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.

Washington, George (1732-1799) to William S[tephens] Smith

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 #: GLC03770 Author/Creator: Washington, George (1732-1799) Place Written: Newburgh, New York Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 3 March 1783 Pagination: 2 p. : address : docket ; 31.8 x 20.3 cm.

Summary of Content: Written by General Washington to Lieutenant Colonel Smith as commander of the post at Dobbs Ferry, New York. Discusses the problems of trading with British-occupied New York City and the issue of states ignoring the "barrier between us and the enemy."

Background Information: Signer of the U.S. Constitution.

Full Transcript: Newburgh 3d. March 83
Dear Sir,
I have been favoured with your private letter of the 24th. Ulto. & thank you for the information contained in it. -
It is much to ...be regretted that while I am using every means in my power to comply with the orders of Congress (founded in my opinion on our true interest & policy) that there should be such a counteraction as we daily experience [struck: by] [inserted: from] individuals. - But more lamentable is our
situation, [inserted: it appears that] when States, or the Administration of them, are leaping over those bounds which ought to be a sacred barrier between us and the Enemy; & without which, all opposition to their measures must soon cease - or dwindle into something very farcical.
That the intercourse with New York by way of the Sound, is, in a manner unrestrained, I have little doubt of - and that the very Boats which are Armed & Commissioned for the purpose of cutting of this Communication are employed in facilitating the Trade, I have a recent proof of in One which was caught in the fact, by the vigilance of Majr. Talmage, with E. Goods on board.
We have only to persevere & with the means we possess, give all the checks to it in our power. - Every Officer who exerts himself in this business shall meet every support I can [2] give - and will undoubtedly merit the approbation of Congress. -
With respect to the other matters entertained in your Letter, I have to entreat that you will keep an attentive eye towards them - that you may be able, if it should become needful, to give me as good information as the nature of the case will admit - Let the motives to these enquiries be hid from those about you, & confined to your own breast. - I have reasons for giving you this caution which cannot be entrusted to Paper.
I am Dr Sir
Yr. Most Obedt. Servt.
Go: Washington
Lt Colo. Smith.

Head Quarters 3.d March
1783 - Private from G. W.ton.
To Gl. Commanding
officer of the advanced
Post of the American Army
Colonel W..S..Smith

[address leaf]
Lieutt. Colo. Smith
Comg. at the Post of
Dobbs Ferry

See More

People: Washington, George, 1732-1799
Smith, William Stephens, 1755-1816

Historical Era: The New Nation, 1783-1815

Subjects: Revolutionary WarRevolutionary War GeneralMilitary HistoryPresidentGlobal History and US Foreign PolicyGlobal History and US Foreign PolicyCommerceMerchants and TradeLoyalist

Sub Era:

Order a Copy Citation Guidelines for Online Resources