Monday, December 31, 2012

A Lover of Humanity

In January 1777, a writer identifying himself only as "a Lover of Humanity" sent to Benjamin Towne, printer of Philadelphia's Pennsylvania Evening Post, a copy of George Washington's orders dated January 1, 1777.  As in most of his General Orders, Washington wrote in the third person.  On January 14, 1777, Towne published the sender's introductory letter as a preface to the General Orders:

Mr. Towne,
   The following advertisement was put up in the most public parts of the Jerseys, and by giving it a place in your paper, you will oblige a      LOVER OF HUMANITY

   His Excellency General WASHINGTON strictly forbids...plundering any person whatsoever, whether Tories or others.  The effects of such persons will be applied to public uses in a regular manner, and it is expected that humanity and tenderness to women and children will distinguish brave Americans, contending for liberty, from infamous mercenary ravagers, whether British or Hessians.

Trenton, January 1, 1777

For the context of these General Orders in the New Jersey campaign of 1776-1777, please consult Brandies Historian David Hackett Fischer, Washington's Crossing (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004).  The "Jerseys" meant East New Jersey and West New Jersey, two colonies combined as New Jersey during the reign of Queen Anne.  For mention of the ravages committed by British and Hessians during their occupation of New Jersey, also consult the posts here and here.

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