Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 70,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World to soldiers’ letters from World War II and Vietnam. Explore primary sources, visit exhibitions in person or online, or bring your class on a field trip.

Knox, Henry (1750-1806) to Lucy Knox

High-resolution images are available to schools and libraries via subscription to American History, 1493-1943. Check to see if your school or library already has a subscription. Or click here for more information. You may also order a pdf of the image from us here.

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02437.00375 Author/Creator: Knox, Henry (1750-1806) Place Written: New York, New York Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 15 July 1776 Pagination: 4 p. ; 32 x 19.5 cm.

Responds to a letter from Lucy in which she remonstrated Henry over their recent separation in which she left New York and went to Connecticut. Henry is "both grieved an angry" because Lucy blames Henry for her inconveniences even though it is in her "power instantly to remedy them." Moreover, if she does not like it there, it is within her power to go elsewhere. Warns her against anyone contradicting his advice. Urges her to use her "own good sense and see that there can be no essential difference as you have a carriage and Horses, between coming [to New York] from New Haven or Fairfield than from Stamford." Mentions that Burr (possibly Aaron Burr) has told him Fairfield is crowded and lacks provisions. Claims New Haven has "good accommodations good Company & good provisions" and mentions some officers that plan to go there. Reiterates that New York would be a bad place for Lucy because it would cause Henry too much worry. Strongly urges her to go to New Haven. Restates that their separation makes him miserable. Reports little activity since the British sailed up the Hudson on 12 July 1776 except the disappointing news that the ships were not damaged by the artillery fire. Remarks that "This Summer will be the most important that america ever saw." Describes an attempt by General William Howe to have a letter delivered seeking a truce, which was rejected because it was addressed to Mr. Washington instead of General Washington. In a reference to the Declaration of Independence, the messenger claimed the letter was of a civil matter, not a military one. Relays news from William Knox in Boston concerning smallpox and the activities of several members of Lucy's family.

New York July 15. 1776.
My dear Lucy
I received your tender expostulating Letter by the post, indeed my Lucy I am both griev'd an angry that you should subject yourself to so many inconveniences when you have it in your power instantly to remedy them, every body that comes from Stanford [sic] or Norwalk for you do not date your Letters tells me of the very rascally manner in which you live, they likewise bring messages from you to me by way of complaint, as if I was the cause of it, there is not one Town between us that is so good as the one where you are, & that is so very bad that I wish from the bottom of my heart you would push off from it immediately, Im sure you put your own good sense to pain when you follow any persons advice to stay there - I am your friend - I am your Lover - I am blessed be God your Husband, blending all these together and putting my whole behaviour [to] you in support of these Relations, can it be suppos'd I would wish you to be [struck: an] [inserted: in] an unhapy situation? beware my dear of the person or persons who gives you contrary advice to mine they injure you they injure me more than possibly you are aware of. - Reject any more foolish advice & any more foolish practice by staying at that infamous Town with disdain - Exert your own good sense and [2] see that there can be no essential difference As you have a carriages and Horses, betwen coming from New Haven or Fairfield than from Stanford [sic], from New Haven You may very easily come here in two days, and it must take you more than one to come from Norwalk - Mr Burr to Whom I wrote to get you a place at fairfield says they are so full there that there is no getting a place, and they have no fresh provisions - at New Haven they have good accommodations good Company & good provisions Colo Sears & Colo Broome & Capt Smith will all wish you to go there - From sundry matters which have turn'd up this Country for many miles round here must in the course of events be an exceedingly disagreable place for a Woman separated from her husband - The anxiety that I must have for you would be so exceeding great that I had rather not be at all than to live under such circumstances. New Haven from every circumstance is the place I wish you to go, and as you value my love as you value my peace of mind I beg you to set off instantly for that place, - Let no advice my dearest Life interfere with mine, and if you refuse to follow you must make me most miserable - I am sure you cannot refuse I am sure you will not - you have heard & before this I hope received the Letter I wrote you by Mr Eliot who carried Mrs. Palfrey off from this, poor woman I pitied her - but how much I underwent in the seperation from My Lucy - by every thing that is good it was like the eternal separation of the Spirit from the body when the mind should be in the fullest Vigor [3] Since the Ships part us we have had nothing new on that occasion my men behavd with that Spirit which promises solid advantages to their Country - a little too firey - It is Reported we damaged the Ships exceedingly - how that may be I know not - this I know it rain'd balls round them and proves to me beyond a Doubt that their Ships cannot lay before our Batteries - This summer [struck: is the] [inserted: will be the] most important that America ever saw -
Lord Howe who arriv'd last friday about 2 Hours after the ships past the Town - Yesterday sent a flag of truce up To The city - they came within about 4 mils of the city and were met by some of Colo Tuppers people who detain'd them untill his Excellencys pleasure should be known accordingly Colo Read & myself went down in the barge to receive the message when we came to them, the Officer who was I believe Captn of the Eagle man of war - [struck: said I] rose up and bow'd keeping his hat off - " I have a Letter Sir from Lord Howe to Mr Washington" Sir says Collo Read we have no person in our army with that address -" Sir says the officer will you look at the address - Yes Sir He then took out of his pocket which was this
George Washington Esqr
New York
no Sir says Colo Read I cannot Receive that Letter "I am very sorry says the officer & so will be Lord Howe [4] that any error in the superscription should prevent the Letter being received by General Washington - why sir says Colo Read I must obey order" O Yes Sir You must obey orders to be sure - then after giving him a Letter from Colo Campbell to General Howe and some other Letters from prisoners to their friends we went off after having saluted & bowed to each other - after we had got a little way, the officer put about his barge and stood for us - and ask'd by what particular title he chose to be address' - Colo Read said you are sensible Sir Of the rank General Washington bears in our army - Yes Sir - We are - I am Sure my Lord Howe will lament exceedingly this affair as the Letter is quite of a Civil nature and not of a military one - he laments exceedingly that he was not here a little sooner - " which we suppos'd to allude to the declaration of Independence upon which we bow'd and parted in the most Genteel terms imaginable -
My brother writes me from Boston that the smallpox is become General - that your Sister Hannah sail'd with the fleet for New York in hopes to meet Urqhuart- that your Mother and sister Sally liv'd in one single Room at Halifax that your papa had wrote to her that if she was [a mind] to come to England she might altho he did not invite her this was our supposition she was in Boston - I shall send your things to New Haven the first opportunity & I pray God you Hesitate no longer to go there - Kiss my sweet babe and [I'll return them ten fold]
Adieu My Only Love
H Knox -
[inserted in the left hand margin of page one:
Mrs Green is at the Jersies at present waiting for her brother to set out for home - Every body is to go off the Island that does not belong [to] [illegible]
July /76

Order a CopyCitation Guidelines for Online Resources