George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Bailey, 20 January 1781

Poughkepsie 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—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 Transactione 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

DLC: Papers of George Washington.


c.20 January 1781

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 Welfare of the Common Cause.

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

lst—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.

3d—To co-operate on Emergencies with the Officers appointed to procure the Public Supplies, and draw forth the Resources of the Precinct.

4th—To assist the Militia and recruiting Officers appointed to procure the Quota of Men assigned to this Precinct, agreeable to Law; and to promote this desirable end if they shall find it necessary, by Voluntary Subscriptions, and by every other means in their Power.

5th—To inquire into and counteract all Plots & Conspiracies which may be formed within this Precinct against the Liberties of America, and to make the earliest Communication to the Authority, competent to take Cognizance of the same.

6th—To be diligent in apprehending Deserters from the Continental Army and Levies to publish the Names of those who harbour them to apprehend Spies and Emissaries from the Enemy and examine Travellers of Suspicious Characters.

7th—And whereas many Evils arise to the State from an undue Communication with the Enemy by which they are enabled to spread false Rumours, to sow Divisions amongst the People, to drain the Country of Specie, to obtain Intelligence, and to seduce Persons to Inlist in their Service, Contrary to the Allegiance they owe to the State and there is no doubt but this Intercourse is facilitated by means of the numerous Hawkers and Pedlars which infest every Quarter of the State.

Resolved, That this Committee be directed till such time as the Legislature make effectual Provision in this Respect, to watch all Hawkers and Pedlars, to discountenance their Traffic within this Precinct, & prevent as much as may be the Evils arising from this Source.

That any Two of this Committee be a Quorum to transact Business, that they meet at least once a Fortnight at such Places as they shall judge best, that they correspond with Committees, which may be appointed for similar Purposes, in other Precincts, & with Individuals of approved attachment to the Liberties of the State, on such Measures as they shall conceive necessary to give Vigour to our operations, & to cement that Union of the Whig Interest, which has hitherto proved the firm Basis of the safety of the State, and which our Enemies are Industriously endeavouring to undermine by every Artifice in their Power.

Resolved, that the Supervisor of the Precinct be requested to communicate Copies of the Resolutions to the Supervisors of the other Precincts in this County earnestly recommending it to the Inhabitants to appoint Committees for the same Purposes, and that the same be published in the News Papers of this State.

The Persons appointed for the Committee, are,

Col: John Bailey Chairman

Col: Lewis Duboys

Captn John Van Kleeck

Index Entries