Papers of John Adams, volume 5

From Joseph Ward

From William MacCreery

Committee Report on George McIntosh, 9 October 1777 JA


Committee Report on George McIntosh, 9 October 1777 Adams, John
Committee Report on George McIntosh
9 October 1777

The Committee, to whom were referred the Papers, received from the President of the State of Georgia, respecting George McIntosh, taken into Custody in Consequence of Information transmitted, and a request made by Congress to the Government of the state of Georgia and the Memorial of the said George McIntosh praying Congress to take his Case into Consideration,1 report That they have examined into the said Papers and Memorial and, are of Opinion that there is not sufficient Cause before Congress for the Detention of the said George McIntosh, and therefore that he be discharged.2

MS in JA's hand (PCC, No. 19, IV, f. 23–24); docketed in an unknown hand: “1779. No. 11. Report of the Committee respecting Brigr. McIntosh”; both the year and the person are wrong ( JCC , 9:789).


An intercepted letter from Gov. Patrick Tonyn of East Florida to Lord George Germain with the date of 19 July 1776 was brought to the attention of the congress on 1 Jan. 1777, which resolved that the government of Georgia be sent a copy and recommended to it the apprehension of George McIntosh ( JCC , 7:8–9). By his own account, McIntosh was a “proprietor of an independent fortune” in Georgia. He had been a zealous patriot, serving on the Council of Safety and deeming himself no longer a subject of the King after the Declaration of Independence. The only surviving document apparently is McIntosh's memorial, from which one can distill the 308following sequence of events. Gov. Bulloch, who received the letter from the congress, took no action, presumably because he trusted McIntosh. On Bulloch's death some weeks later, Button Gwinnett, his successor, also did nothing until McIntosh, at the end of a Council meeting, refused to sign the commission of the new governor, defending his refusal by saying that Gwinnett was not fit to be governor and that he would not have voted for him had he been present at the election. A few days later McIntosh was thrown into jail. The intercepted letter presumably included the information from William Panton that McIntosh would supply provisions to the British. A ship in question, McIntosh contended, was intended only for Surinam, and he had furnished a £1,000 bond to secure that intention. Claiming to be deceived by Panton, McIntosh pleaded ignorance of any plan to supply the British garrison at St. Augustine. While McIntosh was in jail, Gov. Gwinnett ordered his estate and papers seized, but in the governor's absence, the Council granted him bail. On 5 June the Assembly voted that he be sent to the congress rather than be tried in Georgia. Despite his willingness to go freely, he was taken under guard to Philadelphia. Smallpox and the evacuation of the city delayed his being heard until October, when the congress was sitting in York (PCC, No. 41, VI, f. 33–40; Sabine, Loyalists , 2:146–147).


At the end of the resolution in a different hand is the notation “agreed.”