John Jay Papers
Documents filtered by: Author="Livingston, Robert R." AND Period="Confederation Period"
sorted by: editorial placement
Permanent link for this document:

To John Jay from Robert R. Livingston, 29 November 1783

From Robert R. Livingston

New York 29th. Novr 1783

Dr John

I am two letters in your debt1 & am conscious that I shall make an ill return for them in offering you this product of a midnight hour after a ^day^ spent in the fatigue of business & cerimony that our present situation exacts— But having just been informed by Mr Plat2 that he sails tomorrow morning I can not permit him to go without offering you my congratulations on an event to which you have so greatly contributed to bring about the evacuation of this City by the British on Tuesday last—

Our enemies are hardly more astonished than we ourselves & than you will when you hear that we have been five days in town without the smallest disturbance that the most obnoxious Royalists that had sufficient confidence in our clemency to them have not met with the least insult— Their shops were opened the day after we came in, And Rivington himself goes on as usual— His State of New York gazette is as well recd as if he never had been printer to the Kings most excellent majesty.3 So that your friends in Europe will find their apprehentions ill founded and that the race of Tories will not after all be totally extinct in America— Perhaps with good training, & by crossing the breed frequently (as they are very tame) they may be rendered useful animals in a few generations.

On the rect. of your Letter I went down to your brother— Had two long siting[s] with him conversed freely with him about his situation & told him of your directions relative to him & his sister.4 He expressed a strong sense of your tenderness for them and promised when ever their occasions should render it necessary that he would draw upon me— He is now at Rie with your sister Nancy who tho not perfectly does not appear to me to be in such a situation as to give you much cause of uneasiness— I am not with out hopes that her native air may reestablish her health—

I have seen Fady & his wife within this two days they have a part of Hary Whites house in which Mrs. White remains and will I believe remain this winter undisturbed he has entered up on business—as I have scolded him [about] his neglect to write I hope you will learn some things from him that I can not enlarge upon— I thank you for your prints of the air balls5 But wish to have some fuller account of their composition & the use proposed to be made of them— As an aieriel architect I can not but be curious about the first castles in the air that promise to be attended have some stable use.

Receive my congratulations on the birth of your daughter & make my compliments to Mrs. Jay on the occasion—6

I had hardly finished the last line when I was alarmed by a very loud rumbling noise accompanied by a quick tremulous motion of the earth the family are too much alarmed to permit me to add more adieu—

R R Livingston

PS: 30th. We have two small tremours in the course of the night and accompanied with the same kind of noise tho’ not louder than very distant thunder— I shall answer your Letters more at large by the packet

ALS, NNC (EJ: 90355 and 6870). Endorsed: “Recd. 11 Ap. 1784”. Dft, NHi: Robert R. Livingston (EJ: 1538). Printed with substantial omissions in WJ description begins William Jay, ed., The Life of John Jay: With Selections from His Correspondence and Miscellaneous Papers (2 vols.; New York, 1833) description ends , 2: 139–40, in HPJ description begins Henry P. Johnston, ed., The Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay (4 vols.; New York, 1890–93) description ends , 3: 98–99, and in RDC description begins Francis Wharton, ed., The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States (6 vols.; Washington, D.C., 1889) description ends , 6: 735–36.

1See JJ to RRL, 19 July and 12 Sept. 1783, above.

2A newspaper account datelined New York, 6 Dec. 1783, reported the sailing for London of “Mr. J. Platt, Merchant of this City” on the Minerva, Capt. Hayden. See the Connecticut Journal (New London), 17 Dec. 1783. The reference is undoubtedly to Jeremiah Platt (1744–94), a New York City merchant and partner in the firm of Broome and Platt, on whom see Walter Barrett, The Old Merchants of New York City (4 vols.; New York, 1885), 4: 212.

3James Rivington, the detested arch-Tory printer, may have, by the latter part of the war, engaged in espionage for the Patriots. He remained in New York City after the British evacuation and received a visit from Washington there. He changed the name of his newspaper from The Royal American Gazette to Rivington’s New-York Gazette and Universal Advertiser, with the issue of 22 Nov. 1783, but this did not insure its success. Bowing to public animosity he suspended publication 31 Dec. 1783. Catherine S. Crary, “The Tory and the Spy: The Double Life of James Rivington,” WMQ description begins William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd series (1944–) description ends 16 (1959): 61–72. For a subsequent attack on Rivington, see RRL to JJ, 25 Jan. 1784, note 2, below.

4For JJ’s directions to his brother Peter and sister Anna Maricka (Nancy), see JJ to RRL, 19 July 1783, above.

5On the balloon prints, see JJ to RRL, and to Robert Morris, both 12 Sept., and notes, above.

6At this point in the Dft, RRL deleted his original closing and substituted: “I had hardly finished the last line when my table was shaken by a pretty smart shock of an earthquake accompanied with a very loud noise like the rumbling of thunder at no great distance the noise continued about 8 seconds with a quick tremulous motion. My mother and sisters [rushing?] Downstairs you will easily believe it are all in my room and very much alarmed. Mrs. Li It is impossible to add any thing more. Adieu— P.S. You shall hear from me by the packet which sails in a few days. In every circumstance and situation be assured my dear John of my unalterable friendship—”. See the report of the earthquake in The Independent Journal or, The General Advertiser (New York), 1 Dec. 1783.

Index Entries