George Washington Papers

To George Washington from the New York Committee of Safety, 25 January 1777

From the New York Committee of Safety

In Committee of Safety for the State of New-York
Fish Kill January 25th 1777.


The Convention received great Pleasure from the Receipt of your Excellency’s Favor of the 5th of Jany Instt.1 In just Admiration of your Excellency’s wise and spirited Opperations they beg leave again to congratulate you on the Successes of the American Arms and to return you their Thanks for the Attention which you have uniformly exhibited to the Care and Defence of this State.2

The Convention have lately received a very extraordinary Epistle from a certain Mr Loring Commissary of Prisoners in the British Army of which and of our Answer Copies are herewith enclosed.3 We also send you an Account of some Prisoners of War who have lately made their Escape from this State regardless of those Obligations which among Gentm. are sacred.4

We apprehend no Doubts can exist whether the Affair of Sir John Johnson is within your immediate Cognizance. He held a Commission as Brigadier General of Militia and it is said another Commission as Major Genl. That he hath shamelesly broken his Parole is evident, but whether it would be more proper to have him returned or exchanged is entirely in your Excellency’s Prudence.

We shall be happy to receive by the return of our Express such Particulars as will be of use to communicate to the Public, Your Excellency must be sensible that every thing which rouses and animates the People gives Vigor to a Cause which depends upon their Zeal.

The party under the Command of Genl Heath is now in the Southern part of Westchester. whether they will make an Attempt upon New-York & Long-Island or confine themselves to glean such Forage as the Enemy have left behind them we cannot ascertain but hope for the former. But in either Case we wish and expect that their Movements will facilitate your Excellency’s Operations. I have the Honor to be with great Esteem And respect Your Excellencys most Obedt Humbe Servant

James Livingston Chairman


2On this date the committee of safety passed resolutions approving GW’s mode of promotions” and the “extraordinary powers” granted him by the Continental Congress and ordered copies of the resolutions to be sent to Hancock and to GW (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 , 1:786–87). No enclosed copies have been identifed, however.

3The enclosed copy of Joshua Loring’s letter to the New York convention of 28 Dec. 1776 requesting “a Safe Pass & your Assistance” for five recently exchanged British prisoners desirous of returning to their home district in Canada is in DLC:GW (see also ibid., 767). The enclosed copy of the committee of safety’s reply to Loring, drafted on 10 Jan. 1777 and ordered to be sent to GW “by the first opportunity” (ibid., 768), has not been identified but is printed in ibid., 767. Written in the name of the president of the committee of safety, it reads in part: “Although from the detection of a great number of spies, and the information received of others, there is not the least doubt but General Howe has every species of intelligence he can wish for; yet as the suffering an enemy’s officer to pass through this State must presuppose that the Convention have lost the right use of their understanding, they pray that [the prisoners] will excuse them for not complying with their request. At the same time I am directed to observe, that in the opinion of this Committee, all applications of this sort should be made from the Commander-in-Chief of the British army to his Excellency General Washington, whose politeness and humanity will naturally lead him to confer every favour in his power upon officers in service against him.” On 22 Jan. British officer Capt. Thomas Gamble wrote directly to GW with a similar request to be allowed to return to Canada under guard at his own expense (see GW to Schuyler, 27 Jan. 1777, and note 3).

4The enclosed account has not been identified.

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