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Lot 30: Greene, Nathanael. Autograph letter signed ("Nath Greene"), 4 pages (12 ½ x 7 7/8 in.; 318 x 200 mm.)
December 18, 2012
Calabasas Hills, CA, USALive Auction
30. Greene, Nathanael. Autograph letter signed (“Nath Greene”), 4 pages (12 ½ x 7 7/8 in.; 318 x 200 mm.), “Middle Brook,” 9 February 1779, to General Varnum; second leaf reinforced.
Greene articulates his concern over the woeful lack of public spirit and the weak currency: The growing avarice and declining currency are poor materials to build our Independence upon.
Greene writes in part:. . . I am very sorry that there is a probability of a breach between General Sullivan and the state. The local policy of almost all the states is directly opposed to the great national plan; and if they continue to persevere in it, God knows what thee consequences will be. There is a terrible falling off in public virtue since the commencement of the present contest. The loss of morale and the want of public spirit leaves us almost like a rope of sand. However, I believe the state of Rhode Island acts upon as generous principles and ever has done as any one state of the Union. Luxury and dissipation is very prevalent. These are the common offspring of sudden riches. When I was in Boston last summer I thought luxury very predominant there; but they were no more to compare with those now prevailing in Philadelphia than an infant babe to a full grown man. I dined at one table where there was an hundred and sixty diners and at several of them not far behind. The growing avarice and declining currency are poor materials to build our Independence upon.
Greene continues his letter countering General Varnum’s assertion that the military forces are despised. He explains: I believe the Congress have it in contemplation to make some further provision for the army; but whether it is in their power is a matter of doubt. I cannot agree with you that the army is despis’d, it is far from being the case in Philadelphia. The officers were never more respected. The great Maximus will write you upon the subject of your resignation and Mr. Ellery also. Is your application serious, or is it only done to alarm the Congress, in order to make them more attentive to the complaints of the army. The freedom of America must depend upon the army and therefore it is very impolitick to neglect it. There is a report prevailing in Philadelphia that Count Estainge has got a drubbing by Admiral Byron’s fleet. The French forces met with a defeat at St. Lucia which I suppose you have seen in the papers. Our affairs are much against us to the southward. The capital of Georgia is in the enemy’s hands and the people under great apprehension for the safety of Charlestown the capital of South Carolina. General Lincoln is drawing the militia of the country together in order to expel them, but I am not very sanguine upon the subject. There is no European intelligence of late date; but I think from every movement here and from the complexion of the lost accounts we had from Europe we shall have another campaign. The enemy will continue garrisons at New York and Newport in order to hold our troops at bay; and ever to ravage our frontiers and make inroads upon the southern states . . .
An important and lengthy letter from the Major general who commanded the Army of the South.