Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO PRESIDENT REED. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. VIII (1779-1780)
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
TO PRESIDENT REED. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. VIII (1779-1780) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890). Vol. VIII (1779-1780).
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 PRESIDENT REED.
By your favor of the third from Bethlehem, I perceive my letter of the 1st had not got to your hands; but I have the pleasure to find, that the business you were upon anticipated the purposes of it, and was in a fair way to answer the end.2
Arnold’s conduct is so villanously perfidious, that there are are no terms that can describe the baseness of his heart. That overruling Providence, which has so often and so remarkably interposed in our favor, never manifested itself more conspicuously than in the timely discovery of his horrid intention to surrender the Post and Garrison of West Point into the hands of the Enemy. I confine my remark to this single act of perfidy; for I am far from thinking he intended to hazard a defeat of this important object, by combining another with it, altho’ there were circumstances which led to a contrary belief. The confidence and folly, which has marked the subsequent conduct of this man, are of a piece with his villany; and all three are perfect in their kind. The interest you take in my supposed escape, and the manner in which you speak of it, claim my thanks as much as if he really had intended to involve my fate with that of the Garrison, and I consider it as a fresh instance of your affectionate regard for me.
As I do not recollect ever to have held any very particular conversation with General Schuyler respecting Arnold, I should be glad to obtain a copy of the Letter in which you say my “opinion and confidence in him (Arnold) is conveyed in terms of affection and approbation.” Some time before or after Arnold’s return from Connecticut (the conversation made so little impression on me, that I know not which), General Schuyler informed me, that he had received a letter from Arnold, intimating his intention of joining the army, and rendering such services as his leg would permit, adding that he was incapable of active service, but could discharge the duties of a stationary command without much inconvenience or uneasiness to his leg. I answered, that, as we had a prospect of an active and vigorous campaign, I should be glad of General Arnold’s aid and assistance, but saw little prospect of his obtaining such a command as appeared to be the object of his wishes, because it was my intention to draw my whole force into the field, when we were in circumstances to commence our operations against New York, leaving even West Point to the care of Invalids, and a small Garrison of Militia; but if, after this previous declaration, the command of that Post, for the reasons he assigned, would be more convenient and agreeable to him than a command in the field, I should readily endulge him, having had it hinted to me, by a very respectable character, a member of Congress1 (not Genl. Schuyler), that a measure of this kind would not be unacceptable to the State most immediately interested in the welfare and safety of the Post.
This, to the best of my knowledge and recollection, is every syllable that ever passed between General Schuyler and me respecting Arnold, or any of his concerns. The manner and the matter appeared perfectly uninteresting to both of us at the time. He seemed to have no other view in communicating the thing, than because he was requested to do it, and my answer, dictated by circumstances, you already have; but how it was communicated, the letter will show.1
That this Gentln. (Genl. Schuyler) possesses a share of my regard and confidence, I shall readily acknowledge. A pretty long acquaintance with him, an opinion of his abilities, his intimate knowedge of our circumstances, his candor as far as I have had opportunities of forming a judgment of it, added to personal civilities and proofs of a warm friendship, which I never had a doubt of, would leave me without excuse, were I to withhold these from him. What ascendency he may have over the army is more than I can tell; but I should not be surprised if he stands in a favorable point of view with respect to their esteem. The means he took to acquire a true knowledge of their distresses while he was with it, the representations he made to procure relief, and his evident endeavors to promote the objects for which he was appointed, seems to have made this a natural consequence. That part of your letter which respects the exchange of prisoners will be made the subject of a particular letter—and shall accompany this. I am, dear Sir, &c.
[2 ]General Washington had written, requesting President Reed to cause to be sent forward as expeditiously as possible a supply of flour to the army.
[1 ]Robert R. Livingston. See above p. 326.
[1 ]“Your favor of the 15th is just come to hand. I cannot suffer myself to delay a moment in pronouncing, if Arnold, by the words (in his letter to his wife), ‘I am treated with the greatest politeness by General Washington and the officers of the army, who bitterly execrate Mr. Reed and the Council for their villanous attempt to injure me,’ meant to comprehend me in the latter part of the expression, that he asserted an absolute falsehood. It was at no time my inclination, much less my intention, to become a party in his cause; and I certainly could not be so lost to my own character, as to become a partisan at the moment I was called upon officially to bring him to tryal. I am not less mistaken, if he has not extended the former part of the paragraph a little too far. True it is, he self-invited some civilities I never meant to shew him, (or any officer in arrest), and he received rebuke before I could convince him of the impropriety of his entering upon a justification of his conduct in my presence, and for bestowing such illiberal abuse as he seemed disposed to do upon those whom he denominated his persecutors. Although you have done me the justice to disbelieve Arnold’s assertion to his wife, a regard to my own feelings and character claims a declaration of the falsehood of it, from, dear Sir, your most obedient and affectionate, &c.”—Washington to President Reed, 20 November, 1780.