AbstractWashington, George (b. February 16, 1732, d. December 17, 1799), President of the United States of America (1789-1797).
Letter signed as Commander in Chief (of the Continental Army) to Major Benjamin Tallmadge, Headquarters, Westpoint, 24 September 1779.
3 1/2pp.; folio; text in the hand of aide James McHenry and docketed upon receipt by Major Tallmadge.
Dimensions: 30.5 x 18.5 cm.
Processed by Kristen J. Nyitray, Head of Special Collections and University Archives, July 2006.
Head Quarters Westpoint
24th Sept. 1779.
I this morning received your letter of the 22nd with its several enclosures.
It is not my opinion that Culper Junr. should be advised to give up his present
employment. I would imagine that with a little industry he will be able to carry on his
intelligence with greater security to himself, and greater advantages to us — under cover of his
usual business, than if he were to dedicate himself wholly to the giving of information. It may
afford him opportunities of collecting intelligence, that he could not derive so well in any other
manner. It prevents also those suspicions which would become natural should he throw himself
out of the line of his present employment. — He may rest assured of every proper attention being
paid to his services.
One thing appears to me deserving of his particular consideration, as it will not only
render his communications less exposed to detection, but relieve the fears of such persons as may
be entrusted with its conveyance to the second link in the chain — and of course very much
facilitate the object we now have in view. — I mean that he should occasionally write his
information on the blank leaves of a pamphlet — on the first second &c. pages of a common
pocket book — on the blank leaves at each end of registers for the year — almanacks, or any
new publication — or book of small value. He should be determined in the choice of these
books, principally by the goodness of the blank paper as the ink is not easily legible unless it is
on paper of good quality. Having settled a plan of this kind with his friend, he may forward them
without risque of search, or the scrutiny of the enemy — as this is chiefly directed against paper
made up in the form of letters.
I would add a further hint on this subject. Even letters may be made more subservient to
his communications, than have been yet practiced. He may write a familiar letter on domestic
affairs, or on some little matters of business to his friend at Satuket or elsewhere, interlining with
the stain his secret intelligence, or writing it on the opposite blank side of the letter. — But that
his friend may know how to distinguish these from letters addressed solely to himself — he may
always leave such as contain secret information without a date or place (dating it with the stain);
or fold them up in a particular manner, which may be concerted between the parties. This last
appears to be the best mark of the two, and may be the signal for their being designed for me.
The first mentioned mode however, or that of the books, appears to me the one least
liable to detection.
I am Sir
Your most obedient
and humble servt.
\[signed\] Go. Washington