George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Jay, 8 April 1779

From John Jay

Philadelphia 8th April 1779


By the enclosed Extract from the Minutes of the 6th Inst., Your Excellency will perceive that Messieurs Henry Rutgers Junr,1 and Azariah Horton are appointed Deputy-Commissaries-General of Musters in the Room of Messrs Bradford & Noarth who have resigned.

I have also the pleasure of transmitting Copies of two Acts of the 7th Inst: One for cutting a Road from Penobscot River to St Johns River2—The other granting to Mr Job Sumner the Commission of Captain in the Army of the United States.3 I have the Honor to be With the greatest Respect & Esteem Your Excellency’s Most Obedient And Humble Servt

John Jay Presidt

LS, DLC:GW; LB, DNA:PCC, item 14.

1The enclosed copy of the congressional minutes of 6 April is in DLC:GW; see also 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 , 13:425. The appointments were announced in general orders on 15 April. Henry Rutgers, Jr. (1745–1830) of New York City had earlier served as a lieutenant in the state militia, and after the war he served in the state legislature and as a lieutenant colonel in the state militia. A wealthy landowner and philanthropist, he made significant donations to Queen’s College in New Brunswick, N.J., and served as its trustee. The college renamed itself Rutgers College in 1825.

2The enclosed copy of a resolution of 7 April for the construction of a road from the Penobscot River to the St. John River does not include the committee report that preceded it, explaining the road’s purpose: “The Committee to whom was referred the memorial of Alexander McNutt and others, Agents for several Townships in Nova Scotia, beg leave to report, That in their opinion it is greatly interesting to the United States of America that Nova Scotia should not remain subjected to the Government of Great Britain, to be used as an instrument to check their growth or molest their tranquillity. That the people in general of that Province have been thoroughly well disposed towards the United States from the beginning of the present war. That they made early application to Congress for direction how they might be serviceable to the Continental cause, offering to raise 3000 men in 10 days. That they have since repeatedly applied for countenance and aid to enable them to assert their Independence. That they have as often received friendly assurances from Congress, tho’ circumstances prevented any vigorous efforts in their favor. That they begin now to apprehend the United States will rest satisfied with their own Independence and leave Nova Scotia under British Despotism. That the Memorialists were sent forward by the people to obtain if possible from Congress some assurance to the contrary, hoping they may not be reduced to seek for ammunition and a guarantee of their freedom in France or Holland. That it would tend greatly to animate the well disposed in Nova Scotia and to secure the Indians to the United States, as well as to promote desertion from the enemy and facilitate supplies of live stock to the Eastern parts of the Union, if a road was opened through the Country from Penobscot to St. Johns River. That for such a work a body of faithful men strongly interested to accomplish it might be found among those who have been driven by the hand of oppression from Nova Scotia. Your Committee therefore propose the following Resolutions: Resolved, That Lieutenant Colonel Phineas Nevers and Captain Samuel Rogers be employed to lay out, mark and clear a road from Penobscot river to St. John’s river in the most commodious line and in the most prudent manner. That they be empowered to enlist for such service a body of men, not to exceed 1500. That fifteen thousand dollars be advanced to them for carrying on the work, for the faithful expenditure of which they shall become bound to the United States in a bond to be given to the continental treasurer” (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 , 13:428–29; the enclosure is in DLC:GW).

3Job Sumner (1754–1789) had served in 1775 as an ensign in Col. Thomas Gardner’s Massachusetts Regiment, and in January 1776 he was appointed a first lieutenant in the 25th Continental Infantry Regiment. In January 1777 he was promoted to captain of the 3d Massachusetts Regiment, but he claimed an earlier date of commission, as explained in the enclosed copy of a congressional resolution of 7 April: “The Board of War, to whom was referred, the Memorial of Captain Sumner, report, That it appears that the service of the armed Vessels on Lake Champlain in 1776 was disagreeable, & that Officers reluctantly quitted the Line to take command of them; That as an inducement to Officers possessing the requisite talents to engage in that service, General Schuyler offered to Lieutenants the commission of Captains, & gave them hopes of a permanent provision in the Navy; That influenced by these motives, & a regard to the public good, Captain Sumner, among others, quitted his station in the Line, & took the command of one of the armed Vessels abovementioned; That it further appears, That by Virtue of General Schuyler’s Orders, General Arnold on the first day of July 1776 appointed Mr Sumner a Captain to the said command, in which Capacity he in several actions behaved with great Spirit & good Conduct, & that, in the opinion of the Board, Captain Sumner’s resignation of his Lieutenancy in the Line to take the above command, should not prejudice his claim to rank on account of prior services”; Sumner’s commission as captain was accordingly backdated to 1 July 1776 (DLC:GW; see also 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 , 13:427–28). In March 1783 Sumner was promoted to major, with a commission backdated to October 1782.

Index Entries