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 Robert Morris

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 #: GLC02437.03403 Author/Creator: Knox, Henry (1750-1806) Place Written: s.l. Type: Autograph letter Date: December 1786 Pagination: 4 p. : docket ; 31.5 x 19.9 cm.

Summary of Content: Writes that he has received the documents finalizing the loan Morris and Colonel [Jeremiah] Wadsworth were preparing to give to the Board of Treasury. He is thrilled the plan worked, and believes the public good will be well served. Has received a copy of a letter from the Board asking that Colonel Wadsworth come to New York to finish signing the paperwork as well. Discusses the insurgents associated with Daniel Shays, and explains the claims and issues they are raising. Also mentions several of their acts of rebellion, including several attempts to keep the General Court from sitting in Massachusetts. Signature clipped causing text loss on page three and four.

Full Transcript: My dear Sir
I received your favors of the 3d ultimo inclosing [struck: y] [inserted: a] [struck: yr] copy of your answer to the board of Treasury - I feel ...the greatest satisfaction, at your [compliance] and that of Colonel Wadsworth, with the proposals transmitted you [struck: by the board of treasury -] By [inserted: yr assistance in] [inserted: strikeout] the [mode] [struck: and this only could] [inserted: proposed] the objects of the public will I hope be [inserted: completely] effected - But I cannot conceive of any other in which the business could be [struck: accomplished] [inserted: executed], and I believe the board of treasury are unanimously of the same opinion
Notwithstanding the probability [struck: that you may] [inserted: of your] having transmitted [struck: a copy of your letter to [illegible] treasury] [inserted & struck: treasury board], to [struck: the board of treasury] [inserted: Colonel Wadsworth], yet they have also [inserted: a copy of your letter to the treasury board] [inserted and struck: to prevent delays] transmitted a copy [struck: to him] [strikeout] [inserted: to prevent delays] and requested him to come on to [struck: New York] [inserted: this city] as soon as possible and [struck: thence] [inserted: hence] to Philadelphia in order to put a finishing hand to the business - Indeed [struck: every] [inserted: the] motives which originated the measures [inserted: of Congress], press most forcibly, that [struck: be th] [inserted: they] be [2] put in a train of accomplishment -
The insurgents of Massachusetts, are still proceeding in their desperate designs notwithstanding [struck: some] [inserted: the] attempts of the legislature to conciliate them, [inserted: which in some [strikeout] instances, have been] at the expense of Justice which ought to be a vital principal in all societies - This business must have all the extensive consequences which have been predicted The claims of the insurgents are undefined, and therefore [strikeout] difficult if not impracticable to redress - salaries taxes, [inserted: the] public debt &c are the ostensible grievances, and yet they strike at private debts first - The [inserted: County] courts of common pleas in which actions originate [inserted: and which assemble four times a year are to them the abominable thing - [struck: These courts are local, and qu] to [struck: the counties & set quantity] In the counties of [struck: Hamps] Berkshire Hampshire & Worcester the common pleas have been [prevented] for one or two terms past, - and also in Bristol The three former are the three Western Counties of the state, [populous] and [hardy]
[3] On the 29th ultimo, the common pleas [commanded] their session [strikeout] [struck: Cambridge for the] the County of Middlesex at Cambridge within four miles of Boston - [struck: However] The insurgents intended to prevent its sitting, and government were determined at all hazards to protect it - The excessive cold weather, and deep snows probably [struck: operated] to prevented the insurgents appearance - a party of them assembled at Concord about sixteen miles distance, but dispersed on the 30th with orders to be in readiness to turn out at the shortest notice - A number of horse [inserted: for government] were collected from Boston and its vicinity who made a forwd march, and seized three of the ringleaders, [inserted: of the insurgents] [and conveyed them to] Boston [yard] -
On the 5th instant the [text loss]ssemble at [text loss]ils from Boston. [text loss]ntiled from [text loss] Counties in [text loss] in defiance of [disastrous] [inserted: and [illegible]] [text loss] members [4] compelled the Justices to adjourn to a distant day - The last intelligences which I have received is of the 7th from Worcester, when the Insurgents [amounted] to about 1000 men, and were increasing fast - It [struck: is [uncertain]] was said that they intended to proceed to Boston and liberate their [brothers] who were seized in Middlesex - But I think they will hardly venture to execute their project - But it is probable that they will seize some friends of government and hold them, as a security for the treatment of their friends - The insurgents have plenty of provisions accompanying them, and only ask shelter from the weather - These circumstances are not the crisis of this business, but [strikeout] - but they irritate and [inserted: rapidly] accelerate [struck: the crisis] civil war [strikeout] which appears to be inevitable and what may be m[text loss]
[docket written in left margin of first page]
To R Morris Esqr
Decr 1786 -
See More

People: Knox, Henry, 1750-1806
Morris, Robert, 1734-1806
Shays, Daniel, 1747-1825

Historical Era: The New Nation, 1783-1815

Subjects: Revolutionary War GeneralMilitary HistoryFinanceContinental CongressCongressGovernment and CivicsContractMobs and RiotsRebellionShays' RebellionJudiciaryLawDebtTaxes or Taxation

Sub Era: Creating a New Government

Order a Copy Citation Guidelines for Online Resources