Skip to main content

Letter to Mrs. Lagrange from Neighbor (July 1776)

This document is a letter received by Frances, the wife of Mr. Lagrange. The letter is written by a neighbor of the Lagrange Family, K.L. a Mechanic. The letter is rendered in its original form. Read the following letter and then answer the following questions.


It is with pleasure I look around me, and behold so many of my countrymen fired with a martial spirit who cheerfully leave their wives and children at home, and undergo the hardships of a campaign and hazard their all in the field of Battle; behold how firm, and united we stand taking each other by the hand, are determined to support our just rights and privileges or fall together. I say this sight affords me real satisfaction, as I think it must every true friend to Liberty. But admit the many thousand who pour forth from every quarter, I behold one, nay one of my neighbors for who I formerly held respect, safely hanging back, who as yet has given me no assistance to the general defense; But has by the whole of his conduct proved himself an enemy of the Independent States of America and has for some time past...concealed himself from public view...I therefore as a Friend entreat you to advise Mr. Lagrange to appear in public, no man will molest him; If he could not before so cheerfully obey the Congress because he thought he owed allegiance to the King of Great Britain, that obligation is now removed by the Declaration of Independency, beg of him to join his countrymen in supporting the cause of Freedom. I shall be very sorry to see Mr. LaGrange's estate seized and made use of the Public which will shortly be the case unless he proves more friendly to his country...Therefore if Mr. Lagrange is delirious of living happy, and enjoying peace in the America, let him come out as a friend of his country; otherwise I would advise him to repair to Staten Island where I wish he was, unless he altered his conduct...The fleet has at last arrived and what have they done or what are they likely to do? They have made your cowardly husband run and meanly hide himself. Remember it is high treason to revile against the states of America, or at the ruling Body of them...Neglect not giving good advice to your husband.

I remain yours,
K. L. a Mechanic

Source: Letter from the Bernardus Lagrange folder, Rutgers University Special Collections and University Archives.

Using this document, answer the following questions.

  • What is Mechanic's purpose in writing this letter? Do you feel this is an effective and proper method of voicing disagreement?
  • Why do you feel Mechanic wrote to Lagrange's wife and not him? If you were Frances Lagrange, what would you do?
  • According to Mechanic, what was the effect of the Declaration of Independence?
  • What does the writer say will happen to Lagrange if he does not come out for Independence?
  • What are your thoughts of Lagrange after reading the letter? What do you think will happen to him in the future?
  • If the letter to Lagrange's wife fails, what do you think will be Mechanic's next step? What would be your next step?

After having read and answered the questions, please click on Local Advertisement published in 1776 to see what happened next to the Lagrange family.