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Your letters of the 25th and 31st of December, and 4th of January, have been duly received, and laid before Congress.
By the inclosed resolutions, you will perceive that the Congress, in providing for the defence of Canada, have directed that two battalions should be raised out of the troops now serving there. This they did in testimony of their approbation of the services of those brave men, apprehending, at the same time, that it would be both agreeable to the officers and men to have the honor of defending a country, which their valor had rescued from slavery. And the congress have a firm confidence, that General Montgomery, who has a warm and just sense of their merit and services, will cheerfully embrace the present opportunity to continue and promote the officers of that corps, and, as far as in his power, to reward with office and command, in those battalions, such volunteers and others as have distinguished themselves.
The Committee, to whom your letters were referred, this day brought in a partial report; on which the Congress came to certain resolutions, which you will see in the inclosed extracts. I am just to acquaint you, that it is expected, when the Paymaster draws any bills, he will observe to make them payable some few days after sight. The Committee have desired leave to sit again, which is granted. As soon as they have completed their report, and the Congress have come to a determination thereon, I shall do my self the pleasure of transmitting it to you. The money last voted, is now ready ; and the persons who have the charge of conveying it will, I expect, set out with it to-morrow.
I .have the pleasure to inform you, that the committee have purchased the saltpetre, and have agreed with the owners of mills to manufacture it into powder. One of the mills, it is expected, will make near a ton a week, and another near half a ton. I hope you will soon receive the powder ordered to he purchased at New York. There were, as we are in formed, eight tons in the same vessel imported for that Colony.
The public papers will inform you, that Lord Dun-more has endeavoured to exercise the same barbarity against the defenceless town of Norfolk, as was exercised against Falinouth. By these repeated instances of inhumanity, so contrary to the rules of war, and so long exploded by all civilized nations, it would seem as if the rancorous Ministry, despairing of their measures to conquer and enslave, had determined to glut their revenge with destruction and devastation. For my part, I shall not be surprised to hear, that in their frenzy of rage, and to effect their dark purposes, they have proceeded to murder, under forms of law, those prisoners whom the tools of their vengeance have chanced to take, and whom, with officious zeal, they have sent to England.
As it is now apparent that our enemies mean to exert their whole force against us next summer, the Congress are taking measures for putting the middle and southern Colonies in a posture of defence. We shall doubtless suffer much in this great struggle ; but I trust no losses or sufferings will induce us to desert the defence of our liberty; and that, cost what it may, we will persevere, with unremitting vigor, to maintain that inestimable jewel which we received from our ancestors, and transmit the same, with unsullied lustre, to our posterity.
January 18. The Committee, to whom your letter of the 31st of December was referred, desire to be informed whether the companies stationed at Chelsea and Maiden are regimented ; and whether, if those at Hingham, Weymouth, and Braintree, were withdrawn, it would be necessary to replace them out of the Continental Army.
Since writing the above, we have received a letter from Messrs. Philip Livingston, Alsop, and Lewis, by which we find, to our mortification, that we were misinformed with regard to the large quantity of powder arrived at New York, and that there were only four hundred and sixty-two quarter casks, which were imported for the use of that Colony, and of which a great part is distributed among several Counties.
Before this comes to hand, you will doubtless receive an account of the disagreeable news from Quebec, on which I sincerely condole with you. The express arrived here last evening. To-day I expect the Congress will take it into consideration. The result of their deliberations you will have in my next letter. I am, &c.
JOHN HANCOCK, President.
- John Hancock
- Correspondence of the American Revolution; Being Letters of Eminent Men to George Washington, from the Time of His Taking Command of the Army to the End of His Presidency, Volume I., Jared Sparks, 1853