Letter from David Matthews to General Woodhull


A Letter from D˙ Mathews, received by Mr˙ De Peyster, was read, and is as follows:

"Litchfield, August 12, 1776.

"SIR: I did myself the honour of addressing you by letter when I was brought to the White-Plains, and have since taken the liberty of writing to Mr˙ Morris relative to my treatment, the answer to both which letters I now enclose you, it being a commitment issued by Mr˙ Trumbull. If this is to be my treatment, the Lord deliver me. I have been a Crown officer upwards of twenty years, and was Chief Magistrate of the city of New-York, and a subject of the King of Great Britain when I was taken, (independence not being then declared,) and I am thought to believe that my rank was equal to any prisoner taken by the King' s troops during this unhappy contest, and I believe you will not find such a commitment issued against any one of them that sustained the character of a gentleman. I had some hopes that the acquaintance you had in the family would at least have obtained here the treatment of a gentleman, but it seems I have nothing to expect but what is due to the worst of felons, and had it not been for the kind interposition of Mr˙ De Peyster, (for whom I shall ever entertain the highest esteem,) I should in all probability have been in the land of spirits ere this.

"It amazes me to think that the State of New-York should send me to be dealt with as Mr˙ Trumbull should think proper. I was in hopes after independence was declared, that nothing savouring of the extension of that ancient statute, so justly complained of, would have found the least footing in America. I conceive I was as much entitled to bail in the State of New-York as Mr˙ Sayre lately was in London, for I believe his crime, and the witnesses to prove them were much alike. I offered any security; even some of the warmest Whigs would have been bail for my appearance whenever demanded. But it seems prison was the word, and every commitment sticks close to it.

"I assure you, sir, if I could have entertained the least idea of receiving the treatment I have received, I should have embraced the opportunity of giving that kind of bail which is commonly called leg-bail, which I had frequent opportunities of doing after I was seized; but as I never could reconcile it to myself either to leave my family or join the King' s Army, and knowing at the same time that my departure would give my enemies every advantage they wished for, I rejected every proposal of that kind, in full expectation that I should be done by as those gentlemen would wish to be done by were they so unfortunate as to be taken prisoners; but it seems I expected too much. I have only now to make myself as contented as possible, for it would


seem that I am fixed here for life, as I am only to be delivered by due course of law.

"I should not have troubled you, sir, with another letter, had I not been requested to inform you of my treatment; and as this will be the last I shall presume to trouble you with, I shall ask one favour, which is, that if I am not suffered to go to my family, I may be permitted to reside at Hartford, on giving security (for my word of honour, it seems, is of no validity in my own State,) to remain there, as I have some friends there who would accommodate me with the comforts of life, and I might there have an opportunity of seeing Mrs˙ Mathews. If this is thought unreasonable I shall say no more about it, and shall still remain one of those who wish that America may never lose her liberties, nor her sons meet with oppression.

"Am, sir, your very humble, obedient servant,


"General Woodhull."

The copies of his Commitment, a Letter to Mrs˙ Mathews, and a Letter from Moses Seymour, Sheriff of Litchfield County, therein enclosed, were also read.