George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Pierre De Peyster, 9 June 1782

New Windsor June 9th 1782


Not having the Honour of being admitted into your Excellencies presence yesterday, must take the Liberty of addressing you upon the subject of my Detention and beg your Excellencies indulgence a few moments that upon being taken into Custody and detained by Colonel Ogden (upon Suspicion as he informed me of being in the Enemies employ) thought the proceeding illegal and contrary to the rights I was intituled to as a Citizen especially as the Laws of New Jersey Amply provides for the punish[ment] of all crimes committed against it, to which Laws I looked upon my self only Ameniable and that the Civil Magistrate was undoubtedly the proper person to take Cognizance of the matter. the Colonel told me he had your Excellencies Order to transmit the Charges to the Governor and to take his determination upon it; (When in fact the Governor by the Law and Constitution of the State has nothing to do with it) however the Governor submitted it to the Council for their Opinion who at first determined agreable to what has been transmitted to your Excellency by Colonel Dayton which determination the Govr instantly sent off to the Colonel; the Next day the Council considered the matter and gave it as their edict to the Governor that he had better not interfere in the Case of Mr Depeyster: (A Copy of which was handed to your Excellency yesterday) the Express arriving with the first Determination of Council, Colonel Dayton instantly sent me off to your Excellency, and whether the Governor will trouble or hurry himself with writing off another Express with the Second Opinion of Council is uncertain; immediately upon being taken into Custody I took the opinion of the Best Council in the State who all agreed that my Detention by the Military was illegal and that the Matter was only Cognizable by the Civil Law and that I ought immediately to be delivered over to the Civil Authority with whatever Charges where alleged against me—A habeas Corpus was Issued by the Judge of the Supream Court for me to be Brought before him on the [3] Inst. which warrant Colonel Ogden refused to Comply with; I mention those particulars to shew your Excellency that the Civil Authority was ready to take Congizance of it and thought it a matter that Comes wholly under their Jurisdiction; therfore must plead the Rights of a Citizen which I’m Confident your [Excellency] will shew a disposition to vindicate and that I may be [delivered] to the Laws of the State to which I owe Allegiance and think myself only Ameniable to; Shoud a Military tryal at any rate take place and terminate in my favour it does not by any means Screen me from Civil Law So that Shou’d that be the Case I am to receive two tryals for one offence—The Ill state of health that I daily experience and have Labored under for the two years past will I hope Induce your Excellency to continue my Confinement while here in such place that I may have the advantage of procuring such things as I stand in immediate need of for its restoration. I am with the greatest Respect your Excellencies Most Obedient and Very Humble Servant

Pierre De Peyster

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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