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The Plot in New Tort

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

June 24. –Since Friday last, a most barbarous and infernal plot has been discovered among the Tories in New York. Two of General Washington’s guards are concerned,1 a third whom they tempted to join them made the first discovery. The general report of their design is as follows: upon, the arrival of the British, troops, they were to murder all the staff officers, blow up the magazines, and secure the passes of the town. Gilbert Forbes, a gunsmith, in the Broadway, was taken between two and three o’clock on Saturday morning, and carried before our Congress, who were then sitting. He refused to make any discovery, upon which he was sent to jail. The Reverend Mr. Livingston went to see him early in the morning, and told him he was very sorry to find he had been concerned, that his time was very short, not having above three days to live, and advised him to prepare himself. This had the desired effect; and he requested to be carried before the Congress again, promising to discover all he knew. Several have been since taken, between twenty and thirty, among them the mayor.2 They are all now in confinement. Their party, it is said, consisted of about five hundred.3


1 General Washington, in a letter to the President of Congress, dated New York, June. 28, says: –“The plot had been communicated to some of the army, and part of my guard engaged in it. Thomas Hickey, one of them, has been tried, and, by the unanimous opinion of a court-martial, is sentenced to die, having enlisted himself and engaged others. The sentence, by the advice of the whole council of general officers, will be put in execution to-day, at eleven o clock. The others are not tried. I am hopeful this example will produce many salutary consequences, and deter others from entering into the like traitorous practices.”–Official Letters, ed. 1795, v. i., p. 165.
2 David Matthews was mayor at that time, as will appear from the following: — “New York, February 22. –Wednesday, se’night, his Excellency our governor was pleased to appoint Whitehead Hicks, Esq., one of the Judges of the Supreme Court of this province. Mr. Hicks having at the same time surrendered the office of mayor, his Excellency was pleased to appoint David Matthews, Esq., to that office; and last Friday they were both qualified to act in their respective stations.”–New York Packet, February 22.
3 Pennsylvania Journal, June 26. A further account in the same paper says: — “Yesterday, (23,) the mayor was examined twice, and returned prisoner under a strong guard. We have now thirty-four prisoners, and many more it is expected will be taken up. A party of our men went over to Long Island, Saturday last, to take up some of the Tories; they returned yesterday, and brought to town one Downing, who is charged with being in the hellish plot. They took six more prisoners and put them in Jamaica jail, on Long Island. The Tories made some resistance, and fired on our men in the woods; our people returned the fire, wounding one man mortally; they then called for quarter. This morning a party of three hundred men is ordered, but on what business is not known. The mayor acknowledges he paid Mr. Forbes, the gunsmith, who is one of the gang now in irons, £140, by order of Governor Tryon. Yesterday the general’s housekeeper was taken up; it is said she is concerned.”

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