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Motion on Instruction to George Washington, [7–8 November] 1782

Motion on Instruction to George Washington

MS (NA: PCC, No. 36, I, 427–28). In JM’s hand. Docketed: “Mr. Madisons motion Novr 7, 1782 Latter passed 8.” For explanation of “Latter,” see n. 7.

[7–8 November 1782]1

On Mature deliberation on all the papers which had been referred to the Committee respecting the murder of Capt: Huddy,2 the British officer allotted as the subject of retal[i]ation for the murder3 and to the trial of Lippencut as the perpetrator thereof[,] It is deemed expedient & accordingly resolved that the Commander in cheif be directed to set at liberty the said British officer4 Resolved that the Com in Chief be instructed5 to call in the most pointed terms on the British Commander at N. Y. to fulfil his engagement contained in his letter of the 13 day of Aug: last “to make further inquisition into6 the Murder of Cap Huddy & to pursue it with all the effect wch. a due regard to Justice will admit.”7

1For the background and introduction of this motion in Congress, see Notes on Debates, 7 November 1782, and nn. 21, 28.

2Ibid., and nn. 14, 15.

3To this point JM at first wrote, “On Mature consideration on all the circumstances relative to the murder of Captn Huddy & to the case agst the British officer alloted as the subject of retal[i]ation for that atrocious deed.” The alterations making the passage read as in the present text are wholly in JM’s hand.

4A large “X” in ink, canceling this sentence, signifies that it was rejected by Congress. As JM noted, the excision did not reflect a disagreement with the conclusion of the sentence but only a decision not to preface that conclusion with any explanation whatsoever. When, therefore, on 7 November the opinion “prevailed” that no preamble, or justificatory clause, whether Rutledge’s or JM’s, should be adopted, only the Rutledge motion proper (Notes on Debates, 7 November 1782, and n. 20) remained standing as passed.

5JM interlineated the sentence to this point above a deleted “and.” For a probable explanation of this amendment, see Notes on Debates, 7 November 1782, nn. 19, 21, 28.

6Following this word, JM deleted “this criminal transaction” and interlineated “the Murder of Cap Huddy” above the deletion.

7JM placed within quotation marks his paraphrase of portions of Carleton’s letter of 13 August to Washington (NA: PCC, No. 152, X, 697; JM to Randolph, 27 August 1782, and n. 12). Following the comma, JM deleted “so that the Guilty Person may be delivered up to Punishment and that the Guilty may be delivered up to Punishmt.” The passage after “Punishment” was excised by JM as repetitive, but the rest of the quotation was presented to, and struck out by, Congress. In the left margin of the manuscript opposite the sentence beginning “Resolved,” Charles Thomson wrote “passed.” See JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIII, 716.

As evidence of his compliance with this directive, Washington wrote to President Elias Boudinot on 16 December, enclosing a copy of his own letter of 20 November to Carleton and of the latter’s reply of 11 December 1782, including a statement by the deputy judge advocate of the British army. This last-named officer reported that he had no “hopes of prosecuting any other person” for sharing in Captain Huddy’s execution because “farther information” about the matter had not been found. Carleton asked Washington to co-operate in preventing similar outrages by civilians or troops (NA: PCC, No. 152, XI, 41–42, 45, 47–49, 51; JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIII, 829, n. 1).

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