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I expected before this time to have written to you, that provision is made for the American officers, but that thief of time, procrastination, has kept it off from time to time. The question is now the order of the day, and, as such, takes place of every other business. When it will be determined, I know not, but this I know, that it shall be finished one way or the other before anything else, let what will happen. I am confident it will go right, if something very extraordinary does not occur. In the interim nothing is done. I feel as severely on this occasion as you can do. All will yet go well.
We have determined to send Gates to Hudson River, where he is to command very largely. But he is to receive instructions, which shall be proper. You are directed to call a council of major generals, in which the chief engineer is officially to be a member, and to which, by a subsequent resolution, Generals Gates and Mifflin were ordered to repair. As these gentlemen ought not to receive orders immediately from Congress, they are, as you will see, permitted to leave the board of war upon your order. This amendment was therefore acquiesced in unanimously. Colonel Harrison will, I believe, be again appointed a member of the Board of War. This I mention by the bye. I add my wish, that your business and your inclinations may be so ordered, as to allow him to accept of it. For this I have many reasons. Every man of business knows, that words are of great weight, and we receive reports from the Board of War every day. I need say no more, except that it is not always possible to weigh sentences with that accuracy in a public assembly, which is practicable in the closet.* It is astonishing that Congress, who certainly are not without sufficient apprehension, should at so critical a moment as the present be so supine, but this is human nature, and we must bear it. I have a remedy in contemplation. If you were an unconcerned spectator, it would divert you to see, that although a majority of our House have been agreed in a certain point, ever since Mr Dana arrived here, yet nothing is done.
Apropos, of your council of war. Should you determine on anything, which, considering the course of human affairs, is, I confess, rather improbable, let Congress know nothing about it. A secret should never be trusted to many bosoms. I will forfeit anything, except reputation, that it will not be well kept, even by those necessarily confided in. I am, &LC.
- The Life of Gouverneur Morris With Selections from His Correspondence and Miscellaneous Papers Vol. I., Jared Sparks, 1832