Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO THE COMMITTEE OF SAFETY OF NEW YORK. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. IV (1776)
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TO THE COMMITTEE OF SAFETY OF NEW YORK. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. IV (1776) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1889). Vol. IV (1776).
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TO THE COMMITTEE OF SAFETY OF NEW YORK.
Head-Quarters, 17 April, 1776.
There is nothing that could add more to my happiness, than to go hand in hand with the civil authority of this, or any other government, to which it may be my lot to be ordered; and, if in the prosecution of such measures as shall appear to me to have a manifest tendency to promote the interest of the great American cause, I shall encounter the local convenience of individuals, or even of a whole colony, I beg it may be believed, that I shall do it with reluctance and pain; but, in the present important contest, the least of two evils must be preferred.
That a continuance of the intercourse, which has hitherto subsisted between the inhabitants of this colony and the enemy on board their ships of war, is injurious to the common cause, requires no extraordinary abilities to prove. A moment’s reflection not only evinces this truth, but points out the glaring absurdity of such a procedure. We are to consider ourselves either in a state of peace or of war with Great Britain. If the former, why are our ports shut up, our trade destroyed, our property seized, our towns burnt, and our worthy and valuable citizens led into captivity, and suffering the most cruel hardships? If the latter, my imagination is not fertile enough to suggest a reason in support of the intercourse.
In the weak and defenceless state, in which this city was some time ago, political prudence might justify the correspondence, that subsisted between the country and the enemy’s ships of war; but, as the largest part of the Continental troops is now here; as many strong works are erected and erecting for the defence of the city and harbor, those motives no longer exist, but are absorbed in others of a more important nature. To tell you, Gentlemen, that the advantages of an intercourse of this kind are altogether on the side of the enemy, whilst we derive not the smallest benefit from it, would be telling what must be obvious to every one. It is, indeed, so glaring, that even the enemy themselves must despise us for suffering it to be continued; for, besides their obtaining supplies of every kind, by which they are enabled to continue in your harbors, it also opens a regular channel of intelligence, by which they are, from time to time, made acquainted with the number and extent of our works, our strength, and all our movements; by which they are enabled to regulate their own plans, to our great disadvantage and injury. For the truth of this, I could produce instances; but, as it may be the subject of future discussion, I decline it at present. It would, Gentlemen, be taking up too much of your time, to use further arguments in proof of the necessity of putting an immediate and total stop to all further correspondence with the enemy. It is my incumbent duty to effect this, convinced as I am of the disadvantages resulting from it; and it cannot be thought strange or hard, that, under such conviction, I should be anxious to remove an evil, which may contribute, not a little, to the ruin of the great cause we are engaged in, and may, in its effects, prove highly detrimental to this colony in particular.
In effecting the salutary purposes above mentioned, I could wish for the concurrence and support of your honorable body. It certainly adds great weight to the measures adopted, when the civil authority coöperates with the military to carry them into execution. It would also redound much to the honor of the government, and of your Committee in particular; for the world is apt to judge from appearances;1 and, while such a correspondence exists, the reputation of the whole colony will suffer in the eyes of their American brethren.
It is therefore, Gentlemen, that I have taken the liberty to address you on this important subject, relying on your zeal and attachment to the cause of American liberty, for your assistance in putting a stop to this evil, and that you will coöperate with me in such measures as shall be effectual, either to prevent any future correspondence with the enemy, or in bringing to condign punishment such persons, as may be hardy and wicked enough to carry it on, otherwise than by a prescribed mode, if any case can possibly arise to require it. I have the honor to be, with the utmost respect, Gentlemen, &c.
[1 ]In August when a collision threatened between the provincials and the loyalists and British, Governor Tryon met the provincial Congress and urged them not to carry matters to extremities, proposing that no further attempts on the king’s stores should be made, that the guns taken from the battery should remain on the Common, and that fresh provisions should be supplied to the vessels. “I was heard with temper and attention. The city has remained quiet since, and fresh provisions are to be delivered on the governor’s Island for the Asia.” Still he admitted the “determined spirit of resistance” that pervaded the Colonies, and that “the Americans from politicians are now becoming soldiers.” Governor Tryon to the Earl of Dartmouth, 5 September, 1775. This arrangement so far as provisioning the king’s vessels appears to have continued, “some very short capricious intervals excepted,” until Washington’s arrival at New York.