"The Prize in View:" A Letter from Washington

Oct 22, 1780

Hd. Qrs. Passaic Falls, Oct. 22d, 1780.

Dear Sir:

In consequence of a resolve of Congress directing an enquiry into the conduct of Majr Genl. Gates - & authorising me to appoint some other Officer in his place, during this enquiry, I have made choice of Majr. Genl. Greene who will, I expect, have the honor of presenting you with this Letter. -

             I shall without scruple introduce this Gentn. to you as a man of abilities - bravery, & coolness - He has a comprehensive knowledge of our affairs, and is a man of fortitude and resources - I have not the smallest doubt therefore, of his employing all the means which may be put into his hands to the best advantage - nor of his assisting in pointing out the most likely [2] ones to answer the purposes of his command - With this character, I take the liberty of recommending him to your civilities & support; for I have no doubt, from the embarrassed situation of Southern affairs - of his standing much in need of the latter from every Gentn. of Influence in the assemblies of those States.

             As Genl. Greene can give you the most perfect information - in detail - of our present distresses, and future prospects, I shall content myself with giving the agregate acct. of them, - and with respect to the first, they are so great and complicated, that it is scarcely within the powers of description to give an adequate idea of them - with regard to the second, unless there is a material change both in our civil and military policy, it will be in vain to contend much longer.

            We are without money - & have been so for a long time- without Provision & forage, except what is taken by Impress - without Cloathing - and shortly shall be [3] (in a manner) without men - In a word, we have lived upon expedients till we can live no longer, and it may truly be said that the history of this war is a history of false hopes, & temporary devices, instead of System - & oeconomy which results from it.

            If we mean to continue our struggles (& it is to be hoped we shall not relinquish our claims) we must do it upon an entire new plan - We must have a permanent force - not a force that is constantly fluctuating, & sliding from under us as a pedestal of Ice would leave a Statue in a summers day - Involving us in expence that baffles all calculation - an expence which no funds are equal to - We must at the same time contrive ways & means to aid our taxes by loans, & put our finance upon a more certain & stable footing than they are at present - Our Civil government must likewise undergo a reform - ample powers must be lodged in Congress as the head of the federal union, adequate to all the purposes [4] of War. - Unless these things are done, our efforts will be in vain & only serve to accumulate expence - add to our perplexities, & dissatisfy the people without a prospect of obtaining the prize in view - But these Sentiments do not appear well in a hasty letter - without digestion or order - I have not time to give them otherwise -- & shall only assure you that they are well meant however crude they may appear - With sincere affection,

                                                                        I am Dr Sir / Yr. most obedt. Servt.

                                                                        Go: Washingt[on]

George Mason Esqr

[docket:] 22 Octr 1780 / to Geo. Mason

[in another hand:] Gen Greene / appointment / to the South