George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Bailey, Jr., Lewis Duboys, and John Van Kleeck, 20 January 1781

From John Bailey, Jr., Lewis Duboys, and John Van Kleeck

Poughkepsie [N.Y.] January 20th 1781


Influenced by a sincere Attachment to the Welfare of the Public and duly sensible of your Excellency’s Pleasure in promoting the same: We, a Committee chosen at a regular Town Meeting for the Precinct of Poughkepsie in the County of Dutchess, beg your Excellency’s Attention to the Resolves purporting the Intention of our Appointment, which we have taken the Liberty to enclose.1 By them we find it a Duty incumbent upon us, to make diligent and impartial Enquiries into any Charges of Neglect or Breaches of Trust which may be alledged against any Person within the Precinct appointed to procure Supplies.

Ignorant of the Causes of the Popular Clamore that have lately arisen to a great Height against Colonel Udny Hay, an Inhabitant of this Precinct & Agent of this State, we find it necessary to enquire into them, as well for paving the Way for doing Justice to the Public, as to the Gentleman in Question, should we in tracing them to their Source, be convinced that they originate in Mistake, or the Intention of designing and disaffected Persons to traduce his private Character & sap his Credit as a Public Officer.

As we presume, from the large Supplies that frequently must have been delivered the Army through Colonel Hay and his other Transactions of a Public Nature, a material Part of his Conduct may not have escaped your Excellency’s Notice, we flatter ourselves that your Excellency will be pleased to indulge us with your Opinion of the same and favor us likewise, with informing in what Light you considered him whilst an Officer in the Line of the Army, as a Quarter Master & in his present Agency. With profound Respect, We have the Honor to be Your Excellency’s most obedient and very humble Servants.

John Bailey Junr
Lewis Duboys
John Van Kleeck


John Bailey, Jr. (1732–1806) was named lieutenant colonel of a regiment of Dutchess County minutemen in 1775. An obituary in the Republican Watch-Tower (New York) for 19 Aug. 1806 described Bailey: “A principal actor in the revolution which gave independence to his country, his patriotism knew no change. He had been honored with various public offices, all which he filled with dignity, and integrity, and to the satisfaction of his constituents. He was literally a pillar in church and state.”

John Van Kleeck (c.1741–1807) was a captain in the fourth regiment of Dutchess County militia, a position he had held since 1775.

GW replied to Bailey, Duboys, and Van Kleeck from New Windsor on 25 Jan.: “I last evening received the letter which you were pleased to write me of the 20th instant requesting my opinion of Col. Hay’s conduct in his former and present stations.

“I can only answer in general that from the character given me of him while serving in the Northern army—from the information I received of his conduct while acting in this department—and from my own observations upon it—I have always considered Col. Hay as a capable useful diligent active and upright servant of the public. My situation however did not enable me to look into the interior of his transactions in business, of course from my own knowlege I could only judge of the results to the service and on these are founded the opinion I have given” (Df, in Alexander Hamilton’s writing, DLC:GW; Varick transcript, DLC:GW; Hamilton wrote “upright” over struck-out “faithful” on the draft).

1The enclosed undated document reads in part: “Whereas Disquietudes and Jealousies have arisen in the Minds of many of the Inhabitants from the operation of some late Acts of the Legislature of this State, and from an imputed neglect of Duty and breach of Trust in some Persons appointed to procure the Public Supplies; whereby it has become necessary to adopt means for the satisfaction of the People, and to maintain that Confidence in the Government and it’s Officers which is essential to the Peace and Safety of the State, and to the Wellfare of the Common Cause.

“Resolved, That a Committee of three Persons be appointed within this Precinct for the following Purposes, To Wit,

“1st To inquire into the Public Grievances and Embarrassments with Authority to meet and unite with Committees of other Precincts in this County in making a temperate and candid Representation of them to the Legislature of this State, and in suggesting such Measures as they shall conceive necessary to give Vigour to the Exertions of this State.

“2d To make a diligent and impartial inquiry into any Charges of neglect or breach of Trust, which may be alledged against any Person within this Precinct, appointed to procure the Public Supplies: and if they find the same Supported, to transmit the Evidence they collect to the Authority competent to take Cognizance of the same: If otherwise, to publish the State of the case for the Information of the People, in order that the negligent and unfaithful Officer may be brought to Shame and Punishment, and the faithful Servant of the Public maintain’d in the Confidence necessary for the Execution of his Trust” (DLC:GW). No report from the committee has been identified.

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