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Paper Delivered to General Schuyler by Mr. Fraser


Albany, February 4, 1776.

SIR: You will receive herewith copies of letters that passed between Brigadier-General Wooster and me. To explain them, and give at the same time some idea of the treatment I have met with, I must go as far back as the taking of the vessels near the river Sorel, in the river St˙ Lawrence. I was on board, but being only a passenger, and not belonging either to the King' s troops on board, nor to the ship-of-war, I was at liberty, by Brigadier-General Prescott' s treaty of surrender, to return to my family in Montreal unmolested. Twenty-four hours, however, after my arrival, I received a letter from Brigadier-General Montgomery, wherein he required I would retire to any village on the other side of the river St˙ Lawrence; this I might have complained of; however, I had so little desire of remaining in town, that I made no other representation to Brigadier Montgomery, than to acquaint him that I had a farm five miles off, on the same side with the town, where I had a house, and all the necessary conveniences for myself and family. I was, however, in answer thereto, still requested, to cross the river, which I immediately did, leaving my family behind. I was not above eight days in my quarters, with my father-in-law, Mr˙ Dechambaud, at Longueil, when, it seems, some information was given to Brigadier Wooster, who then commanded at Montreal, that some arms and ammunition were concealed in Mr˙ Dechambaut' s house at Longueil, and that some plot was hatching against the Continental troops by the Canadian seignieurs. In consequence of this information, Mr˙ Dechambaut and I had a visit from an officer, and a great number of armed men, about eleven at night. They look us from our house, with our papers, to a tavern near hand, where we found a Colonel, when he explained to us the cause of our treatment. This gentleman seemed soon convinced of the false alarm. He would not look at our papers; but the house was searched up and down when we got home. Some other gentlemen had been informed against, with as little truth. The party went likewise to examine them that night. The Colonel and party returned next day, told me I was ordered for Chambly, however, that I was to remain where I was till further orders. In about ten days after, without any application from me, I received a letter from the Acting Town-Major in Montreal, in General Wooster' s name, that I was at liberty to return to the town, whenever I pleased, which I accordingly did, and even before I saw my family, I called on Brigadier Wooster. At parting he told me he would be glad to see me again about business. I called two days after, and Brigadier Wooster then observed his knowing that several friends of constitutional liberty in Montreal had been ill used from depositions, bonds, &c˙, and that, therefore, he now demanded these instruments. To this, I replied, that I was sorry he should ask me any thing that I thought I could not grant, that I apprehended the requisition he was now making, was of that nature; and, therefore, that I begged to be excused. Some time was then spent in argument; I at last observed, that I answered the demand in general, perhaps did we come to particulars, we would sooner agree; in short what papers did he


want? As for a bond, I only then recollected one that Mr˙ Haywood had given, but that it was of such a nature as to be now cancelled of itself, therefore, that I would send to him that sort of instrument from this reason only, that I looked on it as of no further use; but upon second thought, after I got home, I apprehended it was not worth while sending, and I then wrote to Brigadier Wooster, what follows:

"Montreal, December 14, 1775.

"Sir: The sort of recognisance that Mr˙ Haywood entered into with sureties, I have just found, and I am now more convinced than before, that it is of no further use. It is the only instance of the kind that occurred before rne. There was no information laid against him, therefore, no charge, and if I took bail for him, it was because he came to offer it himself. From the nature of it, it is now at an end, as his bail could only be bound for him while the Governour' s authority was entire, the condition being that he should not depart from hence without the Governour' s leave, and that he would behave himself true and faithful to the same cause. For the above reasons I did not scruple to say, that I would send to you the said instrument, but I do not now really think that it is worth while sending, and I hope you will excuse me in withdrawing my promise. If the bail desire it, I will satisfy them at any time that their obligation is at an end. I now recollect that some other papers may be under my care, but they are of a different nature from the aforementioned, and they have been early taken care of. In my opinion, I cannot, and will not on any account deliver them, nor any paper of any transaction prior to the capitulation of Montreal. Since then I will always be ready to account for my conduct, but not for any thing done before. This resolution I have taken from a conviction that I cannot act otherwise with any propriety, which will ever be the rule of my conduct.

"I am, sir, your most obedient and humble servant,


This letter a short time after was followed by the next, viz:

"Head-Quarters, Montreal, December 18, 1775.

"Sir: Your breach of promise and insolent letter to me yesterday justly merit a set of iron ornaments, which you and your associates have very lately been so fond of bestowing on the friends of constitutional liberty, but as I disdain to follow your inhuman and infamous example, I shall only order, and I do hereby order and direct you on the receipt hereof to repair to the fort at Chambly, under such an escort as I shall direct, and there to remain in close abode till further orders from, sir, your humble servant,


"Brigadier-General Commanding at Montreal.

"To John Fraser, Esq."

As soon as this letter was delivered sentries were placed in my house, within doors, till I was sent across the river to the fort of Chambly in close confinement, and in such a hole as not to be able to make use of my own bedstead. There I remained during five weeks, till I was ordered with other gentlemen for this place. These are, upon my honour, literally the facts antecedent, and subsequent to the letters; the letters will speak for themselves; I will make few observations. I cannot, however, help saying, that I have been treated very ill; the most savage have a tender regard and respect for women. Mrs˙ Fraser was very near lying-in; this General Wooster knew very well; therefore, placing sentries before her so abruptly, must be deemed rather cruel. The papers that Brigadier Wooster wanted are not of the smallest consequence, yet I apprehend that I could not with any propriety deliver them up, and I must be supposed to have acted from principle. Had I considered my own peace only, I might have expected to have better attained that by giving up the papers than by refusing them; but my rule of conduct is to endeavour to distinguish right from wrong, and then to act, be the consequence what it may. Exclusive of the sentries in my house under the circumstances, my being taken from my family, and sent across the river at the worst time, my close confinement in a hole for five weeks, I beg the letter from Brigadier Wooster may be attended to; I think for orthography, diction, and substance, to be a curiosity.


It was with pleasure that I found myself ordered for this place, although it further removed me from my family, as the constant report we had in Canada from the gentlemen who had been sent here, was that the greatest politeness was uniformly kept up towards them. I have, therefore, no doubt about the opinion you will entertain of my treatment, and I beg the favour, sir, you will lay the whole before the Congress. Men of education, and of understanding, I am confident, will consider such usage as it deserves, and will, I am hopeful, apply the proper remedy.

I am really sorry to engage so much of your time, I have endeavoured to be as short as possible, without omitting any material circumstance or fact, and nothing is here set forth but what is exactly true. I will now conclude, and remain, sir, your most obedient, and humble servant,


To General Schuyler.