Monday, June 13, 2011

June 13, 1776: John Hancock on "Ease & happiness" of British Officers, Prisoners

Major Charles Preston, commander of the British garrison at St. Johns, Canada, surrendered to American forces on Nov. 2, 1775. In June 1776, Preston was among the British prisoners at Reading, Pennsylvania. Knowing the Continental Congress permitted an officer to visit the men at Reading, Preston hoped that officer would be Captain John Crawford, “as it is his business to furnish both officers and men with money, and to keep all the accounts.” In a June 3 letter to John Hancock, President of Congress, Preston expressed his wish that Crawford's appointment would find no objection from Congress or the Pennsylvania Committee of Safety.

On June 13, Hancock responded, “Capt Crawford will deliver you this, he agreeable to the Resolve of Congress proceeds to Reading to furnish the officers & Men with Money & to Determine the Rations to Mr [David S.] Franks.” Hancock expected Crawford, as a gentleman of honor, to abide by the terms of parole that gave him freedom to travel to Reading: “I dare Say a strict attention to the Parole in other instances will be observ'd by Capt Crawford, my Knowledge of & Reliance on your honour is such that I am Confident you will not suffer any Circumstances to take place that shall in the least Degree occasion an Alteration in the present Determination with respect to the Gentlemen who are prisoners.”

Hancock added, “In any thing wherein I can promote the Ease & happiness of the Gentlemen constant with my Scituation depend I will with pleasure do it, & you will please at any time to Communicate any Occurrencies to me.”

Smith, ed., Letters of Delegates to Congress, Vol 4: Pages 206 and 206note1.
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