one or the other of these two evils, either to make it despicable in the eyes of Europe, or become a means of pouring them in upon us like a torrent, and adding to our present burden. But it is neither the expense nor the trouble of them that I most dread. There is an evil more extensive in its nature, and fatal in its consequences, to be apprehended, and that is, the driving of all our own officers out of the service, and throwing not only our army, but our military councils, entirely into the hands of foreigners.
The officers, my dear Sir, on whom you must depend for the defence of this cause, distinguished by length of service, their connexions, property, and, in behalf of many, I may add, military merit, will not submit much if any longer to the unnatural promotion of men over them, who have nothing more than a little plausibility, unbounded pride and ambition, and a perseverance in application not to be resisted but by uncommon firmness, to support their pretensions; men, who, in the first instance, tell you they wish for nothing more than the honor of serving so glorious a cause as volunteers, the next day solicit rank without pay, the day following want money advanced to them, and in the course of a week want further promotion, and are not satisfied with any thing you can do for them.
When I speak of officers not submitting to these appointments, let me be understood to mean, that they have no more doubt of their right to resign, when they think themselves aggrieved, than they have of a power in Congress to appoint. Both being granted, then, the expediency and the policy of the measure remain to be considered, and whether it is consistent with justice or prudence to promote these military fortune-hunters, at the hazard of your army. They may be divided into three classes, namely, mere adventurers without recommendation, or recommended by persons, who do not know how else to dispose of or provide for them; men of great ambition, who would sacrifice every thing to promote their own personal glory; or mere spies, who are sent here to obtain a thorough knowledge of our situation and circumstances, in the execution of which, I am persuaded, some of them are faithful emissaries, as I do not believe a single matter escapes unnoticed, or unadvised at a foreign court.
I could say a great deal on this subject, but will add no more at present. I am led to give you this trouble at this time, by a very handsome certificate showed to me yesterday in favor of M. Neuville, written (I believe) by himself, and subscribed by General Parsons, designed, as I am informed, for a foundation of the superstructure of a brigadiership.
Baron Steuben, I now find, is also wanting to quit his inspectorship for a command in the line. This will be productive of much discontent to the brigadiers. In a word, although I think the Baron an excellent officer, I do most devoutly wish, that we had not a single foreigner among us, except the Marquis de Lafayette, who acts upon very different principles from those which govern the rest. Adieu. I am, most sincerely yours, &c.
P. S. This letter as you will perceive is written with the freedom of a friend. Do not therefore make me enemies by publishing what is intended for your own information & that of particular friends.