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Letter from the Committee for Kinderhook District to the Committee for Albany County



Kinderhook, December 18, 1775.

GENTLEMEN: We are so much disposed for peace at this critical juncture that we cannot but pay particular attention to every proposal of which the professed design is to promote so desirable a purpose. We have, therefore, maturely considered the contents of the letter of December 7th , with which you have been pleased to favour us, and We doubt not but you will exercise the same candour, with respect to our reasons, which we shall always think our duty in considering every procedure of this Committee.

When we were to carry into execution the resolutions of the Provincial Congress for the election of Deputies to represent us in Provincial Congress, and members of the Committee, we considered that they were the only rule by which we were to conduct our proceedings, and that the propriety of them was no object of our inquiry. We therefore issued a notification, which was published on the 2d day of November, which we now submit to the inspection of the General Committee. On that day two of us opened and attended the poll, at which many respectable inhabitants gave their votes, agreeably to the list we have delivered in; others, to the number of seven, tendered their votes, which we rejected as not having the necessary qualifications mentioned by the Congress. In the course of the election, a letter was shown to us, who superintended the poll, from Mr˙ Robert Yates, directed not to us as a Committee, but to one of the inhabitants of the District, mentioning the subsequent explanatory resolution of the Congress. About four o' clock in the afternoon, having taken all the votes which were offered, and having repeatedly signified our readiness to keep the poll open till another day, if requested, (which, however, was not done,) we closed the election, and have made our returns. You are pleased to say that you "conclude that we had not seen the latter resolve of the Provincial Congress, by which persons who had a possession to the value of £80 were entitled to vote." Upon examining that resolve, we find it declares that "tenants possessed of lands or tenements of the value," &c˙; which we suppose is what you allude to. But we conceive it by no means follows that this will entitle every possessor to vote; the term tenant, in our conception, being relative to landlord, and the one necessarily implies the existence of the other. To make this material, however, in the case, it ought to be shown that any persons, even with this qualification, that is to say, "a tenant having lands, &c˙, to the value of £80," had offered themselves, and been refused; but this did not happen. But even admitting (what we positively deny) that all those were wrongfully rejected whose votes we refused, yet, as they were, as we have before observed, only seven in number, the Committee will find that the majority was so great for the returned Deputies and members, that it is impossible they could prevent the returns we have made from taking place, which we think is a conclusive argument against those who would carp at our proceedings. The rejection of even legal votes, in our apprehension, cannot vitiate a return, unless the majority depends upon the admission or exclusion of them, which, in this instance, is manifestly not the case. But, for your further satisfaction, we observe that it has been shown to us, that even of the *** voters whom we rejected, no less than * * * would have voted for the members we returned, which is a proof of our impartiality that we hope impudence itself cannot gainsay.

We are clearly of opinion that, as we have already executed the powers given us by the Congress and the Committee, we could not be justified in acquiescing in the proposal of the Committee to agree with those who have taken on themselves to hold a poll, in direct violation of the resolutions of the Congress and the General Committee of the County, upon a matter which would also impeach


our own proceedings. By this means we should not only countenance, but become accessaries to the irregularities of others; we should arbitrarily take upon ourselves to counteract the sentiments of the District, of those who conformed to the directions of the Congress, in order to humour those who wantonly opposed them; and how far this will promote union, or "defeat the intentions of those who are fond of promoting discord," we need not mention. Finally, how can we arrogate to ourselves the rejection of any of the members regularly chosen, or obtrude upon them colleagues whose only claim to a right of representing the District is, that they have dared to violate the rules and directions of that very body of which they are so desirous of being members?

If the General Committee had been apprised of the above facts, and adverted to the reasonings upon them, we think they would not have passed that censure upon the District which is implied in the beginning of their letter. The idea of a disunited place is a harsh one to the inhabitants of it; and, for our parts, we know of no "misunderstanding in the District," unless the clamours of a few discontented persons can be called so, who, it seems, have a higher opinion of their own merit than their neighbours have. We dare appeal to the publick records of the District for proof that the affairs of it have been conducted with a unanimity equal to that of any other; and we might remind this Committee of the weight which is due to the applications of the persons who now again appear before them, from what has happened heretofore. If there be any District or place in the County in such entire union as to have not even a few dissenting voices among them, we have not yet heard of that place, and we wish, for a trial of their patience, that the malcontents in our township might take their residence among them. We believe, however, there is no such place, and, if more frequent and louder clamours have come from the few among us, it is because they are more refractory, and have more perseverance, (but we hope are not more countenanced,) than any other. For our parts, fond as we are of union, we wish not to be united with any set of individuals at the expense of our duty, or with such who refuse to conform to any regulation which they do not themselves approve of. When the Committee consider this, they will not be surprised that "a new cause of discontent" has arisen among these people.

Upon the whole, we have conscientiously conformed to the resolutions of the Congress, according to our understanding of them, and we claim no discretionary power to contract or dispense with the directions of that body.

We remain, gentlemen, your humble servants,