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Colonel Guy Johnson to the Committee of Tryon County, New-York



Thompson' s, Cosby' s Manor, June 5, 1775.

GENTLEMEN: I have received the paper signed Chris˙ P˙ Yates, Chairman, on behalf of the Districts therein mentioned, which I am now to answer, and shall do it briefly, in the order you have stated matters. As to the letter from some Indians to the Oneidas, I really knew nothing of it till I heard such a thing had been by some means obtained from an Indian messenger; and from what I have heard of its contents, I can' t see any thing material in it, or that could justify such idle apprehensions; but I must observe that these fears among the people were talked of long before, and were, I fear, propagated by some malicious persons for a bad purpose.

As to your political sentiments, on which you enter in the next paragraph, I have no occasion to enter on them or the merits of the cause. I desire to enjoy liberty of conscience and the exercise of my own judgment, and that all others should have the same privilege; but, with regard to your saying you might have postponed the affair, if there had been the least kind of probability that the petition of the General Assembly would have been noticed more than that of the Delegates, I must, as a true friend to the Country, in which I have a large interest, say, that the present dispute is viewed in different lights, according to the education and principles of the parties affected; and that, however reasonable it may appear to a considerable number of honest men here, that the petition of the Delegates should merit attention, it is not viewed in the same light in a country which admits of no authority that is not constitutionally established; and I persuade myself you have that reverence for His Majesty, that you will pay due regard to the Royal assurance given in his speech to Parliament, that whenever the American grievances should be laid before him by their constitutional Assemblies, they should be fully attended to. I have heard that compulsory steps were taken to induce some persons to come into your measures, and treasonable toasts drank; but I am not willing to give too easy credit to flying reports, and am happy to hear you disavow them.

I am glad to find my calling a Congress on the frontiers gives satisfaction; this was principally my design, though I cannot sufficiently express my surprise at those who have, either through malice or ignorance, misconstrued my intentions, and supposed me capable of setting the Indians on the peaceable inhabitants of this Country. The interest our family has in this Country and my own, is considerable, and they have been its best benefactors; any


malicious charges, therefore, to their prejudice, are highly injurious, and ought to be totally suppressed.

The office I hold is greatly for the benefit and protection of this Country, and on my frequent meetings with the Indians depends their peace and security; I therefore cannot but be astonished to find the endeavours made use of to obstruct me in my duties, and the weakness of some people in withholding many things from me, which are indisputably necessary for rendering the Indians contented; and I am willing to hope that you, gentlemen, will duly consider this and discountenance the same.

You have been much misinformed as to the origin of the reports which obliged me to fortify my house and stand on my defence. I had it, gentlemen, from undoubted authority from Albany, and since confirmed by letters from one of the Committee at Philadelphia, that a large body of men were to make me prisoner. As the effect this must have on the Indians might have been of dangerous consequences to you, (a circumstance not thought of,) I was obliged, at great expense, to take these measures. But the many reports of my stopping travellers were false in every particular, and the only instance of detaining any body was in the case of two New-England men, which I explained fully to those of your body who brought your letter, and wherein I acted strictly agreeable to law, and as a magistrate should have done.

I am very sorry that such idle and injurious reports meet with any encouragement. I rely on you, gentlemen, to exert yourselves in discountenancing them; and I am happy in this opportunity of assuring the people of a Country I regard, that they have nothing to apprehend from my endeavours, but that I shall always be glad to promote their true interests.

I am, gentlemen, your humble servant,