HANCOCK, John (1737-1793), Signer (Massachusetts). Letter signed ("John Hancock Presdnt.") as President of the Continental Congress, to the "Honble. Convention of the State of Georgia," Philadelphia, 20 November 1776. 1¼ pages, folio, central fold and slight fold tears neatly reinforced, otherwise in very good condition.
AT A LOW POINT IN THE FORTUNES OF THE NEWLY INDEPENDENT NATION, HANCOCK PLEADS "THE IMPORTANCE OF CARRYING ON THE WAR AGAINST OUR ENEMIES"
A letter of measured, controlled, but forceful urgency from the President of Congress, at a dangerous period when the American cause, after a bold declaration of its independence, had suffered a humiliating series of defeats at the hand of the British. Soundly beaten and nearly encircled at Long Island, forced to abandon New York, defeated at Harlem Heights and White Plains and forced to surrender Forts Washington and Lee, Washington's army had made an ignominious retreat across New Jersey, just at a time when many of the Continental Army's enlistments were about to expire. Hancock, reflecting Washington's and Congress's concern over the state of the army, writes to the Georgia Convention: "I have it in Charge from Congress to forward the enclosed Resolve [not present], and to request your attention to it. From the great Importance of it in carrying on the War against our Enemies, I am persuaded, you will take immediate Measures for complying with it in the most effectual Manner. You will perceive, from the Vote of Congress, herewith transmitted, the Sense of that Body with Regard to the Necessity of furnishing the Troops for the new Army as soon as possible. As our Enemies will no Doubt take the Field early in the Spring, it becomes us to be prepared to meet them; and for this End, to exert ourselves the approaching Winter, to compleat the Army agreeably to the new Establishment."
A little over a month later, in spite of his depleted forces, Washington succeeded brilliantly at Trenton and Princeton, providing an critical demonstration of the effectiveness of the army and boosting the lagging enlistment of volunteers.