Whipple, William (1730-1785) to John Langdon
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 #: GLC06519 Author/Creator: Whipple, William (1730-1785) Place Written: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 4 and 7 December 1776 Pagination: 3 p. : docket ; 32 x 20 cm.
Written by Whipple, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, as a New Hampshire Congressman to Langdon as agent for Continental prizes in New Hampshire. First two pages are a letter from 4 December 1776 and is signed "W Whipple" and the third page is a letter from 7 December 1776 initialed "WW." 4 December: previously wrote that the navy will add another ship of 74 guns to be built in New Hampshire. Says he will send the dimensions in a few days and the builders are to make their own drafts. Says the carpenters who built the "Raleigh" will do a good a job as any. Langdon is to procure timber. Says he will procure iron and send it northward. Claims the price of iron is astronomical at 40-45 pounds. Also has permission to procure ships to be sent to Virginia or Carolina. Wants to know what ships he has sent off from directions he gave previously. Says last letter from him was 21 October 1776 and fears his letters have fallen into enemy hands. Hopes "those Barbarians will derive no advantage from any information." Mentions locations of both armies in New Jersey. Just received letter of 19 November while writing. Says he is sending money by the bearer. Says army needs clothing. 7 December: Says confused circumstances have kept him from getting this letter out. Says Washington was retreating and appears to be going on the offensive now. Intelligence says 8 ships of the line and 4 frigates will arrive in the West Indies. Says "the greater difficulty is to raise the new army and keep them well clothed." Claims that peace will only come by "public Virtue, & that People who have not Public Virtue enough to support their freedom when the means are in their Power, ought to be slaves."
Philadelphia 4th Decr 1776
My Dear Sir
I wrote you some time ago that Congress had come to a determination to increase the Navy one ship of 74 guns is to be Built in New Hampshire I shall furnish you with the dimentions in a very few days the Builders are to make their own drafts & I am of opinion that those Gent:m Who built the Raliegh can form as good Moulds as any of the carpenters in this place & I dare say, for the Honour of N. Hampshire, they'll do their Best, You'll agree with the Builder immediately & form the necessary plans for Procuring timber &c. as to iron I must endeavour to procure it here & send it to you in the course of this winter this article has got to an amaizing price here from 40 to 45 [inserted: Â£] - You'll look on this as a sufficient authority for you to go on so far as you can in this Business. - By this conveyence you'll have directions to Purchace some ships to send to Virginia or Carolina, I hope you will be able to do this Business on good terms, as I wish to turn as much Business as I can into your hands, & nothing will assist me so much as its being well executed. I shod be glad to be informed what ships you have sent off in consequence of directions sent you some time past from y:e S. Committee, - What think you of a voyage to S:t Peters this Winter? Its probably a considerable quantity of woolen good may be purchased there if a cargo can be procurd suitable for that market I wish you wod reflect on this hint & give me your opinion  the last letter I receiv'd from you was dated ye 21 Octor I am very apprehensive some of your letters have fallen into the Enemies hands its reduced to a certainty that one Mail was taken at Hackinsack, however I hope those Barbarians will derive no advantage from any information they get by that capture by the last accots from the army, the Enemy were between Elizabeth Town & Brunswick Genl: W: at Trentown & part of his army at Prince Town the Militia are now turning out with great spirit, & I am in no doubt will stop the progress of the Enemy if this city is their object, Genl: Lee is in the Rears of Enemy, the [Barer] of this will be able to give you a more particular accot: of the Situation of the Army then I can as there may be great alterations in their movements before they get through Jersey, all accots from abroad are as favorable as we can expect -
I had just wrote this far when your favour of the 13th ulto was handed me by Capn Smith who arrived at Chester this morning & came up by land to take advice whether to come up with his vessel he is to call on me in the morning, I shall furnish him with what money he wants agreeable to your orders & shall render every assistance in my power for his dispatch, - Messer Livington & Turnbul are sent by order of Congress to see what cloathing has been procurd in the Eastern states for the Army & to purchase all they can no doubt you'll give them all the assistance in your Power the want of cloathing has been a very discouraging circumstance to the Army but I flatter myself this evil will be remedied in future -
Your Friend W.W. Whipple
 Decr: 7th: The foregoing was design'd to go by Mr: Livingston who I unluckely ship'd, he set out Yesterday, the Schooner Friends adventure came up last evening & will be dispatched as soon as the present confused state of affairs here will admitt of [strikeout] the Militia here and in Jersey are now turning out with spirit & the Army under Gen:l W- who were retreating before the Enemy are now returning to the Charge & I doubt will not oblige those foes to Humanity (who are now at Brunswick) to retreat in their turn -
By late advices from [Mertineco] we have certain intelligence that Eight ships of the Line & four frigates were dayly expected there, one of the frigates had arriv'd it may also be dpended on, that the number of troops expected in addition to those already in that Island & Gaurdalupe will make ten thousand strong, in those two Islands. -
The greater difficulty is to raise the new army and keep them well cloathed & I hope every exertion will be used throughout the united states for this purpose, this new Army are to be inlisted for three years but if the People at large will expect themselves as men deserving to be free, & the Legislative Bodies & all those who hold Public offices will Divert themselves of Local attachments & prejudices. I doubt not but in much less time every man may set down Peacebly, under his own vine & his own figg tree, nothing will accomplish this most desirable event but public Virtue, & that People who have not Public Virtue enough to support their freedom when the means are in their Power ought to be slaves.
That America may Rival all the world in Virtue & that Peace & Happiness may soon Established is the most sincere wish of your very sincere Friend.
& Humle Sert
Wm Whipple Esqr.
Decr. 4 & 7. 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.