George Washington Papers

To George Washington from George Clinton, 7 April 1780

Poughkeepsie April 7th 1780

Dear Sir.

The Legislature of this State at their late Meeting passed a Law for raising 800 Men, to be subject to your Excellency’s Orders, for the Defence of the Frontiers on Condition that Congress should engage to pay and subsist them. Immediately on the passing of this Law I wrote to Congress and transmitted them the Resolutions of the Legislature upon the Subject; but have not yet been favored with an Answer. The late Incursions of the Savages at Skeensboro & on the Frontiers of Tryon County have filled the Minds of the Inhabitants with the most dreadful Apprehensions and they are daily abandoning their Settlements and retiring into the interior Part of the Country; which all the Countenance & Protection I am able to give them with the Militia is not sufficient to prevent. These People influenced by a Sense of their Danger have frequently requested me to apply to your Excellency for a Detachment of Continental Troops to be stationed among them which I have hitherto declined, from the little Hopes I had that the situation of the Army would enable your Excellency to comply with the Request. I am now informed that they have of their own accord addressed a Petition to your Excellency on the Subject which the Bearer hereof is to present & I have therefore thought it necessary to inform you of the Measures taken by the State and to request that your Excellency will be pleased to interest Yourself in obtaining a favorable and speedy Determination of Congress with respect to the Levies offered by the State for this Service if no other Relief can be afforded. I take the liberty of enclosing to your Excellency a Copy of my Letter to Congress and am with the highest Respect & Esteem Dear Sir Your Excellency’s most Obedt Servant

Geo. Clinton

P.S. I am not possessed of a second Copy of the Resolution of the Legislature on this Subject—their Records are in Albany.

DLC: Papers of George Washington.


Albany March 9th 1780.


I have the honor to transmit your Excellency a concurrent Resolution of the Senate & Assembly of this State. I should presume that it is scarcely necessary to suggest to Congress that being deprived of the Sea Coast & weakened & wasted by the frequent Incursions of the Enemy on our Frontiers especially when it is considered that the Supplies furnished by this State for the Army have been at a much lower Rate than those procured from the neighboring States, it is with great Difficulty we can collect the Monthly Supplies for the continental Treasury[.] The fact is we have not yet been able to comply with the pecuniary Requisitions of Congress with that punctuality we could wish altho’ the support of our civil Establishment has been almost totally neglected and large Arrears remain due to the Militia who have been from Time to Time drawn into the field. Under these Circumstances it must be evident that the Paying of a body of Troops sufficient for the Defence of our extensive Frontiers would be attended with almost unsurmountable Difficulties: But were it possible to provide for their Pay, it is not in the Power of the State to supply them with Provision; the Legislature having by a late Law directed an Impress of all the Wheat in the State more than is sufficient for the bare subsistence of the Inhabitants ‘till the next Crop come’s in for the use of the Army. For my own Part I am seriously alarmed at the Situation of our Frontiers; the Inhabitants both to the West & North entertain the strongest Apprehension of desultory Incursions from the Savages as soon as the Waters are passable; and unless proper Measures are taken for their Protection will probably abandon their Settlements, by which Means we shall not only loose the Supplies usually obtained from them which are very considerable particularly from the Banks of the Mohawk River; but the Communication with the Posts at Fort Schuyler Fort George and Skeensborough cannot be maintained unless by the Means of very strong Escorts. These are the Reasons which have induced the Legislature to enter into the enclosed Resolution. I shall think myself Happy If I have given the[m] their proper Weight and if by the Determination of Congress on the Subject I shall be enabled to carry the Intentions of the State into Execution as early as the public Service seems to require. I have the honor to be &c. &c.

Geo: Clinton.

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