George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., 18 June 1779

To Jonathan Trumbull, Sr.

Fish Kill [N.Y.] June 18th 1779

Dr Sir,

Mr Starr, an agent for the Board of War in a factory at Middletown, has represented to me, that the public service is like to suffer very materially from the workmen employed with him being called out to serve in the militia. The business under Mr Starr’s direction is of so much importance, that I could wish if possible, it might meet with no interruption.1 I am therefore induced to request the favour of Your Excellency to grant an exemption to such of the militia as are engaged in this factory. They will certainly be more useful here than they can be in the field—But as I am sensible that an indulgence of this kind may be abused and extended too far, I beg leave to suggest to your Excellency that it will be proper to accompany it with restrictions that it will prevent its being made a sanction to excuse persons who are not really intitled to it. With the most perfect respect & esteem I have the honor to be Yr Excellencys Most Obedt servt

Go: Washington

LS, in Alexander Hamilton’s writing, Ct: Trumbull Papers. GW signed the cover.

GW’s request prompted Governor Trumbull to write a letter to Col. Comfort Sage on 23 June from Lebanon, Connecticut. It reads: “On the Other side is Copy of General Washington’s Letter to me of the 18th inst. On the affair of Mr. Starr’s Factory—please to observe the Contents—and give the necessary Orders and relief—Under such restrictions as to you shall appear reasonable and Beneficial … P.S. please to communicate this to Colo. Cook, or elsewhere as needful” (Ct: Trumbull Papers).

1GW probably is referring to Jehoshaphat Starr, Sr. (c.1718–1796), a Middletown, Conn., resident who used the title “Major” because of service in the French and Indian War. The factory almost certainly was a smelting operation connected to a lead mine in Middletown (see Trumbull to GW, 21 Aug. 1775, and n.3 to that document; see also Middlesex County, Connecticut, description begins History of Middlesex County, Connecticut, with Biographical Sketches of Its Prominent Men. New York, 1884. description ends 78–79).

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