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 William 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 #: GLC02437.01323 Author/Creator: Knox, Henry (1750-1806) Place Written: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 3 January 1782 Pagination: 4 p. : docket ; 33.3 x 20.7 cm.

Written by Brigadier General Henry Knox to his brother William Knox. References receiving several letters from William before he left Boston, but that they took a long time in arriving. Reports on several merchant ships that have been captured. Mentions the birth of another son: "I am happy to inform you that our domestic happiness encreases. Mrs Knox has presented me with another fine boy who was born on the 20th ultimo. he is almost the image of Harry, except that his limbs are rather longer. We name him Marcus Camillus, after a roman republic character to which I early became attached." Says the other "Young Gentlemen" are in good health and that little Lucy is at a boarding school in Philadelphia and that she makes good progress in her studies. Has heard his voyage was probably quick (it was fast, according to GLC02437.01296, it took 21 days). Makes reference to the capture of "Statia" -- Saint Eustatius -- by the French (the British had captured the island in February 1781 when it was a Dutch possession -- the Dutch being American allies in the Revolution. The Dutch were given back control of the island in 1784). Says it was "attended with such brilliancy to the Arms of France & disgrace to their antient enemies, as must render the nation much pleased with the ability of their officers and valor of their troops." Asks for copies of French publications that can be generally obtained. Reports that he will stay in Philadelphia most of the winter. Mentions Congress passed new laws on captures on the high seas.

Philadelphia 3 January 1782

I have received the several letters, my dear friend and brother which you were so kind as to write me previous to your departure from Boston, but they were so long on the way, [struck: and] [inserted: and] some of them pass'd me on the road [struck: that it is] [inserted: and have] but recently [struck: that I have received] [inserted and struck: reached me] [inserted and struck: to me] [inserted: returned to this] place. I have written you pretty fully by the Marquis de la Fayette, who is either gone or about going to France from Boston in the Alliance Frigate. I mentioned in Virginia, that I wished he would give you some letters but he said that he should [inserted: go] [inserted: follow strikeout] so soon [struck: after you] [himself] that it would be unnecessary as he [struck: shou] would be [inserted: a] better [struck: to you] introduction of you personally than a volume of letters. General le chevalier Chastelas [struck: politely promised] [inserted: in the most friendly manner] me to write [inserted: to his friend] so that I think you will not [struck: want] fail to receive an abundance of that kind of civility, which may [struck: lead to] enhance the pleasure of Paris. [inserted in the left margin of page one: he would most chearfully have given you numerous letters [inserted: to France] [strikeout], but as he was to follow so soon, he will by his personal introduction be of much more consequence than a volume of letters. Genl Duportail also goes with him and politely assurd me that he]
I am very sorry to inform you [strikeout] both the Amsterdam and Harriet and [Becky] are taken, the first within ten [hours] sail of Boston, the latter [inserted: was] carried in to Shetland. [struck: the prize cost of the Amsterdam was $20,000 Ster the other] [inserted: they were both richly ladend] [2] was also richly ladened-[struck: this cuts off all prospects of strikeout from that quarter] [inserted: this precludes the necessity of giving the order you wish respecting their [produce]] I am happy that you left the ballance of the account of [strikeout] untouched as it may help to make smooth the present year which the [defence] of the public [struck: would] [strikeout] must otherwise have ended unpleasant. [struck: If I can find it possible It will be impossible to proceed to the eastward this winter, there I am afraid] [inserted in the left margin of page two: a [fierce] loss to our friends and [rather rude] to us]
I am [inserted: happy] to inform you that [our] domestic happiness encreases. Mrs Knox has presented me with another fine boy who was born on the 10th ultimo. he is almost the image of [struck: Brother] Harry, except that his limbs are rather longer. We name him Marcus Camillus, [struck: after] [inserted: after] a [inserted: roman] republican character to which I early became attached. The young Gentleman with their [struck: mama] [inserted: mother] are in charming health- Lucy who is at a boarding school in this city makes a rapid progress in her little studies
From accounts, and the [struck: state] [inserted: course] of the winds after your sailing, we have great grounds of hope that your passage was effected in a short time. It is even fear'd by some that you anticipated the news of the Chesepeak affair in which the Duke Lazaar was charged [3] You will be in France in a happy moment The effectual cooperation of the fleet & army [inserted: in america] of our illustrious allies [struck: an event that] [inserted: in America] cannot fail of [inserted: being productive of] [inserted: producing] the most decided good consequences [struck: and the nation ought to be pleased with their prowess]-The late capture of Statia with the Garrison there are attended with such brilliancy to the Arms of France & disgrace to their antient enemies, as [struck: will] must render the nation much pleased with [inserted: the] abilities of their officers and valor of their troops
I pray that you would write me on every occasion, [struck: and enclose them to the care of the honorable Robert R Livingston] and send me such [inserted: new] publications as shall be generally esteemed, let the subject be what it may particularly to inform me when we may expect that you will return to America I shall probably stay in this city or its vicinity the greater part of the winter- [inserted in the left margin of page three and four: your sister expects that you will remember illegible case should he happy [inserted: contribute his part] towards France as agreeable to your coopera[text loss]]
Congress have been pleased to [repeal] all former laws respecting captures on the high seas and in lieu thereof passed the enclosd ordinance ascertaining what captures shall be lawful
[4] I am very dear brother
Your affectionate
Mr. William Knox

To William Knox
3 Jany. 1782
Copies private
letters 82

Order a CopyCitation Guidelines for Online Resources