From Perez Morton
Council Chamber Watertown [Mass.] Septr 12th 1775
Agreable to your Request, I am directed by the Board to inform your Excellency, that in consequence of your Excellency’s Letter to the Board, relative to the great Increase of Prisoners here,1 they apprised the 3 other Colonies of New England, thereof by Letters to their several Assemblies2—In Consequence of Which they have received for answer, from Govr Cooke of Rhode Island, that their Assembly have resolved, & are accordingly ready to receive 15 Prisoners—whenever delivered from this Colony3—They have also received another Letter from his Honor Govr Trumbull inclosing a Resolve of Council of that Colony of Connecticut, purporting their readiness to receive their proportion of Prisoners, taken by the Continental Army, & pointing out the Counties of Hartford & Windham as the most eligible places for their Reception.4
Your Excellency will therefore, during the Recess of the Council5 send all such Prisoners, as may fortunately fall into Your hands, into the Counties of Hartford & Windham, in the Colony of Connecticut, unless Your Excellency prefers the Colony of Rhode Island, where this Colony has a right to send only 15 in number—The Goals thro’ out this Colony are crowded. I am with great respect Your Excellency’s most Obedt humb. Servt
Perez Morton Dpy Secry
1. Morton may be referring to the letter that Horatio Gates wrote on behalf of GW to James Warren on 21 July asking for directions on where to send current and future prisoners. Gates’s letter was referred to the council. See General Orders, 29 July 1775, n.1.
2. On 18 Aug. James Otis, Sr., president of the Massachusetts council, wrote to Deputy Gov. Nicholas Cooke of Rhode Island: “In the frequent Encounters we have had with our Unnatural Enemies upon our Coasts, they have in almost every Instance been disappointed and defeated, and many of them have fallen into our hands. Yet this very circumstance has added to the Number of our difficulties. Most of the Goals in this Colony, are already so Crowded with them, that they can hardly contain them all. We therefore request of your Honor that we may send some of our prisoners into your Colony, and that you will be pleased to inform us what places you think proper to assign for the reception of them. As the Cause we are engaged in, is the Common cause of the Colonies, we Cannot entertain a doubt of your ready complyance with our request” (Jones, “Cooke Correspondence,” 268–69). Similar letters were apparently sent to Governor Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., of Connecticut and Matthew Thornton, president of the New Hampshire provincial congress.
3. The Rhode Island general assembly resolved on 21 Aug. that Deputy Governor Cooke, “with the advice of the committee appointed to transact public matters during the recess of the Assembly, be requested to write an answer to the letter from the Council of the colony of Massachusetts Bay, dated August 18, 1775, to the Deputy Governor, and to take such orders respecting the prisoners therein referred to, as they shall think proper” (Bartlett, R.I. Records description begins John Russell Bartlett, ed. Records of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, in New England. 10 vols. Providence, 1856–65. description ends , 7:374).
4. Governor Trumbull laid Otis’s letter of 18 Aug. before the Connecticut council on 4 Sept., and the council promptly acted: “Although our own prisons were much wanted for our prisoners from the northward, and tories at home; yet for the great affection for the common cause, the Governor and Council did not refuse to receive some of their prisoners, on condition that they should apply to Rhode Island and New Hampshire Assemblies for like favors, and send as sparingly to Connecticut as possible; and that such as they should send, should be sent to the gaols in Hartford and Windham” (Hinman, Historical Collection description begins Royal R. Hinman, comp. A Historical Collection, from Official Records, Files &c., of the Part Sustained by Connecticut, during the War of the Revolution. Hartford, 1842. description ends , 332).
5. The General Court recessed from 24 Aug. to 20 September.