George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Maria Farmer, 2 April 1779

To Maria Farmer

Head Quarters Middlebrook 2 April 1779.


Were there no resolve of Congress, making it necessary to obtain the governors concurrence, when an inhabitant of any of the States is desirous to pass into the enemy’s lines—I should have been happy in complying with your request.1

But as there is such a resolution Governor Livingstons consent becomes a requisite, you will therefore be pleased to procure this, when, you shall have my immediate permission, to return to New-York.2 I am Madam, with much respect, Your most hble servt.

LS, in James McHenry’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1See Farmer to GW, 24 March. GW is referring to Congress’s resolution of 21 Aug. 1778 requiring persons who desired to go within the enemy’s lines to obtain first the permission of their state executive power (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 11:825; see also General Orders, 24 April 1779).

2Farmer apparently was unable to secure consent from New Jersey governor William Livingston, who wrote on 9 March 1780 to Surgeon General John Cochran that “I feel not the least Disposition to give my Passport to Mrs. Howard & Mrs. Farmer because I know it to be inconsistent with the public Interest, & verily believe that the Sickness of the husband pretended by the one, & the prospect of receiving money urged as the Motive by the other, are mere Fictions for procuring leave to Jaunt it to New York. At least I cannot take their words as proper Evidences of it, having found it as a rule in all Cases of a public nature in which particular Individuals have a separate Interest to pay no more regard to the word of a Petitioner in Petticoats than to that of one in Breeches” (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 , 3:320–21).

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