George Washington Papers
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To George Washington from George Clinton, 7 June 1795

From George Clinton

Greenwich [N.Y.] 7th June 1795


I take the Liberty of inclosing to you three Letters which I received yesterday Evening from certain American Sailors, who have been impressed on our Coasts by the British Squadron under Admiral Murray and are detained on Board of the Resolution a Ship of that Squadron now lying within the Hook1—I am well informed that besides the Subscribers to these Letters there are four other American Seamen (one of them a native of West Chester County in this State) detained in like manner on Board of the same Ship—I have only to add that the Commerce of this State has already sustained essential Injury by such unwarrantable Conduct, and it is to be feared unless the Protection of Government can be extended to these unfortunate Men & effectual Measures adopted to prevent the like Abuses being committed on our Citizens in future a Competent Number of American Seamen will not be found to navigate our Vessels. I am with great Respect your Most Obedient Servant

Geo: Clinton

ALS, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters.

1Two of the enclosures have not been identified. The third letter, dated 3 June, came from Henry Megery aboard the Resolution. Megery urged the governor to “take Pity upon me as I am far from my Friends Being Presed out of the Deleware fleet on 13th of July Last as I had no protection. I was Born in Bevely in the State of Meschusset My People lives in Louden County Virginia within 45 miles of Alexandria I Can Swear to the Place of my Nevitaty My Father Lived under Generl Weir & under Genl Green & Genl morgan & General Lee he Was Over Seer for Colonel Carter & Colonel mercer & the Judge Richmond Court for wich Reason I am in hopes you Get me Clear if it is in Your power” (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters).

Edmund Randolph replied to Clinton on 9 June: “Mr. Hammond went to New York last week; and assured me, that Admiral Murray would discharge all bona fide Americans on board of his fleet; and that he would impress upon him the propriety of doing so. For myself, I have been employed very frequently in demanding our impressed citizens; and the answer has been, that upon the producing of proof, they should be released.” Randolph then recommended the following course of action: “depute some confidential, intelligent, firm and discreet person, to go on board of Admiral Murray’s ship immediately; to represent to him the assurance given to me by Mr Hammond; to mention the names of those, who have claimed your protection, as being American citizens … to ask to see them; to procure the best evidence of their citizenship from a personal examination or otherwise: to inquire into the situation of any other american citizens so detained: to desire the Admiral, if the proof be not sufficiently strong for their immediate discharge, at least to keep them within the reach of relief, by not sending them out of the Country.”

Randolph asked Clinton to inform GW about the result of any such effort and assured the governor of his own sense of outrage: “The practice is intolerable; and unless a stop be put to it, I shall really hold it to be my duty, to press upon Mr Hammond some strong declarations; as prepatory to acts, equal to the exigency” (DNA: RG 59, Domestic Letters).

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