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Laurens, Henry (1724-1792) to William Ellery

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC00110 Author/Creator: Laurens, Henry (1724-1792) Place Written: Charlestown, South Carolina Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 14 February 1780 Pagination: 2 p. : address : docket ; 22.3 x 18.8 cm.

Summary of Content: Written by Laurens, previously President of the Continental Congress. Laurens left his Congressional seat in November 1779 and returned home before departing from Philadelphia for the Netherlands to negotiate a loan in August 1780 (he was captured by the British on that journey). To Ellery, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, as a Continental Congressman from Rhode Island. References Ellery's letter of 24 December 1779. Expresses fears on the British approach to Charlestown (after 1783, Charleston). General Sir Henry Clinton's expeditionary force had landed in South Carolina on 10 February 1780 and would capture Charlestown on 12 May 1780. Quotes a passage from the third chapter of the Old Testament book of Habakkuk, which stress encouragement through faith despite hard times. Says he prays for Ellery and for all his friends in Congress. Two tears where seal was removed.

Background Information: France's entry into the Revolution in 1778 altered the entire nature of the conflict. No longer was the Revolution simply a conflict between Britain and the United States; the war quickly ...expanded to include a number of other major European powers. In 1779, Spain joined France, hoping to regain Gibraltar and the Floridas. And in late 1780, Britain declared war on the Netherlands, partly in order to cut off war supplies that were flowing to the Americans from a small Dutch island in the Caribbean.
Having failed to suppress the Revolution in the North, Britain redirected its attention to the South, which it believed would be easier to conquer. The British plan was to secure the major southern seaports at Savannah, Georgia, and Charleston, South Carolina, and to use these ports as bases for inland campaigns and for rallying southern loyalists. In December 1778, a British force sailed from New York City and easily captured Savannah. Within months, the British army controlled all of Georgia. A joint French and American operation in October 1779 failed to drive the British from Savannah. Early in 1780, British forces landed near Charleston, South Carolina. This letter by Henry Laurens was written as British forces approached the city, which they captured in May, forcing the surrender of about 5,500 American soldiers.
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Full Transcript: Charles Town So Carolina
14 Febry 1780 -
My Dear Friend.
You will learn from a Letter which I have just written two hours before day light to the Commtee of foreign ...affairs, a general state of the circumstances of this Country & of myself.
Early as it is, I have so many things to do & to attend to as will not allow me time for paying my Respects to you in the manner I wish, I must be content barely to acknowledge the receipt of your favor of the 24th Decem. two days ago, & to assure you of my particular attention to the Contents.
from the loud roaring of our approaching Enemy one would think So Carolina devoted to their fiat, & that I may be reduced to extreme poverty & other pains & penalties within ten days, but I hope better things & am in no fears save such as arise [struck: for this did] from considerations of the distresses of Women Children aged & [infirm] persons - for my own part I trust, that, "Although the Fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the Vines, the labor of the Olive shall fail, & the fields shall yield no meat, the flock shall be cut off from the Lord & there shall be no heard in the stalls, I will rejoice in the Lord I with joy in the God of my Salvation" I have not time to tell you whence I derived this pious Resolution, the sentiments [2] have from youth upwards been strongly impressed upon my mind & appear in full force & vigor whenever danger appears. I pray God to bless you & all my friends in Congress - be assured My Dear Sir
that I am with sincere Esteem
Your friend
Henry Laurens

The Honble
William Ellery Esquire
Philadelphia -
[address leaf]
The Honorable
William Ellery Esquire
Deligate in Congress
Philadelphia
[docket]
H. Laurens
[struck: Dec] Feby. 1780
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People: Laurens, Henry, 1724-1792
Ellery, William, 1727-1820
Clinton, Henry, Sir, 1730?-1795

Historical Era: American Revolution, 1763-1783

Subjects: ReligionRevolutionary WarMilitary HistoryContinental CongressReligion

Sub Era: The War for Independence

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