Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO HENRY LAURENS. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. VII (1778-1779)
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TO HENRY LAURENS. - 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).
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TO HENRY LAURENS.
Head-Quarters, 20 August, 1778.
I am now to acknowledge my obligations for your favor of the 31st ulto., and for its several enclosures.
The conduct of Governor Johnstone has been certainly reprehensible, to say no worse of it; and so I think the world will determine. His letters to Mr. Morris and Mr. Reed are very significant, and the points to which they conclude quite evident. They are, if I may be allowed so to express myself, of a pulse-feeling cast; and the offer to the latter, through the lady, a direct attempt upon his integrity. When these things are known, he must share largely in public contempt, and the more so from the opposite parts he has taken.1
I am sorry you troubled yourself with transmitting to me copies and extracts from your letters to the French officers, in answer to their applications for rank. Your word, Sir, will always have the fullest credit with me, whenever you shall be pleased to give it upon any occasion; and I have only to regret, that there has not been the same degree of decision and resolution, in every gentleman as you have used in these instances. If there had, it would not only have contributed much to the tranquillity of the army, but preserved the rights of our own officers. With respect to the brevet commissions, I know many of the French gentlemen have obtained nothing more; that these were intended as merely honorary; and that they are not so objectionable as the other sort. However, these are attended with great inconveniences; for the instant they gain a point upon you, no matter what their primary professions and engagements were, they extend their views, and are incessant in teasing for actual command. The reason for their pressing for printed commissions in the usual form, in preference to the brevets you give ’em, is obvious. The former are better calculated to favor their schemes, as they impart an idea of real command, and, of consequence, afford them grounds for their future solicitations. I am well pleased with Monsieur Gerard’s declaration, and, if he adheres to it, he will prevent many frivolous and unwarrantable applications; for, finding their pursuits not seconded by his interest, many of the gentlemen will be discouraged and relinquish every hope of success. Nor am I insensible of the propriety of your wish respecting our friend, the Marquis. His countrymen soon find access to his heart; and he is but too apt afterwards to interest himself in their behalf, without having a sufficient knowledge of their merit, or a proper regard to their extravagant views. I will be done upon the subject. I am sure you have been severely punished by their importunities as well as myself.
The performance ascribed to Mr. Mauduit is really curious as coming from him, when we consider his past conduct. He is a sensible writer, and his conversion at an earlier day, with many others that have lately happened, might have availed his country much. His reasoning is plain and forcible, and within the compass of every understanding.
I have nothing new to inform you of. My public letter to Congress yesterday contained my last advices from Rhode Island. I hope in a few days, from the high spirits and expectations of General Sullivan, that I shall have the happiness to congratulate you on our success in that quarter. I am, dear Sir, &c.
[1 ]It would seem, that Governor Johnstone, presuming on his former friendships, had taken very unwarrantable liberties in writing to some of the members of Congress, particularly to Robert Morris, Joseph Reed, and Francis Dana. It being rumored, that letters of an improper tendency had been sent to some of the members, an order was passed, that all letters received by any of the members from the Britinh commissioners, or any subject of the King of Great Britain, should be laid before Congress.—Journals, July 9th, Letters from Governor Johnstone to the above members were found objectionable, and deemed worthy of special notice. A message from him to Joseph Reed by Mrs. Ferguson, a lady of character, was also considered a direct attempt to bribe him with the proffer of a large sum of money and a high office in his Majesty’s gift. Mr. Reed replied, “that he was not worth purchasing, but such as he was, the King of Great Britain was not rich enough to do it.” These particulars were regarded in so unfavorable a light by Congress, that they issued a declaration, containing extracts from the letters and other facts, and accompanied by the resolves: “That the contents of the said paragraphs, and the particulars in the said declaration, in the opinion of Congress, cannot but be considered as direct attempts to corrupt and bribe the Congress of the United States of America; that, as Congress feel, so they ought to demonstrate, the highest and most pointed indignation against such daring and atrocious attempts to corrupt their integrity; that it is incompatible with the honor of Congress to hold any manner of correspondence or intercourse with the said George Johnstone, especially to negotiate with him upon affairs in which the cause of liberty is interested.”—See the proceedings in the Journals of Congress, August 11th. The letters are contained in the Remembrancer, vol. vii., p. 8, et seq. Governor Johnstone published a counter declaration vindicating himself, and retired from the commission. In the Stevens Fac-similes is a draught of a declaration by the commissioners concerning this conduct of Governor Johnstone.