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Examination of Witnesses on charges against Peter Dubois


The Committee met pursuant to adjournment.

Present: Mr˙ William Paulding, Chairman,

FOR NEW-YORK. — Colonel Lott, Mr˙ Randall, Mr˙ Imlay, Mr˙ Sands, Colonel McDougall, Mr˙ Beekman, Mr˙ Van Zandt.
FOR SUFFOLK. — Mr˙ Tredwell.
FOR ORANGE. — Mr˙ Cuyper.
FOR KING' S. — Colonel Covenhoven.
FOR DUTCHESS. — Mr˙ Everson, Colonel M˙ Graham.
FOR WESTCHESTER. — Mr˙ Paulding.
FOR RICHMOND. — Mr˙ Lawrence.

Peter Dubois, who has attended some days on charges exhibited against him by the Reverend Barnard Page, Ethan Sickles, and others, together with the said witnesses and others, attending, the Committee determined to proceed thereon; and Mr˙ Dubois, and all the other persons attending thereon, were called in.

Ethan Sickles was first called up near the Chair, and examined. Notes of his examination, taken and read to him in presence of Mr˙ Dubois, are as follow, viz:

Ethan Sickles, of the City of New-York, being personally examined, says: That on last Thursday morning, he went from Paulus-Hook, with Mr˙ Peter Dubois and Colonel Smith, and another gentleman, in the stage, and proceeded to Woodbridge; that while Colonel Smith was with them, Mr˙ Dubois appeared a high Whig; that by the way, they took in Colonel Zedwitz; that Mr˙ Dubois was continually asking him questions, and, when he found any opportunity, was finding fault, and, from Mr˙ Dubois' s conversation, he thought he was not a Whig. That he heard that Mr˙ Page and Mr˙ Dubois got in a warm argument at Philadelphia, and differed in sentiment; that Mr˙ Dubois said General Gage was a gentleman and a man of honour, and that Mr˙ Dubois acknowledged the dispute, and what the examinant had heard on that subject, in the presence of the examinant. That on the road homeward, Mr˙ Dubois frequently spoke


against the American Forces, and wherever they stopped, he was speaking to the people he met in that strain; that he said the New-England Forces would deceive us, and that we might depend upon it; that he (the examinant) told Mr˙ Dubois not to continue his discourse, and told him he was not a friend to his country. That it was mentioned in the stage that the officers who are prisoners at Trenton had run the Congress to one hundred and fifty Pounds expense in one week, and that it was paid; that he (the examinant) spoke disrespectfully of them for having been, in his opinion, so extravagant, for which Mr˙ Dubois, in return, treated him with all names and abusive language; that his conversation on the whole was intolerable. That he particularly found fault with the oaths that have been administered to people by the General — said it was no sin to break such an oath, and found great fault with the Congress on that subject. That he spoke of some person near him who had refused to bear arms, and had been tarred and feathered; that he called the men who had done it a damned set of rascals, and said he would have satisfaction of them at the risk of his life.

Being asked how he understood Mr˙ Dubois when he said the New-England men would deceive us, he answered, that he understood him to mean a deceit by treachery.

Theodorus De Forrest being examined, says: That Mr˙ Dubois run down the American Troops very greatly, and said they had no discipline or order among them — said the New-England Officers had no order among them; that if ever they came to an engagement, the New-England Troops would deceive the other Colonies; that he understood Mr˙ Dubois meant that they were not true to the cause; that Mr˙ Dubois embraced the company of the regular officers on every opportunity; that he spoke of an officer near where he lived who had been tarred and feathered — said some of the Committee were amongst those who tarred and feathered the man, and that they were a parcel of rascals.

Mr˙ Dubois went on his defence: He asked Mr˙ Sickles whether he was present when he commended or spoke highly of General Gage; was answered, that he mentioned it as what he had heard. Mr˙ Dubois says he only meant that the New-England Troops never had equal order or discipline of the Pennsylvania Troops and others, and that people would be deceived in their military character, if they came to action; that as to the matter of affecting the company of the officers who are prisoners, he says that they are his old friends and acquaintances, and that he was but a few minutes with them. That the conversation about oaths was general; that he had spoken against oaths administered by compulsion, and had said many people did not conceive themselves bound by such an oath. That as to the persons tarred, he referred to one Goldsmith, who had been Captain of a company; that on Mr˙ Jackson, being elected Captain according to the regulation of the Congress, Goldsmith refused to bear arms in the company, and refused that his son should bear arms, for which he had been tarred and feathered, and that he had execrated such conduct. Mr˙ Dubois says that Captain Jackson and some of the Committee were at the head of those young men who tarred the said Goldsmith. That when Mr˙ Page charged him with being a Tory, he had declared he was -not; that he was bred in Revolution principles, and disapproved of the acts of Parliament for laying taxes on America; that what he said of General Gage was in answer to illiberal expressions of Mr˙ Page against General Gage as a rascal and a coward; that what he said of the New-England Troops was speaking of them in a comparative view with the Pennsylvania Troops; says he has signed, and promoted the signing of the General Association of the Colony.

Bernard Page being examined, says: That on last Saturday, or Sunday following, Mr˙ Dubois came into the room where he (the examinant) was; they fell into conversation on publick matters; in substance Mr˙ D˙ gave General Gage the highest character of reputation, honour, integrity, and the like; that he (the examinant) replied, that be did not look on his character in that light, but that he had sacrificed his most honourable engagements and pledges, particularly in the affair of the inhabitants of Boston, touching his promise to permit them to leave the town on delivering up their arms; that Mr˙ Dubois got into a passion, and declared that General Gage never was impeached with a dishonourable act, and that he was a man of the strictest integrity


and impartiality, or other words to that effect; that he (the examinant) answered, that his character was not honoured; that he was rather looked upon as a coward; that Howe and Burgoyne, and the other officers, were esteemed as gentlemen who would fight, but that he did not think General Gage could support his character in that favourable light; that Mr˙ Dubois told him he was a minister, but that no other man would dare to say so; that Mr˙ Dubois with warmth declared, "that the majesty of the people of Great Britain would never be so insulted or imposed on by the people here," (meaning the people of America, as the examinant understood;) and then left the room. That during their stay at a tavern, Mr˙ Dubois appeared to him to endeavour to know of every strange, gentleman who came there, on which side of the question they were, but did not enter into any further conversation there with the examinant. That on Monday, at Bristol, Mr˙ Dubois, as soon as, they stopped, seized an opportunity to speak privately with the prisoners there; that he saw Mr˙ Dubois conversing with them; that at dinner-time, at Mrs˙ Still' s, at Trenton, Mr˙ Dubois came into the room, and declared he had been to see some gentlemen who were prisoners there — had been in their room, and been invited to dine with them, but chose to dine with the company who came in the stage with him. In proceeding onward on the way, Mr˙ Dubois spoke some-thing, in the examinant' s opinion, disrespectful of the New-England Troops, viz: in substance, that they fought behind walls, and in secret places, and were afraid to show themselves openly, or words to that effect; that he (the examinant) replied in the negative, and endeavoured to support their character in the instance at Bunker' s Hill, in which Mr˙ D˙ had thus charged them with this cowardice; that he particularly mentioned having seen Bunker' s Hill at different times, and not observed any stone-fence or wall there; that he observed the American Troops there, by every account, had fought manfully, and that the action itself demonstrated that the troops did not deserve any such charge as Mr˙ Dubois had made against them; that Mr˙ Dubois replied, in a contemptuous manner, "that the New-England Troops would certainly deceive the rest," meaning, as he (this examinant) apprehended, the other Colonies; that Mr˙ Dubois repeated to the same effect several times, and once, in particular, said, "they would deceive the people;" that he (the examinant) alleged that the New-England. Troops were well disciplined, courageous, possessed of conduct, and that, in general, there were not better troops on the Continent; that Mr˙ Dubois said he knew what troops were — looked on the New-England Troops in a different light; he spoke well of the Pennsylvania Troops, but said the New-England Troops would deceive the people; that Mr˙ Dubois got into a violent passion, and endeavoured to browbeat him, and that he (this examinant) endeavoured to support the character of the New-England Troops, and alleged they only took up the sword to support their liberties. That he (the examinant) told Mr˙ Dubois that he looked on him as very unfavourable to the cause, and to be a Tory, and suspected that he was a spy, and had been abroad to procure Ministerial letters, and had such with or about him, or words to that effect; that he grounded this charge on the whole of Mr˙ Dubois' s conduct. That speaking of a person who was tarred and feathered, Mr˙ Dubois said if he had been so treated, he would have had vengeance, and would have taken it privately if he could not obtain it publickly; that speaking of oaths that were and had been tendered by Congresses and Committees, he alleged such oaths were of no force, and that he should entirely disregard them, or other words to that effect, but said he would abide by an oath which he mentioned as contained in some statute. That any personal difference which he has had with Mr˙ Dubois does not influence his testimony as to publick matters.

Mr˙ Page cross-examined by Mr˙ Dubois one or two questions.

Mr˙ Dubois renewed his defence: Declares he does not recollect to have used such expression "as to the majesty of the people of Great Britain," as Mr˙ Page has mentioned.

Mr˙ Dubois and the witnesses withdrew.

Ordered, That he be called in, and reprimanded; and that Colonel McDougall deliver the reprimand, and direction to be more careful for the future.


Mr˙ Dubois being called in at the bar, Colonel McDougall informed him that it is the opinion of the Committee that he has discovered a temper inimical to his country; that such conduct is inconsistent with the philosopher, the soldier, or the poor man; and, after summing up the matter given in proof, and their tendency, and a charge to impress a more careful conduct, he was discharged.