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Letter to the Continental Congress


In Provincial Congress, New-York, November 2, 1775.

SIR: Your letters of the 20th and 26th of October did not come to hand till Saturday last. For want of a sufficient number of members to make a Congress, we have been obliged to postpone an answer till this time. As to Governour Tryon' s letter of the 13th , mentioning that the Continental Congress had recommended it to us to seize the officers of this Government, and particularly himself, we are to inform you that no application relative to that affair was made to this Congress, nor have we taken any part therein. The whole was conducted between the Governour and the Mayor and Corporation of this City. The Committee for the City was applied to by the Mayor, and, from the best inquiry we are able to make, the whole of the correspondence on this subject is contained in the enclosed printed sheets. [See 1052, 3, 4.]

We are sensible of the dangerous practices made use of to procure recruits for the Army at Boston, and you may rest assured that our best endeavours shall not be wanting to frustrate these designs. Proper orders have been given for securing Grant, of Dutchess County.

It is with real concern that we find the Congress have recommended it to us to seize the shirts, blankets, and sheets, in the King' s stores in this City, and flatter ourselves they must have been imposed upon relative to this matter, or such a recommendation would never have issued. We think it our indispensable duty, as well for our own justification as for the information of the Congress, to state the matter in its true light.

There were in our lower barracks a number of hospital stores, consisting of shirts, blankets, and sheets. Some persons, without the knowledge or approbation of this Congress, in the night time, removed them to the house of our Commissary, who the next morning informed us of this transaction. Upon inquiry from him, we found the whole number of blankets did not exceed one hundred and fifty; some of them had been used in the Hospital, and the rest were destroyed by the moth. As to the shirts, we have not been able to ascertain the number, though the object is of very inconsiderable value. From this state of facts, the Congress thought proper to order these things to be returned, and, among other, for the following reasons:

1st. Because the stores had been taken away without the order or knowledge of the Congress, who ought to have been made acquainted with the transaction; which, in its consequences, might endanger the lives and properties of the inhabitants of this City.

2d. For that the stores were, at that time, entirely in our power, and more safe than in the custody of our Commissary, as our military watch was kept in the same house where the stores were lodged.

3d. Because, if we had sent the blankets up to the


Army, we might, in all probability, have poisoned the Northern Army, by sending the small-pox among them.

And 4th. Because we are not in a situation, without exposing the lives and properties of the inhabitants of this City to inevitable destruction, should we attempt to execute orders that will bring on a cannonading from the ships of war. Our zeal for the publick cause has induced us to part with all the powder we have procured for the defence of this Colony, and we are sorry to find that there is but little prospect of having it replaced.

We hope these reasons will be satisfactory to the Congress; and are your most obedient servants. By order: To the Hon˙ John Hancock, Esq˙, President, &c.