George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Burnet, 25 June 1776

From William Burnet

Newark June 25 1776

May it please your Excellency

Agreeable to your Excellencys Desire I have called together the Committee of the County of Essex & laid before them the Letter you was pleased to send me of the 21st instt.1 The Committee sent for David Ogden Esq. & enquired of him, from whom he received the Intelligence of the Rifle Guards agreeing for a Sum of Money to carry a Person on board the Men of War—He informed the Committee that about three Weeks ago, he was on Long-Island in Compa[n]y with Mr Alexander Wallace, who told him, that the Rifle Guards could easily be bribed & in Confirmation of it said, that the Rifle Guards on Long Island near the Fishing Place, had agreed to set a Person on board one of the Men of War, for a Reward of a Number of Dollars, but how many he cannot remember—Mr Ogden says now, he cannot be certain, whether Mr Wallace told hi⟨m⟩ that he himself tempted the Guards or that another Gentleman told him, that he had done it—But I perfectly remember that when Mr Ogden told me the Story, which was soon after he heard it, I understood him that the Person who made the Experiment told him of it himself & as I thought it a Matter of Importance, as soon as he had finished the relation I asked him particularly, whether the Gentleman who offe⟨r⟩ed the Bribe & whom they agreed to carry on board the Men of War told him of it himself & he answered yes he di⟨d.⟩ Mr Ogden mentioned to the Committee one Circumstance which he did not tell me of before, that the Guards when they engaged to go on board, said they must not return—Mr Wallace is out of our District or we would call upon him with Pleasure—If the Gentlemen within whose Jurisdiction he ⟨is⟩ properly apply to him, perhaps the whole Affair may be brough⟨t⟩ to Light2—I am your Excellency’s most obedt humble Servt

Wm Burnet Chairman


2Alexander Wallace (d. 1800), a New York City merchant who had come to America from Ireland in 1757, supplied a large sum of gold and silver for Gen. Henry Clinton’s southern expedition in January 1776, and on 8 Aug. 1776 he was arrested by order of GW “as a person suspected as unfriendly to the American Cause” (Palmer, Biographical Sketches of Loyalists description begins Gregory Palmer. Biographical Sketches of Loyalists of the American Revolution. Westport, Conn., and London, 1984. description ends , 901; Petition of Alexander Wallace, 6 Dec. 1776, in Force, American Archives description begins Peter Force, ed. American Archives. 9 vols. Washington, D.C., 1837–53. description ends , 5th ser., 3:1099–1100; see also Hugh Wallace to GW, 9 Aug. 1776, DLC:GW). Wallace was confined in Connecticut until December 1776 when he was allowed to return to New York City on parole. At the end of the war, he returned to Ireland.

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