I seem to be fixated on MARY WHITE MORRIS. Her story is interesting and reflects the plight of many well-to-do families in Philadelphia. Uncertain whether to stay or flee must have been hard. Mary and her children remained in Philadelphia in April 1777, awaiting evidence of the enemy’s movements. She kept her mother informed. Needless to say, rumors abounded. (See previous posts here, here, and here.)
April the first My Dear Mamma
. . . a little time Unmolest’d holding our Selfs in Readiness to fly again, if the enemy moved this way, they are not yet in motion in the Jerseys, but have sent some Ships up the north River, and Destroyd one of our magazines, many think, as I told you in my last, that their Arms will be turnd to that quarter this Spring, the Congress has appointed General Gates Commander of our northern Army, he fully expects to be visitd by them, but the Discovery of a plot last week, makes me Affraid he is mistaken, and that this is still their object, theres a fellow who is Commissioned by Lord Howe, been tampering with our Pilots, makeing them great Offers, and promises of makeing their Fortunes, if they would go with him to New York, the Honest fellows, took 50 pounds as an Earnest of their promise, but with the good intention of proveing the fact, went Immediately to the Generals and lodged their Information, Accordingly he was produced and Confessd the Charge, he is an Englishman, has Served Cucessively the late mayors of this City as a Clark, went to new York, was Introduced to Lord Howe, by your Freind Joseph Galloway for those purposes which Commission, has Ended this day with his Life. . . . Mr. Hancock intends Resigning his Seat in Congress and going home, it is Imagined he will be appointd Governor of Boston, they meant to have Complimentd Mr. Morris with the Presidentship [of Congress] but he told the Gentlemen who informed Him of it, he could not Serve, as it would Interfere intirely with his private Business, so begd it might be drop’d, any peice of Intelligence I give you that only Concern our Selfs and freinds, I hope will be confined to Mr. Halls Family. . . .
. . . . [B]y a Vessel that’s arrived at Connectigut with a very Valuable Cargo of Arms, Ammunition, Woolens, and a variety of other articles, the Congress have still a more Valuable one, Dispatches from Doctor Franklin, the French have lent us a Hundred Thousand Pounds Sterling without Interest, payable when the United States have Established Independance and peace, he is received as our Embassador, and says we have every thing to expect from the favorable Disposition of the French
[D]on’t you feel quite important, I assure you I do, and begin to be Reconsiled to Independence. . . .
your very affectionate Daughter
poor Tom has been under Doctor Shippens Hands
ever since we got home it was a great misfortune
he had not the attendance of a good Surgeon before,
as it would have save[d] him a good deal of Pain.
Mary wrote again on April 8 urging her parents to come to Philaldephia.
[I]t is well worth the Ride to see how Confident every one now seems of Success, Except the Torys, theres no Other news from the Camp, than that Deserters are comeing in Constantly, who all agree, that the Enemy are very Sickly, and a general Defection between the Hessian and British Soldiery, these accounts joind to the Curcumstances of their not moveing yet, all this fine weather, Joind the good News from France, has given Life and Spirit to every body who wishes us Success. . . . we have reason to think, there will be a Bank Established in France, for the Support of our Continentall money. . . .
Joseph Galloway, mentioned by Mary, became a Loyalist during the Revolution. His wife Grace Growden Galloway was unhappy in her marriage and remained in Philadelphia after the British evacuated to try to prevent the property she brought to the marriage from being confiscated by the Patriots. She was unsuccessful. Her husband took their only surviving child Elizabeth with him when he fled to New York. After the war, Galloway lived out his days in England.
When Mary says “I . . . begin to be Reconsiled to Independence,” she indicates that she as well as her husband were not initially in favor of independence, although they resented the actions of the British. Her husband in fact absented himself from the Congress when it voted for independence so that Pennsylvania’s vote would not be divided. He later signed the Declaration of Independence placing his signature right beneath that of John Hancock and committed himself to the American cause.
The letters come from the Robert Morris Collection at the Huntington Library, Lists No. 5, pages 53-55, transcribed by Louise North. [Microfilm, courtesy of Dr. Elizabeth Nuxoll].