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Hooper, William (1742-1790) to Robert Morris

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC00462 Author/Creator: Hooper, William (1742-1790) Place Written: Cape Fear, North Carolina Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 27 May 1777 Pagination: 7 p. : docket ; 25 x 20 cm.

Summary of Content: Laments the failure of North Carolina to re-elect his associate Joseph Hewes to the Continental Congress. Discusses and rejects the charges of profiteering leveled against Hewes (and others) while he was a member of the Secret Committee of Congress. Asks Morris, who chaired the Secret Committee, to write a certificate in support of Hewes and have it attested to by other members. Discusses his reasons for declining his reappointment as a delegate to the Continental Congress, citing "private affairs" related to his family, although he also intended to rebuild his fortune. Reflects on the anxieties of the far-flung patriots who often heard distressing rumors, lacked political and military updates, and feared the Tories, who were "ever ready to rouze or fan their suspicions." Makes several specific inquiries: if the delegate Stockton is in jail, if the frigate Congress has been taken, and how many men George Washington has. Discusses recruitment problems, patriotism, and avarice in the army. Mentions that they may lose the harbour at Cape Fear Bar to the British. Docketed by Morris.

Background Information: William Hooper was a member of the Continental Congress from 1774-1777 and a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Full Transcript:

Yes, my dear Sir, thus long and faithful publick services are requited, (Hewes has lost his Election, the charge against him was too futile to be repeated except to be ...despised. "That he was employed loading vessels for the secret committee and receiving commissions as a merchant, when he ought to have been at congress as a delegate,) tho by the by, an excruciating fit of the
Rheumatism incapacitated him for the Journey, & as you well know it was in obedience to the earnest requisition of the secret Committee by you their representative that he was employed in this very necessary business. It was lucky that Hewes had not begun his Journey or his removal might have been announced to him on the road or in the exercise of his delegatorial function in Congress. I wish our Assembly may be convinced of their error. I imagine that such a Certificate in Mr. Hewes' favour as you could draw Subscribed by all the Members who have served with him & knew his Integrity & usefulness would have an effect which as his friend I wish to promote__ Should this be your opinion when you have effected it forward it to me.
[2] I was again appointed a delegate, the situation of my own private affairs, the importunity of my wife and little ones, that delicacy which I felt as a friend did not leave me a moment in suspence whether I should decline the honour intended me, & to you who feel the full force of conjugal & paternal affection, and are all alive to the wrongs done your friend, sure I am I stand justified. As it deprives me of your agreeable society, and that of others, it has its melancholy reflections, but as it furnishes me with a consciousness of having done my duty I endeavour to suppress them, and look forward to a future opportunity when I may be restored to you without violating the respect which I owe to my family & connections.
We hear nothing from Congress and are kept in profound ignorance of the state and movements of our Army. The people here are dissatisfied with this reserve & loudly speak forth their Complaints. Our tories are ever ready to rouze or fan their suspicions, & the charitable construction they bestow upon your Secrecy is that you are doing nothing or engaged about what you [3] dare not disclose. These infernal villains slily insinuate that the Congress attention is chiefly exercised to devise ways and means to continue in office or to amass money, & that they consider their constituents only as they are to contribute to support the expence, that the bustle against England is a blind merely to conceal their true intentions. (This game has been too
long played in this state with impunity. We have not yet been flushed in executions, but we have now a treason bill which I wish may prevent, if it does not, By heavens it must punish.)
However I wish the Journals of Congress were published from day to day & compleat copies diffused thro' the several states, this would calm the suspicions of the credulous & ignorant & make the mischievous intentions of our Enemies prove abortive. The Condition of our Army should be frequently announced, altho nothing material may happen yet it will give the lie to the various reports we have of battles fought and successes obtained which are furnished us by every travelling vagrant or deserter who makes his way hither from the Northward. These Gentlemen who are generally flying [4] from martial punishment as deserters, or from the civil Justice of the Country as tories bring their prejudices with them, and for one prosperous event that they ascribe to our Army, their lively imagination give a dozen to Genl. Howe.) We have a regular lie of the day as well as one better, & if I had not determined myself to a state of stoick incredulity, I should break my heart with the reports of miscarriages by sea and land. As a quondam brother I pretend to profound Sagacity & pronounce everything a lie tho' sworn to, if it is not in our favor. If you could imagine how I thirst for a true state of our publick affairs, you would steal some moments from business to gratify me.
(Is Stockton the Delegate in Jail? Is the Congress Frigate taken. Has Genl. Washington but 7000 Men.
We make a blessed hand of recruiting here, of 9 Regts. we can bring scarce 2000 men in the field, the havock which the sickness which pervaded the Southern States last year made amongst them & that horrid expedition which was undertaken against Augustine at the most [5] inclement season thinned the Army of some of our best men & has discouraged others from enlisting. Every soldier has a little sphere of influence within which he moves and as far as it extends he disseminates his prejudices & paints his wrongs & his sufferings. His friends have theirs & thus a disgust to the service is promoted & now almost universally diffused thro the state. The impolicy of high bounties given by our neighbours has driven us to the imitation of them. This has served no purpose but to depreciate our money, and raise the ideal importance of those who are fit for Soldiers.... I thought long ago that Patriotism in the ranks of an Army was mere cant, but am now sorry to find that the absence of it has not been supplied by its usual successor avarice_ It is needless to say that the depreciation of money occasions this backwardness, it is a fact that we depreciate money by extravagant bounties & increase the evil by one attempt to remedy it. The mines of Potosi are not equal to our present mode of conducing the war, & the weakest minds amongst us begin to reason upon the possibilities of our making good [6] our engagements. To the enormous bounty given by the Continent this state has added 10 dollars & 150 Acres of land. We have been driven to it from the practice of other states -- those who first set the example have much to attone for (The Merlin & Bruin Men of War came over Cape Fear Bar the other day & burnt several outward bound Vessels. We are totally defenseless here from the want of a few great Guns and a small fort & shall furnish a glorious harbour for the enemy to refresh themselves and annoy the Southern States. Do exchange a little Conversation with Mr. Harnett on this Subject. He is a judicious man and a sensible agreeable Companion. He has acquired a fortune & is somewhat conversant with trade. He will be useful on some of your Mercantile committees. I beg your notice of him_ He has a high opinion of our friend S. Adams and my Countrymen in general -- having been formerly acquainted in Boston.
I hope this will find you quietly settled with [7] your family at Philadelphia & that Mrs. Morris will not again have occasion to expose herself & little ones to the fatigues of a flight. I sincerely felt [inserted: for them] the inconveniences which they suffered and your anxiety from the separation. I beg my most respectful Compliments to your Lady & am Dear Sir

With great respect
Your Friend & most Obedt. Servt
Will Hooper

This is the 27th of May and at Cape Fear in the latitude of 34 I am now writing before a large fire, such a season was never know here, I dread the effect it will have on our Crops.
Robert Morris Esquire

[docket]
Cape Fear 27 May 1777
Wm Hooper Esqr.
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People: Hooper, William, 1742-1790
Morris, Robert, 1734-1806

Historical Era: American Revolution, 1763-1783

Subjects: Continental CongressCongressElectionPoliticsCorruption and ScandalFinanceEconomicsRevolutionary WarMilitary HistoryLoyalistPrivateeringMaritimeGlobal History and US Foreign PolicyGlobal History and US Foreign PolicyPresidentRecruitment

Sub Era: The War for Independence

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