After the surrender at Yorktown a situation developed that threatened relations between the new American nation and Britain. Following a series of retributive executions between Patriots and Loyalists, Washington, on May 18, 1782, wrote in a letter to General Moses Hazen that a British Captain would be executed for the execution of Joshua Huddy a popular patriot leader among volunteers, who was hung at the direction of Loyalist Captain Lippincott. Washington wanted Lippincott himself to be executed but was declined.
Subsequently, Charles Asgill was chosen instead, by a drawing of lots from a hat. This was a violation of the 14th article of the Yorktown Articles of Capitulation, which protected prisoners of war from acts of retaliation. Later, Washington's feelings on matters changed and in a letter of November 13, 1782, to Asgill, he acknowledged Asgill's letter and situation, expressing his desire not to see any harm come to him. After much consideration between the Continental Congress, Alexander Hamilton, Washington, and appeals from the French Crown, Asgill was finally released, where Washington issued Asgill a pass that allowed his passage to New York.