Albany Commissioners
Detecting and Defeating Conspiracies

Stefan Bielinski

The Commissioners for Detecting and Defeating Conspiracies succeeded the Committee of Correspondence as the enforcement arm of the political Revolution. Apparently authorized for seven counties (Albany, Charlotte, Dutchess, Orange, Tryon, Ulster, and Westchester) at some time following the the first New York State Legislature's passage of enabling legislation in February 1778, only some of the records of a few county "Boards" appear to have survived. The Albany County Board of this organization functioned regularly from 1778 to 1781. The Albany commissioners met most days beginning on April 13, 1778 and for the last time on August 30, 1781. Revolutionary stalwart Matthew Visscher appears to have been the Board secretary. However, the actual minutes were taken by various board members as well.

The Board met at the Albany city hall. Although most of the commissioners were residents of the city of Albany, much of their business was related to the greater Albany County countryside as the so-called "enemies of liberty" had been, for the most part, "neutralized" (meaning incarcerated and/removed from) within the Albany city limits.

To ensure at least the neutrality of those living in the community who had come from elsewhere, the Commissioners often required them to post bonds guaranteeing their "good behaviour." In some instances, native-born individuals in good standing posted bonds to guarantee their acceptable behavior. All these bonds were cited regularly throughout the life of the Albany Board. By the Spring of 1781, the municipal government had taken back that function.

more to come!

The American Revolution in Albany


Two volumes of printed minutes and a one-volume analytical index are available for the life of the organization. Other counties had CDDC Boards. However, extant and readily available the extensive but not complete records for Albany probably have made it more often studied than some of the other localities!

Fascimilie transcriptions of the three volumes are available online. The "Introduction" to the printed minutes is required reading. The organization and its operations are the subjects of a seminar paper by University at Albany graduate and project intern Sean O'Mara.

Albany Board Members - present in January 1780:
John M. Beeckman
Isaac D. Fonda
Mathew Visscher
Jeremiah Van Rensselaer

Samuel Stringer
Stewart Dean

Jacob Kidney - doorkeeper

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first posted: 1/10/04; last revised 10/15/10