Continuation of LETTERS found on board the British Packet, bound to New-York, but taken on her passage and carried into France.
Duplicate No. 77.
SIR, Whitehall, 7th February, 1781. […]
The return of the people of Vermont to their allegiance, is an event of the utmost importance to the king’s affairs; and at this time if the French and Washington really meditate an irruption into Canada, may be considered as opposing an unsurmountable bar to the attempt. General Haldimand, who has the same instructions with you to draw over those people, and give them support, will, I doubt not, push up a body of troops, to act in conjunction with them, to secure all the avenues through their country into Canada; and when the season admits, take possession of the upper parts of the Hudson’s and Connecticut rivers, and cut off the communication between Albany and the Mohawk’s country. How far they may be able to extend themselves southward or eastward must depend on their numbers, and the disposition of the inhabitants. […]
I am, Sir, your most obedient humble servant,
(Signed) GEO. GERMAN.
Sir Henry Clinton, K. B. New-York.
Pennsylvania Packet [Philadelphia, PA]. August 4, 1781: 2 col 2.
Whereas the government of New York have for more than sixteen years last past made use of every art and cunning in their power to
usurp the rights and properties of the people of this State; while every measure hitherto adopted has proved abortive for settling a controversy of such magnitude, so necessary to be settled for the peace and welfare of the United States at this critical period, the unfortunate situation of this State being that of having an extensive frontier of more than one hundred miles in length to defend against the British invasion from the Province of Quebeck, by the avaricious and ambitious claims of the neighbouring governments and by the powers assumed over them by Congress, [this State has] have at several times been embarrassed in raising men and money for the defence of her frontiers; and by resolutions of Congress, obtained by the claiming governments, notwithstanding the brave exertions of this State in the Bennington Battle &c., every article belonging to the Continent has been called for and ordered out of the State even to pick-axes and spades at a time when the State was erecting a new line of forts on her frontiers, at which time the State of
New York evacuated their fort at Skeensborough [now Whitehall,] which necessitated the people to petition this State for protection, when this State reinforced her guards and directed her scouts to cover said people.
And whereas it appears by the best accounts hitherto obtained that there was a government established by the Court of Great Britain before the aera of American independence, including all the lands this State at present exercises jurisdiction over, as also a much greater western extent, over which Governor Philip Skene was to have presided, which overturns the claims of New York on their own stating—
And whereas it appears that the government of New York is still determined to do everything in her power to embarrass and overturn the
jurisdiction of this State, and have made no answer to Governor Chittenden’s letter of the 22d Nov- last past which was sent to the Legislature of New York demanding of them to relinquish their claim of jurisdiction to this State and inviting them to join in the mutual defence of the frontiers of the two States against British invasion from the Province of Quebec —
Theretore your Committee do recommend that the Legislature of this State do lay a jurisdictional claim to all the land situate north of the north line of the State of Massachusetts and extending the same to Hudson’s River the east of the center of the deepest channel of said River to the head thereof, from thence east of a north line being extended to latitude 45 and south of said line, including all the lands and waters to the place where this State now exercises jurisdiction — and not to exercise jurisdiction for the time being.
By order, JOSEPH BOWKER, Chairman.
Windsor Feby. 14th 1781.
IN COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE, Feby. 14th 1781.
The aforesaid Report was read and accepted.
Attest, ROS. HOPKINS, Clerk.
[IN GENERAL ASSEMBLY, Feb. 14, 1781.]
The aforesaid Report was read and accepted, and thereupon
Resolved that this state have and do hereby lay a jurisdictional claim to all the lands and waters described in the aforesaid Report.
Resolved that a Committee of five be appointed to join a Committee from the Council tor the purpose of waiting upon the Committee appointed by a Convention held at Charlestown with the Report of the Committee of both houses upon the subject of jurisdictional claims and passed the house this day.
The members chosen Mr. Harris [Edward of Halifax,] Mr. Strong [Col. John of Dorset,] Mr. Pearl [Col. Stephen of Rupert,] Mr. Walbridge [Col. Ebenezer of Bennington,] and Mr. Murdock [Major Thomas of Norwich.]
Walton, E. P., ed. Records of the Governor and Council of the State of Vermont. Vol. 2. Montpelier, VT: J. & J. M. Poland, 1874. 287-288.
In April  the Legislature of [Vermont] directed that a convention be held at Cambridge the following month, composed of delegates elected by the people of the various districts of Charlotte county and of that part of Albany county lying north of the south line of Vermont prolonged to the Hudson, which convention should decide whether, and on what terms, those districts should be united to the State of Vermont.
Delegates were accordingly chosen in many of the districts and patents. Those who remained faithful to New York apparently ignored the whole proceeding, so that the secessionists had everything their own way in the elections. There had, of course, been more or less dissatisfaction with the way in which New York enforced her tax laws and militia laws, which doubtless bore very hard on the people
in those disastrous times, and though the seceders were mostly New Englanders, and originally determined enemies of Great Britain, yet doubtless there were some of them who were tired of war, and willing to take advantage of the armistice proposed between that country and Vermont.
The “Union Convention,” as it was called, met at Cambridge on the 9th day of May. The following districts and townships were represented: Hoosic, Little Hoosic [Petersburgh and Berlin], Scaghticoke, Cambridge, Saratoga (now Easton), Upper White Creek (Salem), Black Creek (Hebron), Granville, Skenesboro’ [Whitehall], Fort Edward, and Kingsbury. John Rodgers was elected chairman. A committee of the Vermont Legislature, of which Moses Robinson was chairman and Jonas Fay was clerk, was present with authority to accept or reject the propositions of the convention.
At the close of their deliberations an instrument embodying their acts was drawn up and signed by the chairman of the convention and the committee. This was certainly intended to be a very important document, for it was designed to accomplish nothing less than the change of allegiance of a territory larger than some of the States of the republic. It being expected to have such immense effect on the people of Washington county, and it being also a curious evidence of the views in vogue among a portion of the people at that period, we here present it to our readers entire. It is evident that the convention adopted the propositions one by one, and then the committee acted on each one. Then the committee made other propositions and the convention agreed to them.
“ARTICLES OF UNION AGREED TO AT CAMBRIDGE, ANNO 1781.
“Proposed by Convention composed of the Representatives from the several districts of Hosick, Scaghticoke, Cambridge, Saratoga, Upper White Creek, Black Creek, Granvil, Skeensborough, Kingsbury, Fort Edward, Little Hosick, convened at Cambridge aforesaid this 9 May 1781. and by ad’jt to the 15 of the same, Inclusive.
“ARTICLE 1. That the District or Tract of Land lying north of a line being extended from the North Line of the Massachusetts to
Hudson’s River, and south of Latitude 45, as comprehended in the late Jurisdictional Claim by the Legislature of the State of Vermont, be considered as part of the State, and the inhabitants as free Citizens. Agreed to.
“2. That the whole of the Military force of the State of Vermont (as occasion may require) shall be exerted in our defense as free
citizens against any Insurrection, Incursion whatsoever, but especially against the Common Enemy. Agreed to.
“3. That application be made by the Legislature of the State of Vermont to the Congress to be admitted into Union with them as soon as Circumstances will permit. Agreed to.
“4. That as the People within the aforesaid late Claim have been called upon, and paid a Considerable part of the Contenental Taxes into the Treasury of New York, they shall have credit for the same in case Vermont at some future period should be called upon to pay their proportion of money remitted by Congress.
“Agreed to, provided the services done by Vermont in the present war be included.
“Reply agreed to, provided the expence of the said District in the present war be likewise included.
“5. That all actions depending with the late Claim be transferred in the situation they shall be in at the Time of Completing the Union to Courts that may be then forthwith erected under the authority of Vermont, without costs to the parties other than would have accrued had they been terminated in Courts under Jurisdiction of New York. Agreed to.
“6. That the change of Jurisdiction shall not be understood to affect or Aleaniate private property. Agreed to.
“Articles proposed by the Legislatur. [sic]
“1. That the Independence of Vermont be held sacred, and no member of the Legislature give his Vote or otherwise use his endeavors
to obtain any act or Resolution of the Assembly that shall endanger the existence. Independence, or well-being of said State, by referring its independence to the arbitrament of any power. Agreed to.
“2. That whensoever this State becomes united with the American States, and there should be any dispute between this and any of the
United States respecting Boundary Lines, the Legislature of Vermont will then, as they have ever proposed, submit to Congress or such other Tribunal as may be mutually agreed on for the settlement of such disputes. Agreed to.
“The foregoing Articles severally, mutually agreed to by the Convention and Committee at Cambridge, 15 May, 1781.
“JOHN RODGERS, Ch. of Convention
“MOSES ROBINSON, Ch. Com.
“Attest: JONAS FAY, Clk. Com.”
After the adoption of this instrument, the same convention chose delegates to the Vermont Legislature. Two of these, Phineas Whiteside and Joseph Caldwell, were from Cambridge, in the present county of Washington. One of these, at least, actually attended the Legislature, and his name is to be found recorded in its proceedings.
But by this time the ambitious young State began to find that she had attempted too much. New Hampshire bitterly protested against the attempt to rob her of her river towns. New York was ready for war rather than yield any more of her soil to those whom many of her people considered the outlaws of the Green mountains. All the other States, too, were alarmed at the advocacy of doctrines which, if carried out, would give every county, nay, every township, the right of secession from its State, and would add triple confusion to the already chaotic condition of government brought on by the Revolution.
A large portion, too, of the people of the territory proposed to be transferred in such a summary manner made most decided opposition to the scheme. Especially was this true of White Creek (Salem), which was one of the most thickly populated towns in the disputed territory, and which was still largely inhabited by Scotch. It will be remembered that several old Scotch soldiers, who had received lands near the east line of Hebron, had had their houses burned and had been otherwise ill-treated by Ethan Allen’s mob before the Revolution. Some of them were still living in White Creek and Black Creek, and all their countrymen in those districts, with the usual clannishness of their race, had warmly espoused the cause of the injured Highlanders, and bitterly detested everything pertaining to Vermont.
These, with the many Americans who did not believe they could renounce their allegiance as easily as the Union Convention seemed to think, braced those districts firmly against the proposed transfer, and the scattered inhabitants of other districts to the northward and westward naturally followed the example of their powerful neighbors.
History of Washington Co., New York. Philadelphia, PA: Everts & Ensign, 1878. 61-62.
New City 29th Aug. 1781.
Sir, As a Subject of the State of New York (though in no authority) I conceive myself under obligations to keep and maintain the peace of the same, which in this place has been greatly impeeded and put in Convulsion by reason of the claim of Vermont being extended to the South of this place and including it within the Jurisdiction thereof. They have chosen their Civil and Military Officers, who Immediately are Sworn; they generally are composed of Persons of Little or no property or principal and are supported by the Tory faction. They seem to endeavor at all opportunities to dragoon people in compliance with their Governments; several frays have ensued which had I not interfeared in, and acted as Mediator between them—in all probability the consequences might have proven verry fatal.
On Saturday morning last, an Armed party of the Vermont faction took two sons of the bearer, Mr. William Spotten, of this place Prisoners; (one of them a Constable of this District under this State) notice of which was immediately brought me. I went out and got them released. The particulars of which Mr. Spotten can inform your Excellency. I have done everything in my power to Cultivate peace and Harmony here, as the contrary disposition lays us open to become an easy prey to our Enemies, who have threatened me, and one or two more Prisoners to Canada.
Lieut. Col. Henry Van Renselaer has received a Letter from Governor Chittenden forbidding him the Exercise of his Commission over the people within the new Claim, a copy of which will be handed your Excellency by Genl. Gansevort, whom I have consulted, concerning these disputes, as they Chiefly arise about Military Orders. I have recommended a Neutrality on both sides untill the Determination of Congress as I conceive the safety of the Whigs of this place require it.
Inclosed is the copy of an Advertisement put up in this place yesterday. Should be more particular but the Bearer, Mr. William Spotten, waits Impationately, it being just night and conceives himself unsafe in town any longer. I am & Remain Your Excellencies most obediant and most humb. Servt.
Notice is hereby given to the Inhabitants of the Town of Schorticoke to meet at the House of Henry Jackson, in Tomhanock on tusday the fourth Day of September next at 9 o’clock on said day in Order to Elect a Governor, Lieut. Governor and twelve Counsellors and two Representatives for the year ensuing, also a States Treasurer by order of the Selectmen.
Jona. Hobbart, Const.
August 27, 1781.
ROBERT YATES TO GOVERNOR CLINTON.
Albany, Augt. 31st, 1781.
Sir, The Bearer hereof, Mr. William Spotten, an Inhabt of the new City, for his opposition to the usurpation of the Vermonters, has been obliged to quit his abode. He will inform your Excellency of their proceedings, and the insolency with which they treat-the supporters of the Jurisdiction of this state.
As I have been long acquainted with the Gent’m. I presume to recommend him to your Excellency’s notice, and that you can rely on the Information he will give. I have the honor to be with the greatest respect,
Your Excellency’s most obedt. humble servt.
Public Papers of George Clinton, First Governor of New York. Vol 7. Albany, NY: Oliver A. Quayle, 1904. 300-302.
Albany Commissioners Furnish Governor Clinton with a List of Disaffected Persons Residing East of Hudson River and Applications for Exchange.
Albany, 25 Septr. 1781. Sir, The inclosed is a list of Villains residing on the east side of Hudson’s river, from Kingsbury down to near the New City, who have been very active against us in harbouring and supplying Parties of the Enemy from time to time, & forwarding their Dispatches; the most of them, if apprehended could be convicted; but as the Vermonters give protection to all that Part of, and oppose the authority of this State, we are at a loss how to proceed. We should have applied to General Stark for assistance, but fear he is rather in the Interest of Vermont, and would not chuse to interfere upon our Application. Inter Nous this.
We inclose your Excellency Applications of Two Persons who are desirous of being exchanged. We have the Honour to be Your Excellency’s Most Obedient & huml. Servants.
Stewart Dean, } Commissrs.
Isaac D. Fonda, for
John M. Beeckman. Conspiracies.
His Excellency George Clinton, Esq.
P. S. The List above referred to is on the other side.
List of the Names of Persons referred to:
Kingsbury: Caps. Stephen Caswell, Amos Lucas, Philip Bessey, Elias Bessey, Andrew Stevenson, Old Nalibacker, Moses Lawyer, son in Law to Nalibacker.
William Griffen, Northward of Fort Edward; Old Bell, Duncan Bell, Son of Old Bell; Swain at Fort Edward, Solly Carley, — Lehy, — Brunson, Elijah Dunham, Ephraim Crocker.
James Nickson, Fort Miller.
Caleb Crandell, McNeal’s Ferry; William Fuller, Do; John Partelow.
Public Papers of George Clinton, First Governor of New York. Vol 7. Albany, NY: Oliver A. Quayle, 1904. 356-357.
Colonel Weissenfels Reports to Governor Clinton How He Avoided a Clash With Vermonters.
Saratoga, Octobr. 3d, 1781.
Sir, On the march from Albany to this place I met with a Singular instance, of a Public insult offered to your Excellency’s athority, as the Chieff Majistrate, Comitted by one Mr. Fairbank and his assistant Mr. Lansing, Both Commissiond by Governor Chitterton, (the 1st a Lieut. Colo, and the 2nd a Major) in Collecting the People, at the New City, under the Comand of Captain Tillman, in order to Chuse a Captain and subaltern, in opposition to those Commissioned by the Lawfull authority of the State. I endevoured to disswade him from the attempt, but he insisted upon the Execution of his Duty, (as he called it) Except I should oppose him by Force of arms—in that case, he must submitt, but hostielietys begun on our side was what they wished for, I did not think it Proper and prudent, in the present Situation of affairs, to be rash, supposeing it might involve the State into greater disturbance on that subject, but treated them with Disdain and Proceeded on my Duty. The Sense of my Duty and the alliegiance I owe to this State will alwais induce me to be watchfull to oppose any annovation of this kind, had I power to act. I am with sentiments of Respect, Your Excellency’s Most obiedent and most humble servant
Public Papers of George Clinton, First Governor of New York. Vol 7. Albany, NY: Oliver A. Quayle, 1904. 371.
Collision Between New York Troops and a Party of Vermonters— General Gansevoort Reports the Affair to Governor Clinton with Colonel Van Rensselaer’s Report.
Albany, Octr. 15, 1781.
Dr Sir, I yesterday went up to the New City for the purpose of hastening on to Sarghtoga that part of my Brigade ordered to reinforce Gen. Starks. I Returned in the Evening and this morning Received from Colo. Van Rensselaer a Letter of which the inclosed is a copy. The affray it Describes was occasioned by Colo. Van Rensselaer having made prisoner on the evening of the 13th inst. of a Certain Fairbanks, a private of his Regt, residing at the New City, who is Commisioned as a Colonel and appointed as a Select man under the new State (so called). This fellow by some means effected his Escape and Collected the men mentioned in Colo. Van Rensselaer’s Letter.
As I Conceive this affair may be attended with some important Consequences, I have thought proper more Especially as the Legislature are now probably Convened, to write to your Excellency By Express and would wish to have if possible, particular Instructions for my conduct in this Business.
I last night Received your Excellency’s Letter of the 13th inst, by the Return of my Express. Vrooman’s Regt. have not been called from Schohary and I mean to forward to that place Colo. Henry Van Rensselaer with 300 men of the Claverack Militia as soon as they Come in.
I have Ordered Genl. Van Rensselaer’s Brigade to Schenectady; this has now been the more necessary as Genl. Starks has drawn from Tryon County the Two Companies of Levies under Major Logan’s Command. I shall proceed to Schenectady to morrow and give orders to the officer Commanding the Troops Collecting there to hold them in Readiness to march whenever the movements of the Enemy may Render it most necessary. I must again mention to your Excellency that our want of Ammunition & provision still Continues and that it is of the utmost moment we should be spedially Supplied with Both but particularly with Ammunition.
I am Sir, your Humbl. Servant,
His Excellency Governour Clinton.
Public Papers of George Clinton, First Governor of New York. Vol 7. Albany, NY: Oliver A. Quayle, 1904. 402-403.
SAMUEL FAIRBANKS seems to have been a resident of that part of New York called the Western District of Vermont at that time. He was a private in Col. Van Rensselaer’s New York regiment, but had been commissioned by Vermont as lieutenant colonel. He was arrested with others at Lansingburgh, early in October 1781, by Col. Van Rensselear, but made his escape, collected a body of men (or rather of Col. V. R.’s prisoners who escaped with Fairbanks,) and successfully resisted an attempt at their re-arrest, wounding two of the New York soldiers.—See Vt. Hist. Soc. Collections. Vol. II, pp. 184, 188.
Walton, E. P., ed. Records of the Governor and Council of the State of Vermont. Vol. 2. Montpelier, VT: J. & J. M. Poland, 1874. 121-122 n. 2.
Governor Chittenden Sends a Note of Warning to Henry Denker.
Arlington, Novr. 22d, 1781.
Sir, I am informed that von have been warning the People in Vicinity of the New City to pay a Certain Provision Tax to the State of New York.
Proposals being made by this State to the Legislature of New York for the settlement of Boundary Lines it is the wish and desire of this State not to be necessetated to impose coercive Measures during the consideration of such prosals.
And is what they would ever be oblig’d to do with the greatest Reluctance.
At the same time, bound to equally protect her Citizens, your desisting in those Matters of Authority for the present, will prevent Consequences of which I think it well for you to be advised and which must attend you in pursuing a different Conduct.
I am sir your Hum’le. Servt.
N. B. The interlines are not as I found them but was done through hast(e).
Public Papers of George Clinton, First Governor of New York. Vol 7. Albany, NY: Oliver A. Quayle, 1904. 511-512.
Col. John Van Rensselaer, whose residence was near San Coick, now North Hoosick, acting under the authority of New York, appears to have arrested at New City (Lansingburg) a person having a colonel’s commission under Vermont, but who, after some riotous proceedings, effected his escape. Afterwards, about the first of December, Col. Van Rensselaer was himself arrested with several others and taken to Bennington, where, he says in a letter to Gen. Gansevoort, he was “treated like a gentleman and discharged.” Other arrests were soon afterwards made by both sides, each party gathering its adherents in arms, who for several days encamped against each other in the vicinity of San Coick.
Hall, Hiland, 1795-1885. The History of Vermont, From Its Discovery to Its Admission Into the Union In 1791. Albany, N. Y.: J. Munsell, 1868. 379.
Albany ss. James Green of the City of Albany being duly sworn deposeth and saith, that some time at the District of Schaghtikoche in the County of Albany last Summer he was taken Prisoner by Virtue of Warrant issued by Samuel Fairbanks of the New City in the East District of the Manor of Rensselaerwyck in the County of Albany upon the Complaint of David Smith and Recompence Smith: that the Deponent as Deputy Sheriff of the said County had taken Recompence Smith by Virtue of Process issued out of the Inferior Court of Common Pleas for the City & County of Albany; That among the Party who took the Deponent were the said David Smith, Recompence Smith and Hubbard That after the Deponent was a Prisoner he was carried before the said Samuel Fairbanks, as a Magestrate under the Authority of the pretended State of Vermont; that the Deponent in order to get Released from his Imprisonment was compelled to give Bail for his appearance at a Court to be held at Bennington at a future day, That after the Deponent was a Prisoner he was carried to the House of Christopher Pillman [sic], at New City aforesaid, where Daniel Toneray came in, and appeared to be aiding and assisting therein and approved of the Proceedings against the Deponent, and the Deponent further saith that he was taken by virtue of the Warrant aforesaid for having exercised his Authority as Deputy Sheriff aforesaid at the said District of Schaghtikoche in the County of Albany aforesaid, in manner as before mentioned, and further this Deponent saith not.
Sworn before me this 16th day of December 1781.
Public Papers of George Clinton, First Governor of New York. Vol 7. Albany, NY: Oliver A. Quayle, 1904. 610.
QUEBEC, July 11th, 1782.
Sir:—I beg leave to submit to your Excellency’s consideration the following observations founded on facts, vizt: […]
I think Vermont contains about eight thousand men of all denominations including the west union, and that out of these two thousand may be raised for a standing militia. These with the assistance of four thousand British troops would probably be able to defend the frontier as far as the New City in the summer season, but I don’t think they could keep their ground in winter further south than Ticonderoga, except they were strongly garrisoned at the Half Moon Ferry, where I suppose six thousand men might with assistance of the inhabitants keep a good fort well supplied, and if the Vermonters had money they could nearly supply such a garrison with provisions till it could have relief from Ticonderoga,’ where I think it will always be necessary to keep a British garrison. The Vermonters would not assist in keeping a garrison at Albany because it is not of their state, nor do I think it would be good policy to take Albany till the re-union can be publicly acknowledged and supported. If the other colonies should invade Canada, Vermont will oppose their march through that state as far as possible, but they could not with safety take arms to stop their progress until supported by the King’s troops and the reunion with Britain completed, nor could they consistently with the laws of self-preservation come to the defence of Canada and leave their own property, friends, and families defenceless and exposed to ruin.
Before I conclude I would beg to intimate to your Excellency that as soon as good policy will admit, there will be an absolute necessity for some of the King’s money in Vermont to enable us to carry into execution the foregoing plans or such of them as may meet with your Excellency’s approbation, especially should your Excellency expect to procure provisions from us to support an expedition. We must not only have a small supply of money, but must have notice in time to purchase droves of cattle from the other states, which while it helps us will in proportion distress them. I have the honor to be, &c., &c.,
Enclosure. (Signed) ————————
Collections of the Vermont Historical Society. Vol 2. Montpelier, VT: J. & J. M. Poland, 1871. 283-286.
Klopott, R. Beth. “Civil War in Schaghticoke: A Footnote to the Revolution in Upstate New York.” Hudson Valley Regional Review 10(1). 1993. 40-46. http://www.hudsonrivervalley.org/review/pdfs/hvrr_10pt1_klopott.pdf
Kelly, Chris. “The Border War: New York and Vermont.” History of the Town of Schaghticoke. September 13, 2011. https://schaghticokehistory.wordpress.com/2011/09/13/the-border-war-new-york-and-vermont/