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Letter from Egbert Benson to the Delegates from Dutchess County in New-York Committee of Safety, requesting provision may be made for the Prisoners arrested by the Committee



Rhinebeck Precinct, April 13, 1776.

SIR: The Committee in this Precinct have lately committed Mordecai Lester, Esq˙, and a certain Frederick Klein, to the Jail in Kingston, as the peace and security of the Precinct


rendered the confinement of these persons absolutely necessary.

The Committee of that place, at the time of the commitment of Mr˙ Doughty, a few months since, declared their readiness to receive our prisoners, but expected we would make provision for their support. In consequence of this, we requested that not only with respect to Mr˙ Doughty, but any other prisoners we might send them, they would provide for them at the cheapest rate; and the members of this Committee, as individuals, engaged for the payment of it.

As we have no publick moneys, nor any authority to raise them, we shall, without the interposition of Congress, be obliged to defray this expense out of our own pockets. I am therefore directed by the Committee to write to you respecting this matter, with a request to use your endeavours that means may be devised for making the maintenance of these prisoners a publick charge, and that we may no longer remain liable in our private capacities.

Several persons are now in Jail at Kingston, and provided for by order of Congress. We therefore take the liberty of suggesting, as an expedient, that the Committee there may be directed to extend the order to our prisoners. Lester and Doughty possibly can, but Klein certainly cannot support himself. The Committee may therefore also be directed not to furnish the two former with necessaries, if it should appear that they have estates sufficient for their own subsistence.

When Mr˙ Doughty was taken into custody, we wrote a similar letter, respecting him, to Congress, and have never received an answer. I must therefore entreat an answer to this, because unless Congress should determine to make provision for supporting our prisoners, we shall be reduced to the necessity of discharging them.

We conceive it will not be expected we should stipulate to defray the expense of this business, or advance moneys for the purpose, without a prospect of being reimbursed. We do not, however, suppose this will be the case, especially as it may with such ease be charged upon the publick fund; and have no doubt but proper steps will be taken to release us from our engagements to the Kingston Committee.

We have not informed you of the particular instances of misconduct charged against these delinquents. However, the Committee is ready, upon the least intimation, to furnish such proofs and reasons as we trust will fully justify our conduct. And we have the satisfaction to find that not only the County in general, but even some that are disaffected, approve of the imprisonment of these persons, and that it is the only means of preserving peace in the Precinct.

I remain your very humble servant.

By order of the Precinct Committee:


To the Gentlemen attending from Dutchess County, as Members in the Committee of Safety.