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.

Jackson, Henry (1747-1809) 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 #: GLC02437.00633 Author/Creator: Jackson, Henry (1747-1809) Place Written: Boston, Massachusetts Type: Autograph letter Date: 7 August 1777 Pagination: 3 p. : address : docket ; 33.5 x 20.7 cm.

Reports a scare regarding a fleet of 150 ships in the [Massachusetts] Bay. Describes how Bostonians were thrown into confusion, thinking the fleet consisted of British troops from New York. Speaks of the evacuation of Boston: "altho' the Alarm came very direct- yet by heavens everyone was for own dear self- from my little observation in this affair- I really think if the enemy were to come here, not one quarter part of the Town would turn out to oppose them- O my God the thought." Notes that The Hancock, a frigate, has been captured and taken to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Gives report of a naval prize ashore at Newbury [Massachusetts] containing rum. Complains of slow recruiting. As in previous letters, expresses his wish that "the Gen'l" (George Washington) will write to Massachusetts to encourage the state's assistance regarding recruiting. Asks Henry to remember him to Mr. Secretary Knox (Henry's brother William), and to offer [William] a position as ensign under Jackson's service.

[draft]
Boston Aug:t 1777
dear Harry
your favor of the 27 July came safe hand - am much oblige to you for this favor, and am for many others which I have rec:d -
We were greatly Alarm'd here a few day's ago by an express from Cap Ann. That 150 sail of Large Ships were seen in the Bay & were Bound directly into Nantasket - and suppose'd to be the fleet from New York - you cannot paint to yourself an Idea the confution we were thrown in - same a drive'g up Street & down - buy'g all the Old Hqd:s Bar:s & Box's to pack their goods up - others mount'g horse back gallop'g out after Team's - The Council was then seting, this did not know what to do - they send'g off express to the members of the genl Court to call them together to ask there advice about fortify'g Governers Island & to evacuate the Forts at Nantasket, Collo Crafts with 18 or 20 Orderly Serg:ts attend'g the Board of War to waite there orders - before this alarm, there was not a Bar:ll Rum a Bar Sugar a pound of Coffee nor a pound of Cotton Wool to be bought in the Town & in three Hour's there was not less than 100 Load [2] of these articles carted out of Town - altho' the alarm came very direct - yet by heaven's every one was for own dear self - from my little observation in this affair - I really think if the enemy were to come here, not one quarter part of the Town would turn out to oppose them - O my god the thought - Harry it is too true - How are the mighty fallen, tell it not in Heaven, publish it not in the Streets of Amereca - by Heaven's if there is not one publick spirit we shall go to devil our own way - publick spirit - did I say - there is none here - nor there has not been any this 18 Mo
The next mor.g this alarm appear'd to be only a few fish'g, Boats in the Bay a fish:g - I hope it will have one good effect that is in our fright we sent down about 150 men to Fortify Governers Island
- your Lucy is not return'd from Newbury - I heard of her a few days ago - she was well - your little Lucy, I kis't this mor:g she is hearty & well -
Capt Manly in the Hancock Frigate; is Certainly taken & carrie'd into Hallifax - this is a very great less to [ous] - it is whisper'd that our Old friend Hector - has not behave'd as we might have expect'd -
I hope and pray you will give a good acct of gen.l How - I think if you are able to get there before him you'll make [3] him repent the day he left New York - A Frigate off Newbury chas'd a prize Ship a Shore with 300 Hhd: Rum - the People on board the Ship got a shore in their Boat - & the Frigate sent their boats & tow'd the Ship off - Recruitg is very dull - Lee & Henly has not got 80 between them - I wish the gen.l would write this State w.h respect to this Regt - I want them should be full by Winter - Remember me to Mr. Secretary Knox - tell Mr Secretary I have an ensign'd [Vaca] which I think any man of Spirit would accept, rather than be scribner to any officer - which if he'll accpt it as his Service - may god Perserve you my dear Harry, is the Pray, of your affectionate
Friend

[docket]
[illegible] Harry Jackson
Augt. 1777 -
[address leaf]
To
Brig:r Gen:l Knox
at
Gen.l Washington's
Head Quarters

Order a CopyCitation Guidelines for Online Resources