From Abraham Yates, Jr.
In Convention of the Representatives of the
State of New York Haerlem August 22d 1776
The Convention of this State have received Information from one of the Deputies of the City and County of New York, of a Report Prevailing amongst the Army, “that if the fortune of War should oblige our Troops to abandon that City, it should be immediately burnt by the retreating Soldiery, and that any Man is authorized to set it on fire.”
The Convention will chearfully submit to the fatal Necessity of destroying that Valuable City whenever Your Excellency shall deem it essential to the Safety of this State or the general Interest of America—Yet the Duty which they owe to their Constituents obliges them to take every possible Precaution that Twenty thousand Inhabitants may not be reduced to Misery by the wanton Act of an Individual.
They therefore entreat the favor of Your Excellency to take such Measures in preventing the evil Tendency of such a Report as You shall deem most expedient.1 I have the Honor to be Your Excellency’s most Obedient and very humble servt
Abm Yates Junr President
LS, DLC:GW; Df (mutilated), N: New York Provincial Congress Revolutionary Papers. The convention read and approved the draft of this letter on this date, but the text does not appear in the journal (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 , 1:584).
1. For GW’s response, see his letter to the New York convention of 23 August.