Govr. Shirleys Rough Messa. to the Represen. for an Establishment for the Quarter Master & adjutant General in the Crown point Expedition [Docketing]. William Shirley.
Govr. Shirleys Rough Messa. to the Represen. for an Establishment for the Quarter Master & adjutant General in the Crown point Expedition [Docketing]
Govr. Shirleys Rough Messa. to the Represen. for an Establishment for the Quarter Master & adjutant General in the Crown point Expedition [Docketing]

WILLIAM SHIRLEY AND CROWN POINT

Govr. Shirleys Rough Messa. to the Represen. for an Establishment for the Quarter Master & adjutant General in the Crown point Expedition [Docketing].

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bifolium. Docketed "Govn. Shirleys Rough Messa. to the Represen...". 7-1/2 x 6 inches. WILLIAM SHIRLEY AND CROWN POINT. About fine, old folds. Closed tear, removed. Item #304936

Shirley’s Rough message to the Massachusetts General Court and House of Representatives reads in part:

"Gentlemen of the House of Representatives, I cannot in faithfulness to the great interest of this or all of the neighboring Provinces in the success of the designed expedition against Crown Point neglect to let you know that I am fully fixed in my opinion that such an Army as will be employed in this service cannot be under any good management without the appointment of a Quarter Master General & an Adjutant General..."

Born at Preston Manor in East Sussex, England, William Shirley arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1731, seeking to reverse recent financial losses. After a decade of political maneuvering, his family connections, which included ties to the Duke of Newcastle, led to his commission as Governor of Massachusetts. Shirley would spend the next 15 years in the colonial administration of North America, devoting almost half that time waging war against the French and their Indian allies. Shirley is probably best known for organizing the successful Siege of the French fortress at Louisbourg on Cape Breton Island, in Nova Scotia, during King George’s War, but his larger strategic vision for the defeat of New France also included the capture of Fort St. Frédéric at Crown Point, on Lake Champlain, which was the only permanent bastion in the region until the building of Fort Carillon (Ticonderoga) in 1755.

Shirley revived his idea for an attack on Fort St. Frédéric during the French and Indian War. In August 1755, an expeditionary force led by General William Johnson and Phineas Lyman set out from Albany, NY, to capture the stronghold, which was positioned on the tip of a strategic peninsula at a narrows in the lake. In September, lead elements of Johnson’s command were ambushed by a combined French and Indian force. The battle that ensued was a victory for Johnson’s provincials but despite Shirley’s urgings, he failed to follow-up on the French defeat. Fort St. Frédéric was never attacked during the war and instead was burned by the French during their retreat in 1759. The British built a much larger stronghold named Fort Crown Point just southwest of its ruins.
Faulted for military setbacks at the war’s onset and mired in political difficulties, William Shirley was removed as commander-in-chief and Governor in 1756. He would later be commissioned as Governor of the Bahamas, a post he held until 1767. Later that year, his health failing, Shirley returned to his old home in Roxbury, Massachusetts, where he died in 1771.

A prolific letter writer, this “rough message” is a unique look at the evolution of one of Shirley’s messages to the General Court of Massachusetts and is rife with revisions and corrections, two of which are wholly contradictory (the word “can” is replaced by “cannot” in two places).

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