George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Joseph Reed, 8 February 1777

From Joseph Reed

Burlington [N.J.] Feby 8 1777.

Dear Sir

I beg Leave to remind you of an Application I made to your Excelly before I left Morris Town in Behalf of Mr Odell a Gentleman of this Place who acts in the double Capacity of a Clergyman & Physician. He was drove from his Home by the Violence of the Gondola Men who hunted him in such a Manner as in my Opinion made it necessary for him to retire to preserve his Life. At that time the Enemy surrounded the Town so that it was not possible for him to go out of Town without passing through them. While absent some from Ignorance & others perhaps through Design carried such alarming stories of his Danger & the Reward offered for apprehending him that he went on wi⟨th⟩ others after the Troops to Amboy where he is now an⟨d is⟩ waiting Permission to return to his Family & Pati⟨ents.⟩ If your Excellency has not altered your Sentiments sin⟨ce⟩ Mr Cox & myself laid this Matter before you I flatt⟨er⟩ myself you will be so good as to sign the inclosed Passport & return it by the Bearer.1

Believe me, Sir, I would not urge this Request if I was not fully satisfied not only that the Indulgence will not be detrimental to the Service, but that the poor Soldiers & Inhabitants from Mr Odell’s Attendance will make it a publick Benefit. An Officer died here a few Days ago from a Wound seeming slight & as is generally believed for Want of proper Assistance.

We have the most satisfactory Accounts that this Gentleman since he has been with the Enemy has been constantly employed in relieving, and assisting those Persons who were carried off from this Part of the Country getting some discharged & procuring Indulgences to others.

If any Engagements are thought necessary I am sure Mr Odell will enter into them not to correspond with or hold any kind of Connection with the Enemy & I will be responsible for his Fidelity in the Observance of them.

Your Excellencys Compliance will besides relieving the Distress of a very worthy Family add one more to the many Favours received by Dear Sir Your most obliged & Affect. Hbble Servt

Jos: Reed

I propose to be with your Excellency in the Course of 10 Days or a Fortnight—but if I can be of any particular Service I will obey your Commands on the shortest Notice.

ALS, DLC:GW. The text in angle brackets is mutilated.

1The unsigned passport giving Odell “Permission to return to his Family at Burlington” is located in DLC:GW. Jonathan Odell (1737–1818) of Newark, N.J., served as a surgeon in the British army in the early 1760s before going to England to study for the ministry. He returned to America after his ordination in 1767 to serve as missionary and rector at Anglican churches in Burlington and Mount Holley, N.J., and in 1771 he resumed the practice of medicine. Odell was arrested because of his loyalty to the British crown and released on parole in 1775, but the New Jersey provincial congress ordered him rearrested in July 1776 when knowledge of an ode to the king that he had written for George III’s birthday became public. Odell was confined to the Burlington area after giving parole a second time, and in December 1776 he fled to New York City. From January 1778 to October 1783 Odell served as a chaplain to Loyalist regiments, and beginning in 1779 he acted as intermediary for Benedict Arnold and John André. Many of Odell’s Loyalist essays and satirical verses were published in Rivington’s Royal Gazette and other Loyalist newspapers. After the war Odell and his family settled in New Brunswick, Canada, where he served as registrar and clerk of the province until 1812.

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