JAY TO ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON.
Philadelphia, 6th January, 1776.
Amid the various sources of consolation in seasons of poignant distress, which the wise have long amused themselves and the world with, the little share of observation and experience which has fallen to my lot convinces me that resignation to the dispensations of a benevolent as well as omnipotent Being can alone administer relief. The sensations which the first paragraph of your letter has occasioned mock the force of philosophy, and I confess have rendered me the sport of feelings which you can more easily conceive than I express. Grief, if a weakness, is nevertheless on certain occasions amiable, and recommends itself by being in the train of passions which follow virtue. But remember, my friend, that your country bleeds and calls for your exertions. The fate of those very friends whose misfortunes so justly afflict you, is linked with the common cause, and cannot have a separate issue. Rouse, therefore, and after vigorously discharging the duties you owe your country, return to your peaceful shades, and supply the place of your former joys, by the reflection that they are only removed to a more kindred soil, like flowers from a thorny wilderness by a friendly florist, under whose care they will flourish and bloom, and court your embraces for ever. Accept my warmest thanks for the ardour with which you wish a continuance and increase of that friendship to which I have long been much indebted. Be assured that its duration will always be among the first objects of my care. Let us unite in proving by our example that the rule which declares juvenile friendships, like vernal flowers, to be of short continuance, is not without exceptions, even in our degenerate days. Mr. Deane has this moment come in, so that I must conclude, as I hope to conclude every letter to you, with an assurance that I am
Your affectionate friend,
P. S.—Fifty tons of saltpetre arrived this day.
JAY TO ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON.
Philadelphia, 4th March, 1776.
My Dear Friend:
Fame says you are still much indisposed. I pray God she may on this, as she does on many other occasions, prove a liar. I wrote you last week from Elizabethtown. Tell me whether you have received that, and which other of my letters. I was in hopes of finding a letter from you here for me; and the disappointment is the greater, as the state of your health for some time past has given me much anxiety. The prospect of being soon deprived of a father, and probably a mother, whom you know I tenderly love, the unhappy situation of my family, added to the distress I feel for the late misfortunes and sickness of my friend, have occasioned more gloomy ideas in my mind than it has ever before been the subject of: despondency, however, ill becomes a man. I hope I shall meet every severe stroke of fate with firmness and resignation, though not with sullen indifference. It gives me consolation to reflect that the human race are immortal, that my parents and friends will be divided from me only by a curtain which will soon be drawn up, and that our great and benevolent Creator will (if I please) be my guide through this vale of tears to our eternal and blessed habitation.
Notwithstanding your letter, I shall expect that your disorder is to be ascribed more to your solicitude than constitution. I well remember that though to appearance not robust, you could endure great fatigue, and few of our contemporaries have enjoyed more health than yourself. I have a kind of confidence that exercise, temperance, and cheerfulness would be as friendly to you as they were to old Cornaro. I wish you could get away from home and pursue no other objects. Try, if it be only for a month or two, and give up all kind of business of what nature soever. Don’t permit anybody to say a word to you about your causes, your rents, your farm—nay, for the present avoid even politics, defer joining the Congress, the Assembly, or any other body of men whose object is business. Suppose, when the season becomes more mild, you were to take lodgings at Bristol? The waters would probably be useful to you, you would see as much and as little company as you pleased, and I promise to go to church with you every Sunday. Tell Mrs. Livingston I beg she will join her persuasion to mine. Such a little journey would be useful to you both, and I should think the middle of April would not be too early for it.
The Committee for Canada was appointed before I reached this place. It consists of Dr. Franklin, Mr. Chase, and a Mr. Carrol from Maryland. Had I been here I should have proposed you, though I must confess I think you can employ your time more to the advantage of your health in many other ways. Your country has no demands upon you till that be re-established. Let me entreat you, therefore, to confine your attention to it. Twenty-seven tons of powder, some saltpetre, and three hundred arms arrived here yesterday, and we hear from good authority that five tons of powder have arrived safe at North Carolina.
This is all the news I have heard since I have been in town. As to politics, you know the letters of Congress people should be silent on that subject in these times, when letters often miscarry, etc. God bless you and give you health.
I am yours, etc.,
COLONEL McDOUGALL TO JAY.
Head Quarters, 7th March, 1776.
While I am waiting for General Lee, just at the Point of his departure, I am induced to put a few incoherent thoughts together. I fear the Confederacy will suffer by altering General Lee’s destination, from Canada. The officer who is to command there should speak French, if such an officer can be procured; a Frenchman’s eyes sparkle when he is addressed in that Language; many reasons might be urged in favor of his taking that command. The confidence the well affected Canadians would have in his experience, as well as our Troops loudly proclaim him to be the man. The advantages of his acquaintance with the manners of the people of that nation is among the many motives that designate him for that Colony. The object of the Enemy there will be more fixed than in Virginia, which renders it more necessary the officer should be a man of experience. In Virginia the attacks of the Enemy must from the nature of the Country be irregular, and may therefore be more easily repulsed by an officer of less experience than those made on Quebec, in the Spring. For you may rest assured the ministry will pay particular attention to the relief of that Town & Colony, for there they have some prospect with a tolerable force to secure the Province, not only from the Confederacy, but to gain some strength by awing the inhabitants to take up arms in their favour. Such an event would greatly increase our embarassment. If these reasons have any weight pray reconsider the expediency of sending the General to the Southard. The sloop we are fitting out is ready, but waits to know from Congress what pay you allow the officers and saylors on board the Smalest Continental Vessels, and the description of the Continental Colours. I beg you to furnish me with a Copy of these withoutout delay as the Public Service suffers, without regarding at whose expense the armament is to be. Send me also a sample of the Pikes made at Phila.
I am in great Haste
FREDERICK JAY TO JAY.
New York, 16th March, 1776.
Yours of the 10th Inst., I have now before me. I received a letter from Papa yesterday, by which I find that he is better—tho’ very weak. You may depend that if he does grow worse I shall acquaint you of it. I should have returned to Rye long ere this, but receiving a cargoe from Curacao, was obliged to stay. Have sold all off & put £200 in my Pocket; the first cost was £288—10—6—good business—but times are such at present as deters me from orderg. any thing more. This Day all our militia turned out with great spirit. They are throwing up entrenchments at the Hospital, Bayard’s Mount, at the Furnace, Peck’s slip, Beekman’s slip, Ten Eyck’s wharf, Back of the Governor’s House, & several other Places. Never did People in the world act with more Spirit & Resolution than the New Yorkers do at this present time.
Your affec. Brother
ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON TO JAY.
Claremount, 20th March, 1776.
Your letters of 26th Jan., 25th Feb., and 4th inst., are all before me. They are written with so much friendship and affection as to afford me great consolation, and convince me, notwithstanding my heavy losses, that in you I have more left than falls to the lot of most of my fellow-mortals. May the blessing be continued to me, and I know how to value it.
I sympathize most sincerely with you in your melancholy apprehensions about your parents. I know and I can feel such a loss; but you draw your consolation from a never-failing source, which will enable you to bear this misfortune whenever it shall happen, with that resignation to the will of Heaven which becomes one who is satisfied both of its wisdom and goodness. If we could shake off human frailty in the hour of affliction, we should certainly think it less reasonable to lament the death of a good man than to complain of the absence of a friend, who by that absence infinitely increases his happiness; to wish them back is selfish and unworthy of true friendship, and yet we may, we must grieve when we are not permitted to take leave. It is, I am sensible, a weakness, but I cannot help suffering myself to be afflicted at this circumstance. I know the pleasure that the best of fathers always took in my company and conversation; and when I indulge the thought, I am unhappy that by my absence I lessened any of his enjoyments. But where am I running. God bless you—farewell.
Robert R. Livingston.
JAY TO COLONEL McDOUGALL.
Philadelphia, March 23d, 1776.
When the clerk of the Congress gave me the printed papers which I enclosed you, he told me they contained the navy establishment. Whatever deficiencies there may be in them as to that matter, will I hope be supplied by the extract now enclosed.
As to continental colours, the Congress have made no order as yet concerning them, and I believe the captains of their armed vessels have in that particular been directed by their own fancies and inclinations. I remember to have seen a flag designed for one of them, on which was extremely well painted a large rattlesnake, rearing his crest and shaking his rattles, with this motto, “Don’t tread on me,” but whether this device was generally adopted by the fleet, I am not able to say,—I rather think it was not.
I am by no means without my apprehensions of danger from that licentiousness which in your situation is not uncommon; nothing will contribute more to its suppression than a vigorous exertion of the powers vested in your Convention and Committee of Safety, at least till more regular forms can be introduced. The tenderness shown to some wild people on account of their supposed attachment to the cause, has been of disservice. Their eccentric behaviour, by passing unreproved, has gained countenance, and has lessened your authority, and diminished that dignity so essential and necessary to give weight and respect to your ordinances. Some of your own people are daily instigated (if not employed) to calumniate and abuse the whole province, and misrepresent all their actions and intentions. One in particular has had the impudence to intimate to certain persons that your battalions last campaign were not half full, and that Schaick’s regiment had more officers than privates; others report that you have all along supplied the men-of-war with whatever they pleased to have, and through them our enemies in Boston. By tales like these they pay their court to people who have more ostensible consequence than real honesty, and more cunning than wisdom.
I am happy to find that our intermeddling in the affair of the test is agreeable to you. For God’s sake resist all such attempts for the future.
Your own discernment has pointed out to you the principle of Lord Stirling’s advancement; had the age of a colonel’s commission been a proper rule, it would have determined in favour of some colonel at Cambridge, many of whose commissions are prior in date to any in New-York. The spirit you betray on this occasion becomes a soldier.
The enclosed copy of a resolve of Congress will, I hope, settle all doubts relative to rank, which may arise from your new commission. The consequence you drew from that circumstance was more ingenious than solid, for I can assure you that the Congress were not disposed to do any thing wrong or uncivil; and I can also add, that your not having joined your regiment last summer has been explained to their satisfaction, as far as I am able to judge; with respect to this, however, as well as some other matters, I shall defer particulars till we meet. In a word, with some men in these as in other times, a man must either be their tool and be despised, or act a firm disinterested part and be abused. The latter has in one or two matters been your fate, as well as that of many other good men. Adieu. I am, dear sir,
JAY TO COMMITTEE OF SAFETY, NEW YORK.
Philadelphia, April 7, 1776.
The Congress having been informed of a very extraordinary oath, ordered by Gov. Tryon to be administered to passengers in the late packet, whereby they bound themselves not to disclose anything relative to American affairs except to the ministry have appointed a Committee (of which I am one) to ascertain this fact.
I must therefore request of you, gentlemen, to appoint proper persons to examine into this matter, and if possible ascertain the truth of the report, by affidavits taken before the mayor or one of the judges of the supreme court.
I have the honour to be, gentlemen,
Your most obedt. servt.
To the Honble. the Committee of Safety for the Colony of New York.
CONGRESS AND INDEPENDENCE.
It has long been the art of the enemies of America to sow the seeds of Dissensions among us and thereby weaken that union on which our salvation from tyranny depends. For this purpose jealousies have been endeavoured to be executed, and false reports, wicked slanders and insidious misrepresentations industriously formed and propagated.
Well knowing that while the people reposed confidence in the Congress the designs of the ministry would probably be frustrated, no pains have been spared to traduce that respectable assembly and misrepresent their designs and actions. Among other aspersions cast upon them, is an ungenerous and groundless charge of their aiming at Independence, or a total separation from G. Britain. Whoever will be at the trouble of reviewing their Journal will find ample testimony against this accusation, and for the sake of those who may not have either leisure or opportunity to peruse it, I have selected the following paragraphs which abundantly prove the malice and falsity of such a charge.
Page 59.—The Congress in giving orders for securing the stores taken at Crown Point and Ticonderogah direct “That an exact inventory be taken of all such cannon and stores, in order that they may be safely returned, when the Restoration of the former Harmony between Great Britain & these Colonies, so ardently wished for by the latter, shall render it prudent and consistent with the over-ruling Law of self Preservation.”
Page 63.—The Congress after resolving that the Colonies ought to be put in a state of Defence, thus proceed—“But as we most ardently wish for a Restoration of the Harmony formerly subsisting between our mother country and these Colonies, the interruption of which must, at all events be exceedingly injurious to both countries, that with a sincere Design of contributing by all the means in our Power, (not incompatible with a just regard for the undoubted Rights and true interests of these Colonies) to the Promotion of their most desirable Reconciliation an humble and dutiful Petition be presented to his Majesty, Resolved that measures be entered into for opening a negotiation, in order to accommodate the unhappy Disputes subsisting between Great Britain andthese Colonies, and that this be made a Part of the Petition to the King.”
Page 64.—The Congress recommend to the Convention of New York “to persevere the more vigorously in preparing for their Defence, as it is very uncertain whether the earnest endeavours of the Congress to accommodate the unhappy Differences between Great Britain and the Colonies, by conciliatory measures will be successful.”
Page 84.—The Congress in order to rescue the Province of Massachusetts Bay from anarchy, advise their “Assembly or Council exercise the Powers of Government until a Governor of his Majesty’s appointment will consent to govern the colony according to its charter.”
Page 87.—The Congress in their vote for a general fast recommend that we should “offer up our joint supplications to the all wise, omnipotent and merciful Disposer of all Events (among other things) to bless our rightful Sovereign King George the third, that a speedy end may be put to the civil Discord between Great Britain and the American Colonies without further effusion of Blood, and that all America may soon behold a gracious Interposition of Heaven for the Redress of her many Grievances, the Restoration of her invaded Rights, and a Reconciliation with the parent State on terms constitutional and honourable to both.”
Page 149.—The Congress after declaring the Reasons which Compelled them to recur to arms, then express themselves—“Lest this Declaration should disquiet the minds of our friends and fellow subjects in any Part of the Empire, we assure them that we mean not to dissolve that union which has so long and so happily subsisted between us, and which we sincerely wish to see restored. Necessity has not yet driven us into that desperate measure, or induced us to excite any other nation to war against them. We have not raised armies with ambitious Designs of separating from Great Britain, and establishing independent States.”
150.—“We most humbly implore the Divine goodness to dispose our adversaries to Reconciliation on reasonable terms.”
Page 155.—In the Petition to the King, every line of which breaths affection for his Majesty & Great Britain, are these remarkable sentences:
“Attached to your Majesty’s Person, Family, and Government, with all the Devotion that Principle and affection can inspire, connected with Great Britain by the strongest ties that can unite Societies, and deploring every Event that lends in any degree to weaken them, we solemnly assure your Majesty, that we not only most ardently desire the former Harmony between her and these colonies may be restored, but that a Concord may be established between them upon so firm a basis as to perpetuate its blessings uniterrupted by any future Dissentions to succeeding Generations in both countries.” “We beg leave further to assure your Majesty that notwithstanding the sufferings of your loyal colonists during the course of this present controversy our Breasts retain too tender a Regard for the Kingdom from which we derive our origin, to request such a Reconciliation as might in any manner be inconsistent with her Dignity or welfare.”
Page 163.—In the last address of the Congress to the People of Great Britain are the following Passages:
“We are accused of aiming at Independence; but how is this accusation supported? by the allegations of your ministers, not by our actions. Abused, insulted and contemned, what steps have we pursued to obtain Redress? We have carried our dutiful Petitions to the Throne; we have applied to your justice for Relief.”
Page 165.—“Give us leave most solemnly to assure you that we have not yet lost sight of the object we have ever had in view, a Reconciliation with you on constitutional Principles, and a Restoration of that friendly Intercourse which to the advantage of both, we till lately maintained.”
Page 172.—In the address of the Congress to the Lord Mayor, Aldermen and Livery of London, there is this Paragraph, vizt:
“North America, my Lords, wishes most ardently for a lasting connection with Great Britain on terms of just and equal liberty.”
From these testimonies it appears extremely evident that to charge the Congress with aiming at a separation of these Colonies from Great Britain, is to charge them falsely and without a single spark of evidence to support the accusation. Many other passages in their Journal might be mentioned, but as that would exceed the limits of this paper, I shall reserve them for some future publication.
It is much to be wished that people would read the Proceedings of the Congress and consult their own judgments, and not suffer themselves to be duped by men who are paid for deceiving them.
JAY TO MARINUS WILLETT.
It is much to be regretted that all human affairs are liable to errors and imperfections, and that real as well as imaginary evils are so widely spread thro the world.
The subject of your letter deserves attention; it is however unnecessary for me to repeat what I have already said relative to it, except again to assure you that my endeavours shall not be wanting to obtain for you an appointment equal to your merit. General Schuyler’s letter does you honor, & had it been made known to the members of Congress a few months sooner, I am confident it would have had all the influence you would have wished.
I hope care will be taken of the officers you allude to; men who deserve well of the country are entitled to its regard, and in my opinion no opportunity of distinguishing and rewarding merit ought to be omitted.
I am glad your indisposition is removed, and hope it will not be long before an occasion of again calling you to the service of your country will present itself.
I am Sir
Your very h’ble Servt
Phila. 27 Ap. 1776.
JAY TO COLONEL McDOUGALL.
Philadelphia, 27th April, 1776.
Accept my thanks for your friendly letter of the 16th instant, and its enclosures, which contain useful as well as agreeable information. I am glad to see New York doing something in the naval way, and think the encouragement given by your Convention to the manufacture of arms, powder, saltpetre, and seasalt does them honour.
Many of the reasons you allege for delaying taxation are weighty, and I confess did not occur to me. It is certainly unreasonable to impose on the city, in its present circumstances, so great a share of the public expenses.
The late election, so far as it respects yourself, has taken a turn I did not expect, and at a loss to account for, except on the principle of your holding a military office, or that mutability which from various causes often strongly marks popular opinions of men and measures in times like these. But whatever may have been the reason, I am persuaded that the zeal you have shown and the sacrifices you have made in this great cause will always afford you the most pleasing reflections, and will one day not only merit, but receive the gratitude of your fellow-citizens. Posterity you know always does justice. Let no circumstances of this kind diminish your ardour; but by persevering in a firm uniform course of conduct, silence detraction and compel approbation.
I am much obliged to you for your kind attention to my house; and be assured that I shall omit no opportunity of evincing the esteem and sincerity with which I am
Your friend and humble servant,
ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON TO JAY.
Philadelphia, 17th May, 1776.
I was so unfortunate as to miss the last post, by which means I was prevented from letting you hear what I had done about getting you lodgings at Bristol, & the important business that had been transacted here before I arrived. I could not find a tolerable house in Bristol, the rooms that were unoccupied were all too small & hot for invalids, & there was no house that could furnish more than two so that we could not have been together, tho’ had the rooms been tolerable we might have made out by taking two adjoining houses had not the landladys nose placed such an obstruction in my way as my regard for your future posterity rendered it impossible for me to get over. However I have provided three Bedrooms & a large parlour in a retired country house, about two miles from Bristol upon the banks of the [Delaware] where we shall have plentiful provisions for our horses, good fishing before the door, a tavern about ¼ of a mile from us to lodge our friends, & in short every thing that we can wish to render our situation agreeable. The lodgings are to be entered upon next Wednesday, by which time I hope to see you & Mrs. Jay there; it is absolutely necessary you shd. come to settle the arrangement of our family. And (what is much more important) to settle another arrangment which I most heartily wish we could unite in making. Mr. Duane tells me he has enclosed you a copy of the resolutions of the 15th. I make no observations on it in this place for fear of accidents. It has occasioned a great alarm here, & the cautious folks are very fearful of its being attended with many ill consequences next week when the Assembly are to meet; some points of the last importance are to be agitated (as we imagine) very early. I wish to God you could be here. If you do not get this length meet me at least at Bristol next week from whence you may return in a few days & send some of our delegates along as the province will otherwise be often unrepresented, since I find it inconsistant with my health to be close in my attendance in Congress. You have by this time sounded our people, I hope they are satisfied of the necessity of assumming a new form of Government; let me hear (if you dont come yourself) in what channel it will probably run. Let me know the mode in which new powers (for the old are insufficient) are to be obtained; if by a dissolution it will be necessary to go home. Let me also know in what sphere you yourself chuse to move. You are so necessary here, that I will consent to no law which will make the honours I wish you to possess inconsistant with your attendance on Congress. I have a thought which if carried into execution might render ours the favorite colony, & offset the absurd claims of our neighbours, which may hereafter be very troublesome, but it requires much consideration, & may perhaps be impracticable. I will reserve it (with other of my reveries) till one of those happy hours in which I permit myself to think aloud in your hearing. If you should see Benson it would not be amiss to let him know that I am a little hurt at his conduct; it may induce him to alter it without my coming to an explanation which might possibly occasion a coolness which I wish to avoid. Farewell—may heaven bless you & put an end to these evils which break in so cruelly upon our Domestick enjoyments even, & render our reflection on past pleasures the most agreeable part of our present friendship.
Your friend &c.
R. R. Livingston.
JAMES DUANE TO JAY.
I wrote you, my dear Sir, a hasty scrawl by the post on a most important subject. You know the Maryland Instructions and those of Pensylvania. I am greatly in doubt whether either of their Assemblies or Conventions will listen to a recommendation the preamble of which so openly avows independence & separation. The lower Counties will probably adhere to Pensylvania. New Jersey you can gain a good judgement of from the reception this important Resolution has met with. The orators of Virginia with Col. Henry at their head are against a Change of Government; the body of the people, Col. Nelson, on whose authority you have this sent, thinks are for it. The late Election of Deputies for the Convention of New York sufficiently proves that those who assumed [excessive] ferver & gave laws even to the Convention & Committees were unsupported by the people. There seems therefore no reason that our Colony shou’d be too precipitate in changing the present mode of Government. I wou’d first be well assured of the opinion of the Inhabitants at large. Let them be rather followed than driven on an occasion of such moment. But, above all, let us see the conduct of the middle Colonies before we come to a decision: It cannot injure us to wait a few weeks: the advantage will be great for this trying question will clearly discover the true principles & the extent of the Union of the Colonies. This, my dear Sir, is a delicate subject on which I cannot enlarge at present. If I can be [of service] I would immediately set out and give you a meeting—pray hasten the release of one of the Gentlemen. I know you ought to be at the Convention who are not informed of the state and temper of their neighbours, & want, at least in this Respect, some Assistance.
I am pleased with the situation Mr. Livingston has found for your Saturday’s retreat on the Banks of the [Delaware]—nothing cou’d have been more convenient. Present my compliments to Mrs. Jay and
believe me to be with great Regard
your affectionate & most obdt. Servt.
Philad., 18th May, 1776.
ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON TO JAY.
Philadelphia, 21 May, 1776.
I am much mortified at not hearing from you. I wrote to you last week, and am just now setting out for Bristol in order to meet Mrs. Livingston. I could wish to find Mrs. Jay there also. Pray send some of our colleagues along, otherwise I must be more confined than either my health or inclination will allow. You have doubtless seen the account brought by the Rifleman from London, by which it appears we shall have at least 34,000 commissioners.
If your Congress have any spirit, they will at least build fourteen or fifteen light boats capable of carrying a twelve-pounder, to secure Hudson River, which is to be the chief scene of action. The carpenters employed on the frigate would build two or three a day, if they were built in the manner of batteaux, which is the true construction.
I wish you would direct Gaine to send me his paper. God bless you.
Yours, most sincerely
R. R. Livingston.
JAY TO JAMES DUANE.
Since my last, I have had the pleasure of receiving your letter of the 25th Inst. and am obliged to you for the intelligence contained in it. So great are the inconveniences resulting from the present mode of Government, that I believe our Convention will almost unanimously agree to institute a better, to continue till a peace with Great Britain may render it unnecessary.
The proceedings of Maryland will probably check the ardor of some people; I fear that the divisions of Pennsylvania will injure the common Cause.
Mrs. Jay is so much better as to quit her room. When I shall return is uncertain, the Convention having directed me not to leave them till further order.
Be so kind as to inform Mr. Lynch that I have not yet been able to procure a horse for him. We find mares fit for riding have, in consequence of the resolve of Congress forbidding races, been put to breeding; and I believe it will be difficult to get a handsome gelding. I shall however continue my inquiries, and should I meet with anything very clever, shall perhaps be rather lavish of his guineas. Be pleased to present my Compts. to him & Mr. Rutledge, and dont forget either Merkle or White Eyes.
I am Dr. Sir
Your most obedt. Servt.
N. York, 29 May, 1776.
JAY TO ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON.
New York, 29th May, 1776.
The pleasure I expected from a junction of all our families at Bristol has vanished. Dr. Bard tells me the waters there would be injurious to Mrs. Jay’s complaints; so that I shall again take a solitary ride to Philadelphia, whenever the Convention, who directed me to abide here until their further order, shall think proper to dismiss me.
Messrs. Alsop and Lewis set out next Saturday for Philadelphia. Mr. Duane informs me that he is about to return home, and considering how long he has been absent from his family, I think him entitled to that indulgence. I pray God that your health may enable you to attend constantly, at least till it may be in my power to relieve you. Is Mr. Clinton returned?
Our Convention will, I believe, institute a better government than the present, which in my opinion will no longer work any thing but mischief; and although the measure of obtaining authority by instructions may have its advocates, I have reason to think that such a resolution will be taken as will open a door to the election of new or additional members. But be the resolution what it may, you shall have the earliest advice of it. And should my conjectures prove right, I shall inform the members of Duchess of your readiness to serve, and advise them to elect you.
Don’t be uneasy at receiving so few letters from me. I have been so distressed by the ill health of my wife and parents, that I have scarce written any thing.
I am, dear Robert, your affectionate friend,
GENERAL WASHINGTON TO JAY.
Genl. Washington presents his complimts. to Mr. Livingston & Mr. Jay—thanks them most cordially for their kind Information & Invitation; but is so exceedingly hurried just at this time, that it is not in his power to attend the examination of G. Forbes. He begs it may go on, and will take it exceedingly kind if Forbes and the examination when taken, be sent to head Quarters at half after four o’clock, when the General will have an officer or two present to question him, & compare his answers with the information given Mr. Livingston and Mr. Jay.
Head Quarters 29th June, 1776.
EDWARD RUTLEDGE TO JAY.
Philada. June 29th, 1776.
My Dear Jay:
I write this for the express Purpose of requesting that if possible you will give your Attendance in Congress on Monday next. I know full well that your Presence must be . . . useful at New York, but I am sincerely convinced that it will be absolutely necessary in this City during the whole of the ensuing Week.—A Declaration of Independence, the Form of a Confederation of these Colonies, and a Scheme for a treaty with foreign Powers will be laid before the House on Monday. Whether we shall be able effectually to oppose the first and infuse Wisdom into the others will depend in a great measure upon the exertions of the . . . and sensible part of the Members. I trust you will contribute in a considerable degree to effect the Business and therefore I wish you to be with us. Recollect the manner in which your Colony is at this time represented. Clinton has Abilities but is silent in general and wants (when he does speak) that Influence to which he is intitled. Floyd, Wisner, Lewis and Alsop tho’ good men, never quit their chairs. You must know the Importance of these Questions too well not to wish to [be] present whilst they are debating and therefore I shall say no more upon the Subject. I have been much engaged lately upon a plan of a Confederation which Dickenson has drawn; it has the Vice of all his Productions to a considerable Degree; I mean the Vice of Refining too much. Unless it’s greatly curtailed it never can pass, as it is to be submitted to Men in the respective Provinces who will not be led or rather driven into Measures which may lay the Foundation of their Ruin. If the Plan now proposed should be adopted nothing less than Ruin to some Colonies will be the Consequence of it— The Idea of destroying all Provincial Distinctions and making every thing of the most minute kind bend to what they call the good of the whole, is in other Terms to say that these Colonies must be subject to the Government of the Eastern Provinces. The Force of their Arms I hold exceeding Cheap, but I confess I dread their over-ruling Influence in Council. I dread their low Cunning, and those . . . Principles which Men without Character and without Fortune in general possess, which are so captivating to the lower class of Mankind, and which will occasion such a fluctuation of Property as to introduce the greatest disorder. I am resolved to vest the Congress with no more Power than that is absolutely necessary, and to use a familiar Expression, to keep the Staff in our own Hands; for I am confident if surrendered into the Hands of others a most pernicious use will be made of it. If you can’t come let me hear from you by the Return of the Post. Compliments to Livingston & G. Morris. God bless you.
With Esteem & affection Yrs.
JAY TO EDWARD RUTLEDGE.
6th July, 1776.
Your friendly letter found me so engaged by plots, conspiracies, and chimeras dire, that, though I thanked you for it in my head I had no time to tell you so either in person or by letter. Your ideas of men and things (to speak mathematically) run, for the most part, parallel with my own; and I wish Governor Tryon and the devil had not prevented my joining you on the occasion you mentioned. How long I may be detained here is uncertain, but I see little prospect of returning to you for a month or two yet to come. We have a government, you know, to form; and God only knows what it will resemble. Our politicians, like some guests at a feast, are perplexed and undetermined which dish to prefer. Our affairs in Canada have lately become the subject of animadversion; and the miscarriages in that country are, with little reserve, imputed to the inattention of the Congress. Indeed, there is reason to believe that certain military gentlemen who reaped no laurels there are among the patrons of that doctrine. It is to me amazing that a strict inquiry has not been made into the behaviour of those under whose direction we have met with nothing but repeated losses in that country. Nor is the public silent with respect to the inactivity of the fleet; and reports have gone abroad, that the admiral has refused to comply with the orders of Congress relative to the cannon taken at Providence. I’ll tell you a pretty story of Gen. Wooster. While he was smoking his pipe in the suburbs of Quebec, he took it into his head that he might do wonders with a fire-ship; and, with an imagination warmed by the blaze of the enemy’s vessels, sent for a New-York captain, who, it seems, understood the business of fire-ship building. Under the strongest injunctions of secrecy, he communicated to him the important plan, and ordered him to get the ship in readiness with all the despatch and privacy in his power; wisely observing, that if the enemy should get any intelligence of his design, they would carry their vessels out of the way of his fire-ship. The captain accordingly set about preparing the materials, &c. necessary for the exploit which was to heroise his general. Some short time after, Wooster was informed that the time for which the York troops were enlisted would expire in a day or two; he issued orders for them to parade at a certain time and place, and informed them that he would then and there make a speech to them—and a Ciceronian speech it was.
“My lads,” says he, “I find your time is almost out, and maybe some of you may think on going; but surely you won’t leave me now; you must try and stay a little longer. Don’t think that I am laying here doing nothing. No, no; you shall see a fine sight soon. I am busy building a fire-ship; and as soon as she is ready, we’ll burn all their vessels up.” Cetera desunt.
The York troops, allured by the promise of a feu de joie, staid and were disappointed. Some renegade Frenchmen remembered the speech, and told it as a secret to Governor Carleton. The vessels were put out of harm’s way, and the Connecticut Alexander lost his passage in a fire-ship to the temple of fame.
My compliments to Messrs. Braxton, Lynch, and such others as I esteem,—of which number rank yourself, my dear Ned, among the first.
Believe me to be sincerely yours,
JAY TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
New York, July 6, 1776.
The enclosed memorial was yesterday given me by Mr. Bill, with a request that I would transmit it to Congress. He appears much hurt in being omitted in the arrangement of officers intended for the regiment lately ordered to be raised in this Colony; and I sincerely wish he had less reason to think himself neglected. He is a fine, spirited young gentleman, of one or two and twenty, of an ancient and once opulent family in this Colony. His connexions are extensive in the County, and he seems to possess that generous kind of ambition so essential to the character of a good officer. What renders his case the more unfortunate is, that he is almost the only one of his family who has discovered any degree of ardour in the American cause. His promotion would have contributed as much to increase their zeal as his being laid aside may tend to diminish it. Nor is this the only instance in which that arrangement has given disgust: among others, Mr. Cortlandt, whose family is not only very numerous, but also respectable and wealthy, entered the service last year as Lieutenant-Colonel; he has done the like this year. Mr. Dubois entered the service last year as a Captain, and this year Captain Dubois is made to command Lieutenant-Colonel Cortlandt. Appointments like these pay ill compliment to those who are thus (as they think unjustly) superseded, and therefore have an unhappy tendency to drive them into a sullen indifference about Congressional measures.
I am, Sir, with great respect, the Congress’s and your most obedient servant,
To the Honourable John Hancock, Esq.
RESOLUTIONS OF NEW YORK CONVENTION APPROVING DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE.
In Convention of the Representatives of the State of New York,White Plains, July 9, 1776. }
Resolved, unanimously, That the reasons assigned by the Continental Congress for declaring the United Colonies free and independent States, are cogent and conclusive; and that while we lament the cruel necessity which has rendered that measure unavoidable, we approve the same, and will, at the risk of our lives and fortunes, join with the other Colonies in supporting it.
Resolved, That a copy of the said Declaration, and the aforegoing Resolution, be sent to the Chairman of the Committee of the County of Westchester, with orders to publish the same with beat of drum at this place, on Thursday next, and to give directions that it be published with all convenient speed in the several Districts within the said County, and that copies thereof be forthwith transmitted to the other County Committees within the State of New York, with orders to cause the same to be published in the several Districts of their respective Counties.
Resolved, That five hundred copies of the Declaration of Independence, with the two last-mentioned Resolutions of this Congress for approving and proclaiming the same, be published in handbills, and sent to all the County Committees in this State.
Resolved, That the Delegates of this State in Continental Congress, be, and they are hereby, authorized to consent to and adopt all such measures as they may deem conducive to the happiness and welfare of the United States of America.
John Jay, }
Abraham Yates, }
John Sloss Hobart, }
Abraham Brasher, }
William Smith. }
Committee on draft of Resolutions.
JAY TO MRS. JAY.
Salisbury, 29th July, 1776.
My Dear Sally:
I am now returning to Poughkeepsie, where I am to meet some members of the Convention on the 7th of August. How long I may stay there is entirely uncertain. Unless some unforeseen business should intervene, I propose returning to the White Plains by the way of Elizabethtown. The journey will be long and fatiguing, but as all the inconveniences of it will be amply compensated by the pleasure of spending a day or two with you, I consider it with satisfaction, and shall pursue it with cheerfulness. Don’t, however, depend on it, lest you be disappointed. In these days of uncertainty we can be certain only for the present; the future must be the object rather of hope than expectation. My dear Sally, are you yet provided with a secure retreat in case Elizabethtown should cease to be a place of safety. I shall not be at ease till this be done. You know my happiness depends on your welfare; and therefore I flatter myself your affection for me has, before this will reach you, induced you to attend to that necessary object. I daily please myself with an expectation of finding our boy in health and much grown, and my good wife perfectly recovered and in good spirits. I always endeavour to anticipate good instead of ill fortune, and find it turns to good account; were this practice more general, I fancy mankind would experience more happiness than they usually do. The only danger attending it is, that, by being too sanguine in our expectations, disappointment often punishes our confidence, and renders the sensations occasioned by mortification and chagrin more painful than those arising from anticipated and imaginary enjoyments were pleasing. These, however, are inconveniences which a little prudence will obviate. A person must possess no great share of sagacity who, in this whirl of human affairs, would account that certain which, in the nature of things, cannot be so. But this looks more like writing an essay than a letter. I was thinking loud, my dear wife, which you know is a species of enjoyment which never falls to my lot but when in your company. May I long and often enjoy it! My compliments to all the family.
I am, my dear Sally, and always will be,
Your very affectionate husband,
JAY’S REPORT ON THE PURCHASE OF CANNON.
In pursuance of your Instructions given me at this place on the 22d July last I immediately repaired to Salisbury Furnace and applied to Messrs. Fitch & Norton, two of the superintendants of the Furnace, Col. Porter the other superintendent being absent, for the cannon and other articles mentioned in the said Instructions. They informed me that there were several cannon and a considerable quantity of shot ready but they were not authorized to dispose of or part with any of the said articles without a licence from Govr. Trumbull, that they had no trux [trucks] made and could not order any to be made without his direction. They furnished me with a state of the ordnance and stores they had prepared, and I forthwith proceeded to Govr. Trumbull’s at Lebanon.
I gave the Gov. a copy of my instructions and requested the favor of him to furnish the Convention of New York with as many cannon for the defence of Hudson’s River as the State of Connecticut could conveniently spare, not exceeding the number mentioned in my Instructions together with a proportionable quantity of shot. I also desired him to give directions for the casting trux for said cannon, and intimated to him that Messrs. Fitch & Norton had informed me it might be done without delaying the making of cannon.
Govr. Trumbull expressed his readiness to contribute all in his power toward the good of the American cause and the safety of this State, but thought it most prudent to summon his Council and submit my request to their consideration.
When the Council convened they concurred with the Govr. in an order for ten twelve pounders and six pounders then at the Furnace at Salisbury to the State of New York, also a suitable proportion of shot for said cannon—said cannon to be replaced and said shot to be returned or accounted for by said State when requested; and the overseers of said Furnace were required to cast a sufficient number or as many as could be of iron trux or carriage wheels for said cannon to be loaned to said State and returned or accounted for with the cannon aforesaid—all to be delivered to me or my order by said overseers taking proper Receipts for the same. Of this order they gave me the certified copy which is annexed to this Report.
On my return to Salisbury I found Col. Porter there, and the overseers of the Furnace agreed to prepare the cannon mentioned in the above order with the greatest expedition—several of them not being yet bored or drilled. As to the trux, Col. Porter was averse to their entering on that branch of business, objecting that it would impede the casting of cannon, and gave me very satisfactory reasons for his being of that opinion; and on the same account expressing a desire that Salisbury Furnace might be confined to the making of cannon and Col. Livingston’s employed for casting shot and other ordnance stores, adding that he would furnish the Col. with some sand moulders and give him every other assistance in his power. For these reasons I did not think it either reasonable or prudent to insist on a compliance with the Govr’s order respecting the trux.
I then hired teams to carry four twelve pounders which were soon made ready, together with 50 rounds of shot for each of them, to Col. Hoffman’s Landing [on Hudson River] at 35 s lawful money of Connecticut per ton, and requested Hezh: Fitch, Esq. to forward the remainder as they became ready, with 50 rounds of shot for each cannon to the same place, and engaged to make him a reasonable compensation. He consented to undertake the business and I left with him 28-4-0 lawful money of Connecticut to defray the expenses attending it and to pay the teamsmen then employed in transporting the twelve pounders and shot aforesaid, for which money I took his receipt and have annexed it to this Report.
Being of opinion that application should immediately be made to Col. Livingston for trux and shot, and it being uncertain whether he was at Ancram or the Manor, I went immediately to Ancram, and not finding him there proceeded to the Manor. At my request he has undertaken to furnish the Convention of ye State of New York with proper trux for ten twelve and five (?) six pounders together with cannon shot of various sizes. On my way to this place I overtook the cannon and shot aforesaid going to Col. Hoffman’s Landing, and being informed that a sloop was there ready to sail to Fort Montgomery, I ordered the said cannon & shot to be put on board & carried to the said Fort.
[August 7 (?), 1776.]
JOHN MORIN SCOTT TO JAY.
New York, Sepr. 6th, 1776.
I received your Letter about half an hour ago by the Messenger of the honorable Convention, in which you inform me that they are anxious to be informed of any Transactions at this Place that may be of use to the State, or otherwise of Importance. My duty would have directed me to execute this task before the Receipt of your letter, had I been possessed of the means of Conveyance. I shall do it now as far as the want of good pen & Ink, as scarce as almost every other necessary article, will permit.
I shall begin with our Retreat from Long Island. For previous to that Event the Convention was so near the scene of action, that they must have been acquainted with every occurrence. I was summoned to a council of War at Mr. Philip Livingston’s House on Thursday, 29th Ult., never having had reason to expect a proposition for a Retreat till it was mentioned. Upon my arrival at the Lines on the Tuesday morning before, and just after the Enemy, by beating General Sullivan and Lord Stirling had gained the Heights which in their Nature appear to have been more defensible than the lines were, it was obvious to me we could not maintain them for any long time, should the Enemy approach us regularly. They were unfinished in several Places when I arrived there, and we were obliged hastily to finish them, and you may imagine with very little Perfection, particularly across the main Road, the most likely for the approach of the Enemys heavy artillery. In this place three of my Battalions were placed, the centre of the line in Ground so low, that the rising Ground immediately without it, would have put it in the Power of a man at 40 yards Distance to fire under my Horse’s Belly whenever he pleased. You may judge of our Situation, subject to almost incessant Rains without Baggage or Tents & almost without Victuals or Drink; and in some Part of the Lines the men standing up to their middles in water. The Enemy were evidently incircling us from water to water with intent to hem us in upon a small neck of Land. In this Situation they had as perfect a command of the Island except the small neck on which we were posted as they now have. Thus things stood when the Retreat was suddenly proposed. I as suddenly objected to it from an aversion to giving the Enemy a single inch of ground. But was soon convinced by the unanswerable Reasons for it. They were these:—Invested by an Enemy of about double our number from water to water, scant in almost every necessary of life & without covering & liable every moment to have the Communication between us and the City cut off by the Entrance of the Frigates into the East River between (late) Governor’s Island and Long Island; which General McDougall assured us from his own nautic Experience was very feasible. In such a situation we should have been reduced to the alternative of desperately attempting to cut our way [through] a vastly superior Enemy with the certain loss of a valuable Stock of Artillery & Artillery Stores which the Government had been collecting with great Pains; or by Famine & Fatigue been made an easy prey to the Enemy. In either Case the Campaign would have ended in the total Ruin of our army. The Resolution therefore to retreat was unanimous and tho formed late in the Day was executed the following night with unexpected success. We however lost some of our heavy Cannon on the forts at a Distance from the water, the softness of the ground occasioned by the Rains having rendered it impossible to remove them in so short a time. Almost every thing else valuable was saved; and not a Dozen Men lost in the Retreat. The Consequence of our Retreat was the loss of (late) Govrs. Island which is perfectly commanded by the Fort on Red Hook.—The Enemy however from Fear or other Reasons, indulged [us] with the opportunity of two nights to carry off all except some heavy cannon. The Garrison was drawn off in the afternoon after our Retreat under the fire of the Shipping who are now drawn up just behind (late) Govrs.-Island, & the Fire of some Cannon from Long Island Shore; but with no other loss than that of one man’s arm. What our loss on Long Island was I am not able to estimate. I think the Hills might have been well maintained with 5,000 men. Ifear their natural strength was our Bane by lulling us into a State of Security & enabling the Enemy to steal a march upon us. I think from the last accounts we must have killed many of the enemy. We are sure that late Colo. & afterwards General Grant who was so bitter against us in Parliament, is among the slain. General Parsons late Colo. and promoted to the Rank of a General officer escaped from the action & Pursuit as by a miracle. I believe him to be a brave man. He is a Connecticut Lawyer. He told me that in the action he commanded a Party of about 250 men, with orders from Lord Stirling to cover his Flank; and that when the Enemy gave way, he threw into a Heap about thirty of the Enemies dead, and that in advancing a little farther he found a Heap made by the Enemy at least as large as that which he had collected. Lord Stirling had ordered him to maintain his ground till Receipt of the order to retreat. However, finding that no such order came; and finding the Enemy by rallying to increase on his hands, he flew to the Place were Lord Stirling was posted, leaving his Party on the ground with strict orders to maintain it till his Return; but he found his Lordship & his whole Body of Troops gone. There can be no doubt but Lord Stirling behaved bravely; but I wish that he had retreated sooner. He would have saved himself, and a great number of Troops from Captivity; but he refused to retreat for want of orders. We miss him much; he was a very active officer. General Sullivan who was also made a Prisoner in the action on the Heights went some days ago on Parole to Congress to endeavour to procure his Exchange for Prescott. I have not heard of his return. Two or three Days ago the Rose Frigate went up between the Islands and took Shelter, after a severe Cannonade from us, behind Blackwell’s Island. She retreated yesterday as far as opposite Corlears Hook, where she was briskly cannonaded till night. I have not heard of her this morning—By the loss on Long Island and the running away of our Militia, especially those of Connecticut, to their respective Homes our Army is much diminished, and I am sure is vastly inferior to that of the Enemy. The Troops are vastly dispirited—publickly say, but I believe without Reason, that they are sold. In short they have great Diffidence of Head Quarters and the officers of all Ranks suspect two certain Persons near the General, whom I believe to be a good man, to have more influence than their abilities entitle them to. I seldom go to Head Quarters; because I think my visits there not over acceptable. I content myself with doing my Duty which is very severe, as for some time past I have been Brigadier of the Day every other Day—the more severe, as the Hardships to which I was reduced on Long Island, without Bedding, almost without Food, and exposed to the rain have much impaired my Health.
The Army is continually praying most ardently for the arrival of General Lee as their Guardian Angel. He is daily expected; his arrival will probably nerve their Spirits. The Number of the Army I do not know, probably not so many by one half as Congress intended. Its present Disposition is this. It is divided into three Divisions, one in the City where I am with my Brigade under the Command of Major General Putnam; the other two under the respective Commands of Majors General Spencer & Heath, one between Haerlem & us, the other at & about Kings Bridge. What the Enemy intend we cannot yet discover. I am inclined to think to choose to avoid a Cannonade & Bombardment of the City & an attempt on West Chester County. Should they make it and succeed the Consequences are obvious, we shall be totally confined to this Island & cut off from all Communication with the Continent. With a View to this danger I wrote a few days ago to the General, giving it as my opinion that we should abandon the City, make a strong post in the Heights of Kings Bridge and dispose of the bulk of the Army in West Chester County and support the Communication between both, by placing the armed Vessels in the mouth of Spuyten Devil on the East River. I have recd. no answer. The Vessels lie in parade before Head Quarters but some of the artillery & Stores are removing. God knows what will be the Event of this Campaign; but I beg leave to assure the Honorable Convention that I will never bring Disgrace on their appointment.
Poor General Woodhull with a Lieutenant & four men were made Prisoners on Long Island. I had a letter from him dated the 1st Inst, but not dated from any Place, nor does he tell me how he was taken. He has lost all his Baggage and requested of me two Shirts and two Pairs of Stockings, which I should have sent him had not the Flag of Truce been gone before I recd the Letter. I shall comply with his Request by the first opportunity. Commend me with all possible Devotion to the Honorable Convention.
I am Sir
Your most obedient Servt.
Jno. Morin Scott.
P. S. The army badly paid & wretchedly fed; 1,100 men arrived from the Southward. A Deserter tells me but 3,000 foreign Troops on Staten Island. I know not what the flying Camp is doing. He says the Enemy on Long Island are 26,000. I believe this much exagerated; & 1,000 in the Shipping.
LEWIS MORRIS TO JAY.
Phila., Sepr. 8, 1776.
My Dear friend:
I am very anxious about our situation at N. York. I should have gone off this day but Mr. Lewis has taken flight towards that Place in quest of his family, that were on Long Island, and there remain only three of us. I wish you would let me know how matters stand and at what Place our Convention are. Genl. Sullivan brought a mesage from Lord Howe to Congress in consequence of which they have sent Doctor Franklin, John Adams and Ned Rutledge. I doubt in my own mind any good effect that it can have, as he was desirous to meet them in their favorite character. I will enclose you the resolve of Congress. Sullivan says that L. Howe said he was ever against taxing of us, and that they had no right to interfere with our internal Police, and that he was very sure America could not be conquered, and that it was a great pitty so brave a nation should be cutting one another to pieces. Mr. Linch yesterday asked me if you would part with your chestnut horse. I told him I did not know; I thought I had heard you say once in this Place that if you did sell him you would have seventy pounds. He beged of me to write to you and get your answer. Poor Mr. Lawrence remains very unwell; he joins mein our best regards to you and all friends.
Yours Most sincerely
ROBERT MORRIS TO JAY.
Philada., Septr. 23rd, 1776.
Altho’ your express delivered me your favour last Wednesday or Thursday, yet I did not receive the letter from Mr. Deane untill this day and shall now send after the Express that he may convey this safe to your hands; should he be gone I must find some other safe conveyance. You will find enclosed both Mr. D—nes letters as you desired and I shall thank you for the Copy of the Invisible part. He had communicated so much of this Sceret to me, before his departure as to let me know he had fixed with you a mode of writing that would he invisible to the rest of the World; he also promised to ask you to make a full communication to me, but in this use your pleasure. The secret so far as I do or shall know it will remain so to all other persons. It appears clear to me that we may very soon involve all Europe in a War by managing properly the apparent forwardness of the Court of France; it’s a horrid consideration that our own Safty should call on us to involve other nations in the Calamities of War. Can this be morally right or have Morality & Policy nothing to do with each other? Perhaps it may not be good Policy to investigate the Question at this time. I will therefore only ask you whether General Howe will give us time to cause a diversion favorable to us in Europe. I confess as things now appear to me the prospect is gloomy indeed. Therefore if you can administer Comfort do it; Why are we so long deprived of your abilitys in Congress? Perhaps they are more usefully exerted where you are. That may be the case, but such men as you, in times like these, should be every where. I am with true sentiments of respect & esteem
Your Obedt. hble. Servt.
John Jay, Esqr.
JAY TO ROBERT MORRIS.
Fishkills, Octr. 6, 1776.
The enclosed is a part of the late invisible parts of Mr. Deane’s letters. You will perceive some blanks in it. Mr. D. it seems did not write with his usual care and accuracy. There are many blots in one of the letters and in one or two instances the lines cross and run into one another. Little material is however illegible. I am happy to find our affairs wear so pleasing an aspect in France.
This most certainly will not be the last campaign, and in my opinion Lord Howe’s operations cannot be so successful and decisive as greatly to lessen the ideas which foreign nations have conceived of our importance. I am rather inclined to think that our declaring Independence in the face of so powerful a fleet and army will impress them with an opinion of our strength and spirit; and when they are informed how little our country is in the enemy’s possession, they will unite in declaring us invincible by the arms of Britain.
If the works carrying on by the General for obstructing the navigation of Hudson’s River at Mount Washington prove effectual, Lord Howe must rest content with the City of New York for this campaign. For altho it is not impossible for him to land a large body of troops on the shores of the Sound and thereby divide our forces, yet no great matters can by that means be achieved. Our communication with the army by the Sound is already cut off by the ships of war; and any strong Post they might take on the shore would not much injure our communication by land. But should they on the contrary be able suddenly to penetrate the North River with a few ships of war and a number of transports, they would effectually destroy all communication between the upper country and the army by land and water. For before the shores would be put in such a state of defence as to prevent their landing with success, they might possess themselves of Posts and Passes, by nature so strong as to be long tenable against a much superior force.
Should an event of this sort take place, we should be in a disagreeable situation. Flour and lumber could not then be carried to the army but by a circuitous route thro abominable roads, and it is a matter of some doubt whether our utmost exertions to supply them would be successful. Had I been vested with absolute power in this State, I have often said and still think that I would last spring have desolated all Long Island, Staten-Island, the City and County of New York, and all that part of the County of Westchester which lies below the mountains. I would then have stationed the main body of the army in the mountains on the east, and eight or ten thousand men in the highlands on the west side of the river. I would have directed the river at Fort Montgomery, which is nearly at the southern extremity of the mountains to be so shallowed as to afford only depth sufficient for an Albany sloop, and all the southern passes and defiles in the mountains to be strongly fortified. Nor do I think the shallowing of the river a romantic scheme. Rocky mountains rise immediately from the shores. The breadth is not very great though the depth is. But what cannot eight or ten thousand men well worked effect? According to this plan of defence the State would be absolutely impregnable against all the world on the Sea side, and would have nothing to fear except from the way of the lake. Should the enemy gain the river even below the mountains, I think I foresee that a retreat would become necessary, and I can’t forbear wishing that a desire of saving a few acres may not lead us into difficulty. Such is the situation of this State at present and so various and I may say successful have been the arts of Govr. Tryon and his adherents to spread the seeds of disaffection among us that I cannot at present obtain permission to return to Congress. Our Convention continues unanimous in all its measures and to do them justice are diligent as well as zealous in the cause.
As long as your whimsical constituents shall permit the gentleman to whom I am writing to remain among the number of those honest and able patriots in Congress, in whose hands I think the Interest of America very safe, the Congress will possess too great a stock of abilities to perceive the absence of my little mite. It gives me pleasure however to reflect that your remarks on this subject, however ill founded, would have been dictated only by that friendly partiality which you have shown me, and which in this instance has been permitted to impose on your judgment. I wish the Secret Committee would communicate no other intelligence to the Congress at large, than what may be necessary to promote the common weal, not gratify the curiosity of individuals. I hint this, because a copy of a letter from A. L. to that Committee has lately been sent by a member of Congress to a gentleman of his acquaintance who is not a member of Congress. I came by this intelligence in such a way as to speak with certainty, for I have seen the copy, but at the same time in such a way as not to be able with propriety to mention names. You will be pleased therefore to make no other use of this information than to induce the greater caution in the Committee. For as to binding certain members in the house to secresy by oaths or otherwise would be just as absurd as to swear Lee (no matter which of them) to look or feel like Ned Rutledge.
Had Mr. Deane mentioned to me his having conversed with you relative to the mode of writing I communicated to him, I should most certainly have spoken to you on the subject, and will when we meet give you the same information respecting it that I did to him. I am Dr. Sir, with respect and esteem your most obt. servt.
FREDERICK JAY TO JAY.
HarrisonsPurchase, 19th Octr., 1776.
Papa has directed me to have all the Stock removed from Rye to the Fish Kills—at foot you have a list of those now sent. He intends to sett off this Day or to-morrow with Mama & Nancey & some of the servants—the rest will sett off in a day or two. He thinks it best for me to stay & remove everything. I could wish you were here to go with them. Jos. Purdy Senr. has partly engaged to go; if he does not I shall attend them. They mean to take the Crompond Road; if you could meet them it would be a satisfaction.—Endeavor to provide provender for the Cattle &c, this winter; if you could any ways send the Waggon down it would assist me greatly. No Carts to be had at this present time they being all engaged in the Service. I wish papa had taken my advice & moved by water when you first hired the place—it would have saved both trouble and expense—When ye things are all moved Peter will go up— I shall take care of myself—I imagine you ’l be full.
I am in great haste,
JAY TO THE GENERAL COURT OF NEW HAMPSHIRE.
Fishkill, October 31, 1776.
The Committee appointed by the Convention of this State for the purpose of inquiring into, detecting, and defeating all conspiracies which may be formed therein against the liberties of America, find it indispensably necessary to remove a number of dangerous and disaffected persons, some of whom have been taken in arms against America, to one of the neighbouring States.
On conferring with Lieutenant-Colonel Welch relative to sending them to New Hampshire, he was of opinion that the zeal which your honourable body have uniformly manifested for the American cause, would induce you cheerfully to receive and dispose of them, in such manner as to prevent the further execution of their wicked and malicious designs.
The Committee desire that all such of the prisoners as are not directed to be confined, and not in circumstances to maintain themselves, be put to labour and compelled to earn their subsistence. And they have directed the bearer, Egbert Benson, Esquire, chairman of the Committee of this County, to pay you two hundred dollars on account of the expenses you may be put to by complying with their request.
The Committee beg leave to recommend this gentleman to your notice and confidence. He will communicate to you the instructions given him by the Committee, and readily give you any information that may be necessary to enable you to form a judgment of the characters of the several prisoners and the degrees of restrictions proper to enjoin.
By order of the Committee, I am, gentlemen, your most obedient, humble servant,
John Jay, Chairman.
To the honourable the General Court of the State of New Hampshire.
JAY TO EDWARD RUTLEDGE.
Fishkill, 11th Oct., 1776.
Be so kind as to forward the enclosed by the first opportunity to your brother. It is in answer to one from him to Messrs. Duane, Wm. Livingston, and myself, mentioning the losses sustained by General Lee in consequence of entering into the American service, and recommending a compliance with the resolution of Congress for indemnifying him. As he has doubtless written to you on the subject, I forbear enlarging on the propriety, policy, or justice of the measure. I am for my own part clear for it, and wish with all my heart that it may take place: I shall write to my colleagues on the subject.
Let no considerations induce you to excuse General Mifflin from the office of quartermaster-general. Moyland acted wisely and honestly in resigning. Try no new experiments: you have paid for the last. Let me repeat it—keep Mifflin.
Although extremely anxious to be with you, the circumstances of this State will not admit of my leaving it. Governor Tryon has been very mischievous: and we find our hands full in counteracting and suppressing the conspiracies formed by him and his adherents.
What is your fleet amd noble admiral doing? What meekness of wisdom and what tender-hearted charity! I can’t think of it with patience. Nothing but more than lady-like delicacy could have prevailed on your august body to secrete the sentence they passed upon that pretty genius. I reprobate such mincing, little, zigzag ways of doing business: either openly acquit, or openly condemn.
If General Lee should be at Philadelphia, pray hasten his departure—he is much wanted in New York. I wish our army well stationed in the highlands, and all the lower country desolated; we might then bid defiance to all the further efforts of the enemy on that quarter.
I am, my dear Rutledge,
EDWARD RUTLEDGE TO JAY.
Philadelphia, Nov. 24th, 1776.
My Dear Jay:
I expected long ere this to have been seated quietly at home; but the progress which the enemy had made, and seemed likely to make, into your country, induced me to suspend my resolution which I came to several months ago, and assist with the whole of my power (little enough, God knows) a State which appeared to be marked for destruction. The storm, however, has passed away; and though I have reason to dread its bursting upon the heads of my countrymen, I cannot but most sincerely congratulate you upon the event. I wish you may improve the time; and if you can concur with me in sentiment, it will be improved in the following manner. Let Schuyler, whose reputation has been deeply wounded by the malevolence of party spirit, immediately repair to Congress, and after establishing himself in the good opinion of his countrymen, by a fair and open inquiry into his conduct, concert with the House such a plan as he shall think will effectually secure all the upper country against the attacks of the enemy; which plan being agreed to by the House, give him full power to effect it, and send him off with all possible despatch to carry it into execution. Let steps be taken to place real obstructions in the North River, at least in that part of it which can be commanded by Fort Montgomery, and the other fort in the highlands. If these things be done, and that soon, your country, I think, will be safe; provided you establish a good government, with a strong executive. A pure democracy may possibly do, when patriotism is the ruling passion; but when the State abounds with rascals, as is the case with too many at this day, you must suppress a little of that popular spirit. Vest the executive powers of government in an individual, that they may have vigour, and let them be as ample as is consistent with the great outlines of freedom. As several of the reasons which operated against you or Livingston’s leaving the State are now removed, I think you would be of vast service in Congress. You know that body possesses its share of human weakness; and that it is not impossible for the members of that House to have their attention engrossed by subjects which might as well be postponed for the present, whilst such as require despatch have been, I had almost said neglected. This may be the case with the measures which should be taken for the defence of your State. It is therefore your interest and your duty, (if you are not prevented by some superior public concern) to attend the House, and that soon; you have a right to demand their attention, and I trust they will give you early assistance. Every intelligence from New York for the last ten days convincing me that the enemy are preparing to attack the State with a large body of troops, I shall take the wings of the morning, and hasten to my native home; where I shall endeavour to render my country more service in the field than I have been able to render her in the cabinet. I have therefore very little time to write, and none to lengthen this letter. I could not however think of quitting this part of the continent without writing you what appeared to me of consequence, especially when I consider that it is probable, or at least possible, that this may be the last time I may have it in my power to give you any evidence of my affection. I shall add no more than that you have my best wishes for your happiness, and that if I fall in the defence of my country it will alleviate my misfortune to think that it is in support of the best of causes, and that I am esteemed by one of the best of men. God bless you, Adieu my friend.
COLONEL McDOUGALL TO JAY.
Peeks Kill, Decr. 2d., 1776.
My Dear Sir:
I have much to say to you, which the moveable state of the army prevented and still prevents. General Lee in consequence of positive orders from General Washington, is to cross the North river to Jersey to-morrow with about three small Brigades of the Continental army, illy cloathed, many of the men without Blankets, Shirts or Shoes. Mine is the most wanting in those articles. Those troops have been so fatigued in marching from the Plains by rains & deep roads that they are almost beat out, and to continue a forced march of near 100 miles will ruin them. With the present low and dissolved State of the army it’s Idle to attempt an attack on the Enemy. All that should be aimed at with any tolerable prospect of Success ought to be to take strong Posts to stop the Progress of the Enemy, and bend our utmost attention to recruiting our army. Instead of this, we are carrying the most of the officers who are to effect it out of the Country where alone it can be done; and harrassing the Troops the last moment of the Campaign, to deter them by severe toil & service from enlisting. Sir, I tremble for the consequences. The levies will be greatly retarded by this movment. God grant this may be the worst consequence of this moment. General officers with a few militia is the only force now below Crotten river; except about 400 men General Woster has about Mamarinek, and these a Squadron of light Horse and three Companies of light Troops would frighten out of the County, which will soon below that be all under the command of the Enemy. The Highlands should be better guarded than I fear they will be in the winter. The Northern expedition cost me my eldest son; and the other, Ronald McDougall, was made a Prisoner in Canada. He is now on his parole to Govr. Carlton; and is extremely uneasey lest he should be called upon to deliver himself up. As he was at the taking of the Prisoners, taken at St. Johns, whenever they are released, he is entitled to the Benefit of them in preference to those, who were not there; and who have been prisoners for a much less time than he has. I have therefore to beg you to write to Congress on his behalf, lest he should in the exchange of those prisoners be forgot: the sooner you do it, the more you will oblige me. He was a second Lieut. in my old Regiment. If I should do otherwise than well I pray remember this boy. Mr. John Laurence, my son in Law, is now Paymaster to my old Regiment, but as it will soon be dissolved I spoke to Col. Livingston of the 4th. to get him appointed for his. He assured me he would write to Convention on the Subject. If he has, I should be glad you would speak to the members, if it should be judged necessary. May God bless you, and save my bleeding distressed Country.
I am your affectionate
SILAS DEANE TO JAY.
Paris, 3rd December, 1776.
If my letters arrive safe they will give you some idea of my situation—without intelligence, without orders, and without remittances, yet boldly plunging into contracts, engagements and negotiations, hourly hoping that something will arrive from America. By General Coudray I send thirty thousand fusils, two hundred pieces of brass cannon, thirty mortars, four thousand tents, and clothing for thirty thousand men, with two hundred tons of gunpowder, lead, balls, &c., &c., by which you may judge we have some friends here. A war in Europe is inevitable. The eyes of all are on you, and the fear of your giving up or accommodating is the greatest obstacle I have to contend with. Mons. Beaumarchais has been my Minister in effect, as this Court is extremely cautious, and I now advise you to attend carefully to the articles sent you. I could not examine them here. I was promised they should be good, and at the lowest prices, and that from persons in such station that had I hesitated it might have ruined my affairs. But as in so large a contract there is room for impositions, my advice is that you send back to me samples of the articles sent you. Cannon, powder, mortars, &c., are articles known; but clothes, the fusils, &c., by which any imposition may be detected. Large remittances are necessary for your credit, and the enormous price of tobacco, of rice, of flour, and many other articles, gives you an opportunity of making your remittances to very great advantage. Twenty thousand hogsheads of tobacco are wanted immediately for this kingdom, and more for other parts of Europe.
I have written you on several subjects, some of which I will attempt briefly to recapitulate. The destruction of the Newfoundland fishery may be effected, by two or three of your frigates, sent there early in February, and by that means a fatal blow given to Great Britain—I mean by destroying the stages, boats, &c., and by bringing away the people left there as prisoners. Glasgow, in Scotland, may be plundered and burnt with ease, as may Liverpool, by two or three frigates, which may find a shelter and protection in the ports of France and Spain afterwards. Blank commissions are wanted here to cruise under your flag against the British commerce. This is a capital stroke and must bring on a war. Hasten them out I pray you. France and Spain are friendly, and you will greatly oblige the latter by seizing the Portuguese commerce wherever it is found. I have had overtures from the King of Prussia in the commercial way, and have sent a person of great confidence to his Court in person with letters of introduction from his agent here, with whom I am on the best of terms. A loan may be obtained, if you make punctual remittances for the sums now advanced, for any sums at five per cent. interest, perhaps less. The western lands ought to be held up to view as an encouragement for our soldiers, especially foreigners, and are a good fund to raise money on. You may, if you judge proper, have any number of German and Swiss troops; they have been offered me, but you know I have no proposals to treat. A number of frigates may be purchased at Leghorn, the Grand Duke of Tuscany being zealously in favor of America, and doing all in his power to encourage its commerce. Troubles are rising in Ireland, and with a little assistance much work may be cut out for Great Britain, by sending hence a few priests, a little money, and plenty of arms. Omnia tentanda is my motto, therefore I hint the playing of their own game on them, by spiriting up the Caribs in St. Vincents, and the negroes in Jamaica, to revolt.
On all these subjects I have written to you. Also on various particulars of commerce. Our vessels have more liberty in the ports of France and Spain and Tuscany, than the vessels of any other nation, and that openly. I presented the Declaration of Independence to this Court, after indeed it had become an old story in every part of Europe; it was well received, but as you say you have articles of alliance under consideration, any resolution must be deferred until we know what they are. The want of intelligence has more than once well nigh ruined my affairs; pray be more attentive to this important subject, or drop at once all thoughts of a foreign connection.
I must mention a few trifles. The Queen is fond of parade, and I believe wishes a war, and is our friend. She loves riding on horseback. Could you send me a fine Narrotoheganset horse or two, the present might be money exceedingly well laid out. Rittenhouse’s orrery, or Arnold’s collection of insects; a phæton of American make, and a pair of bay horses. A few barrels of apples, of walnuts, of butternuts, &c., would be great curiosities here, where everything American is gazed at, and where the American contest engages the attention of all ages, ranks, and sexes.
Had I ten ships here I could fill them all with passengers for America. I hope the officers sent will be agreeable; they were recommended by the Ministry here, and are at this instant really in their army; but this must be a secret. Do you want heavy iron cannon, sea officers of distinction, or ships? Your special orders will enable me to procure them. For the situation of affairs in England I refer you to Mr. Rogers, Aid-de-Camp to Mons. Du Coudray. I have presented a number of memoirs, which have been very favourably received, and the last by his Majesty, but my being wholly destitute of other than accidental and gratuitous assistance will not permit my sending you copies. Indeed I was obliged to make them so as to explain the rise, the nature, and the progress of the dispute. I have been assured by the Ministers, that I have thrown much light on the subject, and have obviated many difficulties; but his Majesty is not of the disposition of his great grandfather Louis XIV. If he were, England would soon be ruined. Do not forget or omit sending me blank commissions for privateers; under these, infinite damage may be done to the British commerce, and as the prizes must be sent to you for condemnation the eventual profits will remain with you. Tell Mrs. Trist that her husband and Captain Fowler were well on the 16th instant. I had a letter from the latter. Pray be careful who you trust in Europe. One Williamson, a native of Pennsylvania, is here as a spy; yet I believe he corresponds with very good people on your side of the water. The villain returns to London about once in six weeks to discharge his budget.
Doctor Bancroft has been of very great service to me; no man has better intelligence in England in my opinion, but it costs something. The following articles have been shown to me; they have been seen by both the Courts of France and Spain, and I send them to you for speculation:
1st. The Thirteen United Colonies, now known by the name of the Thirteen United States of North-America, shall be acknowledged by France and Spain, and treated with as independent States, and as such shall be guarantied in the possession of all that part of the Continent of North-America, which by the last treaty of peace was ceded and confirmed to the Crown of Great Britain.
2dly. The United States shall guaranty and confirm to the Crowns of France and Spain, all and singular their possessions and claims in every other part of America whether north or south of the equator, and of the islands possessed by them in the American seas.
3dly. Should France or Spain, either or both of them, possess themselves of the islands in the West-Indies now in the possession of the Crown of Great Britain, (as an indemnity for the injuries sustained in the last war, in consequence of its being commenced on the part of Great Britain in violation of the laws of nations,) the United Colonies shall assist the said Powers in obtaining such satisfaction, and shall guaranty and confirm to them the possession of such acquisition.
4thly. The fisheries on the banks of Newfoundland, of Cape-Breton, and parts adjacent, commonly known and called by the name of the cod fishery, shall be equally free to the subjects of France, Spain, and the United States, respectively, and they shall mutually engage to protect and defend each other in such commerce.
5thly. The more effectually to preserve this alliance, and to obtain the great object, it shall be agreed that every and any British ship or vessel found or met with on the coasts of North-America, of South-America, or of the islands adjacent, and belonging thereto, and within a certain degree or distance to be agreed on, shall be forever hereafter considered as lawful prize to any of the subjects of France, Spain, or the United Colonies, and treated as such, as well in peace as in war, nor shall France, Spain, or the United Colonies, ever hereafter admit British ships into any of their ports in America, North and South, or the islands adjacent. This article never to be altered or dispensed with, but only by and with the consent of each of the three contracting States.
6thly. During the present war between the United States and Great Britain, France and Spain shall send into North-America, and support there, a fleet to defend and protect the coasts and the commerce of the United States, in consequence of which if the possessions of France or Spain should be attacked in America by Great Britain, or her allies, the United States will afford them all the aid and assistance in their power.
7thly. No peace or accommodation shall be made with Great Britain to the infringement or violation of any one of these articles.
ADDRESS OF THE CONVENTION OF THE REPRESENTATIVES OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK TO THEIR CONSTITUENTS.
At this most important period, when the freedom and happiness, or the slavery and misery, of the present and future generations of Americans, is to be determined on a solemn appeal to the Supreme Ruler of all events, to whom every individual must one day answer for the part he now acts, it becomes the duty of the Representatives of a free people to call their attention to this most serious subject, and the more so at a time when their enemies are industriously endeavoring to delude, intimidate, and seduce them by false suggestions, artful misrepresentations, and insidious promises of protection.
You and all men were created free, and authorized to establish civil government, for the preservation of your rights against oppression, and the security of that freedom which God hath given you, against the rapacious hand of tyranny and lawless power. It is, therefore, not only necessary to the well-being of Society, but the duty of every man, to oppose and repel all those, by whatever name or title distinguished, who prostitute the powers of Government to destroy the happiness and freedom of the people over whom they may be appointed to rule.
Under the auspices and direction of Divine Providence, your forefathers removed to the wilds and wilderness of America. By their industry they made it a fruitful, and by their virtue a happy country. And we should still have enjoyed the blessings of peace and plenty, if we had not forgotten the source from which these blessings flowed; and permitted our country to be contaminated by the many shameful vices which have prevailed among us.
It is a well known truth, that no virtuous people were ever oppressed; and it is also true, that a scourge was never wanting to those of an opposite character. Even the Jews, those favourites of Heaven, met with the frowns, whenever they forgot the smiles of their benevolent Creator. By tyrants of Egypt, of Babylon, of Syria, and of Rome, they were severely chastised; and those tyrants themselves, when they had executed the vengeance of Almighty God, their own crimes bursting on their own heads, received the rewards justly due to their violation of the sacred rights of mankind.
You were born equally free with the Jews, and have as good a right to be exempted from the arbitrary domination of Britain, as they had from the invasions of Egypt, Babylon, Syria, or Rome. But they, for their wickedness, were permitted to be scourged by the latter; and we, for our wickedness, are scourged by tyrants as cruel and implacable as those. Our case, however, is peculiarly distinguished from theirs. Their enemies were strangers, unenlightened, and bound to them by no ties of gratitude or consanguinity. Our enemies, on the contrary, call themselves Christians. They are of a nation and people bound to us by the strongest ties—a people, by whose side we have fought and bled; whose power we have contributed to raise; who owe much of their wealth to our industry, and whose grandeur has been augmented by our exertions.
It is unnecessary to remind you that during the space of between one and two hundred years, every man sat under his own vine and his own fig-tree, and there was none to make us afraid—that the people of Britain never claimed a right to dispose of us, and everything belonging to us, according to their will and pleasure, until the reign of the present King of that Island—and that to enforce this abominable claim they have invaded our country by sea and land. From this extravagant and iniquitous claim, and from the unreasonable as well as cruel manner in which they would gain our submission, it seems as though Providence were determined to use them as instruments to punish the guilt of this country, and bring us back to a sense of duty to our Creator.
You may remember that to obtain redress of the many grievances to which the King and Parliament of Great Britain had subjected you, the most dutiful petitions were presented, not only by the several Assemblies, but by the Representatives of all America in General Congress. And you cannot have forgot with what contempt they were neglected; nay, the humblest of all petitions, praying only to be heard, was answered by the sound of the trumpet and the clashing of arms. This, however, is not the only occasion on which the hearts of kings have been hardened; and in all probability it will add to the number of those instances in which their oppression, injustice and hardness of heart have worked their destruction.
Being bound by the strongest obligations to defend the inheritance which God hath given us, to Him we referred our Cause, and opposed the assaults of our taskmasters, being determined rather to die free than live slaves and entail bondage on our children.
By our vigorous efforts and by the goodness of Divine Providence, those cruel invaders were driven from our country in the last Campaign. We then flattered ourselves that the signal success of our arms, and the unanimity and spirit of our people, would have induced our foes to desist from the prosecution of their wicked designs, and disposed their hearts to peace. But peace we had not yet deserved. Exultation took place of thanksgiving, and we ascribed that to our own prowess which was only to be attributed to the great Guardian of the innocent.
The enemy with greater strength again invade us—invade us not less by their arts than their arms. They tell you that if you submit you shall have protection; that their king breathes nothing but peace; that he will revise (not repeal) all his cruel acts and instructions, and will receive you into favour. But what are the terms on which you are promised peace? Have you heard of any except absolute, unconditional obedience and servile submission? If his professions are honest—if he means not to cajole and deceive you, why are you not explicitly informed of the terms, and whether parliament means to tax you hereafter at their will and pleasure? Upon this and the like points, these military commissioners of peace are silent; and, indeed, are not authorized to say a word, unless a power to grant pardon implies a power to adjust claims and secure privileges; or unless the bare possession of life is the only privilege which Americans are to enjoy. For a power to grant pardon is the only one which their parliament or prince have thought proper to give them. And yet they speak of peace, but hold daggers in their hands. They invite you to accept of blessings, and stain your habitations with blood. Their voice resembles the voice of Jacob, but their hands are like the hands of Esau.
If their Sovereign intends to repeal any of the acts we complain of, why are they not especially named? If he designs you shall be free, why does he not promise that the claim of his parliament, to bind you in all cases whatsoever, shall be given up and relinquished? If a reasonable peace was intended, why did he not empower his Commissioners to treat with the Congress, or with Deputies from all the Assemblies; or why was not some other mode devised, in which America might be heard? Is it not highly ridiculous for them to pretend that they are authorized to treat of a peace between Britain and America with every man they meet? Was such a treaty ever heard of before? Is such an instance to be met with in the history of mankind? No! The truth is, peace is not meant; and their specious pretentions and proclamations are calculated only to disunite and deceive.
If the British king really desires peace, why did he order all your vessels to be seized, and confiscated? Why did he most cruelly command, that the men found on board such vessels should be added to the crews of his ships of war, and compelled to fight against their own countrymen—to spill the blood of their neighbours and friends; nay, of their fathers, their brothers and their children; and all this before these pretended ambassadors of peace had arrived on our shores! Does any history, sacred or profane, record any thing more horrid, more impious, more execrably wicked, tyrannical or devilish? If there be one single idea of peace in his mind, why does he order your cities to be burned, your country to be desolated, your brethren to starve, and languish, and die in prison? If any thing were intended besides destruction, devastation, and bloodshed, why are the mercenaries of Germany transported near four thousand miles to plunder your houses; ravish your wives and daughters; strip your infant children; expose whole families naked, miserable, and forlorn, to want, to hunger, to inclement skies, and wretched deaths? If peace were not totally reprobated by him, why are those pusillanimous, deluded, servile wretches among you, who, for present ease or impious bribes, would sell their liberty, their children, and their souls; who, like savages, worship every devil that promises not to hurt them; or obey any mandates, however cruel, for which they are paid? how is it, that these sordid, degenerate creatures, who bow the knee to this king, and daily offer incense at his shrine, should be denied the peace so repeatedly promised them? Why are they indiscriminately abused, robbed, and plundered, with their more deserving neighbours? But in this world, as in the other, it is right and just that the wicked should be punished by their seducers.
In a word, if peace was the desire of your enemies, and humanity their object, why do they thus trample under foot every right and every duty, human and divine? Why, like the demons of old, is their wrath to be expiated only by human sacrifices? Why do they excite the savages of the wilderness to murder our inhabitants and exercise cruelties unheard of among civilized nations? No regard for religion or virtue remains among them. Your very churches bear witness of their impiety; your churches are used without hesitation as jails, as stables, and as houses of sport and theatrical exhibitions. What faith, what trust, what confidence, can you repose in these men, who are deaf to the call of humanity, dead to every sentiment of religion, and void of all regard for the temples of the Lord of Hosts?
And why all this desolation, bloodshed, and unparalleled cruelty? They tell you to reduce your obedience. Obedience to what? To their will and pleasure! And then what? Why, then you shall be pardoned, because you consent to be slaves. And why should you be slaves now, having been freemen ever since this country was settled? Because, forsooth, the king and parliament of an island three thousand miles off, choose that you should be hewers of wood and drawers of water for them. And is this the people whose proud domination you are taught to solicit? Is this the peace which some of you so ardently desire? For shame! for shame!
But you are told that their armies are numerous, their fleet strong, their soldiers valiant, their resources great; that you will be conquered; that victory ever attends their standard; and therefore that your opposition is vain, your resistance fruitless. What then? You can but be slaves at last, if you should think life worth holding on so base a tenure. But who is it that gives victory? By whom is a nation exalted? Since what period hath the race been always to the swift and the battle to the strong? Can you be persuaded that the merciful King of kings hath surrendered His crown and sceptre to the merciless tyrant of Britain and committed the affairs of this lower world to his guidance, control and direction? We learned otherwise from our fathers; and God himself hath told us that strength and numbers avail not against Him. Seek then to be at peace with Him; solicit His alliance, and fear not the boasted strength and power of your foes.
You may be told that your forts have been taken, your country ravaged, and that your armies have retreated, and therefore that God is not with you. It is true that some forts have been taken, that our country hath been ravaged, and that our Maker is displeased with us. But it is also true that the King of Heaven is not like the King of Britain, implacable. If His assistance be sincerely implored, it will surely be obtained. If we turn from our sins, He will turn from His anger. Then will our arms be crowned with success, and the pride and power of our enemies, like the arrogance and pride of Nebuchadnezzar, will vanish away. Let us do our duty and victory will be our reward. Let a general reformation of manners take place; let no more widows and orphans, compelled to fly from their peaceful abodes, complain that you make a market of their distress, and take cruel advantage of their necessities; when your country is invaded and cries aloud for your aid, fly not to some secure corner of a neighbouring State and remain idle spectators of her distress, but share in her fate and manfully support her cause; let universal charity, publick spirit and private virtue be inculcated, encouraged and practised; unite in preparing for a vigorous defence of your country, as if all depended on your own exertions; and when you have done these things, then rely upon the good Providence of Almighty God for success, in full confidence, that without His blessing all our efforts will evidently fail.
A people moving on these solid principles never have been, and never will be, subjected by any tyrant whatever. Cease, then, to desire the flesh-pots of Egypt, and remember their taskmasters and oppressions. No longer hesitate about rejecting all dependence on a king who will rule you only with a rod of iron. Tell those who blame you for declaring yourselves independent that you have done no more than what your late king had done for you; that he declared you to be out of his protection; that he absolved you from all allegiance; that he made war upon you, and instead of your king he became your enemy and destroyer. By his consent, by his own act, you became independent of his crown. If you are wise you will always continue so. Freedom is now in your power. Value the heavenly gift. Remember, if you dare to neglect or despise it, you offer an insult to the Divine Bestower. Nor despair of keeping it. Despair and despondency mark a little mind and indicate a grovelling spirit. After the armies of Rome had been repeatedly defeated by Hannibal, that Imperial City was besieged by this brave and experienced general at the head of a numerous and victorious army. But so far were her glorious citizens from being dismayed by the loss of so many battles and of all their country, so confident in their own virtues and the protection of Heaven, that the very land on which the Carthaginians were encamped was sold at public auction for more than the usual price. Those heroic citizens disdained to receive his protection or to regard his proclamations. They remembered that their ancestors had left them free—ancestors who had bled in rescuing their country from the tyranny of kings. They invoked the protection of the Supreme Being. They bravely defended their city with undaunted resolution; they repelled the enemy and recovered their country. Blush, then, ye degenerate spirits, who give all over for lost, because your enemies have marched over three or four counties in this and a neighbouring State—ye who basely fly to have the yoke of slavery fixed upon your necks and to swear that you and your children after you shall be slaves forever! Such men deserve to be slaves, and are fit only for beasts of burden to the rest of mankind. Happy would it be for America if they were removed away, instead of continuing in this Country to people it with a race of animals who, from their form, must be classed among human species, but possess none of those qualities which render man more respectable than the brutes.
There never yet was a war in which victory and success did not sometimes change sides. In the present, nothing has happened either singular or decisive. Inquire dispassionately, and be not deceived by those artful tales which emissaries so industriously circulate.
A powerful and well-disciplined army, supported by a respectable fleet, invade this country. They are opposed by an army which, though numerous and brave, is quite undisciplined. Notwithstanding this manifest disparity, they have never thought it prudent to give us battle, though they have often had the fairest opportunities. True it is, that taking advantage of that critical moment when our forces are almost disbanded, they have penetrated into Jersey, and marched a considerable distance without being attacked. If any are alarmed at this circumstance, let them consider that we do not fight for a few acres of land, but for freedom—for the freedom and happiness of millions yet unborn.
Would it not be highly imprudent to risk such important events upon the issue of a general battle, when it is certain Great Britain cannot long continue the war, and by protracting it we cannot fail of success? The British Ministry, sensible of this truth, and convinced that the people of England are aware of it, have promised that the present campaign shall be the last. They are greatly and justly alarmed at their situation. A country drained of men and money, the difficulties of supplying fleets and armies at so great a distance, the danger of domestic insurrections, the probability that France will take advantage of their defenceless condition, the ruin of their commerce by our privateers—these are circumstances at which the boldest are dismàyed. They are convinced that the people will not remain long content in such a dangerous situation: hence it is that they press so hard to make this campaign decisive; and hence it is that we should endeavor to avoid it. Even suppose that Philadelphia, which many believed to be of such great importance, suppose it was taken or abandoned, the conquest of America will still be at a great distance. Millions, determined to be free, still remain to be subdued—millions who disdain to part with their liberties, their consciences, and the happiness of their posterity in future ages, for infamous protections and dishonourable pardons.
But amidst all the terror and dismay which have taken hold of some weak minds, let us consider the advantage under which we prosecute the present war. Our country supplies us with every commodity which is necessary for life and defence. Arms and ammunition are now abundantly manufactured in almost all the American States, and our armies will be abundantly supplied with all military stores. We have more fighting men in America than Britain can possibly send. Our trade is free, and every port of France and Spain affords protection to our ships. Other nations, invited by the advantages of the commerce, will doubtless soon follow their example; and experience must convince the most incredulous that the British Navy cannot exclude us from the sea. If their armies have invaded, ravaged and plundered our dominions and our people, have we not successfully attacked them on their boasted empire of the ocean? Have not our privateers brought into our ports of America British property to the amount of more than fifteen hundred thousand pounds? And do we not daily receive the most valuable cargoes from foreign countries in spite of those fleets whose colours have waved in triumph over the globe? The article of salt, about which some of you have been uneasy, will soon be fully supplied. The shores of America are washed by the ocean for more than two thousand miles. Works for manufacturing salt have been erected and proved successful, and many cargoes of it are expected, and have arrived, in the neighbouring States. Provisions of every kind abound among us. From our plenteous stores Great Britain hath heretofore supplied her necessities, though she now most wantonly and ungratefully abuses the kind hand which hath ministered to her wants and alleviated her distress. As to clothing, the rapid increase of our manufacturers, and the supplies we obtain from abroad, quiet all fears upon that subject. By the most authentic intelligence from Europe, we are informed that the people of France are ripe for a war with Britain, and will not omit the present opportunity of extending their commerce, and humbling their rival. Every State in Europe beheld with a jealous eye the growing power of the British empire, and the additional strength she daily received from this amazing continent; for they could not but perceive that their own security was diminished in proportion as her power to injure them increased. Whence is it, then, that some persons pretend to assure you that France, Spain, and the other European States, are not disposed to favour you? The wise and virtuous of all nations have pronounced our cause to be just, and approved the manner in which our resistance hath been conducted.
Whoever, therefore, considers the natural strength and advantage of this country, the distance it is removed from Britain, the obvious policy of many European Powers, the great supplies of arms and amunition cheerfully afforded us by the French and Spaniards, and the feeble and destitute condition of Britain—that she is drained of men and of money, obliged to hire foreign mercenaries for the execution of her wicked purposes; in arrears to her troops for a twelvemonth’s pay, which she cannot or will not discharge: her credit sunk; her trade ruined; her inhabitants divided; her King unpopular, and her Ministers execrated; that she is overwhelmed with a monstrous debt; cut off from the vast revenue heretofore obtained by taxes on American produce; her West India Islands in a starving condition; her ships taken; her merchants involved in bankruptcy; her design against us wicked, unjust, cruel, contrary to the laws of God and man, pursued with implacable, unrelenting vengeance, and in a manner barbarous and opposed to the usage of civilized nations;—whoever considers that we have humbly sought peace and been refused; that we have been denied even a hearing; all our petitions rejected; all our remonstrances disregarded; that we fight not for conquest but only for security; that our cause is the cause of God, of human nature and posterity: whoever we say seriously considers these things, must entertain very improper ideas of the Divine justice to which we have appealed, and be very little acquainted with the course of human affairs, to harbour the smallest doubt of our being successful.
Remember the long and glorious struggle of the United Netherlands against the power of Spain, to which they had once been subjected. Their extent was small, their country poor, their people far from numerous, and unaccustomed to arms, and in the neighbourhood of their enemies. Spain, at that time the most powerful kingdom in Europe, her fleet formidable, her armies great, inured to war, and led by the best generals of the age, and her Treasury overflowing with the wealth of Mexico and Peru—endeavoured to enslave them. They dutifully remonstrated against the design. Their petitions were treated with contempt, and fire and sword was carried into their country to compel submission. They nobly resolved to be free. They declared themselves to be independent States, and after an obstinate struggle, frustrated the wicked intentions of Spain.
Switzerland presents us with another instance of magnanimity. That country was oppressed by cruel tyrants, but the people refused to continue in bondage. With arms in their hands they expelled those tyrants, and left to their descendants the portion of freedom.
Even England, whose Genius now blushes for the degeneracy of her sons, hath afforded examples of opposition to tyranny which are worthy to be imitated by all nations. His sacred Majesty Charles the First, lost his head and his crown by attempting to enslave his subjects; and his sacred Majesty James the Second, was for the same reason expelled the kingdom, with his whole family, and the Prince of Orange chosen king in his stead. The English were too wise to believe that the person of any tyrant could be sacred, and never suffered any man to wear the crown who attempted to exercise the powers of royalty to the destruction of the people from whom those powers were derived.
This practice is not only consistent with human reason, but perfectly consonant to the will and practice of God himself. You know that the Jews were under his peculiar direction, and you need not be informed of the many instances in which he took the crown from such of their kings as refused to govern according to the laws of the Jews.
If then, God hath given us freedom, are we responsible to him for that, as well as other talents? If it be our birthright, let us not sell it for a mess of pottage, nor suffer it to be torn from us by the hand of violence! If the means of defence are in our power and we do not make use of them, what excuse shall we make to our children and our Creator? These are questions of the deepest concern to us all. These are questions which materially affect our happiness, not only in this world but in the world to come. And surely, “if ever a test for the trial of spirits can be necessary, it is now. If ever those of liberty and faction ought to be distinguished from each other, it is now. If ever it is incumbent on the people to know truth and to follow it, it is now.”
Rouse, therefore, brave Citizens! Do your duty like men! and be persuaded that Divine Providence will not permit this Western World to be involved in the horrours of slavery. Consider that, from the earliest ages of the world, Religion, Liberty and Empire, have been bounding their course toward the setting sun. The Holy Gospels are yet to be preached to those western regions, and we have the highest reason to believe that the Almighty will not suffer Slavery and the Gospel to go hand in hand! It cannot, it will not be.
But if there be any among us, dead to all sense of honour, and love of their country; if deaf to all the calls of liberty, virtue, and religion; if forgetful of the magnanimity of their ancestors, and the happiness of their children; if neither the examples nor the success of other nations, the dictates of reason and of nature, or the great duties they owe to their God, themselves, and their posterity, have any effect upon them; if neither the injuries they have received, the prize they are contending for, the future blessings or curses of their children, the applause or the reproach of all mankind, the approbation or displeasure of the Great Judge, or the happiness or misery consequent upon their conduct, in this and a future state, can move them;—then let them be assured, that they deserve to be slaves, and are entitled to nothing but anguish and tribulation. Let them banish from their remembrance the reputation, the freedom, and the happiness they have inherited from their forefathers. Let them forget every duty, human and divine; remember not that they have children: and beware how they call to mind the justice of the Supreme Being: let them go into captivity, like the idolatrous and disobedient Jews, and be a reproach and a by-word among the nations.
But we think better things of you. We believe, and are persuaded, that you will do your duty like men, and cheerfully refer your cause to the great and righteous Judge. If success crown your efforts, all the blessings of Freedom will be your reward. If you fail in the contest, you will be happy with God and Liberty in Heaven.
By the unanimous order of the Convention:
Ab’m Ten Broeck,President.
Fishkill, December 23d. 1776.
Delegate from New York in Continental Congress; subsequently Chancellor, etc.
John Jay’s next younger brother, who had been with him on the N. Y. Committee of One Hundred in 1775, and who was associated with the local committee in Westchester Co. in 1776; afterwards member of the N. Y. Assembly to the close of the war.
In a letter of the 25th February, Jay writes to Livingston:
“Your letter of the 15th inst. informs me that you continue indisposed and that you are nursing yourself at home. I am sorry for both. The first alarms me on account of your health and the second forbodes your being long sick. Amusement and exercise ought to be your objects; at home you can have little of either. Domestic concerns, variety of business, and twenty things going wrong for want of that care and attention which a sick man should not think of, agitate your mind and prevent that even flow of spirits and that calm throughout the whole man so necessary to invite the return of health. This would be my case were I in your situation. If it be yours get rid of it. The spring advances fast and as soon as the roads will permit you, go to the camp, to Philadelphia, in short anywhere, so that you are but moving. You must, however, leave off riding post—no more sixty or seventy miles a day. Travel like a citizen of the world who thinks himself at home at every inn, and leaves it as you would your house when you are about to take an airing. If I can with any tolerable propriety leave the Congress I will accompany you, and as I have often done, save your horse from many a sweat.”
In the early stages of the discussion on the expediency of formally separating from the mother country, Jay, with the majority of his colleagues in Congress and the leaders of the day, took a conservative position. The above paper was doubtless intended, with many others printed at the time, to forestall precipitate action on so vital a question. Whether it was published in the form here given does not appear, but a longer communication signed “Seek Truth,” following the same line of argument and containing the same or like extracts from the records of Congress, is to be found in Force’s “American Archives,” 4th Ser., vol. v., p. 1011, suggesting the possibility that it may have been Jay’s own elaboration of this first draft preserved among his papers. As the situation changed and a Declaration of Independence became the one necessary and saving step, few men labored more zealously to make it an accomplished fact than Jay. See his resolutions in N. Y. Convention, July 9, 1776.
Marinus Willett, lately captain in McDougall’s regiment, and subsequently lieutenant-colonel in the New York Continental Line; mayor of New York, 1807.
Jay, who had been an almost constant attendant on Congress for a year, was now for many months to be associated with the public bodies and affairs of his own Province. On the third Tuesday of April, 1776, he was elected member of the New York Congress, and on May 25th he took his seat in that body. His seat in the Continental Congress was not vacated by this change, and he probably would have returned to Philadelphia but for the important matters to come before the New York Congress requiring his presence there. The recommendation of the Continental Congress to the several colonies to adopt new and constitutional forms of government especially required careful deliberation, and the New York Congress directed him not to leave them “without further orders.” Jay’s letters show that he was heartily in favor of a change in the provincial government, but as the House had not been instructed on this issue, it called for the election of a new body, which took the name of the New York Convention—Jay being returned as a member from New York City. The Convention met at White Plains, July 9th, and a committee subsequently appointed to report on the proposed measure. The exigencies of the campaign for that year, however, delayed action on the adoption of a new form of government, until March-April of the following year, as appears from the note to the Livingston-Morris letter of April 26, 1777. Jay, meantime, was buried in the work of important committees.
Duane was one of the delegates from New York in the Continental Congress. In the first sentence of the above letter he refers to one of May 16th, in which he wrote to Jay as follows:
“Yesterday, my dear Friend, was an important day productive of the Resolutions of which I enclose you a copy. I shall not enter into particulars: the Resolution itself first passed and then a Committee was appointed to fit it with a preamble. Compare them with each other and it will probably lead you into Reflections which I dare not point out. I hope you will relieve me soon as I am impatient to visit my Friends: I look upon Business here to be in such a train that I can well be spared.” The resolution referred to change of colonial governments already mentioned.
In a letter of May 25th, Duane informs Jay that Maryland dissents from the recommendation of Congress to institute new governments in the colonies, and that there is division of sentiment in Pennsylvania. Respecting the latter Duane writes: “The General Assembly of Pensylvania is averse to any Change. The people of this Town [Phila.] assembled last Monday in the State house yard & agreed to a set of Resolutions in favour of a Change. Another body are signing a Remonstrance against the acts of that meeting and in support of the Assembly. The Committee for the County of Philadelphia have unanimously supported the Assembly & protested against any Change. It is supposed the other Counties will follow their example & take a part in the dispute. Is it not to be feared that this point of Dissention will spread itself into the adjoining Colonies? But I intend to make no Reflections—the facts I have hinted at will be published.” Duane adds that he is awaiting the return of one of the absent delegates from New York to visit his own family: “It is more than 9 months since I have seen my children & I have spent but about ten days in that time with Mrs. Duane.”
For the proceedings against Gilbert Forbes, a gunsmith in New York, charged with conspiring against the person of the Commander-in-Chief, see “Am. Archives,” 4th Series, vol. vi., p. 1178. Livingston, Jay, and G. Morris were a secret committee appointed by the Convention to ferret out the plot.
Edward Rutledge, delegate from Charleston, S. C. In a letter of June 8th, he wrote to Jay:
“The Congress sat till 7 o’clock this evening in consequence of a motion of R. H. Lee’s rendering ourselves free & independant State. The sensible part of the House opposed the Motion—they had no objection to forming a Scheme of a Treaty which they would send to France by proper Persons & uniting this Continent by a Confedracy; they saw no Wisdom in a Declaration of Independence, nor any other Purpose to be enforced by it, but placing ourselves in the Power of those with whom we mean to treat, giving our Enemy Notice of our Intentions before we had taken any steps to execute them. . . . The event, however, was that the Question was postponed; it is to be renewed on Monday when I mean to move that it should be postponed for 3 Weeks or Months. In the mean Time the plan of Confederation & the Scheme of Treaty may go on. I don’t know whether I shall succeed in this Motion; I think not, it is at least Doubtful. However I must do what is right in my own Eyes, & Consequences must take Care of themselves. I wish you had been here—the whole Argument was sustained on one side by R. Livingston, Wilson, Dickenson & myself, & by the Power of all N. England, Virginia & Georgia at the other.” See note p. 52.
This question of military appointments occasioned anxiety among officers and others in all the States. Congress had lately nominated officers for a New York battalion, which the Convention of that State believed to be an assumption of power. Jay wrote the Convention’s reply, printed in its proceedings, in which he said: “The third reason given for depriving us in this instance of the right of nomination, is the good of the service and the danger of delay. The necessity of the case, has in all ages and nations of the world been a fruitful, though dangerous, source of power. It has often sown tares in the fair fields of liberty, and like a malignant blast, destroyed the fruits of patriotism and public spirit. The whole history of mankind bears testimony against the propriety of considering this principle as the parent of civil rights; and a people jealous of their liberties will ever reprobate it. We believe Congress went into this measure with pure intentions, and with no other wish than that of serving their country; and we entertain too high an opinion of their virtue and integrity to apologize for a plainness of speech becoming freemen, and which we know can give offence only to that counterfeit and adulterated dignity which swells the pride of those who, instead of lending, borrow consequence from their offices. And, sir, we beg leave to assure Congress, that though we shall always complain of and oppose their resolutions when they injure our rights, we shall ever be ready to risk our lives and fortunes in supporting the American cause.”
On July 9, 1776, the day the newly elected Convention of New York, mentioned on p. 59, assembled at White Plains, it received through the delegates at Congress a copy of the Declaration of Independence for approval. This was read and then referred to a Committee, of which Mr. Jay was chairman. At the afternoon session of the same day the Committee reported the above resolutions which were unanimously adopted. Referring to this action Jay’s biographer says, vol. i., p. 45: “Thus, although Mr. Jay was, by his recall from Congress, deprived of the honour of affixing his signature to the Declaration of Independence, he had the satisfaction of drafting the pledge given by his native State to support it; and this pledge, in his own handwriting, is preserved among the records of New York.”
Report made to the Secret Committee of the New York Convention about August 7, 1776. This was one of the more important of several committees on which Jay served during that critical period. It was appointed, July 16th, specially to obstruct the channel of the Hudson and annoy the enemy’s shipping, and was also authorized “to impress carriages, teams, sloops and horses, and to call out detachments of the militia.” Jay was commissioned to secure cannon at Salisbury, Connecticut, for Fort Montgomery in the Highlands.
John Morin Scott, a leading lawyer in New York before the war, a warm advocate of the American cause, and at this date Brigadier General of State troops; subsequently Secretary of State of New York. During the battle of Long Island, fought August 27, 1776, his brigade was ordered over from New York, but took no part in the action.
Upon the advance of the British into Westchester County in October, 1776, Jay’s father withrew with his family from the homestead at Rye and settled at Fishkill.
More important than the Secret Committee, referred to in note on p. 75, was the committee “for inquiring into, detecting, and defeating all conspiracies which may be formed in this State against the liberties of America.” This was appointed by the New York Convention, after much debate, on September 21, 1776, the report in its favor being offered by Mr. Duer. The Committee, consisting of one member from each county, elected by the Convention, stood as follows: William Duer, Chairman; Zephaniah Platt, Pierre Van Cortlandt, Nathaniel Sackett, John Jay, Charles De Witt, and Leonard Gansevoort. On November 9th Jay was made Chairman, vice Duer, and apparently continued as such until the dissolution of the Committee, February 27, 1777, when a new body known as the “Commissioners for detecting conspiracies,” &c., was appointed. Mr. Jay did not serve on the latter. A portion of the minutes of the first Committee, in Jay’s handwriting, is preserved in the New York Historical Society Library. See “Life of Jay,” vol. i., pp. 48, 49.
On November 29, 1775, the Continental Congress appointed a committee consisting of Messrs. Harrison, Franklin, Johnson, Dickinson, and Jay to conduct a correspondence with friends of America in Great Britain, Ireland, and other parts of the world. It was known as the Secret Committee, and the results following from its correspondence were highly important. Deane was their principal agent abroad during 1776, several of whose letters appear in Force’s “Archives” for that year. The original of the above, addressed to Jay in person, is among his papers.
The misfortunes and defeats experienced by the American troops in the campaign of 1776 produced so much despondency that the Continental Congress and some of the State bodies issued spirited and encouraging addresses to the people, which, with the victories at Trenton and Princeton, wonderfully revived faith and confidence. Among the addresses was the above from the New York Convention, Jay being the author of it. The Continental Congress so far adopted it as its own as to recommend its “serious perusal” by all the people of America, and ordered it to be translated into the German language.