Washington. Letter signed: Morris
Town, to Apollos Morris, 1777 January 29. 2 p. + doc., address leaf, &
overleaf with draft of Morris’s reply.
Town 29th: January 1777
have your favr. of the 28th: with Copy of a Letter, addressed to Genl.
wish, to be the instrument of restoring peace, to a much oppressed and more
injured People, is certainly most laudable, but you must very well know, that
this is not to be effected by the interposition of any person in a private
Character, and Lord and General Howe have refused to negotiate with the only
great representative Body of this Continent.
therefore, your letter had gone in to General Howe, it must have been, merley as
one to satisfy yourself in regard to the powers that were intrusted to the
Commissioners; as to myself, I am fully satisfyed, that they never exceeded the
express words of the Act of Parliament, for if they did, they are answerable for
the Blood that has been spilled, perhaps in consequence; of their not making
them known to the only Body, that could receive them.
I had never been made aquainted with the Substance of your letter, I should not
have had the least objection to its going in, but as you have submitted it to my
inspection, my permitting it to pass, may be construed into an Approbation of
am therefore under the Necessity of objecting to  it, least I should be
thought to delegate that power to others, which I do not possess myself. I mean,
that of Negotiation, in this great dispute.
should not have detained your Express so long, but I was from home when he
most obt. Servt.
Apollos Morris Esqr.
I wish not to [struck: divert; inserted:
emlpoy] your time [struck: so much; inserted: which has so many objects] better employ’d; but think it
incumbunt on me to assure you that I understood when at Morris town - you
mean’d to judge of the propriety of my letter otherwise I must have chose to
have sent it seald. To [struck: have
knowing] Genl Howes dispositions [inserted:
it] could have done no hurt. I am sorry my Caution to say nothing underhand has
not had the effect. I came to this country [struck:
ready; inserted: resolv’d] to devote
my person & little fortune to its just rights. I never can devote my
opinions, I asserted in print my wishes for a reconciliation & that the
Americans did not mean Independence. There was no way of getting the better of
this, [struck: & tho it is my
interest & my wish] Especially [inserted:
everything here <?> my intentions contrary to what I assert’d] when I
saw the decision here [struck: was for
nothing less][strike-out] by shewing
from the ourselves that no scheme of dependence consistent with the rights of
the Colony’s was offerd. If what is asserted be true that he has no Powers he
must have justify.d me & I was decided not to look back. I confess the
Presumption of [struck: an;
inserted: a unauthorized] Individual meddling with public affairs &
expected [struck: has told of it by;
inserted: rebuke from] Genl: Howe on that head [struck: from Genl:] that I took from him as far as possible every
other pretence of refusing an answer. I have not vanity to think [strike-out;
inserted: my] services [struck: I
can do] worth the sacrifice of any propriety therefore return to Philadelphia
where I shall remain with the highest esteem  I wish not to take off your
attention from so many better objects but think it incumbant on me to assure you
that I when I left Morris I understood you meand to judge of the propriety of my
letter otherwise I must have Chosen to have sent it seald. To have shewn Genl
Hows disposition or my peace overture could have been as disadvantage – My
Intention was that you might or might not be supposd to know anything of it at
your option. I came to this country Intending to Devote my person &little
fortune to the support of its rights & of Independence if this were refusd .
but I cannot devote my opinions. I asserted in Print the same wishes to
Reconciliation & that America did not mean independence. When on my arrival
I found no terms short of it would be listened to on this side, the only way I
had [strike-out] Reconcile my conduct to my assertions was to seek
justification from the measures of the other side & to convince myself from
unquestionable curiosity that no scheme of Independence consistent with the
rights of the Colonys could be agreed to If as it asserted the Commissrs have no
powers Genl Howes letter or his silence must have given me the Justification I
sought & I was decided never to look back
confess the presumption of an unauthori<loss [ed]> <loss [indivi]>dual
as I am meddling with public affairs & <loss>
much expected a rebuke from Genl How <loss>
that I took from him as far as possible every other pretence for refusing an
have not the vanity to suppose my services worth the sacrifice of any propriety
& my presence in a Camp where I cannot be usefull must be an incumbrance. I
shall therefore by tomorrow noon when I hope to be pretty free from my cold
return to Philadelphia.
*Two drafts of Morris’s reply to Washington on overleaves.
Published in Fitzpatrick, John C. The
Writings of George Washington. v. 7, pp77-8. Published
in Twohig, Dorothy et al. The
Papers of George Washington. v.
13, p. 181.