A Resolution in Defense of New York State’s Patriots

The following resolution was passed unanimously by the Empire State Society SAR on November 1, 2014:

A Resolution in Defense of New York State’s Patriots during the American Revolution and the recognition of Patriots from the Southern District of this State as Civilian Prisoners of War.

Whereas, on July 4, 1776, a state of war existed between the United States of America and Great Britain; and

Whereas, on July 30, 1776, General Washington and Lord Howe negotiated an agreement in which citizens would be identified as subjects for prisoner exchanges: “Soldiers for Soldiers, Sailors for Sailors, and Citizens for Citizens;” and

Whereas, on August 29, 1776, General Washington was forced to abandon Long Island, conceding the Counties of Kings and Queens to the enemy, leaving Suffolk County open to British military conquest; and

Whereas, on September 1, 1776, General Nathaniel Woodhull capitulated Suffolk County to Great Britain and the citizens of said county were mandated by the rules of war to scrupulously adhere to the terms of surrender; and

Whereas, on October 28, 1776, the Continental army was forced to concede the County of Westchester to the British and eventually withdrawing to New Jersey; and

Whereas, on November 12, 1776, the Committee of Safety for the State of New York recognized the Southern District of the State (inclusive of the counties of New York, Kings, Queens, Richmond, Westchester, and Suffolk) as being “in the Power/Possession of the Enemy” and that the State of New York repeatedly used this phrase to describe the subjugation of its people and territory; and

Whereas, the British subjugation of the Southern District of this State led to many cruel abuses and acts of oppression against the citizenry of this State, such as:

· Forcing citizens to swear an oath of allegiance of the King;

· Using the citizenry for propaganda purposes by printing their names in The New York Gazette and Weekly Mercury;

· Quartering troops in homes;

· Confiscating wagons, horses, cattle, produce and firewood without just compensation;

· Impressing the citizenry into labor gangs to support the British arms;

· Desecrating churches and cemeteries; and

Whereas, the State of New York regularly engaged in civilian exchanges with the British military and codified this practice, most noticeably in the law entitled “An Act to enable the person administering the government to exchange persons applying for that purpose, as prisoners of war, for subjects of this State, prisoners of war with the enemy.” (March 1781); and

Whereas, on June 28, 1781, the State of New York sought to come to the defense of its citizens on Long Island by passing a resolution calling on its neighboring states to stop their plundering of Long Island under the guise that the citizens were British subjects, calling upon Governor George Clinton to petition the Continental Congress for the citizens’ relief; and

Whereas, on August 7, 1781, and again on October 11, 1781, the Continental Congress came to the defense of Long Islanders by declaring them citizens of the United States, reaffirming their rights in person and in property against the unwarranted attacks from other states under the pretext that they were subjects of Great Britain; and

Whereas, on November 25, 1783, the Southern District of the State of New York was liberated from enemy occupation, emancipating its citizenry and re-establishing the legitimate authority of the government of the State of New York; and

Now, Therefore, Be It Resolved that the Empire State Society of the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution Hereby Petitions the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution to recognize that the Southern District of the State of New York was occupied by the enemy from July 4,1776 to November 25 ,1783; that its citizenry was subjugated and in a condition of involuntary servitude to the enemy; that those men and women who served or aided in the cause of American Independence from April 19,1775 to September 1,1776, and who, by the fate of war, found themselves living under enemy occupation, shall be recognized as civilian prisoners of war and, as such, are innocent of and are immune from any charge that they failed in their loyalty to the State of New York or the United States of America; and their descendants are eligible for membership in the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution.