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The Jeffersonian cyclopedia;

a comprehensive collection of the views of Thomas Jefferson classified and arranged in alphabetical order under nine thousand titles relating to government, politics, law, education, political economy, finance, science, art, literature, religious freedom, morals, etc.;

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5912. NEW YORK CITY, Washington's defence.—
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5912. NEW YORK CITY, Washington's defence.—

The maxim laid down by Congress to their generals was that not a foot
of territory was to be ceded to their enemies
where there was a possibility of defending it.
In consequence of these views, and against his
own judgment, General Washington was obliged
to fortify and attempt to defend the city of New
York. But that could not be defended without
occupying the heights on Long Island which
commanded the city of New York. He was,
therefore, obliged to establish a strong detachment
in Long Island to defend those heights.
The moment that detachment was routed, which
he had much expected, his first object was to
withdraw them, and his second to evacuate
New York. He did this, therefore, immediately,
and without waiting any movement of the
enemy. He brought off his whole baggage,
stores, and other implements, without leaving
a single article except the very heaviest of his
cannon, and things of little value. I well remember
his letter to Congress, wherein he expressed
his wonder that the enemy had given
him this leisure, as, from the heights they had
got possession of, they might have compelled
him to a very precipitate retreat. This was one
of the instances where our commanding officers


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were obliged to conform to popular views,
though they foresaw certain loss from it. Had
he proposed at first to abandon New York, he
might have been abandoned himself. An obedience
to popular will cost us an army in
Charleston in the year 1779.—
Notes on M. Soules's Work. Washington ed. ix, 298. Ford ed., iv, 305.
(P. 1786)