[REVOLUTIONARY WAR]. JAY, John (1745-1829), Gouverneur MORRIS (1752-1816) and Philip LIVINGSTON (1716-1778, Signer, New York). Letter jointly signed ("Phil. Livingston"), ("John Jay"), ("Gouvr Morris") TO GEORGE WASHINGTON (apparently a retained copy), [Albany, N.Y.], 21 June 1776. 1 page, folio.
A WARRANT FOR THE ARREST OF A SPY IMPLICATED IN THE HICKEY PLOT TO KIDNAP WASHINGTON. The New York Provincial Congress on 17 June made Jay, Livingston and Morris a secret 3-man committee to investigate a dangerous conspiracy that had penetrated as high as Washington's personal guard. Here they send an arrest warrant for: "Fletcher Matthews Esq. of Orange County...charged with dangerous Designs and treasonable conspiracies against the Rights and Liberties of the united Colonies of America..." News of the plot came about when two American soldiers under arrest for passing counterfeit bills, Michael Lynch and Thomas Hickey, started foolishly bragging about the upgrade in accomodations they'd receive once a British warship arrived in N. Y. Harbor and set in motion a plan of which they were a part. Hundreds of Washington's troops, including members of his personal guard like Hickey, were to go over to the British side, burn the King's Bridge, seize key batteries and roads, and then arrest or kill the Commander-in-Chief himself. Alarmed, Jay's committee issued numerous arrest warrants for suspects, including the mayor of the city, David Mathews, who admitted to passing money from Governor Tryon to other conspirators. Many prominent Tories were rounded up, including merchant Fletcher Matthews. But in this instance, the Patriots had the wrong man: it was a James Matthews, not Fletcher that they wanted. "By an unlucky mistake," Jay's committee explained in an amended warrant issued this same day, "we understood [James] to be named Fletcher." The ring exposed, Washington made an example out of Hickey, who was hanged on 28 June before a throng said to number 20,000. Provenance: See note preceding 316.