Sunday, May 29, 2011

May 23, 1776: Public Spirit

John Hancock, President of Congress, wrote to Abraham Livingston.

The Congress having been pleased to accept your Resignation of the Contract for supplying the Forces in the Colony of New York, I am extremely happy in conveying to you the Sense they entertain of your Conduct on the Occasion.

In thus voluntarily resigning so profitable a Contract, it is their Opinion which I am commanded to signify to you, That you have exhibited an Example of Public Spirit.

Paul Herbert Smith, ed., Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774-1789: Vol. 4: May 16-August 14, 1776 (Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1979), pages 63-64.

Hancock enclosed a notice of a May 10, 1776 resolution of Congress, "Resolved, That Mr. Abraham Livingston, in voluntarily resigning a contract which might have been so profitable to him, has exhibited an example of publick spirit, and Congress accept the resignation of his Contract."

Livingston's resignation allowed Carpenter Wharton, already supplying Continental troops in Pennsylvania, to easily assume responsibilities Livingston could not as easily undertake. Livignston also freed New York's Convention and Committee of Safety from having to honor a contract with Livingston, at the expense of full cooperation with Wharton. See James Duane to the New York Provincial Convention, 21 March 1776, in Paul Herbert Smith, ed., Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774-1789: Vol. 3: January 1, 1776 - May 15, 1776
(Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1978), page 423, note 2.
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