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Ball, Burgess (1749-1800) to Cyrus Griffin

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC04377.02 Author/Creator: Ball, Burgess (1749-1800) Place Written: Virginia Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 7 May 1775 Pagination: 4 p. : docket ; 24 x 19.2 cm.

Summary of Content: Location inferred from content and previous correspondence between Ball and Griffin. Discusses previous correspondence from Griffin, who was managing Ball's business affairs in England. Discusses the sale of estates in England, paying off Campbell & Blackburn, and other financial transactions. States "The times seem daily to be growing more alarming ... It is beyond all doubt that the Regulars and Bostonians have had a Battle, occasioned (as we have it here) by the former firing upon the latter who were exercising, and killing some of them ... the regulars ... were obliged to retreat to Boston." Reports that the Governor of Virginia, John Murray (Earl of Dunmore) took gun powder from a Virginia storage magazine "and refused an application to return it unless an Insurrection (which we have been somewhat afraid of) shd. require, and which indeed it is said he has threatened to occasion and support- and it is observable that our Powder was taken and the New England People were fired upon the very same day- how will differences be settled now?" Expresses his opinion Britain and her subjects are on the right side of the conflict. States that the inhabitants of Belle Isle, Virginia, are doing well. In a post script, mentions Lord Frederick North, Prime Minister of Great Britain, and discusses colonial discontent.

Background Information: Ball was the husband of George Washington's niece. In the American Revolution, Ball served as a volunteer aide to Washington, Captain of the 5th Virginia Regiment of Foot, and as ...a colonel. Griffin, educated in Britain as a lawyer, served as a member of the Virginia State house of delegates in 1777, 1778, 1786, and 1787. He was a Continental Congressman 1778-1780 and 1787-1788, serving as Congressional President in 1788.See More

Full Transcript: …The times seem daily to be growing more alarming, therefore I beg you will bring over (as you propose) the whole proceeds [from Ball's liquidated estate] as quick as possible, ...otherwise I fear we shall all be disappointed…It is beyond all doubt that the Regulars and Bostonians have had a Battle, occasioned (as we have it here) by the formers fireing upon the latter who were exercising, and killing some of them - the Regulars lost 3 or 400 Men exclusive of Lord Pearcy and some other Officers, and were obliged to retreet to Boston (the Battle being some Miles from thense) which place is imagined by this time to be destroyed either by the Ships of War or by the Inhabitants themselves - the New Englanders lost 50 or 60 Men with some of their Officers. - Dunmore [the governor of Virginia, John Murray (Earl of Dunmore)] on the 20th of last Month, in the Night time, with Capt. Collins and his Crew, took from our Magazine all the Powder that was there, and sent it on board of the Man of War, and refused an application to return it unless an Insurrection (which we have been somewhat afraid of) shd. require, and which indeed [inserted: it is said] he has since threatned to occasion and support - And it is observable that our Powder was taken and the New England People were fired upon the very same day - how will differences be settled now? We think we have the right side of the Cause, and [2] hope by the Divine Assistance to be able to support our freedom as Brittish Subjects - And shall Britain and America settle their dispute by War! God forbid! may the present prospect be averted, and tranquility and reciprocal friendship yet be restored!...
the People in Wmsburg seem to be somewhat reconciled, as the men of Knowledge are of oppinion the Powder belonged to the King - You can't conceive the ferment this whole Colony have been in - Upon ye Alarm of the Powder being taken away, they were marchg. from every County to Wmsburg, but were prevented getting there by Letters from the Speakers -
I herein send you the Expresses from Boston [no longer present], which are the most authentic, but they are not the first, tho they are much ye same…
[3] Lord North at this time of day cannot wheedle us into anything, we have too much experience of his Intentions…
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People: Griffin, Cyrus, 1748-1810
Ball, Burgess, 1749-1800
Dunmore, John Murray, Earl of, 1732-1809
North, Frederick, Lord, 1732-1792

Historical Era: American Revolution, 1763-1783

Subjects: Business and FinanceFinanceLand TransactionMilitary HistoryPropagandaBattleRevolutionary WarLexington and ConcordGlobal History and CivicsForeign AffairsRebellionMobs and RiotsPoliticsAmmunition

Sub Era: The War for Independence

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