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The Life of Gouverneur Morris

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oblige the ships of war to quit this port, by expending the little powder we have, an event which our most sanguine hopes cannot .promise us, the attention of our enemies will effectually prevent our expected importation.  For these reasons w e conceive, that a just regard to the public cause and our duty require us to take a prudent care of this city, and dictate the impropriety of provoking hostilities at present, and the necessity of saving appearances with the ships of war, till at least the month of March.

‘We, therefore, ardently wish to remain in peace for a little time, and doubt not we have assigned sufficient reasons for avoiding at present a dilemma, in which the present entrance of a large body of troops' into this city will almost certainly involve us.  Should you have such an entrance in design, we beg at least that the troops may halt on the western confines of Connecticut, till we shall have been honored by you, with such an explanation on this important subject, as you conceive your duty may permit you to enter into with us, the grounds of which you will easily see ought to be kept an entire secret.’

To this epistle, signed by Peter V. B. Livingston, chairman of the Committee of Safety, General Lee replied in another, dated at Stamford, January twenty-third, in which he expressed himself in the following manner.

‘With respect, Sir, to the alarms of the inhabitants, on the suspicions that my business was to commence active hostilities against the men-of-war in your harbor, I can assure you, that they may be perfectly easy.  Such never was the intention of the General, as I hope you will believe, that I never entertained a thought of transgressing the letter of my instructions.  The motive of the General for detaching me was, solely to prevent the enemy from taking post in your city, or lodging themselves in Long Island, which we have the greatest reason to think, Sir, is their design.  Some subordinate purposes were likewise to be executed, which are much more proper to communicate by word of mouth, than by writing;

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From The Life of Gouverneur Morris: With Selections from His Correspondence and Miscellaneous Papers; Detailing Events in the American Revolution, The French Revolution, and in the Political History of the United States, by Jared Sparks, Volume 1, Boston: Gray & Bowen, 1832, p 77. Some minor edits may have been made, but an attempt has been made to preserve the original spelling. Although some effort has been made to correct the limitations of OCR technology, if you find an error please report it to


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