Head Quarters, New York, May 26th 1776
Parole Hancock.Countersign Trumbull
“In Provincial Congress, New York, May 25th 1776.
“Messrs John Berrien and Robert Harpur, two of the members of the General Committee of the City of New-York, delivered in the report of the said Committee,1 which was read and filed, and is in the words following. (vizt)
“Committee Chamber, May 24th 1776.
“Doctor Foster appearing before the Committee says, that information was given to General Putnam, that several persons had been inoculated, at the house of one Fisher, in Stone Street, contrary to a resolve of the Provincial Congress of this Colony, he, the examinant (agreeable to Genl Putnam’s order) immediately went to the house of the above mentioned Fisher, where he discovered that Lt Colonel Moulton, Capt. Parks, Doctor Hart and Lieut. Brown had been inoculated by Doctor Azor Betts.
“Doctor Azor Betts being sent for, appeared before the Committee, allowed the charge against him, and offer’d in his vindication—that he had been repeatedly applied to by the officers of the Continental Army to inoculate them, that he refused, but being overpersuaded, he at last inoculated the persons abovementioned.
“Resolved. That Doctor Azor Betts, be committed to the Goal of this City, and be kept in safe custody, until released by the Provincial Congress.
“Ordered—That a Copy of the minutes relating to Doctor Azor Betts’s case, be handed to the provincial Congress.2
“Extract from the minutes.
“Signed. Josh. Winter Secretary.
“Mesrs Berrian and Harpur further inform, that the wife of Azor Betts,3 on her examination, says That Lieut. Seymour from Long Island had informed her, that seven persons of the Army (Officers as she understood) on Long Island, were taking mercurial preparations, and as he supposed, were inoculated, or preparing to be inoculated for the small pox.
“Ordered. That a Copy of the report of the General Committee, to this Congress, be delivered to Major Genl Putnam—that he give such direction to the Continental Army, for preventing the Small-Pox among them on Long-Island, as he may think necessary.
“Extract from the minutes.
“signed, John McKesson Secretary[”]
The General presents his Compliments to the Honorable The Provincial Congress, and General Committee, is much obliged to them, for their care, in endeavouring to prevent the spreading of the Small-pox (by Inoculation or any other way) in this City, or in the Continental Army, which might prove fatal to the army, if allowed of, at this critical time, when there is reason to expect they may soon be called to action; and orders that the Officers take the strictest care, to examine into the state of their respective Corps, and thereby prevent Inoculation amongst them; which, if any Soldier should presume upon, he must expect the severest punishment.
Any Officer in the Continental Army, who shall suffer himself to be inoculated, will be cashiered and turned out of the army, and have his name published in the News papers throughout the Continent,4 as an Enemy and Traitor to his country.
Upon the first appearance of any eruption, the Officer discovering of it in any Soldiers, is to give information to the regimental Surgeon, and the Surgeon make report of the same, to the Director General of the hospital.
The working party from Col. Nixon’s Regiment, are to be ordered every day to Long-Island, instead of Governours Island, as mentioned in yesterday’s orders.
The form of a morning report (which the Captain of the lower Barrack Guard is to make every day to the Field Officer) may be had, by applying to any of the Brigade Majors; and ’tis expected this form will be duly attended to.
Varick transcript, DLC:GW.
1. Berrien and Harpur were both delegates from New York City. John Berrien was appointed commissary for the commissioners charged with fortifying the highlands in September 1775, and in July 1776 he was a member of the committee responsible for issuing passes to civilians who wished to leave the city (General Orders, 9, 17, 21 July 1776). Berrien subsequently served in the New York general assembly. Robert Harpur (1731-1825) was a member of the general assembly from 1777 to 1784 and deputy secretary of the state from 1778 to 1795.
2. Dr. Azor Betts had been confined as a disaffected person during the previous winter at Esopus, N.Y., and had been released by the New York committee of safety on 3 April after he asked for forgiveness (N.Y. Prov. Congress Journals description begins Journals of the Provincial Congress, Provincial Convention, Committee of Safety, and Council of Safety of the State of New-York, 1775–1776–1777. 2 vols. Albany, 1842. (Microfilm Collection of Early State Records). description ends , 1:328, 399; Betts to the New York Committee of Safety, 21 Mar. 1776, in Force, American Archives description begins Peter Force, ed. American Archives. 9 vols. Washington, D.C., 1837–53. description ends , 4th ser., 5:558). On 14 June 1776 Betts asked the provincial congress to pardon him for his latest offense, saying that he had “meant not to injure those gentlemen who were inoculated, nor to show any contempt to your worshipful House, but ardently wished to render his best services to those who had the command in relieving them from those fears which people in general have who are subject to that disorder” (Force, American Archives description begins Peter Force, ed. American Archives. 9 vols. Washington, D.C., 1837–53. description ends , 4th ser., 6:1404; see also N.Y. Prov. Congress Journals description begins Journals of the Provincial Congress, Provincial Convention, Committee of Safety, and Council of Safety of the State of New-York, 1775–1776–1777. 2 vols. Albany, 1842. (Microfilm Collection of Early State Records). description ends , 1:461, 494, 499). Betts was released and subsequently served as a surgeon to the Queen’s Rangers. After the war he moved to New Brunswick.
Warham Parks (1752–1801) served as a captain in Col. Timothy Danielson’s Massachusetts regiment in 1775 and in Col. Ebenezer Learned’s 3d Continental Regiment throughout 1776. Parks became major of the 4th Massachusetts Regiment on 1 Jan. 1777 and was wounded at the Battle of Saratoga the following October. Although GW urged him to remain in the army, Parks resigned his commission on 30 Mar. 1778 on account of his injury. See GW to Parks, 5 Mar. 1778, DLC:GW, and Parks to GW, 30 Mar. 1778, DNA: RG 93. Dr. John Hart (1751–1836) of Ipswich, Mass., became surgeon of Col. William Prescott’s Massachusetts regiment in May 1775 and continued as surgeon in Prescott’s 3d Continental Regiment after 1 Jan. 1776. Hart served as surgeon of the 2d Massachusetts Regiment from 1777 to 1783 and remained in service with Col. Henry Jackson’s Continental regiment until June 1784. Benjamin Brown (1745–1821), a first lieutenant in Prescott’s 7th Continental Regiment, became a captain in the 8th Massachusetts Regiment on 1 Jan. 1777 and resigned his commission in July 1779.
3. Gloriannah Betts (c.1747–1815) accompanied her husband to New Brunswick.
4. The copyist inadvertently wrote “Continenent.”