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Letter from Cornelius Harnett to William Wilkinson
Harnett, Cornelius, 1723-1781
November 30, 1777
Volume 11, Pages 813-815


York, Pennsylvania, Nov. 30th, 1777.

Dear Sir,

Since my last by Mr. Gillon who has been detained much longer than was expected I have very little to add except an authentic

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account from Genl. Gates of the Enemy's evacuating Ticonderoga and all their ports in that Quarter, they burnt all their buildings & threw such of the Cannon as they could not Carry off into the Lake—Genl. Green with about 5000 of the American Troops on Monday the 24th Instant, we are informed, had a smart engagement with about the same number of British on the Jersey side. Congress have as yet received no certain Intelligence of the event. We comfort ourselves with knowing that had our army been defeated we should have heard it before now— Genl. Howe we are informed has got one 40 gun ship & several Transports up to Philadelphia as there is now nothing on the River to oppose them. Some of our Gallies, & other armed vessels have got up the river above the City, such as they could not get up were burnt, the Loss of their vessels is to be inquired into.

We are not without hopes of dislodging Gen. Howe from Philadelphia this winter notwithstanding the series of misfortunes & disappointments which have attended our army in this Quarter. One bold push may yet retrieve all. Gen. Howe is apprehensive of this & is guarding all in his power against it. Could this army be defeated, America is safe; Our whole collective strength ought to be employed to effect this grand purpose. By the next Opportunity I shall send you the articles of confederation; they are at last completed after being under the consideration of Congress for almost two Years; This has been the most difficult piece of Business that ever was undertaken by any public Body, it is the best Confederacy that could be formed especially when we consider the number of states, their different Interests, Customs &c. &c. The mode of settling the quota of Taxes to be paid towards the Common expense is at last fixed by the value of all Land held under Patent or Deed in each state. The Eastern people were much against this, knowing their Lands to be very valuable, they were for settling the quota by the number of Inhabitants including slaves, this would have ruined Poor North Carolina, she has as many Inhabitants as Connecticut (almost) tho' the Land in that state would sell for five times as much as the Lands in ours.

I have wrote to Mr. John Mitchel to send Jackey to me, there is a good school in this Town & I can have him under my own eye & will (please God I live) bring him home with me. If Mr. Mitchel should not be able to effect this, I shall send for him.

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Let me know how our Copartnership busines goes on. I shall, I am afraid, have Occasion of a Bill for 2 or 300£ I wish you would have one in readines in case I send for it. Ask Mr. Brice whither he could (or Tom Craike) undertake to purchase a large Quantity of Pork this Season. I wish I could know what number of barrels could be procured this winter in our State & at what price. Tell these two Youngsters they are sad fellows not to write to me. Remember me kindly to all my friends, you know them better than I do. I expect you always to shew my Scrawls to Mr. Quince, otherwise I should steal an hour from business to write to him.

I am with esteem Dr. Sir,
Your sincere friend & obedt. Servt.
William Wilkinson Esqr.

I have wrote Mr. Fred Jones Sen. 2 Letters relative to a Bill he sent by me, & have received no answer. Perhaps he has not received them. Tell him Mr. Shoemaker declined receiving the money. I have it now in a bundle sealed up & will send it to him if he desires it, or you may pay it to him there as he chooses. Mr. Shoemaker remains in Philadelphia, perhaps I may have the pleasure of seeing him there before the winter is over. I wish you would be so kind as to write to him on this subject– with the news such as it is.