This source is a letter of resignation written by Thomas Polk to General George Washington. At the time, Polk had hoped for a promotion and was passed over. His frustration with that decision led him to submit his resignation to Washington. He later returned to militia life.
COL. THOS. POLK 4TH N. C. REGT. TO GEN. WASHINGTON.
[Washington Papers, Army Returns, Vol. 17.]
May it please your Excellency:
From the earliest Commencement of the present War, I have been actively engaged in the services of my country. I embarqued in it at so early a season as rendered me not a little obnoxious to a vast majority of the Province in which I lived. The timid, the Friends of the established Government, & the moderate, as they were called, at that Period composed the bulk of the Inhabitants—by them was my forward zeal universally condemned. Thro’ innumerable difficulties, from opposition, & inconveniences to my private interest, in the militia and regular service, I continued my efforts for the public good, and doubted not, as I had done more of this kind for the defence of the State than any other member of it, that I had deserved well of my Country; but as soon as an opening for promotion was made by the unhappy fall of Gen’l Nash, the power of a party, overlooking the merit of these services, procured a recommendation in favour of a Junior Officer. Such a flagrant demonstration of partiality and injurious preference, without alledging a single article of disqualification against me, has determined me no longer to serve my ungratefull country in so painful and so hazardous a capacity.
I rejoice in the prosperity of my country, and am willing, on every occasion, to aid the advancement of its Interests, but choose not to obtrude my services.
For these reasons I am constrained to offer your Excellency my Commission in the Army, and humbly beg that you would kindly condescend to accept it.
I am, may it please your Excellency,
with the profoundest respect
Your Excellency’s most humble,
most obedient, and most devoted Servant,
Mecklenburg County, in the State of N. Carolina,
June 26, 1778.
His Excellency Gen’l Washington, Commander
in Chief of the Armies of the United States.
Citation: “Letter from Thomas Polk to George Washington; Polk, Thomas, 1732-1794,” June 26, 1778. Volume 13, page 451. Documenting the American South. https://docsouth.unc.edu/csr/index.php/document/csr13-0509. Accessed 21 August 2023.
- When was this letter written? To and from whom? What is its connection to the Revolutionary War?
- According to this source, what was Thomas Polk concerned about? What did he request of General Washington?
- What might Thomas Polk be feeling as he writes this letter? Why?
Commencement: beginning or start of something
Embarqued [embarked]: began
Innumerable: too many to be counted
Procured: obtained (something), especially with care or effort
Flagrant: shockingly noticeable or obvious
Partiality: unfair bias in favor of one thing or person compared with another; favoritism
Injurious: causing or likely to cause damage or harm
Obtrude: become noticeable in an unwelcome way
Condescend: assent or agree