LS signed “Go: Washington,” one page, 8.25 x 13.25, January 1, 1783 [inadvertently dated 1782]. Letter to Colonel Joseph Vose. In full: “I approve of your conduct respecting the Flag. Messrs Lewis and Nicholson are to be permitted to proceed on their Journey, but Mr Kinloch will be under the necessity of returning back as I have informed him. Mr. Mott, who was detained some days ago may also return. In future, Flags of truce from the Enemy properly authenticated and conducted are to be received at the New Bridge on the Croton until further directions. Other Instructions will be given in a few days on this subject to the Officer commanding on the Lines…P.S. You will please to send a safe guard back with Mr Kinloch if he chooses it.” The body of the letter is in the hand of David Humphreys, Washington’s aide-de-camp, and the man entrusted to bring the surrendered British flag and Washington's battle report from Yorktown to Congress. Handsomely double-matted and framed with an engraved portrait and plaque to an overall size of 21.75 x 20.25. In very good condition, with intersecting folds, repairs to various tears and separations (none affecting the signature), and a circular area of toning above the signature from seal to reverse.
As fighting ceased and peace negotiations began, it became necessary to establish a point at which people could safely cross over enemy lines—representatives from both countries needed to meet for negotiations and loyalists who had fled to British-held New York desired to return home. To control access Washington established one crossing point at Dobbs Ferry, but as winter set in the ice made crossing a precarious proposition. Vose wrote to General Washington on December 29, explaining that three individuals, natives of Virginia and Carolina, arrived under a flag of truce at New Bridge and said they could not cross at Dobbs Ferry. Requesting further instruction from Washington, Vose wrote that he detained two of them at the lines ‘as it is conterary to orders for flagg’s to come any other rout but Dobbs ferry.’ However, he sent one of them ahead to explain their situation to Washington.
Washington responded with the present letter, approving of Vose’s dutiful compliance and telling him to allow the remaining pair to cross. In light of the problems at Dobbs Ferry, Washington instructs flags of truce to be received at “the New Bridge on the Croton,” informing the British commander Guy Carleton of this change on the same day. Entry was refused to Kinlock, however, because Washington was bound by a measure passed by Congress that forbade entry into the United States by anyone coming through the British lines without special permissions. In addition to its outstanding content from the end of the Revolutionary War, this letter demonstrates Washington’s respect for the civil authority of Congress, which would become a central philosophy in the development of America’s three branches of government. Pre-certified PSA/DNA.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.