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, William (1756-1795) to Henry 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 #: GLC02437.00425 Author/Creator: Knox, William (1756-1795) Place Written: Boston, Massachusetts Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 25 August 1776 Pagination: 3 p. : address ; 32.7 x 20.6 cm.

Responds to his brother's news about British ships sailing up the Hudson river, reinforcements arriving for the Continental Army, and Henry's optimistic outlook on the impending battle. Relays news from the West Indies that the Dutch have refused to renew a treaty with Britain to not sell military supplies to Americans and to supply the British with Scotch regiments. Hostilities between the two are beginning. Describes naval skirmishes. Mentions that he has not received any letters from Lucy Knox. Comments on the poor treatment of Tories exiled from Boston to the country. Indicates that he has set up a correspondence with a Mr. McClure, possibly David M'Clure who formerly corresponded with Henry. Notes an upcoming meeting to discuss ridding the town of the remnants of smallpox. Has heard that 10,000 British troops landed on Long Island and shots had been heard. The Battle of Long Island began on 27 August 1776.

Boston August 25th 1776.
My dear Brother
I receiv'd yours of the 19th last evening giving me the particulars of the Ships & Tenders returning from up the river which we are sorry to hear but 'Whatever is is right' upon that score one may make one self easy & on no other; for that event - I am very happy to hear of your reinforcements arriving so fast & to find you express yourself in such terms as gives us reason to hope for success, we here set much by your authority for we have but two persons by whom we have intelligence on which we may rely, yourself is one, & parson Gordons correspondent is the other who is I don't know, but believe it to be the post master at New York, he writes him (Mr. Gordon) every post. last evening the parson recd. a letter from him giving an accot. of a Vessel having arriv'd from the West Indies I think at philada. which brings accots. of a Vessell arriving there (the West Indies) from Amsterdam which says that the Dutch (as the time expir'd, for which they lay'd themselves under obligations not to export military stores to America) Absolutely refus'd to enter into any Treaty of the kind again & likewise refus'd to let Brittain have those four scotch Regs. that were agreed for, in consequence of which Brittain has seiz'd four of their Ships, & in consequence of that seizure Holland has got forty Ships already [2] fitted for Sea, & Sixty more on the stocks, with 20,000 land forces all which they are determind to make use of against her (Brittain) as soon as possible; if this intelligence should be true it will be of no small importance to us, but as you mention nothing of it I'm induc'd to suspend my belief of so important a circumstance till a confirmation arrives - Mr Jackson has seen you[r] Letter had previously wrote you on the subject of the Privateer - We have no very interesting News with us. The Milford Frigate of 28 Guns come to our Bay Yesterday, the last evening a Ship tis said very narrowly escap'd falling into her hands. she (the Ship) put into Marblehead with all sail had she had two miles farther to have gone, she must have been inevitably lost as the Milford was just at her Stern; this morng we heard a heavy firing of in the Bay since which we have an accot. of the Frigates having taking a Schooner from which she took all the hands & then Burnt her - tis said the Council has sent expresses to Newbury & to the other seaports where there are Continental Frigates with orders that such of them as are only waiting for Guns, shall have them from the Forts for the purpose of coming round to attack the Milford immediately; if so we shall have some sport here soon but I dont think its true. Capt Hector McNeal Commands one of the Newberry Frigates of 32 Guns call'd the Boston. Capt. Manley the other - I have not [3] receivd a line from Mrs. Knox this long while I cant conceive the reason of her not writing to me. she promis'd me when I Saw her last that she would be a much more attentive correspondent than yourself but I must say I experience the reverse, I intend writing her this post - Our exiles in the Country lead but a miserable life, as the Country people treat them as people who dont deserve mercy. they [illegible] them live quietly in the least, a Mr. Brinley was taken from the house where he boarded & was bound out to the plow. rush proceedings are excessively wrong & authority has taken it in hand to see those abuses rectified by calling the egretious to accot. I have a new correspondent [he] that was [illegible] Mr. McClure he now resides at Greenland near Portsmo, (he writes prettily I like him much I receiv'd from him for the first time a letter last Wednesday chiefly to inquire the news. the small pox is almost out of Town there is but about 70 persons down with it & notifications were sent about yesterday for a Town meeting on Monday to consult on the most speedy & effectual means of cleaning the Town of the disagreable infection - I Say as I always say I wish, that God may grant us success & keep you in particular from death & wounds is the prayr. of your Affectionate
Wm Knox
[on the margin of page 3]
Monday Morning 10 OClock. The Milford continues cruising of the she has taken a Brigg near Marblehead loaded with Sugar & other West India Goods. & tis said several other small vessells has fallen into her hands, the Brigg she sent (tis said) immediately to Halifax -
[on the margin of page 1]
Monday Morng. ½ past ten OClock. We have just heard of a Mr. Fessendens arriving here from N. York in 48 Years [sic] , he bring an accot. of 10,000 British Men having landed on long Island, & as he came down the Sound he heard a very heavy firing -
[address leaf]
Collo. Heny. Knox
New York

Order a CopyCitation Guidelines for Online Resources