George Washington Papers

From George Washington to the Essex County Committee of Safety, 21 June 1776

To the Essex County Committee of Safety

[New York, 21 June 1776]


The absolute necessity of preventing all Correspondence between the Inhabitants of this Country and our Enemies, obliges me to every degree of Intelligence that lead to the Channel of such Intercourse—Doctor William Burnet of New Ark can inform you of certain Insinuations and charges against Part of the Army under my Command, as if they were liable to Bribery and Corruption, in permitting Persons to go from Staten Island to the Men of War at or near Sandy Hook, and as the Person from whom he has received his Intelligence resides at New Ark within the District of your Committee, I must request it as a matter of great Importance, that your Committee will as soon as possible call on David Ogden Esqr., to declare who the Person was, who informed him that he had engaged the guard of the Rifle-Men at Staten Island to carry him on Board the Men of War, with all the Circumstances within his Knowledge; and also that you do call on the Person whom he points out to be his Informant, to declare every Circumstance within his Knowledge, relative to the Matter.1

G. Washington

LB, in Alexander Contee Hanson’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Although neither the LB nor the Varick transcript was dated when they were written, the position of the LB in the letter book and William Burnet’s reply to GW of 25 June indicate that this letter was written on 21 June.

1William Burnet, Sr., was chairman of the Essex County committee of safety. For the committee’s response to this request, see his letter to GW of 25 June. David Ogden (1707–1798), a successful lawyer and land speculator in Newark, served on the New Jersey council from 1751 to the beginning of the Revolution and was named a justice of the supreme courts of New Jersey and New York before the war. A Loyalist sympathizer, Ogden fled to the protection of the British army at New York City in January 1777, and in 1779 he became a member of the New York board of Loyalist refugees. Ogden went to England in 1783 and eventually received £9,415 from the British government for his losses during the war. He returned to America in 1790 and settled on Long Island.

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