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be laid by such a delivery, was, as I took it, or else, as I mistook it, enjoined on me, in the most solemn manner, by oaths which the law required to be repeated, sworn to, and subscribed. However, I could not have exercised such duty without, at the same time, using all the means for averting every calamity that could thereby be produced; and even then, the exercise of it would (as I hinted in the letter) give me much painfar more, I find, than my persecutors labour under, though they were not compelled thereto by any duty.
For my own part, I do not recollect any order of Congress forbidding peoples speaking or writing on any side or subject, nor any penalties being ordered to be inflicted therefore. It is true such may have been made without my knowing it, or they may have slipped my memory. Should that be the case, I would trouble you to inform me of the particulars of them.
Had I ever undertaken on the side of the Congress, and had betrayed my trust, I should have considered my present fate as merited. Or, on the other hand, if I had been employed in what is by some called Tory Plots, my present fate might have been considered as a means of preventing their being effected. But neither of these is even pretended to be the case. The letter for which I am persecuted, was written to a gentlemen whom I knew to be of opposite sentiments to myself. Yet the openness and integrity of my own heart forbade me to suspect evil from the hands of one who had, only a few months before, expressed a regard for my person.
Had there been an order of the Congress for my being taken and brought off by the military, or had there been a previous declaration for a general use of the law martial, I should then have been somewhat, though far less, surprised at my present situation than I now am; but, as neither of these was the case, I must frankly acknowledge my entire inability to reconcile it with the principles of liberty, however easy the solution of such a problem may be to those who have acquired a profundity in politicks.
I am pretty much of opinion that my imprisonment must be owing to some whose zeal carries them beyond the line, and prompts them to an enmity with the persons of men. Soft and generous treatment has often converted the erroneous; but the history of mankind will furnish few, if any, instances of, good effects being wrought by persecution; and if I may judge of myself by the general nature of mankind in all ages, a continued persecution may be but too likely to excite a spirit of revenge in that breast in which it hath not hitherto found any harbour.
It is quite probable, as you observe in your letter, that ill-treatment and abuse, unmerited in my office, might have tended to confirm me in my mode of thinking. I look on my present fate to be a continuation of the same ill-treatment, and instigated by some of the same persons; and I am far from being the only one who suspects that some of them have yet more hidden designs in view. Should you discover anything of that kind, I make no doubt but you, and every other good man, would endeavour effectually to baffle it. But how it could be effected at this distance is not easy to see; and before it could be known at New-York, it might be past remedy; which is one reason for my wanting to be at New-York with as much expedition as may be.
You may, perhaps, imagine these apprehensions to be entirely groundless; but give me leave to assure you that I can fully convince you, (and will do it on oath, if you still doubt it,) from circumstances which are known by few, if any, in New-York, even of those who think with me on the matter, that there is sufficient reason for such apprehensions. However, whether I return to New-York or not, may the Almightys will be done! I flatter myself that that nobleness of heart which characterizes the freeborn Briton, that spirit in which malice or revenge hath never reigned, added to a conscience serene and clear, will enable me to pass through the various mazes and labyrinths of persecution, torture, or death, with all the patience and resignation of a martyr. And should the apprehensions which I have mentioned grow into realities, I shall say, with Balaam, Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his.
Permit me to request that you would remember my best compliments to all my acquaintance, and to those of your members (whether known or unknown) who voted for an inquiry into my affair.
And give me leave to subscribe myself, with the best wishes of happiness to yourself, and all mankind, (my persecutors not excepted,) sir, your most obedient servant,
To Mr. McKesson.
P. S. I should be glad to hear from you shortly, as I shall otherwise sue out a habeas corpus from the Supreme Court of this Colony, to know by what legal authority I am detained here.
COLONEL LENT TO NEW-YORK CONGRESS.
Orangetown, March 12, 1776.
SIRS: Agreeable to your order, I have desired the officers under my command to hold their respective companies in readiness, at a moments warning, and now enclose to you a return of the regiment under my command. The fourth man are in readiness, and are returned to the Major of Minute-men out of my regiment.
I am, with respect, sirs, your most obedient servant,
To the Honourable Provincial Congress of the Colony of New-York, or the Committee of Safety at New-York.
N. B. The reason of your finding only two companies of Militia in the return, is owing to one company turned out for Minute-men.
GENERAL SCHUTLER TO PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
[Read March 25, 1776.]
Albany, March 12, 1776.
SIR: Yesterday, the Sub-Committee of this City and County delivered me two papers, of which the enclosed (Nos. 1 and 2) are copies. No. 3 is a copy of my letter to Sir John Johnson on the occasion. Should I find, on further inquiry, that the charges against him are supported, I propose despatching a messenger to the Six Nations, to advise them of his conduct, and of my intentions not to suffer him to remain in Tryon County. I could wish to have the opinion of Congress before I take this step with Sir John, and will defer it until then, if it can be done with safety to our cause.
We shall be able to procure a sufficiency of Indian goods in Canada, if the traders are not permitted to go from thence. The more I reflect on the consequences of permitting them to go, the more I am convinced they ought not. The Indians that will suffer most by the restraint, will be the more remote ones; and we may inform them that they owe their misfortune (as they really do) to our enemies; and they may probably second our operations, by attacking Detroit, or at least by coming down to that place in such numbers as to destroy great part of the provisions for the subsistence of the garrison, and that of Niagara.
By a letter from Lieutenant-Colonel Wade, of the 29th ultimo, which I received on the 11th instant, I find that part of the New-Hampshire Regiment was marched on the 24th ultimo. Immediately on the receipt of Colonel Wades letter, I despatched an express to Ticonderoga, with directions for forwarding provisions to Onion-River, where I am apprehensive the men will arrive, and suffer, before the provisions. I am sorry that I had not more early intelligence of their marching.
The fat cattle in the western parts of Massachusetts and Connecticut are all engaged for the Army at Cambridge; so that my intentions to supply the Army in Canada by the way of Onion-River, cannot be carried into execution.
The ice has not yet left Hudson-River at this place, but is now only passable with great danger. Carriages are so very difficult to be got (on account of the scarcity of forage and extreme deepness of the roads) to forward on the troops, that I fear the whole will not be able to cross the lakes on the ice.
I dare not yet purchase any working cattle to send to Ticonderoga, as the little hay I have been able to procure will not suffice to feed them until they can get grass. I