Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 75,000 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 #: GLC02437.00445 Author/Creator: Knox, William (1756-1795) Place Written: Boston, Massachusetts Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 15 September 1776 Pagination: 2 p. : address ; 31.9 x 19.4 cm.

Summary of Content: Complains that Henry has not written to him recently and explains how he has received information from Lucy Knox and Mrs. Jonathan Pollard. Claims that they do not have many good sources for the news in Boston. Indicates that a British ship called the Mifford is seizing any vessel that comes near it in the bay. Mentions plans to mobilize troops from Connecticut. Notes that Benjamin Franklin, Edward Rutledge, and John Adams were being sent by Congress to meet with William Howe, a peace conference that later proved unsuccessful. Mentions reports of a battle on Lake Champlain. Business has improved in Boston. Notes that it is his twentieth birthday.

Full Transcript: [draft]
Boston 15th September 1776
My dear Brother
I have been much disappointed in not receiving Lettrs from you by the last posts. the only way in which I have heard ...from you has been thro the medium of Mrs. Knox who desird Mrs. Pollard (who wrote to her Mamma to inform me you were well yesterday seven nights which to me was not small pleasure as we didn't know how our friends were after the retreat from teh Island. - She (Mrs. Pollard) likewise forwarded an extract of your Letter to Mrs. Knox dated Friday 6th. Instant wherein you say "tho retreat from Long Island was a measure wise and prudent, there never was, or ever could be a retreat better performed. I think it was a masterpiece. The enemy are divided, we are numerous and contented" and which was the only piece of Intelligence we had in Town from New York at that time. (last wednesday evening.) If you knew how much we suffer for want of some good person to give us the News, I almost think you would [illegible] two or three minutes just to inform us how matters are when the post leaves you. On very sensible you must be much more importantly ingaged. but do my dear Harry think one moment that you have a Friend a Brother whoe is inexpressibly interested in your welfare and whose happiness depends much upon your Fate. - As to news I dare say dont expect any from me. I can [2] can only tell you that tho Mifford is still in the Bay and seizes every think the can reach with her Guns - that the Court and Council have resolved that evy 4th. or 5th. man shall march from that part of this State nearest Connecticut to guard the frontier of that State, in the room of those men who have gone forward.. - we are informed that Mr. Franklin, Mr. Rutledge and Mr. Adams are now a Committee to wait on [Lt] Howe - We have a Report in Town that a Battle has been Fraught on the Lake Champlain but no particulars. - Business begins to be a little better the Town has but 20. or 30. people with the small pox in it - I have in Stock near 100hd pounds including my hard Cash the Collo. says he shall call on me For what I have soon - Collo Hancock had accepted the Command of our Company -
This day I am 20 Years old. May that benificient being who delights in Virtue give me much a share as to be sufficient to Conduct me safe thro.' Those Years in which vice never fails of opportunity on her most Brillient apparell to insnare the Y g unwary mind.
Adieu my dear Friend
Yrs. WKnox
See More

People: Knox, William, 1756-1795
Knox, Henry, 1750-1806
Pollard, Jonathan, fl. 1776-1786
Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790
Adams, John, 1735-1826

Historical Era: American Revolution, 1763-1783

Subjects: NavyBattleRevolutionary WarRevolutionary War GeneralGlobal History and US Foreign PolicyGlobal History and US Foreign PolicyContinental ArmyMilitiaCongressContinental CongressPresidentDiplomacyMaritimeHolidays and CelebrationsFinance

Sub Era: The War for Independence

Order a Copy Citation Guidelines for Online Resources