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Report on the Petition of Alexander Stewart


The Committee appointed to consider the case of Alexander Stewart, and his Petition or Memorial, delivered in their Report; which was read, and is in the words following, to wit:

"Your Committee appointed to examine into the case of Mr˙ Alexander Stewart, report:

"That, according to the best information they have been able to obtain, the said Alexander Stewart arrived at New-York in the latter end of December, 1774, with an intent to take the command of a vessel, in the employ of Mercer & Ramsey.

"That on account of the dispute between the United States of America and Great Britain, the owners of the vessel which he was intended to command, did not think proper to send the ship to sea.

"That on this account he retired into the County of Westchester, where he has since lived a private life at the house of his relative Mr˙ Charles Duncan, formerly a Lieutenant in the service of the King of Great Britain. That Mr˙ Charles Duncan has not signed the General Association, but that in other respects his conduct has been inoffensive.

"That Mr˙ Alexander Stewart refused to sign the General Association, assigning for reason that, as he had no interest to induce him to stay in the country, and, as he only waited for a passage to return toScotland, his native country, such a measure might prove fatal to him.

"That the said Alexander Stewart was draughted, on the 24th day of this present month as a private soldier to reinforce the Continental Army. That the Convention of the State of New-York, on the 16th instant, unanimously came to a resolution, in which it was enacted, that all persons abiding within the State of New-York, and all persons deriving protection from the laws of the same, owe allegiance to the said laws, and are members of the said State; and that all persons passing through, visiting, and making a temporary stay in the said State, being entitled to the protection of the said laws, during the time of such passage, visitation, or temporary stay, owe, during the same time, allegiance thereto.

"That under this description, the said Alexander Stewart


is a member of this State; but how far it will apply to the making him subject to our military laws, the Committee leave it to the wisdom of your House to determine.

"That the said Alexander Stewart acknowledges himself a subject of the King of Great Britain, and claims the protection of the law of nations, by which the subject of one nation is not compelled, by the State in which he makes a temporary stay, to bear arms against the Sovereign to whom he owes allegiance.

"Your Committee have thought proper to confine themselves to a mere state of facts, thinking the case of Mr˙ Stewart so peculiarly nice, as to merit the mature consideration of the whole House.


On reading and considering the said Report, the Convention came to a determination thereon, in the words following, to wit:

Whereas a certain Alexander Stewart, of Dundee, in North Britain, Mariner, having been draughted as one of the Militia of the County of Westchester, hath claimed an exemption from serving in the said draughts as a subject of the King of Great Britain, which he declareth himself to be:

Resolved, That the said Alexander Stewart is entitled to such exemption.

Resolved, That Alexander Stewart having declared himself to be a subject of the King of Great Britain, with whom this State is now at open war, therefore the said Alexander Stewart is to be treated according to the law of nations, of which he hath claimed the benefit.

Resolved, That the said Alexander Stewart ought to be taken prisoner, and kept in custody until such further order as this Convention may, upon examining more fully into the peculiar circumstances of his case, establish.

Thereupon, Ordered, That Alexander Stewart, late of Dundee, in North Britain, Mariner, at present of Rye, in Westchester County, in the State of New-York, who hath declared himself a subject of the King of Great Britain, with whom this State is now at open war, be immediately taken into custody, a prisoner, by Albert Ogden, the keeper of the Jail in Westchester County, who is hereby commanded to keep him safe in custody until the further order of this Convention.