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 Gouverneur 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 #: GLC02437.03417 Author/Creator: Knox, Henry (1750-1806) Place Written: New York, New York Type: Manuscript letter Date: 16 January 1787 Pagination: 2 p. : docket ; 32.1 x 20.1 cm.

Summary of Content: Body of the letter and signature in the hand of Robert Pemberton, Knox's aide. Marked "copy" on the docket Details General [Benjamin] Lincoln's deployment with 4,000 men to deal with Shays and his supporters. Writes that Lincoln will begin at Worcester, trying to protect the Court, and then make several more stops around the state. If the insurgents do not "choose to oppose him in his parties," he will proceed to search for them individually. Is pleased to hear that both he and Robert Morris have been chosen to attend the Philadelphia convention: "I ardently wish for many reasons that the States would unanimously send delegates to it, but the various opinions respecting it will prevent. I most exceedingly wish Massachusetts and the eastern states would be at it, but they appear to think it an irregular step and inadequate to our critical situation - will you muster up all your arguments in favor of it, and forward them to me? I will not make a bad use of them." Is unsure when Colonel [Jeremiah] Wadsworth will arrive, but knows there have been delays in his travels. Also reports that recruitment of troops has been going "pretty well," but "we exceedingly want the clothing, and every thing rests on the proposed contracts." Body of letter and signature penned for Knox by Robert Pemberton, his post-war aide.

Full Transcript: [draft]
New York 16th January 1787
Dear Sir
I have received yours of the 9th Instant - Matters have indeed appeared to be quiet in Massachusetts - & it is true that ...this appearance was in consequence of something like imbecility in the government, bur affairs now assume another aspect, and the executive, have determined to coerce the insurgents. General Lincoln is to take the field on the 20th instant at the head of 4000 men in support of government. He will in the first instance repair to Worcester to protect the court of common pleas which is to meet there by adjournment on the 23d instant - after which he will proceed to Springfield in the County of Hampshire for the purpose of protecting the Courts there, and then probably to Berkshire. If the insurgents do not choose to oppose him in his progress or while at those places he will detach parties, to take up such of the principals as he can find. The progress of this business will be interesting and its issue highly important.
[2] [written at bottom of first page: Gouverneur Morris Esqr.] I am glad that you and Mr Robert Morris are chosen as delegates to the Convention. I ardently wish for many reasons that the States would unanimously send delegates to it, but the various opinions respecting it will prevent. I most exceedingly wish Massachusetts and the eastern states would be at it, but they appear to think it an irregular step and inadequate to our critical situation - will you muster up all your arguments in favor of it, and forward them to me? I will not make a bad use of them.
I have been impatiently expecting Colonel Wadsworth ever since the new year set in, but he has been delayed by a number of vexatious circumstances, of Vessells ready for sea being frozen up, bad debts, &c &c
He writes me on the 7th that he shall be here by the 20th and I suppose he will immediately proceed to Philadelphia to see Mr. R Morris - The recruiting business in Massachusetts and Connecticut goes on pretty well - but we exceedingly want the clothing, and every [inserted: thing] rests on the proposed contracts. It is expected that a Congress will be formed this day.
I beg you to present my respectful compliments to Mr. & Mrs. Morris
I am my dear Sir
Your Humble Servt.
H Knox
See More

People: Knox, Henry, 1750-1806
Morris, Gouverneur, 1752-1816
Lincoln, Benjamin, 1733-1810
Morris, Robert, 1734-1806
Wadsworth, Jeremiah, 1743-1804

Historical Era: The New Nation, 1783-1815

Subjects: Revolutionary War GeneralMilitary HistoryRebellionMobs and RiotsShays' RebellionJudiciaryGovernment and CivicsUS ConstitutionUS Constitutional ConventionTravelRecruitmentContractMilitary ProvisionsMilitary SuppliesMilitary UniformsClothing and Accessories

Sub Era: Creating a New Government

Order a Copy Citation Guidelines for Online Resources