Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
Rediscovering George Washington
Washington: Father of His Country The Washington Collection
Washington in the Classroom About the Program
Timeline: George Washington's Life Milestones
Multimedia Room Search the Site
Gilder Lehrman Collection Documents
Gilder Lehrman Collection Images
Other Documents
Gilder Lehrman Collection Documents
Letter to Henry Knox, October 23, 1783

TRANSCRIPT GLC 2437.53.058
George Washington. Autograph letter signed: Rocky Hill, to Henry Knox, 1783 October 23. 4 p. + doc.

Rocky Hill Octr. 23d 1783

My dear Sir

Since the return of Genl. Lincoln I have taken occasion, notwithstanding other matters have kept the Peace Establishment entirely out of view to move a little on the subject of your letter of the 17th. of last Month. – I suppose, at least I so hope, it will now be entered upon with a determination to go through with it, without more delay. –

Upon enquiry I perceive no intention to abolish the Office of Secretary at War, but to place it upon a more Œconomical plan. – I find that General Lincoln (before he went to the Eastward, I believe) was called upon to aid in this business – and that a Committee, in consequence, have actually Reported to the effect of the enclosed Paper * [inserted at bottom of page: see the last Page.] which I obtained from Genl. Lincoln and have since found accourdant to the report, which I have seen.

By [2] what I can learn, there is a great diversity of Sentiment among the Members of Congress respecting a Peace Establishment; and great opposition will be given to the measure whenever it is brought forward – It may be well therefore for you to consider, whether upon the footing, and with the emoluments as agreed to by the Comee. the Office of Secretary at War which I presume will very soon be acted upon would meet your views – If it should, and you will let me know it by the return of the Post, I will mention your name to more Gentlemen of my acquaintance in Congress than I have already done, and should be happy if any endeavors of mine can serve you.

General Lincoln is of opinion that a capable, and confidential assistant may be had for, say between 500 & a 1000 Dollars; But when to this Travelling Expences, Wood, Paper, Candles, & ca. are added I should think it would sink pretty deep into the residue; [3] He, conceives otherwise, unless the Secretary, whoever he may be, chuses to travel with a retinue and incur more expense than is necessary. –

Whether the acceptance of this office would open a door to anything more than appears upon the face of the report is not for me to say, nor would it do I think to depend much upon. – The uncertainty of what appointmts. may take place in [strike-out]case of a Peace Establsihment, or whether there will be a Continental one, or not is too hazardous for me to deliver any opinion upon; tho’ I shall neglect no oppertunity of making myself acquainted with the views of Congress in all the stages of this business, and I will drop you a line on the subject

My best wishes attend Mrs. Knox, & I am with the greatest truth & sincerity

Dr Sir,
Yr. Most Affecte. & Obt Serv
Go: Washington
Majr. Genl. Knox
[4]The Salary annexed to the Office of Secretary at War, by the Comee, if my Memy. serves me, is 3500 Dolrs. – With this, he is to keep a Clerk, or assistant, always at the place where Congress resides & to bear the whole Expence of the Office in Wood, Candle & Paper. – He himself is to visit the Magazines twice (I think) every year & to attend Congress occasionally. –
from his Excellency
Genl Washington
23 October 1783