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Letter from Colonel Hammond



GENTLEMEN: The enclosed copy of a letter which I wrote to the General Committee of this County, [dated Hanover Precinct, June 27, 1776,] I beg leave to refer you to, as it contains a true relation (to that time) of a most arbitrary, cruel treatment to me; and as, instead of meeting redress where I applied for it, I was most unexpectedly sent here, where I am now confined in the common jail with a criminal, &c˙, I shall now relate the truth of what passed in the County Committee when I appeared before them pursuant to their order, a copy of which I also enclose. No evidence or proof in any shape appeared to contradict what I had set forth in my letter to the Committee, nor did any new matter appear against me, only that the officers who had searched my house declared they could find no arms at all, which gave suspicion that I must have secreted them. When they searched my house, and asked me for arms, I told them that there were but two guns in the house, the one a left-handed one for my own use, which was broke in the stock, and at these times did not think worth while to have it mended: the other, a fowling-piece, belonging to Dr˙ Antill, which my youngest son appeared with at the training; that all the spare arms that had been in the house I had caused to be disposed of to the soldiery. I did not show them these guns, as I made no doubt they had seen them standing in the common room; likewise, my son' s pistols and sword hung up in my best bedroom, where some of these officers lodged the remainder of the night; and if they did not see them, I could not help it. It is true, my own pistols I forgot to tell them of, as they lay on a shelf of a closet in my bedroom, where they had been out of sight for a year or two, and one of them has the cock broke. I have been the more particular about this trifling circumstance, as it seemed to be the only matter before the Committee that they hinged upon. They


had indeed a letter, dated last January, said to be written by one Hamilton to his brother, in which my name was mentioned; but this letter was found to be the same that had been handed to several committees last winter, and which by them had been judged to be forged by some malicious person, on purpose to make mischief.

The Committee then asked me if I would sign the Association agreed upon in Provincial Congress, the 20th of June. I told them that I was willing to take the oath prescribed by the resolve of that day, relating to the secreting of arms; but an to signing the Association, I desired some days to consider of it. But that not being granted, I said, rather than go to jail, which I found wus like to be the case, I would sign it. But then they were for adding another clause to it, of their own forming, upon which I positively refused to sign it; whereupon I was committed to this jail, as I have already said, and here to remain till discharged by them, or the Provincial Congress. Now, as the County Committee have adjourned not to meet till summoned, and as they are so dispersed that they cannot be soon called, if they inclined to take the matter of my discharge under consideration, but more especially as I have little reason to expect any favour or indulgence from men who have acted thus arbitrary, obliges me to appeal to your honourable House, where I doubt not I shall meet with that speedy relief my situation and the justice of my case merits at your hands; and am, gentlemen, your most humble servant,

To the Honourable the Provincial Congress of the Province of New York.