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Washington, George (1732-1799) to Matthias Ogden re: plan to capture Prince William Henry and Admiral Digby

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC04386 Author/Creator: Washington, George (1732-1799) Place Written: Morristown, NJ Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 28 March 1782 Pagination: 1 p. 31.7 x 19.7 cm

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC04386 Author/Creator: Washington, George (1732-1799) Place Written: Morristown, NJ Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 28 March 1782 Pagination: 1 p. 31.7 x 19.7 cm

Summary of Content: Approving a plan to capture (or kidnap) the future William IV but advising Ogden to treat them with respect and warning him (in a postscript) to avoid touching neutral ground. Boatner's Encyclopedia of the American Revolution notes the plan was compromised and abandoned. A docket on the verso indicates that the letter was shown by Louis W. Lane before 1838 [sic?] to King William who remarked: "I am obliged to General Washington for his humanity, but I'm damn'd glad I didn't give him an opportunity of exercising it towards me." (Also see related GLC 7436, a "Vue d'Optique" print of the arrival of Prince William Henry ("Quillaume [sic] Henry") in New York.)

Background Information: Notes: Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington. 24: 91. Punctuation has been standardized. Matthias Ogden became Lieutenant Colonel of the 1st New Jersey Continentals in 1776 and assumed command of the regiment in 1777. Ogden proposed ...a plan in September 1781 for the capture of Prince William Henry, (the future king William IV), when the Prince was in New York City with Admiral Digby. Washington approved the plan, but it was later compromised and abandoned.
Signer of the U.S. Constitution.
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Full Transcript: To - Colo. Ogden of the 1st. Jersey Regiment
Sir,
The spirit of enterprise so conspicuous in your plan for surprising in their quarters, & bringing off the Prince - William ...Henry & Admiral Digby, merits applause; and you have my authority to make the attempt; in any manner, & at such a time as your own judgment shall direct
I am fully persuaded, that it is unnecessary to caution you against offering insult or indignity to the persons of the Prince, or Admiral should you be so fortunate as to capture them; but it may not be amiss to press the propriety of a proper line of conduct upon the party you command.
In case of success, you will, as soon as you get them to a place of safety, treat them with all possible respect, but you are to delay no time in conveying them to Congress, & reporting your proceedings with a copy of these orders
Given at Morris Town this 28th
day of March 1782
Go: Washington
Note
Take care not to touch upon the ground wch is agreed to be Neutral - viz from Raway [sic] to Newark & four miles back
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People: Washington, George, 1732-1799
Ogden, Matthias, 1754-1791
William IV, King of Great Britain, 1765-1837
Digby, Robert, 1732-1815

Historical Era: American Revolution, 1763-1783

Subjects: PresidentRevolutionary WarRevolutionary War GeneralMilitary HistoryGlobal History and CivicsForeign AffairsNeutralityPrisoner

Sub Era: The War for Independence

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