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Edward Rutledge to John Jay



Philadelphia, November 24, 1776.

MY DEAR JAY: I expected long ere this to have been seated quietly at home; but the progress which the enemy had made, and seemed likely to make, into your country induced me to suspend my resolution which I came to several months ago, and assist with the whole of my power (little


enough, God knows) a State which appeared to be marked for destruction. The storm, however, has passed away; and though I have reason to dread its bursting upon the heads of my countrymen, I cannot but most sincerely congratulate you upon the event. I wish you may improve the time, and if you can concur with me in sentiment, it will be improved in the following manner. Let Schuyler, whose reputation has been deeply wounded by the malevolence of party spririt, immediately repair to Congress, and after establishing himself in the good opinion of his countrymen, by a fair and open inquiry into his conduct, concert with the House such a plan as he shall think will effectually secure all the upper country against the attacks of the enemy; which plan being agreed to by the House, give him full power to effect it, and send him off with all possible despatch to carry it into execution. Let steps be taken to place real obstructions in the North River, at least in that part of it which can be commanded by Fort Montgomery, and the other fort in the Highlands. If these things be done, and that soon, your country, I think, will be safe, provided you establish a good Government, with a strong Executive. A pure democracy may possibly do, when patriotism is the ruling passion; but when the State abounds with rascals, as is the case with too many at this day, you must suppress a little of that popular spirit. Vest the Executive powers of Government in an individual, that they may have vigour, and let them be as ample as is consistent with the great outlines of freedom. As several of the reasons which operated against you or Livingston' s leaving the State are now removed, I think you would be of vast service in Congress. You know that body possesses its share of human weakness; and that it is not impossible for the members of that House to have their attention engrossed by subjects which might as well be postponed for the present, while such as require despatch have been — I had almost said — neglected. This may be the case with the measures which should be taken for the defence of your State. It is therefore your interest and your duty, if you are not prevented by some superiour publick concern, to attend the House, and that soon; you have a right to demand their attention, and I trust they will give you early assistance.

Every intelligence from New-York for the last ten days convincing me that the enemy are preparing to attack the State with a large body of troops, I shall take the wings of the morning and hasten to my native home; where I shall endeavour to render my country more service in the field than I have been able to render her in the cabinet. I have therefore little time to write, and none to lengthen this letter. I could not, however, think of quitting this part of the continent without writing you what appeared to me to be of consequence; especially when I consider that it is probable, at least possible, that this may be the last time I may have it in my power to give you any evidence of my affection. I shall add no more than that you have my best wishes for your happiness, and that if I fall in the defence of my country it will alleviate my misfortune to think that it is in the support of the best of causes, and that I am esteemed by the best of men. God bless you. Adieu, my friend.

Yours sincerely,