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Report of a Committee to the Governour and Council of Connecticut



To the Honourable the Governour and the Council of the Colony of CONNECTICUT, convened at HARTFORD.

May it please your Honours:

Pursuant to your Honours' orders and directions given us, two of the Committee, taking with them a constable, went immediately to Governour Skene' s lodgings, found the door of his room locked, and said Skene not at home; and leaving one of said Committee to guard the room, the others proceeded after Governour Skene; found him returning home from this side of the river, and brought him before the Committee. He was asked if he had carried on any correspondence with those who were enemies to America. He answered, that the engagements he had laid himself under by his parole, he had sacredly kept; that he had no papers but what concerned his private affairs, which had passed the inspection of the Congress; that he had the keys in his pocket, and was willing to show us his papers; that if he had any obnoxious papers, we might depend on it we should not find them; and if we accused him, he was an Englishman, and we must prove it.

He was asked if he knew beforehand anything of his negro being about to be chosen Governour by the negroes, and whether he had directly or indirectly any hand in bringing it to pass. He answered, that he did not know anything of it except some words that passed between William Williamson and his negro a day or two before, which he took to be jocose; and that he had no hand in bringing it to pass, directly nor indirectly. He was asked if he did not give his negro money to make a treat, &c˙, for the negroes. He answered, that he gave his negro a half-joe to keep election with; and that he was not at Mr˙ Knox' s on Friday evening, after the election, when they had their treat, and that he knew nothing about it; that on Friday, he heard that the negroes had chosen his negro their Governour; he feared it would excite jealousies, and avoided speaking to him for fear of suspicion; and declared upon his honour that he had no papers about him.

Then the negro was examined, who told us that one Harper, a negro fellow, first mentioned to him about his being Governour; that he did say, that if the negroes would choose him Governour, he would give a treat of twenty dollars; and that it had cost him five-and-twenty dollars. He declared that none of the regular officers or soldiers ever said anything to him about it; that there was no plot nor scheme; that what he said and did was of his own head merely, as a piece of diversion, and that he meant no harm to the country; that he had never seen an election; understood they chose a Governour every year, so he thought he would set up for it. He was asked where he got the twenty-five dollars. He said he had them of his own earnings, got by going in a vessel upon the lakes, where he had certain perquisites which brought him in a great many dollars, which he was allowed to keep. He said he had a paper


which Governour Cuff gave him, appointing him Governour, which was at home in his coat pocket, and was willing to show it.

One of the Committee kept Governour Skene' s room all night. Next morning, Colonel Wadsworth and Captain Wadsworth went over with him, unlocked his door, and found his trunk of papers gone; of which said Skene seemed to be ignorant. Upon which they searched the other rooms, and the garret, and did not find it. Presently Williams searched a hole in the garret, behind the chimney, and there found the trunk; brought and gave it to Governour Skene, who made strange of it, and said he supposed that his negro, upon the alarm they had the other day, thinking that his papers were about to be searched, had hid the trunk. The Committee searched the papers, which Governour Skene very frankly offered, and no letters were found, except one found among his clothes from Hugh Wallace, of New-York, dated August 2, 1775 ; also found one lying on the table, from said Wallace, dated December 21, 1775 , superscribed To Mr˙ Joseph Webb, Weathersfield, which we herewith lay before your Honours, with the paper appointing his negro Governour, which was written by Nearn, a Regular sergeant, that keeps at William Lord' s.

We examined Skene' s negro further: how many trunks his master had that he kept papers in. He said one. Asked him of what colour it was, and which he described rightly. We asked him how he came to hide it. He constantly denied he ever did. We asked him how his master came by the paper Cuff gave him. He declared he left it in his pocket, and knew not how he came by it.

We examined Nearn, the sergeant, who declared that he wrote it at Cuff' s desire; had no design, but thought of it as a piece of fun. We examined Cuff, who gave the same account with Nearn. We, asked Cuff who advised him to resign his Governourship to Skene' s negro. He said a good many people — some of our own and some of the Regulars; but remembered none in particular by name.

We had sundry of our own negroes under examination.

It appeared that there was no election of Skene' s negro but by Cuff' s appointment aforesaid; and that they spoke against it, and declared they would not have a Tory for a Governour. It appears that the negroes had an entertainment and a dance at Mr˙ Knox' s, on Friday night, after the election, and that the reckoning was about fifty shillings, which our negroes were not allowed to pay any part. Major French told us that the day before the election, he dined with Governour Skene, when it was mentioned that Jack was to be chosen Governour. Governour Skene told him he would give him a half-joe, and Major French he would give him two dollars; and Mr˙ Dermott told us that he gave him two dollars to make a treat with; and that when the reckoning was called for, they, (viz: Major French and Mr˙ Dermott) interposed, and would not suffer our negroes to pay anything; told Jack to pay it, and accordingly the reckoning was paid, and our negroes excused from paying anything.

All which is humbly submitted to your Honours, by your Honours' most obedient, humble servants, the Committee.

JESSE ROOT, Chairman.

May 22, A˙ D˙ 1776.

New-York, August 2, 1775.