Knox, Henry (1750-1806) to Lucy 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 #: GLC02437.10006 Author/Creator: Knox, Henry (1750-1806) Place Written: New York, New York Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 26 August 1776 Pagination: 3 p. : address : docket ; 38.7 x 24.5 cm.
Thanks Lucy for her recent letter, and assures her that although his letters are shorter than hers, it is not from lack of love. Acknowledges receipt of ducks, chickens, and cheese. Writes, "The want of that refinement which you seem to speak of is or will be the Salvation of America, for refinement of Manners introduces corruption and venality. I grant you that most people are in a degree corrupt..." Compares corruption in "young" and "old" states. Refers to the "wickedry" of the British, noting "I had rather revert to the barbarism of the original nations of this Land, than have any further connection with [the British]..." Comments on the recent illness of General Nathanael Greene. Mentions the appointment of [Thomas] Henley as aide-de-camp for General William Heath. Relates that there have been skirmishes on Long Island, and the British have approached Continental works. Writes, "If I had planned any thing for six months, it would have been to get the enemy in the very spot where they now are- our advanced parties and theirs have had a considerable number of skirmishes in which our troops did not find these heroes invincible having beat them back several times..." Notes that the Prince of Hesse (referring to Frederick II, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel) will gain much in pay from Hessian soldiers killed during the battle, and discusses rates paid by Great Britain for Hessian soldiers. Relates that General Israel Putnam commands Continental troops on Long Island, with several other generals.
Written one day before the Battle of Long Island.
New York Augt 26 1776
My best beloved
I received your very acceptable Letter duly by the post, Indeed my Lucy it was one of the most acceptable presents I ever received from your much belov'd hands The sentiments the style the every thing was truly charming I lament that my time is not so much my own that I [struck: could] [inserted: can] answer every part of it particularly.
It is not [inserted: that] I do not love my Lucy as well as she does me that my Letters are not as long as hers. & I must by that you would not on that account make your Letters shorter - you seem apprehensive of my resenting your Letter by Major Lockwood, no my love your Harry never but for a moment resent any thing that you can say to me I must have been egregiously mistaken when I write you about the Ducks and Chikens I have rec'd thy part of them and the Whole of the Cheese for which my love I thank you - take care my love of permitting your disgust to the Connecticut people to escape your Lips - indiscreet expressions are handed from Town to Town and a long while remember'd by people not blessd with expanded minds - The want of that refinement which you seem to speak of is or will be the salvation of America for refinement of Manners introduces cooruption and venality. I grant you that most people are In a degree corrupt, but then in young states its only about tops and [a marbles] - in old States about Estates gain'd thro an ocean of Inquity and Blood - there's a kind of simplicity in young states as in young children which is quite pleasing to an attentive observer - Indeed I am so thoroughly glutted with  with the base said [struck: wickedness] Wickederry & horrid Crimes of the Enemies, [struck: that] I have rather revert to barbarism of the original nations of this Land, than have any further connection with them - my Lucy asks what are my amusements and how I spend my leisure hours - leisure Hours I have none and my amusements is my business - I treat none and am treated not much - Mrs Airey Miss Airey Mrs Foster Mrs Putnam and every other Lady is gone from the place but how by since I dont know. poor General Greene has been sick nearly unto death - he is now thank God on the Recovery but very weak he is about 2 miles from here on the Island. - Mr Henley is appointed Aid de camp to General Heath - I was in hopes to haven gotten Mr Pollard likewise promoted to an aid de camp - but the now made Generals had too many friends to provide for - I do not permit Mr Henley who is well acquainted with this Duty to leave me untill after the action - The enemy landed last Thursday on the plains of Flat bush on Long Island and march'd about 5 miles of our [works] - we suppos'd they were going to attack them and strongly reinforced on that side between our Works and where the enemy are is a very hilly broken ground - thickly planted with woods - If I had plann'd any thing for six months it would have been to get the enemy in the very spot where they now are - our advanced parties and theirs have had a [considerable] number of skirmishes in which our troops did not find these heroes invincible having beat them back several times - the prince of Hesse in these skirmishes will be a great gainer - we kill'd and found the body of one of his subjects for what the prince will receive thirty Crowns banco, three wounded makes a kill'd man so I suppose this paltry fellow of a prince will be receiving 100 crowns or 200 crowns banco every day - General Putnam Commands on the Island  with a number of other Generals. Upon the Security of Long Island will depend that of N York I think we shall beat the enemy and with the blessing of heaven preserve them both - we have great numbers of men here - Your Harry is well, how does my baby do I should like to see it vastly kiss it bless [strikeout] & pray for it for my sake -
I am with all affection & love
August 26th 1776
The copyright law of the United States (title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specific conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be “used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research.” If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of “fair use,” that user may be liable for copyright infringement. This institution reserves the right to refuse to accept a copying order if, in its judgment, fulfillment of the order would involve violation of copyright law.