George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Livingston, 8 October 1779

From William Livingston

8 October 1779

Dear Sir

I am happy to find that your Excellency’s Letter has detained the Assembly this day,1 as I verily believe electioneering, (for which some men would risque the salvation of their Country) having got into their, Heads, that nothing in the World besides would have been able to check their Impulse for decamping. But what kind of amphibious Production they will make of the Bill (by some Intelligence I have this morning) I am at a loss to guess.2 A most mortifying Consideration is our declension of public spirit; and as the Depreciation of Patriotism has kept full pace with the depreciation of the Currency, I really dread the Continuance of the war as a Member of the Confederacy at large & the total loss of all the honour acquired by this State, as connected with it in particular unless the next Election produces Men of a very different Temper. But as Providence hath hitherto deduced real Good out of the greatest of our apparent Evils, I doubt not it will overrule to the general Interest even that infernal Lust for accumulating Money, which presents us with so melancholy a Prospect.

I still continue under the greatest Anxiety respecting the Supplies of Flour, for which I fear that no Exertions will be made by this State adequate to our ability or the Necessity of the Troops3—With the highest Esteem & Affection I have the honour to be Dr Sir your Excellencys most humble Servt

Wil: Livingston


1Livingston is referring to GW’s circular letter to the state executives of 4 Oct.; see GW to George Clinton, that date, a version of which was also addressed to Livingston.

2For the assembly’s eventual approval of a bill to raise 4,000 men to serve in the Continental army on short enlistments, see Livingston to GW, 7 Oct., n.2. This augmentation of troops was to support prospective combined operations with the French fleet (see Planning for an Allied Attack on New York, c.3–7 Oct.).

On 9 Oct., Livingston wrote to GW from Trenton, N.J.: “I am most agreeably disappointed thi⟨s⟩ Morning in finding that our Legislature has passed an Act wh⟨ich⟩ I hope will fully answer your Excellency’s requisition as to our Quota of Militia; but discovering a ⟨mutilated⟩table gang of Tory Millers enhancing the Price of wheat I am as anxtious as ever respecting the Supply of Flour” (ALS, DLC:GW).

3Partly as a result of GW’s circular letter of 28 Aug. on the army’s shortage of flour, the New Jersey legislature had passed an act for securing supplies of flour (see N.J. Acts 1778, Last Sitting, 127–29, and N.J. Legislative Council Proc., 27 Oct. 1778–9 Oct. 1779 description begins A Journal of the Proceedings of the Legislative-Council of the State of New-Jersey, In General Assembly convened at Trenton, on Tuesday the twenty-seventh of October, in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy-eight. Being the Third Session. Trenton, 1780. description ends , 85–88; see also Prince, Livingston Papers, description begins Carl E. Prince et al., eds. The Papers of William Livingston. 5 vols. Trenton and New Brunswick, N.J., 1979–88. description ends 3:179).

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