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William Duer to New-York Congress



Fort Millar, June 5, 1775.

SIR: I esteem it a duty which I owe to the Province to inform you that my apprehensions with respect to the designs of the people in this County to stop the courts of justice, were not ill founded. A party of the people on the New-Hampshire Grants, strengthened by some persons of desperate fortunes and bad characters in the western districts, had formed a resolution of abolishing the law; and to effect their purpose, had actually marched on their way to Fort Edward. Yesterday fortnight I had intelligence of their design, and by a lucky incident put a stop to their proceedings, at least for the present.

Captain Mott, who is the bearer of this, was marching his company to join the forces at Ticonderoga. I mentioned to him the intelligence I had received, and applied to him for his assistance. This gentleman coincided with myself in opinion of the absolute necessity there was of keeping up at least the shadow of order and justice, and detained his company at Fort Edward in order to protect the Bench. The riotous party getting information of this unlocked for relief, desisted from their attempt.


As Captain Mott is on his way to your Congress, I esteem myself bound in gratitude to mention his alacrity in supporting good order within our Province, not doubting but such a line of conduct will recommend him to your attention. I have likewise to submit it again to your consideration, whether it might not be proper for the Provincial Congress to make publick their sentiments with respect to the courts of justice. However daring many of the people are in this County, I scarcely imagine they would dare to counteract the avowed opinions of the Congress. It is merely owing to chance, and Captain Mott' s conduct, that this last Court was not broke up; and should this attempt once succeed, it will not be an easy matter to restore order amongst a people of so turbulent a spirit. Our County will then be reduced to a worse dilemma than any other. We shall not only have to oppose the incursions of the enemy on the frontiers, but shall be torn to pieces with intestine anarchy and confusion. I am conscious, from the knowledge I have of your personal character, of your aversion to such proceedings, and have therefore thought it advisable to write to you on the subject. Your interposition in this matter may save the spilling of blood the next Court, for so long as I know it to be the sense of the Country that the courts of justice should be supported, and that I have the honour of sitting as one of the Judges, I shall endeavour to keep them open even at the risk of my life. I am, Sir, with respect, your obedient humble servant,


To Peter Van Brugh Livingston, Esq˙, President of the Provincial Congress at New-York.