Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO GOVERNOR LIVINGSTON. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. VII (1778-1779)
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TO GOVERNOR LIVINGSTON. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. VII (1778-1779) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890). Vol. VII (1778-1779).
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TO GOVERNOR LIVINGSTON.
I was a few days ago honored with yours of the 18th ulto., inclosing the depositions of several inhabitants and civil officers, respecting ill treatment recd. from sundry officers of the army, and a refusal in some of them to submit to the civil process. Major Call and Mr. Heath, two of the officers, are at Winchester in Virginia, in Winter-Quarters, a very considerable distance from hence; but, if you are of opinion, that there is an immediate necessity for their appearance to answer the charges against them, I will order them down. Capt. Van Heer and Mr. Skinner are in Camp. From the conclusion of your letter, you seem willing to suffer the matter to be compromised by the parties, to prevent further trouble. I rather wish that the several charges may be fully investigated, and that the officers may, if they are found guilty, be dealt with according to law, civil or military, in whichever Court they may be tried, or, if innocent, honorably acquitted. I therefore propose, that the parties accusing Van Heer and Skinner should institute civil suits against them, to which I will engage they shall submit; or, if they will leave it to a military determination, I will order a Court-Martial, which will be the speediest method of bringing it to an issue.
I am every now and then embarrassed by disputes between the officers and Inhabitants, which generally originate from the latter coming into camp with liquor, selling it to the Soldiers, and, as the officers allege, taking clothing, provisions, or accoutrements in pay. There being no civil redress, that I know of, for a grievance of this nature, the officers undertake to punish those suspected of such practices, sometimes with reason, and probably sometimes without foundation. If there is no law of the State to prevent this kind of commerce between the people and the Soldiery, it would have a very good effect to procure one, prohibiting an inhabitant from selling liquor to the Soldiers, within the limits of the Camp, without leave obtained from the commanding officer of the quarter into which it may be brought, and imposing a penalty, recoverable by a summary process before a magistrate, upon any person receiving Arms, Accoutrements, Clothing, or provisions from a soldier by way of purchase, or in exchange for any commodity brought into camp for sale.
An act of this kind would relieve the considerate officer from the disagreeable necessity, in which he is often involved, of submitting to a grievance destructive of every military principle, or undertaking to punish a citizen by virtue of his own authority; and it will point out a mode of redress to others, too willing perhaps to exercise military power, when they have an opportunity or excuse for so doing. I congratulate you on your late escape at Elizabethtown, and I am very sincerely, dear Sir, your most obedient servant.1 I return you the affidavits agreeable to your request.
[1 ]A party of British troops landed near Elizabethtown, on the 28th of February, and succeeded in reaching the house of Governor Livingston. Fortunately he had left home several hours before, and was at the house of a friend a few miles distant, although his family were at home. The British officer seized some of the Governor’s papers and carried them off, but no acts of violence were committed. A few of the houses were burned in the village. See the particulars in Sedgwick’s Life of William Livingston, p. 322.