George Washington Papers

To George Washington from George Clinton, 20 July 1778

From George Clinton

Poughkeepsie [N.Y.] 20th July 1778

Dr Sir

By the enclosed Copy of a Petition & Letter which I received on my arrival here; Your Excellency will observe that the usurped Government of Vermont have sentenced sundry of the Inhabitants of this State to Banishment; which Sentence General Starke has contrary to his Duty undertaken to carry into execution, by forwarding the Petitioners down the River to Genl Gates to be sent to the Enemy.1 These unhappy People (whose pretended Crime I have some reason to believe is Attachment to this State only) before my arrival had passed this Place on their Passage down to the Enemy’s Lines. I must therefore beg that your Excellency will so far interpose in this Affair as to direct the Guard who may have them in charge to return with them to this Place and deliver them to the Commissioners of this State; And I flatter myself that your Excellency will not fail calling General Starke to account for his unwarrantable Conduct in this Instance. I have the honor to be Your Excllency’s Most Obedt servant

Geo: Clinton


1Clinton enclosed a copy of a letter to him of 15 July from Jeremiah Van Rensselaer, John M. Beekman, and Isaac D. Fonda, members of the Albany County commission for conspiracies. The commissioners wrote: “In Consequence of an Application of some People from Bennington in respect to eight men that are just arrived from said Place, we waited on Genl. Starks to be informed of their Crimes, they being sent to him, with Colo. Ethan Allen; his honor informed us that it was none of our business to interfere with Tories from any other State, they were sent to him to be forwarded over the Enemy’s Lines, which he was preparing to effect; as he informed us he was then writing to Genl. Gates on that head; after much altercation on the Subject he informed us that the State of Vermont by their Courts had adjudged them dangerous to the welfare of their State and he judged it expedient to comply with their Commands” (Hastings, Clinton Papers description begins Hugh Hastings and J. A. Holden, eds. Public Papers of George Clinton, First Governor of New York, 1777–1795, 1801–1804. 10 vols. 1899–1914. Reprint. New York, 1973. description ends , 3:553). The petition to Clinton, also dated 15 July, was from five of the eight prisoners. They asserted “that your Petitioners have never in any instance acted unfriendly to the American Cause … that the true and real Cause of their severe and unparalleled Treatment is owing to your Petitioners acknowledging themselves to be subjects of the State of New York, and not recognizing the validity and existence of the State of Vermont” and requested that Clinton “afford us Protection and not suffer that we shall be hurried away from our families and friends before a proper enquiry be had relative to our Conduct or Crime” (ibid., 3:552). Brig. Gen. John Stark’s letter to Maj. Gen. Horatio Gates of 15 July is in NHi: Gates Papers (see also Stark, Memoir of John Stark description begins Caleb Stark. Memoir and Official Correspondence of Gen. John Stark, with Notices of Several Other Officers of the Revolution . . .. 1860. Reprint. Boston, 1972. description ends , 177).

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