George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Livingston, 7 October 1779

From William Livingston

Trenton [N.J.] 7 Ocbr 1779 5 oClock P.M.

Dear Sir

I just now received your Excellencys Letter of the 4th respecting the Pilots—For Vandril I have enquired for a week past; but by the best Intelligence I can obtain he is gone on a privateering Voyage. for the others mentioned by your Excellency, with the addition of ⟨Sheror⟩ and ⟨Iscloline⟩, I shall dispatch Expresses early in the Morning.

With the same Messenger I received your Excellencys requisition for Men & Provisions to co-operate with you & our Ally against the British at New york.1 The Council had already past a Bill for 4000 men almost exactly upon your Plan. But it meets with great Obstruction in the Assembly, & they talk of rising this very night. I hope the Contents of your Excellency’s Letter will expel that absurd & ruinous measure from their Imagination.2 for if they do, there is no power in the State to bring out a single man, the whole Legislature being dissolved on that Event; & the Governor tho’ continuing in office till the Election having no authority to call out the militia, except in the case of an Invasion of this State. I trust however that voluntiers would be procurable to the number your Excellency mentions without any Difficulty. But the Business of the Supplies gives me the greatest Anxiety. your Excellencys Troops at West point are already strenghtened on that Account; the western Army will soon return without Provision⟨s.⟩ the addition of the Militia of different States will require a proportionable augmentation of Supplies; and as for the Count⟨’s⟩ Squadron, we know that Frenchmen eat at least twice as much bread as other people—What I can do, I will do, and never with a better heart, tho’ always I hope with a good one. God Almighty bless & preserve you. With the greatest Esteem I have the Honour to be Dear Sir your Excellencys most obedient & very humble Servt

Wil: Livingston

P.S. Your Excellency will be pleased for a fortnight to come, to direct to me at Raritan.


1Livingston is referring to GW’s circular letter to the state executives of 4 Oct.; see GW to George Clinton, that date, a version of which was also addressed to Livingston. For GW’s plans and preparations for combined operations with the French fleet, see Planning for an Allied Attack on New York, c.3–7 October.

2The New Jersey council on 5 Oct. had passed a bill to raise 4,000 men for service in the Continental army. Livingston shortly thereafter presented to the assembly GW’s 4 Oct. letter, and the assembly passed an amended bill, which soon became law. The law authorized the enlistment of 4,000 men into the Continental army to serve until 20 December. See N.J. Acts 1778, Last Sitting, description begins Acts of the General Assembly of the State of New-Jersey, At a Session begun at Trenton on the 27th Day of October, 1778, and continued by Adjournments. Being the Last Sitting of their Third Session. Trenton, 1779. description ends 135–38 and N.J. Legislative Council Proc., 27 Oct. 1778–9 Oct. 1779 description begins A Journal of the Proceedings of the Legislative-Council of the State of New-Jersey, In General Assembly convened at Trenton, on Tuesday the twenty-seventh of October, in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy-eight. Being the Third Session. Trenton, 1780. description ends , 95, 97, 105–6; see also 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 3:178–179. In his letter to GW of 8 Oct., Livingston gave GW a further report on the assembly’s actions.

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