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Pay no tribute to the enemy.

Pending the Revolutionary war, the enemies of our ancestors were alike successful in penetrating the interior of the country with fire and sword, carrying desolation in their train — plundering, burning, and murdering. While Washington was at his headquarters in the year 1781, he learned that the enemy had made a raid up the Potomac to Mount Vernon, and demanded supplies from his relative, who had been left in charge of his effects; and, to his indignation, that this person, to save his houses from the torch, his plantation from ruins and his slaves from capture, had paid the tribute required. The rebuke which he administered to the urgent, who thus compromised his honor, has been preserved, and is to be found in the volumes of his correspondence. It is pertinent to the present crisis, and we reproduce it as worthy of consideration and imitation:

To Lund Washington, at Mount Vernon.

New Windsor, 30th April, 1781.
Dear Lund:
I am very sorry to hear of your loss I am a little sorry to hear of my own; but that which gives me most concern is, that you should so on board the enemy's vessels and furnish them with refreshments. It would have been a less painful circumstance to me to have heard that, in consequence of your non compliance with their request, they had burns my house and laid the plantation in ruins. You ought to have considered yourself as my representative, and should have reflected on the bad example of communicating with the enemy, and making a voluntary offer of refreshments to them, with a view to prevent a conflagration.

It was not in your power, I acknowledge, to prevent them from sending a flag on shore, and you did right to meet it; but you should, in the same instant that the business of it was unfolded, have declared explicitly that it was improper for you to yield to the request; after which, if they had proceeded to help themselves by force, you could but have submitted; and, being unprovided for defence, this was to be preferred to a feeble opposition, which only serves as a pretext to burn and destroy.

I am thoroughly persuaded that you acted from your best judgment, and believe that your desire to preserve my property, and rescue the buildings from impending danger, was your governing motive; but to go on board their vessels, carry them refreshments. Commune with a Parcel of Plundering Scoundrels, and Request A Favor by Asking A Surrender of my Negroes, was Exceedingly Ill Judged; and, it is to be feared, will be unhappy in its consequences, as it will be a precedent for others, and may become a subject of animadversion.

I have no doubt of the enemy's intention to prose cute the plundering plan they have begun; and unless a stop can be put to it by the arrival of a superior naval force, I have as little doubt of its ending in the loss of all my negroes, and in the destruction of my houses, but I am prepared for the event; under the prospect of which, if you could deposit in a place of safety the most valuable and least bulky articles, it might be consistent with policy and prudence, and a means of preserving them hereafter. Such and so many things as are necessary for common and present use must be retained, and must run their chance through the nary trial of this summer.

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Mount Vernon, Knox County, Ohio (Ohio, United States) (2)
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Lund Washington (2)
Lund (1)
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April 30th, 1781 AD (1)
1781 AD (1)
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