George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Livingston, 23 September 1780

From William Livingston

Trenton 23d Sepr 1780

Dear Sir

It appears by your Excellency’s Certificate of the 11th instant, & Mrs McKay’s Letter of the same date to me inclosing it, that she has utterly misapprehended me on the Subject of her Pass to New York.1 It never entered into my thoughts to tell her (as she says in her Letter I did) that “I would grant her my Permission to go to New York if General Washington would signify his Approbation.”2 What I told her was that as all her Recommendations to me came from Gentlemen in the Army; I thought it most proper for her to apply for the Permission to his Excellency the General, who, if he thought proper to grant the Pass, would give no Umbrage by it to the executive Power of this State, & that I wished no Delicacy towards me might prevent him from doing it, if he otherwise thought it expedient, as I had no Objection against it; but that as to myself I should never grant it save on the Terms of the Removal of the whole Family, & their Engagements not to return into this State during the war. This Idea, in order to prevent farther Mistakes, & on the present repeated Application of that Lady & her Friends in the Army for a Pass from me, I take the Liberty to communicate to Your Excellency.3 If any of our Officers are ⟨un⟩der Obligations to Mrs McKay or her husband, I am ⟨s⟩ure the State of New Jersey is not. I have the Honour to be with the highest Respect Dear Sir Your Excellency’s most humble & most Obedient Servt

Wil: Livingston

P.S. your Excellency, will not I hope understand me that my reason for refusing Mrs McKai the Pass, was because she was recommended by the Gentlemen of the Army (’tho’ I think some of them have been rather too importunate in the Case) to whose Recommendation⟨s⟩ I shall always pay proper Attention. But it is really against my Judgment to let her go—she is not intitled to any Favour from this Government—and her disaffection to our Cause, as well as her capacity to do mischief if she pleases, is so well known to the People, that an Indulgence to her which is almost daily refused to some of the best Friends to America, would naturally give general Disgust. But upon the Score of her Civility & good Offices to the Military, the like Favour from your Excellency, wou’d doubtless be more readily acquiessed in.4


1A pass for “Elizabeth Mackey” dated 11 Sept. is in NN: William Livingston Papers.

Elizabeth Ogden Mackie (McKay) had married Peter Mackie (McKay), a merchant in Morristown, New Jersey. Her father was Jacob Ogden, a physician in Jamaica, N.Y., and her uncle the prominent Loyalist David Ogden.

2Mackie’s letter to Livingston dated 11 Sept. has not been identified.

3Mackie ostensibly desired a pass to visit her ailing father, who died on 3 Sept. (see Livingston to Charles Stewart, 31 July, in 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 , 4:25, and The New-York Gazette, and Weekly Mercury, 11 Sept.).

4No reply from GW to Livingston has been found.

Index Entries