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Procter, Thomas (1739-1806) to Henry Knox

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02437.05066 Author/Creator: Procter, Thomas (1739-1806) Place Written: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 16 July 1791 Pagination: 1 p. ; 32.3 x 19.4 cm.

Passed along to Knox, some time ago, a letter from "a Gentleman resident on the borders of the Spanish Government." Reports that the man is the principal officer of a new settlement on the Mississippi River. Fears he transgressed "the Limits of friendship and honor" by passing it along, and that "the unadvised Act, hath given me much pain of mind." Provides his reasons why he sent it. Had heard from a member of Congress that a very long letter by his Spanish correspondent was sent to George Washington. Understood that this letter to Washington "bordered on threats to the detriment of the United States" if he was not given the appointment of Superintendent General of the district. Says he sent his letter forward to counter these threats of an "Unbecoming Kind." Believes he did his duty sending them to Knox, but as the letter is not needed for the public good anymore, he would like the correspondence returned.

Thomas Procter was the master builder of City Tavern in Philadelphia, completed in 1772, which was the nation's premier hostelry. His military career spanned the Revolution and continued throughout his life. Commissioned captain in the militia of an artillery company in 1775, he advanced to major of a battalion (1776), colonel of a regiment of artillery (1777) and colonel in the Continental Army (1779). He resigned his commission in 1781, was appointed a brigadier general by Pennsylvania (1793), and commissioned in 1794 a major general of militia. Artillery under his command fought at Trenton, the first American victory, and at Brandywine and Germantown, defeats which enabled the British to occupy Philadelphia.
In 1779, following the infamous "Wyoming Valley Massacre" by British and Indian forces, Washington — despite a perennial shortage of manpower — dispatched a force of 6,000 under General John Sullivan to secure the region by destroying Indian towns, crops and orchards and taking prisoners as hostages against future good behavior. Procter's arm of a classic pincer's movement advanced up the Susquehanna valley; the other swung west through the Mohawk valley. Little remained of the Six Nations, a confederation representing what had been one of the most advanced Indian civilizations east of the Mississippi.

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