To George Clinton
Philadelphia Decr the 29th 1778
I received Your favor of the 18th Instant and am sorry for the accident that has happened to Mr McDowell.1 Whether his Barn was destroyed through design or otherwise—does not alter the injury as to him—and he seems equally intitled to reparation in either case. I do not know, however, that I am authorised to direct it to be made, and therefore shall be under the necessity of submitting the matter to Congress for their decision and discretion. This I am the more inclined to do, that they may settle some principle, by which relief may be given to Others, if any such there are or may be, in similar circumstances. I am Dr sir with very great regard & esteem Yr Most Obedt servant
LS (photostat), in Robert Hanson Harrison’s writing, DLC:GW; Df, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.
1. Clinton wrote to GW from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., on 18 Dec.: “At the Request of Mr James McDowell of Little Britain, in this State, whose Barn was destroyed by some of the British Convention Troops quartered in it on their late Route, I take the Liberty of Troubling your Excellency with the inclosed Affidavits & Letter of Stephen Ray A.D.Q.M. on that Subject and to request that your Excellency will be pleased to order him payment for the Damages he has thereby sustained, if it can consistently be done, & if not, that you will be pleased to refer his Case to the Congress for their Direction. It appears from the Affidavits, that the Barn was burnt with Design which is confirmed by other concurring Circumstances, as well as McDowell’s own Relation, who is a very honnest Man. It also appears from Mr Ray’s Letter, that it was the Intention of the public to Compensate Individuals for the Injuries they might receive by these Troops, and that this has been the Case in the whole Course of their March, with respect to Fencing & less Capital Injuries, & as the present is such as will ruin this Man if he alone is to sustain it, there are strongest Reasons for his being Compensated by the public” (The Public Papers of George Clinton, 4:401).
GW wrote to John Jay about McDowell on 1 Jan. 1779; his letter was laid before Congress on 14 Jan. and referred to a committee of three (see JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 13:63, and Smith, Letters of Delegates description begins Paul H. Smith et al., eds. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774–1789. 26 vols. Washington, D.C., 1976–2000. description ends , 11:467). The delegates made no decision at that time, and when McDowell renewed his petition after the war, that Congress resolved on 17 March 1786 that he should present his claims to the State of New York (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 30:116–17).