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Captain Sears and John Case

From Diary of the American Revolution, Vol I. Compiled by Frank Moore and published in 1859.

January 3. –This morning, Mr. John Case, an old man of near sixty years of age, from Long Island, was entreated by an acquaintance of his to go to the house of Jasper Drake, tavern-keeper near Beckman’s Slip, where he was told Captain McD—-l, 1 Captain S—-s, 2 and others wanted to converse with him on politics. He went, and soon entered into conversation with Captain McD—-l, who attempted to convince him that he was in an error, but not being able to effect it, politely left him. Captain S—-s, with several other persons, then attacked him with the force of their eloquence and noise, but Case said he was an unlearned man, and but of few words, –that he could not reply to above one. That he judged, however, the fairest way to come at the truth would be to recur to the origin of the present contest between Great Britain and the Colonies, and to trace from the time of the stamp act, the encroachments of ministerial power, and the increasing demands for provincial privileges. This was objected to by Captain S—-s, as it would require too much time and attention to discuss. He said that he would question him a little, and asked Case whether the king had not violated his coronation oath? Mr. Case replied, that he thought he had not, and reasoned on this and other matters in as cool a manner as possible, in order not to irritate Captain S—-s, who, however, soon grew warm, and branded Case with the appellation of Tory, and told him that if he was in Connecticut government he would be put to death. Captain Sears soon grew warm and branded Case with the appellation of Tory, and told him that, if he was in Connecticut government, he would be put to death.S—-s then demanded of Case whether, if the Bostonians were to take up arms, he would fight for the king? Case answered, that if he fought on either side, he would certainly fight for no one else, as he conceived King George to be his lawful sovereign, for the minister a few days before prayed for our rightful sovereign Lord King George the Third, on which S—-s replied he was sorry that he had turned churchman, where such prayers were used; Case replied, these expressions were delivered the preceding Sunday by Dr. Rodgers 3 at the Presbyterian meeting, for he himself was a Presbyterian. After a few more queries and replies of a similar nature, S—-s told him that he would not suffer, a Tory to sit in company with gentlemen, placed a chair in the chimney corner, caught Case by the arm, and forced him into it. He then called for a negro boy, who belonged to the house, and ordered him to sit along with him; for that he (Case) was only fit to sit in company with slaves; but the negro had too much understanding to comply. Mr. Case then called for some wine, and offered it to the company, but S—-s refused to accept of it, pushed him down in the chair where he before had placed him, and ordered the rest not to drink with a Tory; and further, that whoever spoke to Case, should forfeit a bowl of toddy, which was exacted by him from two persons who happened to disobey his mandates. S—-s then told Case that his age protected him, for if he was a young man, he would have placed him on a red-hot gridiron; and after he had detained this old man as long as he thought proper, he dismissed him. 4


1 Alexander Mac Dougall.
2 Isaac Sears, afterwards called by the loyalists, King Sears.
3 John Rodgers, D. D., pastor of the Wall street church.
4 This account was published in Rivington’s Gazette, Jan. 12, in the form of a deposition, witnessed by Mr. Case.