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To Mr. John Holt



New-York, June 2, 1775.

SIR: We have seen with that satisfaction which we believe every British Constitutionist must feel at beholding your name on the Address which you printed against unlawful Standing Armies. You have done right; for the abetters of despotism cannot legally prosecute, though they may censure and dislike you for your honest boldness in conveying, through the channel of your press, the instruction which was much wanted concerning deserters.

That in the Colonies no soldier can be lawfully detained against his will, or punished in any case by military officers, under colour of any act of the British Parliament only; that now all soldiers are under the sole protection of the civil power of such of the British Colonies where they may be respectively stationed; and that whether the soldiers choose to remain in or desert from the King' s service, it is highly criminal and absurd in us not to protect them in their civil rights against the oppression of their tyrannical masters, or the usurpations of unlawful courts-martial. All these, Sir, are self-evident truths. And yet our citizens were alarmed on Saturday last, by a party of soldiers who sallied out of our barracks, seized a deserter in the street, and forcibly dragged him to their hold, where, it is said, the officer who received him swore the deserter should be "shot or whipped to death." A quiet application (too quiet, doubtless) was made to one of the officers; for, the deserter is still detained, and may be very soon transported elsewhere. Not long ago a deputation of four men from a Connecticut detachment, which did not stay here, was very differently received at the same barracks by an officer of the same corps. A deserter was peremptorily demanded there, and the officer immediately delivered him to the deputation. Shall we behave with less spirit than our neighbours? Must we be reduced to call on them for assistance?

The audacious attack on the person of the deserter, violently taken by the soldiery on Saturday last, was certainly intended to keep as long as possible in their state of delusion, the soldiery, who begin to doubt the local force of the abominable edict, under pretence of which many of their comrades have been most iniquitously "shot or whipped to death!" And shall destruction be the lot of men who would avoid shedding the blood of their brethren, our own blood, and fly to us for protection against that unnatural command? God forbid!

As military men cannot now exercise over the soldiers stationed in this Colony any lawful authority independent of our own established courts of judicature, we think it very necessary to inform you, that many of our fellow citizens, ancient sons of liberty, as well as ourselves, expect that some orthodox casuist amongst your readers will speedily determine, and without evasion, whether or not to apprehend deserters in defiance of our laws, be out of the line of that peaceable behaviour which the Continental Congress lately fixed as the criterion of our future operations respecting the Regulars who are permitted to remain in our barracks; and if yea, what must be done for the safety of those who have been apprehended, and for our own?