George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Livingston, 22 November 1777

From William Livingston

Princeton [N.J.] 22nd November 1777


The Legislature of this State having passed a Law for impressing a thousand Blankets for the Use of the Jersey Battalions under your Command, & for authorizing Commissioners to Purchase as many others, with as many Articles of Cloathing for the said Troops as they can procure, we presume that all orders that may have been issued to military Officers to seize such Articles in this State will be countermanded.1

Your Excellency may remember that I laid before you sometime since the Complaints of the People about Elizabeth Town respecting the Trade carryed on from thence to Staten Island by some of the most abandoned Banditti in the Country under pretence of being employed by our Army as Spies to procure Intelligence from the Enemy.2 This Evil instead of being checked has grown to so enormous a height that the Enemy as I am informed is plentifully supplied with fresh Provisions, & such a Quantity of British Manufactures brought back in Exchange as to enable the Persons concerned to set up Shops to retail them. The People are outrageous, and many of our Officers threaten to resign their Commissions—I have therefore issued Warrants for apprehending three of the Persons complained of, and if the facts are proved shall think myself obliged to leave them to the lash of the Law.3 I am With the greatest Respect Your Excellency’s Most Obedt & Hum. Servt

Wil: Livingston


3Abraham Clark informed Livingston and the New Jersey council of safety on 13 Nov. that several of the persons entrusted by GW to procure intelligence were using their passes to trade with the enemy on Staten Island. Clark named Joseph Morse, Jr., John and Baker Hendricks, and John Meeker in his report. One week later, on 20 Nov., the council of safety issued warrants for the four men’s arrest (see N.J. Council of Safety Minutes description begins Minutes of the Council of Safety of the State of New Jersey. Jersey City, 1872. description ends , 164, and Prince, Livingston Papers description begins Carl E. Prince et al., eds. The Papers of William Livingston. 5 vols. Trenton and New Brunswick, N.J., 1979–88. description ends , 2:121). After the Hendrickses and Meeker were apprehended, GW on 20 Jan. 1778 wrote Livingston to request that he stop their prosecution.

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