John Jay Papers
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To John Jay from Robert R. Livingston, 17 July 1775

From Robert R. Livingston

[17th July 1775 Belvedere]

Dr. John

I take the opportunity of Bensons1 going to New York to let you know what pleasure I should receive in hearing from by the return of the Post, since Benson will return in a few days & deliver safely any Letter you may enclose ^him^ & and I shall wait here till [illegible] ^you think^ that it is necessary I should come to you—

I must confess that after breathing the pure air of the country I dread the Idea of a hot room at Philadelphia—

I am sorrey to say that the spirit of toryism is far far from being subdued in this province—One Liester is very active in Dutches County, & has got several signers to a counter Assotiation how far it might be proper to apprehend him I leave to your judgmt.2 for my own part I dread a division among our selves infinitely more than the power of Great Britain—It may not however be improper to mention to you that there is one Voluns3 (or some such name) a young lad who pretends to have escaped from the Man of War. He is what they call a candidate for the ministry, & is now gone either to New York or Philadelphia to be ordained—he preaches both in high dutch & english—the most violent Tory sermons, prays for success to the Kings armies & has hyems composed for the purpose. As the Germans are extreamly ignorant & much attatched to him he will do an infinite deal of mischief if he is not prevented.

I told you some time before I left you that many of our Tenants have refused to sign the assotiation,4 & resolved to stand by the King as they called it, in hopes that if he succeeded they should have their Lands—since troops have been raised in the province & two of my Brothers have got comissions5 they have got ^been^ frighted & changed their battery in order to excuse themselves assert that they can not engage in the controversy since as their leases are for lives their families must want when they are killed—Tho this is common to them & every other man whose family is supported by their ^his^ labour, yet to deprive them of all excuse, my father has declared to them that every man a new lease shall be given to the family of every man who is killed in the service & Mr. Livingston has come to the same resolution—Notwithstanding which the scoundrels have as we are informed sent in a petition to the congress replete with falsehoods & charges injurious to the memory of my Grandfather & Mr. Livingston—6 I shd. be glad to hear the particulars. my father has made them a general offer of that if any man of [illegible] reputation appointed by the congress or any other way can shew a single instance of injustice that he will repay it threefold You who know the lenity of of his disposition & the extream low rents (not equal to one per Cent on the value) of the Lands, will take care to set this matter right if such petition should be presented you, & at the same time use some prety strong language to intimidate fellows who act on no principle but fear, & will if they meet with the least encouragement throw the whole country into confusion.

I wish exceedingly to hear what you are about, & how long you expect to stay at Philadelphia, for my own part I can not help thinking no place can be worse chosen on every account—many advantages would attend your removal nearer to the scene of action the center of which wd I conceive at present be Albany since the conduct of the Canada expedition7 will be of the utmost importance & require your most constant attention, besides that you will by that means be 180 nearer to Boston than you now are—But a reason that weighs much with me is one that we can not mention: the necessity of a serious regard to the affairs of our own province—I suppose you have by this time been applied to about giving leave to sell tea8 I wish something could be done in that matter to relieve some of the truest friends to liberty who will otherwise be ruined & the laws of the Congress brought into contempt by an open violation of them. & Pray let me hear from you immediately after this comes to hand for fear Benson shd leave town before he receives your answer, & by that means my pleasure be delayed & I myself prevented from coming to you since I am resolved to wait for your answer to this—I am Dr John Your’s most sincerely

Robt R Livingston Junr.

ALS, NNC (EJ: 6849). Addressed: “To John Jay Esqr./at Philadelphia”. Endorsed. Livingston wrote from his country home, Belvedere, near Clermont. Livingston took his seat as a New York delegate to the Second Continental Congress on 15 May 1775 and attended as late as 8 July.

1Egbert Benson.

2On 26 May 1775 the New York Provincial Congress adopted a general association based upon the association promulgated by the New York committee in April. On 29 May the provincial congress sent circular letters to the counties recommending the appointment of local committees and the circulation of the association for signatures.

Several men in Dutchess County with names spelled variously Lester, Liester, and Luyster were Loyalist sympathizers who refused to sign the association in June and July 1775. The Loyalist mentioned here may have been Mordecai Lester, who was cited by the New York Committee of Safety in September 1775 on charges of having recruited men to fight for the Crown and having purchased supplies for the British. JPC, description begins Journals of the Provincial Congress, Provincial Convention, Committee of Safety and Council of Safety of the State of New-York (2 vols.; Albany, N.Y., 1842) description ends 1: 5, 18, 29, 138.

3“Voluns” has not been identified.

4For the names of those who refused to sign the association in Dutchess County, see Cal. of Hist. Mss. description begins Calendar of Historical Manuscripts, Relating to the War of the Revolution, in the Office of the Secretary of State, Albany, N.Y. (2 vols.; Albany, N.Y., 1868) description ends , 1: 67–85.

5John R. Livingston (1755–1851) and Henry Beekman Livingston (1750–1831) were appointed captains in the 4th New York Regiment at the end of June 1775. Ibid., 2: 41.

6Livingston’s grandfather, Robert Livingston of Clermont, was the uncle of “Mr. Livingston,” Robert Livingston, the third proprietor of Livingston Manor. His father was Judge Robert R. Livingston Sr. No petitions from the Livingston tenants to the provincial congress have been located.

7Maj. Gen. Philip Schuyler, commander of the Northern Department for the Continental troops, was instructed to invade Canada and to seize points required for the security of the colonies on 27 June 1775. Schuyler began his march from Ticonderoga to Canada on 28 Aug.

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