George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Alexander McDougall, 30 October 1780

Fish-Kill 30th Octbr 1780


Your Excellency would long ere now have heard from me but I delayed writing till I could give you some information of importance. Before Genl St Clair releived me, I had intimations from Some members of the Legislature that they wished to see me before they broke up, which was agreeable to my intention. When he arrived, I immediately went there and spent a week with them till they adjourned, which I am perswaded was not ill spent. I gave them a particular detail of our Public affairs, so far as I was capable, and alarmed them with our Conditions—it had its proper effect. They have passed very decisive Laws for filling up their regts for the war, but express their desire to Congress, that one of the five may be incorporated into four. They have also passed Tax Laws to the utmost ability of the State. The Commiss[ioners,] appointed to meet the Convention at Hartford, are men of enlarged minds, fully informed of our civil defects and inertions as well as the feeble State of the Army. They are instructed and empowered to agree on the necessity of a Continental Execu[tive,] with Powers Similar to those mentioned in the inclosure No. 1.

In short Sir, a great majority of the Legislature have a proper Spirit for the times, and so far as our Safety depends on their exertions we have nothing to fear. To remove all doubts of the intention of the Legislature in Electing me a mem[ber] of Congress, they were pleased to Express it in a Letter, copy of which I take the Liberty to inclose you. It appears by it, that they consider my civil Capacity but a secondary one to my Military, and in this relation to the army I wish to be considered by the Commander in chief; and I beg that no unmilitary delicacy may be observed to me while in the Field from my connection with the civil. Whether I am acting in the civil or Military line, I have but one object and that is to promote the best interest of this distressed Country. I was honored with your Favor of the 24th instant, which anticipates the application I purposed to make, when I should be ready to go to Congress, and the Campaign Judged at an end. I now wait only for means to bring me out of Philadelphia when it shall be thought proper for me to take the Field. I own I fear, and have much reason to fear, I Shall not be able in Congress, to answer the Virtuous expectations of the Army and my Fellow[-]citizens, but shall endeavor to do my duty. I have the Honor to be with great [   ], Your Excellencys most obedient and most Humble Servant

Alexander McDougall

DLC: Papers of George Washington.


In Senate octor 10th 1780

A Message from the Honble the House of Assembly was received with the Following Resolution for [concurrencement].

“Resolved unanimously, that the Delegates from this State be instructed to declare in Congress, that it is the earnest wish of this State, that Congress should, during the War, or until a perpetual Confederation shall be compleated, exercise every Power which they may deem necessary for an effectual Prosecution of the war; and that whenever it Shall appear to them, that any State is deficient, in furnishing the Quota of men money provision or other—Supplies required of Such State, that Congress direct the Commander-in chief, without delay to march the Army or Such part of it as may be requisite into Such State, and by a military Force compel it to furnish its deficiency.

Resolved that his Excellency the Governor be requested, to transmit a Copy of the aforesaid Resolution to the Delegates from this State in Congress. Resolved that this Senate do concur with the Honble the House of assemby in their Said Resolution.

Extract from the Minutes

Robt Benson Clk of the Senate


Poughkepsie octor 1780


It is with pleasure we execute the Commands of the Senate and assembly, by informing you that they have chosen you a Delegate from this State in Congress.

The Legislature were induced to Elect you not only from a Confidence in your abilities and integrity, but they conceived, that at this juncture, you would be peculiarly Serviceable in our Public Councils.

The preparations for the ensuing Campaign will doubtless be the most important object of the deliberations of Congress—during the winter, and at that Season it is Supposed you may be Spared from the army without injury to the Service, and be able to attend in Congress, and give them very useful information respecting military matters.

It was judged necessary to explain to you the motives of the Legislature in your Election, least an intention might be presumed to call you out of the Field. It is this wish, that you Should Still retain your Command in the Army, and it is left in your discretion to attend in Congress only when you Conceive it can be done consistent [with] the duties required of you in your Military Capacity. We are with high Esteem Sir, your very Humble Serv. By order of the Senate

Pierre Van Cortlandt Presdt By order of the Assembly

Evert Bancker Spea[ker]

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