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Full text of "The diplomatic correspondence of the American Revolution, being the letters of Benjamin Franklin, Silas Deane, John Adams, John Jay, Arthur Lee, William Lee, Ralph Izard, Francis Dana, William Carmichael, Henry Laurens, John Laurens, M. de Lafayette, M. Dumas, and others, concerning the foreign relations of the United States during the whole Revolution; together with the letters in reply from the secret committee of Congress, and the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, also the entire correspondence of the French ministers, Gerard and Luzerne, with Congress"

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4tf^ VOL.. XII. 

THE t 















Publislied under tlie Direction of tho Presiilontoftlio United States, from 
the original Manuscripts in tlie Department of State, conformably 
to a Resolution of Congress, of March 27tli, 1818. 










Steam Power Press-W. L. Lewis' P,inl 
No. 6, Congress Street, Boston. 






To M. de la Luzerne. Office of Finance, Novem- 
ber 3d, 1781, ------ 3 

Little probability of being able to raise an adequate 
revenue. — The people are unaccustomed to tax- 
ation. — Large sums must be applied to extin- 
guishing the pubhc debt and calling in the depre- 
ciated paper currency. — France must be relied on 
to assist in this emergency. — Important advantages 
will result to France herself from this step. 

To the President of Congress. , Office of Finance, 
November 5th, 1781, - "- - - - 8 

Relative to the Acts of Congress for raising supplies. 
— Objections to certain clauses. — Final apportion- 
ment of the expenses between the States. 

To M. de la Luzerne. Office of Finance, Novem- 
ber Gth, 1781, - - - - - - 14 

Necessity of pecuniary aid from France. 

To the Count de Rochambeau. Office of Finance, 
November 15th, 1781, - - - - 15 

Repayment of money advanced liy the Court. — Con- 
gratulations on the success at Yorktown. ; • 

Circular to the Governors of the States. Office of 
Finance, November 17th, 1781, - - - 16 

Transmitting Acts of (Congress for raising supplies. 

George Washington to Robert Morris. Mount Ver- 
non, November 19th, 1781, - - - 17 
Payment of the officer^ of the army 

To tlie Governor of Connccticnt. Office of Fi- 
nance, November 20th, 1781, - - - 18 

Accounts between tlie State and tlie United Stales. 
— The moneys designed lor the general service 
must be paid into the Continental treasury. 

Report of a Letter to Don Bernardo de Galvez, 
made to Congress, November 21st, 1781, - 20 

Settlement of accounts for sums advanced. 

To M. de la Luzerne. Office of Finance, Noveni- 
ber 22d, 1781, ------ 22 

Pecuniary aid promised by him. — Rate of exchange. 
— Statement of former grants of his Court. 

To M. de la Luzerne. Office of Finance, Novem- 
ber 2Gdi, 1781, 26 

Answer to the Minister's assertion, that he is not au- 
thorised to make further drafts. — Moneys ad- 
vanced to any particular State are not chargeable 
to the United States. 

To B. Franklin. Office of Finance, November 
27th, 1781, ------ 27 

Requests him to communicate this letter to M. de La- 
fayette. — Confusion of tlie public accounts. — Ac- 
count of his efforts to obtain supplies from the 
States. — Difficulties attending this attempt. — 
Causes of the difficulties. — Endeavors to settle 
past accounts, and to jjrocure funds for the public 
debt. — Prospect as to future supplies in the United 
States. — Statement of the supplies already fur- 
nished by France. — Account of his correspon- 
dence with M. de la Luzerne on the drawing of 
bills by Mr Morris, and the amount due by the 
French Court. — Disposition of moneys remaining 
in Dr Franklin's hands. — Languor of the States in 
providing for the expenses of the war. — Necessity 
of further aid from France. 

To the President of Congress. Office of Finance, 
November 29th, 1781, - - - - 57 

Enclosing a letter from Mr Jay, declaring his inabil- 
ity to meet the drafts made on him. 

To Mr Grand. Office of Finance, Dec. 3d, 1781, 58 

Informs liim of his intention of employing him as 
United States banker. 

To M. Joly de Fleury. Philadelphia, December 
3d, 1781, ------- CO 

Importance of furnishing pecuniary aid to the Umted 
To B. Franklin. Office of Finance, December 
5th, 1781, .---_- Gl 

Impolicy of the purchases in Holland. — Disposition 


of the loan, if obtained. — Disposition of the Ameri- 
cans towards the French. — Increasing demand for 
French goods. 
To the Governor of New York. Office of Fi- 
nance, December 11th, 1781, - - - 63 
Supplies furnished by the State. 
To tlie Governors of North Carolina, South Caro- 
lina, and Georgia. Office of Finance, Decem- 
ber 19th, 1781, 6(3 

Proposing a plan for the payment of the Southern 
army. — Necessity of a tax law by the States for • 
effecting this purpose. — Answer to the objections 
against this measure. — Objections to measures 
compelling the receipt of the notes payable in 
taxes, and regulating prices. 

To the Governor of Rhode Island. Office of Fi- 
nance, December 29th, 178 1, - - - 72 
Necessity of continued activity on the part of the 
States. — Necessity of prompt compliance with the 
requisitions of Congress. 

Circular to the Governors of the States. Office of 
Finance, January 3d, 1782, . _ _ 74 

Negligence of certain States to lay the impost recom- 
mended by Congress. — Fatal effects of a derange- 
ment of the finances. 

Circular to the Governors of the States. Office ar 
Finance, January 8th, 1782, _ - - 76 

Establishment of the Bank of North America. — Ad- 
vantages of the institution. 

To the Governor of Rhode Island. Office of Fi- 
nance, January 14th, 1782, - - - - 78 
Answer to the representations of the Assembly, of 
their inability to comply with the requisitions of 
Congress. — Necessity of providing funds. — Insuffi- 
ciency of specific supplies. — Rhode Island manu- 

To the President of Congress. Office of Finance, 
January 15th, 1782, ----- 81 

State of the currency. — Advantages of a general 
currency. — Use of metals as a circulating medium. 
— Silver the best money standard. — Utility of 
coinage. — The decimal ratio is the most conven- 
ient. — Plan of a metallic currency. 

George Washington to Robert Morris. Philadel- 
phia, January"25th, 1782, _ - - - 95 

Proposes to send officers to the New England States, 
with representations of their deficiencies of troops. 

'I'o ihe President ol' Congress. Office of Finance, 
February 11th, 1782, ----- 97 
Financial embarrassments. — Refusal of several States 
to comply with the requisitions of Congress. — No 
prospect of foreign aid. — Measures taken in the 
Department of Finance. — Advantages of prompt 
and vigorous measures in the field. — Necessity of 
requiring men and money from the States. — Pro- 
poses a series of resolutions, calculated to accom- 
plish the desired object. — Superior advantages of 
Continental forces. 

Circular to the Governors of the States.' Office of 
Finance, February 15th, 1782, - - - 110 

No further foreign aid is to be expected. — Necessity 
of establishing a public credit by proper funds. — 
Financial distresses. — Necessitj' of preparations for 
a new campaign. — Explanation of the system of 
raising supplies by contracts. — Statement of his 
proceedings on this system. — The public service 
interrupted by local and party dissension. — Exhor- 
tations to union, energy, and promptness of action. 

To the President of Congress. Office of Finance, 

February ISth, 1782, - - - - 118 

Proposing the appointment of Commi»ssioners for the 

settlement of the accounts of the Commissary, 

Quarter Master, Hospital, and the Marine. — Frauds 

in these departments. 

Circular to the Governors of the States.' Office of 
Finance, March 9th, 1782, - - - - 121 

Settlement of public accounts to 1782. 

To Mr Grand, at Paris. Office of Finance, March 
9th, 1782, ------ 122 

Intends to draw bills on him. 

To the President of Congress. Office of Finance, 
March 9th, 1782, 123 

Mismanagement in the purchase of goods in Hol- 
land.— ^Directs Dr Franklin to sell those of British 
manufacture, and to dispose of the rest. 

To the Baron D'Arnot. Office of Finance, March 
18tb, 1782, 124 

Prussia may secure a share of the American com- 
merce by opening her ports. — Cannot agree to pur- 
chase supplies of Prussian subjects at St Thomas's. 

To B. Franklin. Office of Finance, March 23d, 
1782, ------- 125 

Mode of renewing sets of exchange, on actount of 
certain lost bills. 



To Oliver Phelps. Office of Finance, March 30th, 
1782, ------- 126 

Advantages of raising supplies by private contracts. 
— Declines entering into any engagement favoring 
Massachusetts in the purchases. 

Circular to the Governors of the States. Office of 
Finance, April 15th, 1782, - - - - 129 

Transmitting Acts of Congress recommending the 
settlement of accounts between the United States 
and tlie respective States up to ]78"2. — Importance 
of settling the quotas and contingents of the 

To Nathaniel Appleton. Office of Finance, April 
16th, 1782, - - ~ - - - 131 

Necessity of establishing a public fund. 

To B. Franklin. Office of Finance, April 17th, 
1782, - - 132 

Giving him notice of drafts to be drawn on Mr 
To John Jay. Office of Finance, April 23d, 1782, 134 
Enclosing a letter to the Secretary of Foreign 
George Washington to Robert Morris. Head Quar- 
ters, April 23d, 1782, 134 

Api)ointment of an Intendent to decide on disputes 
between the army and the contractors. — Expresses 
his satisfaction with the system of contracts. 

To Major General Greene. Office of Finance, 
April 24th, 1782, 135 

Inefficiency of the confederacy. — Financial difficul- • 
ties. — Abolition of partial payments. — Neglect of 
the Slates. 

To the Governor of Virginia. Office of Finance, 
April 27th, 1782, - - - ' - - 138 

Enclosing his correspondence with the French Min- 
ister on the assumption by the United States of 
the debt of the State of Virginia, for supplies ad- 
vanced by France. 

To the Secretary of Foreign Affairs. Office of Fi- 
nance, April 27th, 1782, - - . _ 140 

Desires a statement of the e.xpenses of the Foreign 

To the Governor of Maryland. Office of Finance, 
April 30th, 1782, 140 

Estimate of expenditure for the current year. — In- 
tends to give publicity to the accounts. 
\^0L. XII. B 



To John Wendell. Office of Finance, May Ist, 
1782, - - - - - - ^ - 142 

Explaining the plan, objects, and operations of the 
National Bank, 

Report to Congress on a Memorial of the Mer- 
chants of Philadelphia. Office of Finance, May 
■ 4th, 1782, - - - - - - - 144 

On the subject of convoys for American ships. 

To the President of Congress. Office of Finance, 
May 8th, 1782, - ^ - - - - - 145 

The French Minister having given notice that no 
further advances will be made by his Court, it be- 
comes necessary to provide for the payment of the 
foreign Ministers. — The Minister desires a settle- 
ment of the accounts between France and the 
United States. 

Circular to the Governors of the States. Office of 
Finance, May 9th, 1782, - - - - 147 

Redemption of the old Continental money. 

To the President of Congress. Office of Finance, 
May 10th, 1782, 150 

Enclosing a statement of American commerce. 

Circular to the Governors of the States. Office of 
Finance, May 16th, 1782, - - - - 151 

.The requisitions of Congress inadequate to meet the 
expenditure. — Neglect of the States to comply 
with the requisitions. — Fatal results of this neglect. 

To the President of Congress. Office of Finance, 
May 17th, 1782, - - - - - 154 

Fatal neglect of the States to raise supplies. — Re- 
quests to be advised as to the expedience of send- 
ing the preceding circular — The receipts of the 
previgus five months equal only to one fourth of 
the daily expense. 

To B. Franklin. Office of Finance, May 17th, 
1782, - - 15G 

Desiring a statement of the moneys at his disposal. 

To Mr Grand. Office of Finance, May 17th, 1782, 157 

Transmitting bills on Dr Franklin. 

To Mr Grand. Office of Finance, May 18th, 1782, 1 59 

The state of commerce renders it impossible to sell 
bills on France. — Requests him to make shipments 
of specie. 

To Messrs Le Couteulx & Co. Office of Finance, 
May 18tli, 1782, - - - - - 161 

Reasons for employing Mr Grand as United States 


To B. Franklin. Office of Finance, May 23d, 1782, 162 

Claims of Beaumarcliais. 

To the President of Congress. Office of Finance, 
May 23d, 1782, - - - - - - 163 

The pecuniary supplies for 1782 have been antici- 
pated. — Amount and expenditure of the same. 

To the President of Congress. Office of Finance, 
May 27th, 1782, - - - - - 165 

Enclosing information from the French Minister of 
the sums advanced by his Court. 

Information mentioned in the above Letter, - 165 

To B. Franklin. Office of Finance, May 29th, 
1782, _.----. 167 

Claims of Beaumarchais. 

To Daniel Clarke. Office of Finance, May 30lh, 

1782, . _ - . - - . 168 

Answer to the charges contained in Mr Clarke's 

To the President of Congress. Office of Finance, 

May 31st, 1782, - - - - - 178 

Proposes to bring the accounts of each department 
under one head. 

To George Olney, of Rhode Island. Office of Fi- 
nance, June 1st, 1782, - - - - 180 

Importance and advantage of laying accurate ac- 
counts of the public expenditures before the 

Caron de Beaumarchais to Robert Morris. Paris, 
June 3d, 1782, - - - - - - 182 

Urging the settlement of his accounts. 

Abstracts mentioned in the preceding Letter, - 184 

To George Washington. Office of Finance, June 
4th, 1782, ___--- 189 

Financial deficiencies render it impossible to pay the 
To Edward Carrington, in Virginia. Office of Fi- 
nance, June 6th, 1782, - - - - 190 

Objections in Virginia to receive Mr Morris's notes 
in taxes. 

To the Secretary of Foreign Affairs. Office of Fi- 
nance, June 7th, 1782, - - - - 191 

There are no funds to pay either the principal or the 
interest of the public debt. 

To Daniel Jenifer, of Maryland. Office of Fi- 
nance, June 11th, 1782, _ - -. - 192 

On the objections of Maryland to the apportionment 


of the expenses. — Other States entertain the same 
opinion. — Specific supplies more expensive than 

To the Governor of Connecticut. Office of Fi- 
nance, June 14th, 1782, - - - - 194 

Declining to delay the publication of the receipts 
from Connecticut. 

To James Lovell, of Massachusetts. Office of Fi- 
nance, June 16th, 1782, - - - - 195 

Reasons for publishing the receipts from the States. 

To George Washington. Office of Finance, June 
21st, r782, 19G 

Requesting him to take measures for the payment of 
the debts contracted by American officers, prison- 
ers in New York. 
To the Governor of Rhode Island. Office of Fi- 
nance, June 2Gth, 1782, - _ _ _ 19G 
Objections to the payment of troops by the separate 
To George Washington. Office of Finance, June 

29th, 1782, 197 

Disputes between tlie contractors and the officers of 
the army. — Reason for providing for the civil list 
before paying tlie army. 

To B. Frankhn. Office of Finance, July 1st, 
1782, 199 

Statement of money advanced by France. — Reasons 
for preferring a loan to a grant. — Cargo of the La- 

To Alexander Hamilton. Office of Finance, July 
2d, 1782, - _ - - - - - - 203 

Announcing his appointment as Receiver for New 
To M. Jolie de Fleury. Office of Finance, July 
5th, 1782, ------- 205 

Community of the interests of America and France. 

To Mr Grand. Office of Finance, July 5th, 1782, 20C 

Accounts between Mr Grand and the United States. 
To the Governor of Maryland. Office of Finance, 
Jtdy 9th, 1782, ------ 206 

Supplies furnished by Maryland.— Importance of the 
financial department in the conduct of the war. 

To James Lovell, of Massachusetts. Office of Fi- 
nance, July iOih, 1782, - - _ _ 208 

p Importance of a national credit.— The sums drawn 

on him may be met by sales of the bills. 

To the Governor of Maryland. Office of Finance, 

July 29th, 1782, ' 210 

Specie can bo raised for taxes by adopting proper 

To the President of Congress. Office of Finance, 
July 29th, 1782, - - - - - 211 

Advantages of loans in cases of extraordinary ex- 
penditure. — Different kinds of loans; — Relative ad- 
vantages of domestic and foreign loans — Necessity 
of establishing public credit.— This must be done 
bj' funding the public debt. — Amount of tiie debt. 
— Impolicy of raising money by loans, witliout pre- 
viously providing the necessary funds. — Impolicy 
of attempting to pay the interest of domestic debts 
by foreign loans. — The revenue granted must be 
sufficient for the purpose. — Nature of the revenue. 
— Advantages of a land tax. — Answer to ob- 
jections against it. — Poll tax.— Excise.— The col- 
lection of the tax. — Appropriation of the revenue. 
— Funded debt. — Siniiing fund. — Answer to the 
objections against speculations in the funds. — Back 
lands. — Disputes as to the property and disposi- 
tion of them. — Manner in which they may be ren- 
dered productive. 

To the President of Congress. Office of Finance, 
July 30th, 1782, 238 

Enclosing estimates for the year ]7S3. — Necessity of 
establishing a navy. — Mode of raising the esti- 

To the Governor of Rhode Island. Office of Fi- 
nance, August 2d, 1782. - _ . - 242 

The impost recommended by Congress has been 
laid by all the States except Rhode Island. — Pie- 
ply to the objections against passing the impost. — 
The refusal of Rhode Island suspends the whole 
operation of the impost. 
To Sir Guy Carleton. Office of Finance, August 

20th, 1782, 248 

Exchange of prisoners. 
To Alexander Hamilton. Office of Finance, Au- 
gust 28th, 1782, - - - - - 248 
Regrets his retirement from the office of Receiver. — 
Weakness of the confederacy. — Mode of collecting 
the taxes. 

To George Washington. Office of Finance, Au- 
gust 29lh, 1782, - - - ■ - - 252 

Declares himself unable to supply the army. 

To George Washiiiston. Oifice of Finance, Au- 
gust 30th, 1782, " . - - . . 254 

Object of the preceding letter. 



To the President of Congress. Office of Finance, 
September 9th, 1782, - - - - - 255 

Urging the adoption of measures for raising a loan. 

To George Washington. Office of Finance, Sep- 
tember 9th, 1782, - - - - - 256 

Failure of his resources. 

To Messrs Willink & Co., Amsterdam. Office of 
Finance, September 24th, 1782, - - - 256 

Intends to draw btlls on them. 

To Messrs Le Couteulx k, Co., Paris. Office of 
Finance, September 24th, 1782', - - - 257 

Reasons for desiring that the money of the United 
States in Holland should be sent by the way of the 

To B. Franklin, John Adams, and John Jay. 
Office of Finance, September 25th, 1782, - 259 

Transmitting Acts of Congress. 

To John Adams. Office of Finance, September 
27th, 1782, ------ 260 

Congratulating him on his success in Holland. 

To Messrs Le Couteulx &. Co. Office of Finance, 
September 27th, 1782, - - - - 261 

Directs money to be placed in their hands. — Terms 
on which it may be remitted to the Havana. 

To B. Franklin. Office of Finance, September 

27th, 1782, - - - ■ - - - 262 

Transmitting instructions to obtain a loan from 
France. — General disposition of the nation toward 
the French. — Attempts of the English to etfect a 
reconciliation. — Reliance of Congress on the con- 
tinuance of aid from France. — Necessity of imme- 
diate relief. — Vicious mode of taxation. 

To B. Franklin. Office of Finance, September 
27th, 1782, ------ 270 

Disposition of the loan mentioned in the preceding 

To B. Franklin. Office of Finance, September . 
30th, 1782, ------ 271 

Improvident purchases of American agents in Eu- 
rope. — The stores belonging to the United States 
in Europe must be shipped. — Mr Grand's ac- 
counts. — Interest on the Dutch loan. — Reports of 
peace produce inaction on the part of the States-. 

To B. Franklin. Office of Finance, October 1st, 

1782, _ - . - . " ■ " " " 2^^^ 

Directing application for a convoy from Havana to 
an American port, for moneys to be shipped at the 
former place. . 



To M. de la Luzerne. Office of Finance, October 
2d, 1782, - - - - - - - 275 

Requesting him to make representations to his Court 
on the necessity of a loan. 

To Alexander Hamilton. Office of Finance, Octo- 
ber 5th, 1782, ------ 275 

Circulation of his notes. 

To B. Franklin. Office of Finance, Oct. 7th, 1782, 278 

Shipment of money. 

To George Washington. Office of Finance, Octo- 
ber 15th, 1782, ------ 279 

Impossibility of supplying money for the army. 

To the Governor of North Carolina. Office of Fi- 
nance, October 7th, 1782, - - - - 280 

Specific supplies cannot be received in the place of 
money. — Objection to the imposing of any restric- 
tions on the exportation of certain articles, for the 
purpose of facilitating the obtaining of those articles 
by the United States. 

To Major General Greene. Office of Finance, 
October 17th, 1782, - - - - 283 

Supplies for the army. — Disposition of the States to 
furnish specific supplies. 

George Washington to Robert Morris. Head 
Quarters, October 18th, 1782, - - - 285 

Expenses incurred in forwarding information to the 
Marquis de Vaudreuil, at the request of M. de la 

Circular to the Governors of the States. ' Office of 
Finance, October 21st, 1782, - - - 28G 

Unable to fulfil his engagements with the contrac- 
tors. — Compelled to enter into new contracts on 
less favorable terms. — The want of revenue in- 
creases all branches of the expenditure. — The war 
is protracted by the want of resources. 

To the Governor of Rhode Island. . Office of Fi- 
■ nance, October 24th, 1782, - - - - 291 

Negligence of the States to meet the requisitions of 
Congress. — Loans, or military collections of sup- 
plies the only alternative. — Loans cannot be ob- 
tained without the establishment of funds. — These 
may be raised by laying the impost recominended 
by Congress. — Answer to the objections to that 
To B. Franklin. Office of Finance, October 27di, 
1782, ------- 296 

Assumes the debt of Virginia, contracted for supplies 
from France. 



To the Governor of Cuba. Philadelphia, Novem- 
ber 27th, 17S2, ------ 297 

Requesting- his assistance in negotiating bills at 

To Thomas Barclay, ia Paris. Office of Finance, 
December 5th, 1782, 298 

Enclosing Act^ of Congress appointing him Com- 
missioner to settle the accounts of the United 
Stales in Europe. — Method of proceeding to be 
adopted. — Account of Beaumarchais. — Heads under 
which the accounts must be stated. 

To the President of Congress. Office of Finance, 
December 12th, 1782, - - - - 306 

Reporting a bill regulating the rates at which foreign 
coin shall be received at the treasury. 

George Washington to Robert Morris. Head 
Quarters, December 20th, 1782, - - - 308 

Inscription on the cannon to be presented to the 
Count de Rochambeau. 

To B. Franklin. Office of Finance, January 11th, 

1783, 309 

Has overdrawn on Mr Grand. — Difficulties in raising 
supplies. — Is obliged to extend his drafts still 

To B. Franklin. Office of Finance, January 13th, 
1783, 312 

Supplies. — Payment of the salaries of the foreign 
To Mr Grand. Office of Finance, January 13th, 

1783, - 314 

Amount of bills issued on Europe. 
To M. de la Luzerne. Office of Finance, Janu- 
ary 13th, 1783, 316 

Explanation of the excess of drafts on Mr Grand 
over the funds in his hands. — Necessity of further 
aid for the current year. 
To John Adams. Office of Finance, January 19th, 

1783, 322 

Wishes to be informed of the state of the loan in 
To the President of Pennsylvania. Office of Fi- 
nance, January 20th, 1783, - - _ 323 
Pennsylvania has not complied with the requisitions 
of Congress. 
To George Washington. Office of Finance, Janu- 
ary 21st, 1783, 324 

Suspicions of illicit transmission of money for com- 


mercial > purposes under pretence of relieving 
prisoners. — Secret service money. 

To the President of Congress. Office of Finance, 
January 24th, 1783, - - - - - 325 
Resigning his office, on the ground that the debts are 
increased without any provision for the payment 
of them. 
To the President of Congress. Office of Finance, 
February 26th, 1783,' - - - - -327 
Desires permission to make known his resigna- 
To George Washington. Office of Finance, Feb- 
ruary 27th, 1783, 327 

' Informing liim of his resignation. 

To William Carmichael, in Madrid. Office of Fi- 
nance, March 4th, 1783, - - - - 329 
Drawing on him to the amount of the bills protested 
by Mr Jay. 

To the President of Congress. Office of Finance, 
March 8th, 1783, " 330 

On the payment of the public debt.— Justice requires 
that it should be paid. — Power of Congress in this 
respect. — The States should be required to pay 
their quota of the debt, or to comply with a general 
plan adopted by Congress. — Method of-making the 
apportionment. — The collectors must be appointed 
by the United States. — The revenue must con- 
tinue till the extinguishment of the debt. — Objec- 
tions to the impost. — Land tax. — Plan of termi- 
nating all accounts open between the United States 
and the individual States. 

George Washington to Robert Morris. Head 
Quarters, March Sth, 1783, - - - - 336 

Regretting his resignation. — Apprehensions of the 

To the President of Congress. Office of Finance, 
March 10th, 1783^ - - - - - 337 

Enclosing jxn estimate of the public debt on the 1st 
of January, 1783. 
To Major General Greene. Office of Finance, 
March 14th, 1783, - - - - - 338 

Reasons of his resignation. — Piovision for the public 
To the President of Congress. Office of Finance, 
March 17th, 1783, ----- 339 

No further aid can be expected from Europe.— Loan 
in Holland. -^Probable amount of money on hand. 
—Expenditure.— Extinction of the public credit.— 


Defence of himself from the charges brought for- 
ward in the newspapers. 
To the Receivers of Continental Taxes in the seve- 
ral States. Office of Finance, April 7th, 1783, 344 

Enclosing an account of the receipts and expendi- 
tures during his administration. 

Circular to the Governors of the States. Office of 
Finance, April 7th, 1783, - - - - 345 

Enclosintr statements of the receipts and expendi- 
tures for 1781 and 1782. 

To a Committee of Congress. Office of Finance, 
April 14th, 1783, - - - - - 345 

Settlement of accounts. — Piiyment of the army. 

To Alexander Hamilton. Office of Finance, April 
16th, 1783, ----- . 347 

Marine agency. — Necessity of economy in tlie ex- 

To the President of Congress. Office of Finance, 
April 23d, 1783, - - - - - 348 

Enclosing specimens of ii coin for the proposed 

To the President of Congress. Office of Finance, 
May 1st, 1783, - - - - - - 349 

Correcting erroneous statements of a committee of 
Congress appointed to confer with him relative to 
his continuance in office. — Reasons for his resig- 
nation. — Motives for consenting to continue in 
office. — Conditions of this consent. 
To the President of Congress. Oflicc of Finance, 
, May 3d, 1783, ------ 355 

Consenting to continue in office. 

To M. de la Luzerne. Office of Finance, May 

6th, 1783, - - - - - - 355. 

Requesting an advance of money in America. 

Circular to the Governors of the States, Office of 
Finance, May 12th, 1783, - - - - 356 

Further supplies from France are nT)t to be ex- 
pected. — Confusion of the accounts. — Anticipation 
of the revenue. — Nece.ssity of supplies from the 


To Thomas Barclay, Agent for settling the Public 
Accounts in Europe. Office of Finance, May 
12th, 1783, ------ 359 

Confusion in the accounts occasioned by the bills 
drawn by Congress on the Ministers in France. 
Spain, and Holland. — Settlement of the accounts. 



To B. Fianklin. Office ol Finance, May 12th, 
1783, - - - - - - - 360 

Confusion produced by the bills drawn by Congress. 
— Amount of the bills. 

To. a Committee of Congi ess. Office of Finance, 
May 15th, 1783, ^ - - - - - 362 

Account of the state of the financial department. — 
Resources foreign and domestic;. — Expenses of the 
army. — Political and military motives for disband- 
ing the army immediately. 

To Major General Greene. Office of Finance, 
May 16th, 1783, - - - - - 367 

Calumnies against public officers. 

To B. Franklin. Office of Finance, Mav 26th, 
1783, - - - - - '- - 369 

The people is never ready to tax itself. 

To B. Franklin. Office of Finance, May 26th, 
1783, ------_ 370 

Urging a renewal of application for aid. — The taxes 
shall be devoted, as far as possible, to the repay- 
ment of any advances. — Situation of the finances. 

To M. de la Luzerne. Office of Finance, May 

27th, 1783, ------ 372 

Requesting his interposition with his Court in favor 
of the application for further aid. 

To Gisorge Washington. Office of Finance, May 
29th, 1783, ------ 373 

Misrepresentations of his motives and conduct. — Ex- 
ertions to procure pay for the army. 

Circular to the Governors of the States. Office oi' 
Finance, June 5th, 1783, _ _ _ _ 375 

The army has been paid in notes. — Incumbent on 
the States to furnish means of discharging them. 

Circular to the Governors of the States. Office of 
-Finance, July 11th, 1783, - - - - 376 

Necessity of supplies from the States to meet the 
notes issued to the army. 

Report to Congress relative to the Pay of the 
Army. Office of Finance, July 15th, 1783, - 378 

Method of discharging the notes issued by the Su- 
perintendent of Finance. — Amount advanced to 
the army. 
To the President of Congress. Office of Finance, 
July 18th, 1783, - . _ _ - 350 

Recapitulation of the circumstances connected with 
the payment of the armj'. — Reason for presenting 
these facts in the form of a letter. 



To Mr Grand. Office of Finance, July 25th, 1783, 386 

Requesting that his bills may be honored, although 
exceeding the funds in Mr Grand's hands. 

To the President of Congress. Office of Finance, 
July 28th, 1783, - - - - - 387 

Urging a reduction of the public expenditure. — The 
civil list. 

Circular to tiie Goverpors of the States. Office of 
Finance, July 28th, 1783, - - - . - 389 

State of the finances. — Reduction of expenses. — Mis- 
representations of his motives. 

Report to Congress respecting transferable Certifi- 
cates. Office of Finance, July 31st, 1783, - 393 

Reasons why the debts of the treasury have not been 
evidenced by transferable certificates. 

To the President of Congress. Office of Finance, 
August 1st, 1783, - - - - - 394 

Amount and proportionb of the payments by the 

To Messrs Willink h Co. Office of Finance, Au- 
gust 6th, 1783, ------ 396 

Amount and nature of drafts on them. — Desires 
that they may be met at all events. 

George Washington to Robert Morris. Head 
Quarters, August 6th, 1783, - - - 397 

Advances of money required for transporting cannon 
and stores to the upper posts. 

To George Washington. Office of Finance, Au- 
gust 12th, 1783, - - - - - 399 
To the Paymaster General. Office of Finance, 

August 12th, 1783, - - - - - 399 

Embarrassed situation of the finances. 

To Elbridge Gerry. Office of Finance, August 
26th, 1783, ' - - - r. - - 400 

Different requisitions of Congress. — Objections to 
the proposition for changing the mode of settling 
accounts, — Objections to the proposal to relinquish 
any part of the requisitions 

George Washington to Robert Morris. Rocky Hill, 
August 30th, 1783, . . . 1 . 406 

The design of occupying the western posts is re- 

To George Washington. Office of Finance, Sep- 
lember"2d, 1783, - - - - - 406 

Expressing his satisfaction at the relinquishment of 
the design of occupying the western posts. 


Circular to the Commissioners of Accounts. Office 

of Finance, September 4tli, 1783, - - 407 

Instructing tbem to make inquiries illustrative of the 
state of the country in its geographical, moral, 
political, and commercial relations. 

To John Adams. Office of Finance, September 
20th, 1783, - - - - - - 411 

InsutKciency of the confederation. — General satis- 
faction with the peace. 

To B. Franklin. Office of Finance, September 
30th, 1783, 413 

Prejudices against France. — Causes of the return of 
American commerce to Great Britain. — Fatal in- 
fluence of the British navigation act on the com- 
merce of England. — The true interest of the Eu- 
ropean powers is to open the West India ports to 
American vessels. — Remissness of the people in 
paying taxes — Debt due the Farmers- General. 

To Arthur Lee. Office of Finance, Oct. 4th, 1783, 418 

Facts relating to a contract with Mr Deane, con- 
cerning shipments on the public account. 

To M. de la Luzerne. Office of Finance, Octo- 
ber 15th, 1783, ------ 420 

Case of M. Holker. 

To Messrs Willink h Co. Office of Finance, Oc- 
tober 23d, 1783, - - - - - 420 

Sum requisite above the estimated amount of the 
taxes. — Present rate of exchange favorable to the 
United States.— Plan adopted for drawing the sum 

To the Farmers-General of France. Office of Fi- 
nance, November 4th, 1783, - - - 423 

Plan adopted by Congress for the payment of the 
sums due the Farmers-General. 

Report to Congress on an Extract from the Jour- 
nals of the General Assembly of Pennsylvania. 424 

Ptelative to the mode of .proceeding of the commis- 
sioner for settling the accounts of the State. 

To John Adams. Office of Finance, November 

5th, 1783, - 436 

Approves his plan of remittances from the United 
States. — The interference of the Dutch govern- 
"^ ment in the loan is not desirable. 

To Messrs Willink h Co. Office of Finance, De- 
cember 31st, 1783, - - - - - 437 

Giving them notice oi liis drawing bills oa them, and 
requesting their acceptance at all events. 



To Messrs Will ink &t Co. Office of Finance, De- 
cember 31st, 1783, - - - - - 439 

The apprehensions which impede the loan are 

To the President of Congress. Office of Finance, 
January 13th, 1784, - - - - - 441 

Confused state of the accounts of the secret and 
commercial committees. 

To Messrs Le Couteulx & Co. Oidce of Finance, 

January 1 3th, 1784, ----- 443^ 

Requesting them to meet certain bills. 

To the President of Congress. Office of Finance, 
January 16th, 1784, - _ - - - 444 

Transmitting a demand for supplies advanced to 
American prisoners. 

To the President of Congress. Office of Finance, 
January 21st, 1784, ----- 445 

Claims of individuals for damages done by the army. 
— Plan of an Act relative to this subject. 

To the President of Congress. Office of Fmance, 
January 24th, 1784, ----- 449 

Proposing the appointment of a commissioner for 
settling the claims of individuals for services ren- 
dered, or supplies furnished in Canada. 

To the President of Congress. Office of Finance, 

February 2d, 1784, - - - - - 451 

To Messrs Le Couteulx &£ Co. Office of Finance, 

February 12th, 1784, - - - - 452 

Draws bills on them, and remits tobacco. 

To Mr Grand. Office of Finance, February 12th, 

1784, ------- 454 

Requests him to meet certain bills if necessary. 

To Messrs Willink &i Co. Office of Finance, Feb- 
ruary 12th, 1784, - - - - - 455 

Reasons for drawing on them beyond the funds in 
their hands. — Manner in" which the bills may be 

To Messrs Willink h Co. Office of Finance, Feb- 
ruary 12th, 1784, ----- 459 
The resources of America are not sufficiently known. 
To B. Franklin. Office of Finance, February 

12th, 1784, - - - - - '- 401 

Desires that some measures may be taken to meet 
his bills. — ^Intended remittances. 



To B. Franklia. Office of Finance, Februaiy 
13th, 1784, ..---- 463 

Amount of the actual engagements of his Depart- 
ment. — General engagements for the public ser- 
vice. — Bills of exchange unpaid. — Debt to the 
national bank. — Means of payment 

To Thomas Jefferson. Office of Finance, Febru- 
ary 25th, 1784, - - - - - 468 

Arrearages of requisitions. — Unfunded expenditures. 
— Estimate of the Civil List. 
Proposed expenses of the Civil List, - - 476 

To the President of Congress. Office of Finance, 
March 17th, 1784, ' - - - - - 478 

Failure of the Dutch loan. — Bills protested for non- 
acceptance. — Amount of funds in Europe, and of 
bills drawn. — Necessity of prompt supplies. 

To Jacob Read, member of a committee of Con- 
gress. Office of Finance, March 30th, 1784, -482 

Advises a demand of the arrearages from the States, 
previous to making new requisitions. — Objections 
to the Loan offices. 

To Thomas Jefferson. Office of Finance, April 
8th, 1784, - - - - - - 485 

The number of banks unfavorable to the plan of rais- 
ing loans. — Objections to premiums on loans. 

To the President of Congress. Office of Finance, 
April 29th, 1784, - - - - - 486 

Defence of his conduct in regard to the appointment 
of Receivers of taxes. — Objections to Loan offices. 

To the President of Congress. Office of Finance, 
May 6th, 1784, ' - - - - - 489 

Amount of his engagements. — Requests the adoption 
of arrangements for administering the Financial 
To the Marquis de Lafayette. Office of Finance, 
May 19th, 1784, ' - - - - - 490 

Requesting his influence in establishing a free port 
in the Isle of France or Bourbon. — Commercial 
and political advantages of the measure. 

To the Governor of Rhode Island. Office ol' Fi- 
. nance, June 21st, 1784, - - - ^ - 493 

Urging a compliance with the requisitions of Con- 
gress for funding the public debt. 

To M. de Marbois, Charge d'Affaires from France. 
Office of Finance, August 17th, 1784, 494 

Arrangements for paying the interest on the French 



To the President of Congress. Office of Finance, 
September 30th, 1784, - - _ . 496 

Success of the Dutch loan. — Necessity of making 
proper provisions for the payment of the public 

To B. Franklin. Office of Finance, September 
30th, 1784, - - ■ - - - - 498 

Payment of the salaries of the foreign Ministers. 
— Attachment of United States properly in France. 

To the President of Congress. Office of Finance, 
September SOtli, 1784, - - - - 501 

Services of M. de Lafayette. 

Advertisement. Philadelphia, October 11th, 1784, 502 

Announcing his having made arrangements for re- 
deeming his public engagements and his notes in 
circulation. — Pledges his personal responsibility 
for the payment. 

To the President of Congress. Office of Finance, 

November 1st, 1784, _ - _ . 502 

Enclosing his commission as Superintendent of Fi- 






VOL. XII. 1 





Office of Finance, November 3d, 1781. 

• Sir, 

Agreeably to my promise, I have the honor to send 
you a copy of the circular letter, which I lately trans- 
mitted to the several States. This will be an addi- 
tional proof of my desire to draw from among ourselves 
the necessary resources, and thereby to become truly 
independent. But the sincerity with which I have 
always spoken to you, and which I mean to preserve, 
and which the generous conduct of your Sovereign 
demands for his servants, that sincerity will not permit 
me to conceal my sentim.ents on what is to be expected. 

The annual expenses of this country may certainly 
be reduced within narrower bounds, than they have 
hitherto been ; perhaps it will be less than I myself 
have now an idea of. But still it must be consider- 
able, if we mean, which we certainly do, to make 
becoming efforts in the common cause. Besides this, 


it will require a considerable revenue to provide the 
sinking fund for our public debt. As I consider 
national credit to be an object of the greatest magni- 
tude and importance, so I think it necessary to bend 
every possible effort to the establishment and support 
of it. Provision for our debts is, therefore, the first 
object, and therefore must take place of every other 

Whatever may be the wealth of the inhabitants of 
America, and however capable they may be of bearing 
heavy taxes, this at least is certain, that they have 
neither been accustomed to them, nor have the Legis- 
latures hitherto adopted the proper modes of laying 
and levying them with convenience to the people. 
Taxation requires time in all governments, and is to 
be perfected only by long experience in any country. 
America, divided as it is into a variety of free States, 
possessing sovereign power for all domestic purposes, 
cannot therefore be suddenly brought to pay all which 
might be spared from the wealth of her citizens. The 
amount even of that wealth is very disputable. Our 
extensive forests, though they are valuable as property, 
are by no means productive to the revenue; and many 
of our people have endured such losses, that they re- 
quire alleviation, instead of being able to bear burdens. 
Besides this, the use of many articles, not strictly ne- 
cessary, are become so even by that use, and there- 
fore, the mode of living being habitually more expen- 
sive than in other countries, requires greater wealth. 
A good Prince would not suddenly render the lot of 
his subjects worse. How then are we to expect that 
the people themselves will do so ? 


But supposing our taxes could equal the demand for 
revenue, another circumstance remains. The paper 
money, which has been emitted lays in our way to re- 
formation, and we feel it at every step. It has been 
issued, and the people will with propriety refuse to pay 
taxes, if it be totally refused. Much, therefore, of the 
revenue must be in paper, while that paper exists. If it 
be re-issued after it has been raised in taxes, the mischief 
attendant on a depreciating medium will still continue. 
A large nominal revenue may indeed be collected, but 
that revenue will be nominal. The specie in the country 
also will be continually secluded from circulation, and by 
that means, not only the sources of revenue will be dried 
up, but even the bills of exchange, which may be drawn 
on Europe, will not find a proper market at their value. 

I might add a number of reasons to show the necessity 
of destroying this paper money ; but your residence here 
has enabled you to see this subject to the bottom, and I 
have found in conversation your ideas so clear, that I will 
not attempt to demonstrate what you cannot but perceive 
at a single glance. But how is it to be done ? If a recur- 
rence be again had to the detestable expedient of force, 
our credit is ruined. Prudence, therefore, forbids any 
such attempt ; besides, it is so dishonest, that I will never 
have any concern in il. There is then no other means, 
but to receive the taxes in paper, and to destroy a part, at 
least, if not the whole. 

This method of proceeding will lay a proper foundation 
for establishing public credit, and when that is established, 
we well know what good consequences may be drawn. 
But, in the interiu), it is evident that the revenue, even if 
otherwise equal to our wants, must be deficient. I, there- 


fore, am bound to declare to you my conviction, that we 
must have aid from abroad. It is unnecessary to add the 
place from which that aid is to be expected. 

It is very painful to ask assistance in any case, espe- 
cially in a situation like ours, where the object of the war is 
to secure what is of the utmost importance to us. But 
having candidly explained our situation, and shov^ the 
impracticability of doing all which I wish, there is a 
greater propriety in stating to a gentleman, who knows 
those wishes, the ideas which arise from the nature of that 
connexion which subsists between the two nations. 

The war in America must of necessity prove fatal to 
Great Britain, if it continues ; because it is carried on by 
her at an expense so disproportionate, to that which is 
borne by France, that the greater effort must exhaust every 
fund she can possibly draw forth, and inextricably involve 
her in eternal debt. If then the object of the war were 
in itself indifferent to France, the mere continuance of it 
would alone be a valuable object to her, and indeed, to every 
other power, particularly to those who are iu any degree 
maritime, as they are most exposed to British encroach- 
ment and rapacity. But when we consider that the object 
of the war is of the last consequence to the commerce of 
his Majesty's dominions, and especially so to his marine ; 
and when we further consider, that his honor stands pledged 
for our support, to doubt of his further assistance would 
imply a reflection both on his wisdom and integrity. I 
hope. Sir, you will believe me to be incapable of casting 
such reflections. 

Let me further take the liberty to observe, that I would 
by no means detract from the generosity of his Most 
Christian Majesty, yet the moneys, which he may be dis- 


posed to advance 10 the United States, are neither lost 
nor thrown away. The subjects of France will for ages 
derive benefits from a commercial connexion with this 
country, and I hope their Sovereign will always find here 
a warm friend and a faithful ally, should any of those 
changes, to which human affairs are subjected, induce him 
to ask that aid, which he now bestows. 

With great respect, I have the honor to be, he. 


* November '3d. This day, on the invitation of the Minister of 
France, I attended at the Romish Church at a Te Deum, sung on 
account of the capture of Lord Cornwallis and his army. Soon 
after arrived the colors taken by General Washington virith that 
army, which vpere brought by Colonel Humphreys to Chester, 
there met by Colonel Tilghman, and thence conducted hither by 
those two Aid-de-Camps of the General. The city troop of light 
horse went out to meet them, and became tlie standard bearers, and 
twentyfour gentlemen, privates in that corps, carried each of them 
one of the colors displayed. The American and French flags pre- 
ceding the captured trophies, which were conducted down Market 
street to the Coffee House, thence down Front to Chestnut street, 
and up that street to the State House, where they were presented 
to Congress, who were sitting ; and many of the members tell me, 
that instead of viewing this transaction as a mere matter of joyful 
ceremony, which they expected to do, they instantly felt themselves 
impressed with ideas of the most solemn nature. It brought to 
their minds the distresses our country has been exposed to, the 
calamities we have repeatedly suffered, the perilous situation, which 
our affairs have almost always been in ; and they could not but 
recollect the threats of Lord North, that he would bring America 
to his feet on unconditional terms of submission. Diary. 



Office of Finance, November 5th, 1781. 


Copies of the Act of the United States in Congress as- 
sembled, of the 2d instant, have been sent to me, and were 
yesterday received. It would have given me pleasure to 
have had an opportunity of expressing my sentiments be- 
fore those acts were passed ; but it becomes necessary to 
take the liberty of doing it now. I, therefore, do myself 
the honor to enclose a letter written on the 28th day of 
August last, which was not transmitted before, because 
Congress were so much engaged, that, as well from that 
as from other circumstances, those matters, which it re- 
lates to, could not properly be brought before them. In 
the beginning of that letter, the reference made to me on 
the 23d of August, of two letters from the State of 
Massachusetts, and of a report upon them, is mentioned. 
On the I2th of September following, I received the resolu- 
tions of that State, which were referred on the 1 0th ; and 
I have now to observe, that my sentiments on the sub- 
ject of those resolutions are fully contained in the letter. 

I should have sent in that letter, notwithstanding my 
reasons to the contrary, if I had conceived that any of the 
subjects it relates to had been in agitation before the 
United States. And, although Congress have not taken 
up all the matters mentioned in it, there is some propriety 
in sending it as it was written, because such objects are 
better understood when viewed in their connexion with 
each other, than when separately considered. 

I shall say nothing as to the amount of the sum re- 
quired, because I have not seen the estimates. Congress 


have certainly considered the supplies necessary, and the 
abilities of their constituents. Immediately after the ap- 
portionments, I find the following clause, "that the said 
sums, when paid, sliall be credited to the accounts of the 
several States on interest., to be hereafter adjusted." 
I hope that I shall be pardoned for observing, that I 
cannot see the necessity of this provision, and that ill 
consequences will probably result from it. As to the 
necessity, I will suppose that the proportion of any 
State were rated so high as greatly to exceed its means 
of payment, or materially to distress the people, surely 
Congress might afford redress in the next apportion- 
ment by relaxing the demands on such State and 
dividing the deficiency among others. Nor is it of 
any consequence whether the disproportion arises from 
error in laying the quotas, or from a subsequent 
change of circumstances. It is for this reason that the 
clause appears unnecessary. The idea of leaving the 
adjustment of accounts to a future day will discourage 
the efforts of every State in the Union, They will 
consider it as determining, in other words, that the 
accounts shall never be settled at all ; or rather, they 
have already formed that opinion. This has produced 
discontent, and given rise to complaint. The disputes 
which must follow cannot but be pernicious. Nor are 
these the only ill consequences of that provision. I 
hope that Congress will pardon me, when I state the 
sentiments, which may arise in the minds of others, 
although they have no place in my own. Postponing 
a final adjustment may cast an air of doubt, or even 
timidity, on the proceediugs of the United Slates. It 
may be construed into an appearance of leading indi- 

VOL. XII. 2 


vidual States unwarily into eflforts beyond their pro- 
portion, or their strength. It may be imagined that 
there is some want of that firmness and decision, which 
ought to be the constant companions of sovereign 
authority. It gives me pain to hazard a difference in 
opinion with Congress, and, therefore, I quit the 

The next article in the Act of the second instant 
declares, "that certificates, which may be given by the 
Quarter Master General, or other officers properly au- 
thorised to give them for supplies, that shall hereafter 
be furnished, shall be accepted in payment." This 
provision may, in some instances be necessary, in 
some improper, but in all it must be dangerous. I 
shall not dwell on the consequences of giving these 
certificates; but I will suggest one idea, which will, 
perhaps, merit attention. Tliat article is an act of 
sovereign authority, and therefore while it exists 
doubts may arise how far the issuing of such certifi- 
cates can be restrained. If the Quarter Master and 
others will give certificates, and the States will receive 
them and tender .them to me, I must, according to this 
act, accept them in payment; but those who contract 
for supplies to the public, certainly will not take them 
from me. If, on the other hand, that article be not 
inserted, the general authorities given to me by Con- 
gress are equal to all the necessary regulations in exe- 
cuting their commands, i might, for instance, appoint 
a trusty person to give certificates in extraordinary 
cases. I should then know the amount of such certi- 
ficates, and I could make the necessary arrangements 
with relation to them. 


My sentiments on the next article are so full}' ex- 
pressed in the enclosed letter, that I will not trouble 
Congress with the repetition. I shall onl)' observe, 
that daily observation and information confirm my 
fears, that frauds have been practised in giving those 
certificates, and I must be of opinion, that a general 
permission to receive them in taxes will be very inju- 
rious, not only to the public revenue, but to the repu- 
tation of our measures. I am apprehensive that many 
honest men through the United States, who know the 
frauds committed in their neighborhoods, will imagine 
that sufficient attention is not paid to the detection of 
villany, and that idea will disincline them very much 
from the payment of taxes, because nothing induces 
men to part with their money so cheerfully, as the 
belief that it will be applied to the purposes for which 
it was granted, with economy and integrity. 

What I have written on the subject of a final appor- 
tionment may appear to have proceeded from a want 
of attention to that article of the confederation, which 
points out the manner of defraying public expenses.* 
But this is not the case. The article in question re- 
lates merely to those circumstances, which shall arise 
after the completion of it, and makes no provision 
whatever for past expenses. The several requisitions 
of Congress do indeed refer to a future settlement, 
according to the mode expressed in the confederation ; 
but the confederation itself must receive a liberal and 
equitable construction ; much more so those resolu- 
tions which refer to it. If this be not the case, it 
would be madness to expect obedience from free 
agents independent of each other, which is the situa- 


tion of the several States. If, then, the article be 
considered and weighed, even as to the quota of the 
current year, where certainly it applies with greater 
force, than to any past transaction, we shall find that 
it presupposes the following things; first, a certain 
mode of determining the value of lands, &c., or, in 
other words, the value of each respective State ; sec- 
ondly, that this mode should not be permanent but 
variable, and framed from time to time, according to 
the then existing state of things ; thirdly, that it 
should be founded in liberal principles of justice; no 
other mode being presumable from those who are to 
adopt it ; fourthly, that the value being thus equita- 
bly determined, the expenses of the current year 
should be estimated according to the best lights, which 
could be obtained ; and fifthly, that this expense 
should be apportioned according to that valuation. 

If these ideas be just, and I think that an inspection 
of the article itself will show them to be so, then it 
will follov,-, that a valuation made for one year cannot 
properly apply to any preceding or subsequent year ; 
more especially, if any considerable change take place 
in the respective circumstances of the several States. 
Let us, for instance, suppose, that in the year 1776, 
five hundred acres of land in the State A were worth 
one thousand pounds; that in the year 1777, they 
were worth five hundred pounds ; and in the year 
1778, one bundled pounds ; while, during the whole 
period, five hundred acres in the State B were worth 
five hundred pounds. Let us suppose the States A 
and B to have been of the same extent, and that thirty 
pounds were to have been paid annually by those States 


according to the apportionment of the confederation, 
they would then have been charged as follows ; in 
1776, the Slate A twenty pounds, and B ten pounds ; 
in 1777, A fifteen pounds, and B fifteen pounds ; and 
in 1778 A five pounds, and B twentyfive pounds. 
Thus, then, of three times thirty or ninety pounds, A 
would be chargeable with twenty, fifteen, and five, 
amounting in the whole to forty pounds; and B with 
ten, fifteen, and twentyfive, amounting in the whole 
to fifty pounds. The proportion, therefore, between 
them is as four to five ; but the proj)ortion arising 
from their relative wealth in either of those terms is 
widely different. In the first, it is as two to one. In 
the second, as one to one, and in the third, as one to 
five. Wherefore, if the whole ninety pounds were to 
have been apportioned on the valuation of the first 
year, it would have been to A sixty, and to B thirty. 
On that of the second A fortyfive, and B fortyfive, 
and on the third A fifteen, and B seventyfive. 

If this conclusion be fairly drawn, then a question will 
arise on this point. Suppose no mode of valuation adopted, 
how are the quotas to be ascertained .'' In answer to this 
question, I state the following positions ; first, that the ob- 
ject of the confederation was to make an equitable appor- 
tionment ; secondly, that Congress will always, when they 
direct a valuation, do it in an equitable mode ; and thirdly, 
that a valuation is, at present, impracticable, much less a 
valuation for times past. These things admitted, and the 
necessity of an apportionment being also admitted, the 
question answer's itself; for no other mode will remain, but 
by resorting to such lights as Congress may have on the 
subject, and that they determine as equitably as they can, 


according to those lights, which is the very thing I have 
already proposed. 

I shall trespass no longer on your Excellency's patience, 
than to mention, that I have detained the copies of tl)ose 
acts, until the further order of Congress. But if they dis- 
approve of it, I shall immediately transmit them. 

I have the honor to be, he. 



Office of Finance, November 6th, 1781. 

I have been honored with your Excellency's answer of 
the 4th to my letter of the 3d instant. I am sure we can- 
not differ in opinion. It is impossible, that I can doubt the 
wisdom or integrity of his Most Christian Majesty, or that 
you can doubt his desire of giving further assistance to the 
United Stales. As to the mode in which that can be done, 
his Majesty's convenience, and the situation of affairs will 
best determine it. 1 wish to receive pecuniary aid, and 
when 1 consider the importance, I am led to expect it. 
You have doubts on that subject ; but the success which 
has followed from the grants already made, will show so 
clearly the utility, that you, who see the good effects, and 
who are so zealously attached to the common cause, will 
concur with me in your efforts also. The regard vou have 
expressed for the United States, and which, I am sure you 
feel, gives me the highest reason to expect your good offi- 
ces on all occasions, which may relate to their welfare, and 
particularly those in the line of my department, v;here you 
are fully sensible assistance is most necessary. 

With the most perfect esteem and respect, 1 am, &c. 



Office of Finance, November 15th, 1781. 

I have the pleasure to observe to your Excellency, that 
I -have discharged a bill drawn on nie by M. Bauiny, in 
favor of M. Roquebrune, for eighty thousand livres, being 
in part payment of the one hundred and forty thousand 
livres, which you were so kind as to advance, and for 
vphich I beg leave again to express iny grateful sense of 
obligation. The remaining sum of sixtyfour thousand 
livres, I hold at your order, and had determined to remit 
it ; but having accidentally mentioned the matter to the 
Chevalier de la Luzerne, he observed to me, that in all 
probability, you would want money rather in Philadelphia 
than Virginia, because of the necessary expense, which 
would arise in transporting stores from Boston. Upon this 
principle, I deferred sending forward, untH I should hear 
from your Excellency on the subject. M. de la Luzerne 
lias also promised me to mention it in his letters to you. 

Before I conclude this letter, I must trespass one short 
moment on your patience, to express my congratulations 
on the important and splendid success, which has crowned 
the allied arms before Yorktown. My voice, Sir, cannot 
add to that glory, which the public sentiment has most de- 
servedly conferred ; but you will permit me to assure you 
of the high gratification it gives my nnnd, that you f re so 
much the object of gratitude, applause and esteem, through- 
out the United States. 

With the most perfect respect, I hiive the honor, to be, 




Office of Finance, November 17th, 1781. 

I have the honor to enclose acts of Congress of the oOih 
of October, and 2d instant, which were handed to me on 
the 4th ; but upon a perusal of ihem, it appeared that 
some things had escaped the attention of Congress; where- 
fore, on the 5th I had the honor of writing to them a letter 
on the subject. 

In this letter I took the liberty to state some objections 
to the three clauses in the Act of ihe 2d, which follow 
immediately after the apportionment. I shall not here 
repeat those objections. They lay before the United 
States in Congress, and will receive such mature consid- 
eration, as is becoming the wisdom of that sovereign body. 
I will not however hesitate to declare to your Excellency, 
that it was my wish to have those three clauses repealed. 

On the 12th, the Unite«l States in Congress assembled 
passed the act, of which a copy is also enclosed, and by 
which your Excellency will perceive, that one of those 
clauses is repealed. 1 received this Act on the 30th, and I 
have waited until this day the further order of Congress ; 
but there being now but a thin representation, so that busi- 
ness cannot be done with the same despatch as when more 
States are present, and these Acts being of great impor- 
tance, 1 have thought it best immediately to forward them. 
To press a compliance is I trust unnecessary. The respect 
due to the representation of America will speak more loudly 
and more effectually, than the weak voice of any individual 
servant they may have employed. I shall make but one 
observation. Tlie present requisition is very moderate ; 


the compliance, therefore, must be very punctual, for de- 
lays are equally dangerous and expensive, and if tliey 
should h:ippen, the people must be burdened with new 
taxes unnecessarily. 

With great respect, &c. 



Mount Vernon, November 19th, 1781. 
Dear Sir, 

I have to inform you, that a very considerable debt has 
been incurred on you as Financier of the United States, 
by an order for the relief of the officers of the army from 
the goods found in Yorktown ; each officer, military and 
staff, having been authorised to take up on public account, 
the sum of twenty pounds Virginia currency ; for which 
Mr Ross, commercial agent of this State, is answerable 
to the merchants, payable in tobacco ; Mr Ross receiving 
the amount in bills upon you to be paid in six months from 
the time of the goods being taken. The returns not being 
handed in, I am unable to give you the amount with any 
precision ; your own calculations will afford you the sum 
' with a degree of certainty. 

A quantity of goods found on board a cartel in York 

river, and which have been judged to be forfeit, were part 

suitable for the army, and part for the country ; the latter, 

which will amount to a considerable sum, are to be sold 

' at public vendue, and accounted for. 

Knowing the state of your finances, I have studied to 
keep this debt within its most moderate bounds, but in 
spite of all my endeavors, I fear you will find it but too 

VOL. XII. 3 


l»ge. I hoped to have given you some assistance from 
the military chest found with the enemy, but unavoidable 
contingencies of the array, and furnishing the Quarter 
Master General for the southern army, have swallowed 
up near one half of its contents. A number of iron can- 
non, being unnecessary for our use, I have appropriated 
as a fund for the discharge of the debt incurred, and they 
are sent to the head of the Elk ; this with the other funds 
may possibly amount to a full discharge of the debt. 
I am, he. 


P. S. Since writing the above, I am informed by 
General Lincoln, who is come up since T left Yorktown, 
that the whole amount of the goods taken by the officers 
and on public account, will arise to about thirteen thou- 
sand pounds sterling, and that the articles sold in York- 
town, at public vendue, will be near six thousand pounds. 

G. W. 


Office of Finance, November 20th, 1781. 

I have been honored with your Excellency's letter of 
the 7th instant, and am much obliged by the attention 
you have been pleased to pay to the several applications 
from me, which are noticed in it. 

I shall be very happy to receive the several accounts 
you have promised, because the final settlement of all ac- 
counts appears to me of the utmost importance, and I hope 
such measures will be taken, as founded in justice and 
propriety will meet your wishes, and be agreeable to the 


State, over which you so worthily preside. I hope that in 
future, there will be no accounts between the States and 
the United States, except cash accounts, one side of 
which will consist of the requisitions, and the other with 
the payment of them. The old Continental, which is 
brought in, will, I hope, be forwarded hither, with its pro- 
portionate part of the new, and indeed of the whole, both 
new and old, as soon as possible. Both shall be carried 
to the credit of the State. 

As to what you mention of the tax in specie, I have to 
observe, that whatever may have been the practice here- 
tofore, I hope that the moneys designed for the general 
service will be paid into the Continental Treasury, and 
that the army will be paid from thence. This I conceive 
to be the only mode, by which heart-burnings, murmurs, 
and complaints can be avoided, and, at the same time, it is 
the only mode, by which the moneys obtained from the 
people can be applied with effect and economy. 

To feed, clothe, and pay the army, form a part of the 
objects of my administration. Clothing I have received. 
Rations T have contracted for in some degree, and I shall 
extend those contracts. Pay will also be advanced, when 
the treasury will admit of it. J am, therefore, to request 
that the hard money collected, and collecting in your Slate 
may be held subject to my drafts. 1 expect that the 
States will all levy taxes sufficient for those things 1 have 
just mentioned, and for the other necessary expenses. 
The inoney which is submitted to my disposal shall be 
faithfully applied. 

That the requisitions from Congress have been later 
than was to liave been wished, is indeed to be lamented. 
That body have so many objects, which call on their at- 


tention, that tliey cannot always do what they would wish. 
Besides this, the uncertain silnatioii of our money has hith- 
erto greatly increased the difficulties, which Congress have 
labored under, and you will permit me to observe, Sir, 
that those difBculties are not a little to be attributed to the 
inattention of the several States. But your Excellency 
will, I am sure, agree with me, that our situation requires 
joint vigorous exertions, and not unavailing complaints and 

With the greatest respect, &c. 



The Superintendent of Finance, in pursuance of the 
order of the 7lh instant, prays leave to submit the fol- 
lowing draft of a letter to General Galvez. 


Your letter, dated at New Orleans the 22d of July, 
17S0, has been received, and was laid before the Uni- 
ted States of America in Congress assembled on the 
29lh of September following. The committee to 
whom that letter was referred, did not make any re- 
mittances in consequence of it, nor write you an 
answer, because the dangers attending a communica- 
tion with you at that time were too great, occasioned 
by the many ships of war, with which the enemy then 
infested our coast. 

I am now, Sir, directed by the United States to 
express to you the grateful sense they entertain of 


your early efforts in their favor. Those generous 
efforts gave them so favorable an impression of your 
character, and that of your nation, that they have not 
ceased to respect you, and to wish for an intimate con- 
nexion with your country. Conceiving it to be for 
the mutual interest of Spain and North America, they 
have an earnest wish, that as the cause is one, and the 
enemy one, so the operations against him may be con- 
tinued in such manner, as to answer the great pur- 
poses, which all have in view. The late successes, 
which have crowned the combined arms of France and 
America in Virginia, while they demonstrate the 
benefits which flow from a union of efforts, will at the 
same time, lead to wholesome reflections on the man- 
ner in which that union has been cemented. The 
-French and American soldier marching under the same 
banners, enduring the same fatigues, bearing the same 
dangers, and bleeding in the same field together, 
express in the language of their different nations the 
common sentiment of fraternal affection. Let me con- 
gratulate you very much on this success, and still more 
on the sentiment, by which, under Providence, it has 
been secured. 

With respect to the advance made by your Excel- 
lency, I have the honor to enclose copies of two reso- 
lutions of Congress, one of the 6lh of February last, 
and the other of the 7th instant, by which you will 
perceive, that the public accounts with Mr Pollock are 
settled, and a considerable balance carried to his credit. 
In these accounts is included a part of your advance, 
and the remainder of it is contained in Mr Pollock's 
account with the Commonwealth of Virginia. This 


latter account has been referred to the consideration of 
that Commonwealth, and I trust the debt to Mr Pol- 
lock will be acknowledged by them. That which is 
due from the United States to Mr Pollock is now on 
interest at six per cent, and if you wish that the sums 
which he has appropriated to the service of the United 
States ou*t of those advanced by your Excellency 
should be credited to you, on transmitting an assign- 
ment thereof from Mr Pollock, it shall immediately be 
■done, and payment will be made both of the principal 
and interest, as soon as the situation of our finances 
will admit of it, which, from the present prospect of 
things, may happen in a shorter space of time, than the 
public creditors have been generally led to expect. 
With perfect respect and esteem, I am, &c. 



Office of Finance, November 22d, 1781. 
In conversation with your Excellency last evening, 
you requested me to write to you on the subject of it, 
that you might be fully possessed of my sentiments. 
I have now, therefore, the honor to remind you, that 
some time in the month of May last you promised me 
that I should draw for half a million of livres, and 
shortly after, for a million more. You afterwards ex- 
tended this sum to two millions and a half, and on the 
25ih of September last, I wrote to you on the subject, 
having then seen the report of the committee appointed 
to confer with you, by which it appeared, that your 


engagement with me to draw for the sums first men- 
tioned formed one object of lliat conference, but that 
the engagement for one million more was omitted. 

I have extended my engagements according to the 
extent of the means, which I was induced to suppose 
in my power, and therefore, estimating the money 
and supplies the Slates would probably furnish, and 
relying on the money which had arrived, that which I 
was authorised to draw for, and that which the engage- 
ments of your Court had led me to expect, my views 
were directed to all those resources. I shall not dwell 
on the consequences of my efforts. Enough of them 
are known to speak for themselves, and I leave to your 
knowledge and observation the comparison of our pub- 
lic affairs now, with what they were exactly six months 
ago. I will only say, that if those foundations, on 
which I built, are removed, my past labors will have 
been thrown away, and my future utility absolutely 

You can well remember. Sir, what I have often told 
you of the course of exchange. I have raised it grad- 
ually since I first commenced my operations, and 
although it would now have been higher than it is, if 
the quantity of bills thrown on the market last sum- 
mer had been withheld ; yet even now, at fifteen 
pence this money for a livre, it is but ten per cent 
below par ; and as I expect shortly to raise it to six- 
teen pence, it will then be at a discount of only four 
per cent. To sustain these operations, if for no other 
purpose, it is necessary that I continue to draw bills, 
for certainly a remittance cannot be made so cheaply 
from Europe. But, indeed, my present demands, 


arising on past engagements, are very great and 
urgent, so that if I do not continue to draw, the chest 
will presently be empty, which will be known as soon 
as it happens, and then I am again at the mercy of the 
world. I will dwell no longer upon this subject, but 
take some notice of another matter, which stands in 
intimate connexion with it. 

You will remember, that you have often mentioned 
to me a mistake in the account, of which you delivered 
a copy to Congress. As I made no doubt, that it 
would be properly and satisfactorily explained, I have 
hitherto restrained myself from going at all into the 
subject. But it now becomes my duty to write to Dr 
Franklin upon it; and, therefore, I wish to communi- 
cate to you my sentiments, while I request you to use 
your good offices with the Court for having the matter 
placed on its proper footing. 

The note from the Count de Vergennes, of the 1 6th of 
May last, shows very clearly a grant of ihe three following 
sums ; four millions to Dr Franklin to discharge the bills 
of exchange drawn on him by Congress; six millions as 
a gift towards the operations of the campaign ; and ten 
millions in advance of the loan to be opened in Holland, 
amounting in the whole to twenty millions. The first sum 
of four millions, appears evidently to have been for pay- 
ment of the bills drawn to discharge the interest of ban 
office certificates, according to the original engagement, 
which the Court entered into with the American Commis- 
sioners. Of the money granted by the Court, there has 
been advanced, as appears by the account you delivered 
10 the committee, in warlike stores and money, to Colonel 
Laurens, four millions seven hundred and eighiynine 


thousand one hundred and nine livres; and to purchase 
the remainder of the articles demanded by him, three hun- 
dred and ninetyseven thousand hvres. For the bills of 
exchange drawn by Congress on their Minister, I will 
suppose the sum mentioned in the Count de Vergennes' 
note, viz. four millions, and I will add for my drafts one 
million and a half, being what, as I have already observed, 
you first promised. Thus the whole amount of these 
sums is ten millions six htmdred and eightysix thousand 
one hundred and nine livres, and the balance, which I 
conceive to be subject to my disposition, is nine millions 
three hundred and thirteen thousand eight hundred and 
ninetyone livres. As to replacing the cargo of the Fay- 
ette, which is mentioned in your account, [ do not take 
notice of it, because I wish that it may not have happened, 
and because if it has been made, it will be time enough to 
deduct it when the articles shall have been actually deliv- 
ered. The loss of that ship, and the detention of one of 
the transports laden by Colonel Laurens, have already 
compelled me to make heavy expenditures. Among these 
I will mention the purchase of lead some time ago, and a 
late purchase of clothing to a very large amount, a part 
of which 1 am now paying for, and the remainder is to be 
paid in dn-ee, six, and nine months from the date of my 

1 have the honor to enclose what 1 conceive to be the 
clear state of the account between us and yoiu- Court. 
This will be transmitted to Dr Franklin, and I hope it will 
meet with your approbation and support. As I have 
nearly drawn foi- twelve huntlred thousand livres, I must 
request your compliance with your original engagement, 
that I may extend my drafts so as to include the remain- 

VOL. XII. 4 



ing three hundred thousand, necessary to complete the one 
million and a half, mentioned in the enclosed account. 

I shall be glad to be informed, Sir, whether any more 
money has been shipped on account of the United Slates. 
I shall immediately take measures to draw on account of 
the balance already mentioned, as our necessities require 
it ; and if in the mean time, so much shall have been 
shipped, as that my bills exceed the balance due, I shall 
expect. that they will be punctually paid, and I will readily 
repay that excess out of the moneys so shipped, to the use 
of your army here. 

I have the honor to be, &ic. 



Office of Finance, November 26th, 1781. 

The letter, which you did me the honor to write on 
the 24th instant, was delivered yesterday morning, and 1 
take this early opportunity to acknowledge it. As you 
have assured me, that you cannot know any account, which 
is not conformable to the instructions his Majesty's Minis- 
ter has addressed to you, I shall spare your Excellency 
the trouble of my remarks. But as you say, that your 
letter of the 26th of September last could not have left me 
the shadow of a hope on the subject of further drafts, 
your Excellency will pardon one observption. Those 
precise orders from your Court, received by Colonel Lau- 
rens, which compel you now to prohibit my further drafts, 
permitted you then, in consequence of the observations I 
had the honor of making to you, an extent of nearly three 


hundred llioiisaiid livres. It is my duty to trespass one 
moment longer on your Excellency's patience, while I 
take the liberty to observe, that I can by no means con- 
sider purchases made for any particular State in the Union 
as properly chargeable to the United States, 

With the most perfect esteem and respect, 1 have the 

honor to be, &.c. 



Office of Finance, November 27tli, 1731. 


The Marquis de Lafayette who is about to sail for 
France, will have the honor to deliver this letter, and, 
consistently with the acts of Congress of the 23d instant, I 
must request you to communicate it to him, and, from 
time to time, to take his aid in the prosecution of the busi- 
ness, which I must recommend to your particular attention. 
The affairs of my department are of a nature not to re- 
quire concealment ; but, even if that were not the case, I 
have such j)erfect confidence, as well ni the prudence of 
the Marquis, as in his attachment to this country, that 
the acts of Congress out of the question, 1 should feel a 
pleasure in making him acquainted with my views and 
wishes. Indeed, I expect that his zeal and activity will go 
far in smoothing the way towards the accomj)lislnnent (jf 
those objects, which your Excellency may bave to solicit. 

In f)rder tliat you may be [)erfectly acquainted with the 
situation of our affairs, I shall previous to my observations 
on the supplies to be asked for the next campaign, take 
some notice of the efforts I have made, and am daily re- 


iterating, to obtain supplies from the several States, upon 
the various requisitions, which Congress have already- 
made, and to operate a settlement of past accounts, and 
to procure proper funds for the public debts. 1 shall also 
make some remarks as to the prospect of future supplies 
in this country, and on those which have already been 
granted by the Court of France. 

The papers enclosed relate chiefly to the former requi- 
sitions of Congress. You will observe, Sir, that by an 
act of the 28lh of June last, I was directed to press a com- 
pliance with those requisitions, and it is in consequence 
thereof, that my circular letter of the 6ih of July was writ- 
ten. The demands of Congress were twofold ; some 
f6r speci6c supplies of the produce of the several States, 
the others for money. It may be proper here to observe, 
that the manner of doing public business had been such, 
that -it was not merely difficult, but absolutely impracticable 
to state any accounts in the clear satisfactory manner, 
which ought always to be wished, even in private life, but 
which in public life is of the last importance. 1 do not 
mention this to cast any reflection or aspersion ; for the 
evil resulted more from the want of arrangement, than the 
faults of any particular men. But it is right to take notice 
of the circumstance, because, in the course of what I afli 
about to write, the want of such accounts cannot but ap- 
pear. 1 shall say nothing as to the ill effects of demanding 
generally a contribution of specified articles ; my opinions 
on that subject will appear from the enclosed papers, and 
experience has taught, that such contributions are no 
longer to be relied on. At the same time, I declare now, 
that ii some degree it must stiil take place, for reasons, 
which will be mentioned at the proper time. 


As the letter last mentioned contains no statement of the 
accounts, I wrote on the 16th of July another, containing 
the cash account of each State, as extracted from the trea- 
sury books ; a statement, however, whicii I knew to be 
imperfect, for causes not necessary to be repeated. On 
the 25th of Julyj I wrote another circular letter, and in 
which was enclosed a statement of the several demands for 
specific supplies. These were considerable, and I am of 
opinion, that a very great part of them still remains to be 
delivered at this day ; but there have yet come to my 
hands no accounts by which to determine the balances. 
What is said, as to the settlement of accounts in this letter, 
will be honored with your notice presently. You will now 
observe, that I therein request information as to the revenue 
laws, which have been passed, the mode of collecting taxes, 
the moneys in their treasuries, the various appropriations 
of it, and the different paper currencies in the several 
States. To your Excellency, it is unnecessary to observe, 
that my object was to obtain proper materials, on which to 
ground my future expectations, and to form efficacious sys- 
tems of revenue and expenditure. I have the mortifica- 
tion, however, to mention, that no accurate or satisfactory 
answers have. been received to these questions; and when 
1 tell you, that I am not much deceived in my expecta- 
tions, you will readily form the proper conclusions, as to 
the relaxed habit of admif.istration in this country. I wish 
you to be fully possessed of our situation, and that you 
may convey a clear idea of it to the Court of Versailles. 
Tliis will be useful to the conunon cause. I trust that 1 
need not remind you how advantageous it would be for us 
to know as fully the real situation of France. 

The low state of public credit, for the want of solid 


funds to support it, had induced ilic United States in Con- 
gress, to call for an impost of five per cent on all goods 
imported, and on all prizes and prize goods, to be granted 
for the payment of the principal and interest of the debts 
contracted, or which might be contracted, during the pre- 
sent war. Some of the States had con)plied with this de- 
mand. The two more Southern Slates were in such dis- 
order, that a compliance from them could not reasonably 
be expected ; neither was it relied on, as you doubtless 
have remarked, on reading the resolutions of the 3d of 
February upon that subject, which must have reached you 
before this day. On the 27th of July, therefore, I'wrote a 
letter to the Slates of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New 
York, Delaware, Maryland, and North Carolina. I have 
the pleasure to inform y(5u, tliat the States of New York, 
Delaware, and North Carolina, have since complied with 
the demand of Congress, and I am convinced that they 
will, in the laudable step, be speedily followed by the other 
Stales. In the mean time, we must patiently wait the 
event. Such things require time, and since we cannot 
command obedience, we must stay for the assent of con- 

On the 6tl) of August, I wrote a letter to the President 
of Congress, enclosing ihose already mentioned. On this 
letter it is necessary to say nothing more, than that it met 
with the approbation of the several members, who have, I 
believe, written such letters to their respective States as I 

i\Iy letter of the 15th of September, to the Governor of 
Massachusetts, was, as your Excelleucy will perceive, al- 
though the settlement of past accounts is tneniioncd in it, 
written in answer to his of ihe 23d of August, in wjiich he 


tells me, that he will lay the hiisiness of the impost law 
canilidly before the Legislature, but thinks it wiil go heavily 
through. I shall add nothing here to wiiat is said in that 

iMy letter of tlie 20th of September to the Assembly of 
Pennsylvania, was written so particularly, in consequence 
of tlie authorities they had confided by their resolutions. 
I wrote to you respecting these resolutions, and my plans 
founded on them, the 2 1st of July, and I just mention here, 
by the way, that this plan has not been in any degree exe- 
cuted, for reasons not necessary to be at present enlarged 
upon. My letter to the Assembly of Pennsylvania, with 
the enclosures referred to in it as accounts of which I send 
you copies, will need no explanation, unless it be to men- 
tion that this State had issued one hundred thousand 
pounds, secured with interest on certain lands near the 
city, which is now nearly paid by the sales of these lands, 
and five hundred thousand pounds more not bearing inter- 
est, which was funded upon the Land Office, the dues to 
which were estimated at a much larger sum. I have sent 
this letter, as also my private letter of the 1 6th of October, 
to Governor Nelson, merely that you may be well apprized 
of the incessant attention, which is paid here to call forth 
our own resources. I might have added many other let- 
ters to particular States on particular occasions, but I dare 
say you will find this letter sufficiently voluminous. 

Before I quit this subject of the past requisition of Con- 
gress, I must add that, notwithstanding my pressing in- 
stances, very little bard money has been obtained from 
the States ; not nnore than one hundred thousand dollars 
during my whole administration. There has, indeed, 
been drawn forth some considerable specific supplies of 


provision, and there is on hand a great deal of paper 
money. From the former our army has been prin- 
cipally maintained, and indeed there is a small advance 
made to the Count de Rochambeau, which I mean to be 
in part of your promise mentioned in a former letter, and 
I here repeat to you my determination to comply with it as 
speedily as any convenience will possibly admit. 

As to the paper money, it is of no use, although it is ne- 
cessary, for evident reasons, to receive it in taxes. But 
the confidence of the people is so entirely lost, that for the 
present no bills of credit whatever can be made use of as 
money. I hope that the taxes laid and collecting in most 
of the States, will bring in all this useless load by the mid- 
dle of next summer ; and I have some expectation, that 
the States of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, 
and Delaware, will be entirely rid of it by the spring. If I 
could buy anything with it, I would not, until the last ne- 
cessity ; but it will buy nothing, so that it must be burnt as 
soon as it honestly can. 

The picture I have already given of this country will not 
be pleasing to you. Truth bids me add, that it will admit 
of a higher coloring. But what else could be expected 
from us.'' A revolution, a war ; the dissolution of govern- 
ment, the creating of it anew ; cruelty, rapine, and devas- 
tation in the midst of our very bowels. These, Sir, are 
circumstances by no means favorable to finance. The 
wonder, then is, that we have done so much, that we have 
borne so much, and the candid world will add, that we 
have dared so much. I could take up much of your time 
in recapitulating many less niatters, which have tended to 
weaken the exertions we have otherwise been capable of. 
The confused stale of public accounts, and the deplorable 


situation of credit for want of funds to secure, or means to 
redeen), the debt, for which the public faitii is pledged, 
are, however, of such important operation, tliat 1 must not 
pass them over in silence. 

In the enclosures your Excellency will have per- 
ceived, that I have noticed the effects, which follow 
from the want of a final settlement of accounts. Rep- 
resentations on the subject of these accounts, and also 
of certificates given by public officers in the Commis- 
sary's and Quarter Master'? Departments for articles 
taken from the people had been made by some of the 
States to Congress. The impost asked for by Con- 
gress was, I have already observed, for the funding of 
our debts. On the 13th of October, I wrote a letter 
to the several loan officers, in which I ex|)ressly pro- 
hibit the issuing of any more Loan Office certifi- 
cates. The reason for this order will appear more 
clearly from the latter part of my letter to the several 
Governors of the 16th of October. 

I do hope and expect, that some methods will 
speedily be adopted by the United States in Congress 
assembled for settlement of the public accounts, as also 
to liquidate the several certificates given by the public 
officers, and to provide revenues for funding the public 
debts. The last of these objects must not, however, 
be urged with too much rapidity. The impost law is 
not yet passed, and is the first step. When that shall 
have been taken, it will give room for urging what 
further may be necessary. In the meantime, there is 
a well grounded expectation, that the clamors of our 
creditors will induce the several Legislatures to com- 

VOL. MI. 5 


ply with the requisitions of Congress upon that sub- 

From what has been said, your Excellency will 
perceive, that the prospect of future supplies from the 
several States, is by no means very brilliant. I send 
you the Act of Congress of the 29th of October, calling 
for eight millions of dollars, the Act of the 2d instant 
apportioning that demand among the several States, 
and the Act of the 12th instant, repealing (in conse- 
quence of my letter of the 5th) a part of the Act of the 
2d. My circular letter of the 17th, enclosing those 
Acts to the Governors, will close what I have to say 
on the subject. But I must observe to you on my 
letter of the 5th to the President of Congress, that 
although it is strictly true, that I had not seen the 
estimates as mentioned in that letter, yet it is equally 
true, that until the business was nearly completed, I 
was supposed to have seen them, and when the con- 
trary was suggested;, they would have been sent from 
Congress, but that so few States were represented, as 
that only the number absplutely necessary to pass such 
requisitions were then present, and some of the repre- 
sentatives of those few were about to depart, where- 
fore it was waved. I have further to remark on the 
estimates themselves, that they arc only for the feed- 
ing and paying the army. The expense of recruiting 
that army, of moving it from place to place, the heavy 
articles of clothing and ordnance, with expense of tiie 
hospitals, and the long train, which is comprehended 
under the title of contingencies, is totally unprovided 
for. Defective as it is, I have no hope that it will be 
complied with. The great arrearage of unfunded debt, 


the cumbrous load of useless paper, the multiplied 
mass of certificates, the distracted situation of the more 
southern States, the ravages which have been made in 
them, the total loss of their commerce, the real want 
of coin in many States, and the equal want of system 
in all. These, Sir, are circumstances, which forbid 
the most sanguine temper to expect a full compliance. 
It shall be my business, as it is my duty, to get as 
much as I can, and for this purpose, I shall make com- 
positions ; where it is necessary, take articles of pro- 
visions in lieu of money and the like. Still, however, 
1 am convinced, that I shall not get what is asked for, 
and indeed I do not expect any part of it, before the 
middle of next campaign. 

I have said, that I will make some remarks on the 
supplies already furnished by France. It is necessary 
to do this, as well because I am so unfortunate as to 
differ a little in opinion on the subject with the Minis- 
ter of his Most Christian Majesty here, as because the 
demands we are to make on the Court for the next 
year, will depend on the compliances, which have 
been, and shall be, made with the grants for the 
present year. 

It was a point understood in Congress very early, 
that his Most Christian Majesty would pay the interest 
of certain moneys to be borrowed by Congress in 
America. Your Excellency knows better than any 
other man what passed on that subject. It would, 
therefore, be absurd in me to recapitulate it. Those 
circumstances which rendered an express stipulation 
improper then, have introduced much delicacy into it 
now ; and, therefore, I do not expect that the Court 


will recur to a formal acknowledgement of what was 
then, perhaps, rather a personal, than national, obliga- 
tion. But I do expect that the payment of that in- 
terest will be provided for as heretofore, without 
considering the moneys appropriated to that purpose, 
as a relief to us in carrying on the war. You will 
have seen. Sir, from the course of my letters how 
much it is an object with me to collect from ourselves 
the revenues necessary to lighten our debts. There is 
a variety of reasons for it, which I will- not repeat. 
Among them, however, this is one, that I wish to 
remove the load from France to ourselves. It will in 
the end be the same thing ; because, in proportion as 
our resources here are appropriated, we must ask help 
there. But it would be better, that tlie jjcople were 
taught to look at home for the basis of national credit, 
because there alone it can be found. I should not have 
mentioned this matter, but that you will find it noted 
in the correspondence between the Chevalier de la 
Luzerne and myself, of which copies are enclosed. 

Shortly after the arrival of M. Gerard, it was un- 
derstood that France would supply us with the cloth- 
ing and warlike stores which might be necessary, and 
therefore it was, that Colonel Laurens, when in 
France, labored to prevent a deduction from the sub- 
sidy of six millions on account of the articles furnished 
to him. As I am persuaded that his efforts were in 
consequence of your advice, and in concert with you, 
I shall say nothing more upon that subject, only to 
lament that the Court have differed from you in opin- 
ion, and to acquiesce in their determination, on the 
principle, that those who give have a right to dispose 
of that which is given. 


By a note from the Count de Vergennes, of which 
I enclose a copy, I perceive that the Court granted the 
United States as a gift, six millions ; advanced to you 
four millions to pay the bills which might be drawn on 
you ; and became security for a loan of ten millions ; 
the amount of which was to be advanced from the 
royal treasury, in case the loan should fail of success. 
The expression, as to this last object, is strong, namely, 
that his Majesty will see himself under the necessity of 
supplying the deficiency, although, in the former part of 
the note it is said, that he will supply it from his own 
finances as 'soon as possible. An expression which, 
while at the first blush it makes an earnestness of affec- 
tion, may be, and in fact has been, construed into a 
kind of cautionary provision. Your Excellency will 
also, I doubt not, observe what is there said of the 
appropriation of the gift, the last two millions whereof, 
as is already observed, we did not expect to find there. 

Enclosed also is an account delivered by the IMinister 
of France in the mouth of September to a committee of 
Congress, which had been appointed to confer with him. 
There are striking differences between this account and 
the note last mentioned. But by this account it appears, 
that it was the design of the Court to make the advances 
of the present year distinct from all past transactions. 
From whence this conclusion at least, will follow, that 
such of the bills drawn by Congress, eitiier on yourself, 
or on their agents in Spain, or Holland, as you may have 
discharged before the commencement of the present year, 
are not to be deducted horn the sums mentioned in the 
Count de Vergennes' note. Now that I am on this sub- 
ject, 1 will observe to you. Sir, that I have determined to 


prevent that circuitous negotiation of bills, which has so 
much perplexed and distressed you, and have for that 
reason stopped many of those already drawn, as will pres- 
ently appear. Another observation to be made on this 
account is, that no notice is taken of the four millions ex- 
pressly mentioned in the Count de Vergennes' note, as 
granted to you for payment of bills drawn by Congress. 

A third observation is, that the articles marked B, and 
the article number two, C, which together amount to the 
sum of six million six hundred and eightysix thousand one 
hundred and nine livres, are all charged as being expended 
to the order of Colonel Laurens. But >by lire Count de 
Vergennes' letter to you of the 8th of June last, it appears, 
that Colonel Laurens was to have had the command of 
no other than the six million livres, given by the King. 
Indeed the Count's note of the 16th of May shows the 
sa(ne thing. The letter of the Sth of June just mentioned, 
shows clearly the opinion of the Court on another point 
of very great importance, namely, that the whole ten mil- 
lion livres, to be advanced for the loan, are, as in effect 
they ought to be, subject to the disposition of the United 
States only.- A fourth observation is, that the article A 
three, B two, and C one, amounting to four millions three 
hundred thousand livres, were, or were to have been, in 
your possession for payment of bills. If to this be added 
four H)i!lion livres, granted for that express purpose, of which 
no mention is made in the account, it would follow, that 
you would have eight millions three hundred thousand 
livres at your disposal j and this leads me to consider the 
amount of the demands, which could be made on you. 

These cannot be precisely ascertained, but the paper 
number seventeen, contains the best estimate in my power. 


The first six articles of this estimate contain all the bills, 
which have been drawn upon you, ex^pting some interest 
bills, which although made out had not been delivered to 
the people before the 1st of April last. These amount to 
ten millions six hundred and seventyone thousand four 
hundred and fiftysix -livres, thirteen sols, four deniers. 
The article number seven, is the whole amount of guilders 
drawn for ; the far greater part of which I have detained, 
as you will perceive by the article number eight. The 
balance it is not possible to ascertain exactly in livres, 
because it must depend upon the course of exchange; but 
at two livres for a guilder, the whole of the bills actually 
negotiated on Holland will amount to one million ninety- 
four thousand seven hundred and twentynine livres. The 
article number nine, is the amount of bills drawn on Spain, 
of which a considerable part has been paid by Mr Jay, 
and a part, somewhat more considerable, is destroyed. 
These parts are contained in the articles ten and eleven. 
The balance (calculated at the value of a dollar in France, 
which will, I suppose, be as much as it can cost) amounts 
to one million seventyseven thousand two hundred and 
eighteen livres. So that the whole of those bills, which 
by any tneans whatever could have come upon you lor 
payment, will be twelve millions eight hundred and forty- 
three thousand four hundred and three livres, thirteen sols, 
four deniers, and from this sum very considerable deduc- 
tions are to be made. The article number twelve, which 
is the first of them, contains the exact amount of the 
■ several bills for interest, which were negotiated previously 
to the first of April last. 

It may be objected, that these bills will many of them 
be payable during the present year, which indeed is true, 



and for that reason, 1 have added to the bottom of the 
account the extent of one year's interest on Loan Office 
certificates, and which is more than will, I believe, be pre- 
sented. The next article, number thirteen, is for bills 
which had been drawn on you, and have been stopped by 
me. The article number fourteen, is, you will perceive, 
for bills, which in all human probability will have been 
paid during the last year. The certainly of this transac- 
tion is doubtless with you, and what we are now upon is 
an estimate, not an account. The ren>aining articles speak 
clearly for themselves ; wherefore I conceive myself well 
founded in making the amount of deductions in this esti- 
mate, nine millions one hundred and sixtylhree thousand 
two hundred and sixtyfive livres ; so that after including 
one year's interest, as is already mentioned, the total is 
five millions eight hundred and seventythree thousand one 
hundred and twentyeight livres, thirteen sols, and four 
deniers ; and from this there must be some deductions, 
because undoubtedly you have paid some of the bills 
drawn on Spain and Holland before the first day of Jan- 
uary last. 1 have mentioned no sum for this purpose, but 
in order to be within bounds, I will suppose it to be only 
three hundred and seventythree thousand one hundred 
and twentyeight livres, thirteen sols, and four deniers, 
and then the extent of the bills payable by you in the 
year 1781, will be five millions and a half of livres; 
and, therefore, the four millions granted by the Court, and 
the million and a half said to be stopped by you in Hol- 
land, will apply to this demand. 

As the last tnentioned sum appears by the Count de 
Vergennes' note, to have been part of that, which was 
given by the Court, this state of the matter will leave clear 


the ten n)illion livres to have been loaned, and seems 
proper])'* to consist with the Count's note of the 16th of 
May, and liis letter to yon of the Sih of June following. I 
have mentioned above, that in making the deduction for 
bills paid previous to the year 1781, I meant to be within 
bounds. It is proper to give a reason why I supposed 
that deduction to be so. I have already made one re- 
mark on the article A one two and F, in the account 
officially communicated by the IMinister of P'rance in 
September last. From those articles it ap])ears at least 
that three million livres were advanced for the payment of 
bills last year. The amount of the interest bills, I have 
already stated as being in the extent, two millions one 
hundred and ninetythree th.ousatu! nine hundred and 
ninety livres, to this sum must be added one hundred end 
fortyfour thousand livres, due to M. Beanmarchais, and 
the one hundred anil iwentyfive thousand livres deducted 
in the estimate, as having been drawn for by the Resolu- 
tions of the 19ta of Mr.y, 1780. These sums together 
amount to two millions four hundred and sixtytwo thou- 
sand nine hmidred and ninety livres ; to which I will add 
for contingencies one hundred and thirty seven thousand 
and ten livres more, making the whole amount two millions 
six hundred thousand livres ; wherefore suppose the grant 
of moneys to pay bills for the year 1780, to have been but 
three million livres, and it appears evidently to have been 
at least that, there would have remained in your hands a 
balance of four million livres ; which is more ti)an I have 
deducted from the amount of my estimate. 

On the whole, then, I conceive myself well grounded in 
the opinion, that the whole loan is still at oin- disposal, and 
this opinion is so well supported by the Count de Vergen- 

VOL. XII. 6 



nes' letter to you, that I might with great propriety insist 
on that point. The letter, therefore, which I sftall write 
with such act of Congress, as may be made, in conse- 
quence of yours of the 11th of June, will proceed entirely 
upon that supposition. 

I must, however, remark to you in this place, that I by 
no means intend to insist rigidly with the Court, on points 
which may incommode them. We are neither in a sit- 
uation to do it, nor would it be proper even if we were. 
But while I say this, I do not mean to preclude myself 
from such observations as my duty shall render necessary, 
on any transaction which has happened, or which may 
happen hereafter. 

1 enclose you an account, containing the extent of what 
I conceive to have been the appropriation of the supplies 
above mentioned, togethe. with an invoice from (he Board 
of War, amounting to the sum of one million-. seven hundred 
and seventyseven thousand five hundred and twenty livres 
and ten sols, and which I will call one million eight hundred 
thousand livres, from which it will appear, that there must 
remain, subject to my disposition, the sum of four millions at 
least, after replacing the Lafayette's cargo, and purchasing 
the articles mentioned in the invoice. 

1 have had the honor to mention to your Excellency, 
that I have the misfortune to differ in opinion with the Min- 
ister of France. This is upon two points, namely, the 
drawing of bills by me, and the amount of what may re- 
main due by the Court. From the correspondence be- 
tween us, which is contained in the enclosed papers, there 
will appear to have been some warmth on the occasion, 
but this rather arose from the nature of the transaction, 
than anything else. I know not whst impression it may 


have left on his mind, but for my own part, as 1 greatly 
respect him, 1 sincerely feel for a situation, to which the 
orders of his Court have reduced him ; and although the 
language of his letter of tiie 24tli of November, evidently 
intended for i)is Court, was so pointed as to force me into 
the observations contained in mine of the 26th, in my own 
justification ; yet I was almost as much wounded while 
writing, as lie appeared to have been at reading it. I am 
much inclined to believe, that he wishes to place this busi- 
ness substantially in the same point of light that I do. The 
whole correspondence is enclosed, that you may be in a 
capacity to n)ake any proper observations, which occasion 
may dictate. 

Before I take up this correspondence more particularly, 
I must detain you one moment longer to mention the facts, 
which preceded it. Before my acceptance of the office 
I now hold, the Chevalier de ia Luzerne informed me, 
that the Court had given money to the United States, with 
a determination that it should be at the disposal of General 
Washington, but that upon my acceptance, he would au- 
thorise me to draw for it. It was agreed between us, that 
I should draw for five hundred thousand livres, and so 
much be deposited to answer the drafts, and by giving 
him notice in season a new deposit of five hundred thou- 
sand livres should be made, and so on from time to time. 
Shortly afterwards, I formed a plan to get money from the 
Havana, and explained it to the Chevalier. He approved 
of it, and in consequence, I drew a bill on Messrs Le 
Coulenlx &i Co. the 17th of July, for five hundred thou- 
sand livres. but the capture of the Trumbull frigate pre- 
vented the negotiation of that bill, which being then on 
board of her, intended for Havana, was sunk with my de- 


spatches ; and the knowledge thai Colonel Laurens was 
then on bis way with specie, tojijPilier with the expectation 
of that, which was to be sent by the way of Holland, pre- 
vented a repetition of the experiment upon Havana at that 
time, it was previously to the 2d of July, 1781, that the 
Chevalier agreed that I shoidd negotiate bills for one mil- 
lion 6ve hundred thousand livres, of which the five hun- 
dred thousand livres to have been negotiated at the Ha- 
vana, was a part. 

You will see enc!ose<l my letter of the 2d of July upon 
this subject, which was the day before M. de la Luzerne 
went to camp ; and also M. de Marbois' answer to it. 
My reply of the 4th closes the matter at that time ; and 
then it was understood on all hands in the manner 1 have 
just now mentioned, and which 1 have, you will perceive, 
insisted on ihrough tiie whole of my correspondence, and 
which was equally insisted on in a variety of conversations. 

That part of the letter last mentioned, which relates to 
the effect of drawing bills, togetlier with the letters of the 
2d and 3d of August, need no comment. They merely 
serve to show the desire, which animates the servants of 
the United States, to economise the resources of France. 
1 am not disposed to criminate, but it is right that 1 should 
inlorm you of my opinion, which is, that the French troops 
in this country have cost much more than was necessary, 
if my information is not extremely erroneous. I have now 
in contemplation plans for feeding them more cheaply, and 
I think the French ration ought not to cost more than half 
a livre, at least not much more, if so inuch. The officers 
who now return to Europe can best answer, whether it 
has formerly exceeded that amount, and the Court must 
know how mucli lias been lost on the negotiation of their 


bills. While on this subject it is my duty to add, that 
the IVliiiisier of France here, has denionstrated the most 
earnest desire to introduce economy in the expenditures of 
the army, and that the readiness shown by the Count de 
Rochambeau, and other general officers, to aid in it, de- 
njand acknowle.igemenls. 

On the 24th of September the Chevalier wrote me 
a note, of which a copy is enclosed. This, you will 
observe, was after the receipt of those letters, in con- 
sequence of which, he, among other things, communi- 
cated the account, on which I have already had the 
honor of making some remarks. This letter, while it 
assigns reasons for continuing my drafts, shows clearly 
that the Chevalier had communicated his instructions 
to stop them, which was done, not only to me, but to 
the committee. But I confess, that I was very far 
from considering those instructions as absolute, I 
concluded, that a line of discretion had been left to the 
Minister; and, indeed, his answer to my letter con- 
firmed me in that opinion. This answer is of the 
26th. He does indeed say, that it is impossible to de- 
part from the precise instructions received on that subject, 
and authorise my drafts to the am'ount of two millions 
five hundred thousand livres ; but he immediately goes 
on to permit an addition of two hundred and nine- 
tyeight thousand nine hundred and eiglityone livres, 
fifteen sous, and four deniers. Wherefore, it fol- 
lowed, that either those instructions left him at 
liberty to extend those drafts, or that he was at 
liberty to disregard the instructions. I therefore 
did expect to have gone on to the sum first 
agreed for. These expectations were frequently men- 


tioned in conversation, and particularly so in that 
alluded to in mine of the 22d instant. 

On the other hand, I must acknowledge, that he 
always mentioned his instructions, but so as to leave 
me under the original impressions I had received. As 
this letter of the 22d lakes notice of another matter, it 
is proper to mention here, that the Chevalier had ob- 
served on a difference between the account he deliv- 
ered officially to the committee of Congress and the 
note to the Count de Vergennes ; but no pointed con- 
versation on this subject had taken place, he expecting 
further information from his Court, and I hoping daily 
to hear from you, and being unwilling to raise a 
question unnecessarily. The reason why I did at last 
bring it forward is contained in my letter, and there- 
fore I shall say nothing about it. The account sent 
in that letter, needs no comment, although it differs 
very widely from that marked thirtythree. 

I shall only note, that if the sum of six hundred 
and eightysix thousand one hundred and nine livres 
be taken from that mentioned as advanced for stores 
by order of Colonel Laurens, so as to render that 
article conformable to what is said in the Count de 
Vergennes' note, the same sum must be added to the 
balance; by which means placing the one million 
five hundred thousand livres, to have been drawn 
for by me, in the stead of that to hpve been 
sent out from Holland, the whole will stand as first 
above mentioned, leaving thlj amount of the loan 
untouched. In the close of my letter, I mention 
a determination to draw on account of the balance, an 
expression which appears to have been mistaken. 


The reason of the assertion will in some degree appear 
from the answer to it. I will add, that, although I 
shall not risk the drawing of bills while there is any 
chance that ihey may return protested, I must, never- 
theless, take measures to obtain the money for very 
evident reasons, and it is with this view, that I have 
drawn on you in favor of Messrs Le Couteulx & Co. 
for one million livres. 

You have also a copy of the letter written on the 
24th instant, in answer to that last mentioned. I shall 
not here notice the diflference between what we have 
said about the additional million, as well because it is 
in substance the same, as because I had not insisted on 
drawing for it. In like manner, I shall say nothing 
about the permission given me to extend my drafts 
after the orders to stop them brought by Colonel Lau- 
rens ; "but you will observe, that the pointed declara- 
tion, that the letter of the 26th of September could not 
leave me the shadow of a hope, &fc. (with what follows 
it) stands in such direct opposition to the whole tenor 
of my letter and to the real state of my expectations, 
that to have submitted in silence, would have been 
tantamount to the acknowledgement of falsehood. It 
is indeed easy to perceive, that the Chevalier wrote 
this letter to his Court, although he directed it in the 
first instance to me ; and I conclude it to have been in 
consequence of his last despatches, which had not been 
received long before his letter was written. The 
equivocal use of the expression as soon as possible will 
not escape you. Sir; but it shall meet no other remark 
from me than this, that I am convinced the Court will 
not apply it in the same sense with the Chevalier. 


Neither the dignity of the Prince, nor the mpgnitude 
of the occasion will pernnit a reliance on such distinc- 

The state of the account made in this letter, I really 
do not see the propriety of. It seems to have been, in 
some degree, extracted from the account furnished in 
September to the committee of Congress, because, if 
the mistake of six thousand livres in the castings of 
that account be rectified, it will make the first sum total 
amount to fifteen millions one hundred and ninetynine 
thousand five hundred and one livres, from which de- 
ducting ten million livres, being the amount of the 
subsidy of six million livres and loan of four, there 
will remain the first article of that account, namely, 
five millions one hundred and ninetynine thousand 
five hundred and one livres. But if this be the case, 
it is a little surprising, that the Chevalief should not 
have noticed a deduction made in that very account of 
the two first articles, amounting to three millions 
four hundred and sixteen thousand livres, which are, 
it is there said, to be added to the advances formerly 
made to the Congress. 

It is somewhat extraordinary, that all these should 
be considered by the Chevalier as advances made in the 
month of September. For although that account was 
rendered in September, yet four millions six hundred 
and ninetyfour thousand three hundred and ninetytwo 
livres are expressly mentioned as being to be furnished. 
I shall dwell no longer here, but I must repeat, not- 
withstanding the polite manner in which the assertion 
has been contradicted, that my operations have re- 
ceived a very severe, as well as material check, from 


stopping my drafts ; not so much on account of the 
value of the three hundred thousand livres, as because, 
while they were negotiating, I should undoubtedly 
have received those advices from you, which would 
have enabled me to go on in the same line. I had 
brought the exchange up very nearly to par, and 
should soon have sold at seventeen pence this money 
(Pennsylvania money) for a livre, or eight shillings 
and sixpence for a crown, which is worth here at the 
extent but eight and four pence. This would, there- 
fore, have been two per cent advance, with a saving of 
time, Ireight, and insurance; and, although a very 
large sum could not have been negotiated during the 
winter, perhaps not more than one million five hundred 
thousand livres, yet that would have enabled me to 
go on making the preparatives for an early and vigo- 
rous campaign, and kept everything in train, till some 
money could have been either shipped from Europe, 
or so negotiated as to be sent hither from Havana. 

I will take no notice of what is said in the letter 
now before us, as to the error of six thousand livres, 
because you must at once perceive how little it was an 
object of conversation, and how easy to be remedied by 
any clerk, without waiting either orders or instructions 
from the Court ; and because you must also perceive the 
material omission of four million livres, which cannot 
be overlooked, let the calculations be combined as 
they may. I have not, however, the less concern 
about it, because so rigid an adherence to so palpable 
an error leads me to fear a design, which the generous 
conduct of the King \<'ill not permit me to suspect. 

Having already given my sentiments as to the in- 
VOL. xii. 7 


terest of Loan Office certificates, I will not now repeat 
them. As to the replacing the Marquis de Lafayette's 
cargo, it is a matter which I will not seriously contend 
about, because, although there will not be use for all 
the articles, there certainly will for many of tliem ; 
and therefore I hardly think a representation on that 
score necessary, because there is no use in multiplying 
disagreeable considerations. Bui, by the way, I must 
observe, that it is a little extraordinary this cargo 
should have been replaced out of the loan to have been 
opened, &c. at your request, while at the same request 
money could not be obtained to pay the bills drawn 
by the older of Congress, as appears from your letter, 
and that from the Count de Vergennes, which is en- 
closed in it. The idea of making advances for any 
individual State from the funds of the United States, 
must never be admitted by any servant of Congress. 
It will be quite time enough to do that, when they 
shall have complied with the several requisitions made 
upon theni, and when they shall have intrusted these 
subaltern negotiations to the Ministers whom Congress 
have appointed. Such advances stand on a very dif- 
ferent groimd, indeed, from those, made for purchasing 
a like cargo to that of the Lafayette ; and it cannot be 
expected, that they should be passed to the account of 
Congress. Besides this, the successes to the south- 
ward have rendered succors of that sort unnecessary. 
What has already been said will render observations 
on tlie letters of the 26th instant unnecessary. 

On the whole matter, I have to request your exer- 
tions to have this affair settled aS'soon as possible, and 
that you will cause the whole of what remains 1o be 


paid over to Messrs Le Couteulx & Co. sending me 
notice tiiereof by every opportunity, that I may attend 
to the disposition of it. I mean, nevertlieless, that a 
reservation should be miade of what is necessary, to 
purchase the articles mentioned in the enclosed invoice 
of the Board of War. I wish you to have as little 
trouble as possible in this business, and, therefore, I 
am to request you to employ in it Mr Barclay, our 
Consul General, and Mr Matthew Ridley. They are 
both gentlemen of knowledge and integrity, and I 
doubt not will peiform it with economy and expe- 

You will also be pleased to take arrangements with 
the Minister of Marine, and give your consequent 
orders to those gentlemen, so that all articles of every 
sort and kind, which are the property of the United 
States, and now in Europe, may come under safe con- 
voy to this port. Tiie Marquis de Lafayette, who is 
charged with the General's instructions on military 
subjects, will assist in combining matters, so as to ac- 
complish these objects. I confide, Sir, that your wis- 
dom and his vivacity will produce the most beneficial 

Let me add, while 1 mention the depositing all 
which remains due to us with Messrs Le Couteulx & 
Co., that I wish you, in conformity to the Act of Con- 
gress enclosed, to pay the sum of forty two tliousand 
one hundred and eightynine livres therein mentioned, 
with the interest, to William Lee. Let me also men- 
tion my desire, that you would retain two millions 
two hundred thousand livres to pay interest bills 
drawn from the 1st of September to the 1st of April 


next. I will take such arrangements as will save you 
the trouble of doing this business in future, and Imen- 
tion it here, although the money will come more 
properly under, the head of supplies to be asked from 
the Court for the ensuing year. 

Tl)e declarations, lliat no more pecuniary aid will be 
afforded to us, are very clear and explicit, but 1 trust, that 
these declarations will not be adhered to. The interest 
bills, as I just now obierved, will amount to about two 
millions livres. You have to pay M. Beaumarchais two 
millions five hundred and fortyfour thousand livres, and the 
clothing and stores necessary will amount to four millions 
livres. Besides all this we must have money, so that it 
will become necessary to obtain at least twelve millions. 
When I mention this sum, I take the lowest, and I do it 
from my sincere desire not to burden the finances of 
France with American demands ; but I think such clear 
reasons can be assigned lor it as must produce conviction. 

You have a copy of my letter to the Chevalier of the 
3d instant upon this subject. You will have observed, that 
my circular letter of the 19lli of October, which was en- 
closed in this of the 3d instant, is so formed as to lower 
the expectations of the several States, and accordingly the 
account sent with it is framed from the erroneous one 
before ntentioned, and the four millions are totally omitted. 
Tiie languor of the Slates had been so fostered by their 
teeming expectations from France, that it became my duty 
to prevent if possible the ill effects of it. But on the 
other hand, a circtdar letter could not but be public, and 
it necessarily contained such matter as must stand in the 
way of procuring a proper settlement of past accounts with 
the Court, or of obtaining future supplies from them. I, 


t!ierefoi-e, communicated that letter to the Minister, and fis 
he very naturally asked a copy, I took the first opportu- 
nity, after the many necessary copies could be made out, 
to send it with mine of the 3d instant. This contains, as 
you will perceive, sotne short reasons why we want, and 
why France should grant, pecuniary assistance. The 
answer to it of the 4th instant, and my reply of the 6th, 
close the correspondence on that subject. 

This last was intended to take off from the force of 
those observations, as to the King's wisdom and integrity, 
which had rather more of republican simplicity, than 
courtly elegance. As my letter of the 3d was not in- 
tended to convince the Minister, that being unnecessary, 
as I am persuaded the conviction was already produced, 
but to prevent any improper conclusions fiom my circu- 
lar letter, so it was unnecessary to make any particular 
reply to his observations, because, after all a paper argu- 
ment in Philadelphia can have but very little influence at 
Versailles ; and as the Chevalier observed very properly 
in one of his letters, the instructions from his Court must 
necessarily form the basis of his opinion. The proper 
and useful mode, therefore, of convincing him, is by stim- 
ulating them. 

Knowing as I do the great force and compass of your 
talents, I should not presume to add one word of remark 
on the Chevalier's letter, if 1 were not convinced, that as 
it was written for the Court, so it will be necessary to 
oppose it in some degree by a knowledge of facts, which 
may not be in your icnmediate view. He tr.kes it for 
granted, that the people will make extraordinary efforts, 
in consequence of their successes, and I will readily admit 
that they have the ability and ought to have the inclina- 


tion ; but they must differ murh iVom former experience, 
if they do exert theirselves. I will admit that their ruiers 
ought to urge them into acliviiy, but it must be remem- 
bered, that those rulers are themselves of the people, that 
their ideas and views are limited, and that they act like 
the people rather from feeling than reflection. 1 speak 
here of the several Legislatures, for I must repeat again 
and again, that our general system has not grown into that 
form and vigor, which can communicate the impulses of 
a sovereign mind to tlie remotest members of subjected 
power. I will admit that a Monarch, would on so bril- 
liant a success, call into action, all which his kingdom pos- 
sessed of strength and resources ; but America is not 
under monarchical government. I will admit further, that 
if the object of the war was conquest, instead of security, 
every victory would give now animation to all the mem- 
bers of our republican confederacy ; but this war is not 
carried on for conquest. While it rages in any quarter 
it makes food for itself. The ir.roads of the enemy create 
opposition. An application is then made imn)ediately to the 
feelings of the people ; but when the inroad ceases, when the 
enemy retires, the storm subsides, each man returns to his 
doiDcsiic pursuits and employments, and thinks no more 
of the scenes, which had just passed before him. It is 
true that this is only changing the field of battle. But 
America is so extensive, that a shock given at one extrem- 
ity is lost before it reaches the other. 

This true picture of our country, wjjije it demonstrates 
the impracticability of subjecting if, explains the reasons 
wliy our exertions have always disappointed both our 
friends and our enen)ies. If then, as the fact is, the mere 
change of position at the option of the foe can so lull our 


people to rest, liow niticli more are we to expect it will 
follow from the capture of a considerable part of his force. 
To reason rightly on the late events, we must admit tlie 
ability to make greater exertions, and then seek die means 
of calling them forth. This, Sir, can only he accom- 
plished by pecuniary aid. The Chevalier observes that 
the King's obligations to us have been exceeded; This is 
but a narrow idea. If the King is engaged to support the 
war until our Independence is established, his simple 
object of inquiry will be, how that can be most speedily 
and cheaply accomplished ? It is certain that America 
ought to do everything in her power, and you may assure 
the Court, that Congress and the sej-vants of Congress are 
sensible of this duly and determined to complv with it. 
But it is in vain to think of breaking the bounds of possi- 
bility, and equally vain to think of changing the nature of 

Let me add, that there is little propriety in reproaching 
Americans widi faults inseparable from humanity. Be- 
sides this, the exertions of our country have really been 
very great, and as soon as more consistency shall have 
been put in the administration, they will again be great; 
but this is the period of weakness between the convulsive 
labors of enthusiasm and the sound and regular ojierations 
of order and governmenl. 

There is in the end o! the Chevalier's letter a hint in 
relation to our commerce, which although it does not im- 
mediately apply to the present purpose, must not pass un- 
noticed. That an indirect commerce has taken place witii 
England is true, and that France has in a great measure 
been the c?use of it is equally true. Men will naturally 
buy where they can obtain things most cheaply. The 


prime cost of goods, though a great object in time of peace 
is not equally so in time of war. The freight and the in- 
surance are then so high that a small difference of danger 
or convenience will counterbalance a great difference of 
price. When France, by subscribing to the principles of 
the armed neutrality, gave her enemy the means of bring- 
ing her manufactures in safety to our neighborhood, she 
tempted our merchants to buy those manufactures. She 
added the motives of interest to the force of liabit, and 
ought not, therefore, to be surprised that such cogent prin- 
ciples have had effect. One mode remained, that of con- 
voying the trade between France and America, and that 
mode has been neglected. I am happy, however, to ob- 
serve, that this British commerce is dwindling very fast. 
The war with Holland has given it one deadly blow, and 
if our privateers are once more freed from the shackles 
too hastily imposed upon them, 1 cannot doubt, but that the 
trade of this country will flow directly to France, as in- 
deed it ought to do. 

And now, Sir, before 1 close this letter, let me moke 
one further observation with respect to the future supplies 
from his jNlajesly. To solicit them is considered as asking 
for assistance in a war, whose object is of the last im- 
portance to us. This is the point of view in which I have 
placed it, and in which I am desirous it should stand. 
But there is another method of looking at it, and, although 
delicacy will forbid us so to present it, yet you may depend 
upon it, that there are many, who have taught themselves 
to reason about it in a different way from what you or I 
would wish. Wliether Britain will ack lowledge our in- 
dependence is a question, which is to be answered only 
with some modifications. If, in consequence of such an 


acknowledgement, we would forego our connexion with 
France, there is no manner of doubt, but she would make 
it immediately. This would on our part be wrong, and 
therefore it ought not to be done ; but. Sir, when this 
great object shall be presented on the one side, and the 
weigljt of new and great taxes be felt on tlie other, with 
all their ancient prejudices and predilections in aid, will 
not there be some men who, for the shades of ease, will 
quit the paths of virtue ? 

1 have the honor to be, &.c. 



Office of Finance, November 29th, 1781. 

Having just now received a short letter from Mr Jay, of 
the 1st of September, from St Ildefonso, I find it my duty 
to communicate the contents immediately to the United 
States in Congress assembled. Mr Jay informs me, that 
he expects soon to be under the necessity of protesting the 
bills drawn on him ; that Dr Franklin had hitherto saved 
that necessity, but that he cannot advance much more, 
unless by the express order of Congress. He says, fur- 
ther, that he has but little hopes of loans or subsidies from 
Spain ; that the ship America is neither sold nor engaged, 
and ihat the Spanish Court seems determined to do noth- 
ing until the campaign ends. 

I have the honor to be, &ic. 




Office of Finance, December 3d, 1781. 

Wiien I was .called to the superintendence of the Amer- 
ican finances, it became necessary to appoint a banker, 
with whom to deposit the moneys, which were to be 
granted by the Court for payment of my bills. Your 
house naturally presented itself to my consideration, but as 
I knew you to have large accounts open, and as I wished 
that my transactions- should be kept in a separate, clear, 
and distinct manner, I named for this purpose the house of 
Messrs Le Couteulx & Co. At the same time, I wrote 
to his Excellency, Benjamin Franklin, the Minister 
Plenipotentiary of the United States, upon that subject, 
and was honored with his answer two days ago. He has 
mentioned your services to my country in those warm 
terms of gratitude, wliich are due to early, vigorous, and 
disinterested exertions. My deep respect for the opinions 
of that worthy ^Minister, my desire, on all occasions, to 
evince the gratitude of my country, added to those favor- 
able impressions, which your conduct has made u[)on my 
mind, Irave induced me to employ you as n banker in the 
aflfairs of the United States. 

You will be pleased, Sir, to close your former accounts, 
and. in due season, to transmit tbem. For subsequent 
transactions, you will open new accounts, and, from time 
to time, keep me informed of the stale of our affairs. The 
allowance formerly made of one half per cent, on the 
moneys which pass through your hands will be continued. 

The intelligence lately received, gives strong hopes that 
the loan of five millions of guilders, opened in Holland, 


will have been completed before this reaches you. One 
million of these is appropriated to purchasing certain ar- 
ticles for our army ; and 1 now direct one million to be 
deposited with you, and one million with the house of your 
brother in Amsterdam, subject to n)y drafts. The re- 
maining two millions are to be sliipped for this country. 

As I am not positively instructed that this loan has suc- 
ceeded, 1 do not venture to draw bills on you ; but in case 
you shall be in cash for the United States, which I expect 
will happen, you will pay to Messrs &£ Co., 

for account of John Ross, the sum of two hundred 
thousand livres ; to JMessrs Le Couteuls &t Co., for ac- 
count of William Biagham, one hundred thousand livres, 
and to John Holker, for account of John Holker (ils, the 
sum of one hundred thousand. From each of these 
persons you will take quadruplicate receipts, in the form 
following ; "Received of , banker, by order 

of the Superintendent of the Finances of the United States 
of North America, on behalf of tiie sum of 

being so much paid by the said States to 
him, the said for which I have signed four 

receipts, ail of this tenor and date. Done in Paris this 
day of 178 " You will be 

pleased. Sir, to forward to me three of the copies by 
different opportunities. 
I am, Sir, he. 




Philadelphia, December 3d, 1781. 
M. de Fleury will have the goodness to pardon an entire 
stranger for intruding one moment on that attention, which 
is engaged in so many important objects. I have been 
called, Sir, almost at the same time with you, though in a 
different country, to the same office. The intimate alli- 
ance and connexion between our Sovereigns Is such, that 
we are engaged in the same cause. My first steps have 
encountered difficulties, and you have afforded the first 
means of surmounting them. Thus, I flatter myself, from 
your clear view of the interests of France, that you ai^ 
disposed to give pecuniary aid to America. 1 will not 
pretend to delineate the advantages resulting from it to the 
penetrating mind, which has already conceived them. I 
will only add my wish, that your name may be enrolled 
among those true friends of France, who, by espousing 
warmly the cause of this country, have shown themselves 
to be equally the friends of all human nature. To defend, 
to assert, and to vindicate the insulted rights of man shall 
be the solid monument of glory, which his Minister will 
industriously raise for your royal master. With every 
fervent prayer for their most perfect success, and with the 
sincerest esteem and attachment, I pray you to believe 
me to be, Sir, he. 




Office of Finance, December 5th, 1781. 


I was yesterday morning favored wiili yours of the 12th 
of September, enclosing third copies of your two letters of 
the 26lh of July, also a copy of Count de Vergennes' 
letter to yo« of the 23d of August. I find by these letters, 
that the idea 1 had entertained as to the advances made by 
the Court was not so favorable as the truth, and that 
the ten millions of livres, or five millions of florins to be 
borrowed in Holland, will be over and above those ad- 
vances. How much pleasure I receive from that circum- 
stance, you will easily conceive. It is an additional 
pleasure, that the labor of adjusting the matters mentioned 
in mine of the 27th of November, will be saved to you. 

I am much surprised to find so large purchases made on 
account of the United States in Holland. If everything 
else were equal, the generous conduct of France towards 
us has been such, that I cannot but think that every pos- 
sible preference ought to be given to the manufactures ot 
that nation. But there is, in my opinion, very essential 
preferences of a different kind. The position of Amster- 
dam is unfavorable in a war with England to a commerce 
with this country. France also can, and I suppose will 
give convoy, to the articles procured there. But I will 
dwell no longer on the subject, for, I trust, that nothing of 
the kind will happen hereafter. 

Should the loan be obtained, you will be so kind, Sir, as 
to deposit one million of florins with Mr Grand, to whom 
I will pray you to deliver the enclosed letter. I shall, 
in consequence, not draw upon you for a million of livres 


in favor of Messrs Le Couteulx Si Co. as I intended ; and, 
in like manner, 1 beg leave to revoke what I have said on 
the subject oC paying all balances into their hands, in my 
letter of the last. One million of florins you will 

also be pleased to deposit with the house of Grand at 
Amsterdam, sending me the precise address of both, so 
that I can direct my bills properly to them. Nearly one 
million will bo necessary to pay the invoice •sent in my 
letter of the last. The remaining two millions, 

I wish may be shipped from France in gold by proper 
vessels of war, which, I dare say, will readily be provided 
by M. de Castries. 

I perceive you have not written to Congress on the sub- 
jects mentioned in the letter of the Count de Vergennes of 
the 23d of August, which I am glad of. The more that 
an opinion prevails here that we must succor ourselves, the 
more we shall do it ; and, therefore, I sliall not communi- 
cate what you have said for the present ; but, as the best 
acknowledgement, I shall endeavor to further the opera- 
tions against the common enemy, and draw forth all our 
resources for an early snd vigorous campaign. The 
splendid and important success, which has crowned the 
combined arms in Virginia, is, I hope, only an earnest of 
what is to be done next year. These are the returns 
which we shall make to the King, for the aid he so gen- 
erously affords. And I have a very particular satisfaction 
in assuring you, that throughout this country, a strong at- 
tachment to the French nation is daily taking place of that 
blind partiality, once felt for everything, which had the 
name of English. Let me add, for your use, a piece of 
mercantile information lately communicated to me from 
unquestionable authority. The demand for French goods 


in this country has raised the prices in France from twenty 
to thirty per cent. The importations have reduced the 
prices here nearly twenty per cent, and the exchange, you 
already know, has heen raised considerably. 

I shall say nothing to you in this letter on the subject of 
future supplies, further than what is contained in mine of 
ijie last, because I feel a conviction, that you will 

obtain such as may be necessary. I will only repeat what 
1 have often said, let ihem be early. 1 enclose a letter to 
M. de Fleury, which you will either deliver or not, as may 
best answer your purposes. 

I hope often to have the pleasure of hearing from you, 
and I pray you to believe me to be, with very great truth, 
Dear Sir, &;c. 



'" • Office of Finance, December Uth, 1781. 


I have been honored with your f<ivor of the 24th of last 
month, covering resolutions of ihe Senate and Assembly 
of the 21st and 22d. You will easily conceive by what 
passes in your own bosom, how much I feel at a represen- 
tation of distresses, while the necessity of revenue admits 
not of alleviation. The Legislature are undoubtedly best 
able to discover and to flescribe the evils, which afflict 
their constituents, and I should almost in any case, bend 
before so high an authority. But the situation, in which I 
am placed, compels me to make some observations, which 
if they are not admitted to have weight, will not I hope, be 
considered as foreign to the purpose. ^, ..;,;, 


It is contended by the State agent, that the supplies, 
which he i)as delivered, and those which he holds ready 
to furnish, amount fully to the demand for specific supplies. 
And it is lamented, that the army have subsisted from the 
neighborhood of West Point in former times, leaving 
thereby a great mass of certificates, which being useless 
to the inhabitants, the supplies obtained have to all intents 
and purposes, operated a tax. To this I will add, that 
the resolutions of your Legislature state an extra expense, 
which has produced a tax to the amount of one hundred 
and eighty thousand dollars. If these exertions joined to 
the ravages of the enemy, and the usurpations complained 
of, have occasioned distress, they at least demonstrate the 
abilities of the State in former periods. You will perceive, 
that I am now about to supply the troops by contract, 
wherefore a ready market for their produce must imme- 
diately be opened to the inhabitants of your State. This 
will enable them to obtain hard money, and that will en- 
able them to pay taxes. The greet- object, therefore, of 
the Legislature will be to adopt a vigorous and just system 
of taxation, and to take off all those restraints upon the 
people, which injure, afflict, and impoverish them, without 
producing any advantage to the public. The army must 
be supplied by law or by force. The latter mode is de- 
testable, and as to the former, certainly tlie best way, in 
which it can operate, is to raise taxes and purchase sup- 
plies ; because by this means much less of the produce 
of the country is expended, and in the event, the payment 
of the people is by the produce of the country, that being 
the only source of national wealth. 

As the Legislature seem to have great apprehensions 
on the score of former demands, I take the liberty of en- 


closing an estimate, vviiich is formed on the supposition, 
that all the specific supplies shall b=ive been delivered, 
which as I have already had the honor to observe, is con- 
tended for by the agent, though tl>e truth of it cannot be 
admittf'd before the final adjustment of tiie nn\ount. The 
burden of these demands would in such case be very 
moderate. It is my intention to destroy the paper money 
as soon as it can be called in. Wherefore a sliglit exer- 
tion for that purpose will relieve your State from the bur- 
den of it. 

As to the extra expense, which has accrued to the 
State by calling new levies into the field, it is the business 
of the United States in Congress to determine upon it. It 
is, however, my duty to remark, that exclusive of the 
great expense of additional officers, the sum there stated 
as a bounty is fully equal to the pay and rations of so 
many men for six months. I am sure lliat I need not ob- 
serve to your Excellency the impracticability of carrying 
on a war where it cosls as much to enlist a man as it does 
to feed and pay him for six months. A few such extra 
corps raised in each State, and the bounties charged tQ the 
United States, in payment of the quota would immediately 
compel Congress to disband the whole army (or the want 
of the means of subsistence, or to permit the troops to 
plunder the inhabitants. 

In the midst of those complaints of your situation I re- 
ceive a particular pleasure from the assurance that the 
Legislature will contribute to the general service of the 
Union their proportion of well established funds. 1 hope 
the recommendation for that purpose will soon come under 
the consideration of the United States and be duly ex- 

VOL. XII. 9 


I have the pleasure to add, Sir, that a report from this 
office for the full and final settlement of accounts is now 
before the Congress. Whenever a determination shall 
have been u)ade it will be transmitted. 

With perfect respect and esteem I am, &,c. 



OfBce of Finance, December ]9th, 1781. 

Tn my circular letter on that subject, I have already liad 
the honor to iransniil the requisitions of Congress, con- 
tained in their Acts of the 30th of October and 2d of No- 
vember last, by which the quota of your Stale iorthe year 
1782 is dollars, payable in ijuarlerly payments, 

commencing the 1st day of April next. 

The distresses which your State has lately suffered, will 
not, 1 fear, permit the collection of this quota in hard 
irioney, although the subsistence of the army will nattn'aily 
call for an expenditure to a great amoun: in such articles 
as the State can fm-nish. The n)ode hitherto pursued of 
granting receipts and certificates by every one empowered 
or employed to im[)ress or purchase, cannot but be at- 
tended with inuch confusion and difficulty, U not with 
oppression and fraud. It is the duty of those who are 
intrusted with the management of the public affairs, to pre- 
vent as ujuch as possil)!e these evils,, and as much as possi- 
ble to equalize and diininish those burdens, which the 
people must bear. It v^ould give me great })leasure lo be 
put in such a situation, as that I might at once contract lor 


the supplies of the southern army ; but I have not specie 
for the purpose ; nor do I find that taxes are yet laid in 
the Southern Sif.tes to proctn-e it. Wherefore, I must 
wait yet some time, until the public treasury is replenished, 
until the hard money now in America gets somewhat more 
diffused, and until I have a prospect of receiving back from 
those States in hard money their quota of the public taxes. 

In this situation of things, I have devised and proposed 
to the Delegates of the three Southern States, the follow- 
ing plan. To appoint a Receiver of the taxes in each 
State, agreeably to the Act of Congress, and to empower 
such Receiver to issue notes on the warrants of the Gene- 
ral, piiyable in those taxes, or fl'om the amount of them 
when collected. By which means those articles necessary 
for the consumption of the army may be purchased, and 
the quota of the State be thereby i)aid. 

The Delegates of North and South Carolina thought the 
plan eligible, but one of the Delegates of Georgia was dis- 
inclined to that part of it, which requires the previous pass- 
ing of a law to raise the quota of taxes called for by the 
United States. 1 am this morning informed, that upon a 
reconsideration of the matter, a majority of the Delet^ates 
of South Carolina are also of opinion, that i( would be bet- 
ter not to make the enacting such a law an indispensable 
part of the system. I am very sorry for this circumstance, 
because, as all the Delegates from the three .States men- 
tioned, approve of the plan in other respects, I did expect 
their warm recommendation of it to their respective Le^^is- 
latia-es ; for your Excellency will perceive at a single 
glance, that it originated in the sincere desire of relieving 
■ those States, and has that relief for its object, as far as the 
public service of the United States will possibly permit. 


Those genileiiien who object lo making a tax bill the 
preliminary lo any issues of the notes, have proposed as an 
expedient, a law, promising the payment of the notes when 
taxation shall become practicable, compelling the receipt 
of them in payment as specie, and limiting the prices of 
those articles, which the army may want. This is done to 
obviate two objections, which are supposed to be against 
taxation, that the state of the country will not admit of the 
collection, and that those who have no property left but 
lands, cannot pay the taxes without extreme distress. 

Before I go into any detailed observations on these sub- 
jects, 1 beg leave to state one general reason why I must 
insist on the tax law, even if in other respects I should 
have no material objections to the expedient proposed. As 
Superintendent of the Finances of the United Slates, it is 
my duty to urge a cortipliance with the requisitions of Con- 
gress, and, therefore, to facilitate that compliance ; but I 
should betray the trust reposed in me, if by any expedient 
whatever, I assisted in eluding those requisitions. With 
me, therefore, the propriety of passing the tax bill can ad- 
mit of no question ; and in consequence, my orders are 
precise, to prevent the issue of a single note, until such 
bills shall have been enacted, and effectual provision made 
for the collection. 

I shall now take the liberty of trespassing on your pa- 
tience, with some observations as to the two laws proposed. 
And first, as to the expediency of taxing, and the weight of 
the objections against it. When it is considered, that the 
expenditures of the army, (supposing the war to be carried 
on in the Southern States, must greatly exceed the amount 
of the sums called for from those States,) one position is 
clear, that by complying with (he requisitions of Congress, 


a balance of money must necessarily be brought in from 
the other States, to supply the deficiency of the whole 
revenue in those particular Slates, when compared with 
the amount of the whole expenditure. But by neglecting 
to comply with the requisitions of Congress, (as it will be 
impossible to supply the army in the same regular manner, 
which prevails elsewhere,) the whole cost of the expendi- 
ture will fall in the first instance on those who are near the 
seat of war, subject to a future settlement of accounts. 
Besides which, it is demonstrable, that this latter mode of 
supply, which is at present practised, is very wasteful and 
expensive. Nor is this the only objection, though certainly 
a very strong one. We must further consider, that ac- 
cording to the present mode of taking supplies, the burden 
falls very unequally on the inhabitants, and of course, very 
unjustly. I fear that, with truth, it may added, that in 
some instances, it is attended with strong circumstances of 

Hence, then, I conclude that the prupriety of taxa- 
tion is evident, unless the reasons against it are of 
weight sufficient to counterbalance the inconveniences, 
which would result from neglecting it. I proceed, 
therefore, to examine them. And first, as to the state 
of the country and the means of collection. It is clear 
that within the enemy's lines, taxes cannot be col- 
lected ; but out of them, they certainly may be. For, 
surel}', it is as easy to compel a man to pay money by 
seizing his property, as it is to seize that property for 
the subsistence of the troops. There is, however, this 
additional advantage in taxing, that those may be com- 
pelled to pay, who have not articles useful for the 
army, as well as those who have. The objection, that 



those who have land onfy will be distressed by the 
sale of it, will have just as much weight as the Legis- 
lature may choose to give it ; l"or if no taxes are raised 
on land, the objection will vanish, and certainly the 
Legislature will be in capacity to determine whether 
any tax should be laid on it, and what that tax should 

But, further, it appears that the objection is calcu- 
lated to favor the rich, who are great landholders, in 
preference to the poor, who labor on a small planta- 
tion ; and how far this may be either wise or just is 
not for me to determine, I will, however, suggest an 
expedient, that, as the taxes are payable quarterly, the 
first two quarters' tax should be raised on the polls, 
the slaves, and other personal property in the State, 
and the land tax be paid on the last quarterly instal- 
ments. This will give the several landholders room 
to turn themselves, so as to provide for their several 
appropriations in season. I will just add under this 
head, that if (as there is some reason to hope) the 
southern States should be totally evacuated, the exten- 
sion of their commerce will soon obviate every objec- 
tion, which can possibly be in the way of taxation. 

I must observe further, that those States, which 
delay the levying of taxes to answer present requisi- 
tions, will become totally incapable of complying with 
future calls, and consequently, we shall always be 
dealing in doubts and uncertainties, instead of estab- 
lishing that confidence and vigor, which alone can 
perfect our independence. 

I come now to the proposed law for compelling the 
receipt of the notes and regulating the prices of 


articles. My opinion of all such laws is decidedly 
fixed. I know both from reason and experience, that 
they injure the credit of the paper they appear de- 
signed to support. They show doubts in the mind of 
the Legislature, they communicate those doubts to the 
breasts of the people,, the credit of the paper is then 
destroyed before it is issued, and all the after opera- 
tion of the law is one continued scene of fraud and 
iniquity. If, therefore, such tax bill shall be passed 
as will permit issuing the notes in question, I entreat, 
that on no representation, nor for any cause whatever, 
any law be passed making the notes a tender, valuing 
the price of goods, or anything of that sort. I ask 
for no embargo, no regulations. On the contrary, I 
wish and pray, that the whole detestable tribe of_ 
restrictions may be done away, and the people be put 
in possession of that freedom, for which they are con- 
tending. I have no system of finance, except that 
which results from the plain self-evident dictates of 
moral honesty. Taxation and economy are the two 
pillars by which that system is supported, and if the 
several States will provide the former, I will pledge 
myself for the latter, as far as my abilities will permit. 
To return then, Sir, to the plan I have to propose. 
It is simply this. I expect that the Legislature of 
your State will immediately pass laws to collect by 
the days named, the sums called for from them for the 
service of the year 1782. To facilitate the collection 
and payment of the taxes, I consent to receive the 
notes signed by the Receiver of the continental taxes 
for your State. If, therefore, the Legislature approve 
of my plan, Ihey will merely add a clause renderino- 


those notes receivable by their collectors as specie, In 
the continental taxes. They will, I doubt not, pro- 
vide the ways and means by which the Receiver shall 
compel the several collectors to pay over whatever 
sums, either of those notes or of hard money, they 
may have received. This will leave it purely optional 
with the people to take the notes, or to let them alone. 
If the taxes are collected, they must either pay those 
nutes or hard money. If they pay hard moaey, the 
notes will not be necessary. If they pay the notes, 
the public will already have received the value of 
them, in the articles for which they are first paid. 

I enclose the form of the notes and the denomina- 
tions, and I will appoint the Receiver of the continental 
taxes for your State, as soon as I can fix on a proper 
person, and prepare the necessary instructions. In 
the meantime, the law may easily be passed, with a 
clause directing the mode in which the appointment of 
such Receiver shall be announced to the public, 
I have the honor to be, &c. 



Office of Finance, December 29th, 1781. 
I have been favored with your letter of the 3d of 
last month, and am much obliged to you for the infor- 
mation it contains. There is now before Congress, on 
a report from this office, a plan for liquidating and ad- 
justing the accounts of the several States, and I should 
sooner have answered your letter, if I had not expected 


the pleasure of sending forward the Act of Congress 
on that subject with my letter. 

I have no doubt but that the State over which you 
preside, has made great exertions in the common 
cause, and but for the exertions, which have been 
made, the enemy would long since have been more 
successful. Every State in the Union claims the merit 
of extraordinary efforts, and whose claim is the best, I 
will not pretend. to ascertain ; but I feel it (p be my 
duty to observe, that nothing but a continuance of 
active exertions on our part can possibly assure those 
objects, for which so much has already been done and 
suffered. Persuaded that the wisdom of your Legis- 
lature will feel equally with me the force of this 
observation, I have no doubt but that the requisitions 
of Congress, for the service of the year 17S2, will be 
punctually complied with. 

With respect to the impost law, I will not say any- 
thing more about it, than merely to remind you of 
what has already been said in former letters. The 
time is hastening on, when it must be determined, 
perhaps forever, whether the United States of North 
America shall, or shall not, possess the inestimable 
jewel of public credit. In the meantime, the conduct 
of those in public life, as far as it relates to this object, 
must determine whether or not they are really the 
friends of their country. Mr Warren, who is now 
I suppose with you, will, I doubt not, give you every 
information, which may be required as to the situation 
of our affiirs, and his genius and talents will enable 
him to place in a much stronger point of view than 
any letter from me, the importance of complying with 

VOL. XII. 10 



the requisitions of the United States. I hope, Sir, 
you will pardon me for adding, that if every State in 
the Union has an equal right with yours to wait until 
others have complied, the Congress may spare them- 
selves the trouble of doing any further business, and 
their constituents may be spared the expense of keep- 
ing them together. I need not, I am persuaded, go 
into a detail of the consequences. 

With perfect respect and esteem, I am, &c. 



Office of Finance, January 3d, 1782. 

Althougli it is now eleven months since Congress recom- 
mended an impost of five per cent on goods imported, and 
on prizes and prize goods, ibe States of INlassachusetls, 
Rhode Island, and Maryland, have not yet complied with 
that recommendation. 

I will not repeat the arguments to induce a compliance, 
which are contained, either in my letter of the 27th of 
July, or elsewhere ; that is unnecessary. The object of 
this letter is to make a representation, which can no longer 
be delayed consistently with the duties I owe, either to 
myself, or my country. And although it is principally 
designed for those three States just mentioned, yet I trans- 
mit it to the other States, (in a letter, of which the copy 
is enclosed,) because all ought to know what is interesting 
to all. 

Convinced that the impost recommended was not suffi- 
cient, I had devised some additional funds for the payment 


of our debts, and the support of our credit. These 1 
should have submitted to the consideration of Congress, 
had the States complied with their former recommen- 

In a circular letter, dated the 19th of October last, I 
had the honor to mention an order prohibiting Loan Offi- 
cers from issuing certificates in payment of interest, 
together with the reasons lor which it was made. That 
order has already produced much clamor among the pub- 
lic creditors. This I expected, and I still expect that it 
will occasion much more. 

The public debt is considerable, and the public credit 
must be lost, if the interest of it bo not provided for. Con- 
gress have done their duly in requesting revenue, and I 
have done mine in soliciting a compliance with their re- 
quest. It only remains for me to bear testimony against 
those who oppose that compliance, and to declare, that 
they and they only, must be responsible for the conse- 
quences. They are answerable to the other States, to 
their fellow citizens, to tiie public creditors, and to the 
whole world. 

I must speak plainly on this subject. I must point out 
from time to time, the reason of those things, which have 
produced murmurs and complaints against the represen- 
tative' body of America. I must direct those who suffer, 
to those who occasion their sufferings, and those who are 
injured to those who have 4one them wrong. Let me 
then once more entreat, that this great object be seriously 
considered. Let me fepeat, that the hope of oiu- enemy- 
is in the derangement of our finances ; and let me add, 
that when revenue is given, that hope must cease. He, 
therefore, who opposes tlie grant of such revenue, not only 


opposes himseU to llie dictates of justice, but he labors to 
continue the war, and of consequence to shed more blood, 
to produce more devastation, and to extend and prolong 
the miseries of mankind. 

1 have the honor to be, &c. 


Office of Finance, January 8th, 1782. 

I have liie honor to transmit iierewith an ordinance 
passed by the United States in Congress assembled the 
31st day of December, 17S1, incorporating the subscribers 
of the Bank of North America, together with sundry reso- 
lutions recommending to the several Stales to pass such 
laws as they may judge necessary for giving the said or- 
dinance its full operation. The resolutions of the 26ih of 
May last speak so clearly to the |)oints necessary to be es- 
tablished by those laws, that 1 need not enlarge on them. 
Should anything more be found necessary upon experi- 
ence, the President and Directors will no doubt make 
suitable applications to Congress, or to the States respec- 
tively, as the case may require. 

* January 7th. This day the National Bank of North America 
opens to transact business. This institution I am persuaded will 
flourish under the management of honest men and honest measures. 
The present directors are such men, and the present system of 
measures are founded in principles of justice and equity. There- 
fore, I shall most cheerfully assist ^1 in my power, to establish and 
support this Bank. And as a beginning, I have this day issued 
my warrant on the treasury for two hundred thousand dollars in 
part of the shares, which I have subscribed, on behalf of the public. 


It aflbrds me great satisfaciiou lo iiilorm you that this 
Bank cominenced its operations yesterday, and I am con- 
fident tiiat with proper management, it will answer the 
most sanguiite expectations of tliose who befriend the in- 
stitution. It will facilitate the management of the finances 
of the United States. The several States may, when 
their respective necessities require, and the abilities of the 
bank will permit, derive occasional advantages and accou)- 
!r;odation5 from it. It will afford to the individuals of all 
the States a medium for their intercouise wiih each other, 
and for the payment of taxes more convenient than the pre- 
cious metals, and equally safe. It will have a tendency to 
increase both the internal and external commerce of North 
America, and undoubtedly will be infinitely useful lo all 
the traders of every State in the Union, provided, as J 
have already said, it is conducted on principles of equity, 
justice, prudence, and economy. The present directors 
bear characters, which cannot fail to inspire confidence, 
and as the corporation is amenable to the laws, power 
can neither sanctify any iinproper conduct, nor protect the 
guilty. Under a full conviction of these things, I flatter 
myself, that I shall stand excused for recommending in 
the strongest manner, this well meant plan, to all the en- 
couragement and protection, which your State can give, 
consistently with wisdom and justice. 
I have the honor to be, he. 




Office of Finance, January 14th, 1782, 

The delegates of Rhode Island did ine the honor to 
communicate your Excellency's letter of the 24th of last 
month, directed to them. I have carefully considered that 
fetter, and now, agreeably to my promise made to them, 
shall endeavor to convey my sentiments upon it to you. 
You mention, Sir, that the Assembly unanimous'y con- 
cluded, that the sum of two hundred and sixteen thousand 
dollars, called for by Congress, to be so large as that it 
could not by any means be raised in specie, and you say, 
further, that the scarcity of cash has become uncommonly 

By the Acts of Congress on that subject, you will per- 
ceive the amount of taxes called for by the United States, 
to be eight millions of dollars. I cannot pretend to say, 
that the apporiiomnent has, or has not been equal ; but I 
am persuaded it is as nearly so as the information, which 
could have been obtained, would by any means admit. 
The whole sum. Sir, however large it may appear, is very 
much short of our former annual expenditures ; and, I am 
sorry to add, that it is certainly short of. what will be 
necessary, even with the strictest economy. 1 am com- 
pelled on this occasion to observe, that the want of credit 
is now materially felt. Other free nations find infinite re- 
lief from the oppressive weight of taxation by anticipating 
the public revenue ; but we, with every advantage from 
nature to prevent it, are obliged to bear now those bur- 
dens, which ought, in reason, to be divided with succeed- 
ing generations. To obtain credit, we must provide funds 


amply sufficient, not only fo pay the interest of all former 
debts, both foreign and domestic, but also sufficient to 
liquidate those, which we may find it necessary in future to 
contract. These funds must be permanent, clear, sufficient, 
and at the disposition of Congress. Nothing short of that 
will answer the purpose. 

In the meantime, the interest of our debt is as great as 
if such funds were given ; and to pay that interest will cost 
as much to the people ; but the complaints from every 
quarter, until it be provided for, do infinite injury. 
Whereas, if funds were granted, we might from time to 
time obtain loans, both at home and abroad, sufficient to 
defray a great proportion of our annual expenditure. 
You will easily percejve what relief the people would feel 
from paying the interest instead of the principal. As to 
the want of money, your Legislature must consider, that 
there must always be such want from the very nature of 
things, because nothing gives to money its value, but the 
imiversal desire of obtaining it; and, of consequence, the 
' ease with which all the necessaries, conveniences, and lux- 
uries of life are obtained in exchange for it. It is the 
value of money, which has induced all wise nations to raise 
the supplies in coin, rather than in produce, because there 
is nothing, which so facilitates the economy of public re- 
sources. And the great object of a wise and just govern- 
ment is, to reduce as low as possible the burdens, which 
the people must bear, for their own preservation, safety, 
and advantage. The want of money always has been, and 
now is complained of throughout the United States. This 
want will, however, be soon remedied in some degree by 
the bank paper ; and further, it must be remembered, that 
as the public wants will call for an expenditure faster than 


the collection of taxes will take place, those taxes will by 
no means decrease the general circulating medium, and if 
that mediirm be, as is said and as I really believe, de- 
ficient, commerce will continue, as at present, to increase 
it by the daily importation of specie from abroad. 

The taking of specific supplies has, by experieiice, been 
foiind unequal to the object, and is extremely wasteful and 
expensive. Many articles produced in the several Slates, 
in themselves very valuable, will by no means admit of 
transportation ; and even those, which will admit of it, can 
seldom be brought to the place where they must be con- 
sumed, but at an expense which, in many instances, ex- 
ceeds the original value. 

I am convinced, nevertheless, that there is force in your 
observation, on the propriety of expending within the State 
as much of the revenue drawn from it as can consist with 
the general interest of the Union. This, Sir, must, never- 
theless, depend in a great degree upon the cheapness with 
which your citizens will furnish such things as the public 
may want. While tiiey industriously make and cheaply 
vend those things, which the necessities of mankind re- 
qnire, they need not apprehend a want of money ; for as, 
on the one hand, he will get most of a commodity, who 
will give for it the most money ; so, on the other, he will 
get the most money who will give for it the most of a com- 
modity. Your honorable delegates inform n)e, that many 
articles fit for our use, and in particular blankets and wool- 
len stockings, are manufactured in your State, and can be 
afforded to the United Sirates on good terms. If so, it is 
very probable, that not only the revenue called for may be 
expended there, but even a greater sum. I will give 
orders to the Clothier General to make inquiries in)medi- 


ately as to the quantities and prices of articles proper for 
his department in your Slate ; and to purchase, if they 
rcan be had upon proper terms. 

As to making any agreement for specific articles, I can- 
not undertake it, because I have already made contracts 
for most of the articles, which we may want, payable in 
money ; and I am too distant to judge of prices ; nor is it 
possible (or the human mind in that complicated scene, 
which engrosses every moment of my time, sufficiently to 
attend to such minute details. The business of govern- 
ment must be simplified, in order that it may be well con- 
ducted, and to do this is with me a very principal object. 
Your Excellency will perceive, that f am authorised to ap- 
point a Receiver of the Continental taxes within the sev- 
eral States, and I shall make the appointment within your 
State very speedily. I have every disposition to comply 
with your wishes, and will give such instructions to the 
Receiver, as that he may from time to time facilitate the 
views of the Legislature and lighten the biu-dens of the 
people, which J sincerely assure your Excellency is an 
object that lies nearest my heart. 
I have the honor to be, &c. 



Office of Finance, January 15th, 1782. 

Finding by the Act of the United States in Congress of 

the 7th instant, that I am instructed to prepare and report 

a table of rates, at which the different species of foreign 

coins most likely to circulate within the United States 

vol.. XI I. 11 


shall be received at the Treasury, I have been induced 
again to turn my attention to an object, which has em- 
ployed my thoughts very frequently, and which would 
have been long since submitted lo Congress, had I not 
been prevented by other business, and much delayed by 
those things relating to this business, which depended upon 
others. I shall now pray leave to deliver my sentiments 
somewhat at large on this subject. 

The United States labor under many inconveniences 
and even disadvantages, which may at present be remedied, 
but which, if suffered to continue, would become incurable, 
and lead to pernicious consequences. It is very lortunate 
for us, that the weights and measures used throughout 
America are the same. Experience has shown in other 
countries, that the efforts of the legislator to change weights 
and measures, although fully seconded by the more en- 
lightened part of the cotnmunity, have been so strongly 
opposed by the popular habits and prejudices, that ages 
have elapsed without producing the desired effect. I re- 
peat, therefore, that it is happy lor us to have throughout 
the Union the same ideas of a niile and an inch, 
a hogshead and a quart, a pound and an ounce. So far 
our commefrcial dealings are sim[)lified and brought down 
to the level of every capacity. 

With respect to our ujoney, the case is very widely 
different. The ideas annexed to a pound, a shilling, and 
a penny, are almost as various as the States themselves. 
Calculations are, therefore, as necessary for our inland 
commerce as upon foreign exchanges. And the com- 
monest things become intricate where money has anything 
to do with them. A farmer in New Hampshire, for in- 
stance, can readilv form im idea of a bushel of wheat in 


South Carolina, weighing sixty pounds, and placed at one 
hundred miles from Charleston ; but, if he were told, that 
in siich situation it is worth twentyone shillings and eight 
pence, he would be obliged to make many inquiries, and 
form some calculations before he could know that this sum 
meant in general what he would call four shillings ; and 
even then be would have to inquire what kind of coin that 
four shillings was paid in, before he could estimate it in his 
own mind, according to the ideas of money, which he had 
imbibed. Difficulties of this sort do not occur to fanciers 
alone. Tiiey are perplexing to most men, and trouble- 
some to all. It is, however, a fortunate circumstance, 
that money is so much in the power of the Sovereign, 
as that he can easily lead the people into new ideas of 
it ; and even if that were not the case, yet the loose 
state in which our currency has been for some years 
past, has opened the way for i-eceiving any impres- 
sions on that subject. 

As we are now shaking off' the inconveniences of. a 
depreciating medium, the present moment seems to be 
that, in which a general currency can best be estab- 
lished, so as that in a few months, the same names of 
money will mean the same things in the several parts 
of the United States. !U3rfii/>i>dJ baa 

Another inconvenience, which admits of the same 
easy remedy, and which would indeed be cured by 
the very same Act, is the want of a legal tender. 
This is as necessary for the purposes of jurisprudence, 
as a general currency is for those of commerce. For 
although there is great impropriety, not to say injus- 
tice, in compelling a man to receive a part of his debt 
in discharge of the whole, yet it is both just and 


proper, that the law should protect the honest debtor, 
who is willing to pay, against the vexatious suits of an 
oppressive creditor, who refuses to receive the full 

The nature, value, and use of money have always 
occasioned strong temptations to the commission of 
fraud, and of consequence, the practice of counterfeit- 
ing is coeval with that of coining. No government 
can guard its subject entirely against the wicked inge- 
nuity, which has been exercised in this respect. But 
it has always been the object of every wise govern- 
ment to take all the precautions against it, which are 
vvrithin the compass of human ability. These precau- 
tions will be least effectual where the coins are so 
numerous, that the knowledge of them being a kind 
of science, the lower order of citizens are constantly 
injured by those who carry on the business of debasing, 
sweating, clipping, counterfeiting, and the like. It is, 
therefore, to be lamented, that we have so many dit- 
ferent coins in the United States. 

It is not necessary to mention what is in every- 
body's mouth, that the precious metals were first used 
as bullion, and that the inconvenience of weighing, 
and the difficulty of assaying introduced the practice of 
coining, in order that the weight and fineness might 
be known at the first view, and of consequence, the 
value be instantly ascertained. It is equally unneces- 
sary to observe, that the great privilege of declaring 
this value by particular marks has, among all nations, 
been vested exclusively in the Sovereign. A trust so 
important could not indeed be vested anywhere else; 
because the danger of abusing it was too great. And 


history informs us, that Sovereigns themselves have 
not on this occasion behaved with that integrity, which 
was alike due to their subjects and to themselves, to 
the interests of their people and their own personal 
glory. ; -jc) .-.-/if^^'E <!; 

Experience has already told (rs, that' the advantage 
of gold as a coin is in this country very considerably 
diminished, for every distinct piece must be weighed 
before it can be safely received. Both gold and silver 
coins are indeed preferable in one respect to common 
bullion/that the standard is presumed to bo just, and 
consequently, they are received without the delays 
and expenses of assaying. It must, however, be re- 
membered, that they are all foreign coins, and of 
course, we are not only exposed to the tricks of indi- 
viduals, but should it suit the interest or convenience 
of any Sovereign to make base money for us, there is 
nothing to prevent it. If, for instance, the King of 
England, or 'any of his Birmingham artists, should 
coin guineas worth but sixteen shillings sterling, our 
citizens would readily and freely receive them at 
twentyone shillings sterling. It is my duty to men- 
tion to Congress information I have received, that 
guineas of base metal are coined at Birmingham so 
well as to escape any common attention. Now there 
can be no doubt, that every such guinea received here 
would be a national loss to us of an English crown. 
How much we suffer in this way at present it is impos- 
sible to estimate, i ItVUft! VoV-'i??:^^ : 

What I have already had the Horior to observe con- 
tains some of the reasons why it appears to me highly- 
necessary, that an American coin should be adopted 


without delay, and to these reasons it may be added, 
that there is a want of small money for the common 
occasions of trade, or that it is more felt by our sol- 
diery than any other persons. For the little pay, 
which they do receive, being either in gold or at best 
in dollars, the sutlers and others with whom they have 
dealings, continually take the advantage of their want 
of change, and rate the prices of their goods accord- 

Shortly after my appointment, finding that there 
was a considerable quantity of public copper at^loston, 
I ordered it round to this place. It has safely arrived, 
and will when coined amount to a considerable sum. 
The necessary machinery of a mint can be easily 
made, and there are persons who can perform the 
whole business. I must pray leave, therefore, to sub- 
mit to Congress some few more particular remarks on 
this subject, as introductory to a plan for an American 

Although most nations have coined copper, yet that 
metal is so impure, that it has never been considered 
as constituting the money standard. This is affixed to 
the two precious metals, because they alone will admit 
of having their intrinsic value precisely ascertained. 
But nations difl'er very much in the relation they have 
established between gold and silver. In some Euro- 
pean countries an ounce of pure gold passes for fifteen 
ounces of pure silver. In others for fourteen. In 
China it passes for much less. The standard, there- 
fore, which is affixed to both metals is in reality 
affixed to neither. In England, gold is to silver nearly 
in the proportion of one to fifteen, and in France 


nearly of one to fourteen. If a man carries fourteen 
ounces of gold from France to England he receives 
two hundred and ten ounces of silver, which in France 
purchases fifteen ounces of gold. In like manner he 
who carries from England fourteen ounces of silver to 
France receives one ounce of gold, which in England 
purchases fifteen ounces of silver. If it be, then, sup- 
posed that the coins of these two countries were alike 
pure, it must follow that in a short time all the .gold 
coin of*full weight would be in England, and all the 
silver coin of full weight in France. But the light 
silver circulating in England, and the light gold in 
France, the real standard of coin in each would be 
different from the legal, and seek a medium of four- 
teen and a half of silver for one of gold, although the 
legal standard might still be in the one place fifteen 
and in the other fourteen. 

The demand which commerce might make for any 
of the precious metals, in preference of the other, 
would vary this real standard from time to time, and 
in every payment a man would get more or less of 
real value for his debt, according as he was paid in the 
coin of greater or less value, in relation to the real 
standard. If, for instance, the debt were contracted 
when the silver was to gold as one to fifteen, and paid 
when as one to fourteen ; if the debt were paid in 
silver he would gain one thirtieth, and if in gold he 
would lose one thirtieth. In England the money 
standard is rather affixed to gold than to silver, because 
all payments are made in the former; and in France 
it is rather affixed to silver than to gold. 

Arguments are unnecessary to show, that the scale 


by which everything is to be measured ought to be 
as fixed as the nature of things will admit of. Since, 
therefore, a money standard affixed to both the pre- 
cious metals will not give this certain scale, it is better 
to make use of one only. Gold is more valuable than 
silver, and so far must have the preference. But it is 
from that very circumstance the more exposed to 
fraudulent practices. Its value rendering it more 
portable is an advantage, but it is an advantage, which 
paper possesses in a much greater degree, and^f con- 
sequence the commercial nation of England has had 
recourse to paper for the purposes of its trade, although 
the mass of circulating coin is gold. It will always be 
in our power to carry a pajjer circulation to every 
proper extent. There can be no doubt, therefore, that 
our money standard ought to be affixed to silver. 

But silver is liable, like everything else, to a change 
of value. If there is a demand for it to export, the 
value will rise ; if the contrary it wiU fall ; and so far 
it cannot be considered as a fixed measure of ▼alue. 
Before this objection be considered it will be proper to 
make a few reflections on another part of the present 
subject; but in this place I remark, that if the objec- 
tion cannot be removed, we must not sufier it to be 
preponderate, because it weighs alike against every 
other metal. iv 

To coin money is a certain expense, and of course 
it is an expense, which must be borne by the people. 
In England the coin when melted will sell as bullion 
for just as much as its weight in other coin. The ex- 
pense of coinage is paid by the Crown, and of course 
it is raised by taxes from the people. In France the 


coinage instead of being expensive yields a profit. 
The price given for metal at the mint is about eight 
per cent less than the same quantity will yield when 
coined at the French standard. Both of these methods 
are liable to objections. When commerce demands 
an exportation of bullion from England, the coin of 
the kingdom goes out in common with others. This 
increases, of course, the national expense of coinage. 
Laws to prevent the exportation, or importation of any 
thing so valuable as money are always nugatory, be- 
cause they always can be eluded, and therefore when 
private interest requires it they always loill be eluded. 
That the guineas of England, therefore, are not con- 
tinually going away is to be attributed to the extraor- 
dinary value affixed to gold, which has just been men- 
tioned, and which banishes silver continually. In 
France the people are not liable to this inconvenience, 
because their money passing for more than its value in 
bullion, bullion will always be exported in preference 
to coin. But, for tiie same reason, there is always a 
strong temptation to imitate their coin and send it for 
the purchase of their commodities. It would be both 
impossible and unnecessary to distinguish the true 
from the false, because both would be of equal intrinsic 
value. The place at which they were struck would 
be indifferent to the receiver. Of consequence, the 
foreigner who made French coin, would gain by his 
trade, and the French nation would lose p?-oportion- 

Tlie i;iniiey pairi for coiniiiji, or liie coinage of Fmnce 
lias, iiovvever, this advantage, that the money is a standard, 
wliich does not fluctuate vvllh the price ol bullion. Tlus 
VOL. xn. ]2 


coinage is, as has been said, about eight per cent. When 
bullion is below ninetytvvo, it is carried to the mint ; when 
above ninetytwo, to the broker, or the silversmith. The 
coin still continues fixed, nor will it bear exportation until 
bullion rises to a hundred, when the French coin would 
be as liable to exportation as the English. In that case, it 
would be exported on one hand, while on the other no 
more would have been coined for a considerable period, 
because to make the eight per cent coinage?, it would be 
necessary that the mint price should be ninetytwo. The 
coin, therefore, could not long be exported, if at all, 
but woidd resume its value. Tiie price of bullion must 
float between ninetytvvo and a hundred, while the coin 
would preserve its fixed quality as nione}'. 

Hence then, it appears proper, that the price of coining 
should be defrayed by the coinage ; because, first, it is 
natural and proper, that the price should be paid when the 
benefit is received, and that the citizen in return for the 
advantage of being ascertained in the value of the medium 
of commerce by the sovereign, shoidd pay for ascertaining 
it, just as much as tliat he should pay for the fashion of the 
plate he uses, or the construction of the cart lie employs. 
Secoi^dly, it is rigln that money should acquire a value as 
money, distinct from liiat whiclr it possesses as a commo- 
dity, in order that it should be a fixed rule, whereby lo 
measure the value of all other things. And thirdly, it is 
wise to prevent the exportation of coin, which would in- 
volve an unnecessary national expense, and also to prevent 
the imitation of it ab.'-oad, so as lo create a national loss. 
For both of which purposes, it is proper that the coinage 
should only defray the expense, without making anv con- 
siderable profit. Tl)e laws usual in all countries, wiili re- 


spect to the money, will tfren fully operate the effect in- 

In order that a coin may be perfectly intelligible to the 
whole people, it must have some affinity to the former cur- 
rency. This, therefore, will be requisite in the present 
case. The purposes of commerce require, that the lowest 
divisible point of money, or what is more properly called 
the money wuY, should be very small, because by that 
means, price can be brought in the smallest things to bear 
a proportion to the value. And although it is not abso- 
lutely necessary, yet it is very desirable, that money should 
be increased in decimal ratio, because by that means all 
calculations of interest, exchange, insurance, and the like, 
are rendered much more simple and accurate, and of 
course, more within the power of the great mass of the 
people. Wherever such things require much labor, lime, 
and reflection, the greater number who do not know, are 
made the dupes of the smaller number who do. 

The various coins which have circulated in America, have 
undergone different changes in their value, so that there is 
hardly any which can be considered as a general standard, 
unless it be Spanish dollars. These pass in Georgia at 
five shillings, in North Carolina and New York at eight 
shillings, in Virginia and the four Eastern States at six 
shillings, and in all the other States, excepting South Caro- 
lina, at seven shillings and sixpence, and in South Carolina 
at ihirtytwo shillings and sixpence. The money unit of a 
new coin to agree, without a fraction, with all these differ- 
ent values of a dollar, excepting the last, will be the four- 
teen hundred and fortieth part of a dollar, equal to the six- 
teen hundredth part of a crown. Of these units, twenty- 
four will be a penny of Georgia, fifteen will be a penny of 


North Carolina or New York, twenty will be a penny of 
Virginia and the four Eastern States, sixteen will be a 
penny of all the other States, excepting South Carolina, 
and fortyeight will be thirteen pence of South Carolina. 

It has already been observed, that to have the money 
unit very siuall, is advantageous to commerce ; but there 
is no necessity that this money unit be exactly represented 
in coin, it is sufficient that its value be precisely known. 
On the present occasion, two copper coins will be [)roper, 
the one of eight units, and the other of five. Tliese may 
be called an Eight, and a Five. Two of the former will 
make a penny Proclamation, or Pennsylvania money, and 
three a penny Georgia money. Of the latter, three will 
make a penny New York money, and four a penny lawful, 
or Virginia money. The money unit will be equal to a 
quarter of a grain of fine silver in coined money. Pro- 
ceeding thence in a decimal ratio, one hundred would be 
the lowest silver coin, and might be called a Cent. It 
would contain twentyfive grains of fine silver, to which may 
be added two grains of copper, a'.id the whole would weigh 
one pennyweight and three grains. Five of these would 
make a Quint, or five hundred units, weighing five penny- 
weight and fifteen grains ; and ten would make a Mark, 
or one thousand units, weighing eleven pennyweight and 
six grains. 

If the mint price of fine silver be established at twenty- 
two thousand two hundred and thirtyseven units per pound, 
this being coined would be four times five thousand seven 
hundred and sixty grains, or twentythree thousand and 
forty units. The difi'erence is eight hundred and three 
units, and therefore the coinage is eight hundred and .three, 
or twenty three thousand and forty, or somewhat more than 


three forlyeight-one-hundred per cent, which would be 
about the expense attending it. A dollar contains by the 
assays, which I have been able to get, about three liundred 
and seventythree grains of fine silver, and ihat at the mint 
price would be fourteen hundred and forty units. In like 
manner, if crowns contain from four hundred and fourteen 
to four hundred and fifteen grains of fine silver, they would, 
at the mint price, be worth sixteen hundred units. 

When such a coin shall have been established, the value 
of all others would be easily ascertained, because nothing 
more would be necessary than to have them assayed at 
the mint. The advantage of possessing legal money, in 
preference of any other, would induce people to carry 
foreign coin tn the mint, until a sufficiency were struck for 
the circulating medium. The remainder of the foreign 
silver, together with the gold, should be left entirely to the 
operations of commerce as bullion. 

In the present moment, it is by no means of such conse- 
quence to establish the relative value of different coins, as 
to provide a standard of our own, by which in future to 
estimate them. If the value were now sought, they must 
ail be estimated in dollars, because dollars are called lor 
in the several requisitions of Congress. Without noticin"- 
the preference thus given of one coin over another, it is 
sufficient to observe, that if a greater alloy should be intro- 
duced by the Spanish government into their dollars, our 
interior regulations as to money would be overturned ; and 
certainly we have no security that this will not hnp|)en. 
There is not any great inconvenience in leaving matters on 
their present footing, until they can be remedied by the 
operations of a mint ; for it is not to be supposed that all 
the money raised by taxes in a Stale is to be brought out 


of it. I expect that there will be very little occasion to 
transport money from place to place. It is much easier to 
negotiate than to carry it ; and if any species of money is 
generally received within a State at the same rate in 
which it is paid in taxes, there will be no difficulty in ex- 
pending it at its value. Whenever money shall be struck 
by authority of the United States, then indeed it will be 
proper to receive in taxes no other coin. 

If Congress are of opinion with me, that it will be pro- 
per to coin money, I will immediately obey their orders 
and establish a mint. And I think I can say with safety, 
that no better moment could be chosen for the purpose 
than the present ; neither will anything have a greater 
tendency to restore public credit ; for although it is pos- 
sible that the new money will at first be received with 
diffidence by some, yet when it has been fairly assayed, 
it will gain full confidence from all, and the advantage of 
holding the only money, which can pay debts or discharge 
taxes, will soon give it the preference over all, and indeed 
banish all other from circulation. Whereas fixing a re- 
lation of value now on whatever principles attempted, might 
give offence to the power whose coin should, in any 
instance, be reduced from its present numerary value 
among us 

These sentiments are submitted, with all possible defer- 
ence, to the United States in Congress assembled, in ex- 
pectation of their further instructions on the subject. 
With great respect, I have the honor to be, &ic. 



Philadelphia, January 25th, 1782. 
I have received your favor of the 23(1 respecting Cap- 
tain Hutchins, and shall give you a more definitive answer 
after T have seen that gentleman. 

* January 26iA. In consequence of the information received from 
Mr Thomas Paine, of the intentions of some officers to promote a 
general application by waiy of memorial to General Washington, re- 
specting their pay, I sent for him and had a long conversation on 
various matters of a public nature. He observed, that his services 
to the public had rather been neglected. I told him I could wish 
his pen to be wielded in aid of such measures, as I might be able to 
convince him were clearly calculated for the service of the United 
States ; that I had no views or plans but what were meant for the 
public good, and that I should ask no man's assistance on any other 
ground ; that it was true I had nothing in my power at present to 
offer, as a compensation for his services, but that something might 
turn up, and that I should have him in my mind. — Diary. 

The following record is also contained among Mr Morris's papers, 
in his own hand writing, dated February, 1782. 

"Having lately had several meetings with Mr Thomas Paine, the 
writer of a pamphlet, styled Common Sense, and of many other well 
known political pieces, which, in the opinion of many respectable 
characters have been of service to the cause of America, I thought 
this gentleman might become far more serviceable to the United 
States by being engaged to write in the public newspapers in support 
of the measures of Congress and their Ministers. My assistant, Mr 
Gouverneur Morris, is clearly of the same opinion, and in all our 
conferences with him, we have pointedly declared, that we sought 
the aid of his pen only in support of upright measures and a faithful 
administration in the service of our country. We disclaim private 
or partial views, selfish schemes or plans of any and every kind. 
We wish to draw the resources and powers of the country into ac- 
tion. We wish to bring into the field an army equal to the object for 
which we are at war. We wish to feed, clothe, move, and pay that 


By a letter, whicl) General Lincoln Hddressed to tne 
before he went to the eastward, I find that you approve 

army as they ought to be done, but we wish also to effect these on 
such terms as may be least burdensome to the people, at the same 
time that the operations shall be every wa}- effective. 

"Having these for our objects we want the aid of an able pen to 
urge the Legislatures of the several States to grant sufficient taxes; 
to grant those taxes separate and distinct from those levied for State 
purposing ; to put such taxes, or rather the money arising from tliem, 
in the power of Congress, from the moment of collection ; 

"To grant permanent revenues for discharging the interest on 
debts already contracted, or that may be contracted; 

"To extend by a new confederation the powers of Congress, so 
that they may be competent to the government of the United Slates 
and the management of tiieir affairs ; 

"To prepare the minds of the people for such restraints and such 
taxes and imposts, as are absolutely necessary for their own welfare ; 

"To comment from time to time on military transactions, so as to 
place in a proper point of view the bravery, good conduct, and sol- 
diership of our officers and troops, when they deserve applause, tind 
to do the same on such conduct of such civil officers or citizens, as 
act conspicuously for tlie service of their country. 

"Finding Mr Paine well disposed to the undertaking, and observ- 
ing that General Washington had twice in my company expressed 
his wishes, that some provision could be made for that gentleman, I 
took an opportunity to explain my design to the General, who agreed 
entirely in the plan. 1 then communicated the same to Mr Robert 
R. Livingston, Secretary of Foreign Affairs, and proposed that he 
should join me in this business, by furnishing from his department 
such intelligence, as might be necessary from time to time to answer 
the useful purposes for which Mr Paine is to write ; and in order to 
reward this gentleman for his labors, and enable him to devote his 
time to the service of the United States, it was agreed to allow him 
eight hundred dollars a .year, to be paid quarterly. But it was also 
agreed, that this allowance should not be known to any other per- 
sons than those already mentioned, lest the publications might lose 
their force if it were known that the author is paid for them by gov- 
ernment ' 


of my plan of sending officers to the four New England 
States particularly, with tlie returns of their deficiencies 
of troops, and witii instructions to attend upon the Legis- 
latures, and to endeavor to impress them with the expe- 
diency, and indeed necessity, of filling their battalions 
previous to the opening of the cainpaign. He informed 
me also, that you would be glad to give the same officers 
son)e instructions relative to the business of your depart- 
ment. If so, 1 could wish you would have your letters 
ready to go by the next post, by which time I expect to 
have the rettirns prepared. I have not yet fixed upon 
the gentlemen who will be proper, but you can leave 
blanks for the insertion of the names of those wj)o may be 

As we may reasonably expect to hear soon again from 
Sir Henry Clinton, on the subject of the meeting of com- 
missioners, ] think it would be well to be preparing the 
substance of li.e powers to be delegated to the gentlemen 
to whom the transaction ol the proposed business will be 
committed. What I would wish you to prejjare particu- 
larly, is so much as will relate to the liquidation of the 
former accounts of prisoners, and making provision lor 
their maintenance in future. 

I have the honor to be, &.c. 



Office of Finance, February tlth, 1782. 

Sir, ' - ■' 
The situation of my department makes it necessary to 
lay some matters of importance before the United States in 

VOL, Xll. 13 


Congress, and I shall endeavor to do so with as much pre- 
cision as possible. 

It gives me pain to observe, tliat the Stales of Massachu- 
setts, Rhode Island, and Maryland, have not yet passed the 
laws recocnmended by the resolutions of the third ol Feb- 
ruary, 1781. I learn, (ihongh not officially,) that the 
State of Virginia has lately suspended the operation of the 
law, which they had passed in conformity to that resolution. 
The bare mention of these things is sufficient to mark the 
consequences. Our debt being unfunded and unprovided 
for, the interest cannot be paid. Those, therefore, who 
trusted us in the hour of distress, are defrauded. To ex- 
pect that, under such circumstances, others will confide in 
the government, would be folly ; and to expect that for- 
eigners will trust a government, which lias no credit with 
its own citizens, would be madness. The whole weight, 
therefore, of the war must be borne in the present mo- 
ment ; and even the slightest anticipations of revenue are 
made on the personal credit of the Minister. 

This, Sir, is not said boastingly, but with unafTected con- 
cern. I have labored to establish a credit for my country, 
that when the period should arrive, (and 1 hoped it was not 
far distant,) in which I could lay down the burden now 
pressing upon me, my successor in office should have no 
other difficulties to struggle with, than those which neces- 
sarily attend an extensive and complicated administration. 
It is, therefore, with no common degree of anxiety and 
distress, that I see my wishes frustrated. I feel as an 
American for my country, as a public servant for the in- 
terest and honor of those whom I serve, and as a man, that 
1 cannot enjoy the ease and tranquiliity I have sougiit for 
through a life of continual care and unremitted labor. It 


is my duty to mention to you tlie fact, and to apprize you, 
that in such circumstances, our operations will continue to 
be desultory efforts of individual power, rather than tiie 
combined exertion of political strength and firmness. 

The repeated assurances we daily receive from \he 
Ministers of his Most Christian Majesty, of their steady de- 
termination to grant no further pecuniary aid, will not leave 
room to doubt of their intentions. I candidly acknowledge 
that I had forn^ed not only hopes, but even expectations 
from that quarter. For I had persuaded myself, that 
when the brilliant successes of the last campaign should be 
known, and when it should also be known how much the 
United States are capable of, and how necessary an sid of 
money is to call their power into action, the King would 
have again extended that relief, which must be most bene- 
ficial to the common cause. Even now, ] shall request 
that Congress will instruct the Secretary of Foreign Affairs 
to make the most pointed representations on this subject 
through our Minister at the Court of Versailles, and 1 shall 
readily furnish all such materials in my department as may 
be necessary for the purpose ; but I must not conceal my 
doubts as to the effect of such representations. Duty to 
this country requires that they should be made, but pru- 
dence forbids a reliance on their success, and will dictate 
to us a farther duty, which is, to act under the infiuence of 
a belief, that they will not succeed. 

As to hopes of pecuniary aid from any other quarter, 
the delusion has already passed away. It is in vain that 
expensive establishments are kept up to solicit succor from 
Spain, who appears neither able nor willing to afford it; 
from Holland, who seeks peace and not to increase the 
causes of war ; or from Russia, who seems more inclined 


to crush, than to support us. Let us apply to borrow 
wherever we may, our mouths will always be stopped by 
the one word, security. The States will not give revenue 
for the purpose, and tlie United States have nothing to 
give but a general nalioi'.al promise, of v\hich iheir enemies 
loudly charge the(n with the violation. 

Thus, Sir, compelled, however reluctantly, to look at 
home lor the means of supporting ourselves against an 
enemy, whose power has rather increased with the increase 
of her foes, whose force has risen superior to defeats, and 
has found resources in a situation, which might have in- 
spired despair, we must no longer rely on those who may 
neglect us, but take care that we be not charged with 
neglecting ourselves. I would to God, that 1 could say, 
that there were even the appearances .of general vigor and 
exertion. But the truth is very different. The United 
States have called ior eight millions o( dollais early in No- 
vember last, oi which the tirst quarterly payment was to 
have been made on the 1st day of April next ; but I can- 
not find that a single State has yet laid the taxes. I 
neither know what liiey will think proper to give, nor 
when. Happy to experience a momentary relief from the 
clamor and revolt of a starving army, from the rage and de- 
vastation of an inveterate enemy, and from the waste and 
extravagance of cumbrous, unwieldy departments, there 
appears to be no solicitude anywhere for the support of 
arrangements, on which the salvation of our country de- 

To give a little time for the people to breathe, and to 
remedy some of the n»any abuses, which were equally 
palpable and enormous, I early ventured on the business of 
contracting, and I have extended it as far as prudence 


would in any degree justify. Nay, relying on the Slates 
for support, I have made engagements, which, in almost 
any other circumstances, would savor ol' temerity, and 
which nothing would have led me to do, but a iiope that by 
retrenching expenses, they would be sooner induced to 
gr?.nt revtsnue. So thoroughly am 1 convinced of the su- 
perior economy, which attends the present mode of sup- 
plying our armies, that I would have offered contracts for 
the southern department, could I have formed any well 
grounded expectation of moneys sufficient for the purpose 
from the southern States. Nor should I have been de- 
terred even by the distance of the period at which it could 
be had, if \ could have formed a reasonable reliance on it 
at some certain period. Our expenses, it is true, are re- 
trenched^ and to give an idea to what degree, I will men- 
tion, tliat for the amount of salaries alone in the Commis- 
sary's department to the northward of Potomac river, 
between three and four thousand soldiers are now fed with 
full rations. But though the retrenchments are great, the 
expenses are great also, and they must rapidly increase 
every moment in prepanng for an early and vigorous cam- 

A view either of general politics or of our own situation 
will impress the conviction, that we ought to make an early 
and vigorous campaign. The blow, which the enemy 
have received in Virginia, should be followed as soon as 
possible, before they have time for reflection, for reinforce- 
ment, or for defence. We must not imagine that Great 
Britain will be so stunned by this blow that she cannot re- 
cover, or that she will, for such a checi<, abandon the ob- 
ject both of her interest and her wishes, an object in which 
her national imporiatice appears to be combined wilh her 


national existence, and where every, covetous and angry 
passion is strongly excited. What aid she may find from 
foreign powers must depend upon their manner of consid- 
ering the propositions, which may be made, perhaps upon 
their interests, and, perhaps, upon their caprice. A nation, 
which can hold at bay one half the force of Europe, is by 
no means a despicable ally. 

But whether she gets aid from others, or whether she 
draws it, as before, from domestic credit and confidence, 
this, at least, is certain, that we ought to expect new efforts 
against us, and that we ought not to expect any in our 
favor. If then, we can strike before she is ready to ward 
off the stroke, or bear the blow, our own people will be ani- 
mated, tlie doubtful will be convinced, and the convinced 
will be confirmed.. Nations, who are friendly to us, will 
give marks of amity. Nations, who are hostile, will be 
deterred from their attempts. The councils of our enenly 
will be distracted. Their intended succors may land on 
hostile ground, and where they want relief, it may be too 
late to obtain it. At what point, and in what manner, and 
for what purpose our efforts are To be made, is the prov- 
ince of the General lo determine ; but, I repeat again, it is 
our indispensable duty to put bin) speedily in possession of 
the means. "* 

In order that anything effectual may be done, we must 
have both men and money, and we must have them early. 
On the 10th of December last. Congress were pleased to 
call on the States in the most pressing manner, to have 
their respective quotas in the field by the 1st day of March 
next ; and they determined, that recruits should be raised 
to complete the quotas at the expense of the States, in the 
first instance, to be reimbursed by the United States. 


The intention of these resolutions, however clear, may be 
misunderstood, and attempts made to deduct the expendi- 
tures of the recruiting service from the supplies, uhicli 
were required by the Acts of the 30th of October and 3d 
of November. For this reason, and also that the States 
may be more efiectuaJiy stimulated to comply with the 
views and wishes of Congress, I shall, before 1 close this 
letter, submit certain additions and explanations of their 
Act of the 10th of December. At present, I shall only 
observe, that it gives me very sincere pleasure to find the 
United States in Congress, so fully iujpressed with the ne- 
cessity of early efTorls. This circumstance leads nw. to 
hope that they will be equally impressed with the duty of 
urging a compliance with their requisitions. It is at least 
my duty to suggest it. A duty, which I owe to America 
at large, and which no hope of praise, or apprehension of 
blame, shall induce me to neglect. I know there is a deli- 
cacy, which influences some minds to treat the States with 
tenderness and even adulation, while they are in the 
habitual inattention to the calls of national interest and 
honor. I know that delicacy, and I disclaim it. Nor will 
I be deterred from waking those who slumber on the brink 
of ruin. But my voice. Sir, is feeble, and I must therefore 
pray to be assisted by the voice of the United States in 
Congress. Supported by them, I may, perhaps, do some- 
thing; but, without that support, [ must be a useless in- 

It is also a duly to economise the moneys which are 
in our possession, and it receives a double force of 
obligation from the peculiarity of our circumstances. 
What moneys the States may grant, and when they 
may grant them, is known only to Him who knowelh 

104 • ' ' ROBERT MORRIS. 

all things ; but that which we have is certain, and ought 
not to be expended but for useful purposes. If we 
look back to the conduct of the severr.l States in for- 
mer times, we shall find that the negligence with 
which they have treated the requests of Congress has 
been unequalled, unless by the earnestness of entreaty, 
with which those requests were made. And I fear 
that there is little iiope, that the conduct now to be 
pursued will in one instant become the counter part of 
former experiences.' Wo have reason to apprehend a 
continuance ot that shameful negligence, wiiich has 
marked us to a» proverb, while all Europe gazed in 
astonishment at the unparalleled boldness and vastness 
of claims, blended with an unparalleled indolence, and 
imbecility of conduct. But let the several States be 
ever so negligent, the confederation has given no power 
to compel. While it confers on Congress the privi- 
lege of asking everything, it has secured to each State 
the prerogative of granting nothing. Since, then, the 
Congress cannot compel the States to make a grant of 
money, they must at least take care to prevent the 
States from making an unnecessary expenditure of 
those moneys, which are in our possession. Nor is 
this all. We are called on by the principles of justice 
as well as of duty to prevent such expenditure. 

The requisitions of Congress have been for men and 
money. The States have furnished officers and trans- 
mitted a variety of accounts, demands, and complaints ; 
but while officers continue numerous they have ne- 
glected to provide soldiers. Instead of it, some of 
them have formed State regiments, and given State 
bounties to fill those regiments; regiments confined to 


the limits of the State, as if the ultimate object of mili- 
tary employment were the show of parade, or to con- 
sume the fruits of the earth. In the meantime, the 
continental officers, whose services have entitled them 
to respectful attention, and whose experience has ena- 
bled them to be essentially useful, are left without 
men to command, and forced to bear the mortification 
which must afflict every generous mind, perceiving 
themselves a useless burden to the community. 

But while such pains are taken to enhance expense, 
every request for revenue to pay it is treated with 
neglect. Congress have determined to keep up the 
establishment agreed on in October, 1780. I shall, 
therefore, by no means propose any reduction. On 
the contrary I am persuaded, that nothing would so 
speedily terminate the war as the bringing such an 
army into the field, with proper funds and materials 
for its support and operation. This would render us 
truly independent, independent of the smiles of our 
friends and the frowns of our enemies. But although 
I will not propose any reduction of our establishment, 
I cannot consent that the Union bear the expense of a 
great number of officers without men to command. 
Neither will I propose the expedient of sending them 
home upon half pay, and liable to be called into ser- 
vice. This is an expedient for halving a difficulty, 
which ought to be wholly cured, and at the same time 
it subjects the individual officer to very serious diffi- 
culties, which he has by no means merited. It is not 
the officer's fault that he has not men, and while he 
holds himself in readiness to obey the orders of his 
General, he ought to receive that compensation which 
VOL. xn. 14 


his commission entitles him to. He ought, therefore, 
to draw his full pay and subsistence ; but until the 
State provide men for him to command, that pay and 
subsistence should be drawn from the State. If ihe 
States will not find soldiers, the continent ought not 
to pay their officers. It is unequal and it is unjust. 
Some States at a great expense, bring men into the 
field and lay taxes for the general support. Others 
send officers without men, and draw money from the 
treasury without putting any in it. I am regardless 
where the censure lights. If it fall nowhere, then all 
are innocent : but if it is merited, those to whom it 
applies must blame their own misconduct. My justi- 
fication is already made in the mir.d of every honest 

But it is not only necessary that the States bring 
men into the field. It is necessary that this be done 
at an early period. Recruits which do not join the 
army until the autumn, come too late for anything 
but to increase expense, and to lose their lives by the 
diseases incident at that season, to those who have not 
been accustomed to the habits of a military life. Nor 
is this all. Recruits sent forward at a late period only 
serve to fill up the vacancies occasioned by sickness, 
deaths, and desertions, without increasing the effective 
force of the army. 

To remedy the evils which have been pointed out, 
I take the liberty to propose to the United Stages in 
Congress assembled, a resolution. 

That on the 1st day of April next, accurate returns 
be made to the War Office of every non-commissioned 
officer and private in the army, and of the particular 
State to which they belong. 


That every State be debited in account for tiie re- 
cruiting service for every non-commissioned officer and 
private, assigned to such State respectively in October, 
17S0, the sum of one hundred dollars in specie. 

That every State be credited in the said account for 
the recruiting service for every non-commissioned 
officer and private in the army, and belonging to the 
States respectively on the said 1st day of April next, a 
like sum of one hundred dollars. 

That for every recruit which shall join after the 1st 
day of April and before the 2d day of May, the State 
shall be credited in the said account ninety dollars. 
For every recruit which shall join after the 1st day of 
May and before the 2d day of June eighty dollars. 
For every recruit after the 1st day of June and before 
the 2d day f?/ July seventy dollars. For every re- 
cruit after the 1st day of July and before the 2d day 
of August sixty dollars. For every recruit after the 
1st day of August and before the 2d (iay of September 
fifty dollars. For every recruit after the 1st day of 
September and before the 2d day of October foriy dol- 
lars. But that no allowance be made for any recruit 
whose period of enlistment shall be less than three 
years or during the war. 

That every recruit shall be considered as joined, as 
soon as he shall march for the place to which he is 
ordered on service, from the place of general rendez- 
vous within tiie State, to be appointed by the Com- 
mander in Chief. 

That to determine such time of marching, tiie time 
of arrival shall be determined and a time allowed for 
marching thither, calculating on the distance at the 
rate of fifteen miles per day. 


That the recruits be maintained at the expense of 
the States, until they shall join as aforesaid ; but that 
during the time of marching an allowance be made to 
the State for each officer and man, at the rate of one 
sixtieth of a dollar per mile for every mile from the 
said place of rendezvous to the place where they 
shall arrive as aforesaid. 

That the Minister of War cause the several men of 
the different State lines to be arranged within their 
respective lines, in such manner as to form complete 
corps, or parts of corps, so that there be a due propor- 
tion of men to the officers according to the establish- 
ment as near as may be. 

That the remaining officers, excepting such as the 
Commander in Chief may think proper to retain in 
service for particular purposes, retire to •i>heir respec- 
tive States until such times as the States shall provide 
men for them to command agreeably to the establish- 
ment ; and that in the meantime the said States provide 
the pay, rations, and forage allowed to the officers 
respectively b}' the several resolutions and Acts of 
Congress upon that subject. 

And in order to explain fully the reasons for taking 
such measures I would also propose, that an address 
be prepared to the people of America, stating the want 
of power in Congress to take measures for the defence 
of the country, the conduct of the several States here- 
tofore, the importance of making exertions in the 
present moment, with the dangerous consequences of 
inattention to, and neglect of, the late requisitions, and 
calling upon them to urge through their respective 
Legislatures the measures recommended by Congress. 


My reason for this proposal is, a conviction that the 
people are heartily disposed to support the revolution, 
but that the public service is too frequently delayed 
by local disputes and animosities, which consume the 
lime to be devoted to important purposes, and that 
individuals in the several Legislatures are too apt to 
believe, that by sparing grants they render them- 
selves agreeable to their constituents, although in effect 
such policy cannot but prove highly expensive and 
dangerous if not destructive. 

That Congress may be enabled to judge of the saving, 
which would arise from the proposition I have l)ad the 
honor of making, with respect to the officers of our army, 
I enclose an estimate, by which it will appear, that this 
would be upwards of sixty thousand dollars a month ; and 
to this must be added a further consideration of very great 
importance, that as the servants to officers are taken from 
among the soldiers, the army would in effect, receive a 
considerable reinforcement. 

With respect to the price of recruiting, I do not con- 
sider anything proposed as being by any means definitive. 
I have stated each at one hundred dollars, and I would 
suggest, that as the design is to raise men and not money, 
it is better to value them too high than too low. I am far 
from considering lliis as the best mode of recruiting an 
army? On the contrary, I am convinced, that if it were 
a continental instead of a State army, the raising as well 
as maintaining of it, would be infinitely easier and cheaper ; 
but under the present limited power, which Congress are 
invested with, it becomes the duty of their servants to 
propose such measures as appear to tiiem best. What I 
have had the honor of stating, is submitted with all possible 


deference, and I hope .the decisions of Congress will be 
as speedy as the nature of the business will permit. With 
perfect confidence in their wisdom, I have the honor to 
be, he. 



Office of Finance, February 15th, 1782. 

In the circular letter, which I did myself the honor to 
transmit on the 19th day of October last, I stated our sit- 
uation as clearly and explicitly as I could, so that you 
might be in a capacity to form a solid judgment as to what 
would be proper. [ am now to inform you, that the most 
recent and authentic information from Europe, contains 
the reiterated- determination on the part of France, to grant 
us no further pecuniary aid. Spain appears to have neither 
the inclination nor the ability to afford any, and in Hol- 
land it can only be obtained from individuals, who will 
always require security, and of consequence will not lend 
to the Uaited States, who as you well know have no secu- 
rity to give. The want of proper funds has so reduced 
domestic credit, that we can draw no resources from 
thence, and until domestic credit is established, foreign 
credit cannot exist, for it is absurd to expect, that foreign- 
ers will confide in a government, which has not the confi- 
dence of its own citizens. 

It is hardly possible to describe the consequences, which 
have followed on a loss of credit. We have seen the peo- 
ple diffide-^t, jealous, and unhappy, nor have they yet re- 
covered, even where tiie removal of undue restrictions 


has given them tinie to breathe IVorn the load of oppressron. 
But the public is, if possible, in a still worse situation. 
No persons will trust the public from a deep apprehension 
of ruin if they should, and consequently our operations must 
be bounded by the taxes, which can be collected, while 
at the same time we must contend for our very existence 
as a free country at an expense, which we cannot limit 
because we cannot limit the efforts made against us. 
Whenever proper methods shall have been taken to re- ' 
store credit, the benefits arising from it will be as evident 
to all, as the want is now, to those who are intrusted with 
the administration. Our expense at this moment is greater 
than it ought to be, though less than it was, and 1 cannot 
retrench, because 1 have not sufficient means in my power, 
and have not at this moment any certain reliance on suffi- 
cient aid from the several States. 

I am much inclined to believe, that individuals in the 
several Legislatures are unacquainted with the -real state 
of affairs, or flatter themselves that they are better than 
they really are, even after information. If gentlemen 
would consider seriously the situation of the public ser- 
vants, they would at least not suspect them of describing 
our dangers as greater than they are. They could not, 
for instance suppose, that 1 would give a high coloring to 
the disorders of our finances, because they must see, that 
on the contrary, 1 shotdd derive a degree of credit from 
the general belief, that sucli disorders do not exist. And 
when I declare my apprehensions, I injure so far n)y own 
operations. My reason for describing our situation in its 
true light is, that the States may be excited to grant us 
relief. I might by an appearance of wealth extend my 
operations for a little while, but in the end ihey would fail, 


and how we should then be extricated, no man can tell. 
At present I must bear the evils, which result from the 
want of resources, and limit my views accordingly, but it 
would be madness to inculcate an opinion, that things are 
worse than they are, because then I could not derive the 
full benefit of those resources which we have. You must, 
therefore, be convinced, that I give you no exaggerated 
account, and I trust. Sir, that your Legislature will give 
"due weight to asseriions, which they have every reason to 
believe, and which if neglected, they will be convinced of 
by a melancholy and perhaps fatal experience. 

Many people flatter themselves with the hope of peace. 
But on what is it founded .-' Has the enemy given the 
slightest evidence of a desire for it ? Instead of suing for 
peace, they talk only of war ; they prepare only for war ; 
and when they might have got rid of one enemy by a 
word, they disdained it. Although Holland offered a sep- 
arate peaoe, England refused to accept it ; nor have we 
heard that she has agreed even to negotiate for, much less 
to conclude, a general peace. She enjoys full credit, and 
therefore she can carry on the war ; and the object of it on 
her part is so great, that therefore she will carry on the 
war. Hitherto she has carried it on alone and unsup- 
ported. Years have elapsed since it was pretended, that 
she could not find resources for another campaign, and yet 
campaigns have succeeded each other with increasing ex- 
pense, and are still likely to go on. With a credit like 
hers, there can be no want of the means, and therefore we 
have no reason to expect tliai she will be deprived of them 
while that credit exists. How soon she may find asso- 
ciates, or how soon we may lose thern, no man can say. 
While the mutability of all human affairs continues to be 


the theme of common and daily obsorvation, no wise man 
will rely on the frailty of human opinion, and yot opinion 
may in a moment sway the politics of different powers, so 
as totally to change all present appearances. While the 
war continues England has hope. The times and chances 
which liappen to all may favor her, and at worst she can 
conclude a peace, whicii cannot be much more pernicious 
than the loss of these States. We ought therefore to ex- 
pect that Great Britain will continue the war, and we 
ought even to expect that she will find allies to assist her 
in it. We ought therefore to prepare ourselves for in- 
creasing efforts of opposition. 

But admitting that negotiations were opened, and in a 
train of effect, what then would be our situation ? Are we 
in capacity to insist on useful and honorable terms ? 
There is hardly a State in the Union but has an interest in 
objects, which under oiu' present circumstances are unat- 
tainable. While the enemy continue in possession of New 
York and Charleston, we cannot exj)ect such a peace as 
every good American ought to desire. Nor shall we 
■ obtain that ' security, without which peace is no longer a 

The successes of the last campaign will undoubtedly 
derange the plans of the enemy for a lime, but whether or 
not those successes will prove decisive must depend upon 
ourselves, if we indolently lie still until the enemy can 
obtain reinforcements, oui' prospects at the close of next 
campaign may be as gloomy as at the opening of the last. 
■If we exert ourselves to sirike the enemy before he can 
receive aid, we may perhaps drive him entirely away, and 
then indeed we shall have reason to expect peace. It has 
been the' common trick of the enemy to pretend at every 
VOL. XII. 15 


success we have obtained, nay during every winter of the 
war, that it would immediately cease, and they liave bad 
emissaries among »s to inculcate that idea. The conse- 
quences have been, that we have never been in a state of 
preparation as soon as they have, notwithstanding the 
Atlantic ocean lies between the two countries, and places 
them at least three months asunder as to all military op- 
erations. ; 

No ihinkirrg man can hesitate a moment in the opinion, 
thr.t we ought to prepare for an early and vigorous campaign, 
in order to take New York and Charleston. But some 
persons of sanguine temperament say, that the enemy will 
evacuate one of these places. If it be so, surely they will 
be so much stronger at the other, and of course it will be 
so much the more difficult to expel them from it. Pos- 
siijlv they may incline to evacuate one of these places,, and 
if sn they will be determined by the knowledge of our 
lorce. If we are formidable it will be an additional reason 
with them lor evacuation. But other persons still more 
sanguine suppose, that they will evacuate both phces. 
This is surely absurd, for even if they negotiate for peace, 
they will hold something as a ground, on which to make 
demands, and if ihsy prosecute warj they will certainly 
not abandon the objects of it. Admitting, however, that 
the enemy may have some thoughts of this sort, surely the 
determination will be greatly influenced by the consider- 
ation of our relative lorce or imbecility. And even if 
they should entirely quit the United States, still there are 
objects well worth (ighting for, objects too which cannot 
be obtained without fighting. 

Every reason, therefore, combines in showing the pro- 
piiety of coMimencing our operations very early, and, there- 


fore, everything has been done for the purpose, which the 
means in my power would admit of. It reiriains only wiih 
the several Stales to provide men and money, and to make 
that provision as early as possible; for the old a^iage, 
that "he who gives early doubles thereby his gift," can 
never be more applicable than on the present occasion. 
For whatever may be the different opinions of different 
men, all must agree, that the only way lo secure peace is 
to be prepared for war. And depend upon it, that if we 
neglect the present moment, we shall have bitter cause to 
lament our negligence. 

In the letter before mentioned, I did myself the honor 
to observe, that I expected the future expenditures would 
be greatly curtailed. This has happened, but 1 also ob- 
served, that the most rigid economy had its bounds, and 
could not exist without the punctual performance of those 
engagements, on which the first steps towards it must de- 
pend. I have not yet reached those bounds, for reasons 1 
iiave already stated, and how long it will be before I ar- 
rive at them, must depend on the ability to perform the 
engagements 1 li<ive made ; and surely it is unnecessary to 
add, that this ability must deper.d on the exertions of the 
Stales. 1 mentioned also, that I should shortly advertise 
for contracts, as the most effectual means of husbanding our 

With respect to this matter of contracts, I have some 
reason to believe that it l)as been misunderstood, and, 
therefore, I shall take tlie liberty of giving some little in- 
formalioa on the subject. When I was called into office, 
1 had a thorough conviction, that supplying by contracts 
was the most effectual and most economical, but I had no 
money, and credit was at so low an ebb, that most people 


doubted whether any one would contract. At that time, 
the State of Pennsylvania gave me assurances of hard 
money to procure the articles of specific supplies due from 
that State, on the requisition of Congress. 1 immediately 
purchased a part of those supplies on my private and per- 
sonal credit and assurances, and I advertised for a contract 
to supply rations at Philadelphia. By degrees I extended 
the contracts throughout Pennsylvania ; whereas, if I had 
advertised for them at once, I might, probably, have failed 
in obtaining proposals j or if not, those who inclined to 
risk it would have made the public pay dear for the credit 
reposed in the Minister. The contracts of Pennsylvania 
were paid out of moneys granted for furnishing the sup- 
plies, and the articles are carried to account on the re- 
quisitions. Having reason to expect support from the 
middle and eastern States, 1 have extended the coiitracts 
for supplies thi-ough all the country norti)ward aiid east- 
ward of Potomac river ; and in order that you may 
judge of the effect, I will mention, that, on application for 
pay to the department of the issuing Commissary, 1 re- 
quired a retm 11 of them, and of their monthly, pay ; which 
being made, I found that within that district it amounted to 
ten thousand five hundred and twenty five dollars; which is 
annually for the salary alone, exclusive of all other ex- 
penses, one hundred and twenty six thousand dollars. 

The rations delivered at West Point and its depen-» 
dencies are supplied at the rate of nine and a half nine- 
tieths of a dollar for each ration j consequently, that sum 
will yield one million one hundred and ninetysix thousand 
five hundred and twentysix rations, which is something 
more than three thousand two hundred and seventyeight 
per day. But when it is considered, that salaries were 


nol the only expenses of a department, it is certainly esti- 
mating within bounds to suppose, that five thousand sol- 
diers are now fed every day on what it formerly cost the 
public to support the issCiers of provisions in a part of the 
United States. I should have pursued the business of 
contracting throughout Ameilca, had I received any as- 
surances of taxation, wliich would warrant Itie procedure. 
But I had none, and I did not dare risk n)yself in making 
engagements, whicii I found no probability of keeping. 
But whenever I can see any way clear, 1 shall certainly do 
it, and, I trust, that the effects will be as beneficial as they 
have been elsewhere. 

Having already observed on the necessity of early and 
vigorous exertions, and mentioned that I had done every- 
thing towards ihem which was in my power, I have only 
to add, that unless we are properly supported, everything 
so done has been thrown away. .The views of the Com- 
mander in Chief will be disappointed ; the combinations 
intended with our allies will be deranged, and the enemy 
will derive that advantage from our negligence, which we 
might have derived from their weakness. 

It gives me great pain to learn that tlie public service is 
too often interrupted, and the attention of men diverted 
from it by little trivial disputes of a private, partial, or local 
nature, which are comparatively of little consequence. 
This is a conduct unworthy of wise men, and such as can- 
not be justified. Surely it is best first to provide for the 
defence of our country before we squabble about minute 
objects of controversy. If we should be told that the 
British were so materially divided in their Parliament, that 
in contentions about trivial disputes they delayed granting 
to the Crown effectual aid of money, we should certainly 


fcirrn very splendid expectations from that circumstance. 
Judge then, whether our enemy's hopes are not raised by our 
dissensions. Or rather let me ask, if ihey have not loudly 
asserted that they would prove ruinous to the cause of in- 
de|)endence; nay, have they not boasted that those dissen- 
sions originated in British inffijenee or British gold ? What 
then must b& the opinion of foreigners and strangers? What 
will they not conclude fiom a conduct, which according to 
their habits of reasoning, can only be accounted for by dis- 
afTection, folly, or madness ? Let us, for Tieaven's sake, 
while engaged in a cause the most honorable, the most 
virtuous, and which must endear tlie present generation to 
fuline ages ; let us preserve a conduct noble, dignified, and 
worthy of that glorious cause ; in pursuit of the greatest, 
the dearest object which man can possess; in the fair road 
to peace, liberfy, and safety, let us not fall out by the way. 
But united to, and supporting each other, let our efforts be 
equal to'our claims, and let us show that we hove the per- 
severance to obtain what we had the spirit to demand. 
Let us at once become independent ; really and truly in- 
dependent ; independent of our enemies, of our friends, 
of all but the Omniiotent. 

I have the honor to be, &c. 



Office of Finance, February I8th, 1782. 
1 do myself the honor to submit to the United States in 
Congress assembled, t!n-ough your Excellency, the pro- 
priety and necessity of adopting immediate measures for 


;fldjiisting the accounts of the four following departments ; 
fpamely, the Commissary's, the Quarter Master's, the Hos- 
pitai, and the Marine ; up to the Inst day of December, 
17S1, inchjsive. Having long and attentively considered 
this subject, it appears to me to be 'dinong those cases, 
which do not admit of tiie common forms. There must be 
a degree of vigor and decision in the conduct of the busi- 
ness, which few men possess a knowledge of; business not 
commonly to be found, and such uncorrupted r.nd tincor- 
iTupiible integrity as will give security to the United States. 
What isiay be an adequate reward for the services of such 
men, I really do not know, but I liave such reason to be- 
lieve that many fraudulent practices have happened, and 
that, in some cases, considerable balances aie due to the 
United States, that 1 cannot in consistency with my duty 
avoid proposing to Congress the following resolutions. 

"That four Commissioners be appointed for the settle- 
ment of accounts, namely ; one for the Commissary's de- 
• partment, one fpr the Quarter Master's department, one 
for the Hospital department, and one jbr the Marine de- 
partment; and that each of the said Comniissioners have 
Cull power and authority to liquidate the said respective 
accounts up to the last day of December, 1781, inclusive. 

'•That the Superintendent of Finance be authorised and 
directed to a|)point tlie said Commissioners, and to agree 
wi'h ihem for a reward for their services respectively, and 
also wiiii respect to the allowances to be n>ade to their 
clerks ; and that he report the names of the said ComnJis- 
sioners to Congress. 

"That it be recommended to the several States, im- 
mediately to pass laws authorising such Commissioners 
to send for persons and papers, and t;Q e^amiiue jvjt- 
nesses upon oath." 


These 1 propose only as a sketch, which the wisdom 
of the United States in Cons^ress will mould into such 
form as shall be most proper. I will only observe one 
thing, which is, that the proposition that I should ap- 
point such Commissioners comes from me. I have no 
particular persons in view, but shall be happy to find 
those who are proper. I am far from being desirous 
of appointment to office, but this is an occasion so 
important, that I cannot sacrifice my duty to false 
notions of delicacy. Characters fit for such an intricate 
and difHcult business cannot easily be found, still less 
can they be known to the several members of Con- 
gress, and the debates which sometimes take place 
when appointments are made, deter the most proper 
persons from putting themselves in the way of nomi- 
nation. Besides this, as it is not possible that the 
several members can be sufficiently acquainted with 
the talents of (he particular persons, it is better thgit 
the appointment should be in one, who can be made 
accountable for an improper choice. I take the liberty 
to observe, that nothing will give more satisfaction to 
the people at large than to find that these things are 
put in a proper train ; for the complaints are general, 
and I am convinced, that in some cases at least they 
are well founded. 

My reason for urging this matter at the present mo- 
ment is, that I am not only pressed on the subject by 
several dismissed officers of those departments and by 
their creditors, but I have also had recent information 
of very considerable frauds and practices ; and on con- 
ferring with the Controller of the treasury this morn- 
ing, the plan above proposed appeared not only the 


most eligible, but indeed the only effectual one. It is 
submitted, with all due deference, by your Excellen- 
cy's most obedient, &c. 



Office of Finance, March 9th, 1782. 

On the 20th and 27th of last month, the United 
States in Congress passed Acts for settling and finally 
adjusting all the public accounts, up to the first day of 
the present year. These important Acts would im- 
mediately have been transmitted, but I wait the event 
of some additional propositions upon that subject, 
which are now under the deliberation of Congress, and 
then I shall have the honor of laying before you the 
whole of this very important business, so that it may 
be maturely considered in a general and comprehensive 
point of view. 

At present I shall confine myself to congratulating 
your Excellency, which I do with the most unfeigned 
pleasure, on the prospect which begins to open, of ad- 
justing these intricate and almost obsolete transactions 
of relieving the various public creditors, and conse- 
quently of rescuing and restoring the public credit. 
Let me add. Sir, that I consider these things essential 
to the consolidation of our federal Union, to the pro- 
motion of general harmony and generous confidence 
throughout the United States, and to the establishment 
of our glorious independence on the solid basis of 
justice. I am to request, Sir, that your public ac- 
VOL. XII. 16 


counts be put in a state of preparation, so that the 
person appointed for that purpose may be able speedily 
to investigate them ; as much time and consequently 
much expense will be thereby spared. 
I have the honor to be, &c. 



Office of Finance, March 9th, 1782. 

In a letter of this day to Benjamin Franklin, Min- 
ister Plenipotentiary of the United States of America 
to the Court of Versailles, I inform him, (which infor- 
mation I ana now to convey to you,) that I shall draw 
bills on you, as a market for them may offer, to the 
amount of five hundred thousand livres tournois, on 
account of the United States of North America. I 
have detailed to him everything necessary on the 
subject, which he will'communicate. I am to request 
of you, that you will duly honor and pay those bills, 
giving me notice of every transaction, from time to 
time as occasion may offer and require. The neces- 
sary funds are, I presume, in your hands already, or 
will be before this reaches you ; but at any rate Dr 
Franklin will provide them in season. 
I have the honor to be, he. 




Office of Finance, March 9th, 1782. 

The Secretary of Foreign Affairs yesterday trans- 
mitted to this office, the letters and invoice brought "by 
Captain Jackson from Messrs Neufville of Amsterdam. 
Upon perusing them I am very sorry to observe, not 
only that there has been very great mismanagement, 
but also that the letters do not contain that clear and 
satisfactory account of the business which ought to 
have been transmitted. There is reason to believe, 
that a considerable part of these goods are of British 
manufacture, and consequently such as cannot be 
brought within the Unil.ed States. As these matters 
are not clearly stated, it would be useless to go at 
present into an inquiry who has been or is to blame, 
and therefore any particular observations from me 
would be both- unnecessary and improper. 

I have written to Dr Franklin to take this business 
under his inspection, and to cause all the goods of 
British growth and manufacture to be sold. As to the 
remainder of the goods, the propriety of selling or 
shipping them must depend on many circumstances, 
a knowledge of which cannot be acquired here, so as 
to give consistent orders what shall be done there. I 
have, therefore, desired Dr Franklin to cause the goods 
to be so disposed of, as shall to him appear most for 
the interest of the United States. My reasons for re- 
ferring the whole matter to him were, because he has 
already had so much to do with it as at least lo have 
paid the money, and is, I presume, privy to the origi- 


nal agreements made by Colonel Laurens ; because he 
will know what goods are coming out from France, 
and consequently how far any or all of those in Am- 
sterdam, which are not of British manufacture may be 
necessary for us ; because he will have an opportunity 
of explaining such parts of the business as may be 
proper to explain to the Court of France, who has had 
some reason to complain, or at least thinks that she 
has ; and, finally, because I shall draw bills, the pay- 
ment of which will be at Paris under his direction, 
and if the other resources fail, the proceeds of these 
goods will enable him to honor them. 
With great respect, I am, &c. 



Office of Finance, March 18th, 1782. 

I have received your note ol the 9lh instant, and in 
answer am to inform you, that if his Prussian Majesty 
should incline to procure for his subjects a part of the 
emoluments attending tlie commerce with this country, the 
importance whereof can be easily estimated, from the riches 
it poured into Britain while she enjoyed the benefit of mo- 
nopoly, all that is needful to be done is, to set open his 
ports to our vessels, and protect iheni whilst there. The 
merchants of this country are unrestricted in their enter- 
prises and commercial pursuits ; they will naturally trade 
where they shall find their profits most certain and per- 
manent; and I have not a doubt but Prussia would have 
her share of their trade, were the government to give the 
proper encouragement to it. 


As to the supplies of the army of the United States, I 
have determined in future to contract for all such articles 
with individuals, on whose abilities for procuring goods on 
the best terms, 1 can depend. They will import them at 
their own risk ; consequently you see 1 can by no means 
engage to purchase any of the commodities you mention 
at St Thomas's; but as that Island seems to be the general 
mart in the West Indies, where the people of America 
resort to exchange their produce for the manufactures of 
Europe, 1 have not a doubt but any of his Prussian Maj- 
esty's subjects, who may be inclined to this business, will 
readily find an occasion of disposing of their goods there, 
and receiving in exchange for the same, the staple articles 
of this country. 

As to what relates to your personal atFairs. you will find 
that 1 have conformed to your views, and I expect what 
is done in that respect will be much to your satisfaction. 
I am, Sir, Sip. 



Office of Finance, March 23d, 1782. 
Applications being frequently made by the several Loan 
Offices, for orders to renew sets of exchange, in conse- 
quence of proof made to them by the proprietors of inter- 
est bills, that the first, second, third, and fourth bills, have 
been lost and destroyed, or by accident |)revented from 
reaching the persons to whom they were remitted, and as 
it is but just in such instances to renew the same, I have 
caused a number of bills to be struck, of the same denom- 


inations, and in the same style, manner, and tenor, except 
that they are fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth bills, and 
when made use of will be filled up in the same man- 
ner as the first four were, and issued from the same office. 
1 give you this notice, that you may direct the banker to 
pay due honor to any one of those bills in all instances, 
where no one of the set, consisting of eight, has before been 
paid ; and of course he will before such payment always 
satisfy himself, that none of the others have been honored. 
This general advice will I think answer the purpose, and 
render unnecessary particular advice with each renewed 
set of exchange. 

I have the honor to be, &;c. 



Office of Finance, March 30th, 1782. 
As I promised during the conference, with which you 
honored me yesterday, to give an answer in writing to the 
proposition you n)ade in consequence of a resolution 
passed by the Legislature of Massachusetts, on the 5th day 
of this month, 1 shall now perforni that promise, but in 

* March 27th. Having determined to draw bills on Mr Grand at 
Paris, for five hundred thousand livres, under such limitations and 
conditions as must secure the payment, the Minister of France 
being absent, I consulted M. de Marbois, Chargi ff Affaires, read to 
him my letter to Dr Franklin, explained my plan, and finally had 
his approbation, so far as he is authorised. This gentleman also 
communicated to me the Minister's letters to the Court, so far as 
they related to our finances, and I found them to breathe the true 
spirit of attachment and friendship to America. Biary 


doing it 1 shall think it unnecessary to go into that full de- 
tail of reasoning on the subject, which took place in con- 
versation between us ; and I am the more readily induced 
to decline this, because you. Sir, seemed satisfied of the 
force and propriety of the reasons urged ; wherefore when 
you come to make the communication to the State, your 
candor will induce, and your abilities enable you, to do 
me ample justice. 

1 will, therefore, content myself with observing, that 
in all countries engaged in war, experience has sooner 
or later pointed out contracts with private men of sub- 
stance and talents equal to the undertaking as the cheapest, 
most certain, and consequently the best mode of obtain- 
ing those articles, which are necessary for the subsist- 
ence, covering, clothing, and moving of an army. The 
experience of other countries could not satisfy America. 
We must have it of our own acquiring ; we have at length 
bought it ; but the purchase had nearly been our ruin. I 
had been long since convinced, that nothing could save 
us, but opening all the American ports to unrestrained 
commerce, all the markets of America to the iree sale and 
purchase of every article of its production and import ; 
and by taking away all restraints on money, leave every 
individual to judge and act for himself. 1 labored hard in 
consequence of this conviction, to introduce such measures 
into the State, of which I am a member, and finally was 
happy enough to succeed ; the good consequences were 
immediately seen and felt ; the example has been followed, 
and it is to be attributed to the freedom, which we now 
enjoy, that persons can be found willing to contract for 
furnishing supplies to the American army. 

1 have succeeded in obtaining many contracts on verv 
reasonable terms. The saving to the United States 


thereby is immense, and I am con6dent, that neither the 
patriot who fills the chair of government, the honorable 
gentlemen wi)o compose the council, nor those who repre- 
sent the country of Massachusetts, would wish me to make 
an engagement, which in partiality to that State, would 
in its effects destroy a system, that has been proved so 
truly economical. I cannot. Sir, enter into the engage- 
ments proposed by Massachusetts, without being exposed 
to similar claims in twelve others, and I feel the absolute 
necessity and propriety of declining every application of 
the kind. The persons who contract with me to supply 
the armies of the United Stales, must make purchases of 
the articles necessary ; iheir interests will lead them to 
those markets, which will supply cheapest, however remote 
from the scene of action, and this will give all the States 
a fair chance of obtaining money, or bank notes, through 
that channel to pay their taxes. Those who will give 
most labor or goods for money and notes, will imdoubt- 
edly obtain the greatest share thereof. 

I cannot quit this subject, without observing, that taxing 
in specifics is expensive to the people, cumbersome to the 
government, and generally inadequate to the object. I 
think if every individual in the country is left to dispose as 
he pleases of his property, and compelled to pay his taxes 
in money or bank notes, he will satisfy the tax by the sale 
of much less of that property, than in the case of a spe- 
cific tax taken from him to raise the sum. Nothing could 
gratify me more than to have an opportunity of evincing 
to the State of Massachusetts how much I am disposed to 
comply with her wishes in every instance, that my general 
duty to the United States will permit. 
1 have the honor to be, &.c. 




Office of Finance, April 15th, 1782. 

In a circular letter, which I had the honor to address to 
your Excellency/ on the 9th day of last month, you were 
informed, that the United States in Congress had on the 
20th and 27ih of February, passed Acts for settling and 
finally adjusting all the public accounts ; and that those Acts 
would have been transmitted immediately, but that I was 
induced to wait the event of .some additional pro[)ositions 
upon that subject, which were then before Congress. 

As I now discover that those propositions meet with 
much greater delay, than at that lime was expected, and 
as it is still uncertain when they may be decided upon, I 
think it improper to detain longer the Acls that were passed, 
although several considerations induced a desire to have 
the whole system communicated to the several Assemblies 
at one and the same time. ■ ' ...^ ^ . \, . . -■ 

You will observe, Sir, that it is earnestly recominended 
to the several Legislatures, duly to empower and authorise 
the United States, in Congress assembled, to make a final 
settlement of the proportions to be borne by each respec- 
tive Stale, of the general expenses of the war, from the 
commencement thereof, until the 1st day of January, 1782. 
An immediate compliance with this recommendation is of 
infinite importance to the Union, as it is also to each of the 
States. No determination of quotas, which Congress can 
at this time possibly make, will create a difference for or 
against any State equal to the expense, which will arise 
either by disputing its quota, or by delayir)g to have it 
fixed. If Congress are now empowered, they must be 
vol.. XII. 17 


determined by general principles, and if the decision is 
delayed ever so long, general principles must at last be 
resorted to, and that after large sums shall have been 
expended by each of the Governments, in attempting to 
ascertain their respective numbers of inhabitants, value of 
property, quantity of lands, annual income, he. The re- 
turns on these points severally, cannot be made with cer- 
tainty and exactitude as to the time past, and therefore 
they will only afford more ample field for disputation ; dis- 
putes, which if the cause be not removed by a compliance 
with the present requisition, may probably deprive us of 
the blessings of peace after the war with Great Britain 
shall cease. 

I do not think it necessary to detail the reasons, which 
induced Congress to adopt this measure, but I cannot help 
observing, that it is to the want of a decision on this point, 
that the languor and want of exertion of the several States 
are to be attributed. That fatal assertion that each has 
done most, which each has made and repeated, until it has 
gained but too much credit, would never have obtained a 
place in the minds of men, who really love their country 
and cause, had the requisitions of Congress been made an- 
nually for money, and the quotas fixed finally at the date 
of the demand. The compliances of each would in that 
case have determined their respective merits or demerits ; 
we should then have seen a competition the very reverse of 
that which has for some time past prevailed ; and it is not 
yet too late. Let us settle the accounts of the past expen- 
ditures, adjust the shares which each State has to pay, but 
let the settlement be final, or we do nothing. And if on 
the requisition of men and money for this, and for future 
years, the quotris be finally fixed, and the compliances be 


made publicly knovvi), we shall banish that distrust, which 
1 am sorry to say now exists between the Slates, and in 
place thereof excite the noble ardor, which animated our 
conduct ill the commencement of the contest. The strife 
will then be which shall be foremost in contributing their 
share to the support of that war, on the success of which 
depends the political existence of all. 

A desire to name commissioners of approved abilities 
and character, has induced me to delay such nominations, 
until I can obtain information of suitable persons from each 
State. I shall very soon proceed in this business, in such 
manner as to nie shall seem most likely to obtain honest, 
impartial, and equitable settlements of the public accounts. 
I have the honor to be, Sir, Sic. 



' " '■ Office of Finance, April 16th, 1782. 


I am indebted for your letters of the 14th and 28th of 
last month. Having personally a great regard for your 
Governor, it gives me pain to disapprove of any of his 
measures, and probably he never could have given cause 
for blame by any delay of the impost law, had he consid- 
ered how many widows and orphans, as well as other de- 
serving persons, friends to their country and its cause, are 
deprived of the means of comfortable subsistence, by being 
kept out of that interest, which is so justly their due, and 
which the revenue to be raised in consequence of that law 
was intended to discharge. 

1 know he has a benevolent heart : 1 know that he is 


gpneious ; and principles of justice will always have their 
proper influence ovej- him. I beg you will remind him, 
that his generosity, humanity, and justice, are all concerned 
in promoting the establishment of permanent revenues, suf- 
ficient to discharge the interest of our public debt. Nay, 
more, th=! political existence of America depends on the 
accomplishment of this plan. We cannot be called a nation, 
nor do we deserye to be ranked amongst the nations of the 
earth, until we do justice to those, who have served and 
trusted us. A public debt, supported by public revenue, 
will prove the strongest cement to keep our confederacy 
togetli'er. Sound policy would also dictate, that we should 
do justice to those who iiave trusted us, in order tha^ we 
may have pretensions to credit in future. We might then 
tax the present race of citizens six pounds, instead of a 
hundred, and leave posterity to pay the f)rincipal of a debt 
contracted in consequence of our distresses and necessities, 
l)ut from which they will derive ease nnd emolument. I 
could say a. great deal more on this subject, and [»robably 
shall to the world at iargi3, if the just measures of Congress 
continue to meet with such ill judged opposition. 
1 am, Dear Sir, &^. ' . 


TO J5. 1' KAN KLIN, 

Office of Finance, April 17lh, 1782. 

In consequence of the communications made to me by 

liis Excellency, the Chevalier de la Luzerne, since his 

rpturn from Virginia, I shnl! tiroceed to draw bills upon 

Mr Grand to the extent of five hundred thousand livres 


monthly ; so that compuiing the months of January, Feh- 
ruary, IMaroh, and April, I have now to draw for two mil- 
lions of livres ; as 1 hope and expect that liie five hundred 
thousand livres, already drawn, may be provided for out of 
the balance due on the Dutch loan." This supply comes 
most seasonably, and at a more leisure moment you will 
be charged with the proper acknowledgements to t'ae Court. 
1 n)ust however repeat, that the sum requested for the 
service of this year will be necessary to enable me to sup- 
port the. campaign, ajid "perfect my arrangements; it will 
be my constant study to draw forth our own resources and 
lessen our demands on France ; hut these thiugs require 

I find it will be advantageous to draw upon Holumd and 
Cadiz as well as on»Paris; and, therefore, 1 request that 
you will desire Mr Grand to give inKnediale orders to 
Messrs Fizeau, Grand & Co. in Arnsterdanj, to honor any 
bills I iT)ay draw on them, with directions to take their re- 
imbursement on him, for account of the United States. 
He must i^lso give similar orders to Messrs Harrison &, Co. 
of Cadiz, and I will furnish Mr Grand with regular advice 
of every- bill i draw, whether on himself or either of t^iose 
houses. My bills in the whole will not exceed the sums 
to which I am limited, and the coinmis^ion those houses 
charge will be paid by Mr Grand. 1 expect it will not ex- 
ceed a half per cent; respecting which I shall write to 
them. 1 am inchicexl to draw on those places, because the 
sale of bills will thereby be extended, and the price better 
supported. , ,• , ■. ■: , , rua-rkt^ 

1- have the honor to b^', he. , . -' 

,r :..,. . ROBERT MORRIS. 



Office of Finance, April 23d, 1782. 
Dear Sir, 

You have enclosed herewith, the copy of an official 

letter to the Secretary of Foreign Afiairs, which contains 

some information on subjects that you ought to know. It 

has been my intention for some time past to give you a 

detail of circumstances, which have happened since the 

date of my former despatches; but. the occurrences of 

every day employ my whole time, and engross my whole 

attention, especially for the last six weeks, as I have been 

deprived of assistance. The first leisure moments shall be 

devoted to make you acquainted with the situation of things 

here, and in the meantime you may indulge the pleasing 

idea, that system and regularity are dispelling the clouds 

in which our affairs have been enveloped. 

I am, very sincerely, &£c. 



Head Quarters, April 23d, 1782. 

I am obliged to you for the copy of the contract you 
have been pleased to send nie, under cover of your favor 
of the 15lh instant. It came very opportunely, as I have 
already been applied to (or a determination upon the points 
submitted to my decision. 

I am very glad to find that an Intendent, appointed 
by you, is to attend the army, and to hear and decide 
upon causes of complaint or uneasiness, which may arise 


between the army and the contractors. As we are still 
to gain knowledge by experience, other complaints than 
those which have already occurred may yet arise ; and I 
shall be very happy to-be relieved from those troubles as 
much as possible. 1 wish you may be fortunate in the 
appointment of this person, and tliat he may be with the 
army at an early period. 

You may be assured, that I am fully persuaded of the 
importance and utility of the present mode of feeding the 
army, and thai 1 shall take every occasion to impress the 
same ideas upon the minds of the officers. I am pleased 
to find, that saving the complaints, which have arisen in 
their execution, they are generally inclined to acquiesce 
and promote the contracts ; and you may depend, that 1 
shall take pleasure in giving the gentlemen concerned in 
our supply, every assistance and protection in my power, 
consistent with that justice, which I think is due to the 

I have the honor to be, &c. 



Office of Finance, April 24th, 1782. 
. Sir, 

The several bills ycu found it necessary to draw upon 
me have been punctually honored, and I am pleased at 
having been able by this means to strengthen your credit 
and provide you with money, which I dare say will, agree- 
ably to your declaration, be expended only on occasions of 
pressing necessity. Would it were in my power to make 
you perfectly easy on the score of money ; you would 


then experience the alacrity with which my compliances 
would be niade. 

I have observed by the tenor of several of your letters on 
the subject of the confederation, that your sentiments coin- 
cide entirely with my own. The inefficacy of that instru- 
ment is daily felt, and the want of oblig;atory and coercive 
clauses on the States will probably be productive of the 
most fatal consequences. At^present they content them- 
selves with the assertion, that each has done most, and 
that the people are not able to pay taxes. Languor arid 
inexertion are the offspring of this doctrine, and finally the 
people, who are said to be incapable of bearing taxation, 
actually pay double the sum,. that would be necessary in 
the first instance. Nothing on my part has been omitted 
that I could think of, to stimulate them to exertions ; and 
I have given them every encouragement to support my 
arrangements, that could be derived from regularity, sys- 
tem and economy; but all this does not produce the 
effect it ought ; there are in every Legislature, charac- 
ters too full of local attachments and views, to permit suffi- 
cient attention to the genera! interest. I am perfectly 
sensible, and was the day I became Superintendent of 
Finance, of the difficulties tiiat are to be encountered. I 
know full well that it requires much time, more pati'mce, 
and greater abilities than I claim, to bring the finances to 
the order in which they ought to be in every well 
governed country. But I apprehend this knowledge 
ought not to deter either you or me from continuing the 
struggle with those difficulties. If I had been deterred 
by their appearance from the acceptance of my appoint- 
ment, our affairs would probably have been worse than 
they now are, or if you had declined to oppose the British 


arms in the Southern States, Virginia might now have 
Ibrmecl the boundary line. 

You, therefore, my Dear Sir, must continue your exer- 
tions, with or without men, provisions, clothing, or pay, in 
liopes that nil things will come ri2;ht at last ; and I will con- 
tinue mine until somebody n)ore competent shall be found 
to relieve me. The Secretary at War will say everything 
dial is necessary with respect to men, clothing, short en- 
listments, and future operations. 

With respect to the pay of the army, we have abolished 
the practice of partial payments. The officers with you 
will be furnished monthly with their subsistence money, 
and let their distance be what it may, they shall have the 
same payments with those that are nearer; for I never 
will consent to partial payments so long as it depends on 
me. How much pay I shall be able to make, depends ab- 
solutely on the collection of taxes in the several Slates. 
If they comply tolerably well with the requisition of Con- 
gress for tiie year 1782, t will make tolerably good [)ay to 
the army for that year, but if the States will not furnish 
the means, it is impossible. The discontents of the army 
should in justice be directed to the Legislatures of those 
States, which neglect or delay to pay their quotas of the 
continental tax, and it shall be clearly known in future 
which they are. 

I am, Sir, &:c. 


VOL. XII. 18 



Office of Finance. April 27th, 1782. 

In a letter from the Minister Plenipotentiary of France, 
of the 22d instant, is the following paragraph. 

"His Majesty having consented to furnish the State of 
Virginia with arms, clothing, and munitions, for a sum, with 
the amount of which I am unacquainted, the Minister desires 
that V irginia would render an account of the same to the 
United Stales, and that you would close the business, and 
the amount which has been advanced by France to Vir- 
ginia, shall be deducted from the sums loaned to tire United . 
States.'- ^ , 

My answer of this date is as follows. 

"With respect to the supplies for the Stale of Virginia, I 
have already had the honor of mentioning to your Excel- 
lency, that \ could by no means consider purchases made 
for any particular State in the Union, as properly charge- 
able to the United States. This was in a letter of the 2G(h 
of November last, in consequence of your application re- 
lating both to Maryland and Virginia. If Dr Franklin has 
asked the supplies on the credit of the United Slates, they 
will of course be brought to their account. But I cannot 
conceive, that this has been done by him, as I do not krjow 
of any orders lo do so froin the Congress. Your Excel- 
lency will, I am confident, see with me ihe impropriety of 
listening to the applications made by separate States, and 
be convinced how much it is the duty of those to whom 
the administration is committed, to oppose these appenr- 
ances of disunion in our councils ; appearances, which, 
iiowever unfounded, are not the less injiuious. The State 


of Virginia, is, as you well know, far from being singular in 
her applications abroad for separate aid, and your Excel- 
lency is better informed than almost any other, of the evils 
which have resulted from them. 1 do not mention this 
with a view to blame those who n)ade, or tliose who 
granted the requests, alluded to. On the contrary, it gives 
me pleasure (o find, Ihat in some instances among so many, 
a fruitless recourse has not been had to the purses of indi- 
viduals. As there is a hope that these irregularities may 
no longer take place, I will not absolutely decide, and 
must pray that this question be for the present lelt open ; as 
1 am extremely desirous not to injure the operations or 
credit of any particular State, while 1 pursue the road 
marked out by public duties. I shall transmit to the gov- 
ernment of Virginia that part of our letter, which relates to 
this object." 

1 presume that it will be unnecessary to remark to your 
Excellency, how incapable the United States are of assum- 
ing burdens of debt, w^hile so little attention is paid to put 
the public treasury in a situation 10 defray the r.ecessary 
expenses of the current service. I must pray to be fur- 
nished widi an exact account, as soon as may be, of the 
smn due by the State of Virginia to the Court of France, 
and of the funds which the State propose to apply in dis- 
charge of it; in order that I may, if possible, take such 
measures as may preserve her credit, and not be injurious 
to the United States. It becomes my duly, Sir, on this 
occasion, 10 mention furttier the sum of sixtysix thousand 
eight hundred and fiftythree livres, which were expended 
by Mr Lee in the purchase of supplies for your State ; 
which were acknowledged by a certificate of the 13th of 
March, 1780, with a promise to account. 


Your letter of the 2Sih of March last has been received 
some time ago. 

I have the honor to be, &:c. 



Office of Finance, April 27th, 1782. 

His Excellency the Minister of France having informed 
me on the part of his Court, that no extraordinary sums 
will be paid to the Ministers of the United States in Eu- 
rope, I must request that you will furnish mc with an ac- 
count of the several salaries payable to the foreign Minis- 
ters and their Secretaries ; and 1 wili make out bills in 
your favor on the Banker of the United States in Paris, 
for the last quarter, commencing with the present year. 1 
must, at the same time, pray you will require of those gen- 
tlemen, the slate of their several accounts with the public 
for salaries, that the whole may be adjusted, and all future 
expenses of that sort be classed under the proper head of 
the Department of Foreign Affairs. 
1 have the honor to be, &jc. 



Office of Finance, April 30th, 1782- 

1 had the honor to receive your Excellency's letter, dated 
In Council, Annapolis, April, 1782, previous to which I 
had in mine of the 15th instant, transn)itied the Acts of 


Congress, vvhicii you mention. I hope they will meet the 
wishes of your Excellency and of t!ie Stale, so that a 
speedy compliance with them may loiward the j^real busi- 
ness thev are formed to accomplish. 

I am much obliged by your Excellency's observation, as 
to the propriety of staling how much money is to be ex- 
pended. The estimates of the current year were fortn^d 
by Congress ; the accuracy of them I -cannot answer for, 
but rather incline to think tiiey will fall short of the object 
proposed. The loose manner in which business has for- 
merly been conducted, did indeed render it impracticable 
to frame very precise estimates. That those adopted are 
not exorbitant, will easily be seen, by comparing the sum 
total with the expenditure of former years. It is my in- 
tention to show by the exhibition of clear accounts, how 
the public money intrusted to me has been expended. 
This shall be done publicly, and then estimates fornuid 
agreeably lo such accounts will be clearly understood, and 
convey that satisfaction to the mind oi every candid uian, 
which 1 am desirous of imparling. 

Your Excellency will easily perceive, that the pri- 
mary step must be to grant money, and the accounting 
for it a secondary one. I presume that by the Amer- 
ican Constitution the determination on sums to be 
appropriated must be vested in the supreme represen- 
tative, and I hope there is so much confidence in the 
wisdom and integrity of that body, as lo believe that 
they do not ask for sums which are unnecessary. 

Before I close this letter I will pray leave to repeat 
to your Excellency a sentiment often expressed before, 
that I despise every scheme or system, which must 
depend for its success on mystery or concealment, and 


am convinced that our credit will never be fully estab- 
lished, until all our public affairs are open to the public 
eye, I ardently long for the arrival of that moment, 
when I may lay a state of them before the world, in an 
account of the moneys received and the moneys ex- 
pended, with the debts we owe, and the produce of 
the funds assigned for the payment of them. Your 
Excellency is nota stranger to many of the reasons 
why such an account cannot now bs framed, and will, 
I doubt not, sincerely co-operate with me in removing 

1 have the honor to be, &c,- 



Office of Financs, May 1st, 1782. 

I have been duly honored with yours of the 7lh and 
15th of April. From what you propose with respect 
to the establishment of a bank in New Hampshire, as 
well as from the ideas which you say are entertained 
of the increase of my private fortune, I am convinced 
that you and other gentlemen are alike mistaken as to 
the nature of the National Bank, and my official con- 
nexions and transactions. The confidence you have 
been pleased to repose in me, and your communication 
of sentiment as to public affairs, require of me, that I 
I should give such explanation of both, as the multi- 
plicity of objects, which engross my attention will 

The bank is a mere thing, in which any man may be 


interested, who chooses to purchase stock. Personally 
I have no other concern in it, than any other gentle- 
man may have, who pleases to invest his property in 
it. The government have nothing to do with the 
bank, except merely to prevent the Directors, should 
they be so inclined, from extending their operations 
in a manner disproportionate to their capital, thereby 
endangering their credit. Any aid which the govern- 
ment derives from the bank is by lodging proper secu- 
rities with it, and borrowing money for short periods 
on the discount of interest at the rate of six per cent, 
which is receiving ninetynine and paying a hundred at 
the end of two months. The moneys so borrowed 
are punctually repaid. 

By accepting the office I now hold I was obliged to 
neglect my own private aflfairs. I have made no spec- 
ulation in conscxjuence of my office, and instead of 
being enriched I am poorer this day, than 1 was a 
year ago. 

You vvill, from what I have said, see two sufficient 
reasons against adopting the plan you have proposed. 
That I have not money, and that I have totally quitted 
commerce and commercial projects, to attach myself 
wholly to a business which requires my whole atten- 
tion. A principal object of my last letter was to ac- 
quaint you with this circumstance, and by what I have 
there said I meant to acquaint you also with the 
manner of doing business at the bank. If, for instance, 
you draw a bill in favor of your factor here on a 
merchant of reputation, payable at sixty days' sight, 
and that merchant accepts the bill, your factor can get 
ninety dollars for every hundred of the bill by dis- 


counting it at the bank, and with that money can pur- 
chase the articles you direct ; but you must then be 
careful to make due remittances to the merchant on 
whom you draw. If by connecting yourself in this 
manner with any gentleman in trade here you can 
derive any benefit, it will afford me a very sensible 
pleasure, but as to myself, I must again repeat, that I 
hare quitted trade; and I will add, that the closing my 
past dealings, which is now the only private object of 
my attention, requires time, which I cannot spare, for 
the purpose; and of consequence it is, with everything 
else of a private nature, very much neglected, to my 
very great disadvantage. 
1 am, he. 



Office of Finance, May 4th, 1782. 

The Superintendent of the Finance of the United 
Slates, to whom was referred the report of a commit- 
tee on a memorial of the merchants of Philadelphia, 
and motion Ihei'eon, begs leave to report, 

Thai the navy of the United States is not in a situ- 
ation to afford protection to their commerce, nor can it 
be rendered equal to that object for some considerable 
time, evdn if the necessary funds could be procured. 
That there remains no mode of obtaining such protec- 
tion, unless from the allies of the United States, or the 
powers engaged with them in war against Great 


That the commerce of these States is of such im- 
portance, that it is not improbable the Court of France 
would afford permanent protection if in their power, 
and that in the interim some relief may, perhaps, be 
obtained from the fleets in the West Indies. 

The following resolutiou therefore is submitted ; 
That the Superintendent of Finance prepare a state- 
ment of the commerce of the United States, together 
with a plan for the protection thereof. 

That the Secretary of Foreign Affairs communicate 
the same to the Minister of his Most Christian Ma- 
jest}^, and cause application to be thereupon made by 
the Minister of these States to the Court of Versailles, 
and that the Superintendent, as Agent of Marine, 
make application on the same subject to the Com- 
manders of the fleets of France and Spain in the West 


, , . > ., =% ROBERT MORRIS. 


Office of Finance, May 8th. 1782. 

His Excellency, the Minister of France, in a late 
letter to me has officially declared, that in future no 
sums will be paid to the Ministers of the United States 
in Europe by his Court. It becomes necessary, there- 
fore, to make provision for their support here. I 
immediately applied to the Minister of Foreign Af- 
fairs for an account of the annual salarie.? payable to 
his Department. I have received it this day, and do 
myself the honor to enclose a copy. I must take the 

VOL. XII, 19 


liberty to observe, that the sum is very large, and such 
as cannot be advanced without greatly retrenching 
from essential services, at least in the present moment. 
It will, I humbly conceive, be necessary that arrange- 
ments should be taken, so that in future all such sala- 
ries as are payable to foreign Ministers be advanced in 
America, and negotiated by their respective Agents. 
This will be honorable to the United States, and I 
should suppose more agreeable to the gentlemen con- 

Tlie Minister of Fiance has also observed, that the 
accounts between his Most Christian Majesty and the 
United States having become very important, by the 
greatness of the sums advanced and lent, it is indis- 
pensable that measures be taken to adjust them, and 
to avoid that confusion, which would be introduced 
by a longer deky. And in consequence, he has de- 
sired that Congress would transmit to Dr Franklin full 
power finall}'- to settle those accounts, and in the name 
of the United States to execute the proper obligations 
for securing the debt and fixing the periods of payment. 
To this he adds, that it is not expected Congress can 
do anything towards payment during the war, but that 
they will fix the several epochas at which they shall be 

To a proposition so reasonable, there will, I pre- 
sume, be no objection. The solidity of the observation 
on which it is founded cannot be called in question, 
and I am induced by it to extend the remark a little 
further. The great sums which remain unsettled and 
undetermined between the French Court and the Uni- 
ted States are alike unsettled between the latter and 


their public servants. How tlie accounts may stand I 
know not, but it is my particular duty to observe, that 
there appears to have been but little received for the 
great sums, which have been expended, and therefore 
it is highly necessary, that the public accounts of these 
States with their servants in Europe be also settled. 
It shall be my study in future to prevent the existence 
of such accounts, but their magnitude as well as other 
circumstances, makes me extremely solicitous to have 
them adjusted. 

I have the honor to be, &c. 



Office of Finance, May 9th, 1782. 


I do myself the honor to enclose you copies "of three 
accounts, which 1 have this day received from the Con- 
troller of the Treasury of the United States. Each Stale 
will froni these accounts perceive what still remains for it 
to do in consequence of the resolutions of Congress, of 
the 18th of March, 1780. 

As this is a circular letter, the observations I make shall 
be general, and such as result frou) a general view of die 
object. The particular application of them, dependent on 
local circumstances, will be made by those to whom such 
circumstances apply. The resolutions of the 18th of 
March, 1780, were in part directed towards the redemp- 
tion of the old Continental money, and the opinions which 
may have been formed as to the issuing of a new paper 
medium, the paying of interest upon it, and the connexion 


with relation to the old, arc iinmaterial under the present 
point of view. 

Nothing can be more clear and simple than this, that 
the bills issued by Congress for support of the war should 
be redeemed by taxes. This was 0!ie capital object of the 
resolutions, and as to the apportionment, I am to presume 
it was as perfect as the fluctuating nature of human affairs 
will permit, and more especially so, wlien the few lights, 
which could be obtained, and the various circumstances of 
the several States, are compared with the very variable 
object of depreciated paper, which was then in contem- 
plation. But, admitting for argument's sake, that the ap- 
portionment was not strictly right ; this must also be ad- 
mitted, that to redeem the paper was called for by 
principles both of reason and justice. It was, iherel'ore, a 
duty of the several States to comply with the requisitions 
of tlieir sovereign representative. For any inequalities, 
either actually existing, or which a subsequent change of 
circumstances might produce, would admit of a remedy, 
but a neglect of the resolutions had the inevitable conse- 
quence of injuring the public credit, weakening the public 
operations, and risking our very existence as a people. 

But however strong the motives, which should have 
prompted a compliance, it will not be disputed that some 
of the States may have been in circumstances not to admit 
of the exertion, and whether ti)is incapacity has arisen 
from exterior violences, or the defects of internal polity, or 
both, is in one sense immaterial, because the eventual con- 
sequence is the same. Yet, though charily may for a time 
overlook these defects, it beconjes the duty of each State 
to apply a remedy, if the evil be in its nature remediable; 
and should they neglect what is in their power, they must 


expect complaints from Congress, and the servants of 
Congress from the other States, and from their own 
bosoms the admonitions of conscience, which will become 
more poignant from every moment's delay. 

A general view of the accounts now transmitted, will 
show at a single glance, that large sums of the old paper 
still remain to be provided for, and it might, perhaps, have 
been right in Congress to have fixed an ultimate day of 
redemption for the whole, and charged what remained due 
after that day at forty for one in specie to every deficient 
State. This, I say, might perhaps have been right, if the 
ravages of war and other local circumstances had not re- 
quired attention and forbearance as to some, if not all. 
But it cannot be denied, that many are now in a capacity 
to call in by taxes their quota of this paper. And those 
who are, should consider what must be the feelings of men, 
who hold it on the faith of so many promises, such re- 
peated requisitions, and such sacred bonds of national faith 
and honor. What must be their feelings to find those 
promises violated, those requisitions neglected, and that 
faith disregarded .'' Can it be expected, that while such 
flagrant instances of national neglect, to call it by no 
harsher name, are In the view of almost every citizen, we 
can possibly establish the fair reputation so essential to 
public credit.'' 

The plea of inability is not to he admitted, excepting, as 
I have already observed, in some very particular circum- 
stances. Considering our country in a general point of 
view, this paper laying dead is already lost, and the only 
question is, whether that loss shall be borne by the whole 
people or only a part of them. Tiiose who parted with it 
have received the value, and it would be a flagrant in- 


justice, that the whole tax for redeemiog it should fall on 
those who liave received it. Neither can it be supposed, 
tliat if any were inclined to promote such injustice it would 
be borne by the sufferers. And whether these sufferers are 
individuals or States, the suffering is the same ; the senti- 
ment, therefore, must be the same, and so will the conduct 
be which that sentiment shall dictate. 
I have the honor to be, he. 



Office of Finance, May 10th, 1782. 
In consequence of the Act of Congress of the 4th 
instant, I do myself the honor to enclose a state of the 
American commerce, with a plan for protecting it. I 
shall, in obedience to the orders of Congress, transmit a 
copy of this paper to the commander of his Most Christian 
Majesty's fleet in the West Indies, and make the applica- 
tion which 1 am directed to him, and to the commander of 
the fleet of Spain. I take the liberty to suggest for the 
consideration of Congress, whether any application on this 
subject to the Court of France would not go with pro- 
priety through the Office of Foreign Affairs. 

With perfect respect, I have the honor to be, &c. 


*May 12th. This day the Chevalier de la Luzerne had a pubhc 
audience of Congress, when he announced the birth of the Dauphin 
of France. I attended at the ceremony, being admitted into the 
Congress hall within the bar, and I took my place next to the mem- 
bers of Conirress, the left of the President, the Minister of Foreign 



Office of Finance, May 16th, 1782. 

I have heretofore taken occasion to observe, that tlie 
former expenditures of the United States were at a lue- 
diiim rate of twenty millions of dollars annually, for the sup- 
port of the war. At the present moment, while laboring 
under a large debt, only eight millions have been asked 
for. It is evident, therefore, that the sum now required 
is as little as can possibly answer the [)urpose. I venture 
to say that it is not enough. According to the estimates 
for the year 1782, which were laid before Congress by 
the late Board of War, the present establishment of the 
army would require for pay, exclusive of the half pay, near 
three millions and a half, for rations near two millions and 
a half, lor clothing, about twelve hundred thousand, for 
forage above three hundred thousand, for the Quarter 
Master's department, (exclusive of articles on hand) above 
eight hundred thousand, for military stores (exclusive of 
articles on liand) near two hundred thousand, for the hos- 
pitals (exclusive of medicine and also of sundry stores on 
hand) above one hundred thousasid. 

If to all these be added the sum of four hundred ihou- 

Affairs and the Minister of Wjir jiext to me. We stood during the 
whole ceremony, as well also the President and Council of the State 
of Pennsylvania. When the ceremony was ended, Mr Livingston, 
General Lincoln, Mr Gouverneur Morris and myself, went to his 
Excellency, the Minister of France, to pay our compliments. After- 
wards we repaired to the City Tavern to an entertainment ordered 
by Congress, thence to an exhibition of fireworks at the State House, 
and then to an entertainment given by the Secretary of Foreign 
Affairs. Diary. ' ,'<\. 


sund for the Departments of the Pay Office, Commissary 
of Prisoners, and ihe'various other contingencies of service, 
which naturally and necessarily arise, without mentioning 
the losses, which happen in war, here will be an aggregate 
amount ol nine Hiillions, and in this sum nothing is esti- 
mated for the interest of our debts, for the Marine, and for 
the Civil List, and the Department of Foreign Affairs. 

Of the various expenditures, much was to be provided 
immediately. Tiie heavy article of clothing, for instance, 
was indispensable. ]\Jany things were to be provided 
early, in order that the army might operate, and the sub- 
sistence is to be paid for regularly and constantly. Yet 
the States have not been asked for any money before the 
1st day of April ; and I appeal to them all, whether the 
supplies of money they have afforded me for the last year 
were such as would enable me to provide for the present. 

A three months' expenditure was permited by Congress 
to elapse, before the first payment of two millions was 
asked from the States ; but what have they done ? While 
I write this letter near two months more are gone forever, 
and a dishonorable neglect endangers our country. Little 
local objects have postponed those measures, which are 
essential to our existence, so that the most fatal conse- 
quences are now suspended but by a thread. Should 
they fall on our heads, this solemn protest shall point to 
the real cause of our calamities. I write, Sir, to apprize 
you of the public danger, and to tell you I shall endeavor 
to fulfil engagetj'.ents, which I have entered into already, 
that 1 may quit my station like an honest man. But I will 
make no new engagements, so that the public service must 
necessarily stand still. What the concsequences may be 
I know not, but the fault is in the States. Thev have not 


complied with the requisitions of Congress. They have 
not enabled me to go on. They have not given me one 
shilling for the service of the year 1782, excepting only 
the Stale of New Jersey, from which I received five thou- 
sand five hundred dollars, a few days ago, and this is all 
that has come to my hands out of two millions, which 
were asked for. 

Now, Sir, should the army disband, and should scenes 
of distress and horror be reiterated and accumulated, I 
again repeat, that 1 am guiltless; the fault is in the States ; 
they have been deaf to the calls of Congress, to the clam- 
ors of the public creditors, to the just demands of a suffer- 
ing army, and even to the reproaches of the enemy, who 
scoffingly declare, that the American army is fed, paid, 
and clothed by France. That assertion, so dishonorable 
to America, 'was true, but the kindness of France has its 
bounds, and our army, unfed, unpaid, and unclothed, will 
have to subsist itself, or disband itself. 

This language may appear extraordinary, but at a 
future day, when my transactions shall be laid bare to 
public view, it will be justified. This language may not 
consist with the ideas of dignity, which some men enter- 
tain. But, Sir, dignity is in duty, and In virtue, not in the 
sound of swelling expressions. Congress may dismiss 
their servants, and the States may dismiss their Congress, 
but it is by rectitude alone, that man can be respectable. 
1 have early declared our situation, as far as prudence 
would permit, and I am now compelled to transgress the 
bounds of prudence, by being forced to declare, that 
unless vigorous exertions are made to put money into the 
treasury, we must be ruined. I have borne with delays 
and disappointments as long as I could, and nothing but 
VOL. XII. 20 


hani necessity would l)<\\'e vvniiiii from me ihe sentiments, 
vvliich I iiave now expressed, 
i have ilie honor to be, &lc. 



Office of Finance. May irth, 1782. 


I do myself the honor to enclose to your Excel- 
lency the copy of a circular letter, which I have 
written to the several States. The situation in which 
I find myself is extremelj- delicate. The habitual in- 
attention of the States has reduced us to the brink of 
ruin, and I cannot see a probability of relief from any 
of them. I rather perceive a disposition to'take money 
from (he public treasury, than to place any in it. A 
variety of causes, wiiich Congress are, I presume ac- 
quainted with, prevents the collection of taxes, and 
delays the payment of them, even after they are col- 
lected. In many States they are not laid. I must 
not conceal from Congress my apprehensions, that the 
idle hopes entertained from the changes of administra- 
tion in Britain will increase that negligence, which is 
but too prevalent throughout the United States. 

I might add many reasons, vvhy a call should be 
made in the present critical moment, and it is evident, 
that such a call should be couched in terms so pressing, 
as to stimulate if possible their sluggishness into exer- 
tion. But on the other hand, it is evident that if a 
taithful representation of pur distressed circumstances 
should fall into improper hands, it would be produc- 


tive of the most dangerous consequences. And when 
the number of our internal enemies, and the designs of 
our external ones are considered, there can be little 
doubt, that such a letter would be handed about soon 
after its arrival for the illicit purposes of both. At the 
same time, however, it must be considered, that if any 
fatal consequences should ensue from the continued 
negligence of the States, attempts will be aiade to 
justify it on the principle, that they were not seasona- 
bly apprized of their danger. 

I am sure I need not take up more of your time, 
Sir, in showing the difficulties with which on the 
present occasion I am surrounded. , Urged by them I 
must entreat the opinion of Congress, whether the 
letter in question be retained or transmitted. 1 take 
the liberty further to remark, Sir, that the declaration 
contained in it, purporting any intention not to make 
new engagements, is short of what I am under the 
necessity of doing ; for the pubJic departments are now 
absolutely at a stand for the want of money, and many 
things already commenced I must desist from. This 
cannot be wondered at, when it is considered, that 
near five months of the present year have elapsed 
without my having received anything on account of 
its expenditures, except the trifling sum of five thou- 
sand five hundred dollars mentioned in the enclosed 
letter, and that sum, calculating our expenses at eight 
millions annually, is about one fourth of what is neces- 
sarij to support us for a single day. 
I iiave the honor to be, &ic. 




Office of Finance, May 17th, 1782. 

In a letter which I had the honor to write to your 
Excellency on the 17th of last month, I mentioned the 
communications of the Minister of France here, hy 
which I was empowered to draw to the amount of six 
millions in monthly instalments of half a million each. 
He has since informed me, that no moneys will be 
paid by his Court except on my draft. It is in con- 
sequence of this, that I have drawn the bills contained 
in the enclosed letter to Mr Grand, which is left open 
for your perusal. Your Excellency will be pleased to 
arrange this matter with Mr Grand, so as best to an- 
swer the purposes intended. You will also be pleased, 
Sir, to pay over to Mr Grand on my account such 
moneys belonging to the United States as may be in 
Europe, distinct from those to be advanced by the 
Court for the current year. 

I am extremely desirous of having a state of these 
matters so as to know what dependence can be made 
on the funds, which are at our command. You would, 
therefore, confer upon me a very particular obligation 
by transmitting the best statement in your power. I 
mentioned to your Excellency in ?, former letter, that 
I would write to you on the subject of your salary, 
more particularly than I then did, but I have since 
spoken and written to Mr Livingston with relation to 
those matters, and he will, I expect, write to you and 
to all our foreign Ministers very fully. 

We have not yet heard anything of the Alliance, 


and therefore conclude, that she must have been de- 
layed in Europe. I hope this may have been the 
case, fcrr if she sailed on the 1st of March, according 
to my orders, she must have met with some unfortu- 
nate accident. I hope soon to hear from your Excel- 
lency. Indeed I persuade myself, that in the very 
critical situation of affairs at present, we cannot be 
long without receiving very important intelligence. 
I have the honor to be, &c. 



Office of Finance, May 17th, 1782. 


In my letters of theSSth of March, and Sth of April, 
I informed you of my drafts on you to the amount 
of five hundred thousand livres. I have since that 
time drawn sundry other bills, all of which you have 
been duly advised of, or will be so by this conveyance. 

I am now to inform you, that his Excellency, the 
Minister of France, has given me assurances on the 
part of his Court, that five hundred thousand livres per 
month, during the year 1782, will be paid on my 
drafts, making in the whole six millions. He has 
also suggested to me the expedient of drawing twelve 
sets of exchange on Dr Franklin, our Minister Pleni- 
potentiary, in favor of my banker, so that the money 
may be in his hands monthly at my order. In conse- 
quence thereof, I now enclose to you twelve bills of 
exchange on Dr Franklin, all at thirty days' sight, and 
each for half a million. When these bills arrive you 



will present so many of them for acceptance, as that at 
the end of the thirty days the amount shall be equal 
to the monthly payments above mentioned. 'As for 
instance, if these bills should arrive in July, you will 
present seven of them for acceptance, because by the 
time that the thirty days have elapsed there will be 
due so many of those monthly payments. But in this, 
as well as in other matters of arrangement with the 
Court, you will take the advijce of Dr Franklin and 
govern yourself accordingly. 

The several bills which I draw on you I will regu- 
larly inform you of. After the first month has elapsed 
you will present another bill for acceptance, and so on 
monthly, presenting each month a bill. I write also 
by this conveyance to Dr Franklin to pay on my ac- 
count all the moneys belonging to the United Stales in 
Europe, which may be in his possession. 

I wrote to Dr Franklin on the 17th of April to in- 
form you, that I should draw on Messrs Fizeau, Grand 
& Co. at Amsterdam, and on Messrs Harrison & Go. 
at Cadiz, desiring that you would direct those houses 
to honor my bills, and take their reimbursement on 
you, which I now confirm. I expect that the five 
hundred thousand livres, which are mentioned in my 
letters of the 2Sth of March, arid 8lh of April, will be 
paid out of moneys, which were already in Europe ; 
and indeed, that still farther sums were there belong- 
ing to the United Stales, besides the monthly pay- 
ments to be made by the Court as above mentioned. 
At any rate you will be in cash to pay all the bills 
which I have drawn or shall draw. You will lake 
care to transmit me a state of your accounts by every 


opportunity, that I may be thereby directed in my 

I have the honor to be, &ic. 



Office of Finance, May I8th, 1782. 
Our enemies being at length convinced by fatal expe- 
rience, that it is in vain to expect the conquest of America, 
have now changed the mode of attack, and strike at our 
commerce and our resources. I have no doubt, but that 
eventually tiiey will be foiled in this, as in every other at- 
tempt they have made, but in the interim between their 
first effort and the period which must elapse, in prepara- 
tions to obviate this plan, we have suffered and must suffer 

' The commerce of this coimtry has sustained a severer 
blow than has been hitherto felt, and the effects of it mate- 
rially influence my operations. The merchants deprived 
of their property cannot, command money, and of conse- 
quence cannot buy bills. \ am, therefore, unable to com- 
mand by drafts the money in your hatids. .My bills do not 
yet amount to a million of livres, and will not I believe ex- 
ceed that sumvvhen this letter goes nway. Those bills 
will not ccme to you before the month of July, and riie 
greater part will not be payable until the ewd of September, 
and even later ; but you will be possessed of three millions 
and a half by tiie first of July, even if you shall have re- 
ceived nothing from Dr Fratddin on the old accounts. "''<"." 
1 am therefore to request that you will make three ship- 


merits ot one hundred thousand crowns each, or six hun- 
dred thousand livres, making in the whole eighteen hundred 
thousand livres. I wish it to be sent by three different 
conveyances, for the sake of greater safety, unless some 
very important convoy should offer, in which case I desire 
an immediate shipment of twelve hundred thousand livres. 
I wish also, that the money be invested if possible in gold, 
because four crowns are worth here only four hundred 
pence, but a louis is worth four hundred and fourteen 
pence, being a difference of three and a lialf per cent. 
But that you may know the best mode of investing it, I 
have to inform you, that English guineas are worth four 
hundred and twenty [)ence, half johannas seven hundred 
and twenty pence, moidores five hundred and forty pence, 
and Spanish pistoles three hundred and thirtysix pence. 

I shall leave this letter open for the inspection of Dr 
Franklin, to whom I shall enclose it, and I shall request 
him to obtain for and communicate to you such infortna- 
tion from the Court as may be necessary for your direction 
in this business. I wish that the shipments of money may 
if possible be on board of the same vessels in which the 
money shall be sent for the use of the French army or 
navy here. I wrote to you on the 3d of December last, 
requesting you to pay to Messrs Couteulx & Co. for ac- 
count of John Ross two hundred thousand livres, and for 
account of William Bingham one hundred thousand livres, 
to -John Holker for account of John Holker fils ; conceiving 
tliat you would be in cash lor the purpose, from the loan 
opened in Holland for our use. 

I hope before this reaches you, that those sums will 
have been paid ; and you will observe it is my wish, that 
as well those as the bills mentioned in mv letters of the 


9th and 28th of March, should be paid out of that loan, 
but if that cannot be done, you will then make payment 
from any other moneys which may be in your hands. 
I have the honor to be, &c. 



Office of Finance, May 18th, 1782. 
I pray that you will receive my sincere thanks for the 
accurate and punctual manner in which you have performed 
the business of the United States, which I have placed in 
your hands, and be assured that it shal' always command 
my attention. 1 should have lodged in your hands very 
considerable sums on their account, subject to my disposi- 
tion, but Dr Franklin having recommended to me in a very 
particulai- n)anner Mr Grand, whom he had formerly em- 
ployed, not only for his punctuality as a banker, but also 
for his zeal in the American cause, which he had early and 
warmly espoused, and evidenced his aiiachnient by liberal 
advances of money on the credit of their commissioners, 
before the Court had acknowledged tiien: as a nation, I 

* May 20th. This evening 1 met Mr Madison, Governor Rutledge, 
Mr Clymer, Mr Lovell, and Mr Root, the Committee of Congress 
appointed to confer with me on the subject of my letter to Congress 
of the 17th instant, enclosing an intended circular letter to the 
States. I laid before these gentlemen a true picture of our present 
situation, but afier much conversation, they appeared to be disin- 
clined to sending the circular letter, and I proposed sending suitable 
persons to the several States, to make proper representations to the 
Executives and Legislatures, which they seemed to prefer, and on 
which they are to consult and report tomorrow morning. Diary. 

vol.. XII. 21 . - 


thought it my duty to employ him. But 1 tiiink it more 
than probable, 1 shall have occasion for another banker, on 
particular occasions and negotiations, and I shall take the 
liberty in every such instance to employ you, gentlemen, 
not in the least doubting a continuance of your punctuality 
and attention. 

I have the honor to be, k.c. 



Office of Finance, May 23d, 1782. 

The Minister has been so kind as to delay his express, 
until I could write this letter. You mention in yours of 
the 4th of March, that on Friday (then) last, the Minister 
informed you that we should have six millions, paid quar- 
terly, and that you should now be able to face the loan 
office and other bills, and your acceptances in favor of M. 
de Beaumarchais. 

You are not unacquainted with the disputes which have 
subsisted with respect to M. de Beaumarchais' tiemand. 
Whether or not the moneys were originally advanced to 
him by the Court, is not at present to be brought into 
question by me, because it involves many things, which 
are better adjusted by ilie Court themselves, than by any 
communications to or with others. I am only to observe, 
that if the very considerable sum, which is now payable to 
that gentleman forms a deduction from the pecuniary aid 
afforded us, the remainder will be extremely incompetent 
to the purposes intended by it. Tiiere can be no doubt 
that yoi.r acceptances must be paid, but I have always ex- 


pected that yon would have been enabled to do it by a 
special grant for that purffose, or by an assumption of the 
payment on the part of the Court. I shall not enter into 
the mode of arranging this business^ but I must not re- 
frain from observing, that the great object now is to prose- 
cute the war, that the articles which may have been fur- 
nished for the sum payable to M. de Beaumarchais must 
long since have been applied and expended, that our ne- 
cessities now are as pressing as they possibly can be, and 
that everything which adds to their weight is extremely 

You vvili observe, Sir, that I have already made my 
dispositions as to the six millions granted for the current 
year. 1 shall go on to draw as occasion offers, for all the 
moneys which may be in Mr Grand's possession, making 
allowance for the shipments of money, directed in my let- 
ters to him. If, therefore, any part of this sum should be 
otherwise disposed of, it might produce the most dangerous 

With respect and esteem, 1 am, he. 



Office of Finance, May JJSd, 1782. 
Sir, ' - -' -• 
1 do myself the honor to enclose to your Excellency 
copies of letters, the former from Dr Franklin to me of the 
4th of March, and the latter from the Count de Vergennes 
to him of the 6th of February. With these, I send the 
best sketch I have been able to form of the state of the 
public moneys ; from wliich Congress will perceive that 


every sou we can command during the year 1782 is 
already anticipated. They will peiceive that the pe- 
cuniary supplies of 1781 and 1782 aniount, after deducting 
the expenses on the loan, to twentyfive and a half millions 
of livres, and that there are, (including the two million two 
hundred thousand livres, appropriated to the interest of 
Loan Office certificates) ten millions, besides the sum ex- 
pended in Holland, which have already passed and are 
now passing through the hands of Dr Franklin, and of 
which not a livre has been, or ever will be, applied to the 
current service. 

If to this be added above two millions and a half due on 
Beauinarchais' bills, we shall have an amount of about 
twelve and a half millions, being at least one half of all the 
moneys obtained abroad for the service of the year 1781 
a>nd 1782. And we shall find, that this greater half is 
totally consumed in paying the principal of some, and the 
interest of other debts, which have been contracted before 
that period. I shall make no further comments on these 
things. They are before Congress, and will speak for 
themselves. I have only to lament, that the situation to 
which our affairs have been reduced is such, that the 
greatest exertion which our ally can make in our favor is 
barely sufficient to satisfy present engagements, and that 
the knowledge of such aid only confirms the inattention of 
cur own citizens to those distressing circumstances which 
it does not relieve. 

I have the honor to be, he. 




Office of Finance, May 27th, 1782. 

I do myself the honor to enclose certain information, 
which I liave just received in a letter from the Minister of 
France. " 1 take this occasion to mention, that it is some 
time since M. de la Luzerne communicated to me the 
grant of his Court, which was made in the month of De- 
cember last. I think it my duty to add the persuasion I 
have, that this grant was made on the Minister's represen- 
tations, and I cannot omit testifying to Congress my grate- 
ful sense of his conduct, and my conviction, that his en- 
deavors have not been -wanting still further to promote the 
interests of the United States. 

I should earlier have communicated my intelligence of 
the loan in question, but I wished to receive the details, 
which would enable me to judge how much of it was at 
my disposition. I confess that I did not expect they 
would have been so unfavorable. I was restrained also by 
an apprehension, that the exertioiig; of the States would 
relax, when they should learn that any foreign aid could be 
obtained ; and the situation of our commerce was such, 
that if I had been enabled to draw for much larger sums, 
it would have been of no avail, as I could not have got 
money for the bills. ^ .. : ' 

I have the honor to be, &:c. 


Information mentioned in the above Letter. 
The King never promised any subsidy to the United 
States, and all the sums which they have received from 


him have been lent or freely given. AH those, which have 
been advanced after the 6th of February, 1778, are to be 
repaid by the United States, except the six millions given 
last year. All the rest, whether furnished in money or in 
value, is a debt, which they have contracted with his 

These advances have been made at the following 
periods, and are payable with interest, conformably to tlie 
acknowledgements and obligations of Dr Franklin. 

In 1778, 3,000,000 

In 1779, 1,000,000 

In 1780, . 4,000,000 

In 1781, 10,000,000 

Total, 18,000,000 

From this sum must be taken the gratuitous 

subsidy granted last year of 6,000,000 

Remains 12,000,000 

To this must be aWed, 1st the produce of 

the loan in Holland, 10,000,000 

2dly, The loan made by his Majesty for the 

service of the current year, 6,000,000 

Total of the capital of the debt contracted by 

the United States with his Majesty, 28,000,000 

I am ordered. Sir, to renew to you the demand, which 
I had the honor to make before, to the purport tbai Con- 
gress should authorise Dr Franklin to consolidate the 
principal and interest of that debt, by an obligation in 


proper form. You are so firmly resolved, Sir, to pre- 
serve the order you have introduced into your department, 
that it would he superfluous to reiterate to you the assur- 
ance, that his Majesty will under no pretext exceed the 
sunj of six millions, which he has determined to advance 
to the United States for the current year. This exact- 
ness, which is in all cases indispensable, has become still 
more so now, that the enemy seem determined to adopt 
a system, which obliges us to turn the greatest part of 
our resources to a marine. I am persuaded, Sir, that 
you can have no doubt as to the interest of Loan Office 
certificates, and that you will not consider it as being at 
our expense, seeing that no engagement of that sort has 
ever been taken by us. If bills for this interest should 
continue to be forwarded, those who draw must provide 
for the payment of them. 
.,,j..,..H'.; .^--.u:,;.;. ":Hi-.-- ..^v-v.^^: • :•); .• LUZERNE. 


Office of Finance, May 29th, 1782. 

Dear Sir, 
' I do myself the honor to enclose you copies of two 
Acts of Congress, one o( the 5th of June, and the other of 
the ISth of June, 1779, relating to the affairs of INI. de 

You will observe, Sir, that you were authorised to 
pledge the faith of the United States to the Court of Ver- 
sailles for obtaining money or credit to honor the drafts on 
you. There is a mysteriousness in this transaction arising 
from the very nature of it, which will not admit of expla- 
nation here, neither can you go so fully into an explanation 


with the Court. M. de Beaumarchais certainly had not 
funds of his own to make such considerable expenditures; 
neither is there any reason to believe that he had credit. 
If the Court advanced money it must be a secret ; but 
there would be no difficulty in giving an order in your 
favor for the sum necessary to pay those bills, and, there- 
fore, measures might be taken to obtain from him the 
reimbursement of any sums he might have received. 
Consequently, there would be no actual advance of money 
made, as the whole might be managed by the passing of 
proper receipts from you to the Court, from M. de Beau- 
marchais to you, and fiorn the Court to him. 

I wish that yon would apply on this subject and get it 
adjusted. The diverting Irom a loan, for the service of 
the current year, so considerable a |)art as that due to M. 
de Beaumarchais, will defeat the object for which it was 
granted. It ought not, therefore, to be done if possible 
to be avoided. 

With respect and esteem, I am, he. 



Office of Finance, May 30th, 1782. 
1 received your letters of the 7ih, 9th, 14ih, J 8th, and 
21st of May. The resolutions of the House of Delegates, 
passed on the 20th, have been submitted to Congress, 
and they have referred the matter to Mr Rutledge, and 
Mr Clymer, two of their members, who are going on 
special business to the southward. Your letters contain a 
great many particulars, which I shall briefly enumerate, 


and take notice of; many of them arc; of a private mid 
personal nature, and therefore ought not in any case to 
have influenced the determinations on a milter of great 
public importance. I should pay no attention to them, if 
I were not persuaded, that the design is not so much to 
injure me, as to involve the national affairs committed to 

I find there are made against me personally, the follow- 
ing charges. 

1st. That I have robbed the Eastern States of their 

2dly. That I am partial to Peiuisylvania, being com- 
mercially connected with half the merchants of Pliila- 

3dly. That I am partial to the disaffected. 

4ihly. That I have established a bank for sinister 

5thly. That my plan and that of Pennsylvania, are to 
keep Virginia poor, and •* 

6ihly. That with the Secretary of Congress and Mr 
Coffin I am engaged in speculation. 

As to the first point, I believe the Eastern States have 
a very different opinion of the matter, although there may 
be one or two persons in some pai't of those States, who 
from their great latitude of conscience, would not scruple 
to assei;t what they know to be false. Those who make 
and respect such assertions, must be content to pass for 
the authors and inventors of untruths, with design to injure 
the public service and sow dissensions among the States. 
I liave not received from the Eastern States, any more 
than fiom the Southern States, one shilling of specie, since 
1 was appointed to my present office, allhougb 1 have sent 
VOL. XII. 22 


very considerable sums from hence, both eastward and 
southward, as the exigencies of the service required. 

As to the second point, that I am commercially con- 
cerned with half the merchants of Philadelphia, if that 
were as true as it is false, the conclusion, that 1 am par- 
tial to Pennsylvania would by no means follow. A mer- 
chant, as such, can be attached particularly to no country. 
His mere place of residence, is as merchant perfectly 
accidental, and it would be just as reasonable to conclude, 
that an American residing at L'Orient, and trading to 
China, must be partial to the French «nd Chinese. I 
know that this story of ray partiality to Pennsylvania has 
been very assidueusly circulated, and has obtained an ex- 
tensive currency It was supposed thst I must be partial 
to Pennsylvania, because I reside in it. The assertion 
therefore was made, and the contracts I liad entered into 
were brought as the evidence to support it. I have re- 
ceived from Pennsylvania, for the service of the last year, 
one Inmdred and eighty thousaixi dollars, besides a war- 
rant on tiieir treasury for near ninety thousand, which is 
not yet paid. The contracts in Pennsylvania have not 
amounted to that sum. Is there a Slate in the Union, 
which can say I received from them one shilling for 
the last year ? There is not one. But I can demonstrate 
that while I was charged with this partiality, I had ex- 
hausted my credit, and supplied every shilling of money, 
which I could command from my private fortime, to sup- 
port and succor the Southern States. But this was not 
from a partiality in their favor, for I will neither endeavor 
to ingratiate myself with thecn, on such principle?, nor 
subject myself to the ignominy of just reproach from others. 
It was for the general good. 


Thatl^am partial to the disafFected is among those 
ilirecidbare topics of defamation, which have been so 
generally applied, that they have lost their effect. But I 
have remarked, that this particular aspersion is generally 
cast on those who least deserve it, and by those who are 
in a fair way of becoming disafFected themselves. I am 
not very sorry fo'r this charge, because it shows, that while 
I have inveterate enemies, they have nothing to allege 
against me, and must resort to the regions of fiction for- 
the ground of calumny. 

That I have established the bank I shall confess. That 
bank has already saved America from the efforts of her 
avowed, and. the intrigues of her concealed enemies; and 
it has saved her from those, who, while they clamor loudly 
against the administration for doing so little, sedulously 
labor to deprive it of the means of doing anyihiiig. The 
bank will exist in spile of calumny, operate in spite of 
opposition, and do good in spite of malevolence. If there 
be s'rnistei' j)urposes in view, it must be easy to show what 
they are. The operations ol" a bank are such plain mat- 
ters of arithmetic, that those who run may read. There 
is nothing of mystery, disguise, or concealment. If, there- 
fore, these sinister views cannot be shown, (and I know 
that they cannot) that defect of^ proof, after the charge 
made, is itself a proof that the thing does not exist. But 
the matter does not terminate here. A groundless un- 
founded opposition against measures of public utility, must 
proceed from some cause. If it proceed from an oppo- 
sition to the public interests, their conduct k dangerous ; 
but if it proceed from aversion to me, 1 pity them. 

That I should, or that Pennsylvania should have a plan 
10 keep Virginia poor, is a strange assertion. I believe 


tb.nt Pennsylvania will probably be rich, the soil and clinate 
are good, and the people are quiet and industrious. 
Their rulers also begin to be sensible' of therr true in- 
terests. They encourage commerce, h^ive laid aside all 
the idle systems of specific supphes, .an 1 content them- 
selves with la-ying money taxes. There can be no doubt 
but that such a |)eople must become rich.* On the other 
hand, if Virginia, or any other Slate, be poor, it must be 
their own fault. Prudence, diligence, and economy, pro- 
mote national pros|)erity ; and vice, indolence, and prodi- 
gality, involve nalioudl ruin. I am so far from wishing to 
i : j)r)verish Virginia, ihat I have constantly labored, both 
in my public and private applications to bring about those 
measures, wiiich are calculated to make her wealthy and 
powerful. In the moment of cool reflection this will be 
ackuowledgi'd ; wlienever my measures are adopted, it 
will be known, and in that moment those who from igno- 
rance, or wickedness, have opposed themselves to their 
country's good, will be known and despised^. ' The charge 
of speculating, in conjunction witli the Secretary ol Con- 
gress and Mr Coffin, is one of those foolish things, which 
are not vvonh an answer. The whole business was knowtj 
to the General, and after him, to a committee of Congress, 
before anything was done. 

You tell me further, that there are jealousies and resent- 
ments against Congress, for a design to curtail the terri- 
tory of Virginia ; that it is alleged no money can come 
into the country, while bank notes and bills on Philadel- 
phia will purchase tobacco; and that the enemy having 
failed to subdue Virginia by force, would now try the arts 
of seduction, wherefore great care ought to be taken in 
preventing any intercourse with then). As to any design 


in Cong I ess to ciii'tail Virginia, if there be sucl), 1 know 
noiliing of it. Congress will undoubtedly |)ursue the line 
of justice, and might be juslly offended were they chargQd 
vviih that design, which you say has offended Virginia. 
There was a time when Pennsylvania clamored loudly 
aiiainst Congress. It impeded the public service, and in- 
jured the rej)utation of Penns} Ivania, without producing 
any good, much less a counterbalance for the eyils, which 
it did produce. Happily all those heats have subsided, 
and Pennsylvania is now, what I hope Virginia will soon 
be, the zealous supporter of Congress. 

The means of bringing money into a country are 
very simple, being nothing more than the creating a 
demand for it. If every man be obliged to get some 
money, every man must part with something to get 
Inoney^ This makes things cheap*, and those who 
have money always choose to expend it where things 
are cheapest. But what is the predilection in favor of 
specie ? If bank notes answer the purposes of money 
the man who receives them has every benefit, which 
he could derive from specie. If they will not answer 
those purposes, no man will receive them ; and thea 
Virginia will not be troubled with them. If money is 
due from Virginia, to Pennsylvania or Maryland, it 
must go thither, and the only way to get it back again 
is to sell something cheaper than Pennsyh'ania or 
Maryland will sell it. As to any profit made by the 
bank in issuing their paper, gentlemen in Virginia may 
easily share it by purchasing stock, which can be had 
here for the eubscription and interest. 

That the enemy have been foiled in their attempts 
to subdue Virginia is true, and when we recollect the 


means by which they were foiled, it will not only ob- 
viate the charges of partiality, but show the advan- 
tages of unanimity; and ought to become a motive to 
cultivate harmony and excite exertion. That the 
enemy will try the arts of seduction I verily believe, 
or rather that these arts have been tried, but I do not 
believe they have the will or the power to buy many. 
It will sufficiently answer their purposes, if they can 
promote disunion among us, because our concord is Our 
only safety. To produce disunion nothing more is 
necessary than to set at work a few turbulent spirits. 
Neither do I see that they need be at the trouble of 
sending ships into the harbors of the several States, 
because such negotiations may be accomplished with- 
out that trouble or parade. 

You tell me that the Executive of Virginia refused 
the passports, because they deemed the commerce and 
intercourse with the enemy to be dangerous. There 
can be no doubt, that a commerce with the enemy is 
not only dangerous but highly reprehensible, and if 
the transaction in question could be considered as a 
commerce of that sort, I would readily join in the 
censure. But if there was a commerce, it was by the 
capitulation, and the present object relates only to the 
mode of paying a debt already contracted under that 
solemn agreement. 

You tell me, also, that it is the Governor's opinion, 
that the State should have the benefit resulting from 
the passports, because the undoubted power of granting 
such passports is in the State ; and in another letter 
you say it has been urged in argument, that Congress 
have no right to grant the passports. As the right is 


thus brought in question, it is to be presumed, that 
should that right be in Congress, the Governor's argu- 
ment must operate in their favor. If I am rightly 
informed; their riglu. on this occasion is not only un- 
questionable, but it is exclusive ; and I ani told that 
numerous instances have occurred in which vessels 
having passports from one State have been captured by 
the privateers of another Stale, and been adjudged 
lawful prize. Judge Griffin, who is now in Virginia, 
can doubtless give information on this subject, and if 
one could be allowed to determine where the right is 
from where it ought to be, there can be no doubt but 
that it must be in Congress. If this be so, then the 
assertions about delivering the rights of Virginia into 
the hands of Congress, must be considered as nothing 
more than mere flowers of rhetoric, which are very 
good to please an audience, but ought not to influence 
or convince a legislative body. 

How it can be said, that these passports contravene 
the resolutions of Congress for confiscating British 
manufactures within the United States, I am at a loss 
to conceive, and shall be, unless it can be proved, that 
tobacco is a British manufacture. For I cannot sup- 
pose, that it is intended to confiscate that property, 
which, having been secured by the capitulation, is un- 
der the protection of the law of nations, which law 
must always be taken notice of and respected by the 
municipal law of every civilized country. As to the 
laws of Virginia, which may be contravened by it, I 
cannot speak decidedly, but I have a pretty strong 
reason to doubt the truth of this assertion, and it will 
presently be assigned. But of all things in the world 


the most ridiculous is the assertion, that this would 
give cause of complaint to the King of France. There 
is something of the same kind in the resolutions of the 
Delegates, which I will now consider ; observing be- 
forehandj that the objection would come rather unfor- 
tunately, should it be made by men, whose zeal for 
the honor and interest of his Most Christian Majesty 
has never shown itself, except in the present moment, 
and then by exciting discord among his allies. 

The resolutions, being the act of a respectable body, 
are deserving of respect, and shall meet with it from 
me. But I must take the liberty to tliffer from them 
in some of their positions. It is resolve<l first, that 
allowing the capitulants to export tobacco is not ivar- 
ranied by the capitulation. Much of what follows de- 
pends on the equivocal sense of the word wtirranted. 
If by that word is meant enjoined, or directed, the 
position is just, but if the idpa to be conveyed is, that 
such exportation is noi- permitted, then the position is 
untrue. The exportation is very clearly permitted by 
the capitulation, because the capitulation dues not pro- 
hibit it, nor indeed say anything about it. But in a 
day or two after the capitulation an agreement was 
made for the purchase of goods payable in tobacco, 
which is now sanctioned by. the Delegates in the last 
of their resolutions. Clearly, therefore, the exporta- 
tion of tobacco in payment for British goods, is (in 
the judgment of the Delegates) permitted by the capit- 

The second resolution seems to go upon a mistake.- 
The Acts of Congress for confiscating British manu- 
factures, as I have already observed in another place, 


cannot, I should imagine, be contrary to the laws of 
the Commonwealth, or else it would not have been 
permitted in another instance, for the Delegates cannot 
be supposed to intend a breach of the law, and still less 
can they be supposed to mean, that it was lawful for 
the general and the State Agent to do what it is not 
lawful for the United States in Congress to do. 

The third resolution, quoting a part of an article in 
the treaty of commerce, appears to me to be rather in- 
conclusive. The object of that article was to make 
provision in a case which might happen, when one of 
the high contracting parties was at peace, and the other 
at war, which is not the case at present. The sense 
which France entertains on this subject may clearly be 
learnt from the various capitulations granted to the 
conquered Islands ; and if I am not much misinformed 
the sense of Virginia on this very question of exporting 
tobacco may be found, by consulting sundry instances 
of the kind subsequent to the capitulation of York. 

The fourth resolution is a conclusion drawn from the 
three preceding, and says that the capitulation does 
not warrant the enemy to export tobacco, and that 
such exportation would be contravening the regulations 
of the United States, and contrary to the laws of the 
Commonwealth, wherefore the vessels ought not to be 
permitted to load. The premises on which this con- 
clusion is founded being unsupported, the conclusion 
itself must fall, or else the next succeeding resolution 
ought to be revoked. 

The industry which you say has been used on this 
occasion would not have surprised me, if our affairs 
had been in such train, that tfie country wa^ entirely 
VOL. XII. 23 


out of danger. But under oi:r present circumstances, 
it both nstonishes and afflicts me, not for myself, but 
for the public. Men may flatter themselves, that all 
is safe and well, and endeavor to shrink from the pub- 
lic burdens and embarrass the public operations, but 
the consequence is clear and certain. The enemy 
know they cannot conquer, and therefore seek to 
divide us. Convinced that the Northern and Eastern 
States cannot even ihen be subdued, their ultimate 
ambition now is to subjugate those to the southward, 
and the only means under heaven of preventing it is 
by unanimity. That the other States should be 
plunged into hasty measures, pregnant with disunion, 
might have been expected, but that any inhabitants of 
a State, deeply interested to pursue the contrary con- 
duct, should be so blind both to the duty and interest 
of that State will scarcely be believed hereafter, and 
could not have happened now, but from causes which 
would bear a harder name than I shall give them. 
I am, Sir, &:c. 



Office of Finance, May 31 st, 1782 
I perceive that on the 29lh instant Congress re- 
solved, "that the salaries and allowances to which the 
public servants of the United States are, or shall be 
entitled, be in future paid by the Superintendent of 
Finance, and of the moneys which shall from time to 
time be in-his hands, and that the said public servants 


be authorised to make quarterly drafts on him for that 
purpose." The tenor of this resolution would, I be- 
lieve, give to every officer of the United States, both 
civil and military, the right of drawing upon me, 
which would be liable to this objection among many 
others, that I should frequently be obliged to protest 
the bills for want of funds to discharge them. If, 
therefore, the object of the resolution was to provide 
for the foreign servants only, it might, perhaps, be 
proper to make some alteration in the terms. 

But I would submit to Congress whether a better 
mode might not be devised for payment of the salaries 
in question. It will tend greatly to simplify the 
public accounts if those of each Department be brought 
under one separate head, whereas if bills are to be 
drawn by every public officer much confusion would 
be introduced, and forged bills might be paid without 
a possibility of detecting the forgery. The present 
mode which I have adopted is, that the accounts of 
each Department of the civil list be made up and 
settled at the treasury quarterly, and that a warrant 
issue for the amount. If this mode be pursued \vith 
respect to the Department of Foreign AlGTairs, the 
moneys may be remitted to those who are abroad by 
the Secretary of Foreign AjQairs, until they shall have 
appointed their respective agents to receive it for them 
here. This will not only simplify the accounts, but 
be of great use to the parties, because in some cases 
they may be unable to sell their bills on this country 
at all, and in others they must suffer a considerable 
loss. And if obliged to send such drafts on their own 
account to obtain payment of their salaries, much time 


may be lost by. delay in tedious passages and other 
accidents, and of course they will be exposed unneces- 
sarily to inconveniences and disappointments. 

1 am, Sir, he. 



Office of Finance, June ]st, 1782. 


I have received your favor of the 13th of May last, 
enclosing an account of moneys you had received. The 
particular details you have entered into are a pleasing 
circumstance to me, as they show your accuracy and 
attention ; but as such returns will consume much time and 
be of no correspondent utility, it will not be necessary to 
continue them ; but in general state to me the amount of 
cash received, the amount of cash exchanged, ilie amount 
of cash in hand, the amount of bank notes in hand, and 
the amount of my notes in hand. 

It would be of great use to the State that the special ac- 
count of the money received from each collector should be 
published ; and when they place you in the situation requir- 
ed by Congress, it will forfn a part of your duty. In the 
interim you had better avoid any discussion on the subject, 
which may lead to disagreeable altercation. If the sum 
total received from each collector were published, in order 
to render the system complete it would be proper, that 
every such collector should be obliged to deposit, in some 
place within the circle of his collection, such account of his 
receipts for th'e public inspection, that every man n)ight 
see whether the moneys he had paid were fairly delivered 


You will do well to explain iliis whole system to men of 
discernment in your legislature. My object in this branch 
of administnuion is to enable each individual man to trace 
the money he pays, from his own pocket into the public 
treasury. To this I shall add accounts of equal notoriety, 
by which every man who can read (being previously in- 
formed as above of the sucn total of receipts) may perceive 
the manner in which the public treasure is expended and 
appropriated. A similar line of conduct will be pursued 
with respect to all funds which may be granted for liquida- 
tion of the national debt. 

Finally, when all the world can perceive that our revenue 
is equal to our expenditure, and that new revenues are de- 
vising, and the old daily placing in a better state of collec- 
tion, our credit will be firmly established ; that will enable 
the public to command money in any emergency, both at 
home and abroad ; that again will put us in a situation to 
make active, vigorous exertions, and thus we shall come to 
be beloved by our friends, feared by our enemies, and re- 
spected by all mankind. In this natural progress and order 
of things, I must expect of the several States, as the servant 
of the United States, a revenue ample in its extent, punc- 
tual in the payment, and absolutely at my (fisposition. In 
return for such grants the States are to expect from a Su- 
perintendent of Finance, vigilance, integrity, order and 
economy. Should he be dfificient in these duties he will 
deserve to be removed and punished. Should the States 
be deficient they must allow him to complain, they must 
expect him to remonstrate, and finally they njust not be 
surprised if their negligence, boding ruin to their country, 
be pointed out, and exposed, and reprehended. 
Your most obedient, he 





Paris, June 3d, 1782. 

The liealtli of poor Francy not yet permitting him to 
hazard another voyage to America, I find n)yseif obliged 
(to my very great loss and regret) to postpone the hope of 
closing and settling all my accounts with the General Con- 
gress, until he sl)all have lecovered sufficient strength for 
his voyage ; he alone being able to resume the thread and 
instructions of an affair, which he has already pursued 
with so much assiduity during three years. 

From one merchant to another, the extract of the ac- 
count adjusted in France by the person authorised, who has 
ordered and vouched all my advances, and which I have 
the honor herewith to address to you, would be sufficient 
for the entire settlement of my account ; but n)y business 
lies with an association of United States, who have intrusted 
the administration of their most valuable interests, to an 
assembly of citizens, to a General Congress, the members 
of which are continually changed, and as continually liable 
to view transactions of the oldest date, and those which 
have been most thoroughly investigated at other times, with 
the same uncertainty and ignorance of circumstances, as if 
they were new events. From whence arises the necessity 
of causing my accounts to be adjusted and settled by the 
same agent, who has already presented and discussed them, 
agreeably to the vouchers in his possession ; which M. de 
Francy will do as soon as his health will ()eraiit him to un- 
dertake a voyage at sea. 


In the meantime, Sir, I have the honor to address to you 
a faithful abstract of my accounts, as tl'.ey have been settled 
by Mr Deane, with whom alone, on behalf of the General 
Congress, 1 treated. His misfortunes, the malice with 
which his character, naturally mild and unifonn, has been 
aspersed, and the complaints which 1 have heard in this 
country against certain of his writing"^, (of which I have not 
yet seen any) since the English papers made tlsem public, 
have not changed the opinion I liad formed of him ; and 1 
wiil always do him the justice to say, tliat he is one of those 
men, who have contributed most to tlie alliance of France 
with the United States. I will even add, that his laudable 
endeavors in the most difficult limes merited, perhaps, an- 
other recompense. I see there are jiUrigues among Repub- 
licans, as well as iri the Courts cf Kings. Tliis digression, 
(which a compassionate feeling for a man, worthy of a bet- 
ter lot, forces from me in writing; to you, to you, Sir, who 
have loved him as I do,) this digression excused, I resume 
my affair ; and I request of you. Sir, to engage Congress to 
assist me by the very first opportunity, with hills of ex- 
ciiange, such as the first which I received in 1779. Though 
they are not yet payable, and though 1 have been obliged 
to undergo the heaviest losses in order to make them ser- 
viceable, I cannot support the weighty burden of my credit 
to America, (with which alone I should be able to settle 
rny debts in Europe,) without having, at least, an object 
representative of tliis said credit in my hands. And neither 
the Congress nor 1 should look too minutely to the lasses 
that 1 sustain in the negotiation of this paper. It is one of 
the events, one of the indispensable consequences of the 
nature and situation of things. Have then the justice. Sir, 
to remit to me as speedily as possible, if not tha whole of 


my account, at least a large part of what is due to me b}^ 
Congress in bills of exchange, reserving what may be ob- 
jected to in the account and its full proof, until Francy may 
be able to repair to Philadelphia. My very embarrassed 
situation will cause me to receive this strict justice from 
Congress as a favor, and 1 shall be under the greatest obli- 
gation to you for it. 

Receive, Sir, all my congratulations on the merited con- 
fidence which your fellow-citizens have placed in yoii. No 
man can entertain a greater esteem for your person and 
superior talents than I do. Messrs De Francy and Deane 
have taught me to become acquainted with you ; and it is 
after the most deliberate affection that 1 subscribe myself, 
with the most respectful regard and acknowledgement. Sir, 
your obedient servant. 



Dr the Honorable Congj-ess of the United States in 
Jiccount Current with Caron de Beaumarchais. 

Livres. s. d. 
To so much paid Messrs Du Cou- 

dray & Le Brun, .... 3^600 

To ditto paid ditto, .... 4^400 

To ditto paid ditto, .... 7^200 

To ditto paid Mr Silas Deane, - - 20,000 

To ditto paid Messrs Du Coudray & Le 

Brun, 12,000 

To ditto paid ditto, .... 12,000 

To ditto paid the Chevalier Prudhomme 

de Bore, - - - - - - 2,400 

27, To ditto paid ditto. .... 2,100 
















Livres. s. d. 
Dec. 4, To ditto paid Messrs Du Coudray & Le 

Brun, 53,54113 4 

,, 5, To ditto.paid ditto, .... 4,800 

„ „ To ditto paid Mr Silas Deane, - - 2,400 

„ 6, To „ „ M. de Vrigny, - • 600 

,, 12, To ,, ,, Mr Rogers, - - - 240 

„ 13, To amount of the cargo and expenses to 
departure of the ship Amphitrite, in- 
surance, freight, and commission on 

the outfit, 079,493 8 3 

„ 14, Toso much paid M. de Goy, - - 240 

„ 26, Ta ditto reimbursed to M. de Montieu 

per Silas Deane, . . . . 41116 

„ „ To commission at 1 per cent on the above 

payments made to Mr Deane, - ' 228 1 

Jan. 15, To amount of the ship Seine, her cargo, 
charges to departure, insurance, freight, 
and commission on the outfit, - - 784,631 2 10 
Feb. 5, To amount of the cargo and charges to 
the departure of the ship 'Mercury, in- 
surance, freight, and commission of 

the outfit, 878,758 13 

., 15, To ditto of the ship ,47«e/<«, - - 241,06815 3 

„ 27, To so much paid Goy, - - 800 

To commission at 1 per cent on the sev- 
eral payments as above made to Messrs 
Du Coudray, Le Brun, and others, - 1,039 4 

May 10, To amount of the cargo and expenses to 
departure of the ship Teresia, insur- 
ance, freight, and commission on the 

outfit, 1,062,85317 6 

„ 15, To ditto nf the Hh\p Mrc Bohi, - - 89,460 1 
June 10, To ,. „ MnrM Catherina, - 166,217 6 3 

Sept. 25, To „ „ Flamand, - ■ 630,19514 

Nov. 26. To ditto of an account of expenses incur- 
red at St Domingue, by M. Carabasse, 
relative to the cargoes of the ships 
TereMn and Amelia, - - 122,882 7 3 

vol.. XII. 24 


1778, Livres. s. d. 

May 27, To amount of a second account, ditto, 23,037 11 1« 

April G, To commission at 

i per cent on 25,000 

30,000 ^T:lP-¥_^l!". 


on Paris. 995 


„ „ To amount of the account of interest at G 

per cent per annum, as particularized 

hereafter, 1,167,250 

Livres, 6,274,844 11 G 
Contra Cr. 

1777, Livres s. d. 

Aug. 23. By net proceeds of the returned cargo of 

the Mcrcunj. 18,728 7 

Feb. 27, By ditto, ditto of the Amphitritc, - - 135,338 8 9 

April 17, By remittance to Mr Francy of 20,000 
dollars at 4 for 1 is, at 5 livres tournois 
for a dollar, - - - - - 25,000 

May 26, By ditto of 24,000- dollars at ditto ditto 30,000 

Oct. 22, By net proceeds of the returned cargo of 

the Teresia, 124,139 9 6 

May 5, By ditto of the Amdia, passed on memo- 
randum, waiting the final of accounts 
of M. Carabasse, the shipper in this 
June 26, By net proceeds of 231 hhds tobacco per 
the Fier Rodrigue, reduced to 115<^, on 
account of the freight being one half, 74,905 3 9 

June 25, By remittances on Dr Franklin to the 
15th of June, 1780, viz. 

74,000 i 

72,000 ( = 144,000* 

•There appears to be an error in adding up this sum, viz 74,000 
and 72.000, amount to 146,000, 


Livres. s. d. 
April 6, By balance due to me from the honorable 

Congress, .... 5,722,723 2 6 

Livres, 6,274,844 11 6 

Errors and omissions excepted. 

Paris, April 6th, 1781. 

Dr the Honor able Congress in their new Account Cur- 
rent with Cnron de Beaumarchais. 

1781 J Livres. s. d. 

April 6, To balance due to me on the preceding 

account, 5,722,723 2 6 

May 18, To commission at i^ per cent on 144,000 

and 2,544,000 making 2,688,000, in r? 
bills on Paris, 13,440 ...t/. 
„ ,, To amount of interest account at 6 per 
cent per annum, as particularized here- 
after, 382,69818. 

„ „ To commission at 2^ per cent to M. d.e 
Francy on the returns from America, 
. .: . viz. 

On 552,121 9 amount of the returns to the 
credit of their account settled the 6th 
of April, 1781, 
2,882,33210 9 amount of the returns to 

the credit of the account settled this .y-.'.' 

3,434,453 19 9 at 2^ per cent, - - 85,861 6 

Livres, 6,204,723 6 6 

Contra Cr. * 

1781, Livres. s. d. 

June 25, By remittances on Dr Franklin to the 

25thof June, 1781, - : 144,0Q0 


Livres. s. d 

July 20, By net proceeds of 150 hlids tobacco per 
the ship Peru, reduced to 75, on ac- 
count ofthe freight being one half, 34/J91 19 

„ „ By ditto of 176 hhds tobacco per the Tioo 

Helenas, reduced to 83 by the freight, 49,826 19 

„ „ By ditto of 32 hhds ditto per Good Man 

Richard, reduced to 16 by the freight, 6,141 5 

„ „ By ditto of 188 hhds ditto per the Polly, 
reduced to 125^, the freight being one 
third, - - - ... - 55,87214 9 

Oct. 1, By ditto of 159 hhds ditto per Fier Ro- 
drigue, reduced to 79J by the freight at 
one half, - - - - - 47,499 13 

„ „ By 15 hhds ditto per tlie Jean and which 
were lost, this vessel having foundered 
at sea, (for memorandum.) 

May 18, By remittances on Dr Franklin to the 
25th of June, 1782, passed here in anti- 
cipation, amounting to - - 2,544,000 

„ „ By balance due to me from the Honora- 
ble Congress, - - - - 3,322,390 15 9 

Livres, 6,204,723 6 

Dr the Honorable Congress. 

May 18, To balance due to me on the above ac- 
count, 3,322,39015 9 

Closed the above account, as well debit as credit, of the sum of 
six millions two hundred and four thousand seven hundred and 
twentythree livres, six sols, and six deniers tournois ; on which tlie 
Honorable Congress of the United States of America owe me as bal- 
ance the sura of three millions three hundred and twentytwo thou- 
sand three hundied and ninety livres, fifteen sols, and nine deniers 


Dr, moreover, the Honorable Congress. 

To amount of the drafts of General Lincoln, drawn at Charles- 
ton, in the month of March, 1780, on Samuel Huntington, Presi- 
dent of Congress, to the order of M. de Francy, for the purchase of 
the cargo of the corvette the Zephyr, sold by Captain Mainville to 
the said General Lincoln, Commander of the Southern army of the 
United States, for the sum of two hundred and twentyfour thousand 
three hundred dollars, (this for inevwrandum,) for which two hun- 
dred and twentyfour thousand three hundred dollars I am yet to be 
credited, no return having been made to me 

Errors and omissions excepted. 


Paris, May 18th, 1782. 


•r, , : .;.■.' '.^ Office of Finance, June 4th, 1782. 

I have received your Excellency's letters ol the 17th 
and 25ili oi May, with the enclosure. I am much obliged 
by the alienlion paid in your circular letter to the situation 
of my department. 1 am very sorry to inlorm you that it 
is really deplorable. 1 with difficulty am enabled to per- 
form my engagements, and am absolutely precluded from 
formina; any new ones. 1 have therefore been under the 
verv disagreeable necessity of suffering the public service 
to stand still in more lines than one, 1 have been driven 
to the greatest shifts, and am at this moment unable to 
provide for the civil list. . 

1 can easily suppose that military H»en should murmur 
to find the salaries of the civil list more punctually paid 
iljan their own. To enter into arguments on this occasion 
will be unnecessary, for I am persuaded that your Excel- 


lency must be of opinion with me, that unless tbe civil list 
is paid neither civil nor military can exist at all. 

I am well persuaded of your Excellency's desire to pro- 
mote the success of those measures I have taken., because 
I am sure you are convinced that their tendency and my 
intentions are all directed to the public good. Indeed, my 
Dear Sir, you will hardly be able to form an adequate 
idea of the earnestness with which 1 desire to relieve you 
from the anxieties you must undergo. But when the 
several gazettes shall have announced the sums received 
for this year's service, and I am well convixiced that the 
whole did not on the 1st of June amount to twenty thous- 
and dollars; when it is recoUected that our expenses at 
the rate of eight millions annually, are near twenty thous- 
and dollars a day ; and when it is known that the estimates 
on which the demand was founded do not include many 
essential branches, among which the Marine and Foreign 
Affiiirs are to be numbered ; surely it cannot be a matter 
of surprise that the army are not paid ; surely the blame is 
to fall on those from whose negligence the evil originates. 
But I will not give you the pain of hearing me repeat com- 
})laints, which you know to be but too well founded. 
1 pray you to believe, that I am. Sir, Sic. 



Office of Finance, June 6th, 1782 

1 have received your letter of the 26th of May, from 
Richmond. It does by no means surprise me, after some 


Other tilings which have happened, that nn opposition is 
made to receiving my notes in taxes. I am indifferent 
about the event of those deliberations, which mfty be had 
on that snbject. If they choose rather to tax in coin, 1 
shall be content, for the coin will answer my purposes as 
well as the notes, which were only intended to anticipate 
the revenue, and supply that want of money, which is not 
a little complained of, and particubrly in Virginia. The 
views of those who oppose their circulation, 1 will not 
guess at, but I hope they may he virtuous and honorable 
motives, in which case, I shall only pity a want of under- 
standing to discover the true interests of their country. 
I am, your most obedient, &c. 



Office of Finance, June 7th, 1782. 
I received this morning the letter you did me the honor 
to write on the 6th. . Congress have asked fronri the sev;e- 
ral States a five per cent duty on goods imported, and on 
prizes and piize goods, as a fund for paying the principal 
and interest of their debts. This fund, when granted, will 
not be sufficient, and it is not yet granted by all. 1 expect, 
however, that the requisition will speedily be complied 
with. I shall not cease urging it, and also such further 
revenues as may be sufficient for the purpose. When 
they shall have been obtained, they will be duly applied in 
Jiquidation of the public debts; but luitil that period arrives, 


neither the principal nor the interest of such debts can be 

I have the honor to be, &c. 



Office of Finance, June 11th, 17812. 

1 have received the letter which you did tne the honor 
to write on the 3 1st of last month. I am so habituated to 
receive apologies instead of money, that I am not surprised 
at the contents of it. If complaints of difficulties were 
equivalent to cash, I should not conipiain that the quotas 
are unpaid. But unluckily this is not the case, and if the 
States really mean to prosecute the war, something more 
must be done than merely lo pass declaratory resolutions ; 
for no man can be found who will for such resolutions sup- 
ply food to our army. T am well persuaded, that the diffi- 
culties which any State labors under, proceed more from 
impolitic laws than any other source ; for as (o the taxes 
required, they are very moderate, when compared either 
wiMi the real wealth of the people, or llie former expenses 
which they, have borne. 

How far the quota asked from your State, is or is not 
proportionate, it is not my business to determine. I pre- 
sume it is right; but let it be as high as it may, 1 am per- 
suaded that when your specifics are ttn-ned into specie, 
and the various expenses attending such mode of taxation 
are paid, if the net amount be compared with the property 
taken from the people according to this simple proportion, 
(as the whole tax laid is to the net amount brought Into 


the treasury, so is tlie price of wheal, tobacco, or any 
other article fixed in the law, to a fourth number to be 
found,) if, I say, this comparison be made, it will appear 
that tlie people have sustained a greater loss, than any dis- 
proj)ortion in their quota could amount to. 

:ou must not, however, suppose that Maryland is sin- 
gular in considering her quota too high, so far from it, that 
I believe every State thinks so of its own quota, and would 
be very happy to apologise to the world for doing nothing, 
will) the thin and flimsy pretext, that it has been asked to 
do too much. 

You tell me your assembly would pledge an) species of 
security in their power to borrow money. I am persuaded 
that you think so, but you must pardon me for holding a 
different opinion, besides that their willingness in this respect 
can be of but little avail ; for while such extreme reluctance 
is shown to granting a sufficient revenue to pay past tlebts, 
you must not expect that any persons will rely on promises 
of future integrity. I believe your assembly, like all others 
on the continent, means well, and therefore I am in hopes 
that they will act well. But before they call on Hercules 
they must put their shoulders to the wheel. It is a vain 
thing to suppose that wars can be carried on by quibbles 
and puns, and yet laying taxes payable in specific articles 
amounts to no more, for with a great sound they put little 
or nothing in the treasury. 

I know of no persons who want your specific supplies, 
and, if they did, rely on it that they would rather contract 
with an individual of any State than with any State in the 
Union. I have yet met with no instance in which the arti- 
cles taken in for taxes are of the first quality, neither do I 
expect to meet with any ; and so little reliance can be 
VOL. XII. 25 


placed on them, as to punctuality, that you may depend 
they can never be sold but at a loss. This I have experi- 
enced. Somebody or other will make a good bargain out 
of you, and the best yon can make is to sell before the 
expenses eat up the whole. This will be buying experi- 
ence, and perhaps it may prove a cheap purchase. 

I am sorry that you are about to quit your office, and 
particularly sorry for the want of health which leads you to 
that determination. I had hopes that your endeavors would 
have brought things into order. I shall expect to hear from 
you soon bettor tidings. 
Yourr, &ic. 



Office of Finance, June 14th, 1782 

Mr Merrill in a letter of the seventh instant informs me, 
that your Excellency requested him to delay the publica- 
tion of receipts for your State. I am convinced, Sir, that 
you had good reasons for this request, and wish it were in 
my power still further to gratify your wishes. But I am 
under the necessity of insisting on the publication for the 
following reasons — 1st, To obviate the charge of partiality, 
if made in one State and not in others. 2dly, To show the 
deficiency of means granted for carrying on the war. 3dly, 
Thereby to exonerate those who are immediately respon- 
sible. And, 4thly, to direct the public to the real cause of 
our calamities. 

Your Excellency well knows that it is common for re- 


presentatives to aim at popularity, by lessening or procras- 
tinating the taxes of their constituents. It is proper, there- 
fore, that the people should know the situation to which 
such conduct reduces them. 

I have the honor to be, k,c. 



Office of Finance, June 16th 1782. 


I'hiive received this day your letter of the sixth instant. 
I find the publications of " no receipts^' are by no means 
very pleasing. iMen are less ashamed to do wrong, than 
vexed to be told of it. Mr Merrill of Connecticut delayed 
his publication in consequence of a request from the Gov- 
ernor. This he informed me of by letter, and I enclose you 
a copy of my answer. It contains some of tlie reasons why 
I insist on such publications, and I send them to you be- 
cause I think 1 can at this distance perceive, that some men 
will desire to know those reasons from you. 

I know it will be alleged that from such publications the 
enemy will derive information, but I am convinced they 
will gain all the knowledge of that sort, which they want, 
without our newspapers ; for the collection of taxes is a 
matter of too great notoriety to be concealed, and therefore 
I have long considered such arguments as mere excuses to 
keep the people in ignorance, and deceive them under pre- 
text of deceiving their enemies. 

I am, Sir, your most obedient, &c. 




OfSce of Finance, June 21st, 1783. 
I am informed that several of our officers have left be- 
hind iheni in New York considerable sums of money unpaid, 
which had been advanced to them while they were prisoners. 
The humanity of those, who have made such advances, as 
well as the princi[)les of justice, requires that they should 
be repaid. Rut there is another reason which has cons'd- 
erable weight on my mind. The establishment of a credit 
among our enemies by the punctual payment of such debts 
will induce them again to make advances, should the chjmce 
of war place any of our unfortunate officers in a situction to 
render it necessary. I am therefore to request of your 
Excellency (should you agree with me in opinion) that you 
would take measures to cause tiie amount of those debts 
to be particularly ascertained, in order that I may devise 
some means of discharging tiiem as soon as the state of the 
treasury will permit. 
I am. Sir, &c. 



Office of Finance, June 2Gth, 1782- 

Finding that your State has made advances of pay to 
their troops, it becomes my duty to inform your Excellency, 
that Congress included in their estimates, amounting to 
eight millions, the sums necessary for paying the army ; of 
consequence there can be no use in making such payments 


by the several States. I must also observe, Sir, that par- 
tial payments or supplies of any kind have been found by 
experience to give general d'ssatisfaclion, and therefore the 
determination to discontinue them has been long since 

Tlie variety of accounts also is dangerous and expensive, 
and therefore to be avoided. I might add other reasons 
why such payments by the States cannot be admitted 
in abatement of their respective quotas. The same rea- 
sons also operate against the admission of charges for 
supplies of any kind, or certificates thereof as deductions 
from tliose quotas. I have written to Mr Olney on the 
subject, the 23d instant ; and am now to pray your Excel- 
lency's attention and assistance to prevent such irregularities 
in future. The more our operations are simplified, the 
belter will they be understood, and the more satisfactorily 
will they be conducted. Congress have asked for men 
and money. Those granted, they will ask for nothing 
more, and I persuade myself, that if consistently with the 
confederation, they could confine their requisitions to money 
alone, the peo|>le at large would derive relief from it, the 
Legislature would act with greater ease, and our resources 
be applied with greater vigor. 

I have the honor to be, &ic. 



Office of Finance, June 29th, 17S2. 
Dear Sir, 
I have received your favors of the Sth and 1 6th instant, 
the former enclosing alterations proposed in the present 


mode of issues, and the latter a copy of your circular 
letter to the States of the 4ih of May. I pray you 
to accept my thanks for these communications. I consent 
to tlie alterations mentioned, and shall be very happy that 
harmony be restored j for I do assure you that let tli£ 
cause of disputes be what it may, I am extremely sorry to 
find that any exist. 

I find that you have misunderstood that part of my 
letter which relates to the complaints of the officers. My 
design was not to oppose any arrangement which might 
contribute to their convenience. I only meant to show 
that iheir convenience bav'ing been consulted in the first 
instance, the mode had excited uneasiness, and that the 
endeavor to remove iliat uneasiness having excited com- 
plaint and remonstrance, the direct compliance with 
the reasoning adopted by them would produce greater 
hardship, than that vvfiicb was complained of. Hence 
follows the inference which was on my mind, that a spirit 
of accommodation alone could place all parlies at their 
ease, and I supposed that the interest of the contractors on 
one hand, and the convenience of the army on the other, 
would produce that accommodating disposition in both. 
1 am happy to find that matters are now in a train towards 
that desirable end, and much lament that it has not sooner 
n I lived. 

I shall close what I have to say on this subject, by 
assuring you most confidentially, that I will to the utmost 
of my power do justice, and brir.g relief to both officers 
and soldiers, but as those things can only be effected by 
exact method and economy, so I must pursue that method 
and economy, as the only means by which the desired 
end can be obtained. 


Willi respect to the civil list, I shall say but one or two 
words. I know well tlie connexion, which ties together 
all the public servants, and I lament every comparison, 
which implies a distinction between them. The civil list 
consists chiefly of persons whose salaries will not do more 
tlian find them foo.d and clothing. Many of them com- 
plain, that with great parsimony they cannot obtain even 
those necessaries. The difference then between them 
and the army, supposing the latter to get but four months' 
pay out of twelve, is that both would be alike subsisted, 
and the army would iiave an arrearage of eight months' 
pay to receive at a future period, but liie civil list would 
have to receive nothing. 

I am, my Dear Sir, &,c. 



• ■ ■ Office of Finance, July 1st, 1782. 


I have deferred until this moment my answer to your 
letters of the 4th, 9th, and SOth, of IVIarch, in expectation 
that I should have heard from you by the rvJarquis de 
Lafayette. A vessel now about to depart induces me to 
address you. I enclose an Act of Congress, by which you 
are empowered to adjust the public accounts with the 
Court of France. I wish this may be done, and the 
amount transmitted hither, that arrangements rnay be taken 
for ascertaining the times and the modes of payment. 
You will at the same time observe, that it is deterfnined 
to appoint a commissioner for liquidating and finally ad- 
justing the accounts of the public servants of Congress in 



The Minister here, in a letter to me of the 25th cf 
May last, gives the following stale of moneys granted by 
France, viz. 

"These advances have been made at the following \)e- 
riods, and are payable with interest, according to the obli- 
gations and acknovvledgenjeuts of Dr Franklin. 
"In 1778, 3,000,000 

1779, 1,000,000 

17S0, 4,000,000 

1781, 10,000,000 

Total 18,000,000 
"From this sum must be deducted the 
gratuitous subsidy of last year, 6,000,000 

Remains 12,000,000 
"To this must be added, 
1st. The produce of the loan in Holland, 10,000,000 

iJdIy. The loan made by his Majesty fur 
the current year, 0,000,000 

"Capital of the debt due to his Maj- 
esty by the United States, 28,000,000" 
' I think it right to send you this statement, on which I 
will make a few observations. I could have wisiied that 
the whole of the moneys, which the Court have furnished 
us had been what the greater part is,, a loan. I know- 
that the United States will find no difficulty in making 
payment, and I take this opportunity to give you an assur- 
ance, which is not meant for the Court, that I will- en- 
deavor to provide e«e« nor^> the means of repayment, by 
getting laws passed, to take effect at a future period, or 
otherwise, as shall be most convenient and agreeable to all 


parties, after the amount is ascertained and the times of 
payment fixed. I wish it bad all been a loan, because I 
do not think the weight ol" the debt would be so great as 
the weight of an obligation is generally found to be, and 
the latter is of all others what I would least wish to labor 
under, either in a public or private capacity. A still further 
reason with me is, that there is less pain in soliciting the 
aid of a loan, when there is no expectation that it is to 
be a gift. 

Prompied by such reasons, 1 could be well content, tint 
the advances made previously lo the year 1778, were by 
some means or other brought into this account. By Mr 
Grand's accounts is appears, that Messrs Franklin, Deane 
and Lee, on the 1st of January, 1777, paid him five hun- 
dred thousand livre? ; on the 28th of April, other five hun- 
dred thousand livres ; on the 4th of June, one million of 
livres; on the 3d of July, five hundred thousand livres; 
and on the 10th of October, other five hundred diousand 
livres; athouniing in the whole to three millions of livres. 
1 suppose, that these sums were received of private per- 
•^ons in like manner with those supplies, which were ob- 
tained through M. de Beaumarchais, and if so they will 
be payable in like tnanner with those supplies. 

1 have in a former letter estimated the yearly interest on 
Ijoan Office certificates, payable in France at two million 
Jivres, consequently taking in the montlis intervening be- 
tween September and March, the total amount from Sep- 
tember the 10th, 1777, to March the 1st, 1782, may be 
stated at nine million livres; which is just one half of the 
supplies granted for the years 1778, 1779, 1780, aqd 
1781. - ',_:A.'.r \^;-^: ■?,■■•. ■ ■ ■ . ■.'- ' " .-?■". 

A resolution now before Congress will, f believe, direct 

VOL. XII. 26 


that no more bills be drawn lor (his mstani ; but Mr Grand 
in liis letter of ihe 4iii of March, tells me be has paid six 
million two hundred and tbiriynine thousand one hundred 
and eightysix livres, ihir4een sous, four deniers, in sixteen 
thousand eight himdred and nineieeir bills, from the llih of 
February, 1779, to the 28th of January, 1782. His ac- 
counts are now transiaiing, and when th?.t is completed, 1 
shall transmit them to liic treasury, and I hope soon to 
have the accounts of the seroial loan officers in such a 
train of settlement, that p.l! these nntters ;jiay finally be 
wound up. 

Should the Court grant six million livres more for the 
service of the current year," making twelve million livres in 
the whole, which to tell you the truth, i do expect, then 
the sum total in five years will be forty million livres, or 
eight million ajnnually. And when tiie occasion of this 
grant is" considered, the magnitude of the object, and the 
derangement of our finances, naturally to be exfjectcd in 
so great a revolution, I cannot think this sum is by any 
means very extraordinary. I believe with you most per- 
fectly in the good dispositions of the Court, but 1 must re- 
quest you to urge those disjjOs;iions into effect. I consider 
the six millious mentioned to me by the Minister here, and 
afterwards in your letters, as being at my disposal. The 
taxes come in so slowly, that I have been compelled and 
must continue to draw bills, but I shall avoid it as much as 
possible. In my letters of the 23d and 29th of May, of 
which I enclose copies, are contained my sentiments as to 
M. de Beaumarchais' demand. Indeed, if the sums paid 
to him -and others for expenditm-es previous to the year 
177S, and the amount of tlie interest money, of which the 
principal was also expended at that lime, be deducted, the 


remaining stun will be considerably less than thirty mil- 

I must enireat of you, Sir, that all tiie stores may be 
forwarded from Brest as soon as possible, and I shall hope 
that the Court will take measures to afford you the neces- 
sary-transports, so thai they may come under proper con- 
Toy. As to the cargo of the sliip Marquis de Lafayette, it 
is true, that some of it has arrived here from neutral ports, 
but it is equally true that money was necessary to purchase 
it, and that money is quite as scarce as any other article. 
If, however, all the cargo of that ship was like some which 
I procured, the taking of her has been no great loss, for 
the clothing was too small to go on men's backs. The 
-goods from Holland .we still most anxiously expect. Would 
fo God that they never had been purchased^ Mr Giilon, 
however, is at lengtii arrived, and I hope we shall have 
-those matters, in viiiich he was concerned, brought to 
-some kind of settlement. • 

I have the honor to be, &ic. 



Office of Finance, July 2d, 1782; 

I yesterday received your ieiier of the 17ih of June, 

and am very happy to find that you have determined to 

accept the office I had the pleasure of offering to you.* I 

enclose the commission, instructions, &,c. together with a 

bond for performance of the duties, which I must request 

* Receiver of the Continental taxes for the State of New York. 



you to till up and execiue, with some sufficient surely, and 

The complaint you make oi tlie system ql taxation m 
New York, might, I believe, very justly be extended j (or 
though it may be more defective in some than in others, it 
is, [ fear, very far from perfect in any. 1 had already 
heard, that no part ol the taxes were appropriated to Con- 
tinental purposes, but 1 expect that tlie Legislature will, 
when they meet, make such appropriation, as well as lay 
new, and 1 hope productive taxes, for the purposes of pay- 
ing what may remain of their quota. 

' It gives ine a singular pleasure to find, that you have 
yourself pointed out one of the principal objects ol your 
ap{)ointment. You will find that it is specified in the enclo- 
sure of the 1 5th of April. I do not conceive that any in- 
terview will be necessary, though 1 shall always be fiappy 
to see you, when your leisure and convenience will admit. 
In ti)e meantime, I must request you to exert your talents 
in forwarding with your Legislature the views of Congress. 
Your Ibrinei- situation in the army, the present situation of 
that very army, your connexions in the State, your j)erfect 
knowledge oi men and measures, and the abilities whi,:h 
Heaven has blest you with, will give you a fine opportunity 
to forward the public service, by .convincing all who have 
claims on the justice of Congress, that those claims exist 
only by that hard necessity, which arises from the negli- 
gence of the States. When to this you shall superadd the 
conviction, that what remains of the war, being only a war 
of finance, solid arrangements of finance n)ust necessarily 
terminate favorably, not only to our hopes but even to our 
wishes, then, Sir, the government will be disposed to lay, 
and the people to bear these burdens, which are neces- 


sary, and. then the utility of your office and of the officer 

will be as manifest to others as at present to me. 

I am, with respect, he. 



Office of Finance, July 5th, 1782. 
Sir, . 

I have received the letter which you did ine the honor to 
write in February last. It gives me very particular plea- 
sure to find that my operations are approved by a gentle- 
man whose talents and situation conspire together in giving 
the means and the power of forming a proper judgment. 
I receive, Sir, with so much greater -satisfaction your pro- 
mise to concur in promoting the success of my measures, 
as [ persuade myself that a true Frenchman must deeply 
interest himself in the present American Revolution. 

The indissoluble bands which iniite our sovereigns, have 
connected the success of that revolution vvitii the g*Iory of 
the King, and the interests of his subjects, Being therefore 
alike prompted by that animated zeal and attachment to 
your prince which forms a beautiful trait in the French 
character, and by your own benevolence, you cannot but 
pursue the road which leads to die establishment of onir 
independence. It is by these motives, Sir, that you are 
assured of my confidence. 1 shall take the liberty to lay 
before you my arrangements, as 50on as they can be com- 
pleted, in order that you may possess the views of my ad- 

I have the honor to be, with perfect esteem and respect, 



Office of Finance, July 5th, 17S2. 
Sir, , 

i have received your several favors of the 2d of February 
ami 4tl) of iMnrcli last, togelljer wiili tiie accounts acconi- 
panyir^:^ ilie li'.lter- I am sorry to find tlie funds we liave 
in Etirope are sa deeply anticipated. This circumstance 
introduce? a degree of hesitancy and doubtfulness into my 
measures, which is alike disagreeable and pernicious. I 
hope, theuefore, that' all the old accounts will soon be 
wound up and finally closed ; and then in future 1 shall 
possess a full view of what is in my power. With re?pect 
to any arranj^ements with the Court of Spain, I incline to 
think that they will l>e necessary, for I persuade myself 
that money negotiations through Havana might be per- 
formed to 'equal, if not greater advantage, by private chan- 

I am, Sir, with respect and esteem, &c. 



Office of finance, July 9th, 1782. 

I have not been until this moment favored witli your let- 
ter in Council of the 5d). I pray that you will accept and 
present to the Council my^sincere thanks for your atten- 
tion to the public service. Yom- offer to pay for the trans- 
portation of clothing to the southern arn)y, gives me an 
additional reason to believe tliat a sense of the public dis- 
tresses will always operate a desire to relievo ihem. To 


go into detail of those distresses, is at al! limes dangerous, 
and iudced it would be impracticable, for lliey are so nu- 
merous that all my lime would be iusufFicieni for the pur- 
pose. The publications made by the receivers in t!ie 
several States, will however carry a conviction of tlu>ni, to 
every man of sense ?nd reflection. 

It is my constant endeavor to administer the little aid 
which is afforded to the best advaiitage; and 1 am in 
liourly appreliensions from the dilatoiiness which has been 
shown by alniosl all the States, in granting the supplies 
required bv Congress. No prooosition can be clearer 
than this, that the salvation of our country must depend 
upon such grants; and it will be a matter of wonder for 
-future generations, how a people who once showed such 
enthusiastic ardor, should at the moment when it is withm 
liieir grasp, put everything to the hazard, by omitting to 
iiiake the little exertion that remains. Yet such is the 

I shall rely on receiving considerable sui)piies of money 
from Maryland in the course of the present month ; and 
shall, in consequence, m.ake engagements for transporting 
the clothing^ and. stores to the southern army, and for other 
services equally pressing and essential. That you will be 
obliged to sell the property of the State, at less than you 
suppose it to be worth, I had long foreseen, and am 
thoroughly convinced of. That .is one among the very 
many objections against raising specific taxes ; but you niay 
depend that the longer they are kept on hand, the greater 
will be tlie loss. The people must be undeceived, and the 
sales of such property will have a tendency to produce that 
effect. They will at lengl!), 1 hope, open their eyes, and 
be convinced of a truth which all history and experience 


bear witness to, namely, that the true art of governing is 
to simplify the operations of governmem. 

Permit me, Sir, before I close this letter, to press upon 
your consideration the stale of public affairs. Every ope- 
ration is, at present, supported by credit, and that credit 
has long hung but by a thread. Unless the States give 
speedy and effectual aid, that thread must break. It would 
long since have broken, and scenes of military pillage, waste, 
murmuring, extravagance and confusion would again have 
been opened, if 1 had not for some time declined all expen- 
diture, except what was necessary merely to feed the army. 
If, under such circumstances, the enemy has made offensive 
operations, you may easily guess the consequences. Your 
Slate will, I hope, conlribute amply to provide against 
them. Should anything happen, the fault will not lie at 
the door of Congress or of their servants. 
With perfect esteem and respect, &.c. 



Office of Finance, July 10th, 1782. 
■ Sir, 

Ihave received your favors of the 24lh and 27th of 
June. The conduct of the Slates is very alarming, and 
has given me much serious apprehension. A want of 
knowledge or of zeal among those who compose the seve- 
ral Legislatures, produces misfortunes which their constitu- 
ents must feel, although they do not themselves appear to 
be aware of them. Had permanent funds been establish- 
ed on which to borrow money, in all human probability 
oiu- credit would have been such, as that a considerable 


part of every year's expenditure niigbl have been obtained 
;in tlwl way. The advantages of such a measure are self 
evident. If we suppose the states^ at wnr possessed of 
equal force and resources, the one of them enjoying credit, 
which the other vyants, the', ciforls wouhi be so unequal, 
that the nation in credit might compel iier antagunist to ask 
peace in a very short period. 

In America we have disdained to profit, by experience, 
and therefore are reduced to the sad necessity of bearing 
the whole burden of the war at the present moment, when 
least able to bear it. .Still, however, I had hoped, by mak- 
-ing anticipations on the taxes, to lay a foundation lor tnore 
extensive credit ; and at leugtii to recover that useful con- 
fidence, vvliiciv has been' too carelessly squandered away. 
Bui in fixing the first stone of this uscinl edifice, 1 am dis- 
appointed by finding that after taxes are laid, and in 
the moment when I expect to feel the benefits, the col- 
lection is postponed unto a future day. E shall not 
dwell longer on this disagreeable topic. I deeply feel 
and sincerely lament the consequences, which you may- 
rely on it are far more pernicious even in the article 
; of expense than any person is aware ofj besides other 
' things which are of equal, and may perhaps, be of 
greater importance. { i <■■ 

i fiiid by examining tiie s*ims I hnve drawn on you 
for, that \ou can find no great difficulty in making the 
payments by sales of the bills I would advise yon, im- 
mediately on the receipt of ibis, to employ r. good broker 
«ao sell all the bills you have, at a \mce. to he fixed between 
you^ leaving it optional in the piirly, to pay cither specie, 
bank notes, or my notes, and give Irom a week to a fort- 
night ci-edit to go()d bands, "^riio price will, I suppose, be 
VOL. "'ii. -27 



hidi if sold in this manner, and you will doubtless obtain a 
preference in the sales over others. When you open this 
business it must be transacted speedily by letting your bro- 
ker make the sales, and take the promisory notes from the 
parlies. The effects of thjs plan will be as follows ; peo- 
ple knowing that the notes are at a discount, will readily, 
I suppose, make purchases on such conditions ; and If they 
do, you will tjiereby raise them to par, and command a 
considerable sum in specie, for I know there are very few 
now in yourcountry, and therefore when they come to be 
bouglit up and looked for, their value will rise ; and 1 pre- 
sume that taxation will then cbnie in to aid their farther cir- 

I am, Sir, with great respect, &ic. 



Office of Finance. Julv 29th, 1782. 

I have now before me yoiu- two favors o( the 12lh 
instant. You will find my answers as well in a former 
letter, as in the enclosed circular. For what remains I 
must only declare to you my regret at finding your pros- 
pects so gloomy. The idea that taxes cannot be raiseil 
because of die want of specie, is very general, indeed it is 
almost universal, and yet nothing can be morr- ill-founded. 
If the people be put in the neces^sity of procuring specie, 
they will procure it. They can if rhey will. Tobacco 
may not sell at one moment, grain at another, or catde at 
H third ; but there are some articles such as horses, which 
will sell at all times. The mischief is, that when a pur- 


chaser offers, the party not being ucider a necessity of 
selling, insists on a higher price than tJie other can afford 
to give. Thus ,tlie commerce is turned away to another 
quarter. Nothing but the necessity of getting money will 
bring men in general-to lower their prices. When this is 
done purchasers will offer in abundance, and thus it will 
be found, that the tax instead of lessening will increase 
the quantity of specie. But so long as the want of it can 
be pleaded successfuHy against taxes, so long that want will 
continue. And then a!! that remains to copsider is, 
whether the army can be maintained by such a plea. The 
States, Sir, must give money, or the army must disband. 
I have the honor to be, k,c. ~ 



Office of Finance, July 29th, 1782. 


The reference which Congress were pleased to make of 

a remonsirajice and petition from Blair Mc Clenaghan 

and others, has induced me to pray their indulgence while 

1 go somewhat. 4t large/ into ihg subject of that renppn- 

strance. :;;S)iJ!.^r--fiii^d '^r-^^r ^'i'^' ,/;iV .'.;.- ^^'^.-iwf w-^^KT' 
The propriety and utility of public loans have been sub- 
jects of much controversy. Those who find themselves 
saddled with the debts of a preceding generation, nat- 
urally exclaim against loans; and it must be confessed, 
that when such debts are accumulated by negligence, folly 
or profusion, the complaint is well founded. But it would 
be equally so against taxes, when wasted in the same way. 
The difference is, that the weight of taxes being more sen- 


sible, the waste occasions greater clamor, and is therefore 
more speedily remedied. - But it will appear, that the 
eveiitiial evils, wjiich jrosleritv iiii:st sustain froui heavy 
taxes are greater than from loan?. Hence may be de- 
duced this conclusion, ihal in governments liable to a 
vicious administration, it would be better lo raise the cur- 
rent expense by taxes; but where an honest and wise 
appropriation oi jnoney prevails, it is highly advantageous 
to take the benefit of loans. Taxation to a certain point, 
is not only proper but useful, because by stimulating the 
industry of individuals, it increases the wealth of the com- 
munity. But when taxes gb so far as to entrench on the 
subsistence ol the people, they have become burdenson)e 
and oppressive. The expenditure ot money ought in 
such case to be, if possible, avoided ; if unavoidable, it 
will be most wise to have recourse to loans. 

Loans u:ay be of two kinds, either domestic or foreign. 
The relative advantages and disadvantages of each, as welt 
as those which are commori lo both, will deserve aitention. 
Reasonings of tliis kind, as they depend on rules of arith- 
metic, are best understood by uunjerical positions." For 
the purposes of elucidation, therefore, it may be supposed 
that the annual tax of any particular husbandman were 
fifteen pounds^so that (the whole beipg regularly consumed 
in payment Affixes) he would lie no richer at the end of 
the war, than he wa^ at the beginning. It is at the same 
time notorious, that tlie profits made by husbandmen, on 
funds which they borrowed were very considerable, in 
many instances their plantations, ;i? well as the cattle and 
family utensils, have been purchased on credit, and the 
bonds given for both have shortly been paid by sales of 
produce. It is, therefore, no exaggeration to state the 
profits at twelve per cent. The enormous usury, which 


ppnple in trade linve been indiiced to pay, and which Will 
presently be noticed, demonstrate? tluit liie profits made 
by the otiier professions, •ar'e equai lo Uiose'of the hus- 

The instance, theiefore, taken from that which is 
the most numerous class of citizens, will form no im- 
proper standard [or the whole. Let it their be farther 
supposed in the case already staled, that the party 
should annually borrow the sum of ten pounds at six 
per cent, to pay part of the tax of fifteen pounds. On 
this sum then he would make a profit of twentyfour 
shillings, and have la pay an interest of twelve shil- 
lings. The enclosed calculation will show, that in ten 
yesrs he would be indebted one hundred pounds, but 
his additional improvements would be worth near one 
hundred and fifty, and his net revenue be increased 
near twelve, after deducting the inlerest of his debt. 
Whereas if he had not borrowed, his revenue, as has 
been already, observed, would have continued ihe 
same. This mode of reasoning might be pursued far- 
ther, but what has been said is .sufficient to show, that 
he would have made a considerable advantage from 
the yearly loan. If it be supposed, that every person 
in the community made such a loan, a similar advan- 
tage would arise to the community. And lastly, if it 
be supposed, that ihe government were to make a loan 
.and ask so much less in taxes, the same advantage 
would be derived. Hence, also, ma}"^ be deduced this 
position, that in a society where the average profits of 
slock are double the interest at which money can be 
obtained, every public loan for necessary expenditures, 
provides a fund in the aggregate of national wealth 
equal to the discharge of its own interest. 


Were it possible that a society should exist, in 
which every member would of his own accord indus- 
triously pursue the increase of national property, 
without waste or extravagance, the public wealth 
would be impaired by every species of taxation. But 
there never was, and unless human nature should 
change, there never will be such a society. In any 
given number of men, there always will be some who 
are idle, and some who are extravagant. In every 
society also there must be some taxes, because the ne- 
cessity of supporting government and defending the 
State always exists. To do these on the cheapest 
terms is wise, and when it is considered how much 
men are disposed to indolence and profusion it will 
appear, that even if those demands did not require the 
whole of what could be raised, still it would be wise 
to carry taxation to a certain, amount, and expend what 
should remain after providing for the support of gov- 
ernment and the national defence, in works of public 
utility, such as the opening of roads and navigation. 
For taxes operate two ways towards the increase of 
national wealth., they stimulate industry lo pro- 
vide the means of payment. Secondly, they encour- 
age economy, so far as to avoid the purchase of unne- 
cessary things, and keep money in readiness for the 
tax gatherers. Experience shows, that those exertions 
of industry and economy grow by degrees into habij:. 
But in order that taxation may have these good effects, 
the sum which every man is to pay and the period of 
payment, should be certain and unavoidable. 

This digressiop opens the way to a comparispn 
between foreign and domestic loans. If the loan be 


domestic, money must be diverted from those chan- 
nels in which it would otherwise have flowed ; and, 
therefore, either the public must j^ive better terms 
than individuals, or there must be money enough to 
supply the wants of both. In the latter case, if the 
public did not borrow, the quantity of money would 
exceed the demand, and the interest would be lowered ; 
borrowing by the public, therefore, would keep up the 
rate of interest ; which brings the latter case within the 
reason of the former. If the public out bid individu- 
als, those individuals are deprived of the means of 
extending their industry ; so tlfat no case of a domestic 
loan can well be supposed where some public loss will 
not arise to counterbalance the public gain, except 
where the creditor spares from his consumption to lend 
to the government, which operates a national economy. 
It is, however, an advantage peculiar to domestic loans, 
that they give stability to government, by combining 
together the interests of the monied men for its sup- 
port ; and, consequentl}', in this country a domestic 
debt would greatly contribute to that union, which 
seems not to have been sufficiently attended to or 
provided for in forming the national compact. Do- 
mestic loans are also useful,^from the farthei* consider- 
ation, that as taxes fall heavy on the lower orders of 
the community, the rfelief obtained for them by such 
loans more than counterbalances the loss sustained by 
those who would have borrowed money to extend their 
commerce or tillage. Neither is it a refinement to 
observe, that since a plenty of money and consequent 
ease of obtaining it, induce men to engage in specula- 
tions, which are often unprofitable, the check which 


these receive is not injurious, wiiile the relief obtained 
by the poor is highly beneficial. 

By makins; foreign loans, the community, as such, 
receive tlie same extensive benefits, which one indi- 
vidual does in borrowing of another. This country 
was always in the practice of making such loans. The 
merchants in Europe trusted those in America. The 
American merchants trusted the country store-keepers, 
and they the jM;o))le at large. This advance of credit 
may be stated at not less than twenty millions of dol- 
lars. \i-id the want of that credit now is one princi- 
pal reason of those usurious contracts mentioned above. 
These have been checked by the institution of the 
bank, but the funds of that corporation not permitting 
those extensive advances, which the views of diflerent 
people require, the price given lor particular accom- 
modations of mone)^ continues to be enormous; and 
that again shows, that to make domestic loans would 
be difficult, if not impracticable. The merchants not 
having now that extensive credit in Europe,, which 
they formerly had, the obtaining such credit by gov- 
ernment becomes in some sort necessary. 

But there remains an objection with many against 
foreign loans, which (though it arises from a superfi- 
cial view of the subject) has no little influence. This 
is, that the interest will form a balance of trade against 
us, and drain the country of specie ; which is only say- 
ing in other words, that it would be more convenient 
to receive money as a present, than as a loan ; for the 
advantages derived by the loan exist, notwithstanding 
the payment of interest. To show this more clearly, 
a case mav be stated, which in this oitv is verv 


familiar. An Island in the Delaware overflowed at 
"high water has for a given sum, suppose a thousand 
pounds, been banked in, drained, and made to pro- 
duce, by the hay sold from it at Philadelphia, a con- 
siderable sum annually ; for instance, two hundred 
pounds. If the owner of such an Island had borrowed 
in Philadelphia the thousand pounds to improve it, 
and given six per cent interest, he would have gained 
a net revenue of one hundred and forty pounds. This 
certainly would not be a balance of trade against his 
Island, nor the draining it of specie. He would gain 
considerably, and the city of Philadelphia also would 
gain, by bringing to market an increased quantity of a 
necessary article. 

In like manner money lent by the city of Amsterdam to 
clear the forests of America would be beneficial to both. 
Draining marshes and bringing forests under culture, are 
beneficial to the whole human race, but most to the pro- 
prietor. But at any rate, in a country and in a situation 
like ours, to lighten the weight of present burdens must be 
good policy by loans. For as the governments acquire 
more stability, and the people more wealth, the former will 
be able to raise, and the latter to pay, much greater sums 
than can at present be expected. 

What has been said on the general nature and benefit of 
public loans, as well as their particular utility to this coun- 
try, contains more of detail than is necessary for the United 
States in Congress, though perhaps not enough for many 
of those to whose consideration this subject must be sub- 
mitted. It may seem superfluous to add, that credit is 
necessary to the obtaining of loans. But among the many 
extraordinary conceptions which have been produced dur- 
voL. XII. 28 


ing the present revolution, it is neither the least prevalent 
nor the least pernicious, that foreigners will trust us vpith' 
millions, while our own citizens will not trust us with a 
shilling. Such an opinion must be unfounded, and will 
appear to be false at the first glance ; yet men are, on 
some occasions, so willing to deceive themselves, that the 
most flattering expectations will be formed from the ac- 
knowledgement of American independence by the States- 
General. But surely no reasonable hope can be raised on 
that circumstance, unless something more be done by our- 
selves. The loans made to ns hitherto, have either been 
by the Court of France, or on their credit. The govern- 
ment of the United Netherlands are so far from being able 
to lend, that they must borrow for themselves. The most, 
therefore, that can be asked from them, is to become se- 
curity for America to their own subjects ; but it cannot be 
expected that they will do this, until they are assured and 
convinced that we will punctually pay. This follows ne- 
cessarily from the nature of their government, and must be 
clearly seen by ^je several States as well as by Congress, 
if they only consider what conduct they would pursue on a 
similar occasion. Certainly Congress would not put them- 
selves in a situation, which might oblige them to call on 
the several States for money to pay the debts of a foreign 
power. Since then no aid is to be looked for from the 
Dutch government, without giving them sufficient evidence 
of a disposition and ability to pay both principal and in- 
terest of what we borrow ; and since the same evidence 
which would convince the government must convince the 
individuals that compose it, asking the aid of government 
must either be unnecessary or ineffectual. Ineffectual be- 
fore the measures are taken to establish our credit, and 
unnecessary afterwards. 


We are, therefore, brought back to the necessity of 
establishing public credit ; and this must be done at home 
before it can be extended abroad. The only question 
which can remain, is with respect to the means. And 
here it must be remembered, that a free government whose 
natural offspring is public credit, cannot have sustained a 
loss of that credit, unless from particular causes, and there- 
fore those, causes must be investigated and removed, before 
the effects will cease. When the continental tnoney was 
issued, a greater confidence was shown by America than 
any other people ever exhibited. The general promise of 
a body not formed into, nor claiming to be a government, 
was accepted as current coin ; and it was not until long 
after an excess of quantity had forced on depreciation, that 
the validity of these promises was questioned. Even then 
the public credit still existed in a degree, nor was it finally 
lost until March, 1760. when an idea was entertained that 
government had committed injustice. It is useless to enter 
into the reasons for and against the resolutions of that pe- 
riod. They were adopted, and are now to be considered 
only in relation to their effects. These will not be altered 
by saying that the resolutions were misunderstood, for in 
those things which depend on public opinion, it is no mat- 
ter, (so far as consequences are concerned,) how that opin- 
ion is influenced. Under present circumstances, therefore, 
it may be considered as an incontrovertible proposition, 
that all paper money ought to be absorbed by taxation, or 
otherwise, and destroyed before we can expect our public 
credit to be fully reestablished ; for so long as there be 
any in existence, the holder will view it as a monument of 
national perfidy. 

But this alone would be taking only a small step in the 


important business of establishing national credit. Tbeie 
are a great many individuals in the United Stales, who 
trusted the public in the hour of distress, and who are im- 
poverished, and even ruined by the confidence they re- 
posed. There are ethers whose property has been 
wrested from them by force to support the war, and to 
whom certificates have been given in Jieu of it, which arc 
entirely useless. I need no inspiration to show that jus- 
tice establishes a nation. Neither are the principles of 
religion necessary to evince that political injustice will re- 
ceive political chastisement. Religious men will cherish 
these maxims in proportion to the additional force they de- 
rive from divine revelation. But our own experience will 
show, that from a defect of justice this nation is not estab- 
lished, and that her want of honesty is severely punished 
by her want of credit. To this vpant of credit must be at- 
tributed the weight of taxation for the support of the war, 
and the continuance of that weight by the continuance of 
the war. 

It is, therefore, witii the greatest .propriety, your peti- 
tioners already mentioned, have stated in their Memorial, 
that both policy and justice require a solid provision for 
funding the public debts. It is with pleasure, Sir, that 1 
see this nutnerous, meritorious, and oppressed body of 
men, who are creditors of the public, beginning to exert 
themselves for the obtaining of justice. I hope they may 
succeed, not only because I wish well to so righteous a 
pursuit, but because their success will be the great ground 
work of a credit, that will carry us safely through the 
present just, important, and necessary war ; which will 
combine us closely together on the conclusion of a peace, 
which will always give to the supreme representative ol 


America, a means of acting lor the general defence on 
sudden emergencies, and which will of consequence pro- 
cure the third of these great objects, for which we contend. 
peace, liberty, and safety. 

Such, Sir, are the cogent principles, by which we are 
called to provide solid funds for the national debt. Already 
Congress have adopted a plan for liquidating all past ac- 
counts, and if the States shall make the necessary grants 
of revenue, what remains will be a simple executive ope- 
ration, which will presently be explained. But however 
powerful the reasons in favor of such grants, over and 
above those principles of moral justice, which none, how- 
ever exalted, can part from with impunity, still there are 
men, who, influenced by penurious selfishness, will com- 
plain of the expense, and who will assert the impossibility 
of sustaining it. On this occasion the sensations with 
respect to borrowing are reversed. All would be content 
to relieve themselves by loan from the weight of taxes, 
but many are unwilling to take up as they ought the weight 
of debt. Yet this must be done before the other can 
happen ; and it is not so great but that we should find im- 
mediate relief by assuming it, even if it were a foreign 
debt. I say if it were a foreign debt, because I shall 
attempt to show, first, that being a domestic debt, to fund 
it Will cost the community nothing, and secondly, that il 
will produce, on the contrary, a considerable advantage. 

And as to the first point, one observation will suffice. 
The expenditure has been made, and a part of the com- 
munity have sustained it. If the debt were to be paid by 
a single effort of taxation, it could only create a transfer of 
property from one individual to another, and the aggregate 
wealth of the whole community would be precisely the 


same. But since nothing more is attempted tlian merely 
to fund the deht, by providing for the interest at six per 
cent, the question of ability is resolved to the single point; 
whether it is easier for a part of the people to pay one 
hundred dollars, than for the ivhole people to pay six dol- 
lars. It is equally clear, though not equally evident, that 
a considerable advantage would be produced by funding 
our debts, over and above what has been already men- 
tioned as the consequence of national credit. 

The advantage is threefold. First, many persons by 
being creditors of the public are deprived of those funds, 
which are necessary to the full exercise of their skill and 
industry. Consequently the community are deprived of 
the benefits, which would result from that exercise, 
whereas if these debts, which are in a manner dead, 
were brought back to existence, monied men would pur- 
chase them up, though perhaps at a considerable discount, 
and thereby restore to the public many useful members, 
who are now entirely lost, and extend tlie operations of 
many more to considerable advantage. For although not 
one additional shilling would be by this means brought in, 
yet by distributing property into those hands, which could 
render it most productive, the revenues would be increased, 
while the original stock continued the same. Secondly, 
many foreigners who make speculations to this country, 
would, instead of ordering back remittances, direct much 
of the proceeds of their cargoes to be invested in our 
public funds, which, according to principles already estab- 
lished, would produce a clear advantage, with the addition, 
from peculiar circumstances, that it would supply the want 
of credit to the mercantile part of society. The last but 
not least advantage is, that in restoring ease, harmony, and 


confidence, not only the government (being more respect- 
able) would be more respected, and consequently better 
obeyed, but the mutual dealings among men on private 
credit would be facilitated. The horrors which agitate 
people's minds, from an apprehension of depreciating paper 
would be done avy^y. Tl;e secret hoards would be un- 
locked. In the same moment the necessity of money 
would be lessened, and the quantity increased. By these 
means the collection of taxes would be facilitated, and 
thus instead of being obliged to give valuable produce for 
useless minerals, that produce would purchase the things 
we stand in need of, and we should obtain a sufficient cir- 
culating medium, by giving the people what they have 
always a right to demand, solid assurance in the integrity 
of their rulers. 

The next consideration, which ofiers is the amount of 
public debt, and every good American must lament that 
confusion in public affairs, which renders an accurate state 
of it unattainable. But it must continue to be so until ac- 
counts at home and abroad be fully adjusted. The en- 
closed is an estimate, furnished by the Controller of the 
Treasury ; from which it appears, that there is already an 
acknowledged debt bearing interest, to the amount of more 
than twelve millions of dollars. On a part of this also 
there is a large arrearage of interest, and there is a very 
considerable debt unsettled, the evidence of which exists 
in various certificates, given for property applied to the 
public service. This service, including pay due to the 
army previous to the present year, cannot be estimated at 
less than between seven and eight millions. Our debt to 
his Most Christian Majesty, is above five millions. Tiie 
nearest guess, therefore, which can be made at the sum 


total, is from tvventyfive to twentyseven millions of dollars ; 
and if to this we add what it may be necessary to borrow 
for the year 1783, the amount will be, with interest, by the 
time proper revenues are obtained, considerably above 
thirty millions. Of course the interest will be between 
eighteen hundred thousand and two millions of dollars. 

And here, previous to the consideration of proper rev- 
enues for that amount, it may not be amiss to make a few 
general observations ; the first of which is, that it would be 
injurious to llie United States to obtain money in loans, 
without providing beforehand the necessary funds. For if 
those who are now so deeply engaged to support war, will 
not grant such funds to procure immediate relief, certainly 
those who come after them will not do it to pay a former 
debt. Remote objects, dependent on abstract reasoning, 
never influence the mind like immediate sensibility. It is, 
therefore, the province of wisdom to direct towards proper 
objects that sensibility, which is the only motive to action 
among the mass of mankind. Should we be able to get 
money from the Dutch, without first providing funds, which 
is more than doubtful ; and should the several States 
neglect afterwards making provision to perform the en- 
gagements of Congress, which is more than probable, the 
credit of the United States abroad would be ruined 
forever. Very serious discussions also might be raised 
among foreign powers, and our creditors might have re- 
course to arms, we might dishonorably be compelled to 
do what dishonestly we had left undone. 

Secondly, the idea, which many entertain, of soliciting 
loans abroad to pay the interest of domestic debts, is preg- 
nant with its own destruction. If the States were to grant 
revenues sufficient only to pay the interest of present 


debts, we might, perhaps, obtain new credit upon a general 
opinion of our jiiftice, ibough that is far from cerlain. 
Bill when we omit paying by taxes ilie interest of debts 
ah-eady contracted, and ask to borrow for tiie purpose, 
making the snme promises to obtain the new loans, wh.ich 
had already been made to obtiiin tlie old, we shall snrely 
be disappointed. 

Thirdly, it will be necessary, not only thai reve- 
nues be granted, but that those revenues be amply suf- 
ficient for the purpose, because (a? will presently ap- 
pear) a deficiency would be highly pernicious, while 
an excess would be not only unprejudicial, but very 
advantageous. To perceive this with' all necessary 
clearness, it must be remembered that the revenues 
asked for on this occasion must be appropriated to the 
purposes for which they are asked, and in like man- 
ner the sums required for current, expenditures must 
be appropriated to the current service. li" then the 
former be deficient the latter cannot be brought in to 
supply the deficiencies, and of course the public credit 
would be impaired ; but should there be an excess of 
revenue it could be applied in payment, of a j)art of 
the debt immediately, and in such case, if the credits 
should have depreciated they would be raised lo par, 
the offer of payment would induce creditors to lower 
the interest. Thus in either case, the means of mak- 
ing new loans on good terms v.-ould be extended, and 
the necessity of asking more revenues obviated. 

Lastly, the revenues ought to be of such a nature, 

as naturally and necessarily to increase, for creditors 

will have a greater confidence when they have c clear 

prospect of being repaid, and the people will always 

vol.. xn. iO 


be desirous to see a like prospect of relief from the 
taxes. Besides which, it will be necessary to incur 
some considerable expense after the war, in making 
necessary establishments for a permanent naval force, 
and it will always be least objectionable to borrow for 
that purpose on funds already establPshed. 

The requisition of a five per cent impost, made on 
the 3d of February, 1781, has not yet been complied 
with by the State of Rhode Island ; but as there is 
reason to believe th'at their compliance is not far off, 
this revenue may be considered as being already 
granted. It will, however, be very inadequate to the 
purposes intended. If goods be imported and [)rizes 
introduced to the amount of twelve millions annually, 
the five per cent would be six hundred thousand, from 
which at least one sixth must be deducted, as well 
for the cost of collection as for the various defal- 
cations \vhich will necessarily happen, and which 
it is unnecessary to enumerate. It is not safe, there- 
fore, to estimate this revenue at more than half a 
million of dollars, for, though it may produce more, 
yet probably it wjH'not produce so much. It was in 
consequence of this, that on the 27th day of last Feb- 
ruary, I took the liberty to submit the propriety of 
asking the States for a land tax of one dollar for every 
hundred acres of land, a poll tax of one dollar on all 
freemen and all male slaves between sixteen and sixty, 
(excepting such as are in the federal army, and such 
as are by wounds or otherwise rendered unfit for ser- 
vice) and an excise of one eighth of a dollar per gal- 
lon, o!i all distilled spirituous liquors. Each of these 
may be estimated at half a million, and should the 


product be equal lo the eslimalion, the sum total of 
revenues for funding the public debts, would be equal 
to two millions. What has been the fate of these pro- 
positions I know not, but I will beg leave, on this 
occasion, not only to renew them, but also to state 
some reasons in their favor, and answer some objec- 
tions against them. • .; - :; ^^ wn 

And first, as to a land tax. The advantages of it 
are, that it can be reduced to a certainty as to the 
amount and time. 'I'hat no c-xtracrdinary means are 
necessary to ascertain it, and that land being the ulti- 
mate object of human avarice, and that species of per- 
manent property, which peculiarly belongs to a 
country os neither to be removed or concealed, it 
stands foremost for the object of taxation, and ought 
most particularly to be burdened with those debts, 
Vv'hich have been incurred by defending tlie freedom 
of i'.s inhabitants. But besides these general repsons, 
there are some which are in a manner peculiar to tiiis 
country. The land" of America may, as to the propri- 
etors be divided into two kinds; that which "belongs to 
the great landholders, and that which is owned and oc- 
cupied by the industrious cultivators. This latter class 
of citizens, is, generally speaking, the most numerous 
and most valuable part of a community. The artisan 
may, under any government, minister to the luxuries 
of the rich, and the rich may, under any government, 
obtain the luxuries ihcy covet. But the Uee husbatid- 
mflin is the natural guardian of "his country's freedom. 
A land tax will probably, at the first mention, startle 
this order of men ; but it can only be from the want 
of reflectipp,. or the delusion must be kepi up by the 


artifice of others. To him who cultivates from one to 
five hundred acres, a dollar per hundred is a trifling 
object, but to him who owns a hundred thousand it i« 
important. Yet a large proportion of America is the 
property of great landholders, they monopolise it 
without cultivation ; they are, for ihe most part, at no 
expense either of money or personal service to defend 
it, and keeping the price higher by monopoly than 
otherwise it would be, they impede the settlement and 
culture of the country. A land tax, therefore, would 
have the salutary operation of an agrarian law without 
the iniquity. It would relieve the indigent, and ag- 
grandize the State by bringing property into the hands 
of those who would use it for the benefit of society. 
The objections against such a tax, are twofold ; first, 
that it is unequal, and secondly, that it is high. To 
obviate the inequality, some have proposed an estimate 
of the value of different kinds of lands. But this 
would be improper ; because, first, it would be attended 
with great delay,, and inconvenience. Sec- 
ondly, it would be uncertain, and therefore improper, 
particularly when considered as a fun<l for public 
debts. Thirdly, there is no reason to believe, that 
any estimate would be just, and even if it were, it 
must be annually varied, or else come within the force 
of the objection as strongly as ever; the former would 
cost more than the tax. and the latter woukl not afford 
the remedy asked for. Lastly, such valuations would 
operate as a lax upon industry, and promote that land 
monopoly, which every wise government will study 
to repress. But further, the true remedy for any Ine- 
quality will be obtained in the apportioning other 


taxes, of which there will always be enough to equal- 
ize this; besides, the tax being permanent and fixed, 
it is corisidered in the price of land on every transfer 
of propeity, and that produces a degree of equality, 
which no valuation could possibly arrive at. 

In a word, if exact numerical proportion be sought 
after in taxes, there would be no end to the search. 
Not only might a poll tax be objected to, as too heavy 
on the poor and too light on the rich, but when that 
objection was obviated the pliysical differences in the 
human frame would alone be as endless a source of 
contention, as the different qualities of land. The 
second objection, that the tax is too high, is equally 
futile with the former. Land which is so little worth, 
that the owner will not pay annually one penny per 
acre for the defence of it, ought to belong to the 
society by whom the expense of defending it is de- 
frayed. But the truth is, that this objection arises 
from and is eniorced by those men who can very well 
bear the expense, but who to shift it from them- 
selves to others. I shall close this subject by adding, 
that as such a tax would, besides the benefits to be de- 
rived from the object of it, have the farther advantage 
of encouraging settlements and population, this would 
redound not only to the national good, but even to 
the particular good of the landholders themselves. 

U ith respect to the poll tax, there are many objec- 
tions against it, but in some of the States a more con- 
siderable poll tax already exists without inconvenience. 
The objections are principally drawn from Europe, by 
men who do not consider that a ditference of circum- 
stances makes a material difference in the nature of 


political operations. In some parts of Europe, where 
nine tenths of the people are exhausted by continual 
labor, to procure bad clothing and worse food, this 
tax would be extremely oppressive; but in America, 
where three days of labor produce sustenance for a 
week, it is not unreasonable to ask two days out of a 
year as a contribution to the payment of public debts. 
Sucii a tax will, on the rich, be next to nothina;; on 
the middling ranks it will be of very little conse- 
quence ; and it cannot affect the poor, because such of 
them as are unable to labor will fall within the excep- 
tion proposed. In fact the situation of America differs 
so widely from that of Europe as to the matter now 
under consideration, that hardly any maxim which ap- 
plies to ons will be alike applicable to the other. 
Labor is in such demand among us, that the tax will 
fall on the consumer. An able bodied man who de- 
mands one hundred dollars to go into military service 
for three years, cannot be oppressed by the annual 
payment of one dollar while not in that service. This 
tax, also, will have the s^ood effect of placing before 
the eyes of Congress the numbers of men in the 
several States; an information always important to 

The excise proposed is liable to no other objection than 
what may be made against ihe mode of collection, but it is 
conceived that this may be sucli as can produce no ill con- 
sequences. Excise laws exist and have long existed in 
the several States. Of all taxes, those on the consump- 
lion of articles are most agreeable, . because being nungled 
will) ihe price, they are less sensible to the people ; nnti 
without entering into a discussion with which speculative 


men have amused themselves, on the advantages and dis- 
advantages of this sjiecies of taxation, it may be boldly 
affirmed, that no inconvenience can arise from laying a 
heavy t%nx on the use of ardent spirits. These have always 
been equally prejudicial to the constitutions and morals of 
the people. The tax will be a means of compelling vice 
(o support the cause of virtue, and like the poll tax, will 
draw from the idle and dissolute, that contribution to the 
public service which they will not otherwise make. 

Having said thus much on the propriety of these taxes, 
I shall pray leave to assure you of my ready acquiescence 
iij the choice of any others^ which may be more agreeable 
to the United States in Congress, praying ihem neverthe- 
less to consider, tiiat as the situation of the respective 
States is widely different, it will be wise to adopt a variety 
of taxes, because by that means the consent of all will be 
more readily obtained, than if such are chosen as will lall 
heavy only on particular States. 

. The next object is l!ie collection, which, for the most 
obvious reasons ought to be by authority derived from the 
United States. The collection of a land tax, as has been 
above observed, will be very simple. That of the poll may 
be equally so, because certificates of the payment may an- 
nually be issued to li^e collectors, and they be bound to 
return the certificates or the money, and empowered to 
compel a payment by every man not possessed of a cer- 
tificaie. If in addition to this, those who travel from one 
State to another be obliged to take out and j)ay for a new 
certificate in each State, that would operate a uselul reg- 
ulation of police ; and a slight distinction between those 

and the comnion certificates would still preserve their 

utility in numbering the people. 


It is not necessary to dwell on the mode of collecting 
lljese branches of revenue, because in reason, a determi- 
nation on the propriety of the taxes should precede it. I 
will only take the 'iberty to drop one idea with respect to 
the impost already required. It is conceived that laws 
should be so formed, as lo leave little or nothing to^the dis- 
cretion of those by whom they are executed ; that reve- 
nue laws, in particular, should be guarded in this respect 
from odium ; being, as they are, sufficiently odious^ in 
themselves ; and therefore it would jiave been well to 
have stipulaled the precise sum payable on difTerent spe- 
cies of commodities. The objection is, that the list to be 
accurate must be numerous. But as li)is accuracy is ne- 
cessary, the description ought to be very short and general, 
so as to comprise many commodities under one head ; and 
the duty ought to be fixed according to their average 
value. The objection against this regulation, is, that the 
tax on fine commodities would be trivial, and on coarse 
commodities great. This indeed is true, but it is desirable 
for two reasons. First, that coarse and bulky coninjodi- 
ties coulii not be smtiggled to evade the heavy duty ; and 
that fine commodities would not be smuggled to evade the 
light duty. Secondly, that coarse commodities, generally 
speaking, minister to the demands of necessity or conve- 
nience, and fine connnodities to those of luxury. The 
heavy duty on the former would operate an encourage- 
ment to produce them at home, and by that means a stop- 
page of our commerce in time of war would be most felt 
by the wealthy, who have always the most abundant means 
of procuring relief. 

I shall now, Sir, lake the liberty to suppose, that the 
revenues I have mentioned, or some others, to the amount 


ol" at least two millions net aiiiuial pioducc, vveie asked (or 
and obtained, as a pledge to the public creditors, to con- 
tinue until the j)iincipal and interest of the debts conti-acled 
or to be contracted, shall be fnially paid. This supposi- 
tion is made, that 1 may have an opportunity, thus early, to 
express my sentiments on the mode of appropriation. It 
would be as follows ; any one of the revenues being esti- 
mated, a loan should be opened on the credit of ii. by 
subscription to a certain amount, and public debts oi a par- 
ticular description, or specie, be received in payment of 
the subscriptions. This funded debt should be transfera- 
ble under particular forms, calculated for the prevention of 
fraudulent, and facilitating of honest negotiations. In like 
manner on each of these revenues should subscriptions be 
opened, proceeding by degrees so as to prevent any sud- 
den revolutions in money matters, such revolutions being 
always more or less injurious. 

I should further propose, that the surplus of each of 
these revenues, (and care should be taken that there would 
be a surplus,) should be carried to a sinking fund ; on 
the credit of which, and of the general promises of govern- 
ment, new loans should be opened when necessary. The 
interest should be paid half yearly, which would be conve- 
nient to the creditors and to the government, as well as 
useful to the people at large ; because by this means, if 
four diflerent loans were opened at different times, the in- 
terest would be payable eight times in the year; and thus 
the money would be paid out of the treasury as fast as it 
came in ; which would require four officers to manage the 
business, keep them in more constant and regular employ- 
ment, dispense the interest so as to command the confi- 
dence and facilitate the views of the creditors, and return 

VOL. XIT. 30 

234 ROBERT MORRlh^. 

speedily the wealth obtained by taxes into the common 

1 know it will be objected, that such a mode of adminis- 
tration would enable speculators to perform their opera- 
tions. A general answer to this would be, that any other 
mode would be more favorable to them. But further, I 
conceive?, first, that it is much beneath the dignity of gov- 
ernment to intermeddle in such consideration. Secondly, 
that speculators rdways do least mischief where they are 
left most at liberty. Tiiirdly, that it is not in human pru- 
dence to counteract their operations by laws ; whereas, 
wiien left alone, they invariably counteract each other ; 
and fourthly, that even if it we're possible lo prevent specu- 
lation, it is precisely the thing which ought hot to be pre- 
vented ; because he who wants money to commence, ptn-- 
sue, or extend his business, is more benefited by selling 
stock of any kind, even at a considerable discount, than he 
could be by the rise of it at a future period ; every man 
being able to judge better of his own business and situation 
than the government can for him. 

So much would not perhaps have been said on the head 
ol'this objection, if it did not Jialurally lead to a position, 
which has hitherto been ruinous, and might prove fatal. 
There are many men, and some of them honest men, 
whose zeal against speculation leads them to be sometimes 
unmindful not only of sound policy, but even of moral 
justice. It is not uncommon to hear, that those who have 
bought the public debts for small sums, ought only to be 
paid their purchase money. The reasons given are, that 
they have taken advantage of the distressed creditor, and 
shown a diffidence in the public faidi. As to die first, ii 
must be remembered, that in giving die creditor n)onev 


Ibr his debt, they have at least alibi-ded him sotno rehel, 
which he could not obtain elsewhere, and it" they are de- 
prived ot" the expected benefit, they will never afford such 
relief again. As to the second, those who buy up the 
public debts, slifiw at least as much confidence in tlie 
public hiith as those who sell them. But allowing, lor 
argument sake, that they have exhibited the diffidence 
complained of, it would certainly be wiser to remove than 
to justify it. The one mode tends to create, establish, and 
secure public credit, and the other to sap, overturn, and 
destroy it. Policy is, therefore, on this, as I believe it to 
be on every other occasion, upon the same side of the 
question with honesty. Honesty tells us, that the duty of 
the public to pay, is like the same duty in an individual. 
Having benefited by the advances, they are bound to re- 
place them to the party, or to his representatives. The 
debt is a species of property, and whether disposed of for 
the whole nominal value, or the half, for something, or for 
nothing, is totally immaterial. This right of receiving and 
the duly of paying must always continue the same. In a 
word, diat government which can, through the intervention 
of its Courts, compel payment of private debts, and pev;- 
formauce of private contracts, on principles of distributive 
justice, but refuses to be guided by those principles as to 
their own contracts, merely because they are not amen- 
able '^to human laws, shows a flagitious contempt of moral 
obligations, which must necessarily weaken, as it ought to 
do, their authority over the people. 

Before I conclude this long letter, it would be unpardon- 
able not to mention a fund, which has long since been sug- 
gested, and dwells still on the minds of many. You 
doubtless. Sir, anticipate my naming of what are called 


the back lands. The question as to the property ot those 
lands, I confess myself utterly incompetent lo decide, and 
shall not for that reason presume to enter on it. But ii 
is my duty to mention, that the offer of a pledge, the right 
of which is contested, would have ill consequences, and 
could have no good ones. It could not strengthen our 
credit, because no one would rely on such a pledge, and 
the recurrence to it would give unfavorable impressions of 
our politictil sagacity. But admitting that the right of 
Congress is clear, we must remember also, that it is dis- 
puted by some considerable members of the confederacy. 
Dissentions might arise from hasty decisions on this sub- 
ject. And a government torn by intestine commotions, is 
not likely to acquire or maintain credit at home or abroad. 

I am not, however, the less clear in my opinion, that it 
would be alike useful to the whole nation, and to those 
very constituent parts of it, that the entire disposition of 
those lands should be in Congress. Without entering, 
therefore, into the litigated points, I am induced to believe, 
and for that reason to suggest, the proposing this matter 
to the States as an amicable arrangement. I hope to bo 
pardoned when I add, that considering the situation of 
South Carolina and Georgia, it might be proper to ask 
their consent to matters of the clearest right. But that 
supposing the right to be doubtful, urging decision in the 
present moment, might have a harsh and ungenerous ap- 

But if we suppose this matter to be arranged either in 
the one mode or in the other, so that tiie right of Congress 
be rendered indisputable (for that is a previous point of in- 
dispensable necessity) the remaining question will be, as to 
the appropriation of that fund. And I confess it does not 


appear to lue, tli;il the benefits lebultiiig IVoiii it arc such 
as many are led to believii. VVJieii the imagination is 
lieatecl in pursuit of an object, it is generally overraled. 
If tliese lands were now in the hands of Congress, and 
they were willing to mortgage them to their present cred- 
itors, unless this were accompanied with a due provision (or 
ihc interest, it would bring no relief. If these lands were 
to be sold for the public debts, they would go oiY for 
almost nothing. Those who want money could not afford 
to buy land. Their certificates would be bought up for a 
iriflle. Very few monied men would become possessed of 
them, because very little money would be invested in so 
remote a speculation. The small number of purchasers 
would easily and readily combine ; of consequence they 
would acquire the lands for almost nothing, and effectually 
defeat the intentions of government ; leaving it still under 
the necessity of making further provision, after having 
needlessly squandered an immense property. 

This reasoning is" not new. It has been advanced on 
similar occasions before, and the experience, which all 
America has had of the sales of confiscated estates and the 
like, will now show that it was well founded. The back 
lands then will not answer our purpose, without the neces- 
sary revenues. But those revenues will alone produce 
the desired effect. The back lands rnay afterwards be 
formed into a lund, for opening new loans in Europe on a 
low interest, redeemable within a future period, (for in- 
stance tv/enty years) with a right reserv^ed to the creditors 
of taking portions of those lands on the non-payment of 
their debts, at the expiration of the time. Two modes 
would offer for the liquidation of those debts. First, to 
render payment during the term to those who would not 


consent to alter llie nature of the debt; vvhicli, li our credit 
be well established, would place it on the general footing 
of national faith. And secondly, to sell portions of the 
land (during the term) sufficient to discharge the mortgage. 
1 persuade myself, that the consent of the reluctant might 
be obtained, and that this fund might hereafter be con- 
verted to useful purposes. But I hope that in a moment 
when the joint effort of all is indispensable, no causes of 
altercation may be mingled unnecessarily in a tjuestion of 
such infinite magnitude as the restoration of public credit. 
Let me add, Sir, that unless the money of foreigners be 
brought in for the pm-pose, sales of public lands would 
only absorb that surplus wealth, which might have been 
exhaled by taxes ; so diat in fact no new resource is pro- 
duced. And that while, as at present, the demand for 
money is so great as to raise interest to five per cent per 
month, public lands must sell extremely low, were the tide 
ever so clear. What then can be expected, when the 
validity of that title is one object of the war : 
I have the honor to be, &ic. 



Office of Finance; July aoth, 17tf2. 

1 do myseh the honor to enclose for the inspection ol 
Congress, estimates for the service of the year 1783, 
amounting in the whole to eleven millions. I should be 
strictly justified in praying a requisition of the L'nited 
States for that sum, but I conceive that the demands made 
should be the lowest which our circumstances \Yill possibly 


admit of. 1 atii persuaded, that if the United States in 
Congress will adopt those means of economy, which are in 
their power, we may save two millions ; and, therefore, on 
a presumption that those meiins will be adopted, I sball 
ask only nine millions. Congress will observe, that the 
estimates of the ISIarine Department amount to two millions 
and a lialf ; whereas tliere was no estimate made for that 
service in the last year, any more than for the Civil List. 
There can be no doubt that the enemy have changed their 
inode of warfare, and will make their principal exertions in 
the naval line. It becomes us, therefore, to make like 
exertions, and that for the plainest reasons. 

Experience has shown that the efforts to obtain a large 
army have for many years proved utterly fruitless. The 
only effbct of tliose efforts, has been to enhance the price 
of such men as were obtained, and thereby to disable the 
States, who exerted themselves to raise recruits, from 
pouring supplies into tlie public Treasury. Thus we have 
not only been unable to get more men, but also to pay and 
suj)port those which we had gotten. Adtnitting, however, 
that the required number were obtained and properly sup- 
j)orted as an army, these things are clear ; first, that 
without naval aid we could not make an impression on the 
enemy's posts. Secondly, that they would be able to 
harass and distress us in every quarter, by predatory in- 
cursions. Thirdly, that they would prevent us from re- 
ceiving those supplies, which are necessary alike to the 
operations and existence of an army. And, fourthly, that 
their inroads on our commerce would produce such dis- 
tress to the country, as to make our revenues utterly un- 
productive, and finally bring our affairs to destruction. 
An army, therefore, without a navy would be burden- 

240 ROBERT MORRlir- 

some, without being able lo give essential aid, sujiposing 
the enemy to have changed their system of carrying on 
the war. But if we had a navy, we should be able, first, 
to prevent the enemy from making predatory incursions. 
Secondly, we should, at least, keep the ships they have on 
our coast together, which would prevent them from injur- 
ing our commerce, or obstructing our supplies. Thirdly, 
if they kept in this country an equal or superior force, we 
should by that means have made a powerful diversion in 
favor of our allies, and contributed to give them a naval 
superiority elsewhere. Fourthly, if our enemy did not 
keep an equal or superior force in this country, we should 
be able by cruising to protect our commerce, annoy theirs, 
and cut off the supplies directed tt) their posts, so as to 
distress their finances and relieve our own. Fifthly, by 
economising our funds, and constructing six ships annually, 
we should advance so rapidly to maritime importance, that 
our enemy would be convinced, not only of the impossi- 
bility of subduing us, but also of the certainty that his 
forces in this country must eventually be lost, without 
being able to produce any possible advantage. And, 
sixthly, we should, in this mode, recover the full posses- 
sion of our country, without the expense of blood or 
treasure, which must attend any other mode of opera- 
tions; and while we are pursuing those steps, which lead 
to the possession of our natural strength and defence. 

I trust. Sir, that the influence of these considerations, 
will not only lead the councils of America to adopt the 
measures necessary for establishing a navy, but that by 
economising as much as possible, we may be able (Irom 
the sums now to be asked for) to do more in that line than 
is contained in the estimate ; but as this must depend on 


circutnsiaiices, vvhicli we cannot command, so it is not 
prudent or proper to rely on it. Having already stated 
the lowest necessary sum at nine millions, I proceed, 
Sir, to propose that four millions be borrowed, which will 
reduce the quotas to five millions. I make this propo- 
sition, under the idea, that the plans contained in my letter 
of yesterday's date be adopted. The quotas then being 
five millions, the sum total of what will be taken from the 
people will amount to only seven millions ; and of that, full 
twelve hundred thousand will be paid back as the interest 
of our domestic debt, so as not lo be, in fact, a;iy burden 
on. the whole people, though a necessary relief to a con- 
siderable part of them. On this plain statement I shall 
make no comment. I shall only pray, that as much ex- 
pedition may attend the deliberations on these objects as 
the importance of them will permit, so that the States may 
•be in a situation to make speedy decisions. And this is 
the more necessary, as the negotiations for a loan must be 
opened in Europe early next winter. 
I have the honor to be, &c. 


*Jlugust 1st. This day many people expected that my engage- 
ments to supply the Paymaster General with money to discharge 
the notes, which, under that engagement he had issued to the 
officers of the army on account of their pay, would be broken, and, 
consequently, that my public credit would be lost, and a train of 
evils, easy to be conceived, ensue to the United States. But bav- ' 
ing warranted Mr Pierce, the Paymaster General, to give his notes 
in February last to all the officers of our army, viz. to all subalterns 
for the amount of three months' pay, that is, for January, February, 
and March, 1782, 1 have for some time past been providing for the 
performance of this engagement, and to accomplish it, have been 
distressed in a variety of channels. When this engagement was 
taken, it was at the pressing instance of the Commander in Chief, 
VOL. XII. 31 



Office of Finance, August 2d, 1782. 
I presume j^ou have been before this informed, that 
all the States except Rhode island, have acceded to the 
impost law. A committee of Congress lately ap- 
pointed on this subject, did me the honor to request 
my attendance, with that of your Delegates, to hear 
the objections from them, and know from me the cir- 
cumstances attending the requisition. After a long 
conversation the committee were about to confer on' a 
report, which, at my request they were pleased to sus- 
pend, that I might have the last opportunity of pray- 
ing your attention to the subject. And I was induced 

and to enable the officers to clothe themselves, which they could 
not have done without that seasonable aid. At the time tjiis en- 
gagement was made, I had a right to expect that four millions of 
dollars would be paid into the treasury of the Ifciited States ; as, 
agreeable to the requisitions of Congress, two millions were to be 
paid on the 1st day of April, and two millions on the 1st day of July. 
Instead of receiving those sums, I have not to this hour received 
fifty thousand dollars on account thereof, and have, therefore, been 
compelled to raise this money by selling bills of exchange on 
France. Upon sending for Mr Pierce's return of the notes I issued, 
1 find they amount to one hundred and forty thousand two hundred 
and sixtysix dollars ; of which Mf Sands is possessed of thirtynine 
thousand, which he has delivered up on my paying part of the 
amount now, and part to be paid a short time hence, which leaves 
to be provided for about eightyfive thousand nine hundred and 
fortysix dollars ; and as this debt will be punctually paid, it leaves 
only an unprovided balance of fifteen thou.^and three hunilred and 
twenty dollars, which I think will be ready before payment is de- 
manded ; so that the hopes and expectations of the malicious and 
disaffected will in this instance be disappointed. Diary. 


to make that request, as well for th^ avoiding those 
disagreeable discussions, which cannot exist between 
the Union and an individual * State without inducing 
pernicious consequences, as because it appeared to me, 
that the reasons urged against passing the impost are 
not conclusive, as some have thought them to be. 

Mr Howell was so kind as to promise, that he 
would state his objections in writing. This he has 
l done, and a copy of 'them is enclosed. They are, 
I 1st. That the impost would draw a disproportionate 

supply from either merchant or consumer. 

2dly. That Rhode Island imports and consumes 
more of foreign articles in proportion, than any other 

3dly. That from her "maritime situation she is ex- 
posed to great losses. 

4thly. That the exclusive benefit of the impost 
should be carried to account of the State. 

5thly. That the impost will raise prices, and there- 
fore manufactures brought from the neighboring States 
will draw a revenue from Rhode Island. 

6thly. That duties imposed by the neighboring 
States may compel Rhode Island to subsist by foreign 

7ihly. That many men will -be employed in the col- 

Slhly. That it would be evaded by smuggling; and, 

Othly. That the collection may be objectionable. . 

To each of these I will reply in their order. 

1st. To determine whether the impost will act pro- 
portionably or not, we must consider in what respect 
the proportion is to be taken. If*it be a proportion 


between two of the States, that will be considered 
under the second head ; if it be a proportion among 
the people of the same State, it is only recurring to 
the question, whether taxes on consumption are useful ; 
for so long as no man pays the tax, but he who chooses 
to purchase the article, the disproportion, if any, is of 
his own creating. The necessity of a revenue to a 
certain amount must be admitted. Is it then wise to 
raise a part of it from the consumption of foreign arti- 
cles ? I say the consumption, because the tax un- 
doubtedly falls on the consumer and not on the 
importer. If this be not a wise tax, what shall we 
substitute? Articles of primary and immediate neces- 
sity are made in the State of Rhode Island. Both 
food and raiment can be had without crossing the At- 
lantic in search of them. Every man, therefore, is at 
liberty to use foreign articles or not. If he does use 
them the tax is voluntary, and therefore cannot be 
considered as disproportionate, any more than for one 
man to wear silk while another wears wool. 

2dly. That Rhode Island consumes more foreign 
commodities in proportion than any other State in the 
Union, cannot be admittted. Rhode Island certainly 
makes many commodities, but the more southern 
States are in the habit of importing everything. 

3dly. That Rhode Island is, from its situation, liable 
to the unhappy accidents of war is true ; but this in- 
cidental evil, arising from an advantageous position, 
cannot be adduced as a plea for exemption from public 
burdens. New York has suffered, at least as much 
and as long. 

4thly. That the *exclusive benefits of an impost 


should be carried to the State where it is collected, is 
a position unjust in itself, and which would forever 
prevent any duties ; wherefore it would cut off not . 
only one of the most productive, but one of the most 
useful branches of revenue. Rhode Island, Pennsyl- 
vania and some other States carry on the commerce 
of their neighbors as well as their own, from which 
they derive great riches. The duties are always, (like 
the risks and the expenses) paid by the consumer ; for 
qnless this be so, no tolerable reason can be assigned, 
why foreign commodities should be dearer in war than 
in peace. If then a considerable duty were laid by 
the commercial State, it would fall on its uncommer- 
cial neighbor. That neighbor, therefore, would im- 
mediately take measures to carry on its own com- 
merce, and prohibit the bringing of articles from the 
commercial State. Those measures would produce a 
repeal of the duty. 1 take no notice here of the alter- 
cations which would arise; it is sufficient to show, that 
the private view of revenue for the State would be 

5thly, and 6thly. These objections do not appear to 
me to apply, because in the first place, I can hardly 
suppose the neighboring States will ever think of lay- 
ing duties on the produce, for if any of them should, 
her citizens would be the suflferers. Secondly, if the 
article of produce be left uncontrolled by the govern- 
ment every individual will be a check on the avidity 
of his neighbors, and if by this means a piece of 
American goods can be vended cheaper in Rhode Isl- 
and than a piece of foreign goods, the consumer in 
Rhode Island will by the purchase of it save money to 


himself, and therefore to the country.' And as the 
duty is collected onh' on foreign goods he will not pay 
the duty, and of course the duty on his State will be 
so much the less. 

7thly. The seventh objection will apply more 
strongly to almost any other kind of ta.\, because this 
may be collected by a very small number of men. 

8thly. The eighth objection I cannot admit, because- 
forming my opinion of that State from what I conceive 
to be the chsfracter of the gentleman who makes the 
objection, I cannot believe it to be valid. Smuggling 
was formerly not disreputable because it was the evad- 
ing of laws, which were not made by proper authority, 
and therefore not obligatory ; but nothing can be more 
infamous than to defraud our own government of so 
poor a pittance ; and I trust, that if any individual 
were inclined to do so, he would be detected by the 
first person who saw him, and would be as much ex- 
posed to the resentment and contempt of his fellow 
citizens as an informer would have been in the times 
alluded to. 

9lhly. The last objection ought not to be made, 
because there is no reason to suppose, that Congress 
would devise means to oppress their fellow citizens. 
But it is one of our greatest misfortunes, that men are 
apt to reason from one thing to another that is very 
dissimilar. The parliament of England cared nothing 
about the consequences of laws made for us, because 
they were not affected by them. This is always the 
case under such circumstances, and forms one of the 
most powerful arguments in favor of free governments. 
But how can it be supposed, that a member of Con- 


gress who is liable lo be recalled at a moment's warn- 
ing would join in measures which are oppressive to 
the people, and which he must necessarily himself feel 
the weight of, without deriving any advantage from 
them. For not here as in England, that there is 
a King to buy votes for bad purposes. If the mem- 
bers of Congress be seduced, it must be by the Con- 
gress, which is absurd. If indeed the Congress were 
either an hereditary body, self-existent, or if they were 
self-elected, there might be room for apprehension, but 
as they are, there can be none. 

Now, Sir, the state of things is shortly this. The 
United States are deeply indebted to the people of 
America. They have called for revenues to pay their 
debts in a course of years, being the only means of 
reviving credit and lightening burdens. All the 
States consent but Rhode Island, to whose citizens a 
very considerable part of this debt is due. Of conse- 
quence the whole is suspended. The reasons assigned 
are purely local, and I verily believe are founded 
on mistaken principles. The revenue, however, if 
granted is insufficient. More must be demanded ; and 
consequently, as all taxes are unpleasant some State 
will be found to oppose any which can be devised, on 
quite as good ground as the present opposition. What 
then is the consequence? 

I am, Sir, he. 




Office of Finance, August 20th, 1782. 

I do myself llie honor to enclose to }»our Excellency 
letters from the masters of two flag ships, which have ar- 
rived in this port with American prisoners. I have sent 
them ill by Mr John Greene, one of the persons that came 
in the Symmetry, who will bring such orders as your Ex-? 
cellency may think proper to transmit to those gentlemen. 
I have further to mention, Sir, that I intend delivering to 
one of them such British marine prisoners as may be in 
this place or its vicinity, when they depart, provided their 
receipt shall be deemed a proper evidence of the delivery, 
on a settlement of the account hereafter. On this point 
I shall" be happy to learn your sentiments. It might have 
been more proper to have addressed myself to Admiral 
Uigby, especially as Mr Greene carries the duplicates of 
a former letter to him. But as the King's servants in 
England have placed the masters of these flags under your 
Excellency's directions, I was led to conclude, that if the 
concurrence of the Admiral should be necessary, you 
would take the trouble of obtaining it. 

I have the honor to be, with perfect respect, &.c. 


Office of Finance, August 28th, 1782. 
1 have duly received your several favors of the 22d and 
27th of July, and lOth and 13th of August. My not an- 


swering them is owing to causes which you will easily con- 
ceive ; for you will easily conceive the multiplicity of 
objects to which 1 must tuin my attention. 1 am very 
sorry to learn that you can no longer continue in the office 
of Receiver. It would have given me great pleasure that 
you should have done so, because I am sure that you 
would have rendered very signal services to the public 
cause. Tliis you will now do in another line, more import- 
ant as it is more extensive ; and the justness of your sen- 
timents on public affairs, induce my warm wish that you 
may find a place in Congress so agreeable, that you may 
be induced to continue in it. 

I am sorry to learn, that any letter of mine should 
have given offence ; but I conclude that this effect must 
follow from many parts of my writings and conduct ; be- 
cause the steady pursuit of what appears to be the true 
line of duty will necessarily cross the various oblique views 
of interest and opinion. To offend is sometimes a fault, 
always a misfortune. The letter in question is, I suppose, 
under the date of the 11th of December, of which I 
enclose you a copy. Let me at the same time assure 
you, that in all your excellent letter of the 13th instant, I 
most esteem the clause now in question, because it con- 
tains that useful information which is least common. I 
will make no apologies for the letter, to any one, because 
apologies are rarely useful, and where the intention has 
been good, they are to candid minds unnecessary. Pos- 
sessed of the facts you can guard against misrepresentation, 
and I have found that to be the most hostile weapon, which 
either my personal or political enemies have been able to 
wield against me. 

I have not even yet seen the resolutions of your Legis- 
voL. XII. 32 


lalure, relative to an extension of the powers of Congress. 
1 had supposed the same reason for thern that you have 
expressed. Indeed power is generally such a darling 
object with weak minds, that they must feel extreme re- 
luctance to bid it farewell ; neither do I believe that any- 
thing will induce a general consent to part with it, but a 
perfect sense of absolute necessity. This may arise from 
two sources, the one of reason the other of feeling ; the 
former more safe and more uncertain, the latter always 
secure and often dangerous. It is, my Dear Sir, in cir- 
cumstances like these, that a patriotic mind seeking the 
great good of the whole on enlightened principles, can best 
be distinguished from those vulgar souls, whose narrow 
optics can see but the little circle of selfish concerns. Un- 
happily such souls are but too common, and but too often 
fill the seats of dignity and authority. A firm, wise, 
manly, system of federal government, is what I ofice 
wished, whaf I now hope, what 1 dare not expect, but 
what I vvili not despair of. 

Your description of the mode of collecting taxes, con- 
tains an epitome of the follies, which prevail IVoin one end 
of the continent to the other. There is no end to the 
absurdity of human nature ; mankind seem to delight in 
contrast and paradox, for surely nothing else could sanc- 
tify (during a contest on the precise point of being faxed 
by our own consent) the arbitrary police, which on this sub- 
ject, almost universally prevails. God grant you success 
in your views to amend it. Your ideas on the subject 
are perfectly correspondent to my own. As to your doubt 
on the mode of collecting it, I would wish to obviate it by 
the observation, that the further off we can remove the 
appointment of collectors from popular influence, the more 


effectual will be their operations ; and the more they 
conform to the views of Congress, the more effectually will 
they enable that body to provide for general defence. In 
political life, the creature will generally pay some defer- 
ence to the creator. The having a. double ?et ol officers 
is indeed an evil, but a good thing is not always to be re- 
jected because of that necessary portion of evi-l, which in 
the course of things must be attached to it. Neither is 
this a necessary evil, for with a proper federal government, 
army, navy, and revenue, the civil administration might 
well be provided for, by a stamp act, roads by turnpikes, 
and navigation by tolls. 

The account you give of tlie State is by no means flat- 
tering J and the more true it appears, the more concern it 
gives me. The loan I hope will be completed, and 1 wish 
the xohole amount of the tax may be collected. The forage 
plan I have disagreed to, and enclose for your information, 
the coj)y of my letter on that subject to the Quarter Mas- 
ter General. I believe your State is exhausted, but per- 
haps even you consider it as being more so than it is. 
The certificates, which now form a useless load, will (if 
the United States, adopt, and the several Stales agree, 
to a plan now before Congress) become valuable, pro- 
perty. This will afford great relief. The scarcity of 
money also may be immediately relieved, if the love of 
popular favor would so iar give way to the love of public 
good, as '.o enforce plenlilul taxation. The necessity of 
having money, will always produce money. Tiie desire 
of having it produces, you see, so much as is necessary to 
gratify the desire of enjoying foreign luxuries. Turn the 
stream, which uovv flows in the channels of coimnerce, to 
those. of revenue, and llie business is completed. Unlor- 


tunately for us, this is an operation which requires forti- 
tude, perseverance, virtue, and which cannot be effected 
by the weak or wicked minds, who liave only partial, pri- 
vate, or interested views. 

When I consider the exertions, which the country 
has already made, under striking disadvantages, and with 
astonishing " prodigality of national wealth, by pernicious 
nnodes of applying it, 1 persuade myself that regular 
consistent efforts would produce much more than you 

For your accurate, clear, and comprehensive description 
of general and particular characters, sentiments, and opin- 
ions, accept my sincere thanks and warm approbation. 
They do equal justice to your talents, botli for observation 
and description. 

Mr Duer's attention to the business of his contract, is 
very pleasing to me, and honorable to himself. 1 am very 
sorry that he should lose by it, but to avoid this as much 
as possible, 1 am determined to support him by liberal ad- 
vances so soon as it shall be in my power to do it. 
I pray you to believe me to be yours, &ic. 



Office of Finance, August 29th, 1782. 

I have now to address you on a subject, which cannot 
be more painful to you than it is to me. I am determined 
to act justly, and therefore when I find that 1 shall be un- 
able to pay the contractors, I will give them due notice in 
season. This period is fast approaching, and unless the 


States make infinitely greater exertions than they have 
hitherto done, it must soon arrive. To comprise this mat- 
ter in a short compass, your army is fed at a dollar for 
nine rations, or three dollars and a thifd per month to feed 
a soldier. Twenty four thousand rations per day would 
therefore "amount to eighty thousand dollars monthly, 
which is more than had been paid by all the Slates on 
the 1st instant. The object of this letter. Sir, is to re- 
quest that you will consider how your army is to be sub- 
sisted or kept together, if I am obliged to dissolve the 
contracts. I pray that Heaven may direct your mind to 
some mode by which we may be yet saved. I have done 
all that i could, and given repeated warnings of the conse- 
quences, but it is like preaching to the dead.' Every ex- 
ertion I atn capable of shall be continued while ^here is 
the least glinmiering of hope. 

I have the honor to be, with great respect, &lc. 


* .August 29th. Mr Duane, Arthur Lee, Abraham Clark, and 
Samuel Osgood, a Committee of Inquiry, came this morning and 
proceeded in their business. They desired me to make out an ac- 
count of all "the moneys that have come into my hands, and those 
wh^fh I have paid. They asked the reasons for employing Mr 
Swanwick, and proceeded ip other parts of their inquiry until the 
hour for going to Congress arrived. They inquired into the reasons 
for appointing Receivers of Continental taxes in each State, and Mr 
Clark .expressed doubts of my authority to make those appointments. 
I therefore produced the Acts of Congress of the 3d of November, 
1781, which satisfied him on that point. I informed the Committee, 
that my reasons for making new appointments, in preference to em- 
ploying the Loan office^rs, were first, the Loan officers have not set- 
tled their accounts with the United States, and some of them have 
long accounts depending ; secondly, although some of them may be 
fit, all are not ; thirdly, had the money paid by the States, for the 
current expenses of the year, been put into the hands of the Loan 



Office of Finance, August 30th, 1782. 

My leiter of the 29tl), which 13 enclosed, I have written 

for two reasons; one that you may be informed- aijd 1 may 

stand -justified in every respect, should the event take 

place ; the other, which is the ptincipal one; that you may 

found a warm application on it to the States. You will, 1 

hope, keep tliis entirely to yourself. You will see, that 1 

have not intrusted a view of it to my Secretary, or lo any 

of ihe clerks. The effect of your application must depend 

on raising a'very.general alarm. 

I have t^ie honor to be, &tc. 


officers, the people entitled to the inteiest on Loan Office certifi- 
cates, issued by these gentlemen, would have been very clamorous 
for payment. They would not have entered into; or admitted the 
distinction of moneys granted for revenue or for current expenses of 
the year. Diary. 

* September 2d. This day 1 requested a Committee of Congress for 
a conference. Mr Rutledge, Mr. Osgood, and Mr Madison, were 
appointed, and I proposed to them to present the seventyfour gan 
ship, America, to his Most Christian Majesty ; who has lately ^ost 
Lc Magnifique, a seventyfour gun ship, in the harbor .of Boston. The 
Committee were unanimously of opinion with me, that this unfortu- 
nate incident ^iffiarded Congress an opportunity of showing a mark 
of the sincerity of their attachment to their ally, by enabling his 
Minister to continue the force of his fleet at a time wlien it could 
not otherwise be done. Besides the. propriety which there is in 
showing this mark of attachment and gratitude to his Most Christian 
Majesty, I have several other strong and poyited reasons, which in- 
duced me to propose and always to support this measure. The want 
of money in our treasury to fit, equip, and man this ship, is amongst 
the number. Diary. 



Office of Finance, September 9th, 1782. 

1 did myself the honor to propose, in my letter of tiie 
30th of July last, the borro.wing of four million^ of dollars 
for the service of the ensuing, year. It always gives me 
pain to repeat any application to Congress, because it is 
my duty to suppose they pay every proper attention to 
those things, which are submitted to their consideration. 
But I must take the liberty, on this occasion to observe, 
that the many engagements I have been compelled to 
make for the purpose of supporting the public service to 
the present moment, will all fall due between this and the 
first of next year. 

My prospects of relief from the revenues of America 
are slender indeed. As a safe opportunity for Europe 
will offer in a few days, Congress will be pleased to con- 
sider that the moments are precious. They will consider, 
that I cannot act in this business without their authority, 
and that it will take some days to prepare the necessary 
despatches, even after that authority is given. I hope. 
Sir, that I shall not be understood as desiring to precipi- 
tate any acts or resolutions. We are fast approaching to 
the winter. If everything could be ready by the 15th of 
this month, we could not reckon on the arrival of des- 
patches at Paris before^ the beginning of November. A 
month is but a short period to transact this important busi- 
ness, and this would not leave another month for the 
winter's passage back. 

With perfect respect, I have the honor to be, &;c. 



Office of Finance, September 9th, 1782. 
Dear Sir, 

The dates of the enclosed letters will show you ray ex- 
treme reluctance to wound your mind with the anxieties 
which distress my own. At the time they were written, 
I was sore pressed on every quarter ; but a gleam of hope 
broke in upon me, and induced me to bear up still longer 
against the torrent of demands, which was rushing upon 
me. These would long since have overwhelmed me, had 
I been supported only by the revenues drawn from the 

At length, however, my other resources, which are 
nearly exhausted, have become useless by the total stag- 
nation of trade, owing to the expectations of peace. There 
is, therefore, rio other dependence left but the taxes, and, 
uniess these become immediately productive of funds suffi- 
cient to feed our troops, I need not describe the conse- 
quences. Already I am in arrears, in spite of my efforts. 
I am determined, however, to continue those efforts to the 
last moment, but at present, I really know not which way 
to turn myself. 

With the most sincere esteem, he. 



Office of Finance, September 24th, 1782. 
Presuming, from the letters of yourself and of Mr 
Adams, that the loan opened on account of the United 


States of America under your auspices is filled, 1 do 
myself trie honor to enclose you sundry acts of Congress, 
by wliich you will see that the amount is subject to my 
disposal. Whatever measures 1 may take, you will from 
lime to time receive due notice of, unless the miscarriage 
of letters by tlie accidents to which they are at present 
subjected should prevent. 

1 have now in view a money negotiation, which may or 
may not take place according to circumstances,, but which 
will probably be accomplished, to the amount of from one 
to two millions of florins. If it should be efTecled, Messrs 
Le Couteulx & Co. bankers at Ptnis, will have occasion to 
draw on you. I am now, therefore, to desire that the bills 
drawn by that house to whatever amount, be punctually 
honored and paid on account of the United States. It is 
in a reliance on this that 1 shall take my measiwes, and 
a failure of payment would be attended with the worst 

I have the honor to be, with perfect respect, &c. 



Office of Finance, September 24th, 1782. 

Enclosed you have letters of this date to the house of 

Messrs Le Couteulx, at Cadiz, and to Wilhelm and 

Jan Willink, Nicholas and Jacob Van Stap!)orst, and De la 

Land and Fynje, at Amsterdam. These two letters, which 

I am to request that you will forward, are left open for your 

perusal, and will explain to yon the object which 1 now 

have in view. 

VOL.. XII. 33 


The United States iiaving moneys in Holland, which are 
very necessary for the piibhc service here, I have deemed 
it best to bring them through the Havana, for the following 
reasons. First, bills of exchange cannot be negotiated here 
to the necessary amount, and are even then negotiated at 
the rate of thirteen per cent discount. Secondly, as it is, 
therefore, necessary to import money, the risk is less from 
the Havana than from Europe. Thirdly, it might not be 
agreeable to the prejudices of many to draw from Einope 
their circulating coin ; and, fourthly, I expect that a con- 
siderable gain will be made on the negotiations. Thus, 
for instance, to take it in its greatest extent, I am informed 
that bills on Cadiz, at thirty days' sight, sell ct the Havana 
for an advance of eight per cent j and that bills on Paris 
sell at Cadiz, for an advance of nine per cent j and there 
is also an advance on bills drftwn from Paris on Amster- 
dam ; to which may be added, that a considerable lime is 
also gained in these various negotiations ; and, therefore, if 
any benefit can be derived to the United States from that 
circumstance, yon will govern yoiu'self accordingly. In 
this, as well as in every other circumstance relating to the 
business, I have on you, Geiiilemen, the most perfect 

I think it will be best for you to know immediately of 
the gentlemen in Amsterdam, whether they will answer 
your drafts to the amount ; because, if they should raise 
any obstacles in the way, those may be removed in season 
from this country, provided an early notice be transmiued ; 
for 1 expect you will receive this letter by the time Mr 
reaches the Havana, if not before ; and I do not 
suppose that his bills can reach Cadiz in less than two 
months ; and, of course, at one usance only (and they 


shall, if that can be done withoul loss, be drawn at two 
usances) they will not be payable until three months, and 
tl'.en if time is necessary, yon will direct the house in 
Cadiz to draw at two usances tnore, which will bring the 
business to between five and six months from your receipt 
of my letters. At any rate, it will not do, that Mr 's 

bills be |)rotested ; I must rely on you to prevent an acci- 
dent, which would be attended with such fatal conse- 
quences, and shall take measures to put you in a capacity 
to answer them seasonably. 

With perfect respect, &z,c. 
;iVn^<v,i. ..,,,,,;... ri,.t. ROBERT MORRIS. 

P. S. You will observe, that there is in the foregoing 
letter, a blank for the name of the person who is to be em- 
ployed in this business. The reason is, that the gentle- 
man I spoke to on the subject, is prevented by the circum- 
stances of his family from going to Havana. 1 shall write 
to you further on the subject when 1 shall have taken other 
arrangements. R. M. 

Office of Finance, September 25th, 1782. 

I do myself the honor to enclose for your perusal, 
Acts of Congress of the 27tti of November and 3d of 
December, 17S1, and the 14lh and 3d instant. In 
consequence I have to request, that all the bills hith- 
erto drawn by authority of Congress be paid and the 
accounts of those transactions closed. After (his is 
done, and I hope and believe that while I am writing 


this letter it may have been already accomplished, you 
will be freed from the torment and perplexity of at- 
tending to money matters. 

I am persuaded that this consideration will be highly 
pleasing to you, as such things must necessarily inter- 
fere with your more important attention. I have long 
since requested the Secretary of Foreign Affairs to 
desire you would appoint an agent or attorney here, 
to receive and remit your salary, which will be paid 
quarterly ; in the meantime it is paid to him for your 
use. As to any contingent expenses which may arise, 
I shall readily make the necessary advances upon Mr 
Livingston's application. These arrangements will, I 
hope, be both useful and agreeable to you. 
I am, Sir, with perfect respect, &c. 


Office of Finance, September 27th, 1782. 


I do myself the pleasure to congratulate you on the 
success of your patriotic labors in Holland. The 
general tribute paid to your abilities on this occasion, 
will so well dispense with the addition of my feeble 
voice, that I shall spare your delicacy the pain of ex- 
pressing my sentiments. * 

The enclosed resolutions and copies of letters will 
convey to you so fully the views of Congress, and ex- 
plain so clearly my conceptions on the subject, that 
very little need be added. If the application to France 
should fail of success, which I cannot permit myself to 


believe, you will then have a new opportunity of 
showing the influence you have acquired over the 
minds of men in the country where you reside, and 
of exerting it in the manner most beneficial to our 

Before I conclude this letter, I must congratulate 
your Excellency on the success of the loan you have 
already opened, which I consider as being by this time 

With perfect respect, I have the honor to be, &c. 


Office of Finance, September 27th, 1782. 

1 w^rite to Dr Franklin under this date to place in 
your hands five hundred thousand dollars, as soon as 
he possibly can. I hope it may be eflected speedily. 
My object in making this deposit is, that you may 
remit to the amount of that sum to the Havana, pro- 
vided bills on that place can be purchased at a discount 
of Iwentyfive per cent; by which I mean, that seven- 
tyfive dollars in Europe should purchase one hundred 
dollars in Havana. If the negotiations cannot be 
effected upon tliose terms, you will retain the money 
in your hands subject to my after direction. I sup- 
pose that those, or better terms, can be obtained for the 
following reasons. 

The person who has money in the Havana, by 
selling bills will immediately possess himself of the 
amount for which they are sold; and therefoie, allow- 


ing time for the bills to go over and be presented, 
with the thirty days of payment, and the further time, 
which would be necessary to remit that money frx)m 
the Havana to Cadiz, and he would gain from eight to 
twelve months' time, which is itself important ; but in 
addition to this, there is the duty of nine per cent on 
exporting cash from the Havana ; a freight, which is 1 
suppose considerable ; a risk which is very great, and 
perhaps a farther duty on the arrival at Cadiz. To 
which may be added, the advance on bills drawn at 
Cadiz on the different parts of Europe. 

If you can accomplisli the negotiation on the terms 
I have mentioned, you will then remit tlie bills to a 
good house in the Havana, to receive the money and 
hold it subject to my order; and you will, if you can, 
fix the terms on which that House are to do the busi- 
ness. Whether anything of this sort takes place or 
not, I am to request that you will give me every in- 
formation on the subject, which you can acquire. 

I am. Gentlemen, your most obedient and humble 



Office of Finance, September 27th, 1782 
I have the honor to enclose the copy of Acts of 
Congress of the I4th and 23d instant, together with 
the copy of my letter of the 30lh of July, covering 
the estimates for the year 1783. These estimates are 
not yet finally decided on. By the Act of the 14th 


you are, as you perceive, instructed to communicate 
the resolution for borrowing four millions of dollars, 
to his Most Christian Majesty ; and first, to assure his 
Majesty of the high sense, which the United States in 
Congress assembled entertain of his friendship and 
generous exertions. Secondly, their reliance on a 
continuance of them ; and thirdly, the necessity of ap- 
plying to his Majesty on the present occasion. 

From this, and even more particularly from the Act 
of the 23d, you will see, that it is the wish of Con- 
gress to obtain this money from or by means of the 
King. After the decisive expressions contained in 
those resolutions, of the sense of our Sovereign, I am 
sure tliat it is unnecessary for me to attempt anything 
like argument to induce your exertions. I shall, 
therefore, rather confine myself to giving information. 
The grateful sense of the King's exertions, which has 
so warmly impressed your bosom, operates with un- 
diminished force upon Congress ; and what is of more 
importance, in a country like ours, has the strongest 
influence upon the whole whig interest of America. 

I have no doubt but that the King's Minister here 
has given his Court regular information on this and 
every other subject of equal importance, and, therefore, 
any general assurances on your part will be compli- 
mentary, and in some degree superfluous. But there 
is a kind of knowledge not easily attainable by for- 
eigners in any country, particularly on such a matter 
as the present. It is not amiss, therefore, that I should 
convey it to you, and your good sense will apply it in 
the most proper manner. You (of all men in the 
world) are not now to learn, that the sour English 


prejudices against everything French had taken deep 
root in the minds of America. It could not have been 
expected that this should be obliterated in a moment. 
But by degrees almost every tiac3 of it has been 
effaced. The conduct of Britain has weaned us from 
our allachments, and those very attachments have been 
transferred, in a great measure, to France. 

Whatever remains of monarchical disposition exist, 
are disposing themselves fast to a connexion with the 
French monarchy; for the British adherents begin to 
feel the pangs of a deep despair, which must generate 
.£ deep aversion. The British army here, felt the 
national Iiaughtiness increased Ly the contempt which, 
as Englishmen, they could not but feel for those who 
had combined against the freedom of their own 
country. Every part of their conduct, therefore, 
towards the tories, while they flattered themselves 
with victory showed how much they despised their 
American friends. Now that a reverse of fortune has 
brought on a little consideration, they find a total sep- 
aration from this country unavoidable. They must 
feel for the fate of their country ; they must, there- 
fore, hale, but they must respect us, too; while their 
own adherents are both detested and despised. Since 
General Carleton's arrival^ or rather since the change 
of ^Ministers, the British have shown that their inten- 
tion is, if possible, to conciliate the rulers of America ; 
and by the influence of a common language and simi- 
lar laws, with the force of ancient habits and mutual 
friendships not yet forgotten, not only to renew again 
the commercial intercourse, but to substitute a new 
federal connexion to their ancient sovereignty and 


The assurance, therefore, which Congress have 
directed you to make, must not he considered in the 
number of those idle compliments, which are the com- 
mon currency or small change of a Court. It is an 
assurance important because it is founded in truth, and 
more important still because it is dictated by the affec- 
tions of a people. If I may venture an opinion still 
further, it is principally important because of the crit- 
ical situation of things. The sudden change of Britain 
from vengeance and war to kindness and conciliation 
must have effects ; and those effects, whether they be 
contempt or affection, will depend less, perhaps, on 
them than upon others. It cannot be doubted that 
tiiey will ring all the changes upon their usual theme 
of Gallic ambition. They will naturally insinuate the 
idea, that France will neglect us when we have served 
her purposes; and it would be very strange if tliey 
did not find some converts among that class of people 
who would sacrifice, to present ease, every future con- 
sideration. What I have said will, I- am confident, 
put your mind into the train of reflections, which arise 
out of our situation, and you will draw the proper 
conclusions and make a proper appreciation of them. 

Congress have directed you fmther, lo express to the 
King their reliance on a cdiitiniiaiion of his fiiendship and 
exertions. 1 have no doubt lliat a full beliel of this re- 
liance will be easily inculcated. Indeed, 1 apprehend, 
that we shall be considered as relying too nuich on France, 
or in other words, doing loo little for ourselves. There 
can be no sort of doubt, that a good argument may be 
raised on the usual position, that the nation which will 
not keep ilself, does not merit the aid of others; and 
v.)[,. XII. .M 


it would be easy to tell us, that we must put our own 
shoulders to the wheel before we call upon Hercules. In 
short, if the application be refused or evaded, nothing can 
be easier than to assign very good reasons why it is done. 
But you have very justly reu/arked in one of your letters, 
that it is possible to get the belter in argument, and to get 
nothing else. So it might be here. True sagacity con- 
sists in making proper distinctions, and true wisdom in 
taking determinations according to those distinctions. 
Twenty years hence, when time and habit have settled 
and completed the federal constitution of America, Con- 
gress will not think of relying on any other tlian that Being, 
to whose justice they appealed at the commencement of 
their opposition. But there is a period in the progress of 
things, a cri?is between the ardor ol enthusiasm and the 
authority of laws, when much skill and management are 
necessary to those who are charged with administering the 
affairs of a nation. 1 have already taken occasion to ob- 
serve, that the present moment is rendered particularly 
critical by the conduct of the enemy ; and I would add 
here, (if 1 dared even in idea to separate Congress from 
those they represent,) that now above all other times. Con- 
gress must rely on the exertions of their ally. This sen- 
timent would open to his Majesty's Ministers many reflec- 
tions, the least of which has a material connexion with the 
interests of his kingdom. But an argument of no little 
weight, is that which apj)lies itself directly to the bosom of 
a young and ger,erous prince, who would be greatly 
wounded to see that temple, dedicated to humanity, which 
he has taken so much pains to rear, fall at once into ruins, 
by a remission of the last cares, which are necessary for 
giving solidity to the structure. I think I might add, that 


there are some occasions on which a good heart is the best 

. Tlie third topic on which Congress have directed you 
to dwell upon, is the necessity of their present application ; 
and it is this which falls most particularly within my de- 
partment; for 1 doubt not that every sentiment on the other 
objects, has been most forcibly inculcated by the jNlinister 
of Foreign Affairs I might write volmnes on our necessi- 
ties, and not convey to you so accurate an idea, as by the 
relation of a single fact, which you may see in the public 
newspapers. It is, that the requisitions of last October for 
eight millions, had produced on the 1st day of this month 
only one fiundred and twentyfive thousand dollars. You 
are so perfectly a master of everything, which relates to 
calculation, that I need not state anytiiing of our expenses. 
You know also what were our resources beyond taxation, 
and therefore you have every material for forming an ac- 
curate idea of our distresses. The smallness of the sum 
which has been paid will doubtless astonish you ; and it is 
only by conversation or a long history that you could see 
why it has been no greater. The people are undoubtedly 
able to pay, but they have easily persuaded themselves 
into a conviction of their own inability ; and in a govern- 
ment like ours the belief creates the thing. 

The mode of laying and levying taxes are vicious in the 
extreme ; the faults can be demonstrated ; but would it 
not be a new thing under the sun, that people should obey 
the voice of reason ? Experience of the evil is always a 
preliminary to amendment, and is frequently unable to 
effect it. Many who see the right road, and approve it, 
continue to follow the wrong road, because it leads to pop- 
ularity. The love of popularity is our endemial disease, 


and can only be checked by a change of seasons. When 
the people have had dear experience of the consequences 
of not being taxed, they will probably work the proper 
amendment, but our necessities in the interim are not the 
less severe. 

To tell America in such a situation, that she should re- 
form her interior administration, would be very good ad- 
vice, but to neglect affording her aid, and thereby to lose 
the capital objects of the war would be very bad conduct. 
The necessity of the present application for money arises 
from the necessity of drawing by degrees the bands of 
authority together, establishing the power of government 
over a peo|)le impatient of control, and confirming the 
federal union of the several States, by correcting defects 
in the general constitution. In a word it arises from the 
necessity of doing that infinite variety of things, which are 
to be done in an infant government, placed in such deli- 
cate circumstances, that the people must be wooed and 
won to do their duty to themselves, and pursue their j)wn 

This application also becomes the more necessary, in 
order to obviate the efforts of that British faction, which the 
enemy are now attempting to excite among us. Hitherto 
indeed they have been unsuccessful, unless perhaps with a 
very few men, who are under the influence of disappointed 
ambition, but much care will be required when their plans 
are brought to greater maturit) . The savage inroads on 
our frontiers have kept up the general horror of Britain. 
The great captures made on our coasts have also rather 
enraged than otherwise, th.ough such captures "have always 
the twofold operation of making people wish for peace as 
well as for revenge. But when the enemy shall quit our 


coasts, (and ihey have already stopped the inroads of their 
savage allies,) if the people are urged at once to pay 
heavy and unusual taxes, it may draw foilh and give 
weight to arguments, which the boldest emissaries would 
not at present hazard the use of. 

I have already observed, that Congress wish to obtain 
this money either from or by means of the King. The 
most cautious prudence will justify us in confiding to the 
wisdom of his Ministers the portrait of our situation. But 
it might not be very wise to explain to others tliose reasons 
for the application, which lie so deep in the nature of 
things, as easily to escape superficial observers. I shall 
enclose a copy of this letter to Mr Adams, and you will 
find a copy of what I say to him on the subject. I hope 
the Court will take such measures as to render any efforts 
on his part unnecessary ; but you and he must decide on 
what is best for your country. 

1 must trouble you still further on this subject, with the 
mention of what you will indeed collect from a cursory 
reading of the resolutions, that Congress have the strongest 
reason for their procedure, when they direct your utmost 
endeavors to efTect this loan, notwithstanding the informa- 
tion contained in your letters. If the war is to be carried 
on, this aid is indispensable, and when obtained, will ena- 
ble us to act powerfully in the prosecution of it. If a 
peace lakes place, it is still necessary, and as it is the last 
request which we shall then have occasion to make, I can- 
not think it will be refused. In a word, Sir, we must have 

With perfect respect, I liave the honor to be, he. 




Office of Finance, September 27th, 1782. 

By my letter of this date you will be informed of the 
inienlions of Congress, to provide for a principal part of 
the expenditures of the year 1783, by loan. I expact 
that you will be able to obtain the four millions of dollars, 
either from the Court, or by their assistance. I wish for 
an immediate disposition of a part in the following manner. 
That the Court of Spain should give orders for the ship- 
ment of a million of dollars al the Havana, free of duties, 
and be convoyed by one or more ships of the line to an 
American port ; the money to be paid to them during the 
year, in Europe ; I wish order may be so expedited, 
as that Captain Barney, in the Washington, by whom this 
letter goes, may carry it out to the Havana, and receive 
the n)oney, which will by that means arrive here some 
time during the winter, and of course will, I expect, come 
safely as well as seasonably. I wish that a half million of 
dollars may be paid to Messrs Le Couteulx &, Co, as 
soon as possible, to enable iliem to execute my orders as 
to particular negotiations, which I commit to them. What- 
ever else of the money is obtained in France, will of 
course be paid to Mr Grand, subject to my orders. If 
uny part of the money be negotiated in Holland, it will be, 
I suppose, proper to leave it in tl.'e hands of those who 
negotiate the loan, subject to my further disposition. 
I am, Sir, &ic. 




Office of Finance, September 30th, 1782. 
It is in some respects fortunate, that our stores were not 
shipped, because, as you observe, they migiit have been 
taken ; but I hope they are now on tlie way, lor if they 
are to lie in France at a heavy expense of storage, &z-c. 
while we suffer for the want, it will be even worse than 
if ihey were taken. You will find by if.e letters, wh'ch are 
to go with this, that Mr Barclay is proh.ibiied from making 
any more purchases on account of the United States. I 
confess, that I disapprove of those he has made ; for the 
purchase of unnecessary things because they are cheap, 
appears to be a very great extravagance. We want the 
money as much as anything else, and the world must form 
a strange idea of our management, if while we are begging 
to borrow, we leave vast magazines of clothing to rot at 
Brest, and purchase others to be shipped from Holland. 
I have said nothing on this subject to Mr Barclay, because 
the thing having been done, could not be undone, and 
because the pointed resolutions of Congress on the subject, 
will prevent any more such operations. 

Wliat I have now said, however, will 1 hope lead you 
to urge on him the necessity of making immediate ship- 
ments of all stores in Europe. A merchant does not sus- 
tain a total loss of his goods by their detention, but liie 
public do. The service of the year must be accomplished 
within the year, by such means as the year affords. The 
detention of our goods has obliged me to purchase clothing 
and other articK;s at a great expense, while those very 
things were lying about at different places in Europe. I 


am sure that any demand made for money on our part, 
must appear extraordinary, while we show so great negli- 
gence of the property we possess. The funds, therefore, 
which were obtained for the year 1781, are not only 
rendered useless during the year 1781, but so far perni- 
cious, as that the disposition of them will naturally influ- 
ence a diminution of the grants made for the year 1782. 

You mention in yours of the 25th of June, that you 
would send enclosed the account of the replacing of the 
Lafayette's cargo, if it could be copied in season. As it 
did not arrive 1 shall expect it by the next opportunity. 

I have received Mr Grand's accounts, whicli are not 
settled in the manner 1 wish ; and in consequence I have 
written to him by this opportunity to alter them. I have 
desired him to give your account credit for every livre 
received {)revious to the current year, including therein 
th3 loan of ten millions of livres in Holland, though a part 
of it may not have been received until this year. I have 
dtsired him to debit your account for every expenditure 
made by your order, which will include all your accept- 
ances of bills, &tc. and of course M. de Beaumarchais' 
bills, if they shall have been paid. Finally, I have desired 
him to tarry the balance of your account to mine, in which 
he is to credit all moneys receiveii for t.he current year ; 
for instance, the six millions (and the other six if they are 
obtained) togethei- with such moneys as may come to his 
hands, from the loan opened for the United States, by 
Messrs Willink, Staphorst, &. Co. 

I did expect to have hj'd some kind of adjustment made 
bv this time of Captain Gillon's affair; but Congress re- 
ferred much of it to a committee, with whom it has long 
slept ; but I have informed Mr Gillon, that I must have a 


settlement, and at present I wnit a little for the determi- 
nation of Congress. 

You mention to me, tliat the interest on the ten millions, 
Dutch loan, is payable at Paris annually on the 5th of 
November, at four per cent. I must request you to send 
me the particular details on this subject, such as who it 
is payable to, and by whom, that I may make proper 
arrangements for a punctual performance, so as not to 
incur unnecessary expense. I presume that the first year's 
interest may be discharged before this reaches you ; but 
at any rate I enclose a letter to Mr Grf.nd, to prevent any 
ill consequences, which might arise from a deficiency of 

I informed you, in mine of the 1st of July, that Con- 
gress had resolved to a[>point a Commissioner to settle the 
public accounts in Europe. This is not done, but they 
have reconsidered and committed the resolution. Where 
the thing will end, I do not know. I think, however, that 
eventually ihey must send over sonie |)erson for the pur- 

The ap[)earances ol peace have been materially disser- 
viceable to us here, and general cautions on the subject 
from Europe, and t!^.e most |)ointed applications from the 
public officers, will not prevent that lethargy, which the very 
name of peace extends through all the States. I hope 
measures will he taken by our public Ministers in Europe, 
10 prevent the people honi lalling into tlie snares wi)ich the 
enemy has laid. Undue security m opinion, is generally 
very hmtful in efiect, and I dread tlis consequences of it 
here, if the wnv is to be carried on, whir h is not im- 

[ am, Sir, he. ROBERT MORRIS. 

VOL. xii. 35 



Office of Finance, October 1st, 1782. 

In my letter of tlie 27th of September last 1 expressed 
my wish, "that the Court of Spain should give orders for the 
shipment of a million of dollars at the Havana, free of 
duties, and to be convoyed by one or more ships of the line 
to an American port, he. Upon further reflection, I a in in- 
duced to believe that the Court of Spain will not go into 
the whole of this arrangement ; for although they may, and 
probably will, agree to so much of it as will procure them 
an equivalent in France for the one million dollars, to be 
shipped from the Havana, yet there are reasons to doubt 
whether they will convoy the Washington hither. I wish, 
therefore, (should you meet with difljculties in that quar- 
ter) to apply to the Court for such convoy. 1 wish it may 
consist of a ship of the line, because none but frigates will 
cruise on this coast during the winter, and therefore a ship 
of the line will afford more protection than two or three 
frigates. However, this will depend entirely on the con- 
venience or inconvenience which may attend the business. 
I shall communicate botii this letter and that of the 2Tib, 
to the Chevalier de la Luzerne, on whose representations 1 
rely much, as well for procuring the aid asked lor, as for 
accomplishing the necessary arrangements after it is pro- 

I am, Sir. he. 




Office of Finance, October 2d, 1782. 

I liave tlie honor to enclose for your Excellency's pe- 
rusal, the copies of letters from this office to Dr Franklin, 
of the 27th of last month and the 1st instant. I am to 
entreat, Sir, tliai you will represent to your Court the ne- 
cessity of the application, vvhicli Congress have directed 
their Minister to make for four millions of dollars. The 
resolutions on the subject have, I suppose, been communi- 
cated to you by the Secretary of Foreign Affairs. I 
have, also, to request that you will facilitate the arrange- 
ments proposed in my letters already mentioned, the ad- 
vantages of which are so well known to you that I shall 
not dwell on them. 

With real esteem and respect, &c. 



Office of Finance, October 5th, 1782. 

I have now before me your letters of the 14th and 21st 
of last month. I am sorry to find that you are less san- 
guine in your pecuniary expectations than the Governor 
a[)pears to be ; for I have always found that the worst 
forebodings on this subject are the truest. 

1 am not surprised to find that the contractors apply with 
their paper, in the first instance, to the receivers and col- 
lectors. This I expected, because much of that paper is 
not fit for other purposes. Some of it, however, which is 


payable to the bearer, is calculated for circulatiou, which 
you observe, is not so general as otherwise it might have 
been, by reason of the largeness of the sinus in the notes. 
Mr Duer's letters contain the same sentiment. 

In issuing this paper, one principal view was to facilitate 
the paynnient of taxes, by obviating the too general, though 
unjust, complaint of the want of a circulating medium. In 
substituting paper for specie, the first obstacle to be en- 
countered, was the difference which has arisen from the late 
profusion of it. Had a considerable quantity been thrown 
into the hands of that class of people, whose ideas on the 
subject of money are more the offspring of habit than of 
reason, it must have depreciated. That this a|)prehension 
was just, ii clear from this fact, that the paper I first 
issued, and the bank paper which came out after it, did 
depreciate from ten to fifteen per cent in the Eastern 
States, notwithstanding all the precautions which were 
used. If 1 had not taken immediate measures to create a 
demand for it on the spot, and to stop issues to that 
quarter, its credit would have been totally lost for a time, 
and not easily restored. Besides that the quantities, 
which were pouring in from thence would have done mis- 
chief here. Confidence is a plant of slow growth, and 
our political situation is not too favorable to il. I am, 
therefore, very unwilling to hazard the germ of a credit, 
which will in its greater maturity become very useful. If 
my notes circulate only among mercantile people, I do not 
regret it, but rather wish that the circulation may bo for 
the present confined to them and to the vveallhier members 
of the professions. 

It is nothing but the greater con\'cnience, which will 
induce people to prefer any kind of paper to the precious 


metals, and this convenience is principally felt in large 
sums. Whenever the shop-keepers in general discover 
that my paper will answer as a remittance to the principal 
ports, and will be readily exchanged by the receivers, they 
will as readily exchange it for other people. When the 
people in general, find that the shop-keepers receive it 
freely, they will begin to look after it, and not before. For 
you must know, whatever fine plausible speeches may be 
made on this subject, the farmers will not give full credit 
to money merely becausa it will pay taxes, for that is an 
object they are not very violently devoted to ; but that 
money that goes freely at the store and the tavern, will be 
sought after as greedily as those things which the store 
and the tavern contain. 

Still, liovvever, your objection remains good, that the 
trafficing in which the greater part of the community 
engage, do not require sums so large as twenty dollars. 
This I shall readily acknowledge ; but you will observe, 
that there is irjfiniiely less danger that notes, which go only 
through the hands of intelligent people will be counterfeited, 
than small ones that come to the possession of illiterate 
men. When public credit is firmly established, the little 
shocks it receives from the counterfeiters of paper money, 
do not lead to material consequences ; but in the present 
ticklish state of things, there is just ground of apprehen- 
sion. Besides this, the value of paper will depend much 
upon the interchanges of it for specie ; and these will not 
take place when there is a circulation of small paper. 
Lastly, I have to observe, that until more reliance can be 
placed on the revenues required, 1 dare not issue any 
very considerable amount of this paper, lest I should be 
run upon for more than I could answer ; and as the circu- 


lalion of what I dare issue, by increasing the general mass, 
enables people (as far as it goes) more easily to gel iiold of 
other money, it consequently produces, in its degree, that 
object of facilitating taxation, which I had in view. 
I am, Sir, &tc. 



Office of finance, October 7th, 1782- 

Captain Barney having been detained until this day, and 
it being probable that he will not arrive in Europe so early 
as I expected, I am very doubtful whether it would be 
proper to send him to the Havana, but think it would be 
better he shouki return immediately hither, because it is 
likely that the negotiation I proposed will consume more 
time than he can spare. His ship is small, but she sails 
remarkably well, and will, therefore, give us a good chance 
of being well informed of the situation of our affairs. 

If there is likely to be any delay or difficulty in the 
Havana plan, it will be best that you endeavor to obtain 
the shipment of a considerable sum in Europe on board 
some of the King's frigates. At any rate, we must have 
money, and I think you may venture fifty thousand crowns 
by this vessel. You will see that Captain Barney is put 
under your directions, and is to wait your instructions ; but 
1 must at the same time inform you, that Congress have 
directed his ship to be purchased and .sent to France, 
among other things, for the purpose of obtaining a better 
communication with their servants, and more frequent and 
accurate intelligence from Europe. You will see, there- 


fore, the propriety of despatching her as speedily as pos- 
sible, and I think we may, probably, fall npon ways and 
means to afford you frequent opportunities of writing with 
a great chance of security. 
I am, Sir, &.c. 



Office of Finance, October loth, 1782. 

I have received your letters of the 2d, 3d, and 7th 
instant. There is no man in America, more heartily 
disposed than I am to remove from the army and from 
all others who have claims on the public, every just 
ground of complaint. But with the means in my 
power, how is it possible? I have been obliged to 
submit to cancelling one contract and forming another, 
at one third advance on the former price, for the want 
of a mere trifle, compared with what we had a right 
to expect. I am in advance on credit to an amount, 
which you can scarcely form an idea of, although I 
have declined every expenditure not indispensable. 

That part of the late arrival of clothing, which is 
unfit for soldier's use, is now selling to pay debts con- 
tracted by the clothing department during my admin- 
istration. Among these debts are twelve thousand 
dollars for needle work done by people in extreme 
indigence. The clothing which arrived fit for the 
ofl&cers' wear, was inadequate to the purpose of cloth- 
ing them all. The division must have created con- 
fusion and raised disputes. If this had not been the 


case, still it would have been liable to the inconven- 
iencies attending partial payments, and we should have 
been justly reproached for having broken repeated 
promises, that no such payments should take place. 
Congress have done all in their power to procure 
money for the army. My own efforts I shall not 
dwell upon. If money is obtained, that will produce 
satisfaction ; I am sure that nothing else will. 

My credit has already been on the brink of ruin. 
If that goes, all is gone ; but if it can be preserved, 
there will, in the last necessity, be some chance of 
making advances on credit to the army, as well as to 
others. Thus, Sir, you will see that I look forward 
as far as my distressed situation will admit; but after 
all, if the States cannot be prevailed on to make 
greater exertions, it is difficult to see where the thing 
is to terminate. 

I have this day commissioned Major Turner as IVIa- 
rine Commissary of prisoners, and I trust he will soon 
be in capacity to prevent your Excellency from having 
any further trouble on that subject. 

I am, Sir, with sincere respect and esteem, &c. 



Office of Finance, October 7th, 1782. 

Since the receipt of your favor of the 20th of Au- 
gust last, I have received copies of a correspondence 
between yourself and Colonel Carrington on the sub- 
ject of specific supplies. The disposition which you 


have expressed, (in your letter to me, and which in- 
deed breathes through your whole correspondence) to 
promote those plans of regularity and economy, which 
Congress have adopted, command my sincere ac- 

I perceive that there is a difference of opinion be- 
tween the officers of the continent and your State on 
the receiving specific supplies, which I attribute prin- 
cipally to some misunderstanding of the matter. The 
specific supplies called for by Congress in their several 
resolutions on that subject are undoubtedly receivable, 
and ought above eighteen months ago to have been 
received, on the requisitions which were made at the 
rates for that purpose mentioned. Such as it may 
now suit any State to deliver on those requisitions, 
ought in like manner to be carried to account. But it 
is very clear, that they cannot be received on account 
of the subsequent money requisitions. The several 
quotas of the eight millions asked for last year, to sup- 
ply the current expenditures of the year 1782, must 
be paid in cash, or what is equivalent to it, ia my 
notes or bank notes. I cannot consent to receive any- 
thing else. It is by this means alone, that economy 
can be established, order restored, and confusion, that 
parent of fraud, too apt to introduce itself into public 
accounts, banished and destroyed. 

I incline to think, that as Congress have determined 
to have all accounts settled and liquidated to the end 
of the year 1781, your State would rather choose to 
attend only to the money requisition, and leave the 
further delivery of specifics to a liquidation of the old 
vox.. XII. 36 


accounts ; but if not, there can be no doubt but the 
specifics will be received, and in such case I will give 
the gentleman whom I shall appoint as Receiver of 
taxes in your State, instructions how to dispose of 
them ; but I must again repeat, Sir, that I will not 
accept one particle of them in abatement of the State 
quota for the year 1782, 

Before I close this letter I must take the liberty to 
mention a matter, which suggests itself from one of 
your letters to Colonel Carrington. You tell him that 
you will continue the prohibition against sending cer- 
tain things out of the State, in order that he may pur- 
chase for the United States on better terms. Now, 
Sir, while I feel it my duty to require justice for the 
United States it is equally my duty to take care that 
equal justice be done to the several States, individually 
considered, as well as to the individuals which com- 
pose them. I am, therefore, to request that all such 
restrictions be taken off. They sour people's minds, 
destroy the spirit of industry, impair by a rapid as 
well as a certain progress, the public wealth of the 
State, producing a dearth of the things embargoed, 
eventually enhance the prices far more than they could 
have been increased by any other mode. Whereas 
perfect freedom makes the people easy, happy, rich, 
and able to pay taxes, and the taxes when paid can be 
expended amid a plenty of products, and consequently 
be expended to advantage. I say a plenty of products 
because I know, that liberty to dispose of them to the 
greatest advantage will encourage men to raise them 
and produce a plenty. Your Excellency will, I hope, 
excuse reflections which arise from an ardent desire (o 


promote the general welfare and happiness of all the 
inhabitants of the United States. 
I have the honor to be, &£c. 



Office of Finance, October 17th, 1782. 

Dear Sir, 

1 have received your letter of the 1st of September, for 
which 1 pray you to accept my acknowledgements. Amid 
the many distresses and cares, which await every step of 
my administration, it is a great relief and consolation to 
have met with the support of those who command (and 
what is more, who worthily command) the armies of the 
United States. I have felt, my Dear Sir, your efforts to 
support my measures, and I know that they have been 
useful. I wish it were in my power to give to you and 
to your brave army that full relief, which their conduct, 
their sufferings, and above all, their patience, have merited. 

I had intended to supply their subsistence, and the little 
contracts in Virginia, from the quota of that State, as the 
money there collected would have been nearest the spot 
where it was to be applied. But I need not tell you how 
deficient that State has been. The consequence is, that I 
must endeavor to supply the deficiency from other sources, 
which 1 am now doing ; but in the precarious state 
of things at present, there is no reliance to be placed on 
any measure. I suppose, however, that the evacuation 
of Carolina will enable you to move northward, with a 
considerable part of your army ; these will, I hope, meet 
the relief intended. 1 shall direct a statement of the whole 


to be made out by the Pay Master General, and do what- 
ever may lay in my power; but as to pay, my inviolable 
determination is, that the whole army shall equally share 
whatever is disposed of in that way. 

The disposition of the Slate of North Carolina to pay 
in specie, is far from being peculiar to that State. At- 
tempts of the same kind have been made by others ; and 
they have invariably been opposed and shall be. There 
is however a distinction to be taken. You recollect that 
Congress called for large quotas of specie. I am per- 
fectly persuaded, that no State has fully obeyed that call, but 
many, and indeed almost all, aver that they have overpaid. 
The last requisitions have been for money ; and if I had 
not by the publications prevented such assertions, it would 
not be surprising, that they should be repeated, even as 
to the money quotas. Now if the State of North Caro- 
lina are desirous of paying in specie, on the requisitions of 
specie, I shall not have the least objection; b.ut on the 
requisitions for the service of the current year, I will re- 
ceive money alone. I make this distinction in such clear 
and peremptory terms, to avoid all further cavils. on the 
subject. 1 see that it has already been drawn into some 
length, and must, therefore, be finally terminated. Be- 
sides, under the present appearances there can be 
little doubt, that specie in North Carolina will be almost 
as useless as if they were in Otaheite. A copy of my 
letter to Governor Martin on this subject shall be enclosed 
to you. 

You have in several of your letters, made very just 
observations on the business of my department, and such 
as convince me you have turned your attention to it. I 
have therefore taken the liberty to enclose to you a copy 


of a letter to Congress, on the subject oi" a mint, of one on 
the establishing public credit by funding our debts ; and 
of a third, on the estimates for the ensuing year. 

As there is a report, that the enemy got several letters 
intended for you, it is possible that some or other of 
those, may be among the number. 

I pray you to believe me, with very sincere esteem, 
your most obedient servant, 



Head Quarters, October 18th, 1782. 


I take the liberty to enclose to your care, a letter for 
the Chevalier de la Luzerne, on the subject of expense, 
which at his request I have incurred, for the purpose of 
forwarding intelligence of the movements of the enemy at 
New York, to the Marquis de Vaudreuil. 

If our circumstances would admit, I should be very glad 
that this expense should be defrayed by the United States ; 
it is infinitely short of the debt, which gratitude imposes 
on us. I submit therefore to your judgment, whether to 
deliver the enclosed, or to send forward the money from 
your own funds, agreeably to the monthly estimate sent to 
the Minister. 

The chain of expresses was instituted about the middle 
of August, and will probably be continued till the sailing 
of the French fleet from Boston. 

I am, he. '■ 




Office of Finance, October 21st, 1782. 

I have on many occasions warned the States of the 
consequences which must follow from delays in supplying 
the treasury. The expense which attends such delays, 
has frequently heen mentioned, and instances daily occur 
to show, how much the public burdens are increased by 
the want of a timely provision. To cite them all would 
be endless ; but there is one of no inconsiderable magni- 
tude, which I think it proper to state for your consideration. 
I had contracted on the part of the United States for the 
supply of rations to the main army, at ten pence Pennsyl- 
vania currency, and to the garrison at West Point for nine 
pence half penny, and had agreed to pay, at the com- 
mencement of each month for the issues of the preceding 

These beneficial contracts have been dissolved by my 
inability to make punctual payments, which rendered the 
contractors incapable of performing their engagements. 
After many efforts on my part to supply the want of cash, 
and on their part to substitute private credit and promises 
in the place of ready money, they found it impracticable 
to proceed further on the moderate terms ' stated in the 
contract. Some of them told me so, and asked (what any 
persons in their situation would have asked) the promise 
of indemnification for any damages tliey might stistain. 
And a promise to pay at the end of each month, one half 
the amount of issues for the preceding month in coin, and 
three times the remaining half in bills or notes receivable 
in t^xes. They offered if 1 would agree to these proposi- 


tions, to go on and supply the army ; but declared, that 
if I would not, they could no longer perform their engage- 

From this moment I was obliged to consider the con- 
tract as dissolved ; because the dissolution of it appeared 
inevitable. I had already by entering into the contract, 
promised on the part of the public, a payment of the whole 
money due for the monthly issues. A new promise of 
the half would have given no additional security, and 
therefore I considered that stipulation as a request, that I 
should on my private and personal honor, assure them 
the public funds would enable me to make such payments. 
But of this I had lio good prospect. Tiie greater part of 
what little came in from taxes, was the same kind of paper 
with that which they asked for, being what I had long 
before issued for other services. If indeed I could have 
trusted the assurances made to me, I might have given the 
assurances required by them. But experience had taught 
me caution, and the event has shown, that if I had made 
the promise, I should now have been chargeable with false- 

I think the contractors were prudent in requiring a pro- 
mise of indemnification ; their situation made it necessary; 
but it was a promise which I could not make, for although 
I had reason to confide in their integrity and would have 
done it in my private capacity, yet as a public officer, I 
could not. For there would have been no longer cer- 
tainty of the extent to which their expenditures might have 
been carried, after it should have become a matter of in- 
difference to their private interest what prices should be 
given for supplies. 

Thus, Sir, 1 found myself reduced to the alternative of 


making a new agreement for subsistence of the army and 
garrison, or of leaving them to subsist themselves by mili- 
tary collection. The latter was to be avoided, if possible, 
for it would have been the most expensive mode of obtain- 
ing supplies, not to mention other circumstances. The 
former, therefore, was to be adopted, and I accordingly 
gave instructions to Mr Cornell, the inspector of the con- 
tracts, to consult with the Commander in Chief, and take 
the necessary arrangements. It could not be expected, 
that a contract dictated by necessity, could be made on 
economical terms, and the inability to perform old engage- 
ments would. necessarily influence the rate of new ones. 
Besides this, it was indispensably necessary to obtain a 
longer credit, because otherwise the burden would have 
been shifted, not removed ; and the evil must have re- 
turned with equal speed and greater magnitude. Under 
siTch unfavorable circumstances, it was necessary to pay 
for a credit in order to obtain it. A new contract is made, 
and the rations issued now, are to be paid for three months 
hence, at the rate of thirteen pence, Pennsylvania currency, 
for a ration ; which is an advance of about one third upon 
the former price. The public therefore will pay for this 
advance of moneys, equal to feeding the army at the rate 
of tWrtythree and one third per cent for three months ; or, 
to make the matter more simple, they must pay for feeding 
them three months, a? much as would have fed them four 
months. Besides this, the public credit sustains material 
injury, and damages will be expected by the former con- 

If, Sir, it should be supposed that this is the only in- 
stance of loss sustained from the low state of the treasury, 
it is a great mistake. The attempt to establish economi- 


cal systems is vain, unless we can support them by punc- 
tuality. Congress have placed me in a situation where I 
am exposed in the first instance to claims and demands, 
but these must come home to the several Legislatures, and 
eventually to their constituents. My situation, therefore, 
makes it a duty to expostulate freely on the circumstances 
of my department. I am not to learn that free represen- 
tations will sometimes give otfencc, and I know that those 
will be always most offended, who are most in fault ; but I 
make no apologies for what I have to say. It is necessary 
that the truth should be known to the people ; to our ene- 
mies it is known already, and has been for a long time. 
They iiold up to contempt and derision the contrast be- 
tween resolutions to carry on the war at every expense, 
and receipts of nothing in some States, and very little in all 
of ihem put together. Those who court public favor at 
the expense of public good, are very apt to inveigh against 
taxes, and to flatter the indolent and avaricious with the 
idea that war can be carried on without labor or money. 
But it is time for the people to distinguish between their 
flatterers and their friends. Sooner or later the current 
expense must be paid, and that payment must come Irom 
the purses of individuals. If it were made in season, it 
would be lighter by one half than it is. Congress have 
called for a certain sum, and that sum paid punctually 
would have answered the purpose, but they cannot be 
responsible for the consequences of delay. The expense 
will necessarily in such case exceed their calculations, 
and of course further sums must be required. 

Tiiere are certain arguments. Sir, which ouglit not to be 
used if it is possible to avoid tiiem ; but which every one 
invested wiUi public authority should suggest to his own 
vol,. XII. 37 


mind, for the government of his own conduct. ' How long 
is a nation, who will do nothing for itself, to rely on the aid 
of others? In a war waged by one country to obtain reve- 
nue from another, what is to be expected in case of con- 
quest? How long will one part of a community bear the 
burdens of the whole ? How long will an army undergo 
want, in the midst of plenty ? How long will they endure 
misery without complaint, injustice without reproach, and 
wrongs without redress? These are questions which can- 
not be solved by arithmetical calculation. The moral 
causes that may procrastinate or precipitate events, are 
hidden from mortal view. But it is within the bounds of 
human knowledge to determine that all earthly ih'ngs have 
some limits, which it is iniprudent to exceed; others, 
which it is dangerous to exceed, and some, whicii can 
never be exceeded. It is possible, that we are near ilie 
close of this war, and perhaps we are only in the middle of 
it. But if the war should continue, we have to blame our- 
selves ; for were those resources called into action, which 
we really possess, the foreign enemies would soon lose all 
hop?, and abandon their enterprize. The greater injury, 
therefore, which we sustain, is not from foreign, but from 
domestic enemies ; from those who impede the necessary 
exertions. 1 have mentioned one among many instances, 
to show the consequences of withholding the public reve- 
nue, and 1 take the liberty to observe, that it would be 
more manly to declare at once, for unlimited subniission to 
British tyranny, than to make specious declarations against 
it, and yet take the direct road to bring it about, by oppos- 
ing the measures for our defence. That open declaration 
will doubtless be restrained by the fear of general resent- 
ment ; but the other conduct is so much the more dan- 


gerous, as it is calculated to close people's eyes, while they 
approach the precipice, that they may be thrown down 
with greater ease and more absolute certainty. 

I trust that your Excellency, and every other friend to 
our country, will urge forward that speedy and effectual 
collection of taxes, which can alone give vigor and stability 
to all our measines ; and I risk nothing when I assert, that 
the public service shall be performed, (if the proper reve- 
nues be obtjiined,) at less than half of what would other- 
wise be expended. 

J am, Sir, with perfect respect, &;c. 



Office of Finance, October 24th, 1782. 

My circular letter of the 23d instant, contains die esti- 
mates and req;iisilions for the service of the year 1783. I 
must take the liberty to make a iew observations on them, 
which apply particularly to the Slate of Rhode Island. 
In the letters to Congress of the 29th and 30ih of July 
last, copies of which were transmitted in my circular letter 
of the 12th of September, I have so fidiy expressed my 
sentiments on the subject of credit and loans, that I shall 
not repeat them. Your Excellency will perceive, that in 
the Act of the 1 6th instant, although the estimate? amount 
to six millions, yet only two are required, and that further 
requisitions are suspended until the result of measures for 
obtaining loans shall be known. It is unnecessary to men- 
lion, that Congress have directed an attempt to borrow four 


The propriety of this step will he self evident, when the 
fate of tlieir requisitions for the present year is considered. 
The sums brought in from ihe several States beinc, regu- 
larly published in the gazettes, will spare me the pain of 
repeating them, I say the pain, because every such repe- 
tition will have, in some degree, the air of reproach. It 
must be remen)bered, that the duration of the war does 
not depend upon Congress. Tliis is an invaded country ; 
invaded for the purpose of conquest. And between oppo- 
sition and submission there is no njiddle line. The idea 
of submission is, and ever ought to be, rejected with dis- 
dain. Opposition, therefore, becomes a matter of neces- 
sity ; and that opposition involves expense. 

Tliere is then a certain degree of expense that cannot 
be avoided. And this must be provided for. The esti- 
mates being formed under the idea of money in hand 
to pay for services required, they are stated as low 
as possible. It appears, therefore, that the six millions 
mentioned in the estimates must be had. It appears from 
the experiments already made, that the people are either 
unwilling or unable to pay the whole in taxes ; and 
whether want of power or inclination be the true cause, is 
immaterial to the present inquiry, for the fact is clear. 
Now there are but four modes of obtaining the supplies. 
Either they must be given to us, or lent to us, or raised by 
taxes, or taken by force. As to the first, we can place no 
dependence on it ; and as to the last, it is neither the most 
constitutional, the most econon-.ical, nor the most pleasing 
way. Necessity may justify it, but it will be very difficult 
to justify the necessity. The supplies, therefore, must be 
obtained by loans or taxes ; so that if they cannot be ob- 
tained by loans, taxation is the only resource ; and in that 


case, there is no medium between legal taxation and mili- 
tary collection. For if we will not submit to Great Britain, 
we must carry on the war; and if we carry on the war, 
we must obtain the means ; and if we cannot get the means 
abroad, we must provide them at home; and if we do not 
provide them by law, tliey must be taken by force. 

The inattention of the Stales to the requisitions of the 
United Slates, leaves Congress no choice between loans and 
military collections. Whether they can obtain loans must 
depend upon other people. They cannot obtain loans vviih- 
out credit, and they cannot have credit without funds ; and 
they cannot get funds vvithout the concurrence of the 
States. They must ask that concurrence before they 
can obtain it, and they must determine on the funds 
before they can ask. The making yearly requisitions 
of quotas to pay the interest of public debts will not 
do. It is in itself a futile measure; but if it were the 
best thing in the world, yet if those who are to lend 
do not think so, there is an end of the matter. Now 
the fact is, that nobody will lend upon the promise of 
such requisitions. And truly the compliances made 
with those for carrying on the war, give very little 
encouragement. It follows then, that Congress must 
ask for particular funds. They have asked for one, 
and it is not complied with by two States out of thir- 
teen. Shall Congress then adhere to the demand ; or 
shall they change their application ? If they should 
change it, could they expect that there would not then 
be one or two opposing Stales ? To answer the ques- 
tion let it be inquired, what objects of taxation can be 
devised, to which exceptions cannot be made ? Surely 
there are none. 


Let it be inquired next, whether there is any ol)ject 
so unexceptionable as that which they have fixed upon ? 
The answer is, no. It follows then, that in changing 
the application, there would be less prospect of success 
than at present. Congress then must adhere to their 
requisitions ; and if that fund be not granted, we can- 
not expect loans. But it is demonstrated by experi- 
ence, that we cannot get sufficient taxes. We cer- 
tainly cannot get rid of the war, and therefore the 
people must have their property taken by force. The 
necessity will justify tliis. But as I said before, who 
will justify the necessity? Surely the authors of it 
should think of that in season. 

Will it be a sufficient justification, to say that the 
demand of Congress is unconstitutional? If a thing be 
neither wrong nor forbidden it must be admissible. 
Such a requisition is nowhere forbidden, and there- 
fore it is admissible if it be not wrong. Now it can- 
not be wrong to do that which one is obliged to do, 
be the act what it may. And Congress are obliged to 
make such requisitions. But further it must be ad- 
mitted, that they are not contrary to the moral law. 
Supposing then, for argument's sake, that the thing 
asked for, would if granted be contrar}' to the con- 
federation. If so, the grant would alter the confede- 
ration. But the grant is not to take effect without 
general consent. The confederation was formed by 
general consent, and by general consent it may be al- 
tered. The requisition, therefore, if complied with, 
will by that very compliance become constitutional. 

But it may perhaps be suggested, that the five per 
cent impost will not be sufficient for the object in 


view. This must be acknowledged, but what infer- 
ence is to be drawn from thence ? Not that Congress 
should ask for more. Under the circumstances in 
.which they are placed it is difficult to ascertain what 
line of conduct is to be pursued. If they ask further, 
revenues it may be said, that there is weakness in 
framing new demands before old ones are complied 
with. Every fund will meet with some opposition, 
and every opposition encourages new opponents. The 
evil presses hard. Public credit is at the last gasp, or 
rather it is expired. Not only are we to expect a 
formidable clamor from the abused and injured cred- 
itors, but there is really very little hope of obtaining 
foreign loans. For how can it be expected, that a 
Republic without funds should persuade foreigners to 
lend them money, while its own citizens, who have 
already lent theirs, can neither obtain the interest, 
nor any solid security, either for interest or prin- 

This, Sir, is an object of great magnitude, and one 
which directly or indirectly concerns every inhabitant of 
the United States. Tiie critical situation we stand in, has 
rendered it necessary for Congress to demand a decided 
answer. No time is to be lost, for if the revenues cannot 
be obtained, the public creditors must be told so in plain 
terms. The efforts to borrow fiutlier sums must cease of 
course, and then the whole weight of the war must AdI on 
the people, in one mode or the other. It is a very serious 
question, whether the little applause, which individuals may 
gain by specious declamations and publications should over 
balance every consideration of national safety. This serious 
and important question your Legislature is now, by the 


represeiilatives of all America, most solemnly called on to 

I am, Sir, with perfect respect, yotir Excellency's most 
obedient and humble servant, 



Office of Finance. October 27th, 1782. 
I do myself the honor to enclose the copy of a paper 
transmitted to me by the Governor of Virginia. The 
clothing there mentioned is a part of those supplies for 
the State of Virginia, which the Court of France have 
charged to the United States. You will recollect the 
discussions on the subject. It is with a very sin- 
cere desire to remove every disagreeable trace of them, 
tliat I have agreed to a proposition made me by the 
Governor of Virginia, in his letter dated in Council 
Chamber on the 23d of September last, of which the 
following is an extract. "The regulations you have 
entered into for clothing the continental army will 
render useless to the State a quantity of necessaries 
now in France, furnished by his Mc«t Christian Ma- 
jesty ; as the terms we have them on, which I have 
before transmitted to you, are such as will make the 
payment easy to the United States, we shall be obliged 
to you to take them oif our hands, and take the debt so 
far as they go on the States. You will have a copy 
of the invoice enclosed, by which you will see, that 
they will be useful and necessary for the army, which 
will, I hope, induce you to oblige the State." The 


enclosed referred to, is that above mentioned. I make 
no donbt, that the Court will choose to consider the 
whole of these supplies as advanced on the credit of 
the United States. And therefore there is so much 
the less objection to taking a part of the goods. As 
for the remainder, I think it better for Congress to 
adjust the matter with Virginia than to plague the 
King's Ministers with altercations about it. 

I am, Sir, your most obedient and humble servant, 


Philadelphia, November 27th, 1782. 

I do myself the honor to present to 5'ou Mr .Toiin 
Brown of this city, whom I have charged on the part 
of the United States with the negotiation of bills &t 
your port, to the amount of two hundred thousand 
dollars. These bills will be drawn on Messrs J. L. & 
L. Le Couteulx & Co. at Cadiz. I have already 
taken the proper measures for placing in their hands 
the necessary funds. I presume that the actual state 
of things will render it as convenient (either to your 
Excellency on the part of the King, or to the mer- 
chants) to purchase bills, as it will be to the United 
States to sell them. The risk which attends sending 
of money to Europe, will probably have raised the 
exchange so considerably, as to compensate the risk of 
bringing it hither. This, I confess, is the principal 
reason with me for adopting this measure. 

I shall highly esteem any favorable assistance, which 
VOL. xu. 38 


your Excellency may be pleased to afford Mr Brown 
on this occasion ; and I persuade myself that the inti- 
mate connexion of interests between his Catholic Ma- 
jesty and my Sovereign during the continuance of 
hostilities against the common enemy, will be a strong 
inducement with you to promote the service of the 
United States. 

With sentiments of the most perfect esteem, &c. 


Office of Finance, December 5th, 1782. 

On the 28th of May last, the United States in Congress 
resolved, that a Commissioner be appointed to liquidate 
and finally settle the accounts of all the servants of the 
United States, who have been intrusted with the expendi- 
ture of public moneys in Europe. On the 29ih of July 
last it was resolved, that the resolution of the 28th of May 
be reconsidered, and on motion it was ordered, that the 
said resolution be conimitted. On the ISth of November 
last, on ihe report of a committee to whom, upon a recon- 
sideration the resolution of the 28th "of May last was refer- 
red, it w;is resolved that a commissioner be appointed by 
Congress with full "power and authority to liquidate and 
finally to settle the accounts of all the servants of the 
United Stales in Europe ; and to cnnmience and prose- 
cute such suits, causes and actions as may be necessary 
for that purpose, or for the recovery of any property of the 
said United States, in the hands of any peison or persons 
whatsoever. That the said commissioner be authorised to 


appoint one or more clerks, with such allowance as he may 
think reasonable ; and that the said commissioner and 
clerks respectively take an oath, before some person duly 
authorised to administer an oath, faithfully to execute the 
trust reposed in them respectively. On the same day you 
were elected the commissioner, and it was resolved, that 
Congress would hereafter make adequate provision for the 
said ronmiissioner, according to the nature and extent of 
the services which he shall perform. And on the 20ih of 
November last it was resolved, that the Superintendent of 
Finance be directed to instruct the commissioner for settling 
the public accounts in Europe, to take proper measures for 
adjusting, without deljty, the accounts of M. de Beaumar- 
ciiais, or Roderique Hortales h Co. and to report such 
settlement to Congress ; that order may be taken for the 
payinent of the balance, if any shall be justly due ; and that, 
in the meantime, no farther ren)ittances or payments be 
made to M. de Beaumarchais or Roderique Hortales h 
Co. by virtue ol any former resolution of Congress. 

Enclosed herein, you will find a commission authorising 
you to act in this business; and I shall now endeavor to 
give you such explanations and directions as may be neces- 
sary lor the accomplishment of it, consistently with the 
views and intentions of the United States in Congress. 
You will undoubtedly remark, that no sum is fixed upon 
as the compensation for this duty; the reason of wliich is 
apparent, that until the completion of it, neither the nature 
nor extent can be perfectly known. This might, perhaps, 
have induced a monthly or annual stipend, to any other 
commissioner, but as your other duties may, and probably 
will, occupy a part of your lime and attention, which must 
nevertheless be indeterminate, so it follows, that no points 


could be properly assumed, by which the reasonable extent 
of such a stipend could be known. I have reason to be- 
lieve, that it is in the intention ot' Congress to make a gene- 
rous allowance for the performance of this service ; and I 
am persuaded, that by attention, assiduity and the faithful 
exertion of your talents and abilities, you will merit their 

The appointment of your clerks, as well as the ascer- 
taining their number and reward, are left to your discretion. 
You will on this occasion consult the principles of true 
economy, which dictate the employing as manv persons as 
are capable of performing the service and no more ; the 
taking care that those employed are capable of performing 
the business committed to them, and the obtaining such a 
number of such persons, on the cheapest terms, for which 
they can be procured. But the worst economy in the 
world is, to employ improper men. That you may be 
enabled to form a judgment of the talents necessary to a 
clerk, you will observe that Congress in their ordinance of 
the 11th of September, 1781, for regulating the treasury 
and adjusting the public accounts, ordained and declared 
that the clerks, the number of whom should be regulated 
by the Superintendent of Finance, should be appointed by 
the Controller. That it should be their duty to examine 
all accounts which should be committed to them by the 
controller, to correct all errors, and to note in writing 
what may appear exceptionable, either as to the propriety 
of the charges or the validity of the vouchers, and transmit 
the accounts with their remarks to the auditor. And that 
the party for himself, and the clerk on behalf of the public 
should be beard before the auditor. From the nature of 
the commission intrusted to you, it follows that you must 


both commit the account to the clerk and afterwards audit 
it, as well as finally determine on and adjust it ; which last 
is done here by the controller, except in cases where the 
appointment of a commissioner has been necessary, with 
authorities similar to yours. It is to be apprehended, that 
the accounts will, in many instances, be exhibited to you 
informally ; and as it is not only useful in the first settling 
of complicated accounts to adhere to settled forms, but ab- 
solutely necessary to the clear and easy understanding of 
them after they are setded, so it will frequently become 
necessary to have the accounts restated, and all the vouch- 
ers of them numbered by your clerks. And although all 
your own care and attention will always be requisite to detect 
and discover errors and frauds, yet so much will depend on 
the accuracy and abilities of the clerks in these investiga- 
tions, that I cannot too strongly recommend to your atten- 
tion the choice of able accountants for that purpose. 

With respect to the accounts of M. de Beaumarchais, 
much has been said, and therefore I might dispense, per- 
haps, with saying anything ; but as 1 have reason to be- 
lieve, that whatever may have been tl)e character of the 
persons concerned, either for abilily or integrity, the business 
which has passed through their hands has not been well 
done, I must desire that these accounts undergo your 
strictest scrutiny. You will probably find some other large 
accounts which merit a like attention. In every such case, 
the observations made here will be equally applicable. 
You are too well acquainted with mercantile business, not 
to know what, how, and when commissions are chargeable 
on a transaction. I believe that knowledge and informa- 
tion on this subject will be found very necessary. Tl^ey 
will be indispensable should it be attempted to charge seve- 


ral commissions on ihe same thing, whether it be done 
openly, as such, or covertly, as brokerage, factorage and 
the like, or still more covertly, for increase ol original price. 
Hence, therefore, it will be found necessary to consider 
well the original prices ; and it is much to be lamented that 
samples of the articles cannot be laid before you, because 
many have been received of a quality not only base but 

It is not possible at this distance of lime and place, to 
ascertain by whom such articles were purchased, and in- 
deed many of those which have been shipped have never 
arrived ; under such circumstances it becomes your duty, 
to require proof of the quality of such articles as appear 
charged to the United Stales, and the idea will naturally 
suggest itself that the character of the parly making the 
charge will influence the necessity of such proof, as the 
validity of the proof itself will be influenced by the charac- 
ter of the witnesses. 

Had these transactions been merely confined to the pur- 
chase and delivery of goods, they might, perhaps, easily 
have been investigated, but they extend themselves to 
many other things, among which is the transportalion, and 
expenses incident to it. Under this head, two objects pre- 
sent themselves immediately to view. First, whether due 
care was taken in the mode of transportation adopted ; and 
secondly, whether the expense has been reasonable or ex- 
orbitant. With respect to the latter, it will certainly be 
your duty to correct improper or exorbitant charges. But 
ill the former case, your conduct must be directed by cir- 
cumstances in their nature so various as to admit of no pre- 
scribed rule, and therefore I can only recommend it to you 
to consult the interests of the United States as far as the 


principles of justice will permit. I know it is unnecessary 
to tell you that the delivery of goods purchased and trans- 
ported shoidd be shovv.i before tlie charges are admitted ; 
but I must desire that the evidence on this subject may be 
so clear and plain as to enable us to call the receiver of 
them to account. Cases will doubtless occur of loss by 
the accidents of the sea and by enemies ; these also should 
be clearly proved, and the causes, as mi-ch as possible, in- 

Your commission will entitle you to aid and protection in 
the execution of the duties committed to you ; and you 
will make the necessary applications on the subject to the 
proper persons, whenever circumstances shall require. A 
primary object will be to discover what sums have at any 
time or times been paid to the use of the United States. 
These can, I suppose, be discovered, and the names of the 
persons to whom they have been paid, although it is possi- 
ble that in certain cases the persons by whom they have 
been paid will not be known to you. The first account 
you form will be a general one, under the title of loans and 
subsidies obtained in Europe on account of the United 
States. The debt of this accour/t you may leave in blank, 
but the credit side will consist of the sums paid to the use 
of the United States, and the persons to whom they were 
paid. Every account of these persons will, of course, 
be debited in particular accounts, for the respective sums 
so credited. These sunis then they are to account for, 
and where they have paid over to others, such payments 
are again to be accounted for, until they are traced to a 
final appropriation, which will be of articles purchased for, 
or services rendered to the United States. 

In the course of this investigation, however, it may hap- 


pen, that in some case of payment by one to another, the 
receiver shall not account properly ; on which the question 
will arise, how far the payment is to operate a discharge to 
the party by whom it was made. This question admits of 
so many modifications, according to the varieties of possi- 
ble circumstances, that no provision can be made, which 
will be applicable to all. I have therefore thought it best 
to enclose for your perusal, the instructions on this subject 
to Commissioners appointed for settling the old accounts of 
the civil departmenls. You will govern yourself bv the 
spirit of these instructions, according to circumstances, as 
they arise. I have already observed, that the final appro- 
priation of n.oneys must be traced to articles purchased, 
and services rendered ; but such a general distinction 
would not be sufBcienlly clear in the stating of accounts ; 
you will place this final appropriation, therefore, under one 
or other of these following general heads. 

1st. Salaries and Expenses of Public Ministers, Com- 
missioners, and Agents. In this account you will charge 
all moneys advanced to any public servants of the United 
States in Europe on account of their salaries or expenses. 

2d. Clothier GeneraVs Department. In this account 
you will charge every article of clothing, which may have 
been purchased. 

3d. Commissary of Military Stores'^ Department. In 
this account you will charge all arms, ammunition, and the 

4th. (Quarter Master GeneraVs Department. In this 
account you will charge tents, sheet tin for camp kettles, 
and other articles properly belonging to that department. 

5th. Marine Department. In this you will charge all 
moneys expended in building or buying ships of war, and 


fitting tbem out, wiili the incidental charges; also all naval 
stores purchased fm- tlie United States, and l!ie like. 

6ih. Hospital Department, fn this you will charge 
all instruments, medicines, Sic. &z.c. appertaining to that 

7il). Merchandise General. In this you will charge 
such articles of stores as do not fall within the second, 
third, fourth, fifth, and sixth heads, if any such there be, 
and also any articles which you shall he doubtful as to the 
account they ought to be carried to. 

8th. Transport Service. In this you will charge the 
purchase, freightsnent, hire, insurance, and the like, of ships 
or. vessels for the purpose of bringing any articles to Ame- 

9th. Contingent Service. In this you will charge the 
expense of land transpnitalion, expresses, storages, and 
other like articles ; also all those things, which do not fall 
properly under some other general head. 

10th. Prisoners and Americans in Europe. In this 
you will charge all moneys paid for or to American pris- 
oners or other Americans; nking care so to designate and 
specify these charges and the parties, as that those who 
are able may be called on for repayment. The names 
and usual places of abode will ps fr-r as they are attainable, 
be of itnportance. 

1 1th. Foreign Officers. In this you will charge ali 
sums advanced or paid to foreign officers coming to or re- 
turning from America. 

12th. Interest of Debts. In this ymi will rharge h\1 

sums paid on the interest bills of exchange, issued from 

the several Loan Offices, and any other interest moneys, 

which may have been paid. ' . 

VOL. xn. 39 • . 


13lh. Bills of Exchange. In this you willcharge all 
sums paid on bills of exchange, drawn by order of Con- 

It is not impossible, that in the course of your business, 
you may find it necessary to raise some other such general 
accounts, and if so, you will raise them accordingly. You 
will take caie to attend strictly to the propriety of all 
charges made, and to the validity of the vouchers by which 
they are supported. You will examine very particularly 
into the accounts of armed vessels fitted out in Europe on 
account of tlie United States, especially of those wherein 
any individuals shall appear to have been interested. And 
you will bring those persons to account, into whose hands 
any prizes, or moneys for the sales of prizes, may have 
come, so that justice may be done as well to the public as 
to the captors concerned therein. 

Whenever you finally settle an account, you will take 
care to be possessed of the several vouchers, which to* 
getlier with the account are to be kept in your Consular 
office, until further orders ; but you will transmit quadru- 
plicate copies of the general accounts by safe conveyances 
as soon as possible. 

I am, Sir, your most obedient, he. 



Office of Finance, December 12lh, 1782. 

On the 7th of January last, Congress were pleased to 

resolve, that it be an instruc'ion to the Superintendent of 

Finance, to prepare and report to Congress a table of 


rate?, at whicli the different specie? of foreign coins, most 
likely to circulate within the United State?, sh;ill be re- 
ceived at the treasury thereof. In consequence of this 
resolution, 1 took the liberty to recommend the establish- 
ment of a mint, which was agreed to. I have l9ken many 
steps to carry tiiat resolution into effect, and hoped by this 
time to have laid a satisfactory state of it before Congress. 
Delays, the causes of which need not be enumerated, 
iiave hitherto procrastinated this matter beyond my expec- 
tations. But there are many reasons why an immediate 
regulation of foreign coins should now be made. It is not 
the least among them, that all our dollars are rapidly going 
to the enemy in exchange for light gold, which must even- 
tually cause a considerable loss and scarcity of silver, 
which will be severely felt. I take the liberty, therefore, 
to suggest the following Act. 

Whereas, by the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual 
Union, the United States in Congress assembled, are vested 
with the sole and exclusive right and power of regulating 
the alloy and value of coins struck off by their own au- 
thority, or by that of the respective States ; and whereas, 
the several requisitions on the States and llie public ac- 
counts of d)ose United States are made and kept in dollars ; 
and whereas, it is of imnortance, that until money be coined 
by authority of the United States, some fixed proportion 
be established between the different foreign coins, most 
likely to circulate ; be it, therefore ordained, by the 
United States in Congress assembled, and it is ordained 
by authority of the same, that from and after the 1st day 
of January, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven 
hundred and eightythree, English silver coin be received 
at the rate of one dollar and sixteen ninetieths of a dollar 


by ihe ounce ; Dutch silver coin at ihe rate of one dollar 
and fifteen nineiielhs by the ounce ; French silver coin ai 
the rate of one dollar and fourtee;; ninetieths by the ounce; 
Portuguese silver coin at the rate of one dollar and thirteen 
ninetieths by the ounce ; English, Spanish, and Portuguese 
gold coin at the rate of sixteen dollars and sixlyeighi nine- 
tieths by the ounce. 

I take tile liberty to observe, Sir, that this estimate of 
coins is founded upon the quantity of alloy, which they 
respectively contain. The weight of each particular piece 
current among us is so indetertninate, that the value by 
tale cannot be fixed ; but whenever the lates at which they 
go as bullion are known, a table may be formed in each 
State for the tale, according to the customary weight which 

I have the honor to be, &,c. 



Head Quarters, December 20th, 1782. 

In consequence of a resolve of Congress, I some time 
since directed an inscription with some devices to be en- 
graven on the cannon to be presented to the Count de 
Rochambeau, and enclosed is a certificate of General 
Knox relative to the execution of the work and its price. 

In answer to Mr Billings's application to me for his pay, 
I informed him 1 would write you on the subject, and did 
not doubt you would order payment to be made. 
I have the honor to be, &:c. 




Office of Finance, January 11th, 1783. 

On llie 9lh instant, from an investigation of Mr Grand's 
account then lately received, 1 found that after making, due 
allowance for Loan Office bills, &c. which mij;ht still 
come upon him, my drafts and those which I have di- 
rected, would exceed by something more than six millions 
(exclusive of the inteinst payable by him in Noveutber on 
the Dutch loan) any funds which he could be possessed of. 
It appeared also by indirect information so late as in the 
month of September, that the loan opened by l\lr Adams 
had not produced above three millions, so that unless he 
had met with further success, there would be a deficiency 
of three millions. 

Had the Court granted us twelve millions in the first 
instance, had Mr Adams's loan produced six millions, iiad 
M. de Beaumarchais' bills been provided for without re- 
currence to the American banker, or, finally, had the 
heavy deduction made by those bills been replaced, this 
disagreeable thing would not have happened. Presuming 
that t[;e loan ol the last year was exclusively at my dispo- 
sition, I drew during the year to the aniount of it, and I 
am convinced that all my bills, and those drawn by my 
authority, will have been paid. Rely on it, that as 1 told 
you in a former letter, 1 have .^cted under the influence of 
dire necessity, and this you will be convinced of by a few 
out of many circumstances. 

Enclosed you iiave a general statement of the public 
account until the yesr 1781, on which you will observe 
that the army was fed principally, though scantily, by the 


specific supplies called for at .different previous periods, 
and liiat there remained in tlje treasury near tiiree hu.ndred 
thousand dollars, being part of the ii:on3y which Colonel 
Laurens brought with him from France. 1 also enclose io 
you the copy of a letter written to Congress on the 21st of 
October, and of its several enclosures, which will need no 
commentary; or if it did, I would only add, that I have 
been obliged to sell part of the goods, which arrived here 
from Holland, in order to raise so much money as would 
save my sinking credit from destruction. I would go into 
a detail of the various measures pursued to stimulate the 
exertions of the Slates, but to do this with accuracy, woidd 
be to give a tedious history of my whole administration. 
Whatever expedient could suggest itself, which might liave 
that desirable effect, I have tried, and 1 do assure you, that 
when I look back at the scenes I have passed through, 
they strike my own n)ind with astonishment. As soon as 
1 can get the accounts made up, I will transmit to you the 
total of our expenditures ; but to transmit, or even relate 
our hazards and difficulties, would be inipossible. 

Even at this moment 1 am making further exertions to 
bring our unwieldy system into form, and ward off impend- 
ing evils ; but what the success may be, heaven only 
knows. Imagine the situation of a man, who is to direct 
the finances of a country almost without revenue, (for such 
you will perceive this to be) surrounded by creditors, 
whose distresses, while they increase their clamors, render 
it more difficult to appease them ; an army ready to dis- 
band or mutiny ; a government, whose sole authority con- 
sists in the power of framing recommendations. Surely it 
is not necessary to add any coloring to such a piece, and 
yet ti'uih would justify more than fancy could paint. The 


seUlement of accounts, long and intricate beyond compre- 
hension, becomes next to impossible, from ilie want of that 
authority which is on the verge of annihilation, from those 
confusions which nothing can dissipate except the com- 
plete settlement of accounts, and an honest provision for 

Upon discovering the situation of our affairs in the man- 
ner already mentioned, I laid tiiem before Congress. You 
will know the result. Tiie Secretary of Foreign Afiairs 
will, doubtless, transmit their Act ; to which 1 must add this 
further communication, that I expect my bills will amount 
to a million within a niontli from this date. There are 
cases, where nothing worse can be apprehended from a 
measure than what would inevitably happen without it, and 
our present position is one of them. An immediate com- 
mand of money is alike necessary to our present existence 
and future prospects. In Europe, when this letter arrives, 
you will know decidedly whether we are to expect peace 
or war. We must prepare for the latter. By so doing 
we may forward negotiations for peace, and, at tjje worst, 
will only have incurred some additional expense, whereas 
by neglecting it, we risk the chance of being taken un- 
awares, and paying very dearly the penalties of neglect. 

But, Sir, notwithstanding these reasons and many others 
will justify every counsel and every act however irregular 
in other respects, I would not draw one more bill, and I 
would boldly hazard every consequence of the omission, if 
I were not persuaded that they would be paid. On this 
occasion your sovereign will expect your most vigorous 
exertions, and your country will, I trust, be indebted to 
you in a degree for her political existence, 
I am, Sir, Stc. ■ 




Office of Finance, January 13th, 1783. 
Dear Sir, 

I have received, in addition lo those already acknowl- 
edged, your letters of the 12tli of August, 26th of Septem- 
ber, and 14ih of October. I should, therefore, regularly 
have received two copies of the contract entered into on 
the IGth of July, between yon and the Count de Vergennes, 
but I suppose it has been oniitted through mistake in both 
the letters which refer to it.* I lament this the more, 
as no one copy of it has yet arrived, and, consequently, 
the Congress cannot do what I am persuaded thuy would 
on the occasion. But although from this circumstance 
they do not n^iake professions, yot, as far as I know the 
sentiments of that body, tijey are penetrated with gratitude. 
And you hazard nothing in making to the King tlie fullest 
asiurances of their desire to repay the obligations they 
have received, and gratify their affection for his person and 
family by services and benefits. You will oblige me much 
if (together with the contract in question) you will send a 
statement of the Farmer-General's account, and of the> 
agreement with them. 

You tell me that the losses in the West Indies prevent 
you from obtaining farther aid. It is, therefore, to us a 
double loss. As to the precaution you give me about my 
banker, you will find that before the receipt of Mr Grand's 
accounts, I had drawn on him beyond his funds. I have 
this day entered into an explanation with the Minister on 
that subject, and I enclose you the copy of my letter, as 

* See this contract in the Secret Journal of Congress, Vol. 111. 
p. 273. 


also of another paper delivered to him, which may be 
worth your attention. In oiy turn, I rely upon your 
promise of exertion to pay my drafts. If one bill 
should be protested, I could no longer serve the United 

With respect to the apprehension you express as to my 
bills, I do not perceive the matter in tiie same point of 
light with you. The lists of my bills are transmitted to 
Mr Grand by various opportunities, and ihey will check 
any which might be forged or altered. 

I shall take due notice of what you say about your sal- 
ary, and will enclose the bills to you. The amount will 
depend on the course of excliange during the war. You 
will be a gainer, and after t!ie peace you' may perhaps 
lose some trifle, but not much, because remittances might 
then be made in specie, should the exciiange be extrava- 
gantly high. You will readily perceive, that although the 
fluctuations of exclrange are in themselves of very little 
consequence to the individuals who may be connected 
with government, lliey become iiniwrtant at tite treasury, 
partly" from the numbers of payments and consequent 
amount, but more so because they would introduce a de- 
gree of intricacy and perplexity in the public accounts, 
which arc generally either the effect, or the cause of fraud 
and peculation. Besides, there is no other way of adjust- 
ing salaries, t!;an by a payment oi so n)uch at the treas- 
ury, unless by rating them in the ciu'rency of every differ- 
ent country as livres, dollhrs, guilders, rubles, &lc. Tiie 
late mode of rating them in pounds sterling, required a 
double exchange. F(jr instance, the numocM- of livres to 
be given in payment of one iumdred pounds sterling at 
Paris on any given day, depends on the tliei; rate of cx- 
voL. yii. 10 


change between Paris and London, nnd the value of those 
livres here depends on the exchange between Paris and 

I pray you. Sir, to accept my sincere thanks for the 
kind interest you take in the success of my administration. 
The only return, which I can make to your goodness, is 
by assuring you, that all my measures shall be honestly 
directed towards the good of that cause, which you have 
so long, so faiihfidly, and so honorably served. 
1 am, Sir, &.c. 



Office of Finance, January 13th, 1783. 

I have received your several favors of the 13th cf July, 
lllh and l9di of August, and I4ili of October. The 
contents arc- far from being agreeable, but 1 thank you 
for the communication of tham. If I had been so fully 
apprized of our situation as I now am, perhaps I might 
have suffered everything to be ruined, rather than have 
risked my bills. But if that had been done, more men 
would have blamed than applauded my conduct. I have 
gone into n full explanation with M. de la Luzerne, and 
ahhotigh he cannot as Minister approve what is done, he 
has too much sense not to see the proprii^ty and necessity 
of it. 

it will be very useful both to you and me, that we should 
know exactly the state of our affairs, but I cannot acquire 
that knovvledge by any comparison of accounts in my pos- 
session. You ! thinK will be able to do it, and for your 


. t 
assistance I semi the following information. Tnere have 
been issued from the several Loan Offices, bills, at thirty 
days' sight, for eight millions four hundred and thirtyone 
thousand seven hundred and fifty livres; bills at sixty 
days' sight, for one hundred and twentyfive thousand livres; 
and bills at ninety days' sight, for one million three hun- 
dred and sixtyfour thousand one hundred and ninetyone 
livres, thirteen sous, and four deniers. An examination 
of your books will show u once how much of these sums 
remains unpaid. There have been issued bills on Mr 
Laurens and Mr Adams in Holland, for five hundred and 
fortyseven thousand three hundred and sixtyfour guilders 
and two thirds ; and there have been issued on Mr Jay, 
for four hundred and fiftyeighl thousand eight hundred and 
twentysix dollars. A proper inquiry will, 1 suppose, obtain 
the amount of payments on all these bills, and llv3n you 
will be possessed of the state of things so fully, that you 
can apprize me of facts sufficient for my information. 

From the best information I have been able to collect 
on the subject, my bills have very considerably exceeded 
your funds, but I trust that you have been possessed of ad- 
ditional fuflds for the acquittal of them in due season. I do 
everything that I can, and shall expect that you will exert 
yourself, to aid Dr Franklin. On those exertions I place 
much reliance ; being with sincere esteem, Sir, your most 
obedient, &:c. 




Office of Finance, January 13th, 1783. 

In the close ot our conversaiion on the llih instanl, 
your Excellency did me the honor to request that I would 
recapitulate to you in writing, the reasons why my bills 
had exceeded the funds in possession of Mr Grand, by 
about three millions and a half of livres. 1 undertake 
this task with pleasure, but I will premise, that in ihe 
course of this letter (seeking clearness more than pre- 
cision) I will not trouble you with an attention to fractional 
sums, but rather to round numbers. 

You will remember, Sir, that shortly after your arrival 
in this country, the Congress, while they continued their 
drafts for interest, added a number of other bills on Dr 
Franklin, at a long sight, which they directed to be sold ; 
and urged by their necessities, and relying on the success 
of measures then just undertaken, they drew other bills at 
a long sight on their Mini.sters in Spain and Holland. 
Before this they had drawn bills on Dr Franklin, in favor 
of M. de Beaumarchais, for nearly, three millions, of which 
two millions and a hr.lf were payable in June, 1782. The 
amount of all these bills, exclusive of those to M. de Beau- 
marchais, was between thirteen and fourteen millions. 
How great a proportion of this sum had been paid, and 
how much remained due, it was impossible for me to de- 
termine with precision, because I had hot received the 
accounts, but the best estimate in my power was made. 

Your Excellency will also remember, that from the 
sketch which you did me the honor to deliver from the 
Count de Vergennes, there was due on the Dutch loan of 


1781 about four millions, or three and a half after de- 
ducting the supposed expenses of that loan. I considered 
this balance as sufficient to liquidate what I estimated to 
remain due of the several bills drawn by order of Congress 
as above mentioned, excepting the two millions and a half 
payable in June last. 1 perceive, however, from Mr Grand's 
accounts, that although his Majesty, among other acts of 
his royal generosity, remitted the expenses of the loan, yet 
the balance actually touched by the banker, amounted 
only to about two and a half millions. Thus there was 
a deficiency of a million in what I had relied upon to 
acquit former engagements, it is necessary for me to 
mention here, that I had allowed also for a supposed de- 
duction on account of the Virginia goods, but as I had also 
supposed, that fewer of the Congress bills remained un- 
paid than appeared afterwards to have been, so one error 
eventually corrected the other, and left the deficiency still 
at a million. It is proper also to observe further, that 
although the loans and subsidies of 1781, amounting in 
the whole to twenty millions, had been principally em- 
ployed in the purchase of clothing and military stores, yet 
the continuance of those things in Europe by various de- 
lays and mischances obliged me to make provision ibr the 
same articles here, forming thereby a heavy deduction 
from the small means which were at my disposal. 

Having said thus much of things previous to the year 
1782, I must now take the liberty to remind your Excel- 
lency, that I had requested the sum of twelve tnillions for 
that year, on the principle, that after deducting two millions 
and a half for M. de Beaumarchais, the remaining nine 
and a half would be absolutely necessary, and 1 then did 
expect much more from the States than lias been received. 


The Court, however, granted only six inillions, but I had 
every reason to suppose, that this sum would be exclu- 
sively at my disposition ; and therefore in consequence of 
your Excellency's assurances, and according to your advice, 
I drew twelve bills of half a million each on Mr Franklin, 
in favor of Mr Grand, and I appropriated this money to 
the payment of what bills I should draw on him ; excepting 
a part which I desired him to ship during the last summer, 
when bills were not saleable, and which I expected here in 
November, or December ; but as it did not arrive, I con- 
jectured OS the event has shown, that no shipment was 
made, and extended my bills accordingly. As to M. de 
Bcaumarcfiais' bills, I expected that some arrangement 
might iiave been taken with relation to them, according to 
our conversations. For although you declared that you 
had no instructions on that subject, yet you saw with me 
that our funds would not bear such a deduction, and the 
line of conduct which you advised, was precisely that 
which I pursued, as 1 shall presently have occasion to 

I relied then on the loan of six millions, and on 
three millions which Mr Adams had obtained in Hol- 
land, so long ago as in September last. My appropri- 
ation of these sums was as follows. Bills drawn on 
Mr Grand in 1782 fcr six millions, being the amount 
of the loan made by his Majesty ; one million negoti- 
ated through the Havana ; half a million which I di- 
rected for payment of interest on the Dutch loan of 
17S1 ; and a million and a half drawn for in 1783, at 
the time I had the honor to speak to your Excellency, 
formed the amount of three millions in Holland, which 
by the Acts of Congress were exclusively at my dis- 


It was not, therefore, until the investigation of Mr 
Grand's accounts, that I was struck with the deficiency 
above mentioned, and which arose from the difference 
of one million due on the former transactions more 
than I had calculated, and two millions and a half to 
M. dc Beaumarchais. The moneys which I supposed 
to be at my sole disposal were, 1 found, subject to Dr 
Franklin's order, and therefore Mr Grand instead of 
six millions possessed only two and a half tov/ards 
answering my bills drawn in 1782. I had written to 
Dr Franklin in the manner agreed between us as to 
M. de Beaumarchais. But the money vvas paid before 
the letter arrived. I should not, however, do that 
juftice to Dr Franklin which I ought, if I did not 
observe, that I think he was perfectly right in causing 
those bills to be paid. You will consider, Sir, that 
they had been drawn in 1779, and negotiated for three 
years, through different parts of Europe and America, 
on the public faith and credit of the United States. It 
is a very moderate calculation to suppose, that a thou- 
sand different people were interested in the sum of 
three and a half millions. Protesting the bills, there- 
fore, would have sent them back again from one 
person to another, affixing a stigma on our character 
wherever they vvent. The necessary consequence 
would liave been, not only a total loss of credit in 
Europe, but that no person here would have bought 
my bills. The funds, therefore, which I could com- 
mand would have been useless, and the difference 
between not liaving money and not being able to use 
it is immaterial. 

tjaving said thus m.uch, Sir, on the reason of the 


deficien(?y, I find it proper to add, that the bills drawn 
in December and November amount to two millions ; 
which being at thirty days' sight will not be payable 
until February or March next. One million negoti- 
ated through the Havana on Cadiz, thence to Paris, 
&c. will not finally be payable until March and April. 
And one million drawn the beginning of this month at 
one hundred days'^sight, will not fall due until som.e 
time in April and May. On the other hand, any fur- 
ther success of Mr Adams's loan will apply for the 

I trust from the whole slate of these things your 
Excellency will see, that nothing has introduced any 
disorder into these transactions, but the appropriation 
without my authority of moneys intended to be at my 
disposition, and that this again has arisen from the 
utter incapacity of Dr Franklin any otherwise to 
acquit the demands on him, arising from expenditures 
made some years before my administration. If I 
might venture, therefore, to advise, it should be that 
three and a half or four millions were paid to Mr 
Grand as an addition to the loan of 17S2, and then the 
sum which the Court may think proper to advance for 
1783, being clear of preceding transactions, I will 
pledge myself that no act of mine shall exceed the 
limits to be prescribed by your Court. 

You sec, Sir, that I rel}' on aid for the current year ; 
and this brings me to the resolution of Congress, 
which I had also the honor to communicate. You 
observed on it with great propriety, as a Minister of 
France, that you advised me not to comply with it ; 
and as a Minister of the United States I might reply, 


that I should certainly obey the order of my masters. 
At the bottom I believe we are both agreed. I would 
not put my name to a bill if I doubted the payment, 
and you must be convinced that it is necessary to 
draw. Not to mention those critical circumstances of 
the army, which you are perfectly apprized of, it must 
be remembered how important an eflfect it might have 
on the negotiations for peace, if we should now neglect 
to prepare for war, and much more if vve should suffer 
any serious misfortune. To keep the army together, 
in good humor and prepared for action, is a duty 
which we owe alike to ourselves, to our allies, and to 
our associates in the war. 

I shall I believe draw within a month for at least a 
million. You know, Sir, that the funds given by the 
States are incompetent, and I am sure you will do me 
the justice to believe, that I have done all in my 
power to husband our means and to increase them. 
That I have not talents equal to this task must be 
lamented and forgiven. It is not my fault but my 
misfortune. The share of abilities which I possess, be 
it what it may, has been faithfully exerted. If, how- 
ever, I have incurred censure on the present occasion, 
it must be because I was ignorant of what I could not 
know, and did not perform what was not in my power. 

I am, Sir, with respect and esteem, &c. 





Office of Finance, January 19th, 17S3. 


Although I have not yet been honored with any 
letters from your Excellency, I cannot omit the occa- 
sion of writing, which offers itself by JNIr Jefferson. 
Having already congratulated you on the acknowl- 
edgement of our independence by ihs States-General, 
and on the rapid success of your labors equally splen- 
did and useful, I hope when this letter shall have 
reached your hands I may have the additional cause of 
congratulation, tliat the loan j^ou have opened in Hol- 
land shall have been completed. This is a circum- 
stance of great importance to our country, and most 
particularly so to the department, which I have the 
honor to fill. Whatever may be the success of it, 
whether general or partial, I pray your Excellency to 
favor me by every conveyance with every minute 
detail, which can tend to form my judgment or en- 
lighten my mind. 

For the more- perfect security of our correspondence 
I do myself the honor to enclose the counterpart of a 
cypher, to the use of which you will soon become 
familiarised, and I hope you will be convinced, that 
any confidence with which you may honor me shall 
be safely reposed and usefully employed for the public 

I I have the honor to be, &lc. 




Office of Finance, January 20th, 1783. 

I iiad ilie honor to receive your Excellency's favor of 
the ISlli ot last evening. In answer, it becomes nty duty 
to convey to your Excellency, the painful informaiion, that 
those affinrs of Congress, which relate to the public reve- 
nue, are reduced to the most ciiiical siuiation. They are 
now under conteniplation of that honorable body, and I 
shall take the earliest opportunity of communicating to the 
several States the result of their deliberations. 

It h also my duty, Sir, on this occasion, to remind your 
Excellency, that on the 2d day of November, 1781, the 
Congress required of the State of Pennsylvania, one mil- 
lion one hundred and twenty thousand seven hundred and 
ninety four dollars, as the quota of that State, for the ex- 
penditure of the year 17S2. This sum was to have been 
paid in equal quarterly proportions, commencing on llie 1st 
day of April last. I am extretnely sorry to mention, that 
during the wliole of the year, 17S2, there has been re- 
ceived towards the payment of ihic quota, only the sum of 
one hundred and seven thousand nine hundred and twenty- 
five dollars and iwenlyfour ninetieths, being less than a 
lentil of the sum required. It is of little avail. Sir, that 
the army who are the immediate sufferers, or the people of 
America whose national existence is so imminently haz- 
arded, should be told, that a law has been enacted for 
raising the sum required. Laws not executed, or which 
from their nature are not to be executed, only substiiiite 
deception in the place of denial. Congress can never be- 
lieve, that a Stale seriously means a compliance with the 


demands made on it, unless the laws be such, that responsi- 
ble officers be sufficiently empowered to collect the taxes 
by certain specified periods, and that the Continental Re- 
ceiver of taxes be empowered alter such periods shall have 
elapsed, to issue executions against the persons and estates 
of those officers for any deficiency, which may remain of 
the sums payable by them respectively. 
I have the honor to be, &tc. 



Office of Finance, January 21st, 1783. 
• Sir, 

I have received your Excellency's favor of the 6th and 
8th instants. I have directed the Commissary of Marine 
Prisoners to appoint a proper agent at Dobbs' Ferry, and I 
hope for your Excellency's advice to him on that occasion, 
which he will be desired to apply for. Without wishing to 
incur the blame of too great suspicion, I take the liberty to 
suggest, (as an additional reason for caution,) that moneys 
intended for commercial pursuits, might be transmitted un- 
der the idea of relieving prisoners. Mr Skinner has never 
yet communicated his returns or accounts. 

It was with very great pleasure. Sir, that 1 paid the 
money you desired, to Mr Adams, and I beg you to be- 
lieve, that I shall at all times be happy to facilitate your 
views. At present, the negotiation happens by good luck 
to minister alike to your convenience and mine. I am 
very sorry, that you did not make an earlier mention to 
me of your demands for secret service. I would have an- 
ticipated your views, had it not escaped my attention, for 


be the distresses of my department what they may, this is 
of too much importance ever to be neglected. 1 think it 
best in future, that a solid arrangement should be; taken, 
and for this purpose I will give directions to tiie Paymaster 
General always to keep some money in the hands of his 
deputy, to answer your drafts for contingencies and secret 
service. I have, as you will see, taken methods to put the 
deputy in cash, and then your Excellency will be relieved 
from any further care than the due application. I am, 
however, to pray lor the sake of regularity in accounts, that 
your Excellency in the warrants would be so kind as to 
specify the particular service when on the contingent ac- 
count, and draw in favor of one of your family on account 
of secret services, mentioning that it is for secret service. 
I shall direct Mr Swanwick to endorse the bills on you in 
favor of Mr Adams to the Paymaster General, whose dep- 
uty will receive from your Excellency tiie amount. 

I have the honor to be, &ic. 


Office of Finance, January 24th, 1783. 

As nothing but the public danger would have induced 
me to accept my office, so 1 was determined to hold it 
until the dagger was past, or else to meet my ruin in the 
common wreck. Under greater difficulties than were ap- 
prehended by the most timid, and with less support than 
was expected by the least sanguine, the generous confi- 
dence of the public has accomplished more than 1 prC' 
sumed to hope. 


Congress will recollect, that 1 expressly stipulated to 
take no part in past transactions. My attention to the 
public debts, therefore, arose from the conviction, that 
funding them on solid revenues was the last essential work 
of our glorious revolution. The accomplishment of this 
necessary work is among the objects nearest my heart, and 
to effect it, I would sacrifice time, properly, and domestic 

Many late circumstances have so far lessened our ap- 
prehensions from the common enemy, that my original 
motives have almost ceased to operate. But other cir- 
cumstances have postponed the establishment of public 
credit in such a manner, that I fear it will never be made. 
To increase ou.- debts, while tlie prospect of paying ihem 
diminishes, does not consist with my idfas of integrity. I 
must, therefore, quit a situation which becomes utterly in- 
supportable. But . lest the public tneasures might be de- 
ranged by any precij)itation, I will continue to serve until 
the end of May. If effectual measures are not taken by 
that period, to make permanent provision for the public 
debts of every kind. Congress will be pleased to appoint 
some other man to be the Superintendent of their Fi- 
nances. I should be unworthy of the confidence reposed 
in me by my fellow citizens, if I did not explicitly declare, 
that 1 will never be the minister o( injustice. 
I have the honor to be, &c. 




Office of Finance, February 2Gth, 1783. 
A number of those who have contracted engagements 
with me will, 1 know, place a personal reliance on me for 
the fulfilment of them. As the lime approaches very fast 
when I am to quit this office, it is proper for me to make 
the necessary preparations. Among these, I must place 
the due and seasonable information, which as an honest 
man I must convey to those who have confided in me. I 
am, therefore, to pray that the injunction of secrecy, con- 
tained in the order of the 24lh of January last, may be 
taken off. At the same time, I take the liberty to suggest 
to Congress, that the early appointment of my successor, 
will give him oppnituniiy to take such measures as may 
prevent many inconveniences that might otherwise happen. 
1 have the honor to be, &ic. 



. ' . Office of Finance, February 27th, 1783. 

I do .myself the honor to enclose to you the copy of a 

letter to the President of Congress, which was written on 

the 24 ih of last month. I should have transmitted it to 

you on the next day, but contrary to my expectations,. 

Congress enjoined secrecy. I yesterday wrote a letter, of 

which I also enclose a copy, and in consequence of it I 

am this instant informed that the injunction of secrecy is 

taken off. I seize, therefore, the earliest moment to give 

you the information. 


I do assure you, Sir, that nothing would have induced 
me to take this step, but a painful conviction that the situ- 
ation of ihose to whom the public are indebted is des- 
perate. I believe, sincerely, that a great majority of the 
members of Congress wish to do justice ; but I as sin- 
cerely believe that they will not adopt the necessary meas- 
ures, because they are afraid of offending their States. 
From my soul I pity the army, and you, my Dear Sir, in 
particular, who must see and feel for their distresses, with- 
out the power of relieving them. 

I did flatter myself that I should have been able to 
procure for them that justice to which they are entitled ; 
and in the meantime, I labored to make the situation as 
tolerable as circumstances would permit. For the assist- 
ance which you have kindly afforded me, I pray you to 
accept my thanks, and to be assured that 1 shall ever 
retain on diat account the most grateful emotions. My 
thai.ks are due also to all our officers, for I know that un- 
wearied pains have been taken to give them disagreeable 
impressions, and I am, therefore, doubly indebted for the 
just sentiments, which amid so many misrepresentations 
they have constantly entertained. ] hope my successor 
will be more fortunate than I have been, and that our 
glorious revolution may be crowned with those acts of 
justice, without which the greatest human glory is but the 
shadow of a shade. 
I am, Sir, he. 




Office of Finance, March 4th, 1783. 


You will probably recoiled that Mr Jay protested ten 
bills of exchange, each for two hundred and twentyfive 
Mexican dollars, of which the list is enclosed. These 
bills, with the addition of twenty per cent damages, amount 
to two thousand seven hundred dollars, for which I have 
this day signed a set of bills on you, which, to avoid the 
dangers to which communication is liable, are extended to 
the eighth bill. This draft is at sLk months' sight, and I am 
to desire that you will honor it, and take your reimbursement 
on Mr Grand. The length of sight may probably place 
it at a considerable discount on the exchange of Madrid, 
and it is probable, also, that you may draw on Mr Grand 
to advantage ; if so, 1 conceive it would be best to have 
the bill bought. 

Draw on Mr Grand at the common usance, and close 

the transaction ; which I hope may be the last of the kind, 

which the American government will be concerned in. 

An additional reason for suggesting this is, that should this 

bill go through hands ignorant of the whole transaction, it 

may give rise to conjectures, that the former practice of 

drawing is about to be revived. I should have drawn on 

France or paid in cash, but as the party is at Boston, and 

the rate of the exchange unfixed, it is more conformable to 

mercantile usage to give a new bill for tlie principal and 


1 am, Si;-, he. 


VOL. xu. 42 



Office of Finance, March 8th, 1783. 

I received yesterday afternoon a report, which is to 
be considered on Monday the 10th instant, and with 
it I received an order to transmit my observations. 
The shortness of the time obliges me to ask indulgence 
for deficiencies or inaccuracies, I have always be- 
lieved that Congress were disposed to do justice to the 
public creditors, and I shall presume that the poivcr of 
Congress will be exerted for that purpose. 

There appear, therefore, two principal points to be 

I. What justice requires ; and, 

II. What Congress have power to do. 

To the first I answer. Justice requires that the debt 
he paid. The principles of justice require that from 
a government, which a court of justice exacts from an 
individual. Government have no right to oblige cred- 
itors to commute their debts for anything else. Any 
revenues, therefore, to be pledged for the restoration 
of public credit must be such, that money may be bor- 
rowed on them to pay those to whom it is due ; any 
plan which falls short of that object will not do justice. 
And no plan will embrace that object unless it be such 
that under it individuals would prefer government 
security to any other. In our particular situation it 
appears clear, that such public creditor has a complete 
right to demand his whole debt from Congress, and to 
name the terms on which he will forego it, and that 
Congress have a similar right in regard to the States. 


In order to determine on the second question, viz. 
the ^oiyer of Congress, we must resort to the confed- 
eration. By the eighth article it will appear, that 
Congress have a right to determine on the sum to be 
paid by the States, and the time of payment; and that 
this sum is to be paid by the States in proportion to 
their respective value, or an estimation to be made iu 
the mode to be appointed by Congress. It is, there- 
fore, in the j:;oiypr of Congress to call for payment of 
the whole debt by any day ; such for instance as the 
1st of January ; and to have a valuation made some 
previous day ; such for instance as the 1st of Septem- 
ber. The right of Congress is perfect, and the duty to 
pay absolute. It appears necessary that this power be 
exerted in the most decisive form, and that whatever 
general plan of finance may be adopted, the concur- 
rence of each State in such plan should be admitted as 
an alternative for not paying her apportioned quota of 
the whole debt. My reasons are these. 

1st. It will not be believed, that Congress have no 
power to do justice until the power which they have 
is exerted. 

2dly. The public creditors have a right to expect 
that exertion. 

3dly.- Until it be made, a compliance with the de- 
mands of Congress will be considered by the States as 
a matter of favor and not of right. 

4ihly. Congress having a right to the whole money, 
it follows they have the exclusive right to name 
those precise terms on which they will commute it. 

5thly. Hence it follows that their plan, (be it what 
it may) must be adopted by the States in all its parts, 


because none of ihein can have a right to make 

6thly. The objeclions heretofore raised against the 
impost will by this means be totally done away, be- 
cause each State may at its option either comply with 
the general plan or pay her particular share of the 
whole debt. 

7tiily. If the plan proposed as an alternative be 
adopted, it will from the nature of the case be an ex- 
press national compact between the United States and 
each individual State. The revenue will have been 
purchased by Congress and they will have a perfect 
right to insist on their bargain. 

Sthly. The plans of Congress will by this means 
be greatly facilitated in the States, because the argu- 
ments will apply to men's feelings, and they will at 
once perceive, that it is better to give a permanent 
revenue of six, than make immediate payment of a 
hundred. Every term and condition in the plan will 
then be fair, because if the revenues be such as in the 
judgment of the Legislature will fall too lieavy on 
their constituents, they can adopt others, borrow on 
theif own account, and pay in their share at the day 
named. So that the United States will cither receive 
the whole money, and pay all their debts, or they will 
get solid revenues to fund the whole, or they will re- 
ceive a part and have such revenues for the remainder. 

It also appears to me that our situation requires the 
utmost despatch, and therefore I wish much that the 
days named should be shorter than those above men- 
tioned. The Act of the 17tii of last month has been 
duly forwarded to the several States, but there will be 


no impropriety in taking a shorter mode of valuation 
for apportioning; the debt, and leaving the valuation by 
the Act of the 17lh to apply to the yearly apportion- 
ments subsequent to the last year. Various modes of 
making a speedy valuation might be suggested; such 
for instance, as that Congress should appoint a com- 
missioner for each State, directing them to meet at 
this place on the 1st of June and determine, that the 
valuation made by the majority of those who do meet 
should be conclusive. If such a line of conduct as this 
be pursued, those suspicions as to the integrity of 
Congress, which ill designing men have endeavored to 
raise must immediately cease. And if justice be not 
done, public indignation will be pointed to the proper 

With respect to the alternative which may be pro- 
posed, I am sorry to find that my ideas as to the ob- 
jects of revenue have not met with the approbation of 
Congress. I must be indulged in observing, that let 
the revenues be what they may, it is indispensable 
that all the collectors be appointed by the authority of 
the United States, and for the following reasons. 

1st. Experience has shown, that the taxes hereto- 
fore laid in the States have not been collected. 

2dly. It is evident from a consideration of their 
niodes of taxation, (which they are all very obstinately 
attached to,) that they never wmII be punctually col- 

3dly. The punctuality in the payment of interest is 
essential to public credit, 

4thly. As Congress forego their right to insist on 
the principal, it is but just that they should have every 
possible security for the interest. 


5thly. As the people are in either case to. pay the 
supposed tax at certain periods, it must be a matter 
of indifference to what particular man the payment is 

6thly. The objection raised in favor of elected tax 
gatherers, viz. that they consider the circumstances of 
the people, which is saying in other words, that they 
are guilty of favor and partiality, is the strongest 
reason why the collectors should be appointed by, and 
amenable to, Congress. 

7thl3\ It is a kind of absurdity in itself, that Con- 
gress should have a right to the tax, and yet no right 
to send their servants'to receive it. 

I pray leave also to observe, that the revenues must 
be co-existeht with the debt. No man in his senses 
will Isnd on any other terms. If the revenue be only 
for a fixed period of time, no more can be borrowed on 
it than the price of an annuity for such a time. And 
it has already been observed, that money must be bor- 
rowed to pay the public creditors, because they have a 
just right to their money. Another observation on this 
subject I must take the liberty to impress. The more 
clear, certain, permanent, and. increasing the funds are, 
the lower will be the interest at which money can be 
borrowed. If the funds be very good, money may be 
borrowed at four per cent, perhaps at three per cent. 
If they are not good it will not be procured for less 
than six, seven, or eight per cent, and perhaps not at all. 
Proper reflections on this subject will naturally suggest 
themselves, and it will not be forgotten, that whether 
the debt" be less or greater, and whether the interest be 
higher or lower the people must pay oU. 


With respect to the impost I conceive it to be justly ex- 
ceptionable, because that an estimation ad valorem is arbi- 
trary, and the law ought in all cases to he clear and explicit. 
The impost on prizes need not, I should suppose, be asked 
for, because Congress may take measures for the purpose 
themselves whenever the occasion requires. I conceive 
also, that a tax n)ight be laid on exports which, without 
being burdensome, would still be productive. Enclosed is 
a list of rates, which I take the liberty to submit. I can- 
not go into a written detail of the reasons for them, because 
my time will not permit. 

I am told that the principal objection to a land tax is the 
inequality. To obviate this objection (although I cannot 
accede to the force of it) perhaps a reduction of the sum 
from one dollar to a quarter of a dollar per hundred acres 
might be expedient ; and to sup[)ly the deficiency, a lax on 
houses might be adopted, according to the enclosed rate, 
which I also beg leave to submit. 

I must take tlie liberty to declare my most serious ap- 
prehensions from the existence of unsettled accounts among 
the States. Everythinrg which tends to create or continue 
them is fraught with ruinous consequences. Keeping ac- 
counts of moneys paid by taxes of the States, and liqui- 
dating those accounts by after settlements, will, I fear, 
prove the source of much dissension. It will operate as 
heretofore in preventing the States from paying anything. 
I would pray therefore to submit to Congress the following 
mode of terminating all present accounts, viz. that the whole 
sum paid or expended by each State, for the public ser- 
vice from the commencement of the war, should be placed 
to the credit of the particular State, and each draw interest 
on such sum. By these means the whole account would 


be equitably settled in the first instance. The States which 
are inrlebted on their own private account, would be able to 
wipe off such debts by an assignment of national stock. 
And on the first requisitions made by Congress for current 
expenditures, each might make payment either in part, or 
perhaps in the whole, by a discharge of so much of the 
debt. Thus a degree of simplicity would be introduced 
into our affairs, and we might avoid the horrors of intestine 

I have the honor to be, &.c. 



Head Quarters, March 8th, 1783. 

Very painful sensations are excited in my mind by your 
letter of the 27th of February. It is impossible for me to 
express to you the regret with which I received the infor- 
mation it contains. 

I have often reflected with much solicitude upon the dis- 
agreeableness of your situation^ and the negligence of the 
several States in not enabling you to do that justice to the 
public creditors, which their demands require. I wish the 
step you have taken may sound the claim to their inmost 
souls, and rouse them to a just sense of their own interest, 
honor and credit. But I must confess to you that I have 
my fears, for as danger becomes further removed from 
them, their feelings seem to be more callous to those noble 
sentiments, with which I could wish to see them inspired. 
Mutual jealousies, local prejudices and misapprehensions, 
have taken such deep root as will not easily be removed. 



Notwithstanding the embarrassments whicii you 1 
experienced, I was in hopes that yon would liave continued 
yojur efforts to the close of the war at least; but if your 
resolutions are absolutely fixed, 1 assure you I consider the 
event as one of the most unfortunate that could have fallen 
upon the States, and most sincerely deprecate the sad con- 
sequences which 1 fear will follow. The army, I am sure, 
at the same time that ihey entertain the highest sense of 
your exertions, will lament the step you are obliged to take 
as a most unfortunate circumstance to them. 

I am, &ic. 



Office of Finance, March 10th, 1783. 
In consequence of the order of Congress of the 18th 
•of last month, I do myself the honor to enclose an estimate 
of the principal of the public debt to the first day of Janu- 
ary, 1783, which has been transcnitted to me by the Regis- 
ter of the Treasury. This amounts to ikirtyjive millions 
three hundred and iwentyseven thousand seven hundred and 
sixtynine dollars Jiftythree and one eighth ninetieths, ex- 
clusive of what he calls the unliquidated debt, being the 
moneys due to the several States and to individuals in the 
several States. I beg leave also to mention othfir debts 

* March Vllh. This morning arrived the sliip Washington, Cap- 
tain Barney, with despatches from our Ministers in Paris, and with 
six hundred tliousand livres in cash, on account of the United States, 
in consequence of my order in October last ; — and this day also ap- 
peared a virulent attack on my public and private character, signed 
Lucius, in the Freeman's Journal, replete with falsehoods. — Diary. 

vof,. XII. 4.3 


wliicli imvo not been taken into the Register's contempla- 
tion, namely, the old continental bills and arrearages of 
half pay. Congress will easily see that it is not in .the 
power of their servants to state the public debts with any 
tolerable precision. 

I have the honor to be, &c. 



Office of Finance, March 14th, 1783. 

I received the other day your letter of the 2d of Feb- 
ruary last, and am very much obliged both by the pains 
you have taken, and the sentiments you have expressed ia 
favor of a department, which I shall shortly be obliged to 
abandon. You will before this reaches you have seen in 
the new^spapers my letters of resignation. I shall, not, 
therefore, go into a detail of the reasons for taking that 
stop, which was as painful to me as you can easily con- 
ceive. But I had no alternative. I saw clearly that while 
it was asserted on all hands, our debts ought to be paid, 
no efficient measures would be adopted for the purpose ; 
no good plan agreed on. 1 felt the consequences of my 
resignation on the public credit ; 1 felt the probable de- 
rangement of our affairs; 1 felt the difficuliies my succes- 
sor would have to encounter, but still I felt that above all 
things it was a duly to be honest. This first and highest 
principle has been obeyed. I do not hold myself answer- 
able for consequences. Those are to be attributed to the 
opposers of just measures, let their rank and station be 
what they mr.y. I expect much obloquy for my conduct, 


because this is what I knew to be the reward for any con- 
duct whatever which is right. To slander I am indifferent, 
and still more indifferent about the attempts to qnestion the 
services I have rendered, but 1 feel most sensibly for your 
situation, and for that of every odier officer. 

The Congress have now, and have long since had under 
their consideration, a due provision for tiie public debts ; 
when they will conclude it, and what it will be, God only 
knows. If it is such as in my opinion will do justice, I 
shall stay somewhat longer in office to know the decisions 
of 'the Slates, and if theu' proceedings arc what on such 
an occasion they ought to be, I shall spare no labor and 
regret no lime in completing the business, so that my 
successor may receive it from my hands as clear and sim- 
ple, as it was confused and embarrassed when it was under- 
taken. But if these things do not happen, you and every 
other good man will, I hope, acquit me for leaving a post, 
in which I atn totally unsupported, and where I must be 
daily the witness to scenes of poignant anguish, and deep 
injustice without the possibility of administering either relief 
or palliation. While 1 do continue in office, rely on every 
support in my power, and always, whether a |)ublic or a 
private man, believe in niy esteem and affection. 
I am, very respectfully, &ic. 



Office of Finance, March 17tli, 17S3. 
I do myself the honor to enclose the copy of a letter of 
the 14th of December last from Dr Franklin, and the 


translation of a letter of the 15tb instant, from the Chev- 
alier de la Luzerne. These, together with the letter of 
the 23d of December from Dr Franklin, of which I iiave 
already submitted a copy, will I trust claim the attention of 
the United States. 

M, de la Luzerne did me the honor to make verbal 
communication of the Count de Vergennes' letters, from 
which as well as froni those of Dr Franklin and from 
other circumslances, I consider it as certain that we are 
to expect no further pecuniary aid from Europe. So late 
as on the 9th of December last, the loan in Holland had 
not amounted to eighteen hundred thousand florins, and 
after the deduction of the charges on it, there were not 
above seventeen hundred thousand at my disposal. From 
the month of June to the 9th of December this loan had 
not increased half a million of florins, so that the most 
sanguine expectation will not carry it heyond two millions 
out of the 6ve for which it was opened. 

Congress will recollect, that on the 14th of Septem- 
ber last they ordered a loan of four millions of dollars 
in Europe, for the service of 1783, in addition to this 
loan, which Mr Adams had opened in Holland. They 
will also recollect, that I had anticipated upon those re- 
sources about three and a half millions of livres during the 
year 1782. And that this anticipation was over and above 
the sum of a million and a half of florins, which we then 
knew to have been borrowed in Holland. Allowing, 
therefore, for the supposed increase of half a million of 
florins or a million of livres, there will still remain of antici- 
pation two and a half millions of livres; so that of the 
sum lent for this year by his Most Christian ]VIajesly there 
will remain but three millions and a half of livres. Ac- 


cording to the common course of exchange, this sum cannot 
be expected to yield more than six hundred thousand dollars. 
Six hundred thousand dollars, therefore, with what the States 
will yield in taxes, form the whole of our expectations for 
the current year. From this is to be deducted one month's 
pay [already promised to the army, amounting by estimate 
to upwards of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars'. 

To judge of our prospects for what remains, Congress 
will be pleased to observe, that the subsistence of our 
officers is nearly twenty thousand dollars, that the rations 
issued in New York and New Jersey are about fifty thou- 
sand dollars, and th'at the rations of the southern army will 
probably amount to upwards of tv\felve thousand dollars. 
If to this be added the various detached corps, it will be 
found, that the articles of rations and subsistence, exclu- 
sive of the prisoners, will form an amount of about ninety 
thousand dollars a month. My anticipations on the taxes 
are so well known, that it is not necessary to mention them 
any more than the other objects of forage, &:c. which are 
indispensable. I have gone into these few details merely 
to elucidate one position, viz. that all the money now at 
our command, and which we may expect from the States for 
this two months to come, ivill not do more than satisfy the 
various engagements, which will by that time have fallen 

It is of importance that Congress should know their true 
situation, and therefore I could wish, that a committee 
were appointed to confer with the Minister of France. 
My reason for that wish is, that every member of Congress 
may have the same conviction, which I feel of one import- 
ant fact. That there is no hope of any further pecuniary 
aid from Europe. The conduct of the French Court on 


the subject has been decisive. Some persons have indeed 
flattered themselves, tluit her positive declarations were 
merely calculated to restrain our rashness and moderate 
our excess, but these ideas can no longer have place in 
any sound and discerning mind. Her conduct has been 
consistent with her declarations, and if she had ever so 
niiich inclination to assist us with money iV w not in her 

But whatever may be the ability of nations or individ- 
uals, we can have no right to iiope, much less to expect 
the aid of others, wliile we show so mucli unwillingness to 
help onrseivps. It can no longer be a doubt to Congress, 
that our public credit is gone. It was very easy to fore- 
see that this would be the case, and it was my particular 
duty to predict it. This has been done repeatedly. I 
claim no merit from the prediction, because a man must 
be naturally or wilfully blind who could not see, that credit 
cannot long be supported without funds. 

From what has already been said. Congress will clearly 
perceive the necessity of further resources. What means 
they sliall adopt, it is in tlieir wisdom to consider. They 
cannot borrow, and the Stales will not pay. The thing 
has happened which tms expected. 1 cannot presume to 
advise. Congress well know that I never pretended to 
any extraordinary knowledge of finance, and that my de- 
ficiencies on this subject were a principal reason for declin- 
ing the office. I have since had reason to be still niore 
convinced of my incompetency, because the plans which I 
did suggest have not met wiih approbation. 1 hope, there- 
fore, that some abler mind will point out the means to save 
our country frotn ruin. 

I do assure you, Sir, that it is extremely painful to me 


to bQ obliged to address Congress on this subject. T wish 
most sincerely, that I cotild look at cur future |)ro?i)ecls 
will) the same indifference, that others have Lrought them- 
selves to regard ihcm. Perhaps 1 am not siifllcienlly san- 
guine. It is conunon for age to listen more to the voice 
of experience than youth is inclined. The voice of ex- 
perience foretold these evils long since. There was a 
time when we might have obviated them, but I fear that 
precious moment is passed. 

Before 1 conclude this letter, I must observe or. the 
misconstructions, which men, totally ignorant of our affairs, 
have put on that conduct, which severe necessity com- 
pelled me to pursue. Such u)en, affecting an inlimate 
knowledge of things, have charged the destruction of pub- 
lic credit to me, and interpreted the terms of my resigna- 
tion into reflections upon Congress. 1 hope, Sir, that so 
long as I have the honor to serve the United Stales, I shall 
feel a proper contempt for all such insinuations. I shall 
confidently repose myself on the candor of Congress. It 
is for ihem to judge of my conduct on full and intimate 
knowledge. Writers for a newspaper may, indeed, through 
the medium of, misrepresentation, pervert the public opin- 
ion, but the official conduct of your servants is not amena- 
ble to that tribunal. I hope, however, to be excused for 
observing, that on the day in whicii I was publicly charged 
with ruining your credit, those despatches arrived from 
Europe, which tell you it was already at an end. The 
circumstances which I alluded to in my letter of resigna- 
tion, were not yet known in Europe. It was not yet 
known that Rhode Island had unanimously refused to pass 
the impost law, and that Virginia had repealed it. The 
very delays, which the measures of Congress had met 


with, were sufficient to sap the foundations of their Qi-edit, 
And we now know that they have had that effect. When 
those circumstances, therefore, shall be known, it must be 
overturned. . I saw this clearly, and 1 knew that until some 
plain and rational system should be adopted and acceded 
to, the business of this office would be a business of expe- 
dient and chicane. I have neither the talents nor the 
disposition to engage in such business, and, therefore, I 
prayed to be dismissed. I beg pardon, Sir, for this slight 
digression. 1 shall trespass no longer on your patience, 
than to assure you of the veneration and respect, with 
which 1 have the honor to be, he. 



Office of Finance, April 7th, 1783. 

I enclose you an account of the public receipts and ex- 
penditures from the commencement of my administration 
to the close of last year. While in compliance with what 
1 conceive to be the duty of those intrusted with expendi- 
tures of public money, T publish these accounts, I cannot 
but blush to see the shameful deficiency of the States. 
You will, I hope, take occasion- to make the proper re- 
marks, and, indeed, it were to be wished that some able 
writers would rouse the attention of your Legislature to 
our situation. Surely the pride and good sense of the 
people will combine in stimulating them to exert them- 
selves, so as to stand on their own feet, and not owe a 
support to the precarious bounty of foreign powers. 

1 am, Sir, he. ROBERT MORRIS. 



Office of Finance, April 7th, 1783. 
I do myself the honor to enclose for your Excellency's 
perusal, and the consideration of your L?gislatnre, a state- 
ment of receipts and expenditures for the years 1781 and 
1782, so far as the same have fallen under my administra- 
tion. You will also find enclosed, the general accounts of 
receipts from the States, and subsequent payments into 
the treasury for the last year, together vviih the particular 
account of your Slate for that period. 1 shall not trouble 
your Excellency with any comments on these accounts. 
I have the honor to be, hr. 



C^tce of Finance, April 14th, 1783. 

Since the conference I had the honor to hold with you 
on the 9th instant, my mind has been continually occupied 
on the im}jortant subject to which it relates. My feelings 
are strongly excited by what 1 wish for the public, and by 
wliat I apprehend, both for them and for myself. 

The two points, which relate to my department, are the 
settlement of accounts and advance of pay. Widi respect 
to the first, it is now going on in a satisfactory manner, 
and will be as speedily accomplished as can reasonably be 
expected. The arrangements taken on that subject are of 
such a nature, that 1 conceive the disbanding of the army 
need not be delayed until the settlement is completed, be- 
voL. xit. 44 


cause the proper officers may be kept together, although 
the men be dismissed. The amount of three mouth's pay, 
which is stated by the General to be indtspensahle, is, ac- 
cording to the estimate, seven hundred and fifty thousand 
dollars. From what I have already stated to Congress, it 
will appear thai the reliance for a great part of this sum, 
must be on the' sales of public property and the taxes. 
Neither of these sources can produce much immediately, 
and from the latter there is but little hope at all, unless 
something can be done to stimulate the exertions of the 

The receipts being regularly published, 1 am spared the 
necessity of disagreeable observations on that topic. To 
supply so large a sum as is required is utterly impracii- 
cable, or, indeed, to obtain any very considerable part. 
The most, therefore, which can be done, is to risk a large 
paper anticipation. This is an operation of great delicacy, 
and it is essential to the success of it, that my credit should 
be staked for the redemption. Do not imagine, Gentle- 
men, that this declaration is dictated b-y vanity ; it becomes 
my duty lo mention truth. I had rather it had fallen from 
any other person, and I had much rather it did not exist. 
In issuing my notes to the required amount, it would be 
necessary that f should give an express assurance of pay- 
ment, and in so doing, I should be answerable personally 
for about half a million, when I leave this office, and de- 
pend on the arrangements of those who come after me to 
save me from ruin. I am willing to risk as much for this 
country as any man in America, but it cannot be expected 
that I should put myself in so desperate a situation. To 
render the arrangements, which that advance would re- 
quire, effectual in an official point of view, would be a work 


of time, and the period of my official existence is nearly 

Disbanding the army in a manner satisfactwy to them 
and to tiie country, is doubly desirable, and although ex- 
tremely difficult, is I believe practicable. I shall be very 
ready at all times, Gentlemen, to give my advice and as- 
sistance to those who may be charged with that delicate 
and perilous undertaking, and I would go as far to effect 
it myself* as any reasonable man could require. But 
though I would sacrifice much of my property, yet I can- 
not risk my reputation as a man of integrity, nor expose 
myself to absolute ruin. 

T am, Gentlemen, with perfect respect, &c. 



Office of Finance, April 16th, 1783. 
I have been duly honored with the receipt of your favor 
of the 15th instant. I accepted -the Marine Agency, sim- 
ply with a view to save the expense of the department ; 
but whenever a Marine is to be established a previous 
point would be (in my opinion) to nominate a Minister of 
Marine, and let his first work be the forming of those plans 
and systems, which when adopted by Congress, he would 
have to execute. For my own part, were my abilides 
equal to this task, my leisure would not permit the attempt. 
With respect to the finances, I am of opinion, that as we 
cannot increase cur revenue, we must do all we can to 
lessen our expenditures, and that, therefore, we should 
take off every expense not absolutely necessary as soon as 


On the subject of the coin, I hope soon to make a com- 
munication to Congress, which, if approved of by them, 
will complete the business. 
I am. Sir, he. 



Office of Finance, April 23d, 1783. 

On the 21st of February, J 782, Congress were pleased 
to approve of the establishment of a mint, and to direct the 
Superintendent of Finance to prepare and report a plan for 
conducting it. This matter has been delayed by various 
circumstances until the present moment. I now enclose 
specimens of a coin, with a view that if Congress should 
think proper to appoint a committee on the subject, I may 
have the honor of conferring with them, and explaining my 
ideas of the plan for establishing and conducting a mirit. 
Such plan when reported by a committee, will more prob- 
ably meet the ideas of Congress than any which I might 

I have the honor to be, &ic. 


* April2^th. Tiiis morning when I received the book from the 
office of the Secretaiy of Congress, in which the Acts of Congress 
that respect this department are entered every day, I perceived that 
the committee who had conferred with me respecting my continu- 
ance in office afler the last day of next month, had not reported the 
whole of the conversation which passed, and that the report as en- 
tered on the Journals of Congress, mistakes the sense of what 
passed on my part. I, therefore, wrote a note to Mr Osgood, in- 
forming the committee that they had misconstrued my sentiments. 



Office of Finance, May 1st, 1783. 

When I saw the journal of the 2Sih of last month, I was 
surprised to find tiiat the report of the honorable com- 
mittee appofrited to confer with me relative to my contin- 
uance in office, did not contain those ideas, which I had 
endeavored to convey. I immediately wrote a note to the 
chairman mentioning "that the committee liad misappre- 
hended the conference on my part." When the conver- 
sation passed, I had no expectation of seeing it introduced 
into the report, or I should certainly have asked permission 
to deliver my sentiments in writing. 

I am placed. Sir, in a very painful situation and must 
therefore entreat your indulgent interpretation of wiiat I 
am compelled to say. I had the honor of two conferences 
with the committee, and in the mornings after those con- 
ferences, respectively, made short minutes of what had 
passed. It is my custom to make such minutes with 
respect to most of my transactions, and as they were origi- 
nally intended merely to aid my own memory, they are 
not very minute or particular. Those to which I now 
refer are contained in the following words ; 

April 22d, 1783. "The honorable Mr Osgood, Mr 
Bland, Mr Peters, Mr Madison, and Mr Hamilton, a com- 

He soon called, and upon my repeating some material parts of the 
conversation, he acknowledged they had been omitted. I requested 
him to call the committee together again, but he said they had made 
their report, and are dissolved, but he would immediately return to 
Congress, have my note to him read, and move to have the report 
of the committee expunged from the Journals. Diary. 


mittee of Congress appointed to confer with me respecting 
my continuance in efnce. I told them that a letter from 
Mr Grand, gave a new complexion to our affairs in Europe, 
and that a frigate being just arrived in a short passage from 
France I expect further advices, which I am desirous of 
seeing before I enter into this conference. I slated the 
difficuUy of fulfilling engagements, and the dat\ger of taking 
any new ones." 

April 24th, 1783. "The committee of Congress called 
this morning, in consequence of IVh G. Morris having told 
Mr Osgood, that he imagined I was ready for a conference 
with them. I told the committee that my mind had been 
constantly occupied on the subject, from the time they first 
called until the present moment. That I see and feel the 
necessity and propriety of dismissing the army amotrg their 
fellow citizens, satisfied and contented ; that I dread the 
consequences of sending them into civil life, with murmurs 
and complaints in their moii\hs ; and that no man can be 
better disposed than I am to satisfy the army, or more de- 
sirous of serving our country, but that my own affairs call 
loudly for my care and attention. However, having already 
engaged in this business, and willing to oblige Congress if 
they think my assistance essential, I will consent to remain 
in office for the purpose of such payment to the army, as 
may be agreed on as necessary to disband them Vv'ith their 
own consent, k,c. But prayed of Congress to excuse me 
from even this service if they can accomplish their views 
in ?Mch other way as they may approve." 

These, Sir, are exact copies of my minutes on the sub- 
ject, and although they were hastily drawn, yet I can safely 
appeal to the committee to declare, whether they do not 
contain what really passed, and also whether I did not (in 


reply to a question put to rue bj one of the members) say, 
ihat 1 expected, if Congress should ask me to continue in 
office, they would confine their request to the effecting that 
particular object 0/ satisfying the army, and would distin- 
guish it from anything, which might be construed into an 
approbation of their plan for funding the public debts. 

I hope, Sir, that Congress will excuse me for picturing 
the situation I was in, and the feelings which arose out of 
it. By the Act of the 7th of February, 1781, it was de- 
clared to be the duty of the Superintendent of Finance, 
" to digest and report plans for improving and regulating 
the financfes." Congress well know, that I have from time 
to time attempted the performance of this duty, and they 
know also, that such plans have not met with their appro- 
bation. The clear inference is, what 1 have already de- 
clared, both previously and subsequently to my appoint- 
ment, that my abilities are unequal to the task I am called 
to perform. If, therefore. Congress would at any time 
have made a new appointment, I should have considered 
it as the greatest favor. But since they saw fit to continue 
me in office, 1 prepared the best plans which I could de- 
vise, and finding they were not agreeable to the ideas of 
Congress, I waited for the adoption of such as might be 
suggested from some other quarter, or originated among 
themselves. I patiently, but anxiously waited until the. 
24lh of January last ; but then a clear view of those cir- 
cumstances, which have since followed, compelled me to 
request they would appoint some other man to be the Su- 
perintendent of their Finances, if effectual measures were 
not taken by the end of May, to make permanent provision 
for the public debts of every kind. On the 26th of Feb- 
ruary, finding that no successor was yet appointed, and that 


the plans of Congress were not yet completed, 1- requested 
leave to give due and seasonable information of my removal 
to those who had confided in me. By this means I became 
pledged to the world, not to continue in office after the end 
of May, unless such measures as I conceived to be effec- 
tual, should be taken before that period, to provide for the 
public debts. On the 7th of iNIarch, I received the report 
of a committee on the finances, with orders lo transmit my 
observations. These are contained in a letter of the 8th. 
On the 9th day of April, (no plan being yet adopted) a 
commiltee called on me to know, whether three months' 
pay could be advanced to the army. I stated to them the 
incapacity of the public treasury to complete in any short 
period the one month's pay already promised, as also the 
great anticipations made on the public revenue. And on 
the 14th, in a letter recapitulating the hazardous situation 
of things, I informed tiiem that I believed the object they 
had in view wns practicable by means of a large paper an- 
ticipation. On the ISih the plan was adopted for funding 
the public debts. 

It was under these circumstances, Sir, that I held the 
conferences now immediately in question. It was my most 
earnest desire to be dismissed from office, and I stood 
pledged for it to the public. But a circumstance of pecu- 
liar nature, which had not been foreseen, now presented 
itself. That army to whom we were indebted for our 
national existence was to be disbanded, either in extreme 
misery, or with some little relief. Every principle of jus- 
tice and gratitude called loudly to administer it; but this 
could not be done without entering into engagements be- 
yond our resources. The dictates of prudence would, 
indeed, have determined mc to adhere inflexibly to the 


resn'ution expressed in my letter of the 24th of January. 
By so doing I hazarded nothing. And as far as my own 
reputation was concerned, I could have placed it in secu- 
ritr. For I must be permitted to say, thai if solid arrange- 
ments had been taken to establish national credit, four 
times the req-.iired snm might have been, easily obtained. 
No evils, therefore, had arisen, which 1 had not predicted, 
and none which it was possible for me to guard against. 

But, Sir, my conduct was not influenced either by per- 
sonal or prudential motives. A sense of the situation to 
which Congress were reduced, an earnest desire to support 
their dignity and authority, a grateful regard to our fellow 
citizens in arms, mingled with respect for their sufferings 
and virtues. These sentiments. Sir, decided tny ojjinion. 
I agreed for your sakes and for theirs to enter into a laby- 
rinth, of which I did not thel:!, nor do 1 now see the termi^ 
nation. ' .!^ .'f - '• . 'i^:?:;^ i. 

But 1 could not do this, except under conditions 
and limilatioiis. The conditions were, that Congress 
should a;k my continuance, and pledge themselves for my 
supj)ort ; the limitations, that the objects of my continu- 
ance should be accurately expressed, and that it should be 
confined to the fulfilment of such engagements as those 
objects might require. These terms were expressed to 
tlie committee, and I am sure they will do me the justice 
to acknowledge that they were so. Whether they were 
reasonable, and whether they have been complied with, 
form questions of some importance. 

It may be suggested, that asking my continuance would 
derogate from the dignity of Congress. How far this ob- 
servation is founded, will appear from a resolntion of the 
2 1st of December last. It was not a new thing to make 
vor^. XII. 45 


sucli requests, nor was the practice obsolete, yet I should 
not have desired anything more particular on this subject 
than has been done in the Act of the 28th of April, 
although far short of what other persons have received. 
But surely it will be admitted, that I had a right to expect 
Congress would pledge themselves for my support when I 
entered into such deep engagements for theirs. Whether 
the limitation of my continuance in the manner just men- 
tioned was proper, will appear from considering whether it 
consisted with the dignity of Congress to procure my tacit 
approbation of their system for ftmding tiio public debts; 
a system widely diflerent from ideas, which 1 had ex- 
pressed on a variety of occasions, and in the most pointed 
manner. Surely, Sir, it was not kind to place me in a 
situation where I must appear either to refuse the perform- 
ance of an important public service, or to break the most 
solemn engagements and contradict the most express decla- 
rations. I might dwell much on this question, but the del- 
icacy of Congress will render it unnecessary. 

The second question is, whether the terms 1 offered 
have been complied with. And this question is answered 
by a bare inspection of the Act. Your Excellency will 
pardon me for mentioning, that the report and resolution 
considered conjunctively, rather convey the idea of a per- 
mission to hold my office than anything else. I had de- 
clared to the connnittee, and here again repeat, that a 
longer continuance would be extremely disagreeable to 
me, and that nothing but the particular circumstances 
already mentioned, could induce my consent. 1 must add, 
that under the resolution in its present form I cannot stay. 
I shall detain your Excellency no longer than to mention, 
that I am sensible some other man may still suppose that I 


am only desirous of obtaining from Congress some more 
particular resolutions. To obviate sucb disingenuous re- 
marks, it is my bumble request tbat no furtber question be 
made on my subject. If, Sir, I have rendered any ser- 
vices, and if ibose services have merited any return, I shall 
ask no other reward than a compliance with (bis request. 
I have the honor to be, &ic. 



Office of Finance, May 3d, 1783. 
Upon consideration of the Act of .Congress, of the 28th 
of April* and 2d instant, 1 have determined to comply 
with their views. But I pray it may be understood, that 
my continuance in office is limited to the particular object 
of fulfilling my present engagements, and those which llie 
necessity of our affairs may compel me to form. Let me 
entreat your Excellency to inform Congress, that I enter- 
tain a proper sense of their assurance of firm support, and 
that in a reliance on it I shall continue my zealous exer- 
tions for the service of the United States. 
I have the honor to be, &c. 



Office of Finance, May 6th, 1783. 

I do myself the honor to enclose to your Excellency the 

copy of an Act of Congress of the 2d instant. I shall in 

* Requesting Mr Morris's continuance in office. 


consequence thereof address some special despatches to 
Dr Franklin, by a packet boat, which I will communicate 
to your Excellency, and pray you to write to your Court 
on tlie subject of them. 

In the meantime, I beg leave to mention to yoik, Sir, 
that if, (as I am informed,) the administration of your army 
have more money in this country than ihoy have immediate 
occasion for, it would greatly facilitate my operations to be 
possessed o( it. What 1 have to propose on the subject is, 
that whatever sum may be paid to me here, should be de- 
ducted from the three millions mentioned in the enclosed 
resolution, and be repaid from the amount of the existing 
requisitions on the States. But that if this arrangement 
should not be agreeable to the Court, then that it be paid 
in France or here, immediately after 1 shall have been 
made acquainted with his Majesty's pleasure, and in such 
way as shall be most agreeable to' your Court. 

1 present this matter to you, Sir, quite naked of argu- 
ments, to enforce ihe request. I am sure, that you will do 
what you conceive to be right ; you know our situation, 
and I presume that you are acquainted with the orders 
given to your administration. 

Wiih great respect, 1 hare the honor to be, &ic. 



Office of Finance, May 12th, 1783. 

I do myself the honor to enclose to your Excellency, 

Acts of Congress of the 2Sth of April and 2d instant, to- 

geilier with a copy of my letters in answer. Permit me to 


assure you, Sii, that ^lothing would have induced me to 
continue in office, but a view of the public distresses. 
Tliese distresses are much greater than can easily be con- 
ceived. 1 am not ignorant that attempts are made to in- 
fuse the pernicious idea that foreign aid is easily attainable, 
and that of the moneys already obtained a considerable 
part remains unappropriated. If such attempts were inju- 
rious only to my reputation, I should be entirely silent ; but 
they are calculated to prevent exertions, and are therefore 
injurious to the public service. 1 most seriously assure 
you, that I do not expect success in the application to 
France, directed by the Act ^f the 2d instant, aUhough 
my earnest endeavors shall not be wanting. 

If, however^ it should prove successful, we shall only be 
enabled to draw resource from it at a future period, and 
the amount is to be replaced from the produce of existing 
requisitions on the States. With respect to the moneys, 
which have already been obtained abroad, I will not pre- 
tend to say what lights liiose gentlemen may have, who 
speak on the subject in a decisive tone, but I candidly ac- 
knowledge, that 1 have never yet been able to obtain a 
clear .statement of them, which is the reason why no ac- 
count of those moneys have yet been laid. before the pub- 
lic. Titose who know the confusion in our domestic trans- 
actions, from wh'ich v;e are just beginning to be extricated, 
will not be surprised that foreign transactions dependent on 
them should also be deranged. Neither can it be ex- 
pected that in the midst of war the accounts could be so 
soon adjusted and transmitted as could be wished. I have 
written to obtain them, and a commissioner is employed in 
adjusting* them. From the best statement and estimate 
which I have, I can assure you, that what remains at my 
disposition is extremely small. 


Your Excellency is doubtless ioformed, that at the close 
of last year, there was an anticipation on the public credit 
to the amount of above four hundred thousand dollars. 
This anticipation a:nounts to a greater sum now than it did 
then, and a very considerable addition must be made at the 
disbanding of the army. My mere assertion might. I am 
sensible, be drawn into doubt, but, Sir, there is evidence 
sufficient to convince every considerate man. . The ex- 
penses of 1782 were above twentytwo hundr'ed thousand 
dollars ; those of 1783 are greater, by a month's pay made 
to the army, and by extending the contract for rations. 
Near five months of this year are already expired. One 
month's pay of the army is above two hundred and fifty 
thousand dollars, according to t^ie establishment, and al- 
thougii the army is not completed to its establishment, yet 
the deficiency, being in private sentinels, will not form a 
great deduction. 

The conclusion from what 1 have stated is clear and 
irresistible; there is no reliance but on the energy of the 
States, and it is on that reliance that I rest for the affairs of 
mj; department. 1 shall not add anything to what is said 
in the resolutions of Congress, as inducements for, or to 
stimulate exertions, because I cannot suppose that the 
voice or the word of an individual servant will meqt an at- 
tention which is not paid to the representation of the whole 
empire, expressed in its solemn Acts, and on the most 
urgent occasion, where wisdom, justice, and gratitude com- 
bine to enforce the requisition. 
I am. Dear Sir, yours, he. 




Office of Finance, May 12th, 1783. 

I have received from you many letters, wliich I beg 
leave to acknowledge. 

Ttie bills drawfl by order of Congress at a long sight 
on tlieir Ministers, as well in Spain and Holland as ia 
France, have involved the affairs of my Department in 
a labyrinth of confusion, from which I cannot extricate 
them, and I very much fear that many of these bills will 
have been twice paid. I know not what has been done 
respecting them, and only know, ihal ever since I entered 
into office they have not only plagued and perplexed me, 
but they have invariably consumed the resources on which 
i have formed a reliance. I have now determined to refer 
them all to Mr Grand for payment, but according to such 
aiTangements as you siiall take. You will be pleased, 
tlierefore, to consult with Dr Franklin, Mr Adams, Mr 
Laurens, and Mr Jay, to whom I write on the subject, as 
you will see by the enclosed letters. 

I enclose yoii an account Irom the treasury of what bills 
have been drawn on those gentlemen, and I am to request, 
that you will obtain as soon as possible an account of the 
payments made on them, as also of those which are still 
due, and take iheasures to have diem paid by drafts for 
the "purpose, if necessary, on Mr Grand, and provide 
against the double paymciits, which I fear. I have already 
ordered funds into Mr Grand's hands. Some 1 expect 
Irom you. As the credit 1 gave you has not been used, 
that alone furnislies a part, and I expect there will be con- 


siderable balances from the sales of ihe Alliance's prizes, of 

which I am daily expecting your accounts, &tc. You will 

alsoj'l suppose, have recovered the insurance you made, to 

the amount of forty thousand florins, which will be socne- 

thing. Every aid which you can bestow is necessary, for 

I fear those bills'wfSIl plunge him into great difficulties, and 

the protest ol any public bills, particularly any which I 

should draw, would reduce our alfairs here to infinite 


I am also to request of you, that you will cause as soon 

as possible all the accounts of the clothing, arms, and other 

supplies to be liquidated and transmitted, so that they may 

be properly adjusted liere ; for at preseut, that business is 

in a stale of extreme confusion. 

1 am, Sir, Uc. 



OffiM of Finance. May 12th, 1783. 

The bllJs drawn by Congress in their necessities 
press very heavily upon me, and one of the greatest 
among many evils attending them Is the confusion in 
which they have involved the affairs of my Depart- 
ment, I have not yet been able to learn how many 
of these bills have been paid nor how' many remain 
due; neither am I without my fears, that some of them 
have received double payment. 

To bring at length some little degree of order into 
this chaos, after waiting till now for fuller light and in- 
formation, I write on the subject to Mr Adams and 


Mr Jay, and send Mr Barclay, to whom I also write, 
a copy of the enclosed accounts, directing him to con- 
sult with your Excellency, and with ihem to transmit 
me an account of the bills paid, and of those remaining 
due, and to take measures for preventing double pay- 
ments. The enclosed accounts will inform you, that 
of the bills drawn for interest and those for carrying 
on the current service, which have gone forward 
through ti\e Loan Offices, amoimt, the first to one mil- 
lion six hundred and eighty four thousand two hun- 
dred and seventyeight dollars; equal to eight millions 
four hundred and Iwentyone thousand three hundred 
and ninety livres; and the second to two hundred and 
cigluysix tiiousand seven hundred and thirtylhrce and 
one third dollars; equal to one million four hundred 
and ihirlylhree thousand six hundred and sixtysix 
livres, six sous, and eiglit deniers. 

Let me entreat you. Sir, to forward these views as 
much as j)ossibIe, for you will, I am sure, be sensible 
how necessarv it is for me to know the exact stale of 
cur pecuniary affairs, lest on the one hand I should 
risk the public credit by an excess of drafts, or on the 
other leave their moneys unemployed, while they ex- 
perience severe distress from the want. 
I am, Sir, with perfect respect, &c^ 


VOL. xiT, 46 



Office of Finance, May loth, 1783. 

In consequence of ihe conversation which passed 
between us this morning, I shall give you the best 
information in my power as to the state of my Depart- 
ment and the resources I can command. 

You have in the enclosed paper an account of re- 
ceipts and expenditures from the commencement of 
the year to the end of (he last month; by which it 
appears, that there is an advance on credit to the 
amount of near six hundred thousand dollar?, exclusive 
of u^hat may appear in Mr Swanwick's accounts for 
the month of April. A large sum is also due on 
General Greene's drafts, and the contractors aie to be 
paid in this month for the supplies of January last. 
At ihe end of this month, thwefore, that anlicijialion 
must necessarily be much increased, as will appear 
from the sligb.test reflection after what is to be said of 
our resources. 

These are either foreign or domestic. As to the 
first, I enclose the copy of the last letter I have re- 
ceived from Mr Grand, and I have to add to what is 
contained in that letter, that the day it was received, 
my drafts on him, over and above those mentioned in 
it, amounted to three millions forty thousand two hun- 
dred and sevcntyeight livrcs. I have directed, there- 
fore, Mr Barclay to pay over to Mr Grand any 
moneys, which may be in his possession, and I have 
directed Messrs Willink &. Co. of Amsterdam to do 
the same, after deducting what may be necessary to 


pay the interest of their loan falling due the 1st of 
June next. But as I have no accounts of how much has 
bsen borrowed since the end of January, and as all 
which had been borrowed before was disposed of, I 
cannot determine how far they can come in aid of Mr 
Grand. Neither can I tell unlil the receipt of his ac- 
counts what aid he may stand in need of; In tliese 
circumstances I am obliged to leave about eighteen 
hundred thousand livres (which remain of a sum placed 
in the hands of Messrs Le Couteulx for answering 
drafts intended through Havana,) to answer any defi- 
ciency of other funds to pay my drafts on Mr Grand. 
These then, Gentlemen, are all the foreign resources, 
except wiiat the French Court may advance on the 
late resolutions of Congress, and you will sec by the 
enclosed translation of a letter from the Minister of 
France, what little hope is to be entertained from that 

Our domestic resources are twofold. First, certain 
goods and other propertv, such as horses, wagons, &c. 
These latter will produce very little, and the former 
are, by the peace, very much red'uced in value, and 
from the nature of the goods themselves they are 
chiefly unsaleable. Very little reliance, therefore, can 
be placed on this first dependence. The amount I 
cannot possibly ascertain, for I do liot yet know, and 
cannot unlil the opening of them now in hand shall 
be completed, the kinds, quality and situation. 
Some are damaged, those which were deemed most sale- 
able l^.ave been tried at vendue, and went under the 
first cost, and much the greater jjart will certainly not 
sell at a fourth of their value. 


The only remaining resource is in the taxes, and 
wliat they may amount to, it is impossiljlie to tell. 
But you have enclosed an account of what they 
yielded the four first months of this year, and you will 
see from thence, that if all expense had ceased on the 
first day of this month, the anticipations already made 
would not have been absorbed by the same rate of 
taxation in eight months mo;e. 

Now tlien, Gentlemen, you w^ill please to consider, 
that if your army is kept together they will consume 
as much in one month as the taxes will produce in 
two, and probably much more : to make them three 
months' pay will requiie I suppose at least six hun- 
dred thousand dollars, and every day they continue in 
the field lessens the practicability of sending them 
home satisfied. The anticipations of revenue are 
threefold, two of which appear as to their effects in 
the public accounts, and one very considerable one, 
though it produces ^reat relief, is not seen. It con- 
sists in the drawing of bills on me for t!ie public ser- 
vice by different persons and at different usances. I 
imagine that these amount at the present moment to 
one hundred thousand dollars. The other anticipations 
consist in loans from the bank on the issuing of my 
own notes. As to the first of tlicse it is limited 
in its nature by the capital of the l)auk, which 
being small will not admit of great deductions, and 
it depends 'much upon circumstances, whether the 
bank will go to the extent wbicli they may go. If ihey 
find the revenues increasing; iuid the expenses dimin- 
ishing, diey will, but otherwise, lliey cerluinly will not. 
As to the notes 1 issue, and wliicii lonn ihe greatest 


part of my anticipations, these have also a ceriaia 
limit, to exceed which would be Aua!. I must not so ex- 
tend that circulation, as that I shall be unable to pay them 
when piesented, for that would totally destroy their credit, 
and, of course, their uliliiy. 

If anything of this sort should take place before the 
arniy are disbanded, you will see at once that they could 
be fed no longer, and must of course disband themselves. 
1 will not dwell on the consequences, but I will draw one 
clear conclusi'^u, which you have, doubtless, by this time 
anticipated, viz. that unless they are disbanded immedi- 
ately, the means of paying ihem, even wiih paper, will be 
gone. And this sentiment I have not delivei'ed to you, 
but to a former committee, as well as to many individual 
mernbers of C-ongress. 

But when 1 speak of disbanding the army, I beg to be 
understood as meaning to reserve a sufficient garrison for 
West Point ; and on this sidjject I pray to be indulged in 
a view ol cur pol.iical and military situation as lar as re- 
lates to this capital object of my department. And first, 
as to our political situation, 1 conceive that we are at 
])eace. It is- true, that the definitive treaty is not, tliat we 
know of, completed ; but it is equally true, that all th.e. 
other belligerent powers have been disarming for 
months j)ast, and I presume they are at least as well 
acquainicd with the state of things as we arc. To 
express doubts of the since) iiy of Biitain on this sub- 
ject is, I know, a fashionable, out in my opinion a 
very foolish language. VVc liavo the best evidence of 
their sincerity, which the nature of things will admit, 
for we know they are unable to carry on the war, and 
we see and feel, that they are passing every act, and 


doing everything in their power to conciliate our 
aflections. Expressions of doubts as to (heir sincerity, 
if intended to foster enmity against then), will fail of 
the effect and produce the direct contrar}', for every- 
body will soon learn to consider tiiem as unjustly sus- 
pected, and their Ministers will take care to inculcate 
and enforce the sentiment. 

As to our military situation some of the troops i;i 
the southern States have already mutinied, the prin- 
cipal part of them are ordered away, and since the 
Floridas are ceded to Spain it follows, that those 
iroops which may remain in the southern States will 
have to operate against the Spaniards if they operate 
at all. So that every man, exce'pt those under the 
General's immediate command and the little garrison 
of Fort Pitt, are in fact disbanded to every purpose 
but that uf expense. 

The prisoners are some of them going, and the rest 
gone into New York, so that in a few days the enemy 
will be able to do everything which they could do if 
the greater part of our army were gone home. For 
they could not take West Point if it is properly gar- 
risoned, and they could ravage the country in spite of 
our army when tiieirs shall be all collected. 

Our situation, tiierefore, seems to be this. We are 
keeping up an army at a great expense, and very much 
against their inclinations for a mere punctilio, and by that 
means incapacitating ourselves from performing what they 
begin to consider as a kind of engagement taken svith 
them. I shall detain you no longer on this subject, but 
must repeat one observation, which is, that unless the far 
greater part of our expenses be immediately curtailed, the 


object Congress had in view by t'lieir resolutions of the 2(i 
instant, cannot possii)!)' be accomplished. 
I have the honor to be, he. 



Office of Finance, May 16th, 1T83. 

Your bills on me fall very heavy, and I am in 
hourly apprehensions of being unable lo pay them. 
You will see, therefore, that it is utterly impossible lo 
send money for your military chest. I hope, how- 
ever, and expect, that the sales of the public property 
will provide you more money than you stand in need 

*May IZth. Mr Gorham and Mr Hamilton, two members of a 
committee of Congress for conferring with the Secretary of War, 
the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, and myself, relative to disbanding 
the army, met this morning. I opened the business, and stated 
very fully the necessity of disbanding the army, in order to get clear 
of an expense, which our resourres are unequal to, and which can- 
not be supported many months at any rate, but which, if continued 
any longer, will consume the only means now left for making a 
payment to the army when disbanded. The gentlemen of the com- 
mittee seemed perfectly satisfied of the necessity of disbanding the 
army on principles of economy, but opposed to it on principles of 
policy, in which the Secretary of Foreign Affairs joins with them. 
The Secretary at War said little, and I related an observation which 
he had made to me a few days before in favor of disbanding the 
army directly, viz. ; that they would not continue in the field under 
their present enlistments, if the war were to break out again ; but 
that in such a case we must begin entirely anew. The conclusion 
of the conference is, that I am to state the reasons resulting from the 
situation of our finances, which induce an immediate disbanding of 
the army, in writing to the committee. Diary. 


of. I know not what orders the Secretary at War 
may give, but if they be aj;reeablo to my wishes, tliey 
will contain an absolute dismission of all the troops in 
your quarter, for I can see no use in keeping them 

The attacks made upon you, might reconcile me to 
those which I experience, for they show that no con- 
duct, however just, can possibly escape censure. It is 
far easier to be faultless than blameless, and the expe- 
rience I have had in this way leads me to a total disre- 
gard of all tilings, so far as conduct is to be determined. 
But I must at the same time acknowledge, thai I can- 
not help feeling indignation whenever they arc made. 
They are for the most part mere ebullition of low 
malice, and if rightly understood contain the most in- 
disputable acknowledgement of merit. Let this re- 
flection console you for what you have already expe- 
rie:.ccd and what may yet be behind. 

1 thank you for the sentiments you express in my 
favor. You will have seen, that contrary to every 
private interest and sentiment I have agreed to a 
longer continuation in office. And you may rest 
assured, that nothing but a view of the public necessi- 
ties should have induced me still longer to bear up 
Under the burden. Not because I regard the calum- 
nies I mee-t with, for although tiiey excite my feelings 
they shall not Influence my conduct, but because I do not" 
think those measures are pursued, which are calculated 
for the happiness of this country, and I do not wiih to 
participate in any others. 

There are many persons in the Southern States, who 
think the measures of Congress and of their servants are 


directed to the particular good of Penns)'lvanl2, and more 
uiio pretend to think so. It is a little history of human 
weakness and I might say meanness, the inanner in which 
anti|).itliies have been imbibed and propagated with respect 
to my department. One sample will show the texture of 
the whole piece. While I was in advance, not only my 
credit but every shilling of my own money, and all which 
I could obtain from my friends, to support the important 
expedition against Yorklown, much offence was t=d<en that 
1 did not minister relief to the ofHceis taken |)risoners at 
Charleston. I felt (heir distresses as sincerely as any man 
could do, but it was impossible to afford relief. 

Before I cl(;se the letter, I must again rejjeat ir»y solici- 
tude on the score of your bills, which are coming in upon 
me so lust, that the me^ns of paying them must, I fear, be 
deficient. Take care, therefore, to draw as little and ut 
as long sight as possible. 

I am, Sir, your most obediei.t, See. 



Office of Finance, May ^Gth, 1733. 

1 have now before me your letters of the I 4th and 23d 
of December, which are the last I have received. En- 
closed you have a letter from me to the Minister of France, 
with his answer of the 14th of March, on the subject of 
the delay which happened in transmitting his despatches. 
You will see by these, that Lieutenant Barney was not to 

Your bills in favor of M. de Lauzun have not yet ap- 
VOL. XII. 47 


pcared, or they should have been duly honored. . That 
gentleman has since left the country, and therefore it is 
possible that the bills may not come. 

The reflections you make, as well on ths nature of pub- 
lic credit, as on *he inattention of the several States, are 
just and unanswerable; but in what country of the world 
shall we find a nction vpilling to tax themselves. The lai.- 
ruR^e of panegyiic has held forth the English as such a 
nation, but certainly if our Legislaljies were subject to 
lilre influence with theirs, wo might preserve the form, but 
we should already have lost the substance of freedom. 
Time, reason, argument, and abiive all, that kind of con- 
viction, which arises from feeling, are^ necessary lo the 
establishment of our revenues, and the consolidation of our 
union. Both of these appear to me essential to our public 
liappiness ; but our ideas, as you well know, are frequently 
the result rather of habit than reflection, so that numbers 
who might think justly upon these subjects, have been early 
estranged from the modes and .means of considering them 

1 am in the hourly wish and expertation of hearing from 
you, and sincerely hope It may be soon. Believe me, I 
pray, with esteem and respect, yours, &,c. 



Office of Finance, May 2Ctli, 1783. 
By the enclosed Acts of the 28th of April and 2d of 
May, with the copy of my letter to Congress of the 3d of 
May, you will perceive that I am to continue somewhat 


longer in (he Siiperintendency of our Finanros. Be as- 
sured, Sir, that nothing but a clear view of our distresses 
rould have induced my consent. J must at die same time 
acknowledge, that the distresses we experience, arise from 
our own ii.isconduct. If the resources of this country 
were drawn forth, they would be amply sufficient, but this 
is not the case. Congress have not autbo ity equal to the 
object, up.d tiieir influence is greatly lessened by their evi- 
dent incapacity to do justice. 

This is but a melancholy introduction to the request 
contained in the Act of the 2d instant. But I shall not be 
guilty of falsehood, nor will 1 intentionally deceive you, or 
put you in the necessity of deceiving others. My official 
situation compels me to do things, which I would certainly 
avoid under any other circumstances. Nothing should in- 
duce me in my private character to make such applications 
for money as i am obliged to in ray public character. I 
know and feel that yon must be in a disagreeable situation 
on this subject. I can anticipate the answers to all your re- 
quests ; and I know you may be asked for payment when 
you ask for loans. Yet, Sir, I must desire you to repeat 
your applications. My only hope arises from the belief, 
that as the King's expenses are much lessened,, he may 
be able to comply with his gracious intentions towards 

And the nuly inducement I can offer is the assurance 
that the taxes already culled for, shall be appropriated as 
last as odier indispensable services will admit, to the replac- 
ing of what the Court may advance. 

Our situation io shortly this. The army expect a 
payment, which will amount to about seven huadred 
thousand dollars. I am ahead v above half a million dol- 


lars in advance of our resources, by paper anficipation. I 
must increase this anticipation immediately to pay moneys 
due on Contracts for feeding our army ; and 1 must make 
them the expected payment by notes to be discharged at 
a distant day. Now, Sir, if these notes are not satisfied 
when they become due, the httle credit which remains to 
this country must fall, and the little authority dependent on 
it must fall too. Under such circumstances it is, tliat you 
are to ask aid for t!ie United States. If it can be obtained, 
I shall consider the obligation as being in soine degree per- 
sonal tc myself, and I shall certainly exert myself for the 
repayment. You will be so kind, Sir, as to ship on board 
the Washington eighteen hundred thousand livres, but if 
the loan be not obtained, I must entrent you will give me 
the earliest possible information of the refusrJ. 

1 shnll conifnunicate tiiis letter to the INIir.ister o{ his 
Most Chrisi'an iM.ijesly, and request him to write to the 
Count de Vergennes, oti the subject of it. Believe me, I 
pray, with sincere and respcctfid esteem, &,c. 



Office of Finance, May 2rth, 17S3. 

I do myself the honor to enclose for your Excellency's 
perusal, the copy of a letter lo Dr Franklin, which will go 
by thie VVashingloo packet, on Sunday next. I am to re- 
quest, that your F^xcellericy will write on the subject cf it 
to the Count de Vergennes. You will observe, Sir, that I 
have made no mention whatever of the reasons, which 
might induce France to grant the aid requested. Every 


argument, which can apply to the interests of your Court, 
will come more properly, as well as more forcibly from 
your pen than from mine. I shall only ask, that you will 
give your own sentiments and views of our circumstances 
and situation. These Will, I doubt not, be the most pow- 
erful reasons in support of the present application. 
I am, Sir, with perfect respect, he. 



Office of Finance, May 2Pth, 1783. 
Dear Sir, 
I am now to acknowledge the receipt of your Excel- 
lency's letter of the Sth instant. I have not answered it 
sooner, because until now it has not been in my power to 
answer it satisfactorily. 

By some designing men my resignation of office 
(grounded on a clear conviction, that unless something 
was done to support public credit, very pernicious conse- 
quences would follow) was misconstrued. It was repre- 
sented as a factious desire to raise civil commotions. It 
was said that the army were to be employed as the instru- 
ments to promote flagitious interested views. These found 
admiitnnce to minds, which should forever have been shut them. We now rest on the event, to determine 
whether a sincere regard to public justice and public in- 
terest, or a sinister respect to my own private emolument 
were the influential motives .of my conduct. I am a very 
mistaken man, if time and experience shiill not demon- 
strate, that the interests of the army and of the public 
creditors are given up. But I mention these things only 


to you ill confidence, for it shall not again be supposed 
that I am the leader of sedition. 

Having done what was in my power to establish those 
plans, which appeared necessary for doing justice to all, 
and affording relief to our army in particular, I have ac- 
quitted what was the first and greatest duty. Wiien it 
appeared that other modes were to be pursued, I would 
gladly have departed in peace, but it has been thought that 
my further agency was necessary, to procure for the army 
that species of relief, which they seemed to desire. Tiie 
factious designing man, who was to have lighted up the 
flames of mutiny and sedition, lias undertaken a most ar- 
duous and perilous business to save this country from those 
convulsions, which her negligence had haaarded. This 
became a duty when the first duty to justice was per- 
formed, and this shall be performed also. It is now above 
a month since the committee conferred >vith me on that 
subject, and I then told them that no payment could be 
made tc the army but by means of a paper anticipation, 
and unless our expenditures were immediately and consid- 
erably reduced, even that could not be done. Our ex- 
penditures have nevertheless been continued, and our 
revenue lessens, the States growing more and more remiss 
in their collections. The consequence is, that I cannot 
make payment in the manner first intended. The notes 
issued for this purpose would have been payable at two, 
four, and six months from the date, but at present they will 
all be at six months, and everl that will soon become im- 
practicable, unless our expenses be immediately curtailed. 

I shall cause such notes to be issued for three months' 
pay to llie army, and I must entreat. Sir, that every influ- 
ence be used with the States to absorb them, tosjeiher with 


my Other engagements, by taxation. The present collec- 
tions are most shameful, and afford but a sad prospect to 
all those who are dependent upon thenj. 

1 hope, my Dear Sir, that the state of public affairs 
will soon permit you to lay down the cares of your painful 
office. I should in two days have been liberated from 
mine, if a desire to free you from your embarrassments, 
and procure some little relief to your army, had not in- 
duced a continuance of them. But it must always be 
remembered, that this continuance is distinct from any 
idea, which may be connected with the plans for funding 
our public debts. As I do not approve of, so I cannot be 
responsible for them. Neither will I involve myself in 
endless details, which must terminate in disappointment. 

With great respect, I am, &c. 



Office of Finance, June 5th, 1783. 

Congress having directed a very considerable part of 
the army to be sent home on furlough, I am pressed ex- 
ceedingly to make a payment of three nrtonths' wages, and 
I am very desirous to accomplish it, but the want of 
money compels me to an anticipation on the taxes by 
making this payrtient in notes. To render this mode tol- 
erably just or useful, the notes must be punctually dis- 
charged when they fall due, and my dependence must be 
on the money to be received of the several States, en the 
requisitions for the last and'present year. I hope the ur- 
gency of the case will produce the desired exertions, and 


finally enable me to preserve the credit and honor of the 
federal government. 

I have the honor to be, he. 



OfBce of Finance, July Uth, 1783. 

I do myself the honor to enclose to your Excellency, a 
state of the public accounts, balanced on the last day of 
June, 1783. A view of these accoun'.s will render it un- 
necessary to make many observations. 

On the Stales I am to rely for payment of the antici- 
pations amounting, as you will see, to more than a million. 
And you will observe, that this great anticipation has been 
made for that service, which all afiecl to have so much at 
heart. A payment to the American army. If they had 
received no pay during the year 1783,1 might perliaps 
have been spared the necessity of this application, because 
it is probable that the taxes even as they are now collected 
might have absorbed such anticipations as I should then 
have been obliged to make. 

Much pains have been taken to inculcate the idea that 
we have funds in Europe. Those funds which we iiad 
there are exhausted, and the general apprehension that no 
proper funds here will be provided has -cut off all hopes 
from that quarter. 

The question has frequently and industriously been 
asked, what becomes of the moneys which are paid in taxes. 
I have furnished the means of judging, as to those which 
reach the public treasury, to every man employed in the 


adinlnislration of o;overnment in tlie several States, for my 
accounts liave been regularly transmitted. And I would 
not have mentioned the insinnation had it not been for the 
purpose of observing, that it is incumbent on all diose who 
are desirous of forwarding a colieclion of taxes, to show a 
fair a|)p;o()riaiion, and not sufTei- groundless clamors to dis- 
turb the public mind. 

It has been said tiiat there is no necessity of urging the 
collection of taxes now, because the notes given lo the army 
are not payable in less than six months. This again is an 
assertion whose mischievous operation is levelled at the 
very vitals of our credit. One month of that time is already 
expired with res|)ect to all those notes which have been 
already issued. They are not the only notes in circidation. 
Notes are not the only modes of anticipation which have 
been adopted. And it is a serious fact, that unless more 
vigorous n:easures take place, the credit of all notes and of 
everything else must be destroyed. Rut this is not all. 
Sui)|)osing for a mon)ent, that the notes given to our army 
were the only object whose credit was to be attended to. 
Can any reasonable man imagine, that they could be of any 
use if the payaient were to depend on faxes which are not 
to he collected until the notes are due. 

1 have not been wanting on my part in pointing out from 
lime to time, the mischiefs which must ensue from neglect. 
The applications Iiave met with inattention, which personally 
1 have disregarded, but which I could not but feel, from the 
consequences involved in it. Again, in compliance with 
the duty I owe to the United States, I call for that aid which 
they are entitled to. And on this occasion I take leave to 
observe, that the moment is very last aj)prof.ching which is 
to determine whether America is entitled to the appellation 



of just, or whether those who have constantly aspersed her 
character are to be believed. 

With perfect respect, I have the honor to be, 8ic. 


Office of Finance, July loth, 1783. 

The Superintendent of Finance, to whom was referred, 
on the 11th instant, the extract of a report, with order to 
report thereon, and also to report what measures he has 
taken relative to the pay of the army, begs leave to report, 

That the receivers in the several States have long since 
been instructed, to take all notes signed by the Superintend- 
ent of Finance in payment of the taxes, and also, take up all 
such notes whenever tendered, if they have public money 
in their hands. 

That when it was in contemplation to make a payment 
to the army, the committee who conferred with the Super- 
intendent on that subject were informed, that it could only 
be done in notes, and that in order to support the credit of 
such notes, it would not be sufficient that they should only 
be receivable in taxes in some particular State, but ihat the 
receivers throughout the States must receive and exchange 
them, in like manner vvitli other notes issued from the Office 
of Finance. 

That the instruction to the receivers is generally known 
to all those who are concerned in the business they relate 
to, and in consequence thereof the receivers are in the con- 
stant practice of receiving and exchanging notes signed by 
the Superintendent of Finance, which they duly remit to 
the treasury. 


That whenever they shall find it difficult to obtain such 
notes for the purpose of making their remittances (which is 
not likely to be the case in any short period,) they will nat- 
urally advertise to obtain them. Wherefore, any general 
notification, such as is contained in the extract committed, 
will be unnecessary. 

That if such publication as is recominended were con- 
fined (as seems to have been the idea,) to those nutes which 
have been issued for payment of the army, it would destroy 
what little credit is at present reposed in the public servants, 
and by bringing home immediately all other notes which 
have been issued, render it impracticable to discharge them ; 
in which case the notes issued to the army could be of no 
use, because nobody would take them. The importance 
of preserving credit in this respect, will appear from the 
preamble to an Act of Congress of the 2d of May last. 

That if (as is most probable) the publication were in- 
tended to relate alike to all notes, it is a thing which is 
already well known, and therefore the expense of printing 
may be spared. 

With respect to the measures taken relative to paying 
the army, he begs leave to report, that upon an estimate 
from the War Office, he signed warrants for four months' 
pay of the present year, whereof one month's pay has been 
made to the noncommissioned officers and privates in spe- 
cie, and to the officers in notes, and three months' pay to 
both officers and soldiers in notes. That the Paymaster 
has not yet received all the notes necessary for the purpose, 
but has in his hands as niany as he wants for the present. 
All which is hutnbly submitted. 




Office of Finance, July 18th, 1783. 

I would sooner have rejilied to ilie Act of Congress 
ol llic IJili instunt, if I liiul not been prevented by other 
business, uliich required immediate attention. Tiie Act 
recites a representation to C/ongress, tliai cert;. in parts of 
tile army retired on fmlongh have not received the j)av, &,c. 
1 will t:ot contest the truth of tiiis representation. But 
when I come to state such facts as are within my knowledge, 
I shall appeal to tl)e candor of Congress liow far that lep- 
resentation will warrant a censure against me. 

1 am directed to complete witiioul delay the same pay- 
ment to the officers atid soldiers of tiie ^.la'^sachnselis line 
which were ordered to be paid to the army at large. Con- 
gress will be pleased to observe, thr.t they have passed no 
particular order to which the above resolution can refer. 
The general Acts which relate to piying our army from the 
outhoriiij on which the payment alluded to vvas made. 
Supj)o«ing, however, that by the resolution is meant three 
months' pay, in notes payable at six months from the date ; 
I rnnsl t;'.ke liberty to ren)ind Congress, that completing the 
payment to any part of the army is not the business of my 
department, but of the Paymaster General. All which can 
depenil on me, is to jiut tllo^e notes into iiis hand:; when 
called for, and this has been done as fast as was possible. 

I am directed to report the reasons why the troops lately 
fm'.oughed did not receive a part of their pay jnevious 
thereto. Not being able, Sir, to make so full report on this 
subject as I could wish, I Ir.ive written a letter to l!ie Pay- 
master General, of which the enclosure, number one, is a 


copy. The answer to this letter shall be transmitted as 
soon as received. The facts relating to that matter which 
are wiihin my knowledge are the following. 

On the 9tli day of April last, a comuiiitee of Congress 
did me the honor to call, for the pur|)ose of consuliing on 
certain pro|)o>iiions contained in a letter from the Com- 
mander in Chief to an honorable member from Virginia. 
One of these propositions was to make the army three 
months' pay previons to their disbandment. My reply was, 
an acknowledgement that the claim was very reasonable, a 
declaration that 1 doubted of the praclicability, arid a |irayer 
to be indulged with time for consideration. On the 14ili 
of April I wrote a letter to that committee, in which 
I had tiie iionor to inform them, that thiee months' pay 
amounted, according to the estimates, to seven hundred and 
fifiy thousand dollars. That to supply so large a sum was 
utterly impracticable, or indeed to ol)tain any considerable 
|)art. Tliat the most which rould be done was to risk a 
large paper anticipation. That to render the arrarrgemcnts 
for that purpose effectual in an official point of view would 
be a work of time. That the period of my official exist- 
ence was nearly arrived ; that disbanding the army in a 
nianner satisfactory to them and to tlie country was doubt- 
less desirable. That I believed it to be practicable, although 
extremely difficidt, and that 1 should be ready at all limes 
to give my advice and assistance to those wiio mighi be 
charged with that delicate and perilous undertnkiiig. 

On the 22(1 of April, Congress were pleased to appoint 
a committee to confer with me relative to my continuance 
in office. I told that honorable committee, that the late 
advices from Europe gave a new complexion to our af- 
fairs, and prayed some further lime for the receipt ofintel- 


ligence. On the 24th of April, I had the honor to inform 
the committee, that if Congress thought my assistance essen- 
tial toward completing, such payment to the army as might 
be agreed on, &:c. I would consent to a further continu- 
ance in office for that purpose ; but prayed to be excused 
from that service if Congress could otherwise accomplish 
their views. 

On the 28th of April, Congress were pleased to re- 
solve, that the public service required my continuance in 
office till arrangements for the reduction of the army could 
be made, and the engagements taken in consequence, as 
well as those already taken, should be completed. On the 
2d day of May Congress were pleased to pass some fur- 
ther resolutions on the same subject, which I shall shortly 
have occasion to mention. On the 3d of May I had the 
honor to entreat of your Excellency, that you would inform 
Congress that I entertained a proper sense of their assm-- 
ance of firm support, and in reliance on them should con- 
tinue my zealous exertions for the service of the United 

On the 9th of May, having had a conference with the 
Minister of War, on the resolutions of the 7th and 28th of 
April and 2d of May, we took the liberty to request, that a 
committee njight be appointed to confer with us on the 
subject of those resolutions. On the 15th of May, two 
gentlemen of that committee did us the honor of the con- 
ference requested. In which it was stated, as impractica- 
ble to make any payment to the army, unless our expendi- 
tures were immediately and considerably reduced. The 
committee, however, being desirous to have the situation 
of things stated to them in writing, I wrote them a letter on 
the same day, showing, that on the last day of April we 


were in advance of our resources, to the anoount of six 
hundred thousand dollars ; that our foreign resources were 
exhausted ; that our domestic resources as far as they 
consisted in sales of public property, were considerably 
reduced ; that as far as they consisted in the produce of 
taxes they were extremely slender and precarious ; that 
the monthly consumption of the army was at least double 
the monthly produce of the taxes ; that if they were kept 
longer in the field, they would consume every resource by 
which the payment could possibly be made or hazarded. 
And, therefore, that unless the far greater part of our ex- 
penses was immediately curtailed, the object Congress had 
in view by their resolutions of the 2d of May could not 
possibly be accomplished. This letter was accompanied 
with the necessary documents to establish the positions 
contained in it. 

On the 26th of IMay it was resolved, that the Comman- 
der in Chief should be instructed to grant furloughs, &c. 
And this resolution was communicated to me on the 27th. 
Thus, Sir, from the 9th day of April, when this matter was 
first proposed, until the 27th day of May, when the final 
determinations of Congress were made known, my conduct 
was of necessity suspended. 

On the 29th of May I informed the Commander in 
Chief of my determination to issue notes payable in six 
months from the date, for three months' pay, and explained 
to him the reasons why I could not make the payment in 
any other mode. In reply to this, 1 received on the 5th 
of June a letter from the General, dated the 3d, which was 
brought by express, and urged the transmission of a part 
of those notes. I immediately wrote an answer, in which 
i informed'^him, that on Saturday evening, the 31st of May, 


tlie paper arrived from the inaker ; that on Monday, the 2d 
of June, it was delivered to the printer; that he had agreed 
to send the first [)arcel of notes to n)e on Fri(hiy, tlie 6th of 
June ; and that as soon as I could sign ihem liiey should be 
delivered to the Paymaster, to be sent forward. On the 
7ih of June the Paymaster received fifty thousand dollars, 
on the 9lh fifiy thousand dollars, and on the 13ih one hun- 
drei! thousand ; so that in six days 1 signed six thousand 
notes, besides the other business of my office. That paper 
made on purpose for this business was n-jcessary no man 
cati doubt, or if it could have been doubted the recent 
attempt to counterfeit these notes is a sufficient proof. 
That the plinling was to take place before the sij;;ning must 
bo admitted. The only delay therefore with which I can 
be chargeable must be in the signing of them, and upon 
that subject I shall say nothing. If by any means a delay 
happened after the notes were delivered into tiie pay office, 
I p:esiime that die Paymaster Genera! will be able to ac- 
coiMit for it. I shall only add, that he has received half a 
million of these notes, as will appear by the enclused note 
of the payments number two. 

1 am also directed, Sir, to report ihe manner in which 
I expect to redeem the notes in question. Congress will 
be pleased to recollect, that the issuing of those notes arose 
fro(n a proposition made by the General nnd warndy 
adopted by the-n. That although 1 was very desirous of 
gratifying the wishes of the army, I had great apprehen- 
sions as to the ability of doing it. And that from a view 
of the scantiness of our resources I felt extreme reluctance 
in giving my consent. As to the means of redeeming the 
notes, permit me to refer Congress to the letters which I 
had the honor of writing to your Excellency on the 17th 


of March and 1st of May; to my correspondence with 
the honorable conniiiuee of Congress on ll>e i4th and 1 6th 
of April, copies whereof are enclosed in the paper number 
(hree ; and to a circular letter to the States of the I2th 
of "Shy, of which a copy is enclosed in the paper niimber 

Permit me also to refer to ilie various accounts which 
have been rendered to Congress of the state of my depart- 
ment ; and to these let me add what appears on their own 
minutes. On the 2d of i\hy they declared it to be their 
desire, when the reduction of the army should take place, 
to enable the officers and sokiiers to return to their i-espec- 
tive houjes wiih convenience and satisfaction ; for which 
purpose it would be indispensable to advance them a part 
of their pay. They declared further," tliat there were 
many other ensagemcnts for which the public faith was 
pledged, and the punctual performance ofiohich was essen- 
tial to the credit of the United States. And they further 
declared, that 7iet7Aer of these important objects coiddbe 
vjfecied without the vigorous exertions of the several States 
in the collection of taxes. From a conviction of these facts 
Congress were pleased to call upon the respective Slates 
in the most earnest manner, io forward the collcciion of 
taxes. As an additional means to nccomplish the same 
end, they were pleased to --ipply for a further loan of three 
'millions of livres to his Most Christian Majesty. And they 
resolved, that tlie Su^^erintendent of Finance be directed 
to take the necessary arrangements for carrying the views 
of Congress into execution. And that he be assured of 
iheir firm support towards, fulfilling the engagements ha has 
already taken, or may take, on die public account during 
his continuance in cfBcc. 
VOL. iwU. '19 


Having already so fully stated the situation of my de- 
partment, I have only to say in answer to the order 1 have 
received, that I rely on the firm support of Congress, sol- 
emnly pledged to me (for the purpose of inducing my con- 
tinuance in office) to redeem those notes issued to the 
army, as well as to fulfil all other engagements which I 
have "taken or may take on the public account. 

Before t close this letter, 1 beg leave to assign my reason 
for reducing my report to that lorui. It is because I had 
rather bear the censure contaiiied in the acts of the llth 
of Jidy, however painful, than place on the minutes of Con- 
gress anything which may hold up the idea of precipitancy 
on their part. 

With perfect respect, Ike. 



Office of Finance, July 25th, 178:?. 

1 have receivefl your letter of the J5di of April, cover- 
ing a statement of your accounts, by which it appears that 
my bills on -you exceed the sum which you will have to 
receive from the Court on this year's subsidy. This cir- 
cumstance gives me great pain, for it would be very hard 
if after supporting our credit in Europe during the war, it- 
should be fatally ruined on the establishment of peace. 
You will iiave learned by my former letters, that I had 
taken measures to throw into your hands all the moneys, 
which 1 could by any means command for that purpose. 
I am still in hopes, that the Court will make a further effort 
in our favor, but at any rate if yom- poyments should ex- 


cecd your funds, 1 must replace your advances by remit- 
tances from hence. I Iiope that our affairs will soon take 
such a form, solidity, and establishment, as to render all 
things perfectly easy, and the conclusion of the definitive 
treaty, which will enable us to reduce our expenditures, 
added to the advantages of a general and lucrative com- 
merce, cannot fail of absorbing what few engagements may 
be at present unprovided for. On the whole, my Dear 
Sir, I have only to say my bills must be honored, and your 
zeal in favor of America must be rewarded. 
Widi sincere esteem, I am, &c. 


TO THE presii)p:nt of congress. 

Office of Finance, July 23th, 1783. 

Conceiving it to be almost certain, that a definitive treaty 
of peace is concluded, I am bound to request the attention 
of Congress towards reducing the expenses. It is unne- 
cessary to repeat, that oin- resources for absorbing the an- 
ticij)ations, depend on the produce of taxation. There is 
no hope of fulfilling the public engagements, but by a strict 
economy, for there is no evidence of that energy among 
the States, which the Act of Congress of the 2d of May 
was framed to inspire. Let me, therefore, repeat my re- 
quest, that the public expenses he greatly reduced. The 
number of men which it may be necessary to keep in the 
field, I cannot presume to name, as it is a military ques- 
tion ; but it would best consist with the present state of my 
department to disband the whole. 

Your Excellency will easily conceive the situation to 


which I am driven when i am compelled to withhold as- 
sent to a moderate demand of the Secretary at War, for 
building magazines to preserve ilie public stores. It is 
certainly of importance, that arsenals should be erected in 
such proper places as to provide for the public defence, 
but reasons against advancing money are incontroverti- 
ble. Congress knew the extent of my engagenients, for 
the discharging of which they have solemnly pledged 
themselves. Congress know also, that the Stales do not 
furnish means. They will perceive, therefore, that I 
should wantonly sacrifice their honor and dignity, should I 
form new engagements before the old are satisfied. 

1 know. Sir, that many of the stores may be wasted and 
destroyed for the want of magazines, and that if they are' 
sold it will be to a considerable loss. But much* loss must 
be added to the mass of injuries America has already sus- 
tained by jiot complying with the requisitions of Congress. 
It is a loss, which in its consequences must fall upon the 
States themselves, who are the immediate authors of it ; 
but if the engagements already taken are violated by ap- 
plying money to other purposes, Ihen the honor of Con- 
gress will be sacrificed, together with the property of those 
who relied on it. 

1 should not, Sir, have dwelt so long on this small cir- 
cmnslance, if it did not serve to impress the true object of 
my letter, a reduction of national expense. And here let 
me notice what has often been mentioned, the expense of 
the civil list. If in this general term of civil list are com- 
prehended the public servants abroad, I freely acknowl- 
edge my opinion, that it might be curtailed. But the 
foreign affairs not being within my line, this sentiment is 
expressed with all possible deference. 


Our doniestic civil list consists of two parts. First, that 
\v!)ich is engaged in settling and adjusting old accounts ; 
and secondly, that which is employed in present objecls, 
Tiie first is rendered necessary by- the confusions which 
arose befors regular systenris were established ; but it is of 
a temporary nature, and can never again take place, unless 
our affairs are suffered to relapse into that irregularity from 
which they are beginning to emerge. The second, I be- 
lieve, consists of as few as were ever appointed to perform 
ihe business of a nation. For what relates to the expense 
of both, I must observe, that those who labor for the pub- 
lic are at least to be subsisted ; and the proof that their 
salaries do not amount to more than a decent subsistence, 
is the difficulty with which men qualified to fill the several 
offices can be prevailed on to accept them. Short-ly after 
my appointment, a special order was passed to defray tlie 
expenses of the civil list j but should Congress think pro- 
per to repeal that order, I will suspend the payment, and 
apply the money to take up my notes. .But wiiether the 
gendemen of the civil list will continue their services after 
they know that their salaries are to be withheld, is a ques- 
tion which 1 shall not agitate. . 
I have the honor lu be, Sic. 


Office of Finance, July 2Sth, 1783. 

Having already transmitted the public accounts from 
the CDmmenccmcnt of my administration to the fi>rst 
day of this month, I shall not trouble your Excellency 


with a rcpcLi'ion of them. But I must pray your in- 
dulgenco while I make a few observations. Perhaps 
tiiis letfer may contain too much of egotism, but your 
canJ.or will excuse me when the motive is known. If 
I have rendered any services to the United States, 
they have been derived from the generous confidence 
of my countrymen. This confidence must not be 
abused, and if it be lost my utility is at an end. 

The accounts will show to any informed and re- 
flecting mind, that the public moneys were economi- 
call)' applied , and if farther proof were necessary I 
could appeal to the honorable Delegates in Congress, 
who have every opportunity of investigation. I might 
also appeal to the clamors against me for opposing 
claims I could not properly comply v/ith. Long have 
I been the object of enmities derived from that origin. 
I have, therefore, the right to consider such clamors 
and such enmities as the confession and the evidence 
of my care and attention. 

But, Sir, from the same accounts it will appear- that 
on the 30lh day of June last my payments had ex- 
ceeded the amount of my receipts by more than a 
million of dollars. How, indeed, could it be other- 
wise, when all the taxes brought into the treasury 
since 17S1 did not amount to seven hundred and fifty 
thousand dollars? I have been impelled to this heavy 
anticipation by an earnest desire to relieve our army, 
by the General's warm representations on the subject, 
and above all, by the directions of Congress and their 
assurance of support. The enclosed ietter to them 
will show my desire to reduce our expenses. But 
while I urge the reduction of expense it is equally my 


duty to urge an increase of revenue. If I have been 
a faithful steward of what was intrusted to me, if more 
became necessary than I ever received, and if urged 
by that necessity I have anticipated the receipts, 
surely I am in the strictest line of propriety when I 
loudly call for relief. Every one must know, that the 
paper I have circulated will lose its value, unless 
punctually redeemed. . The several receivers are in- 
deed instructed to exchange it; but what can that 
instruction avail, if specie be not placed in their hands 
for the purpose? And how can that be effected but 
by a vigorous collection of taxes ? 

I know that my solicitude on this subject will be 
charged to improper motives. When I urge a reduc- 
tion of expense it will be said, that I wish to impair 
the strength and lessen the respectability of our 
country. Far other wishes swell my bosom. But I 
have been .driven into a conviction, that the necessity 
of strength, and the advantage of reputation, are not 
yet sufficiently felt and understood by all the members 
of our federal Union. 

My present call for taxes has also been anticipated 
by a sland.erous report, that I have speculated on this 
very paper which I urge the redemption of. Most 
solemnly I declare, that I have never been concerned, 
directly or indirectly, in any such speculation. If 
there be a man in the world who knows any instance 
to disprove what I say, let him step forth with the 
accusation. . No, Sir, the object is in nowise a per- 
sonal one to me ; I only advocate the interest and rep- 
utation of America. If, with a view to injure me, the 
attempt is made to violate my engagements, the malice 


will be defealerl ; but at the same time let it be re- 
membered; that the countr}', which will not support 
faithful servants, can never he faithful]/ served. Guilt 
and desperation will ever pant for scenes of tumult 
and disorder, office will ever excite envy, and malev- 
olence delight in slanderous tales. Is it then to be 
wondered at if my foes arc numerous? Believe me, 
Sir, if their attempts had only ftffectcd me and mine, 
they should have been received in the same silence, 
which has buried many other wrongs. But on the 
present occasion, it becomes my duty to delineate 
their baneful influence. 

Pains are taken to cover with infamy all those who 
discount the public paper. The natural effect of this 
measure is to prevent those men from meddling with 
it, who, tVom a regard to their own reputation, would 
do the business on moderate terms. Hence it follows, 
tiiat the holders cannot obtain so much for their paper 
as they otherwise might. Hence again an additional 
clamor and of course an additional loss to the pos- 
sessors. On the basis of the depreciation ic. fotmdcd 
an argument to prevent the redemption. By these 
means the public credit is totally ruined, and the gov- 
ernment becomes chargeable with flagrant injustice. 
No future anticipations can be made to supply the 
most urgent wants; and in the whole proceeding, 
they are made the victims, who confided in the faith 
of government. The attempt, therefore, by this slan- 
der to injure mc is an injury to those, who have re- 
ceived my paper; and in every instance where they 
have joined in propagating the report, they have 
joined their enemies to plunder themselves. 


Let me no longer intrude on your Excellency's 
patience, than to declare my conviction, that the States 
might easily fulfil far more extensive engagements 
than those which I have made on their account. Not- 
withstanding every insinuation I will continue my 
efforts for the purpose, and though base minds should 
reiterate their charges, I will persist in my duty and 
defy their malice. 

With perfect respect, I have the honor to be, &c. 


Office of Finance, July 31st, 1783. 

The debts which have been found due to persons by 
settlements at the Treasury Office, have not been evi- 
denced by transferable certificates for the following 

1st. All such certificates have by experience been 
found to be only another kind of 'paper money, con- 
tinually depreciating both by increase of quantity and 
defect of funds, 

2dly. The consequence thereof is, that the same is 
daily brought into fewer hands and for less value, by 
which one of two things must happen, either that 
those few become very rich by their speculations, or, 
that being defrauded they become clamorous against 
the government. 

3dly. If the certificates are transferable in the man- 

VOL. XII. 50 


ner proposed by the motion, they are evidence of the ■ 
debt as due to the bearer, and therefore whether ob- 
tained by accident, force, or fraud, vest him with a 
right, tp the prejudice of the injured or unfortunate 

4thly. Being, therefore, a precarious property, they 
become less vahiable from that circumstance. 

5thly. When the original proprietors become di- 
vested of them, some of the reasons' in favor of reve- 
nues to redeem them lose their force, and the advo- 
cates for just measures being lessened, the probability 
of carrying them through is decreased. 

6thly. While the evidence of such debts is in the 
treasury books and the stock transferable there, the 
public debt becomes a property, the object of purchase, 
instead of being as in the other case the means of 
making purchases as money. 

But if there be powerful reasons in favor of the 
motion, which have escaped the Superintendent of 
Finance, he shall very readily comply with such order 
as to the wisdom of Congress may seem meet. 



Office of Finance, August Ist, 1783. 
I do myself the honor to enclose an account of [)ny- 
nients, made by the States to the receivers, until the 1st 
day of July last, and with it I lake the liberty also to en- 
close a note, containing neatly the proportions, in which 



the States have paid their quotcis of the requisitions for 

I take the liberty further to mention, that the State of 
South Carolina has (by means of the supplies to the troops 
serving ther.e) paid the full amount of her quota for 1782, 
as'l am informed by the 7lj-_eiver, whose accounts and 
vouchers (though momently expected) are not yet come 
forward. The State of G oii^ia has I believe contributed 
something in the same way, but if not, the great ravages 
which she has ei.dured will account for the defect, without 
supposing any defect of inclination. As for the other 
States, 1 pray leave to avoid any comments on the bal- 
ances of their accounts. 

I have the honor to be, &c. 


'The proportions are as follows. 

South Carolina 

Rhode Island nearly 

Pennsylvania above 

Connecticut and i 

} each about 
New Jersey } 

Massachusetts, .about 

Virginia about 

New York and 


New Hampshire, about 

North Carolina, \ 

Delaware and > nothing at all. 

Georgia, / 

each about 






Office of Finance, August 6th, 1783. 

I beg leave to acknowledge your favor of the 12th of 
April last, which came to hand two days ago. From the 
letters I had already written, and which I presume you 
will have received before this, you will easily see how 
much pleasure I derive from the prospect that your loan 
may speedily fill. Be assured, Gentlemen, that your en- 
deavors on this occasion shall not be forgotten ; and rely 
on it that you cannot render more acceptable service to 
the United States. 

My former letters contained the disposition of your 
funds so far as to satisfy any demands which Mr Grand 
might have. These I suppose have been complied with, 
and I expect, that not only the sums which Mr Grand 
could possibly want must have come to your hands before 
this letter can arrive, but that you will still have a consid- 
erable balance. 

Under these circumstances, the exchange on your city 
being now high, and the disbandraent of our army having 
increased my need of money to make them a considerable 
payment, I have concluded to draw on you to the amount 
of two hundred thousand florins, as occasion may offer ; 
and if exchange should not fall, nor any advices arrive to 
prevent the measure, I may perhaps extend my drafts on 
you to five hundred thousand florins. But as it might 
happen, notwithstanding my opinions, that you should not 
be considerably in cash beyond Mr Grand's demands, I 
have determined on these two points ; first, that 1 will not 
precipitate my sales here, but only dispose of bills as occa- 


sion may require ;. and secondly, that I will draw at ninety 
days' sight,, because the demand for bills is such, that a 
difference in the sight will make none in the price. By 
these means it will happen, Gentlemen, that even if you 
are not in cash when the bills arrive, you can have no dif- 
ficulty as to the acceptance, because the natural progress 
of the loan must put you in possession of money before 
they can fall due. And this is the more to be expected, 
as some of the tobacco will doubtless have arrived, which 
cannot but give a weight and solidity to your negotiations. 
Jf however these things should not so happen, you will, 1 
expect, pay the bills at any rate, and for any excess 
beyond your immediate funds you will charge an interest 
to the United States. On the other hand, if it should 
happen according to my expectations, that you have unap- 
propriated money in your hands when the bills are pre- 
sented, 1 am then to request that you will pay them at 
sight, if agreeable to the parties, deducting the usual dis- 
count for prompt payment, which you will be so kind as 
to credit to the United States. 

With every wish for your success and prosperity, I have 
the honor to be, &:c. 



Head Quarters, August 6th, 1783. 

I thank you for the communication, which you have 
been pleased to make tome under the 11th of July. It 
.was handed to me on my return last evening from a tour 

have been making to the northward and westward, as 


far as Crown Point and Fort Schuyler,Jo view the posts 
and country in that part of the United States' territory. 

The anticipations you have been obliged to make are 
indeed great, and your circular letter to the States on the 
occasion appears tome sufficient, if anything of the kind 
can be so, to arouse their attention to .the necessity of 
your circumstances. I most sincerely wish it may have 
the desired effect. 

In consequence of my tour to the northward, the Quar- 
ter Master General, will have my orders to prepare bat- 
teaux and other muans of transportation to the upper posts, 
of the cannon, stores and provisions,, which will be abso- 
hjtely necessary for possessing and maintaining them. To 
effect this money will be necessary, and I give you this 
information, that a demand will probably be made on you 
for the purpose. 

The State of New York, which is deeply interested in 
the security of these posts, and effecting this business, may 
perhaps be prevailed on to furnish the necessary sums to 
be placed to general accounts. This will probably exert 
itself in this case preferably to any other. I give you this 
hint, and leave its improvement to you. 

Knowing your situation, I am- pained when necessity 
obliges me to make any application for money. But this 
purpose is of so great importance to the interests of the 
Usited States, and of so yrgent necessity, that if the sums 
required cannot be obtained in the way I have hinted, I 
must entreat you to give every assistance to Colonel Pick- 
ering that shall be necessary. 

I am, &^c. 




■ Office of Finance, August 12th, 1783. 


I have, received your Excellency's favor of the 6th 
in.stant. I am always happy to hear from you, alihough I 
confess that every new demand for money makes me 
shudder. Your recommendations will always meet my 
utmost attention, because I am persuaded that you have 
equally with me the desire to husband and enlarge our 
resources. Your perfect' knowledge of our political and 
military situation must decide on the measures to be pur- 
sued, and I am persuaded, that your advice to Congress 
on these subjects will be equally directed to the safety, the 
honor, and the interests of the United Stales. 

With very sincere esteem, 1 have the honor to be, &c. 


Office of Finance, August 12th, 1783. 
. Sir, 

I am to acknowledge the receipt of your favor of the 6th 
instant, containing two questions. To the first of these I 
answer, that my anticipations amount to a very large snm, 
that it will- enTploy all my resources to honor engagements 
already taken ; that of consequence I cannot see my way 
clear to form new ones, and that if I did, the groundless 
and injurious clamors, which have been raised on this sub- 
ject, would prevent'me. It becomes impossible to serve a 
people who convert everything into a ground for calumny. 
The existence of the repiiblic, since the conclusion of a 


peace, no longer depends upon extraordinary sacrifices 
and exertions. My desire to relieve th'e array has been 
greatly cooled, from the information, that many of them 
have joined in the reproaches I have incurred for their ben- 
efit. And the necessity I feel of quitting (at the earliest 
possible moment) an office of incessant labor and anxiety, 
whose otily reward is obloquy, will not permit me even to 
think of any farther anticipations. 

The second question in your letter is foreign to my de- 
partment ; a question, which you have as many materials 
to judge upon as I have, and which you are particularly 
authorised to decide. I am, Sir, &ic. 



Office of Finance, August 26th, 1783. 
In compliance with your request, I shall not only give 
the information which appears to have been the object of 
Mr Clarke's letter, but recapitulate also the observations 
which 1 had the honor to make on what you mentioned as 
the object of the committee. And first, for the information 
desired, I can answer only in general terms, that I befieve 
the various engagements entered into previous to the end 
of 1781, were under the faith of requisitions* then existing. 
Since that period, I know of only two requisitions for cur- 
rent service, both of them founded on estimates. Tiie first 
was of cigiu millions for the service of 1782, and the 
second was of two millions, for part of tlie service of 1783. 
All the engagements of my administration are on the faith 
of these latter requisitions. 


The first object you mentioned was to alter the mode of 
settling accounts, so far as the requisitions previous to 1781 
are concerned, and only to calculate the actual payments, 
or advances bv the States, with the interest, so that the 
whole, being formed into one sura, may be afterwards ap- 
portioned among the States. To which plan, among other 
objections, I took, the liberty to stale the following. First, 
there is no evident necessity for taking this step, and there- 
fore it will be prudent to omit it ; because in sucl- cases 
government risk every unforeseen danger that may result, 
and always render their affairs more complicated. Sec- 
ondly, the measure may be misunderstood, and occasion 
clamors, which will indispose some to adopt the other meas- 
ures recommended by Congress; which objection though 
it ought not to weigh in competition with what is evidently 
proper and right, must nevertheless be attended to in things 
of more doubtful complexion. Thirdly, there would arise 
from it a degree oi irregularity ; for the particular accounts 
being now all opened in the treasury books, by the authority 
of the late Board ol the Treasury, it appears most natural 
to continue them in their present form, until the final settle- 
ments. Fourthly, all the information necessary to enable 
Congress to decide on the accounts when settled will then 
be in their power ; for the accounts will contain, on one 
side, the compliances of the States with the requisitions, 
together with all other advances which they have made for 
the public service, and on the other side will be the amount 
of the various requisitions. Whenever therefore Congress 
on such full view of the subject, shall think proper to remit 
the whole, or any part of the requisitions, entries will be 
made in the treasury books acrordiiigly. Fifthly, it would 
be rather |-)remalure to make the decision proposed bc- 

VOL. Xl[. f)! 


fore (by a settlement of accounts) all the proper materials 
are brought into view ; and until the States have adopted 
the proposed measures for funding the public debts. Be- 
cause, sixthly, it is conceived that the various requisitions 
were adequate to the necessary service ; and that although 
it may perhaps be wise eventually to convert the whole 
expenditure of the war into the form of a debt, in order 
thereby to prevent the disputes which might arise on the 
apportionments, still it must be remembered, that this step 
cannot be taken until funds are obtained. Until that pe- 
riod, therefore, it is perhaps as well to leave the requisi- 
tions ; if it be only to show the States why they are called 
on for revenues now, viz. because they would not or could 
not furnish supplies before. But, lastly, it might prove 
dangerous under present circumstances to take any step 
whatever with these requisitions. Only partial compli- 
ances have been made. Some States therefore adhere to 
some requisitions, and some to others, according to the 
real or supposed situation of their accounts. To go no 
farther, it would hardly be prudent to hazard a dispute 
with Massachusetts, by relinquishing the requisitions of 
March, 1780, or with some other Stales by a useless at- 
tempt to enforce them. 

The other object, Sir, which you appeared to have in 
view, is to relinquish so much of the requisitions since 1781, 
as might leave only the sum necessary for fulfilling present 
engagements. Now although the resolution, which seems 
to have been in contemplation, would not have had this 
eflect, because the requisition for the service of 1782 was 
made on estimates, yet I shall assign a few objections to the 
plan. The reason urged in favor of it is, that the demand 
was so much beyond the abilities of the Stales, and the 


necessities of the service, that it imist excite a despair of 
compliance, and a diffidence in the prudence of those by 
whom it was made. To which it may well be replied, 
that the ability of the Stales is not so hastily to be decided 
on, because it has never been put to the proof by prudent 
and vigorous taxation, because other countries not so 
wealthy bear much heavier taxes without inconvenience, 
and because these very States have borne it, though under 
another name ; for the depreciation of the paper money, 
which wiped away not less than twelve millions annually, 
was in effect a tax to that amount. 

But further, even admitting the supposed inability, still 
the requisition, if not excessive as to its object, ought of 
necessity to have been made. Because the States could 
by no other mode of reasoning be convinced of the neces- 
sity of establishing that credit, which can alone prevent 
such great efforts. And because if such requisitions had 
not been made, some branch of service must have been left 
unprovided for by Congress, on the very face of their own 
measures, which would have been a palpable absurdity. 

And this leads to the second point, viz. that the de- 
mand was beyond tlie necessities of the service. Before 
this position is assumed it must be considered, not only 
what expense was actually paid, but also what was proba- 
ble when the demand was made, and what oC the expense 
incurred still remains due. And first, as to what was paid ; 
we shall find that the military collections in the Southern 
States went to a considerable sum, which is not yet brought 
into the public accounts, as there was no money to defray 
it, owing to the noncompliance of the States. Secondly, 
the probable expense was far beyond the actual, because 
of the misfortunes of our allies, which rendered it neces- 



sary to lay aside the proposed ofFensivu measures, and 
which could not, if not laid aside, have been carried into 
effect, by reason of the lamentable deficiencies of the pub- 
lic revenue. And thirdly, a very considerable part of the 
expense of 1782 is necessarily paid in 1783, and a far 
more considerable part remains unpaid. For instance, 
almost the whole amount of the pay of the army ; an army 
by no means so numerous as that which the General had 
called for, and Congress resolved on. And it would have 
been indeed very strange, if Congress had asked only five 
millions from the States, including therein every other arti- 
cle, but the pay of the army on whose exertions every- 
thing depended. 

Having said thus much on what has been assumed with 
respect to these estimates, and which I can defend the 
more hardily, as by accident ihey did not pass through 
my office, I proceed now to state the objections against 
remitting them. And first, let ifalways be kept in view, 
that the States not having granted the funds necessary for 
securing to our army the interest of their dues, that army 
has a just right to insist that the requisition for the principal 
be not relinquished, until such grants be made. Secondly, 
it must be remembered, that Congress have not yet any 
standard for n)aking a final apportionment, and therefore it 
must be very, useless now, to touch requisitions which must 
speedily be retouched again. Thirdly, the States which 
have complied more fully than others, would undoubtedly, 
in such case, relax from, and perhaps totally withhold their 
efforts; from the conviction that deficient States would 
always be able to obtain from Congress a vote favorable to 
themselves, and consequently unfavorable to others ; which 
idea, grounded too much on past experience, is one great 


cause of that inattention wliich led us to the brink of ruin. 
Fourthly, this misciiief would not only arise among the 
States, but it would exist also aniidsl and within them, for 
a relaxation of the whole quota would naturally render new 
interior apportionments necessary. Not to niention the 
delays and disputes thereby occasioned, the remainder ©f 
what would then bp to pay would be thrown of course 
upon remote counties, where the powers of government are 
weak, the collections languid, and the revenue in every 
respect feeble and unproductive. Great deficiencies would 
aiise from these causes, both in the periods and the amount 
of payments, and- either would be sufficient to cause an- 
other national bankruptcy. But, fifthly, there can be no 
reason for the measure proposed ; because it is much mofe 
simple to leave the present demands for ten millions of dol- 
lars upon their present footing, until the apportionment of 
that whole sum can be madejinally to pay (from whatever 
is brought in) the amount of all existing engagements, to 
go on (should collections be sufficient) and pay ofT a 
part of our debts, and finally to make no new requisitions, 
until these be completely complied with. By -that period 
Congress will be able to decide with accuracy on the siuns 
necessary for annual service ; they will be able to appor- 
tion their demands accordingly, and, what is of infinite 
importance, they will have set an example of persisting 
regularly in a measure, until a full and final compliance. 
I am, Sir, respectfullv, &ic. 


1 /J. 



Rocky Hill, August 30th, 1783. 

I take the earliest opportunity of informing you, that 
Baron Steuben iias returned from Canada, without being 
able to accomplish any part of the business he had in charge. 
in consequence of which, and of the late season of the 
year, I have judged it impossible to take possession of the 
western posts this fall, and have ordered a stop to be put 
to the movement of troops and stores, and to the prepara- 
tions which were making for that purpose ; of which I have 
given notice to the Quarter Master General, and to the 
contractors, and have taken every other precaution in my 
power to prevent the accumulation of unnecessary ex- 



Office of Finance, September 2d, 1783. 

I received your Excellency's favor of the 25th and oOtli, 
ol last month. The latter was by far the more agreeable, 
for I confess to you, Sir, that I beheld the attempt to gar- 
rison the western posts with pain, and went into so much 
of it as concerns my department with infinite reluctance. 
I persuade myself that the only effectual means of getting 
a good American establishm.ent of any kind is, to be so 
long without it that a sense of the want shall stitnulate the 
States into the means of forming it. At present all we can 
do is, to close the past scene, if possible, with reputation. 
I am, very sincerely, he. 




Office of Finance, September 4th, 1783. 
As the Commissioners, both on the Accounts of the De- 
partments and on those of the States, are now almost all 
appointed, and in the execution of their respective offices, 
1 shall take the liberty of adding a little to their important 
employment. And, this I do with a view to the future 
service of the Union, under whatever hands the adminis- 
tration may fall. 

!n the course of the business committed to your care, 
you will have occasion to travel into different places, and 
therefore you will have an opportunity to render- an accu- 
rate account of many particulars, which it is important to 
^<now. A well regulated system of finance requires, that 
money be raised with ease to the people, and expended 
with economy to the public. An intimate acquaintance 
wjth the state and the resources of a country, is alike es- 
sential to both of these objects. 

■ The state of the country is either geographical, moral, 
political, or commercial. The geographical slate compre- 

1st. The general extent, divisions, and subdivisions. 
2dly. The mountains, rivers and roads, with their re- 
spective courses and distances. 

3dly. The kind and quality of the soil ; and 
4thly. The natural advantages or disadvantages lor hus- 
bandry, manufactures, or conmierce, including therein, 
mines, minerals, quarries, salines, and the like. 
The moral state of the country comprehends, 
1st. The population, whether numerous or not, and 
whether by natives or emigrants. 


2dly. The manners ; which include the mode of life and 
occupation of the people, from those who live by hunting 
or grazing, to the husbandman, aiid so on to the most per- 
fect mechanics. 

3dly. The husbandry ; by which is meant the particular 
kinds which may be practised, and the degree of improve- 
ment in each. The various climates and productions of 
the States, as well as their different periods of settlement 
and relative population, have rendered this article ex- 
tremely various. 

4thly. The arts; by which is not so much intended the 
fine, as the useful arts. It may, however, be not amiss to 
mention any peculiar or remarkable excellence in the 
former. The useful, or mechanic arts, being in some 
j)laces considerably advanced, and in others hardly estab- 
lished, and the wealth of the country depending much 
upon them, it will be well to know the subject intimately. 

")thly. The buildings ; tliesc may be either public or 
prirate. The former may be noticed, but of the latter -an 
accurate information will be necessary, seeing that in gene- 
ral much information as to the abilities of a people may he 
derived from a knowledge of the houses they have built ; 
whether these be of logs, for shelter of the new and indi- 
gent cultivator ; or of stone, for the accommodation of the 
established and wealthy husbandman. So also, whether 
the windows be glazed or not, the state of the several out- 
houses, &c. And, 

6thly. The improvements ; which will comprehend, of 
land, from the first clearing of a forest, to the watering and 
dyking of meadows and swamps ; and of buildings, from a 
common saw mill, to all the various furnaces, forges, mills, 
and machines, which may he met with in the progress of 
your inquiries. 


The political state of the country comprehends, 

1st. Tlie constitution of government; which is not 
merely the paper form, but the practice under it ; and 
that will depend much upon the tendency of the people 
towards aristocratical or democratical dispositions. The 
former may be expected, where large tracts of territory 
are in the hands of a few. and the latter where a consid- 
erable equality of fortunes is found in cities. But neither 
of these circumstances, though forcible, is conclusive, and 
therefore it is, that the knowledge collected on the spot by 
conversation and observation, becomes useful. 

2dly. The magistracy ; by which is meant not only the 
mode of appointment, the names, the powers, and the ju- 
risdictions, but what is far more important, the authority, 
which materially depending upon the resjiect paid to the 
magistracy, must be much influenced by the personal cha- 
racter of the magistrates; and by that character is not so 
much intended the reputation of a few individuals, as of" 
the whole corps, and f. r a considerable space of time. 

3diy. The interior police ; which is intimately connected 
with, and mutually acted upon by the former. This dif- 
fers widely in the different States, and is the more neces- 
sary to be known, as various branches of it may either fa- 
cilitate or oppose the public measures. 

4tlily. The revenue ; and under this head is particularly 
to be noted the modes of laying, levying, and collecting 
taxes, the time and the expense which are employed, and 
the delays and the frauds which happen. To these will 
be added, the amount brought into the treasury, and, as 
far as may be, the quantum appropriated to public use&^; 

VOL. xii. 52 - •: .,,'. . ;. i.{. , iv 


5thly. The credit, both public and private ; the former 
of which has a close connexion with the revenue. 

The commercial state of the country, comprehends, 

1st. The produce; under which term is included not 
only the raw material, but the ruder manufactures ; such 
for instance, as flour from wheat, iron from ore, and the 

2dly. The roads and navigHtion to the several ports ; on 
the facility whereof must greatly depend the prices of 
things, and even the practicability of obtaining them. 

3dly. The imports and exports, with the places to and 
from whicii the same are made ; the former as precisely 
as possible, and the latter in such general terms as may' 
convey a tolerably just idea of the principal branches and 
connexions of foreign commerce. 

4ihly. The value of lands; whicli though a result (rom 
various heads already mentioned, has a more intimate con- 
nexion with commerce ; and, 

Sthly. The value of money ; by whicli is not so much 
meant the coins, as the rates of interest actually paid, and 
the facility of obtaining money on interest. 

The resources of a State are twofold, being either those 
which exist and may be drawn forth and applied in peace, 
for the various purposes which may then occur to melio- 
rate or beaiuily ihe country, such as the opening o| interior 
navigation, mending of roads, and erecting of buildinsjs ; 
Or those which can be exerted for the purposes of war, 
either offensive or defensive. The resources in peace will 
appear from due reflection on ilie inforination already 
asked ; as will indeed, in a great degree, tiiose for war, 
particularly offensive war. But still there ren;ain some 
particulars worthy of notice ; such as. 


1st. The number of men vviiich may be brought into 
the public service ; being either seamen or soldiers ; and 
consequent!} the number ol each sliould be distin- 

2dly. Tiie quantity of provisions and liie kinds. 

3dly. The forage of different kindo ; and, 

4thly. The various means of iransporiatio!), sucii as 
horses, wagons, boats, &ic. 

Having thus, Sir, pointed out the principal objects on 
which 1 wish for information, I must now request, that you 
will endeavor to collect it as speedily and as perfectly as 
your means and opportunities may permit, and that you 
will transmit it as fast as it is obtained, but always in letters 
which contain no other matter, and arranged regularly 
under the several titles which have been mentioned ; but 
as it is impossible to foresee the various matters which 
may arise, and the occurrences which will impress them- 
selves on an intelligent and inquisitive mind, you will be 
pleased under the head of Miscellarieous Observations, to 
transmit any such things as you may think useful or im- 
portant 10 be known. ^.i ,: 

1 am. Sir, &,c. 

hobp:rt morris. 

.;..,>,,' TO JOHN AUAMS. 

Office of Finance, September 20th, 1783. 

I have been duly honored with your Excellency's 

favors of the 5th, 10th, and 11th of July. I have 

taken the liberty to make some extracts from the two 

latter, which are transmitted in a letter to the Gov- 


ernor of Massachusetts, a copy whereof is enclosed. 
Permit me, Sir, to give my feeble approbation and 
applause for those sentiments of wisdom and integrity, 
which are as happily expressed as they are forcibly 
conceived. The necessity of strengthening our con- 
federation, providing for our debts, and forming some 
federal constitution, begins to be most seriously felt. 
But unfortunately for America, the narrow and illib- 
eral prejudices of some have taken such deep root, 
that it must be difficult and may prove impracticable 
to remove them. 

I agree with you, Sir, in opinion, that the late peace 
was not, all circumstances considered, a bad one for 
England. It is undoubted!}' a peace equally glorious 
to, and necessary for, America. All ranks of men in 
this country feel, as well as perceive, the benefits of 
it, and the fault finders (for such men there always 
will be) are borne down by the general torrent of 

I was happy to learn by the Washington packet, 
that you intended a short trip to Amsterdam for the 
purpose of urging on the loan. I hope you may have 
met with the success due to your zeal and abilities ; I 
siiall ask no greater. 

With perfect respect, I haveM,he honor to be, &c. 



''■''' Office of Finance. Sepfember 30th, 1783. 

1 am to acknowledge the receipt ol" your favors of 
the 7th of March and 27th of July. For both of them, 
accept my thanks. You express an apprehension lest 
the union between France and America should be 
diminished by accounts from your side of the water. 
This apprehension does you equal honor as a states- 
man and as a man. Every principle, which ought to 
actuate the councils of a nation, requires from us an 
affectionate conduct towards France, and I very sin- 
cerely lament those misapprehensions, which have 
indisposed some worthy men towards that nation, 
whose treasure and blood have been so freely expended 
for us. 

I believe the truth, with respect to some, to be this. 
A warm attachment to America has. prevented them 
from making due allowances in those cases where their 
country was concerned. Under certain prepossessions 
it was natural for them to think, that the French Min- 
istry might do more for us, and it was quite as natural 
for the Ministers to think, that we ought to have done 
more for ourselves. The moment of treaty with Eng- 
land was of course the moment of profession with 
English Ministers. I fear that the impiessions made 
by these were for a little while rather more deep than 
was quite necessary. But the same love of America, 
which had raised such strong irritability where her 
interests were concerned, will of course stimulate it to 
an equal degree when those interests are assailed from 


another quarter. I think I may venture to assure 
you, that the esteem of this country for France is not 
diminished, and^.that the late representations have not 
heen so unfavorable as you fear. 

Our commerce is flowing very fast towards Great 
Britain, and that from causes which must forever in- 
fluence the commercial part of society. Some articles 
are furnished by Britain cheaper, many as cheap, and 
all on a long credit. Her merchants aie attentive and 
punctual. In her ports our vessels meet with des- 
patch. I say nothing of language and manners, be- 
cause I do not think their influence so strong on com- 
merce as many people suppose, but what is of no little 
importance is, that the English having formed our 
taste, are more in a capacity to gratify that taste by 
the nature and fashion of their manufactures. There 
is another circumstance, also, which must not be for- 
gotten. The great demand for French manufactures 
during the war increased the price of many, and some 
time will be required before it can, by a fair competi- 
tion, be discovered, which of the two countries, 
France or England, can supply us cheapest. The 
delays in the public bills is a further circumstance 
which militates (a momentary obstacle) against the 
trade with France. 

I must, therefore, mention to you, also, a matter 
which is of great effect. Until we can navigate the 
Mediterranean in safety, we cannot trade in our own 
bottoms with the ports of France or Spain, which are 
on that sea. And we certainly will not trade there in 
foreign bottoms, because we do not find the same con- 
veniences and advantage in so doing, as in our own 


vessels ; unless, indeed, it be on board of English 
ships. This may be a disagreeable fact, but it is not 
the less a fact. 

I believe that informations are transmitted henoe to 
the Court, which they ought not to rely on. Their 
servants doubtless do their duty in transmitting such 
information, but I am persuaded that they are them- 
selves not well informed. Indeed it is quite natural, 
that men should mistake when they examine and treat 
of a subject with which they are unacquainted. And 
it cannot well be supposed, that political characters are 
competent to decide on the advantages and disadvan- 
tages of allowing to, or withholding from us, a share 
in the carrying trade. On this subject I will make a 
further observation, and you may rely on it, that I 
speak to you with candor and sincerity, not with a 
view to making any impressions on the Court. You 
may communicate or withhold what I say, and they 
may or may not, apply it to their own purposes. If 
anything will totally ruin the commerce of England 
with this country, it is her blind attachment to her 
navigation act. This act which never was the real 
foundation of her naval superiority, may and perhaps 
will be the cause of its destruction. If France pos- 
sesses -commercial wisdom, she will take care not to 
imitate the conduct of her rival. 

The West India Islands can be supplied twenty per 
cent cheaper in American than in French or British 
bottoms. 1 will not trouble you with the reasons, but 
you may rely on the fact. The price of the produce 
of any country must materially depend on the cheap- 
ness of subsistence. The price at which that produce 


can be vended abroad must depend on the facility of 
conveyance. Now admitting for a moment (which 
by the by is not true) that France might, by some- 
thing like a British navigation act, increase her ships 
and her seamen ; these things would necessarily fol- 
low. 1st. Her Islands would be less wealthy, and 
therefore less able to consume and pay for her manu- 
factures. 2dh\ The produce of those Islands would 
be less cheap, and therefore less able to sustain the 
weight of duties, and support a competition in foreign 
markets. 3dly. The commerce with this, country 
would be greatly lessened, because that every Amer- 
ican ship, which finds herself in a French, English, 
or other port, will naturally seek a freight there, rather 
than go elsewhere to look for it; because in many 
commodities the difference of price in different parts 
win not compensate the time and cost of going from 
place to place to look after them. To these principal 
reasons might be added many others of less weight, 
though not of little influence, such as the probable in- 
crease of commercial intercourse, by increasing the 
connexions and acquaintances of individuals. To this 
and to everything else which can be said on the sub- 
ject by an American, I know there is one short an- 
swer always ready, viz. that we seek to increase our 
own wealth. So hr from denying tiiat this is among 
my motives, I place it as the foremost, and setting 
aside that gratitude which I feel for France, I do not 
scruple to declare, that a regard to the inteiests of 
America is, with respect to all nations of the world 
my political compass. But the different nations of 
Europe should consider, that in proportion to the 


wealth of this country will be her ability to pay for 
those commodities, which all of them are pressing us 
to buy. 

Our people'still continue as remiss as ever in the pay- 
ment of taxes. Much of this, as you justly observe? 
arises from the difficulties .of collection. But those diffi- 
culties are much owing to an ignorance of proper modes, 
and an unwillingness to adopt them. In short, though all 
are content to acknowledge, that there is a certain burden 
of taxation which ought to be borne, yet each is desirous 
of shifting it from his own shoulders to those of his neigh- 
bors. . Time will, !■ hope, produce a remedy to the evils 
under which we labor, but it may also increase them. 

Your applications to the Court for aid are certainly well 
calculated to obtain it; but 1 am not much surprised at 
your ill success. Indeed I should have been much sur- 
prised if you had been more fortunate. Of all men I was 
placed in the situation to take the deepest concern in the 
event, but I cannot disapprove of the refusal, for we cer- 
tainly ought to do more for ourselves before we ask the aid 
of others. Copies of your letters to the Court were laid 
before Congress, and also the copy of the pew contract. 
I will enclose with this a further copy of the ratification of 
the old, if 1 can obtain it in season from Princeton, where 
the Congress now are. 

I have written also on the subject of the debt due to the 
Farmers-General, and should Congress give me any orders 
about it, I shall attend carefully to the execution. The 
conduct they have maintained with regard to us has been 
generous, and will demand a return of gratitude as well as 
of justice. This I hope my countrymen will always be 
disposed to pay. I shall take some proper opportunity of 
VOL. XII. 53 


writing to the Farmers-General, but will wait a while to 
know what may be the determination of Congress on their 

It gives me much pleasure to find, that b}' the proposed 
establishment of packets, we shall shortly be in a condition 
to maintain more regular and connected correspondence ; 
for although I shall not myself be much longer in public 
office, I feel for those who are or will be charged with the 
affairs of our country, both at home and abroad. It will 
naturally occur, however, that a good cypher must be made 
use of not unfrequently, when despatches are trusted to 
foreigners. They have no regard either to propriety or 
even decency where letters are concerned. 

With very sincere esteem and respect, &c. 



Office of Finance, October 4th, 1783. 

1 have received your letter of the 26th of last month, 
desiring infniknalion as to the reality of a contract with, and 
instructions to Mr Deane. Enclosed you have a copy of 
the contract mentioned. The instructions to Mr Deane 
arc, I nresumc, in the Office of Foreign Afiairs. 

The facts under this contract are generally as follows, 
so far as my knowledge extends. ■ Money was advanced 
to me, which I expended in shipmt^nt of cargoes from 
the Delaware and ''Chesapeake, and have long since ac- 
counted for. " Moi>ey w"^a3 also advanced to Messrs Lewis, 
Livingston and Alsop, and, T believe, expended by some 
cr one of them in shipments from New York and Connec- 


ticut, but the accouiiis are not yet closed ; which is one 
among many reasons why a commissioner should be ap- 
pointed or authorised to settle the accounts of the secret 
and conunercial committees. 

Of the several shipments n.ade, some arrived, some were 
taken, some were detaiued by the enemy's naval power. 
Tlie risks becoming great, it, was thought most adviseable 10 
abandon the farther inosecution of the plan ; which the par- 
ties to the contract, tlien in this country, cheerfully con- 
sented to, and it was determined that the proceeds of those 
shipraems, which might iiave arrived, should be carried 
into the general public accounts. Mr Deaue went to Eu- 
rope under this contract; and being unable, from the re- 
mittances sent, 10 complete the intentions of his voyage, 
has, I believe, carried the amount of those remittances into 
his general accounts with the United States. These ac- 
counts are among those which Mr Barclay is appointed to 
settle, and I presume that no allowance will be made, such 
as claimed by Mr Deane, until he shall have produced the 
contract and instructions to which he refers for support of 
his claim ; nor then, unless very completely supported or 
specially allowed by Congress. 

I believe Mr Barclay is now employed in making that 
adjustment, and 1 suppose, that after he shall have gone 
through Mr Deane's accounts, admitted such charges. as 
ought clearly to be admitted, and rejected such as ought 
clearly to be rejected, there will remain some articles on 
which he will apply to Congress for their special decision ; 
in which case he will naturally transmit all the evidence 
which Mr Deane may have exhibited. 

With perfect respect, 1 have the honor to be, &ic. 



Office of Finance. October 15th, 1783. 

I had the honor to receive your Excellency's letter ol 
the 1 1th instant. If a settlement of the accounts which 
arose before the com:nencement of my administration had 
depended on rne, neither M. Holker nor any other person 
should have had cause of complaint. The perplexed situ- 
ation of those accounts rendered it necessary for Congress 
to submit them to the investigation of special commission- 
ers, who have but lately commenced their operations. I 
shall immediately transmit a copy of your Excellency's 
letter to the gentleman who may be charged with those ac- 
counts in which M. Holker is concerned, and request his 
attention to the subject. 

That any person should suppose the apprehension of 
being taxed with favor to an individual, would induce me 
to delay the justice due alike to all, is so extraordinary, 
that your Excellency must permit me to express my sur- 
prise at meeting the idea in a letter from the King's Min- 

With perfect respect, 1 have the honor to be, &ic. 



Office of Finance, October 23d, 1783. 

Upon taking a view of ray various engagements for the 
public service, and considering the great anticipations, 
which have been made at the period when our brave army 


quitted the field, it has appeared to me, that the sum of 
about three hundred thousand dollars would be necessary 
for me over and above the probable produce of our taxes, 
to clear off all those engagements, and enable me to lay 
down the burdens of official life in a consistent and proper 
manner, should the situation of public affairs then admit of 
it. This circumstance, however nearly it interests my 
personal feelings, is still more interesting to my country ; 
because a regular and punctual performance of engage- 
ments, while it establishes confidence, ensures the means 
of future punctuality. 

Revolving much on this subject in my own mind, I have 
been led to consider also, that the present rate of ex- 
change, which is very favorable, may not continue when 
tobacco, rice, indigo, and the other produce of the south- 
ern States shall be freely exported in remittances to 
Europe. And if the exchange should lower, there will 
he a loss on the bills of the United States, which I would 
always wish to prevent. Besides this there is another im- 
portant circumstance, which is, that if the drafts are sus- 
pended until notice of the success of youj- loan, so as to 
lodge the money, the public will be paying interest, both 
here and in Europe for the same sum ; which ought, you 
know, as much as possible to be avoided. 

Under these different impressions, the natural conduct 
would have been, to vend my bills very boldly, and trust 
to the success of those exertions, which you will undoubt- 
edly make. But here it was proper to consider, that if 
unforeseen circumstances should in any manner have put 
a check upon your operations, the consequence might 
have been a very great inconvenience, and perhaps injury 
to you, which 1 would always wish to avoid, together with 


a loss of credit, coupled with the payineni of heavy dam- 
ages to the United Stales. 

I have therefore adopted a middle line of conduct, 
which will combine the advantages and avoid the incon- 
veniences, both of delay and of precipitation. I haye 
drawn three sets of oxchahge, all dated on the 2 1st instant, 
(the time when they were drawn) and each for two hun- 
dred and fifty thousand current guilders, payable at one 
hundred and fifty days' sight. These bills are numbered 
one hundred and ninotyone, one hundred and ninetytwo, 
and one hundred and nineiythree ; the first in favor of John 
Ross, the second in favor of Peter Whiteside &, Co., and 
the third in favor of Isaac Hazelhurst. All these are solid 
bouses, upon whose fidelity and punctuality I can place equal 
dependence. I have taken from them proper stipulations lo 
pay at the end of one hundred and twenty days, each one 
hundred thousand dollars ; by which means I have secured 
the immediate vent of that sum at the very highest ex- 
change. And it is further agreed between us, that in case 
of protest, (which God forbid should happen) the public 
shall not be cha/ged with damages ; the necessary conse- 
quence of which is, that the bills will not be negotiated 
further than to place the amount in the hands of their 
friends, which . is indeed fully understood between us. 
You will see also, that in this mode I shall bring to the 
public use here (allowing about two months for the bills to 
be presented) the sum of three hundred thousand dollars, 
ner.r three months before it is paid by you- 

From this explanation, which I have entered into in 
order to show you the full grounds of my procedure, 
because I knew how much more satisfactorily business is 
conducted when all circumstances are known, you will 


perceive that my bills already advised of, are first to meet 
due honor, and consequently funds set apart for their ab- 
solvement. These three new bills then come in their 
course, and I must entreat you, Gentlemen, to honor them 
also, even if you have not the funds, provided a view of 
fair prospects can render it at all consistent with that pru- 
dence, which must doubtlessly influence you in such im- 
portant concerns. I must also request, that you will give 
me, by various conveyances, the most immediate notice of 
your acceptance, because I shall from that moment be able, 
by discount, to bring the securities given by those gentle- 
men into operation. 

I am, Sir, with perfect respect, &lc. 



Office of Finance, November 4th, 1783. 

The Honorable Minister Plenipotentiary of the United 
States of America to tlie Court of Versailles, having done 
me the honor to transmit a copy of your letter to him of 
the 17th of July last, I took the earliest opportunity after 
the receipt of it, to submit that business to the consider- 
ation of Congress; who by their AcP of the 1st instant, 
yvhereof a copy is enclosed, have instructed me to inform 
you, that Confess are sensible ol ycuir generous attention 
to the circumstances of the war, in which these United 
States have been so long engaged, and which, interrupting 
their commerce, de[)rived them ol the means ot seasonable 
remittances to satisfy the balance so justly due on the loan 
m^ade by you. 


I am further instructed, Gentlemen, to assure you that the 
United States in Congress assembled, in providing for the 
national debt, by their Act of the 18th day of April, 1783, 
were not unmindful of your demands, and that when the 
system thereby adopted for the relief of public creditors 
shall have taken effect, the interest accrueing on the balance 
due to you, will be punctually remitted. 

If, Gentlemen, this arrangement shall not prove satis- 
factory to you, I am further instructed to assure you, in 
the name of the United States, that all the means in their 
power shall be employed to discharge the principal sum 
due to you, as soon as the condition of the public finances 
will admit. 

I have the honor to enclose a copy of the above men- 
tioned Act of the 18th of April for your better information 
en this subject, and take the liberty to add, Gentlemen, to 
the assurances just given on the part of my sovereign, that 
every efibrt in my power shall be made to comply with 
such ulterior orders as niay be issued, as well as to render 
you any acceptable services in my power. 

With perfect respect, 1 have the honor to be, &:c. 


The Superintendent of F^'inance, to whom was referred 
an Extract from the/ Journals of the General Assembly of 
Pennsylvania, begs leave to report ; 

That the said extract consists of two parts ; the former 
whereof contains certain matters reported by a committee 


of that honorabie House, in consequence o( a conference 
heldwUli tiie cominissioner for scfJing the accounts of the 
said State, the which matters are reported by the commit- 
tee, and appear to have been considered by ijje iJoiise as 
facts. The latter part contains reasonings upon, the former, 
and resolntions in consequence thereof. Pursuing there- 
fore the same line, the Superintendent of Finance must 
take leave to observe, that the former part of the said ex- 
tract implies an inattention on his i)arl to the orders of the 
United Slates in Congress, and an assumption of powers 
not delegated. He humbly prays to submit both of these 
charges to the wisdom and equity of Congress, who iiave 
long since had before ihem all the instructions given to the 
commissioners for settling accounts, together with a report 
on the reference mentioned in the extract; wi)erefore it is 
?o be presumed, that if undue negligence or the arrv^gating 
of power liad appeared, it would not have passed unnoticed, 
h is furtiier to be observed, that the doubts stated by the 
said commissioner and the difficulties under which he is 
supposed to labor, must have chiefly originated in circum- 
stances peculiar to hin)seif, because that such doubts and 
difficulties have not occurred to the commissioners em- 
ployed in other States, and because they would easily have 
been obviated by a careful consideration of the Acts and 
instructions in his possession; excepting only in one point, 
viz., "Whether charges for buildings, fences, wood, ^ic. 
damaged or destroyed by continental troops, or militia, are 
to be allowed ?" Tliis question (which can only be resolved 
by special Act of Congress) is not to be found among 
twelve questions proposed by the commissioner to Con- 
gress; but among nine proposed to the Superiniendent of 

VOL. >'ii. .(\v54 (£• 


It is Staled in the said extract, ''that by the instructions 
from the Office of Finance to (he said conuuissioner, he is 
enjoined a strict attention to the resolve of Congress of the 
23d of August, 1780, touching all certificates generally; 
that this resolve introduces an entire new method of grant- 
ing certificates; that to require those new forms in certifi- 
cates, granted before they were instituted, is requiring an 
impossibility, or (in other words) is a refusal to liquidate 
any certificate given before the 23rf of August, I7S0." 
Were tliis tlie case, doubtless there would be sufficient cause 
of complaint and shsrp aniinadversion ; but the Acts and 
instructions, all which are in jiossession of Congress, will 
show the state of facts to be as follows. The Act of Con- 
gress of the 2()th of February, 1782, speaking of the com- 
missioner contains the following words ; "That he be also 
fullv empowered and directed, to liquidate and settle, ni 
specie value, all ceriificntes given for supplies by public 
officers to individuals, and other claims against the United 
States, bv individuals for supplies fuinished the army, the 
transportation thereof, and contingent expenses thereon, 
within the said State, according to the principles of equity 
and good conscience, in all cases which are not or shall 
not be provided for by Congress.^' Under this Act of 
Congress, the Controller of the Treasury issued certain 
instructions, which were approved of by the Superintendent 
of Finance, thereby directing each of the several commis- 
sioners "to open an account with the principal of each de- 
partment, for the time being, and with every person who is 
properly accountable for articles purchased by or delivered 
to him. In which they must be changed respectively with 
all such articles, and for which they are to aczount with the 
comrrmsioners appointed, or to be appointed to adjust the 
accounts of these departments respectively ^ 


The Superintendent of Finance, in a letter to the com- 
missioners of the 7th September, 1782, after referring to the 
Controller's instructions, calls their attention to two partic- 
ulars, the iormer whereof is not material to the present 
point, and the latter is as follows ; " In settling the accounts 
w^ith individual, yon will consider that artful men have 
frequently taken advantage of the public, and that, in many 
instances, puhlk officers have taken advantage of the weak 
and unprotected. You will therefore always remember 
that it is your duty to do justice.^^ The two commis- 
sioners who were first appointed after considering the Acts 
of Congress and the several instructions given to them, pro- 
posed, among others, the following question, "Whether cer- 
tificates given to individuals are to be taken as they stand, 
and new ones given for their amount ; or whether they are to 
be re-examined and new prices affixed to ilje articles when 
they have been over or under charged 9 The Superintend- 
ent and Controller entered into a consultation together, 
and the following answer was returned. "Certificates given 
by quarter masters or commissioners to individuals, must 
be re-examined, the articles shown, and their value deter- 
mined, that the receiver of them may be charged and made 
accountable to the commissioners appointed for the respec- 
tive departments. See resolutions of Con;;ress of the 23d 
of August, 1780, relating to them, which must be strictly 
attended to." 

This question and answer is regularly transmitted by the 
Controller to all the commissioners appointed to adjust 
(lie accounts between the individual States i.nd the Union. 
The commissioner for the State of Pennsylvania, had 
therefore the matters above recited in his possession when 
he proposed to Congress the following questions. "Are 


certificates or receipts given by quartar masters, commis- 
sar es, tlieir de|Hiiies, assi'^taiits, agents, or oilier public 
officers for supplies iurnisheH, before the 15ih of Septem- 
ber, 1780, to b(; taken as tbey stnnd, anti-new ones given 
for their amount. estin:ated in specie ? Are certificates 
issued agreeable to the mode prescribed by resolution of 
Congress, 2Sd of August, to be taken up and new ones 
given P'^ These questions were, among others, referred to 
the Si'.perintendent of Finance; who thereupon informed 
the commissioner, that the answer thereto was in the Act of 
Congress, the letter from the Suf)erintendent, and the ques- 
tion and answer above quoted. Surely there is nothing in 
either which requires the forms prescribed by the Act 
of the 23d of August, 1 780, in certificates granted before 
they loere instituted. The comnjissioner is indeed refer- 
red to that Act, and directed ta pay attention to it ; but 
the evident construction of this order, limits it to certificates 
issued under the Act. And even if that were not the case, 
yet when the whole of the instructions (or rather the an- 
swers) which are complained of, is taken together, there 
cannot be the shadow of a doubt. For among ti)e com- 
missioner's questions to the Superintendent is the following ; 
"How are claims for furnished, op services per- 
fornied by an individual, who is destitute of a certificate or 
any kind of voucher, iiaving only a bare cl;arge against the 
United States for the same, to be settled ? Will tiie oath 
or affirniation of the cUUmant make the charge good?'' 
And he shortly after asked Congress, "How arc claims 
for supplies furnished for public use by an individual^ who 
is destit;ite o{ a proper voucher, to be authenticated ?" To 
bolli ihese queries the answer given by tije Superintend- 
ent, (and which forms part of tlie instructions complained 


of) is as follows. "They relate la the same point, viz. 
What evidence shall establish claims 9 -It appears, that the 
ar^cie p-assed in favor of the claimant must charge some 
other person, and (hat public notice is to be given of t'le 
limes and places of settlement, that both parties n)ay at- 
tend. Under these circumstances, if the demand is 
grounded on principles of equity, and the evidence pro- 
duced satisfies the conscience of the commissioner, he is 
bound to pass it, by the Act of Congress.^' Now it must 
be remembered, tiiat the commissioner is (by the Act un- 
der which lie was appointed) empowered and directed to 
liquidate, &c. according to the principles of equity and good 
conscience, in all cases lohich are not or shall not be pro- 
vided for by. Congress. The answers therefore given by 
the Superintendent to his questions, are no more than ap- 
plications of the Act, to the doubts which he had suggested. 
It is more than probable that if the honorable Assembly of 
Pennsylvania, had communicated with the Superintendent 
on. this subject, they would not have assumed the san)e 
ground ol reasoning which they appear to have done. 

It is alleged in the said extract, "that certificates given 
for personal services, wages or hire, are rejected ;" in an- 
swer to which it can only be said, that if the claimants 
are officers or persons acting in any of the departments, the 
certificates ought to be rejected by the commissioner for 
the Slate, because such accounts are to be liquidated by 
the cominissioners of the departments respectively ; but if 
other chiims have been rejected by the commissioner, he 
must have been under tiie influence of souse misap[)rehen- 

As the honorable Assembly have, through their dele- 
gates, proposed certain resolutions, it will be proper to ex- 


amine the reasoning which led to that pioposilion. And 
first, it alleged, that "if an exact account is really wanted 
of the specific articles for which any certificate was given, 
it may be found in the receipts given by the party, at the 
time of getting iiis certificate, and that these receipts are in 
the power of the public, being lodged with the heads of the 
different departments." Surely such an assertion is some- 
what hazarded. Congress liave before them full evidence, 
that many persons, late officers in the civil departments, 
refuse to account at all. If, therefore, such persons should 
even possess the supposed receipts, still those receipts are 
not in the power of the public, nor will they be so until all 
the States have passed laws similar to those of the State of 
Pennsylvania. But further, it will on inquiry appear, that 
when individuals received certificates from public officers, 
the receipts they gave did not always contain a list of the 
articles, or account of the services which had been ren- 
dered. Certainly, where any fraud was designed, a speci- 
fication of articles was of course avoided ; and in ntany 
cases it has been neglected, even where nothing wrong was 
intended. The idea therefore that the specific articles are 
contained in the receipts, is as unfounded as that those re- 
ceipts are in the power of the public. 

But supposing the facts were such as they are assumed 
to be, will it follow, that the officers have in no instance, 
been guilty of collusion with individuals, and given ujore 
than they were worth both for articles and services.'' And 
will it not appear, that an exact account of the specific arti- 
cles is really wanted, aind indeed absolutely necessary, for 
the detection of such abuses? Or if it be supposed that all 
the inhabitants of Pennsylvania were so honest and so dis- 
interested, as neither to partake in fraud, nor take advan- 


tage of negiigcnce, must it also be presumed that the public 
officers, acting within that Slate, have in uo cases whatever 
seized the property of individua's and given certificates for 
less than the value ? Or if it be imagined, tliai the officers 
and the individuals have been all alike innocent, and that 
the clamors raised on these subjects are totally groundless 
as to Pennsylvania, will it follow that siicii things have not 
happened in any other State? Or will it be proper to estab- 
lish different rules for the seltlemont of public accounts, 
under the idea of honesty in onp State and the want of it 
in another ? 

It is however assumed, as a position, that "any frauds 
which have been committed cannot be detected in any 
other place, so well aslby the commissioners wh(3 settle the 
general accounts, at the heads of departments." But surely 
it is necessary, not only to the detection of frauds, but even 
tf) the settlement of accounts at all, that the commissioners 
acting in the several States, obtain accounts of the articles 
before they pass the sums. If, for instance, the public 
officer should by collusion with the party, make a charge 
of double the sum actually due for any article, can a de- 
duction be made after the sum has been passed to the indi- 
vidual by the state commissioner.'' If the officer should 
omit to charge himself with articles purchased, can this be 
proved, when only the money certificate is produced against 
him? If 'he officer paid, by a certificate, the nominal sum 
for articles pCirchased, a year before, will this appear in 
such manner as lo prevent him from taking all the benefit 
of the depreciation ? If, lor instance, tie purchased to the 
amount of two hundred thousand dollars, when money was 
at two for one, paid i.n certificates when it was at four for 
one, and carried tl.e articles to accoiint at a reasonable 


specie value,-viz. one liundred ihoiisand dollars, and if the 
ceriificales be now liquidated at their value, viz. fifty thou- 
sand dollars, would he not be gainer of the like sum of fifty 
thousand dollars merely by the depreciation? It is also 
asserted, ''That the holders of certificates are subjected to 
many inconveniencies from this delay, and that after corning 
from the remote parts of the State, and iiaving a liquidation 
of their cerlificaiej refused, they depart with murmurs and 
discontent." H hr.lders of certificates came from remote 
parts of the State, and the Act of Congress of the 20th of 
February, 1782, intended to afford relief, becoines thereby 
a source of distress, it must arise either froin the ignorance 
of the people themselves, or from a w;int of otienlioa in 
the commissioner ; for by the Act it is ordained, "that 
the commissioners respectively give public and early notice 
of the tunes and places of their settling, ;;nd the districts 
loithin ivhich they settle accounts, that as well the public 
oKlcers as private individuals, may have an opportunity to 
attend." From the whole scope and tenor of the Act, as 
well as from the express words of this particular part, it 
appears clearly to have been the intention of Congress, that 
the commissioner should mark out convenient districts in 
the State, take some [jroper position in each district, and 
then give such emly public notice of the place and the dis- 
trict, as that claims arising from transactions tjithin that 
district, might be brought in and adjusted, and both the 
public officer and the private individual concerned in the 
transaction, have an opportunity of attending. 

As the honorable Assembly have marked out a different 
mode of settlement from that which has been adopted, it 
may be proper to take a general view of the present and of 
the proposed plan, so as to discover the inconveniencies 


resulting from each, and thence determine which ought to 
be preferred. Under the present plan, the fust step of the 
commissioner is to mark out some particular spot, with a 
convenient surrounding district, within which the parties 
may attend, without the waste of time and the expense of 
long journeys. The next is to give early public notice 
thereof. Supposing then the time to have arrived, which 
he had specified in his advertisement, and a claimant to 
appear, the first question to be solved is, whether that 
claimant be one of those whose demands are to be adjusted 
by him, or whether it is the business of a commissioner of 
one of the departments. Supposing the former, the next 
object of inquiry would be, whether any and what services 
or supplies were rendered by the claimant to the United 
States, and if any were rendered, then what was the real 
value at the time and place of rendering them. Every 
kind of evidence exhibited in support of each point is then 
to be exatDined, the officer who is said to have received 
the articles is to be heard, if he contest the claim, and, 
finally, the commissioner being in the vicinity of the place, 
with opportunity to learn both the acts done and the char- 
acters of the agents, must decide according to equity and 
good conscience, where no express provision is made by an 
Act of Congress. If this decision be in favor of the claim- 
ant, the business of the commissioner is to give a certificate 
for the full value of the artfcles and services, and then to 
charge the proper officer and department, not with so much 
money, but with liie specific articles and services, for the 
due api)iication whereof account is to be rendered to the 
commissioner of the department. 

A duty of the State commissioner, in tho course of this 
business, will be to discover and detect as much as possi- 
voL. XII. 55 


ble.thc frauds which have been committed, and transmit 
proper evidence, as it may arise, to the commissioner of 
the department. In cases, however, where the decision is 
against the claimant, it will be proper still to return to the 
commissioner of the department a statement of the claim, 
that. if it should be found to be credited to the public, in 
the accounts of such department, the party may meet with 
redress sta future period. The inconveniencies attending 
this mode are, that poisibly some just claims may be finally 
rejected from the want of sufficient proof, and that some 
honest claimants may be put to trouble and difficulty in sup- 
porting their claims. 

The proposed plan appears to be shortly this, that the 
commissioner shall liquidate every certificate which may be 
tendered to him in specie value. If, however, the restric- 
tion implied in the Extract, by the words "that no delay 
be given to any certificate granted by an officer who has 
settled his public accounts," &:c. be made, viz. that the 
liquidation of such certificates be suspended until the ac- 
counts of the officer who gave them be settled, it is humbly 
conceived that such liquidation can never take place ; be- 
cause, as the public have assumed the debts of their offi- 
cers, it is impossible to settle the accounts of those officers, 
until the amount of their debts be known ; those debts 
forming a charge against the officers in the same manner 
as the moneys advanced to them from the public treasury. 
The settlement of the (officers' accounts must, therefore, 
ultimately depend on the settlements made with individ- 
uals, and therefore this restriction must be rejected or 
the whole plan prove abortive. 

The proposition of the honorable Assembly may 
then be examined and considered as of the effect 


which is just now stated. And if that proposition be 
adopted, the commissioner sitting in one corner of the 
State and examining claims and certificates brought 
from two or three hundred miles distance, without the 
slightest attention to the value of articles for which 
money is claimed, will be exposed to every kind of 
imposition. Certificates will be counterfeited, pre- 
tended depositions will be produced, fabricated ac- 
counts will be delivered, vast sums will of course be 
acknowledged as due to whoever may please to de- 
mand them. The ofiicers will (and very justly too) 
refuse to account for such sums, the frauds which they 
will detect in claims allowed by the Slate commis- 
sioners wiH cast a cloud even upon the just claims, and 
the commissioners for the departments will for that 
reason be unable to insist on any. Thus the" officers 
will be empowered in their turn to render such ac- 
counts as they think proper. So that on the whole, 
the public debts will be greatly and unnecessarily 
accumulated, and a precedent will be established to 
sanctify every improper act which may hereafter be 
committed in times of confusion. 

These are public inconveniencies, and from a com- 
parison of the two plans one important question arises, 
shall the public property be given away, and the 
country be taxed for the purpose o'f paying moneys 
not justly due ; or shall individuals who have claims 
on the United States be obliged to validate such claims 
by sufficient evidence ? Surely the honorable Assem- 
bly of Pennsylvania will not, cannot hesitate, in de- 
ciding this question. All which is humbly submitted. 

Office of Finance, November bth, 1783. 



Office of Finance, November Sth, 1783. 

I am honored with your Excellency's favor of the 
2Sth of July from Amsterdam, for which I pray you 
to accept my acknowledgements. I am perfectly in 
sentiment with you, that it is best to avoid govern- 
ment interference in the affair of our loan. If there 
were no other reason I should not like the demand of 
grateful acknowledgement, which would be erected on 
that foundation. U e hear enough alread}'- of our na- 
tional obligations, and I most heartily wish for my 
own part, that we could at once acquit them all, even 
to the uttermost farthing, for I seriously believe, that 
both nations and individuals generally prove better 
friends when no obligations can be charged nor ac- 
knowledgements and retributions claimed on cither 

I am also very strongly in opinion with you, that 
remittances from this country would greatly uphold 
our credit in Europe, for in mercantile life nothing 
vivifies credit like punctuality and plenteousness of 
remittance. The plan you propose to obtain them, 
might also be attended with some good consequences, 
but there are impediments in the way of its success, 
which it would be tedious to detail, and which indeed 
you could not be so perfectly master of without being 
on the spot. I shall not, therefore, go into that matter 
at present, and the more especially as we have now 
good hopes, that the plan of Congress will be adopted 
by the States. Last evening I received advice, that 


Massachusetts had acceded, and I have a double pleas- 
ure in announcing this to you, as they certainly would 
not have come in but for the sentiments contained in 
your letters. 

Let me then, my Dear Sir, most heartily congratu- 
late you on those virtuous emotions, which must swell 
your bosom at the reflection, that you have been the 
able, the useful, and what is above all other things, the 
honest servant of a Republic, indebted to you in a 
great degree for her first efforts towards an inde- 
pendent existence. That you may long live to enjoy 
those pleasing reflections, which flow from the me- 
mory of an active and beneficial exercise of time and 
talents, is the sincere wish of your most obedient and 
humble servant, 


' : Office of Finance, December 31st,- 1783. 

Upon the 21st of October I valued on you to the 
amount of seven hundred and fifty thousand guilders 
as expressed in my letter of the 23d of that month, 
and in the beginning of this month having received 
3'our letter of the 4th of August, and concluding as 
well from the contents of that letter as from the actual 
state of things here, that you would be successful in 
the succeeding months, I gave notice to the gentlemen 
to vvhoni I had sold the bills mentioned .in my said 
letter of the 23tl of October, that I should discount 


their notes, which has been done accordingly. Thus 
the United States are become liable to pay any dam- 
ages, which those gentlemen may sustain, if, in conse- 
quence of delay their bills may meet with, those drawn 
by them in consequence of a reliance on your funds 
should return protested. The United States will also 
be liable to the damages, which might arise on my 
further bill drawn in favor of Mr Haym Solomons for 
one hundred thousand guilders on the 12th instant, 
and mentioned in my letter of that date. 

Under these circumstances. Gentlemen, and unable 
to judge what delays the loan may have met with from 
the causes you have mentioned, or from any other, 
being also uncertain how far it may have been or may 
be accelerated from other causes, 1 must request that in 
any case whatever all my aforesaid bills may be ac- 
cepted. You will see from the enclosed copies of let- 
ters to the receivers of Virginia and South Carolina, 
that I am taking measures to put you in cash for any 
advance vvhicli such acceptatices may render necessary. 
These measures are intended with the double view of 
providing for the interest of your loan or of reimburs- 
ing your advance. In the former case you will be in 
cash before the interest falls due, but at any rate you 
shall be secured. The disbandment of our army 
having brought our expenses within the revenue, there 
remains an excess, which cannot fail to reimburse you 
even if the loan should totally fail. For I cannot sup- 
pose, that you will be much more than half a million 
in advance, and I am certain that the excess of taxes 
for current services would easily pay this sum in four 
or five months, and I am equally certain that I could 


by anticipation bring that excess forward to your relief 
at an earlier period if necessary. 

My request to you, therefore, Gentlemen, is this, 
that you accept my bills at any rate, whether you have 
funds or not, and whether you have or have not the 
probability of receiving them. If the payments fall 
due before you find relief, take such measures to ob- 
tain money as shall under a view of all circumstances 
produce that effect with the least loss to the United 
States. Of these measures I leave to you the entire 
disposition, and I promise you on the part of the 
United States to reimburse all losses, interests, costs, 
and charges, which may accrue thereupon. You will 
be pleased. Gentlemen, to give me very early notice 
of your situation, and to point out very particularly 
the sums which may be needful, and also the articles 
of this country, which will probably form the best 
remittance, and on my part I promise to take the 
earliest measures for making you such remittances. I 
shall confidently rely on your efforts, and remain with 
perfect respect, Gentlemen, your most obedient ser- 



Office of Finance, December 31st, 178.3. 


Your advices of the 26th of September, that the success 

of our loan with you had been greatly impeded by reports, 

propagated on the part of Great Britain, did not a little 

surprise me. In my letter of the 12th of this month, I 


have given you soJDe slight sketch of the mutiny of a few 
troops near this city, and this perhaps may be among the 
circumstances, which have militated and been magnified to 
our disadvantage. But as I did not then, so I do not now 
think it worth while to mispend time by the history of a 
trifling thing, which has no importance in itself, and which 
might derive some by treating of it seriously. It has al- 
ways been the common trick of the British and their ad- 
herents to assert, that America had neither government, 
armies, nor resources. To all which, I answer, that 
America has established her independence. Far be it 
from me to attempt an injury to the credit of any other 
nation ; on the contrary, let those who would rather trust 
England than America, make the experiment, and if it 
prove beneficial, let them rejoice ; if it prove otherwise, I 
shall pity the suflerers. 

I should not, indeed, be greatly surprised, that our 
credit were impaired in any of the absolute monarchies of 
Europe, because that such governments have no proper 
ideas of the sacred regard, which is due to pecuniary en- 
gagements taken by the public, and because the people 
have no conception that the government, should be unable 
to command all the wealth of its subjects. But in your 
country, it is an every day's experience, that determina- 
tions of the States-General should meet with obstacles in 
the different Provinces, and this has been precisely our 
case in the business of finance. No Slate has insinuated, 
that our public debts ought not to be paid ; nor indeed 
does any individual dare to hold up that idea. But differ- 
ences have arisen about the mode of making provision for 
them, and such differences of opinion necessarily cause 
delay. It is, however, with much satisfaction, I inform 


you, that the different States are coming in one after the 
other, and I have strong expectations that all of them will 
soon accede to the plan of Congress, which I formerly 
transmitted. The government of this country has been 
vigorous enough to carry us througli the war, and it would 
be strange indeed, if it should all at once become weak in 
that moment of peace, when other governmen^s usually ac- 
quire strength. 

For my own part, I cannot believe that such ideas will 
take place among sensible men ; biit on this occasion, I 
will show to his Excellency, M. Van Berckel, the letter I 
am now writing, and desire him to write candidly to you 
and to others his sentimeuts as to the state of this country, 
whether the people are in peace, obedient to the laws and 
the government in due force, or whether we are a prey to 
discord, and our country the theatre of tumult and confu- 

I am, Gentlemen, &z;c. ' 



Office of Finance, January 13th, 1784. 
The Secretary of Congress has transmitted to me the 
petition of John Cowper, with an order to report thereon. 
I must, on this occasion, pray leave to observe, that this, 
with a variety of other similar transactions, depends on the 
adjustment of the accounts of the Secret and Commercial 
Committees of Congress. In a letter of the 12lh of Au- 
gust last, I had the honor to observe, that those accounts 
VOL. XII. 56 


"were far from being inconsiderable, either as to their na- 
ture or magnitude ; that they were involved with others, 
and had extended themselves to different parts of the 
United States, and to Europe, and the West Indies ; that 
they were more connected with the Marine Accounts than 
with any others ; and that the settlement of then> was 
highly necessary." 1 took the liberty, also, then, to sug- 
gest the propriety of submitting the investigation of those 
accounts to the conjmissioner for sealing the Marine Ac- 
counts, or of appointing a sjjecial commissioner for that ex- 
press purpose. 

Since writing that letter, the Commissioner on the Ma- 
rine Accounts, having been obliged in the course of his 
business, to look at the Commercial and Secret Committee 
Accounts, has not only discovered some balances due to 
the United States, but has reported other matters, which 
show in a strange jioint of light, the necessity of examining 
and settling those accounts. 1 think they could be more 
easily, speedily, and effectually settled by that gentleman, 
than by any other, and therefore the submitting of them to 
him, might be eligible in an economical point of view. 

J come now. Sir, to observe, which I am sorry to do, 
that my report on Mr Cowper's case must necessarily be 
suspended, until after a reference to the commissioner ap- 
pointed to adjust the accounts of the Secret and Commer- 
cial Committees, I shall be possessed of such a state of 
facts, as will enable me to report with propriety. 

Before I close this letter, 1 must also observe, that as 
the accounts in question originated with, and were under 
the superintendence of members of Congress, it is a kind 
of duty, which Congress in their political capacity owe to 
themselves, to trace the applications of money through 


those channels with tlie same altention, which has very 
properly been applied lo other public expenditures. 
With perfect respect and esteem, &,c. 



Office of Finance, January 13th, 1784. 
1 some time since drew a bill for two hundred and lifiy 
thousand livres, on Messrs Wilhelm and Jan Willink^ 
Nicolas, and Jacob V^an Slaphorst, Dela Lande and Finje, 
merchants at Amsterdam, in favor of Mr John Ross. This 
bill was drawn on the credit of the loan opened under the 
direction of those gentlemen, and in consequence of flat- 
tering accounts of its success, which 1 had just then re- 
ceived. I find that Mr Ross has remitted this bill to you, 
and is actually drawing on the credit of it. Some late 
advices from Amsterdam give me reason to apprehend the 
possibility of a nonpayment of this bill, and therefore I am 
now about to make lo you the request of a favor on the 
part of the United States. It is, Gentlemen, that you 
would place this sum to the credit of Mr Ross at the day 
when the bill falls due", whether it be paid or not, and 
whether in the whole or only in part, taking the bill up for 
the honor of the United States. You will then immedi- 
ately give me notice of the sum, which, by this means, 
your credit is advanced for, and I will take care to make 
you remittances for amount of the principal and interest of 
that sum, nor will I quit my office until you are fully re- 
paid. At the same time you will probably also find some 
relief from the further produce of the loan ; as the causes 



which impeded its progress during the months of August 
and September, have long since been removed. And 
indeed I still expect, that the success ol' it will enable the 
punctual payment of Mr Ross's bill, and only write this 
letter out of prudence and for the gi-ealer caution. 

You will observe, Gentlemen, that I have two objects in 
making this request, one is to s?ve the credit of the public, 
which might materially suffer by the cominsi; back of this 
bill, and the other is to prevent the payment of twenty per 
cent damages, which would be the eventual consequence, 
over and above the private injury, which Mr Ross would 
sustain in his personal credit. If, Gentlemen, you have 
a sufficient confidence in me and in my country, you will 
comply with this request, provided "youi" own convenience 
will in anywise permit. If you have not thai confidence, 
I must lament it as a misfortune. 

I am. Gentlemen, yours, he. 



Office of Finance, January 16th, 1784. 
I do myself the honor to transmit to your Excellency 
the copy of a letter from David Sproat ; I should not 
trouble Congress with it if the supplies mentioned had 
been advanced to persons trrken in the service of the 
United States. As it is I should suppose an express ap- 
propriation of money to this purpose to be necessary ; 
Congress can best judge whether that be proper, but if I 
were to express an opinion, it would be, the payment 
of such debts is the most effectual mode of providing for 


those disastrous accidents, which the citizens of America 
are liable to in common with the rest of mankind. 
I am, Sir, respectfully, he. 



Office of Finance, January 21st, 1784. 
• 1 do myself the honor to enclose the extract of a letter 
of the lOtli instant, from the Quarter Master General. 
The latter {)art of it, referring to a matter which he has 
long since brought before Congress, I shall not take the 
liberty of middling with. 

In the former part, he alludes to a letter of the 27th of 
October last, in which he had stated to me the claims of 
individuals for damages done by the army. Instances are 
mentioned peculiarly distressing, and of a nature to require 
compassion while justice demands for them somewhat 
more. I did not on the receipt of thisletter address Con- 
gress on the subject of it, because the making any par- 
ticular provision for the cases of individuals, is laboring to 
very little purpose, and by stilling the cries of one only 
raises the clamors of hundreds. This indeed was the re- 
mote cause of the Quarter Master's letter, for the resolu- 
tion passed in the case of Stephen Moore, had given ac- 
tivity to the complaints of all those who knew of that reso- 
lution, and labored under similar grievances. But a 
stronger reason for not troubling Congress on the subject, 
was that I had already brought it before them in a letter 
of die 12lh of August last. The fllowing is an extract 
from that letter. 


"There is, however, amon»the commissioner's questions 
to me, one which Congress alone can answer in the affir- 
mative ; viz. are charges for buildings, fences, loood, 
^■c. damaged or destroyed by Continental troops or mi- 
litia, to be allowed ? Considering the extent and magni- 
tude of this object on the one hand, and on the other, 
what serious injuries have been sustained by some individ- 
uals, the question is equally intricate and important. No 
answer has yet been given, although not unfrequently 
agitated, as the journals will testify. Whether Congress' 
will leave it on the present footing, or order such damages 
to be allowed, or (making a distinction between wanton 
devastations and necessary impressure). leave the officer to 
account in one case and the public in another, or finally 
whether they will take a course between all these and 
order the accounts to be liquidated and reported, but the 
balances not to be finally allowed and certificates given, 
until their further order, are questions which it is in their 
wisdom to determine by that extensive view of things 
which they possess." 

1 shall take the liberty to observe to your Excellency, 
that claims of this kind become daily more urgent. The 
people recovering by degrees from their despondency as 
to the settlement of tlieir old accounts and beginning to feel 
some hope of eventual payment, and of consequence a 
firmer reliance on and belief in the justice of the United 
States, naturally look forward from the measures already 
taken to those which prudence and equity may still further 
dictate. Some provision ought certainly to be made ; but 
I must repeat that the object is not only great as to the pe- 
cuniary amount; but extensive as to place, persons, claims 
and circumstances. The caution hitherto preserved was 


therefore wise, but it can no longer be adhered to, because 
the idea held up to every applicant, was that after a ter- 
mination of the war, and not before, provision should be 

I take leave also, further to observe to your Excellency, 
that there is a material distinction to be made, even among 
such of these claims as are otherwise similar, according to 
the times in which the respective causes of them may have 
originated, as whether they were previous or subsequent to 
the commencement of the year 1782 ; claims for supplies 
obtained during the latter period, ought certainly to be con- 
sidered as within the appuopriations of money demanded for 
the current service, the quotas of which yet remain unsat- 
isfied. In order then that this matter may come before 
the United States in Congress in such regular form, as 
that some decision may be made, I shall submit to their 
wise consideration the following Act. 

Whereas, the late wastefid and expensive war, is now by 
the blessing of divine Providence finally terminated, and 
whereas, divers citizens of these States have during the 
course thereof sustained various injuries and damages, as 
well by the armies of the United States as otherwise, by 
the operations and effects of the war. And whereas, no 
provision can as yet be made for the just relief of the suf- 
ferers, neither can it be determined to whom such relief 
may be due. And vviiereas, it is the indispensable duty 
of every Government, in all things to the utmost of their 
power, to do what to right and justice may appertain. 
Be it therefore ordained by the United States in Congress 
assembled, and it is hereby ordained by authority of the 
same, that each and every of the commissioners who are 
or may be appointed in pursuance of the resolutions of 


Congress of the 20th day of February last, be and they 
hereby are authorised and directed to receive within the 
States to and for which they are or may be appointed 
respectively, all claims and demands made by individuals 
for damages done to or sustained by them within such 
State, during the late hostilities and by reason thereof ; 
whether the same have been committed and done by 
officers or soldiei -, acting under the authority of Congress, 
or by the enemy. And be it further ordained by the 
authority aforesaid, that the said commissioners do require 
and receive such evidence with respect to each and every 
such claim as they shall judge filling and proper according 
to the nature and circumstances of the case respectively, 
and where due evidence is produced in support of such 
claims, that they do liquidate and adjust the same accord- 
ing to equity and good conscience. Provided always, 
that the said commissioners shall not give to the claimants 
arv certificates or other evidence of such adjustment. 
And be it further ordained by the authority aforesaid, that 
the said commissioners respectively do from time to time 
make return to the Superintendent of our finances, of the 
amount of each and every such claim, and the time when 
the same arose, whether previous to the 1st day of January, 
1782, or subsequent to the last day of December, 1781 ; 
specifying clearly in the said return the nature of every 
claim in such full and anrtple manner, as that when the 
same shall be laid before the United States in Congress, 
for their investigation, they may be thereby enabled to 
make such further order in the premises as to right and 
justice may appertain. 

Before I close this letter, I will trouble your Excellency 
one moment longer to assign my reasons for extending this 


provision to the case of damage done by tiie enemy. The 
investigation does by no means imply any recompense 
from the United States. But if there siionld be cases 
where such reccinpense is proper, the materials on which 
to judge will by this means be prepared. The object 
however is to ascertain the damages done by the enemy, 
which will in this way come forward, so as that an account 
thereof can be made out with exactness to answer any 
purposes, which future negotiations with Great Britain 
may render necessary. To this 1 would add, that the 
expense of the business will be so trivial as not to be worthy 
of consideration, when compared with the advantages to 
result from it. 
. I have the honor to be, vvii!) perfect esteem, &c. 



Office of Finance, January 24th, ]784. 
The re-establishment of peace having at length 
g"fven room for the proper investigations, it becomes 
in me a duty of public justice to mention to f^ongress 
the situation of those persons' in Canada, or out of it, 
who are creditors lo the United States for property 
furnished or services rendered in that country. To 
these may perhaps be added those who have claims for 
damages sustained. Persuaded, as I am, that unless 
some general arrangements be taken on this subject, it 
will occasion a great expense of time and money, to- 
gether with the loss of reputation, I think economy as 
VOL. XII. 57 


well as justice calls for a due attention to the subject 
in the present moment. 

I submit then the following ideas, not as being a 
perfect plan, but merely as hints to be perfected by 
the wise care of the United States. And first, it might 
be proper, that a commissioner were appointed to go 
into Canada for the purpose of examining into the 
several claims above rnentioned, with power to liqui- 
date the same, and to give certificates of the amount. 
If it be a desirable thing that justice be done, it is a 
necessary thing that the inquiries be made on the spot. 
There and there alone, can trie due investigations take 
place, so as to prevent either the public or individuals 
from being defrauded. Besides it will not cost more 
to maintain a commissioner there than it will here, and 
many who have been both distressed and oppressed 
are confined to that spot by their circumstances. It 
may also appear to be of some importance, that by 
doing justice to these people unsolicited we secure 
their affections ; which will prevent Great Britain 
from using them hereafter against us. Neither will it 
escape ihe attention of Congress, that such a commis- 
sioner ipay transmit useful intelligence. But this 
being rather in the Department of Foreign Affairs, I 
shall not enlarge on il. 

A natural question will probably arise, as to the 
means of payment. This may be answered by applyr 
ing a like question to the case of other public debts. 
But I conceived that another, if not a better answer 
may be given. If a new State were set off about 
Detroit, and the lands sold to all inclining to purchase, 
with permission to pay in certified Canadian debts, 


not only as specie, but even at a premium of five per 
cent, the lands would pay the debts, and the United 
States would gain more than the amount of the pay- 
ment by the very act of making it. For an equal if 
not greater number of persons than the creditors in 
Canada, would become settlers from that country, and 
bring with them property beyond their purchase 
money. Nor is that all ; such State would become a 
barrier of infinite importance. It would secure eternal 
peace with the Indians, and it would secure the Indian 
trade. For it would soon place the principal traders 
at that spot in the character of American citizens. 
With perfect respect, I have the honor to be, &c. 


Office of Finance, February 2d, 1784. 

I have delayed answering your Excellency's favor 
of the 4th of last month, in the hope that I might have 
been able to announce to you the having sent off the 
duplicate of the definitive treaty. Hitherto no oppor- 
tunity has offered. But as Colonel Harrnar has sailed, 
and probably Lieutenant Colonel Franks, I am not so 
anxious on that subject as 1 have been. 
With sincere esteem, I am, he. 




Office of Finance, February 12th, 1784. 


Previously to my letter of the I3th of. January, I 
had received yours of the 10th of September and 18th 
of October. In one of my said letters I requested" you 
to come under acceptance for Mr Ross's bills, although 
my public bill in his favor should not be accepted. 
But Mr Ross assures me that he has not yet drawn, 
and promises that he will not draw on the credit of 
that bill until my advices from Europe shall warrant 
it. So that my precaution in this respect was unne- 
cessary. Neither is that bill to be protested if not 
paid when it falls due, but it is to be held by you for 
Mr Ross's future orders. Those advices which I have 
lately received, are far from being agreeable, and it is 
probable that my letters written to Dr Franklin in 
consequence of them may induce him to apply for 
your friendly aid to prolong the time of payment of 
some bills, which I had drawn on the credit of that 
loan, and which to my great surprise the negotiators of 
it were not in cash to answer. Should he make any 
such application, Gentlemen, I am to request tliat you 
will come in with your extensive credit, to support 
that of the United States ; and you may rely that I 
will take care, by proper and speedy remittances, 
finally to absolve your engagements. 

I have this day given to the house of Peter Wliite- 
sides & Co. my bill on you, (number ninetyseven) 
payable at ninety days' sight, and for three hundred 


thousand livres. I am to desire your acceptance of 
that bill, which I have drawn, to prevent, if possible, 
the protest of bills drawn by that House in conse- 
quence of one of my said bills on Amsterdam ; to put 
you in cash for that sum, I have purchased already 
seven hundred hogsheads of tobacco, now lying ready 
for shipment at Alexandria in Virginia, and directed 
farther purchases, as also the chartering of vessels to 
carry it to Europe. I shall make you a shipment of 
from seven to eight hundred hogsheads as soon as the 
weather will permit, for at present all our navigation 
is shut up by the ice. This tobacco shall be shipped 
to your order at L'Orient, and I think, that with 
every allowance for delay, it must leave tlie Chesa- 
peake by the 1st of April at farthest, and will arrive 
within two months after the bill shall have been pre- 
sented. The sales of it will therefore put you in p.ash 
to answer the bill. But to render the matter as safe 
as possible, you shall have early advices, so as to make 
the insurance, which will answer the bill should the 
tobacco fail. After all. Gentlemen, it is possible that 
you may be in advance for a short time. But I make 
not the least doubt, that you will cheerfully go into 
the proposed operation, at present necessary to the 
United States, and which (that necessity out of the 
question) is in itself among the best kinds of commer- 
cial transactions. In order, also, to place you mors 
perfectly at your ease, I agree to make good any ex- 
pense, which may be incurred, by negotiations to 
prolong the payment, should it be inconvenient for 
you to m.ake the actual advance, and should such ad- 
vance become necessary by accidents of the sea or 



Other unforeseen circumstances. But at all events my 
said bills must be honored. 

With esteem and respect, &c. 



Office of Finance, February 12th, 1784. 
The last letter which 1 have received ivom you is of the 
12th of September, and in that you have let't a blank for 
the amount of funds received Irom Amsterdam, and inform 
me, that you expect again to apply for more, as Mr Bar- 
clay could not tell what sum he should be able to pay you 
nor when. My letters from Messrs VVilhelm and Jan 
Wiliink, Nicolas and Jacob Van Staphorst, De la Lande 
and Finje, announce to me a sum remitted to you beyond 
the idea which I had formed of your wants ; and the con- 
sequence ol it is, that bills I had drawn ori them remained 
unprovided lor. Not having received letters from you in 
so long a time, it is impossible for me to guess at the ex- 
act state of your accounts ; but if Mr Barclay has phced 
in your hands the sums which 1 expected he would have 
done, it appears to me that the United States must have 
been considerably in advance to you, at ihe very moment 
when my bills were in the critical situation above men- 
tioned. I shall not, however, draw any conclusions on 
this subject before 1 receive those advices from you, which 
I am in the -hourly expectation of. As I do not know 
whether any effectual measures have yet been taken to 
provide for the bills, which I had drawn, and which the 
Houses in Amsterdam were not in cash to answer, owing 


to a sadden failure of the loan intrusted to their manage- 
ment, I have written to Dr Franklin on that subject, and 
am now to request your aid ii> the business, so that time 
may be giv*i for the arrival of those remittances,. which I 
am making to provide for the consequences, should the 
loan continue unproductive. On this occasion I confi- 
dently rely on your etForts, and I persuade myself, that the 
credit of the United States, so long preserved in Europe, 
through doubtful and dangerous events, will not now be 
suffered to expire for the want of a very lilde timely aid 
and attention. 

I am, Sir, &.c. 



Office of Finance, February 12th, 1784. 

On the evening of the 9th instant 1 received your letters 
of the 20th of November and 1st of December. The in- 
telligence contained in these letters, so far as concerns the 
loan under your direction, and the bills which I had drawn 
upon the credit thereof, is very far from being agreeable. 

The tenor of your last letter, renders it necessary for 
me to obviate the constructions put on my conduct in 
drawing to that extent. And this is easily done, for it ap- 
pears by your letters now before me, that the total of those 
bills for a million, did not exceed the funds actually in 
your possession, by above six hundred thousand guilders, 
and if the second expedition of tobacco be deducted, that 
excess cannot be considered as going beyond five hundred 
thousand. Now, Gentlemen, I have already told you, that 


Mr Grand's drafts exceeded my expectation ; but we will 
put this out of the question for the present, as I shall write 
on that subject to Iwm ; but you will observe, that your 
letters announcing the decline of the loan dW not reach 
me until the close of the last year ; and therefore I could 
not have calculated on so great an alteration. The occur- 
rences in this country, which occasioned it have never ;.p- 
peared of any consequence to us who are on the spot, 
although, by exaggeration, they have staggered the 
minds of people in Europe. You will, observe also, Gen- 
tlemen, that when my letter of the 1st of October was 
written, 1 had not received any letter from you of later 
date than the 1 I th of June. The intelligence mentioned 
in my letters as having come through an indirect chann'jl, 
was contained in a letter from Mr Adams himself, and 
your letters written in the months of July and August con- 
firmed that intelligence. All this will appear if you corn- 
pore our correspondences, and place yourselves in the situa- 
tion, which the long passage of your letters of the 4ih, 1 1th 
and 26th of September placed me. The two first of these 
did not come to hand until a very few days aga, as you 
will observe that they are not acknowledged until the 9th 
instant. It lias therefore been alike impossible for me to 
conjecture the hard fate of my bills, or to provide against 
it by seasonable remittances. 

But as I have already mentioned, the sum total of the 
advance, which those bills could have occasioned would 
not exceed five hundred thousand guilders, payable in all 
the month of March, supposing that the loan should pro- 
duce nothing in the whole winter. By a circuitous nego- 
tiation this payment might have been prolonged without 
difficulty, and you will see that the measures I am taking, 


even at this late period, would have produced the neces- 
sary funds in season. 1 have not indeed any right to ex- 
pect, that you would risk so heavy a sum in reliance on 
me, but if you had done it I should have felt the obliga- 
tion, and I think my conduct would have been such as to 
convince you that the confidence was not misplaced. 

Under the present very disagreeable circumstances, and 
not knowing whether Dr Franklin has complied with your 
proposals, I cannot lake such decisive steps as I otherwise 
might. I enclose, however, a copy of the letter which I 
have written to him, and I shall proceed to make remit- 
tances, as soon as the weather, which now shuts up our nav- 
igation, will permit. The advices which I shall receive 
from Europe, while ships are lading, and which I daily 
expect, must govern me in the consignments ; which is 
the reason that I can say nothing positive on that subject. 

If Dr Franklin has complied with your proposals, 
you will of course have accepted my bills to the extent of 
the million guilders. If he has not, it is possible that my 
letters to him may still arrive in season to prevent the 
protests for nonpayment. If however this should not be 
the case, I wish you to call on those who held the bills, 
and tender payment, on return of the bills, or on giving an 
indemnity against them ; in which case you will also pay 
the costs of protest, interest which may have accrued, and 
the like. If they will not do this, you will then be pleased 
to transmit notarial certificates of your tender of such prin- 
cipal, interest and costs; and if your payments are ac- 
cepted, lo transmit immediate accounts thereof. 

With respect to the three bills, numbered one hundred 
and ninetyone, one hundred and ninelytwo, and one hun- 
vot,. XII. c^S ■• . ; !„ 


dred and ninety three, dated the 21st of Octoher, for two 
hundred and fifty tliousand guilders each, I liave agreed 
with the Houses to whom J sold them, that ihey shall siill 
lay to be accepted or not, as may hereafter be determined, 
and in the meantime the United States are to pay the in- 
terest of their advances to me until they can reimbmse 
themselves, or are repaid by me, whichever shall eventu- 
ally happen. The bill number one hundred and ninety- 
four, dated the I2lh of December last, for one hundred 
thousand current guilders, I purchased and remitted on 
my own private account, and have given orders that it be 
not returned to this country : so that on that subject you 
may also be at ease. 1 shall receive on my private 
account the interest of the forty thousand dollars paid for 
this bill, on the same principles with which 1 have settled 
for the other bills just mentioned. 'And by the way, you 
will see how great was my confidence In the success of 
your operations, when I have involved my own private for- 
tune in the purchase, not only of that bill, but also of four 
hundred thousand guilders out of the million. All which 
was done because the demand for exchange on F^ondon 
being greater than on your city, I bought those bills, remit- 
ted them, and drew on my private account to re[)lace my 
funds, merely with a view to facilitate the public service. 
In addition to the bills just mentioned, there is one which 
1 request may meet due honor ; it is number one hun- 
dred and ninetyfive, dated the 2d instant, payable at six 
months' sight, and for fourteen thousand three hundred and 
nineteen current guilders. This bill was drawn to replace 
bills drawn above two years ago at six months' sight on 
the American Minister at Madrid, and protested for certain 
circumstances attending the negotiation of them : where- 


fore I was under the necessity of replacing them with 

twenty per cent damages, by a bill of equal dignity. 

1 am, Gentlemen, &c. 



"'•' Office of Finance, February 12th, 1784. 


I am to acknowledge the receipt of your favor of 
the Htli of October. My letter to you and the other 
Houses, will convey sufficiently my sentiments as to the 
disagreeable consequences occasioned by the ill success 
of our loan. I shall not here dilate upon that subject, 
which, for the present, I can only lament ; for I agree, 
Gentlemen, with you, thai urgency on your part would 
rather damp the spirits of monied men dian increase 
their exertions. 

r see clearly, that if it were possible to convey an ade- 
quate idea of the weahh, e.xtent, and power of this country, 
it would do a great deal towards exciting the favorable at- 
tention of mankind. But this is a very difficult thing, for 
the British Ministers, and even their Generals in the coun- 
try, with all the pains they could take, luid all the intelli- 
gence they could procure, were extremely ignorant of our 
resources. This is among the reasons why they pursued 
the conquest of America full three years aftei- ev ^ry sen- 
sible man in it saw that the thing was impossible. 

H{)wever, as you desire an account of our products, I 
will refer you to a very imexceptionable testimony, that of 
the British Ministers themselves, in n pamphlet lately pub- 
lished under the eye of the Court, by Lord Sheffield ; iu 


which the writer attempts to prove that we must trade 
with them whether they treat us wel! or ill. To show this, 
he gives certain facts, which, at least, prove that the Brit- 
ish are our worst customers, so far as the sale and con- 
sumption of our produce is concerned. He proves, also, 
that if they have any advantage over others, it is what your 
countryrnen may have in an eminent degree over them ; 
I mean the securing a great part of our trade by giving 
credit to our solid mercantile houses. 

But to return from that digression to the principal ob- 
ject of this letter, viz. the actual and probable resources of 
America. Let it be remembered, that a century ago the 
place from which this letter was written was an unlimited 
forest ; that the whole State of Pennsylvania did not pro- 
duce enough to support five hundred men after the Eu- 
ropean manner, and that every other part of America was, 
a little earlier or a little later, in the sarne situation. 
But now this very city is worth more than all the pub- 
lic and private debts put together, which we owe to 

M. Van Berckel has convinced me, Gentlemen, of 
your good will, and zealous endeavors to promote the in- 
terests of America. And [ flatter myself that not only his 
representations, but my own conduct, will convince you of 
the just sense I entertain of those endeavors. 
With esteem and respect, &c. 




Office of Finance, February 12th, 1784. 
Deal' Sir, 

Three days ago I received, in a letter of the 1st of De- 
cember from Messrs VVilhehn and Jan Willink, Nicolas 
and Jacob Van Staphorst, De La Lande and Finje at Am- 
sterdam, a copy of their letter to you of the 30th of Novem- 
ber. Enclosed you have a copy of my answer of this date. 
1 flatter myself that you will not have suffered the public 
credit to be ruined for want of an engagenient to the amount 
of so small a sum as might be necessary to avoid the danger 
to which it was exposed, and I wait in the anxious expecta- 
tion of hearing from you, what arrangements have been 
taken on this subject, as I wish to conform my measures to 
them. If, contrary to my expectations, some unforeseen 
causes should have induced you to decline so necessary an 
engagement, I hope this letter may arrive in season, and 
induce you to do it. 

You will observe that a copy of this letter 's transmitted 
to the Houses in Amsterdam, but I have not sent a copy of 
the enclosed letters to Mr Grand and Mr Barclay, which 
are left open for your perusal. I have not time now lo go 
particularly into the estimation of their accounts, but I am 
almost persuaded that there is, between them, and ought 
to be in the hands of the former before this time, about half 
a million of livres belonging to the United States. But in 
the present exigency, I shall not reckon on this sum, nor 
on the second expedition of five hundred hogsheads of 
tobacco, which are, 1 presume, before this hour arrived at 
Amsterdam. I shall calculate on a deficiency of five hun- 
dred thousand guilders, and prepare remittances as fast as 
proper articles can be purchased to that amount ; because 


ihe surplus may be well disposed of to answer the interest 
of the Dutch loan, which falls due in June next. 

If, therefore, you can adopt any measures by which, in 
circuitous negotiations, the time of payment can be pro- 
longed, you may rely on the arrival of such remittances in 
the months of June and July at farthest, as shall fully an- 
swer the sums which may then fall due, and as I have told 
the gentlemen in Amsterdam, the advices which I may 
receii'e will govern the direction of those remittances. I 
shall give immediate orders for ti)e purchase thou- 
sand hogsheads of tobacco, and as that amount is com- ' 
pleted, 1 shall extend it according as circumstances (nay 

The season has been so intemperate, that the navigation 
of the Chesapeake is to this hour shut up by the ice, but 
that cannot last much longer, and therefore I have good 
hopes that soine capital sliipmenls may depart before the 
Isl of April; and should the urgency of the case require 
it, I can dravV at "long sight on the consignees, and transmit 
the bills, which will enable a farther negotiation, if neces- 
sary. The means of niaking remittances are now, tliank 
God, in my power ; for the amount of taxes exceeds that 
of the expenditures, whicli last are reduced almost to noth- 
in^ ; and as the revival of coiumerce must increase the 
means of paying taxes, I have no other solicitude for the 
event than what arises from the want of time to make due 
arrangements. This want, I persuade myself you will 
remedy, if you have not already provided against it. And 
you may rely, that any engagenients you m;iy think it 
necessary to take, shall be most punctually complied with 
by me. 

With unfeigned esteem and respect, I have the honor to 
be, yours, &ic. ROBERT MORRIS. 


P. S. Since wriiing the above, it occurs to me, that 
there is (particularly on the present occasion) a propriety 
in transmitting to you the best account in my power of the 
situation of things, as to the funding of our public debt. 1 
say the best in imj power, for I know not what is done 
southward of Virginia, no mail having come fron) thence in 
upwards of .six weeks, by reason of the inclemency of the 
weather, which greatly impedes our intelligence from every 
quarter. New Hampshire, IMassachusetls, New Jersey, 
Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, have 
adopted the plan recommended by Congress, I am as- 
sured that New York and Gcnnecticut will adopt it very 
speedily, and I ani told, on good authority, that Rhode 
Island will come in as soon as the example of the other 
States is communicated. It is in consequence of my con- 
viction that the plan will soon be 'agreed to by all, that I 
have published an advertisement of the 9th instant, a ropy 
whereof is enclosed. R. M. 

.: • • TO B. Kr.ANKLIN. 

Office of Finance, February 13lh, 1784, 
Dear Sir, 

I have written to you, under yesterday's date, on a very 
interesting subject ; and I will now add something farther, 
which 1 did not choose to place in that letter, as a copy of 
it is transmitted to the Houses in Holland, And, first, I 
will give you an account of my situation, as accurately as 
possible, in order that (seeing the whole state of my en- 
gagements, and the means of fulfilling them) you niay rest 
at ease under the operation I have requested, and which 
I must now most strongly urge and entreat you to en- 
gage in. 


My present actual engagements are threefold, viz., first, 
general engagements for the public service not yet satisfied, 
including therein the notes issued by me, which remain in 
circulation ; secondly, my bills of exchange unpaid ; and, 
thirdly, my debts to the national bank. 

The first of these it is difficult to ascertain with exact- 
ness, for I take into the account all payments to be made 
for past services and the like, and I set against it sundry 
sums to be received, and the public goods which are yet 
to arrive. It cannot be expected, therefore, that any great 
precision will take place in this estiinate, but from the 
clearest insight I have, the amount is father under than 
over one hundred thousand dollars. 

The second stands thus. I drew for a million of guil- 
ders, of which, calculating the extent, not more than one 
half remains unprovidedfor, as I have observed in my let- 
ter of yesterday. This half may be considered as of the 
va!':sof two hundred thousand dollars. Besides this sunr, 
I have drawn three bills of two hundred and fifty thousand 
guilders each, and one of one hundred thousand guilders, 
for which I have received three hundred and forty thou- 
sand dollars ; but as J have agreed that those bills shall not 
be protested, they are not to be carried to the account of 
bills of exchange. 

My debt to the national bank is the above sum of three 
hundred and forty thousand dollars, obtained from them 
by discounting notes received for the bills of exchange, 
and which notes they will continue on interest, until taken 
up by my payments here, or by my moneys raised on the 
drafts of the parties who gave them, should my bills be 
eventually paid in Europe. 

In this calculation you will perceive, thai I make no 


mention of any moneys which ! suppose to be in the hands 
of Mr Grand, because, for the greater certainty, I will on 
the present occasion consider ihem as equal to answer for 
contingencies only. And on the other hand, I will not 
calculate the interest to arise on moneys borrowed in 
Europe, because although that object may be stated as of 
the value of from one hundred and fifty to two liundred 
thousand dollars, yet to answer it, I place first, tlie gen- 
eral system of funding the public, debts, and secondly, 
whatever small sums may arise on the Dutch loan, sup- 
posing it to have no success worth counting on for other 

Hence, therefore, we will state the account as of the 
first of the present month thus. 

Balance due for past services, .... ,^'100.000 
Due for bills of exchange drawn, . . . 200,000 
Due to the national bank, . . . . ' . 340,000 

Add for contingencies, 10,000 

We come now to the means of making payment ; after 
rejecting all hope of any material aid from the Dutch loan. 
And they are as follows. The taxes for the last four 
months, ending the 31st of January, amounted to some- 
what more than two hundred thousand dollars. Towards 
these taxes, the States of Delaware, North Carolina and 
Georgia, have as yet paid nothing. Neither is tliere any- 
thing paid by the State of South Carolina within the ac- 
count of those months. The States of New Hampshire, 
Connecticut, New York, Maryland and Virginia have paid 
very little, in proportion, to their present ability, and the 
VOL. XII. 59 


Other four States will all, by the extension of peace and 
commerce, be in better circumstances for revenue than 
they were before. 

From the States of New York, Maryland, Virginia and 
South Carolina, I expect to derive very considerable re- 
lief; particularly from the first, by a proposed sale of .con- 
fiscated lands. However, I shall (after deducting from the 
probable increase of the revenue so much as may pay the 
current expenditures) calculate the surplus and the pro- 
posed sales of lands, as amounting to no more than two 
hundred and fifty thousand dollars, by the end of next 
September. This then will place the sum unprovided for 
at the amount of four hundred thousand dollars, and the 
fund to'pay it at fifty thousand dollars per month. That 
fund will discharge the first article above mentioned, by 
the end of March ; and the next thing to be provided for, 
is the two hundred, to answer bills of exchange drawn. 

The intended provision for that object is as follows ; I 
shall borrow immediately one hundred thousand dollars of 
the bank, and direct purchases of tobacco and rice, partly 
with cash, partly on credit, and partly by bills drawn on me. 
By this means, I can with that one lumdred thousand dol- 
lars have the purchases made in all March and April, so 
that the shipments to the required, amount of two hundred 
thousand dollars will take place, some in March, soma in 
April, and all of them 1 hope by the end of May. The 
taxes during April and May, will pay the purchases on 
credit, and the bills drawn on me ; and the taxes in June 
and July will pay the hundred thousand-dollars due to the 
bank.. By the end of September, therefore, I may calcu- 
late on a full discharge of all these debts. 

If thejoan should meet with success, mv relief will be 


more speedy ; but you will see, Sir, iVoui this detail, what; 
is most important to you, viz ; fhat the funds will be placed 
in Europe during the months of June and July, to pay the 
half million of guilders, which I desire you to provide for. 
I suppose the mode of circuitous negotiations to be very 
familiar with your bankers, but I would hint at the follow- 
ing as practicable. Suppose the Houses in Amsterdam to 
draw in the month of March on Mr Grand, at bixty days' 
sight; Mr Grand might in May draw on a good House 
in London for his full reimbursement, and the House in 
London mi^ht. in like juanner, reimburse on Messrs Le 
Couteulx &, Co. by which time the remittances would ar- 
rive. Or the time might be still farther extended, if 
the House in London should reimburse on Messrs Wil- 
helm and Jan Wiilink, and they on Messrs Le Couteulx. 
Or the last bills might perhaps be drawn on Mr Grand 
instead of Messrs Le Couteulx. However, supposing that 
the credit of those gentlemen might be useful, I have re- 
quested them to aid your operations, should you think 
proper to ask their aid. 

And now, my Dear Sir, let lue before I close this letter, 
entreat of you most earnestly, that the public credit just 
beginning to revive be not totally lost for a want of an 
effort, which is but nothing in comparison with what we 
have already experienced, and passed through with 

With very sincere esteem, yours, &,c. 




Office of Finance, February 25th, 1784. 


Youl- letter of the first instant reached me but a few days 
since, and I seize the earliest moment in my power of 
replying to it. I shall reply also in this letter to that with 
which I was favored from IVIr Williamson, and pray both 
him and the committee that tliey will excuse it ; assuring 
them that it proceeds from a desire of collecting all Ihave 
to say on the subject under one point of view. 

It was and is my opinion, and has frequently been ex- 
pressed, that the calls of Congress should be confined to 
the arrears of former requisitions, so long as it can be pos- 
sible out of such means to defray the current expenditures. 
And although it has been necessary to comprise a part of 
the expenditures of 1782 and 1783 within that debt, for 
the interest whereof permanent funds have been required, 
I thought it my duty to oppose any relinquishment of the 
existing requisitions. I will not repeat the reasons, be- 
cause the grand comtnittee appear to be ol the same 
opinion. It was evident, that if those requisitions should 
produce more than the current expenditure, the surplus 
would easily be applied towards discharging a part of the 
debt, which arose during the years 1732 and 1783. 

Enclosed, Sir, you will find the required amount of taxes 
received to the end of last year. But since that period, 
there h;>ve been farther receipts, and I must observe, that 
among these are some small sums collected in New Jersey 
and Pennsylvania on the requisitions for 1783. But these 
arc nevertheless carried, in the treasury books, to account 
of the unsatisfied requisitioi's of 1 782. 


Confining myself to round numbers, because I presume 
the committee would rather receive information materially 
right in season, than wait for greater accuracy at the ex- 
pense of moments, every one of which tnust be precious, 
I take leave to mention, that the arrearages on the requisi- 
tions of 1782 and 1783 exceed ejght millions, and that 
one of those eight mill'ons would pay the unfunded expen- 
ditures from the end of 1781 to the commencement of the 
current year ; by which term of unfunded expenditures 
used for want of a better, I mean such part of the public 
debt as arose in that year, and whJch not having been car- 
ried to the account of the public debt, but remaining due 
on my official engagements and anticipations, must still be 
provided for out of the requisitions. There will remain, 
therefore, at least seven millions for the service of this 
year, and payment of a part of the former debt, should the 
collections be so rapid as to pay off* the required million 
beyond the immediate expenses, which I confess there is 
but little reason to expect. It will, however, be useful, 
that pressing application be made to the States, to com- 
plete their quotas, under those^ requisitions ; for if only one 
hundred thousand dollars were employed in payment ot 
our funded debt, before January next, in addition to the 
provision for paying the interest, we might then consider 
the independence of our country as firmly established. I 
shall dwell no longer on this subject, which will, i am sure, 
be better matured by the committee, than by any of my 
reflections. But I am bound to mention, Sir, that, from 
the slowness and smallness of the cdlections, our 6nances 
are in a more critical situation than you can easily con- 
ceive ; such that I dare not leave this place, although 1 am 
very desirous of paying my respects to Congress at An- 


As to the vote of September, 17S2, requiring one mil- 
lion two hundred thousand dollars for payment of interest 
on Loan Office certi6cates, Sic. 1 have no official infor- 
mation of what has heeri done by the States ; some among 
them have, I believe, directed the issue of certain other 
kind of certificates for payment of that interest ; but as the 
acts do not conform to the resolution of Congress, I can- 
not know what conduct the Loan officers have pursued. 
It is much to be lamented, that the States individually are 
not sensible how necessary it is to conform to genera! reg- 
ulations ; on every occasion, some local convenience is 
consulted, and a deviation made, which appears to be of 
little consequence to the general system, and which is 
nevertheless important, and becomes injurious to the very 
Stale by which it was made. The idea of an officer de- 
pendent only on Congress, amenable only to them, and 
consequently obedient only to orders derived from their 
authority, is disagreeable to each State, and carries with it 
the air of restraint. Every such officer, therefore, finds the 
weight of public opinion to contend with. But how in a 
continent so extensive, can that simplicity of administration, 
which is essential to order and economy, be introduced, 
unless such officers are not only tolerated, but aided by 
the legislative and executive authorities ? I will pursue 
these ideas no further for the present, because I think the 
opportunity will arrive in which the subject must be con- 
sidered with more attention. 

Enclosed, Sir, I have the honor to transmit an account 
of the civil establishfoent of the United States, together 
with an account of contingent expenses of the several offi- 
ces. 'Neither of these is as complete as could be wished, 
though as perfect as they can at present be made. You 


will doubtless observe, that all the offices are not com- 
pletely filled, and that all the contingent expenses are not 
brought into tiie account. Among the latter omissions is 
the contingent expense of our foreign ministers, vvhicli will, 
I am persuaded, be far from inconsiderable. ! have 
thought it proper, also, to transmit to the committee an 
estimate of the sum at which our civil establishment migl)t 
be fixed ; and on this estimate 1 make the following gene- 
ral observations. 1st. That the articles of contingenci'es 
therein mentioned, are carried out on conjecture, and 
therefore the sum total may be somewhat more or less, ac- 
cording to circumstances. 2dly. That the numbers, titles, 
and salaries of the several officers being entirely in the dis- 
position of Congress) they will add to or diminish from 
them as they may think proper, wherefore the totals will 
doubtless be different from what I liave stated ; and odiy. 
that a very considerable part of this expense being occa- 
sioned by the qld accounts, will cease of itself when those 
accounts are settled. 

I proceed then to observe more particuliirly on the ex- 
penses of the President's household. 1st. That the pre- 
sent mode is certainly objectionable, as 1 have frequently 
had occasion to observe, and which I now repeat with the 
more freedom, as nothing which can be said will bear the 
least personal application. My reasons are, 1st. No per- 
son not accountable to the United States should be in- 
vested with the right of drawing at will on the public treas- 
ury. 2dly. Every expenditure ought, as far as the reason 
and nature of things will permit, to be ascertained with 
precision. 3dly. A fixed salary being annexed to the 
office of President of Congress, he will be more eflectually 
master of iiis own household, and in consequence a greater 
order and economy may reasonably be expected. 



On the expenses of llie office of Secretary of Congress, 
1 shall say nothing. The expenses, the duties, ami the 
caies are so immediately under the eye of Congress them- 
selves, that it would be presumption. But I would ob- 
serve, that to the account of the contingencies of this office, 
ought to be carried the expense not only of office rent, 
stationary, he. but also fuel for Congress, printing of the 
journals, expresses sent by Congress, and the like. , 

The chaplains of Congress receive, at present, at the 
rate of four hundred dollars each. If the office be neces- 
sary, it ought to be so supported as that the officers may be 
entirely attached to Congress, and accompany them in 
their ch.nges, or fix at their permanent place of residence ; 
whichever of these modes shall eventually be adopted, I 
have ventured to state their salaries at one thousand dollars 
each ; perhaps I am still under the proper sum. 

On the expense of (he court of appeals I can say noth- 
ing, because i know not whether the continuance of it be 
necessary. But I should suppose, that if three gentlemen, 
well versed in the law of nations, were, from the lenure 
of their offices to be always with Congress (so as to be con- 
sulted and employed when the public service might tequire 
it) such an eetablishment would be continued, if the ex- 
pense did not exceed the utility. 

When all our accounts shall be settled, our debts either 
paid or properly funded, and things reduced to a peace 
establishment, the expenses of the Office of Finance may 
perhaps be reduced about two thousand dollars, by taking 
away the salaries of the assistant and one clerk, and adding 
somewhat to that of the secretary ; under the present cir- 
cumstances I do not think the number of the officers can 
be lessened. The salary of the Superintendent has often 


been mentioned as very high. This is a subject on which 
I can speak svitli great plainness, and bui for the disagree- 
able situation of things above mentioned, I should speak also 
without any personal reference. I humbly conceive, that 
the object of Congress is what it certahily ought to be, an 
enlightened economy. On tiie powers of the office 1 will 
say nothing liere, because it would be misplaced. The 
expenses of it are and ought to be great. Until we can 
create new beings we must take mankind as they are j 
and not only so, but we must take tiicm as they are in our 
own country. Now it is evident, that a certain degree of 
splendor is necessary to those who are clothed with the 
higher offices of the Uniied States. I will venture to say, 
that without it, those officers do not perform one of the 
duties, which they owe to their masteis; and lean say, 
also, from experience that a salary of six thousand dollars 
does not exceed the expense of that officer. I speak for 
my successor, or rather for my country. Neither the 
powers nor emoluments of the office have sufficient cliartns 
to keep me in it one horn- after 1 can quit it, and I did hope 
that period would have arrived during the next month. 
Perhaps it may. If a man of fortune chooses to run the 
career of vanity or ambition, he will nattnally wish the sal- 
aries of office to be low, because it must reduce the num- 
ber of honest competitors. I say honest comi)etitors, be- 
cause those who would make a property of public trusts 
will always he indifferent as to the amount of salary, seeing 
that with such men it forms the smallest [)ecuniary consid- 
eration. When a liberal salary enables a man, not rich, to 
live in a style of splendor without impairing his private for- 
tune, the show he makes and the respect attached to iiiin 
really belong to the country he serves, and are among the 

VOL. XII. 60 



necessary trappings of her dignity. Now it has always 
appeared to me that true economy consists in putting proper 
men in proper places ; to which purpose proper salaries are 
a previous requisite. Here 1 shall pause, because the re- 
flection occurs to my mind, that perhaps this, with many 
other propositions equally true, will never be duly felt until 
an opposite conduct shall lead to disagreeable conviction. 
If indeed it were ir.y object to enforce this point, I should 
go no further thail the past experience of Congress, and 
perhaps there might be room for some argument on the 
actual state of the Office of Foreign Affairs. The ex- 
penses of that office, as well as of the War Office, require 
only a reference to what ha<? been just mentioned. The 
expenses of the Treasury Office cannot be curtailed, for 
before the present business can be lessened, that of cur 
debt must come forward, and I here must be some persons 
to manage it, although the grent machinery at present em- 
ployed will be unnecessary. 

For reasons of evident propriety, I say nothing on the 
establishaient of our foreign servants, only recommending, 
that as little as possible be left to the article of contingen- 
cies. Because, if, on the one hand, it be just to compen- 
sate extraordinary and unexpected expenses for the public 
service, it is proper, on the other hand, to reduce within 
the closest limits of certainty, which the nature of things 
can permit, the amount of those burdens which the people 
must beari And it ought to be remembered, that contin- 
gencies are generally speaking a kind of expenses, which 
though justified by necessity are unprovided for by express 
appropriation, and which therefore ought as much as pos- 
sible to be avoiiled. 

The last article is, expenses on collection of the revenue ; 


and it is much 10 be lameniecl, tiiat ihis is so heavy ; 'not 
indeed the sum proposed 'in the estimate, which is tri- 
fling, but it will be found on examination, that the ex- 
pense of collecting taxes in this country is greater than in 
almost any other; a serious misfortune, and which would 
certainly be provided against if the officers of the collec- 
tion were nominated by authority of ihe United States ; 
because then iliose principles of suspicion, which have 
already done so much and spoken so loudly, would soon fix 
upon a grievance, at present overlooked, because it forms 
part of the system favorable to withliolding instead of col- 
lecting taxes. It has already been observed, that officers 
of the nature of receivers are necessary in the several 
Stales ; it is here repeated, and experience will prove it. 
At the same time the committee will please to take notice, 
that the Loan officers are not included in the estimate ; the 
reason of which i^, that they can answer no purpose but 
the expense of the appointment, and the complicating of a 
system which ought to be simplified. An officer whose 
duty it is to urge collections, may do good if he performs 
that duty, but when it is a question of paying, means may 
be adopted, which will ba more efiectual, less expensive, 
and infinitely less liable to fraud. Not to mention that 
these means may be such as to avoid long and intricate 
accounts. In fact (and I hone, Sir, you will excuse the 
observation) there seems to have existed a solicitude how 
to spend money conveniently and easily, but little care how 
to obtain it speedily and effectually. The sums I have pro- 
posed as fixed salaries for these officers, may at first sight 
appear large, but if ihe office is to be at all useful it must 
be in the hands of a good man who can devote to it his 
whole time and attention, and who will neither by his pri- 


vatifi distresses nor by the scantiness of his stipend, be 
prompted to betray liis trust, 'or abuse ilie confidence re- 
posed in him. 

Before I close this letter, 1 will take the liberty further 
to mention to the committee, as a principal means of 
avoiding many disagreeable discussions relative to the 
present object, that the establishment of a mint, and due 
regulations of the post office, would soon supply the funds 
necessary to defray the expenses of our civil esiablishmv.nt. 
The former of these is entirely in the power of Congress, 
and I should suppose, that the Slates could have no rea- 
sonable objection to leave the revenue, which might arise 
from the second to the disposition of Congress (or that 

I pray you to excuse me. Sir, for troubling you with so 
long a letter, which I will not add to by niaking an apolo- 
gy ; but assure you of the respect, with which I have the 
honor to be, &tc. 



President of Congress, his household, $10,000 

His private Secretary, .... 500 


Secretary of Congress, .... 3,000 

Two Clerks, 1,000 

Messenger, 300 


Contingencies ; fuel, stationary, rent, &c. 750 


Chaplains of Congress, .... 2,000 

Three Judges of Appeals, at 2250 dollars each, 6,750 
Contingencies during their sittings, 150 




Superintendent of Finance, - - - $G,000 

Assistant, - 1 ggg 

Secretary, - - ... - . i^qqo 

Clerks, three, ..... \ 500 

Messenger, - - • - - • 300 


Contingencies, - - - - . 75O 

W 4()Q 

Minister of War, - - - - G,000 

Two Clerks, - - - ' . ' .^ 1,000 

Messenger, ' - 300 


Contingencies, - - - - 500 


Minister of Foreign Jlffairs, - - G,000 

Two Secretaries, ... . 2,000 

Messenger, .... . 300 

- - ' . 8,300 

Contingencies, - . - ■ -„ ' . 500 

* 8,800 

Controller of the Treasury, - '- 1,850 

Auditor, - - . . . . ^- i,000 

Six Clerks, - - .- ^ - . 3,000 

- ■ 5,850 

Register, - . - '. , - 1,200 

Four Clerks, . _ . , .. , . 2,000 


Treasurer, - . - -. . . . 1.500 

Clerk, - - ..- . -' ..- 500 


Messenger, . ' .' . ..•..' 300 


Contingencies, '-,. . . >; '-• . 1000 

— '■ — 12,350 

rr, T, 64,800 

Two Foreign Ministers, at $10,000 each, 20,000 

Five Residents, with Consular Powers, at G,000, 30,000 

Contingencies, .... 10,000 

. — — 60,000 

Permanent expense, - - . - 124 800. 

Temporary Expense. ' 

A Commissioner of accounts here, salary 1,500 


A Commissioner for settling old accounts in 

Europe, his clerks, contingent expenses, 

(fee. suppose $10,000 

TwoClGiks, 1,000 

Contingencies, - - - - - 250 

Multiply by 18 


- 59,500 



Office of Finance, March 17th, 1784. 
Permit me, through your Excellency, to call the at- 
tention of the United Stales to the situation of my 
department. During the last year, engagements were 
made to a very considerable amount for payment of 
the army. This payment was effected by notes which 
fell due the end of last year, and the commencement of 
this. The funds at my disposal were unequal to the 
discharge of them. I was, therefore, under the neces- 
sity of drawing bills on the credit of the loan in Hol- 
land. The information .1 had received from the gen- 
tlemen who had the management of it, gave me hopes 
that funds sufficient to discharge those bills were in 
their hands ; for in the months of April, May, June and 
July, they had received and distributed obligations for 
one million one hundred and thirtysix thousand florins. 
But from causes, which will readily suggest themselves 
to Congress, that loan, which had taken a rapid start 
at the peace, began to decline in August and stood 
still during all November. It has happened, therefore, 
that bills to the amount of one million three hundred 


and twentyfive thousand florins, equal at the current 
exchange to five hundred and thirty thousand dollars, 
are protested for non-acceptance. Should they come 
back protested for non-payment, the consequences will 
be easily imagined. 

For about a month past I have been in the expecta- 
tion, that this disagreeable event would happen,, and 
whether it will or not* is yet undetermined. My last 
advices from ti:e gentlemen who have the management 
of the loan are in a letter of the 23d of December; by 
which they tell me, "we are sorr}"- to be obliged to 
repeat, that since our last till the present moment, our 
prospects are not very much increased ; however, we 
are not quite without hopes, and have determined, if 
■we cannot do otherwise, to sacrifice some more pre- 
mium to the undertakers, which if we do, we will 
charge to the account of the United States. We think 
ourselves fully authorised to do this by the circum- 
stances, since without the bills going back, it is 
certain that, besides the disappointment and the dis- 
credit it would give to the government bills, the 
expenses attending the returns will be much more 
burdensome. We have almost no prospect of getting 
the money without such a sacrifice, and only hope it 
will answer your views." Enclosed you have the 
account current with these gentlemen, as sketched out 
by the register for information ; by which it appears, 
that they had in their hands a balance of three hun- 
dred and fortyseven thousand seven hundred and sev- 
enty current guilders on the 31st of October last, and 
by the subordinate account, number five, it will ap- 
pear, that my bills exceed that balance by one million 


five hundred and thirteen thousand two hundred and 
Iwentynine florins; but from this a deduction is to be 
made for some tobacco shipped to them, the account of 
sales whereof is not yet come to hand. They have, 
however, accepted of my bills beyond the amount of 
their funds, and still there are to the value of one mil- 
lion .three hundred and twentyfive thousand florins 
protested for non-acceptance. Ill order, however, that 
Congress may possess as full a view of things as j)os- 
sible, I will suppose, for the present, that by making a 
sacrifice of premium the fjnds for discharging these 
bills may i)e obtained. I must also mention here, to 
obviate what might be suggested, that the remittances 
to Messrs Le Couteulx and Mr Grand will be found 
accounted for in their accounts, but time will not jjer- 
mit going into all those details at present. 

Supposing then the funds to be obtained for payment 
of these bills, the interest falling due the beginning of 
June next, will amount to two hundred thousand flo- 
rins, equal at ihe current exchange to ^S0,000 
By the enclosed stale of j)jyments 

just received from Mr Grand it will 

appear, that on the 5th of Novem- 
ber, there is payable at his House 

the sum of one million six hundred 

thousand livres, equal at the current 

exchange to 320,000 


Thus you will find, that on the best supposition which 

can be made, there is to be paid in Europe during this year 

four hundred thousand dollars, over and above the salaries 


of foreign Ministers and their contingent expenses. There 
is also to be paid the further sum of one hundred thousand 
dollars, due in this country on engagements taken for the 
public service during the last and present year, besides 
notes in circulation, which may probably be absorbed by the 
taxes, between this and the 1st of May next. Thus there 
is a deficiency of half a million to be provided for by the 
taxes from the 1st of May, to which must be added sun- 
dry debts of the last year not yet adjusted, and which can- 
not therefore be estimated, but which may amount to 
between one and two hundred thousand dollars more. 
And to all this must be added the current expenses, which 
Congress will best be able to ascertain. 

This, Sir, is a view of things upon the fairest side, but 
if the bills noted for non-acceptance come back, a scene 
will then be opened, which it is better for you to conceive 
than for me to describe. The delay of the States in pass- 
ing the laws for granting revenue to fund our debts has 
left the above mentioned sum of four hundred thousand 
dollars totally unprovided for ; and I cannot see the least 
probability that this general concurrence will be obtained 
in season to make that provision. 1 beg leave, therefore, 
to suggest the expedient that the produce of the requisi- 
tions for 1782 and 1783 be partly appropriated to that 
payment, and that the money be replaced from the proper 
funds when obtained. But whatever mode may be 
adopted, Congress will doubtless be struck with, tliis truth, 
that unless the States can be stimulated into exertion, and 
that speedily, everything must fall into confusion. I will 
not pretend to anticipate the evil consequences. Having 
stated t!)e facts 1 have done my duty. 

J must, however, pray a moment's indulgence to men- 

VOL. XIT. 61 


tion, thai the accounts of the last year would hare been 
rendered by this time, but as I have not relinquished the 
hope of being able to quit this office soon, I have rather 
desired to be able to complete all the accounts of my ad- 
ministration. It will give me infinite pleasure, if, when I 
have the honor of presenting to Congress these accounts 
with my commission, I shall find ihem in circumstances as 
prosperous as those imder ivhich I accepted it were ad- 

1 am, Sir, &.c. 



Office of Finance, March 30th, 1784. 

I am to acknowledge the receipt of your favor of the 
14th instant ; which should have been done sooner, but 
that I have been much engaged, and indeed the accounts 
you ask for, and which are enclosed, required time to be 
completed. 1 shsll expect the papers which relate to Mr 
Gillon by the first good opportunity. 

Wiih respect to the report of the committe.^, 1 cannot 
presume to say anything about it, unless it should be offi- 
cially referred to me, which indeed would seem to be the 
regular mode of proceeding in matters of that sort, but I 
am far from desirous of such reference, and therefore if 
Congress are prepared to decide, 1 am perfectly con- 
tent. So long as I am in their service I shall endeavor to 
carry their measures into effect. 

I am perfectly in opinion with the committee, that the 


arrears should be demanded before • new requisitions are 
made; and if I were lo hint anyiliing like advice, it should 
be thai Congress slate clearly the evils which arise from 
their inability to enforce tlie payments. 

The desire that Loan officers may issue certificates I 
have long known, and 1 know also, that it originates in 
u desire to elude actual by making nominal payments. 
However, it occurs to me that a mode might be fallen upon 
to conciliate this object with the public interest. I consider 
the Loan offices as a very unnecessary burden on the 
community, and I think they ought to be got rid of, for I 
am sure that the whole business might be belter done at 
one tenth of ihe expense, besides the advantage of leaving 
no unsettled accounts behind. If the States will act with 
rigor and honesty on the present occasion, there would be 
no difficulty, I should suppose, in negotiating with the 
several banks to make actual effective payment. But you 
may be sure they will not undertake anything tmless they 
have a solid reliance on the revenues. Now this is pre- 
cisely what Congress ought to desire, for if they are pre- 
vailed on to cause the issue of pa[)er money by their offi- 
cers, the States may as heretofore neglect the means of 
redeeming it, and then all the blame falls upon Congress. 
Indeed they would well deserve it. For why need they 
attempt to accommodate the Stales in the manner proposed? 
Think yon the Legislatures will be more solicitous to save 
the public faith than to quiet the clamors of their own cit- 
izens .'' For my part 1 am persuaded that ihey will not, 
and I cannot but think that an address to the public credi- 
tors, charging the fault where it is justly chargeable, would 
be more useful than mere temporary palliations of their 
distress. On (he whole I think it best for Congress to 


adhere as much as possible to great outlines, and to avoid 
details. Those should be left to the Minister of Finance. 
If be is an able and honest man he will do well, and if the 
thing be well done all is right. If he be unequal to his 
duties, the blame of wrong measures will iail upon him. 
But if Congress do liis work, then unless their work be 
more than humanly perfect, they will undoubtedly com- 
promise themselves. I say these things to you in a con- 
viction of the trulli of what I say, and with a perfect 
indifference as to any personal considerations. If I can 
get out of office I will, and if I cannot I will never ask 
Congress for a confidence they do not wish to repose. 

I am very much obliged, my Dear Sir, by your kind 
and confidential communication, and reply to it, as you see, 
with full confidence. If I were in a situation to converse 
with you on the state of our affairs, 1 should be glail to do 
it, but the licnits of a letter will not permit the oaying what 
is necessary on so extensive a subject. I find that Con- 
gress are in the habit of passing resolutions, which relate to 
my department, without a reference ; I am sorry for it, be- 
cause some of them are ipiconvenient to me, and others 
will I fear be found dangerous. However, they are the 
best judges of what is for the public interest, and therefore 
I shall avoid as much as possible all remonstrance. 
I am, very sincerely, your most obedient, &ic. 




^' Office of Finance, April 8th, 1784. 


I have received the letter which yon did me the honor 
to write on the 30th of last month, for which I pray you to 
accept my thanks. The circular letter, a copy of which 
you enclosed, has my entire approbation, and I pray 
leave to assure the committee, that while 1 am favored 
with the firm support of Congress, I shall not shrink from 
the difficulties, however great, with which we are threat- 

The idea of applying to the banks for aid, is in itself a 
good one, but the present moment is unfavorable. The 
establishment of so many banks instead of aiding credit, 
and facilitating operations, will for some lime to come have 
a contrary effect, and it is not without great difficulty, that 
they will each collect a capital sufficient to support its own 
operations. The struggle to get such capital, places these 
institutions in a degree of opposition to each other, injurious 
to them all. Without going more minutely into that part 
of the subject, 1 take the liberty to observe further, that as 
we had no mint established when the treaty oi" peace took 
place, and consequently no proper, regulation of our coin, 
a great part of it was immediately exported, and the coun- 
try being now laden with foreign goods, and iiaving but 
little means of payment with produce, still further exporta- 
tions of coin will take place, especially if by the return of 
the public bills so great an additional remittance becomes 

I shall leave all observations upon this matter to the 
good sense of the committee, and proceed to mention 


further, that it' the abilities ot" tlie several banks were ever 
so great, we cannot rely much on their inclinations, unless 
their respective directors could clearly see a prospect of 
speedy reimbursement from the taxes. It is, therefore, a 
matter of much delicacy, to make any proposals to them 
on the part of government ; for which and for other evident 
reasons, I pray leave to suggest the propriety of leaving all 
such negotiations to the Superintendent of Finance. That 
officer has already sufficient powers to do everything, ex- 
cept granting premiums for the loans proposed, and with 
respect to them, I am clearly of opinion, that none ought 
to be given ; but if in the last necessity that step should be 
unavoidable, he may then apply for authority. This I 
conceive to be better than vesting him beforehand with 
such extensive power; for the committee will be pleased to 
observe, that as the laws of the several Slates have fixed 
the rate of interest, premiums on loans, which in their 
effect raise the rate of interest, would be exceptionable as 
well as odious. It is true, that the situation of affairs is 
very disagreeable, but it is better to bear up and struggle 
hard against present difficulties than lay the foundation of 
future evils. 

With perfect respect, I have the honor to be, &,c. 



Office of Finance, April 29th, 1784. 

I do myself the honor to enclose for the considera- 
tion of Congress the extract of a letter from the com- 
missioner for settling the accounts of Connecticut, 


together with the copy of a receipt which was en- 
closed in it, and the original of which is returned to 
the commissioner. Before I make any observations 
on this extract I take the present opportunity of ex- 
plaining a part of my conduct, which has I know 
given some offence. 

Previous to the acceptance of my office I was natu- 
rally led to examine the ground on which I should be 
brought to act. I clearly saw that great confusion had 
been introduced into the public affairs, not merely 
from defects in former plans, but from a great negli- 
gence in those to whofw the execution had been com- 
mitted. For although the general arrangements were 
in some respects defective, as is the case with ail 
human institutions, yet those who were in any degree 
culpable had taken care to charge the fault on such 
deficiencies by way of excusing themselves. Congress 
will perceive at a single glance, that where boards or 
committees, perpetually changing,and whose members 
are not accountable, are charged with the superintend- 
ence of a general system, and the subordinate agents 
rendered accountable to them, it is vain to expect that 
steady, severe, and attentive administration, which can 
alone secure the public welfare. Experience had 
shown, that this radical evil produced shameful negli- 
gences in the executive departments, the mischiefs of 
which are felt at the present hour. Affairs were so 
complicated that it was hardly possible 10 say who was 
in fault ; and while every individual officer took care 
I0 excuse himself the blame was placed on Congress ; 
from whom of all others, if the future interests of 
America be consulted, it ought to be removed. The 


expense which attends the settlement of the old ac- 
counts is the least mischief which has resulted. 

This view of our situation rendered it necessary for 
me to stipulate, that I should be invested with ample 
powers, and induced, also, the determination to avoid 
as much as possible the employing of persons who had 
public accounts unsettled. My subsequent experience 
has shown, that if this determination had been univer- 
sally adhered to, it would have tended much to the 
establishment of that regularity, which has constantly 
been kept in view. From frequent information I was 
convinced, that many of the loan officers had not con- 
ducted their business according to the modes pre- 
scribed, and had indeed neglected even to make those 
returns, which had been from the beginning required. 
This was an additional reason for placing the receipt 
of the continental taxes in other hands. And when it 
WIS considered, that these gentlemen would be con- 
stantly pressed for the payment of interest, that which 
was necessary in the case with some became proper 
with respect to all. This conduct, as has been already 
mentioned, gave offence to some, but as no regular 
accusation has ever been brought I shall go no farther 
into a defence of the measure ; my object being as well 
to point at future operations as to explain the past, 

I will not go into a detail of the modes formerly 
prescribed for keeping the Loan Office accounts. Suf- 
fice it to say, that very few of the officers have con- 
formed to them. The instructions for settling the 
accounts are before Congress, and the enclosed extract 
shows that they cannot be effectually adhered to ; and 
consequently that a principal object in the settlement 


of the accounts will not be effected. I pray leave, 
therefore, again to bring to the attention of Congress 
a report made on the 3d of September from the Office 
of Finance. Not that it is desired that the United 
Slates should adopt the resolution there proposed, but 
merely that it may serve as a groundwork on which 
to astablish some Act which may prove effectual. 

It is perhaps a favorite object to keep up the estab- 
lishment of tlie Loan offices, but I must on this occa- 
sion repeat what I have so often declared, that it is an 
expensive and a pernicious establishment, without be- 
ing attended with a single good effect to compensate 
the mischiefs. I shall not, however, trouble Congress 
with my reasons on that subject, because I think it my 
duly to bear witness against ihem. I know the pro- 
gress of all reformations to be slow, and that expe- 
rience is the most certain teacher. 

With perfect respect, I have the honor to be, &c. 


Office of Finance, May 6th, 1784. 
In consequence of the resolutions of the 28lli of April, 
and 2d of May, 1783, I have made the vartous eugnge- 
ments then in contetnplaiion, and my late letters to Con- 
gress will show that some of those engagements to the 
amount of three hundred thousand dollars slill remain to 
be fulfilled. Congress will be pleased also to observe 
that their late arrangements vvilb respect to foreign officers, 
form an object of about fifty thousand dollars, including the 
VOL. y.ii. 62 



grant of ten thousand to Baron Steuben. Notwithstanding 
this and the constant demands for current service, I am 
not without hopes that if all the bills on Holland be paid, 1 
shall in the course of the summer be able to quit my sta- 
tion. Having been informed (though not officially) that 
Congress intend to adjourn in" the beginning of next month, 
I am humbly to request that they would in such cas^ be 
pleased to take eventual arrangements for administering 
their finances. And I am the more solicitous on this sub- 
ject, lest through the want of such arrangements some 
injury should happen to the public service when I retire. 

1 hope Congress will indulge me also in mentioning, 
that no committee has been appointed to inspect into the 
conduct of my department. It would give me particular 
pleasure that measures were taken on that subject also. 
With respect, I have the honor to be, 8ic. 



Office of Finance, May 19th, 1784. 
Dear Sir, 

By the opportunity which your friend, Mr Constable, 
offers, I now acknowledge the receipt of your several fa- 
vors of the 26ih of December, lOih of January, and 9th of 
March last. Accept, I pray you, of my sincere thanks for 
them all. I also enclose for your perusal the copies of my 
letters to Congress, of the IGth of April and of this dale. 
To these I add their resolutions of the 3d instant, which 
will I hope prove agreeable to you. If I have not trans- 
mitted the copies of or extracts from yoiu- letters to Con- 
gress so soon as they were received, vou must attribute it 


to circiiinstances which I, on the spot, could best judge of, 
and which is not worth while to mention. 

In pursuance of what I liave just now said to Congress, 
I shall proceed to request your exertions for establishing a 
free port at the Isle of France or Bourbon. You will 
easily obtain sufficient information in Europe to direct your 
applications on this subject, and Mr Constable will, I think, 
be able to give you some useful information as to the con- 
sequences of it upon -this country. 1 confess, that it ap- 
pears to me to be the probable means of establishing at 
that port, the most extensive and useful commerce with 
India, that has ever yet existed. To France and to Ame- 
rica it will be most particularly useful, because we shall 
trade freely and without risk to such port, and you will un- 
doubtedly furnish us with all those articles of India goods, 
which we should otherwise go in search of to India, or 
procure from other nations. This will form an object of 
near twenty millions of livres annually, or calculating both 
the export and import cargoes, it will amount to about 
thirty millions, and consequently cannot be less than five 
millions clear advantage to France; and if it be consid- 
ered, that this is so much taken from her commercial rival, 
we may estimate it as being an object of ten millions an- 
nually. Such being the importance of it with respect to 
America, what may we not calculate on for the other 
countries, who may incline to trade thither ? But besides 
this great commercial consideration, there are others of a 
political nature ; such as the increase of your seamen ; the 
advantage of a place of arms, marine arsenal, he. in that 
critical position. These I shall not dwell upon, because I 
do not wish to go out of my depth. 

Returning then to a comniercial view of the subject, I 


consider it as almost certain, that America would find it 
more advantageous to trade wiili that port than to go on to 
India ; and hence I draw one very strong inference, that 
we should not only be by that means brought into a closer 
political connexion with France, but that France would 
hold a much larger share of all our other commerce, than 
she would without such an establisl'.ment. I will not 
trouble you with my reasons, because I think they will rot 
escape you. But before I close my Iptter I must observe, 
that although this commerce may and undoubtedly will 
yield you a revenue, yet there is danger in beginning with 
revenue toe soon. Let the port be first made free to all 
the world, and let good and intelligent commissioners or 
iniendants be appointed to transinit information of the com- 
merce carried on. If there be mo duties, there will be no 
false entries ; and thus in two or three years the Court will 
be able to act with their eyes open ; and in the meantime 
the enriching of your own subjects is always of sufficient 
consequence, even if revenue be put entirely out of the 
question. If on the other hand you only free the port by 
halves, and leave it subject to duties and restrictions, the 
commerce may never take its course that way ; and always 
remember, that the commission rec^'ived by your mer- 
chants (roil) such a commerce is alone of vyst importance. 

I am, Sir, Sec. 




Office of Finance, June 21st, 1784. 


That my official existence has been prolonged to the 
present moment arises from the dilatoriness of the 
Stales in providing means to discharge those engage- 
ments, which I had taken for their benefit at the 
pressing instance of Congress. I hope your Excel- 
lency will believe me when I seriously assure you, 
that the greatest advocates for a change cannot more 
earnestly desire my dismission than I m3'self do. I 
hope that their sincerity and mine will speedily be 
put to the trial. They, by granting money, and I by 
resigning, can best evince that our professions are 
founded in truth. Thus, Sir, it has happened, that 
the reasons for gi anting money to the Union have 
acquired an additional weight from considerations per- 
sonal to me, and perhaps in the only way in which 
I could have given to them any efficacy. 

Whatever sinister causes may have been suggested 
to invalidate my former applications, I humbly hope, 
that at this period my earnest entreaty to comply with 
the requisitions of Congress for funding the public 
debt will be considered as flowing from a conviction, 
that it is a measure necessary to the peace and happi- 
ness of our country. To me it can produce neither 
honor, nor power nor profit. The advantage I may 
derive will be common with all my fellow citizens, 
and I shall share, also, the burden in common with 
them. But the numerous class of sufferers in whose 
particular favor that burden is to be sustained, will, I 


hope, meet with an advocate in every bosom. Jus- 
tice, policy, humanity, press the measure upon our 
feelings and reflection ; and if it be objectionable, let 
it be considered how seldom any human plans are 
formed, to which objections may not be made. Our 
union, necessary as it is to our existence, is still liable 
to objections. And government, without wiiich we 
cannot participate in the benefits of society, will al- 
ways in something or other give room for clamor and 

I hope. Sir, this application from me will be at least 
excused. It is the last. It is the general result of 
what I feel to be my duly. Those who come after 
me will, I hope, have that influence, which I have 
not; and succeed where I have failed. 13ut whether 
they succeed or whether they fail, they cannot more 
earnestly desire the good of America than 1 do. 
I am, &,c. 



Office of Finance, August 17th, 1784. 

I had yesterday the honor to receive your letter of 
the 15lh, by which I perceive that you misunderstood 
me a little in the conversaHon alluded to. On that 
occasion, Sir, 1 expressed my intention to take 
arrangem.ents for the payment of four hundred thou- 
sand livres, being the interest due in November next, 
upon the loan of ten million livres, guarantied by his 


Most Christian Majesty; but I could not have told 
j'ou that they were actually taken, because that is not 
the fact. Indeed I' did expect, that certain attacii- 
ments which have been laid upon the property of the 
United States in France would have been taken off; 
and that in consequence of orders formerly given, Mr 
Grand would have rsceived through Mr Barclay the 
necessary firnds. Should this be the case he will pay 
that interest of course, having already done so last 
year, in pursuance of a general authority to that effect. 
l[, however, the suspense occasioned by those attach- 
ments should cause any delay, the King's Ministers 
who were long ago informed of them, will doubtless 
excuse the inconveniences which may result from it. 
The arrangements now to be formed must be in a 
double sense eventual, and depend not only upon the 
fate of the attachments, but also upon the state of 
those funds, which may be in Eul'opc at the disposi- 
tion of the United States. 

I should be happy. Sir, in the opportunity of satis- 
fying your desire, to be informed of the measures 
taken with respect to those sums, which the King was 
pleased to lend, and which (with the interest accruing 
thereon) are payable at the several epochas specified 
for the purpose in the conventions made on that sub- 
ject, between our respective Ministers ; but not having 
received the orders of the United States in Congress, 
I cannot presume to anticipate what they may think 
proper to say. I will immediately do myself the 
honor of transmitting to his Excellency, the President, 
a copy of your letter; and as I cannot doubt, that both 
those measures which they have already taken, and 


those which they may hereafter adopt, must be per- 
fectly consistent with their honor, I shall indulge the 
hope, that they will meet the Approbation of their 
august ally. 

I have the honor to be, he. 



Office of Finance, September 30th, 1784. 

1 had the honor of mentioning to Congress, upon the 4th 
of iMay, tlie advices then just received from Holland, and 
to pray their sentiments upon t;:e loan, which JNlr Adams 
had (upon a view of all circumstances) foiuid it necessary 
to open. I was the more anxious on this subject, as I saw 
a prnbabiiity of the speedy conipletion of this loan for two 
mil'ions of guilders, and therefore if not approved of, no 
time should have been lost in stop|)ing the further progress. 

Since writing that letter, I have received the sclieme of 
the loan, and the copy of the obligation, both of which are 
here enclosed for the inspection and consideration of the 
United States in Congress. It is probable, that not only 
this loan, but also the former loan of five millions will both 
be filled before any determinations of Congress can arrive 
in Europe ; for the concurrence of many States to the 
measures proposed by Congress, and the resolutions of 
several legislative bodies expressing their sense of the ne- 
cessity of enabling the United States punctually and honor- 
ably to discharge their engagements have r^ianirnated that 
credit, which for evident reasons had languished and died 


Tlie public accounts will sufficiently explain the situation 
of money matters, and the gentleman charged with the de- 
partment of the finances will of course furnish such infor- 
mation as may from time to time be required ; 1 shall not 
therefore go any further into the details of this business, 
but must express to Congress my opinion of the loan gene- 
rally ; and certainly, if we consider the very untoward cir- 
cumstances in which it was undertaken, very great praise 
is due to the persons concerned in proposing, adopting, 
and pursuing it. This sentiment, which I have constantly 
felt has not been declared until the present moment, be- 
cause no suspicion can now arise, that what I say is dic- 
tated by a view to influence their future exertions, seeing 
that my political existence must be at an end before the 
contents of this letter can possibly be transmitted. 

I have invariably in my official correspondence, (as in- 
deed upon every other occasion, both public and private) 
ex[)ressed the conviction which I feel, that however the 
several States may, from a difference ir) local circumstances, 
differ in their opinions about the mode of providing for 
public debts, all of them will concur in the just sentiment, 
that these debt? ought to be most punctually discharged. 
There cannot, therefore, be any doubt, that the proper 
provisions will be made, and I am grounded in the asser- 
tion that when made, the public credit of America will be 
the best of any in the world, that it will cost less to main- 
tain it by us, than by any other nation, and that consider- 
ing the infant state of our cultivation in general, and the 
frontiers in particular, it is of more importance to us than 
it can be to any other country. It is also a commercial 
problem, which admits of absolute demonstration, that the 
punctual payment of interest on our debts will produce a 
VOL. xii. G3 


clear annual gain of more than such interest can possibly 
amount to. So that the eternal and immutable principles of 
(ruth and justice, being for a moment out of the question, 
and stifling those sentiments of humanity, which arise from 
a view of what the public creditors must suffer, should their 
dues be withheld, (if indeed it be possible to stifle such 
sentiments.) still it will indisputably appear to be the in- 
terest of the merchant, as well as of the husbandman and 
mechanic, to pay their just proportions towards discharging 
the public engagements. For this plain and simple system 
of common honesty, while it invigorates the springs of our 
credit, strengthens also the bands of our uniou, proceeding 
with equal motion towards the public weal and private 

That the labors of our great and glorious revolution may 
thus be crowned by the impartial hand of justice, and the 
last stone be thus placed in the arch of our extensive em- 
pire, is the ardent wish of your Excellency's most obe- 
dient, &c. 



Office of Finance, September 30th, 1784. 
Dear Sir, 

This is rather a late day to acknowledge your favors of 
the 25th of December and 1 5th of June last, but I have 
always intended in my acknowledgement of them to close 
our public correspondence, and I have always heen disap- 
pointed in my expectation of being able speedily to quit 
this office. That period, however, so ardently desired, is 
at length nearly arrived, and while I look back on cares and 


dangers past, 1 feel an increased emotion oi joy in the pi*os- 
pect of future hopes and expectations. But I cannot re- 
view the past scene without strong feelings of gratitude and 
respect for the able and active efforts, whiclj you have made 
to support the finances of this country. I would to God 
that your just sentiments on property and taxation were as 
lully felt as they n^usi be clearly understood in America; 
but time is as necessary to mellow t!ie judgment of a coun- 
try as of a man. Happy indeed shall we be if it produce 
that effect among us. 

I am much obliged by your explanation of IVl. Chau- 
inont's accounts, which are lodged at the treasury. If any 
insinuations have been made injurious to you upon your 
connexion with M. Chaumont, they have not reached me, 
and I am persuaded that no:ie such can make any impres- 
sions which ought to give y.ou pain. 

1 have not remitted bills for the salaries ol foreign minis- 
ters, because the resolutions of Congress having varied, and 
Mr Grand having informed me thai he should pay them, 1 
have left it as an account unsettled to be arranged by Mr 
Barclay- And as I cannot doubt that the attachments will 
have been taken off, and as I have given Mr Grand a credit 
on the commissioners of the loan in Holland for four hundred 
thousand livres, and directed Messrs Le Couteulx to pay 
over to him a balance in their hands, I have no d )ubt that 
he will be in cash for the purpose. 1 agree with you that 
a fund ought to be set apart for contingencies, and had I 
continued, and been supported in my administration, such 
a fund should certainly have been provided. 1 am at the 
same time an enemy to contingent accounts, and therefore 
I should have urged the ascertainnient of every allowance 
as far as possible, thereby curtailing the account of contin- 



gencies. But after all, it cannot be annihilated. Congress 
have hitherto made no detenninaiion on this subject. In- 
deed it is very difficult, and even almost disreputable for 
them to make arrangements of expenditure, while the 
meo.n5'of expenditure are so shamefully withheld by their 
constituents. These things, however, will mend, at least I 
hope so. 

I have already said that I expected the attachments laid 
on the public goods would be discharged. Your letter to 
the Count de Vergennes on that subject is perfect, and if 
that minister did not immediately obtain a compliance with 
your request, 1 presume it must have been occasioned by 
some circumstances purely domestic, which we in diis coun- 
try cannot guess at, for certainly nothing can be more as- 
tonishing than lo find a subject countenanced in arresting 
the property of a sovereign power in this enligiitened af:;e, 
and in the country, which of all others has been most emi- 
nent for a sacred regard to the rights of nations. 

From your last letters to your friends, I find that your 
return to tliis country is somewhat doubtful; I am there- 
fore disappointed in one of the greatest pleasures, which I 
bad promised myself. But, Sir, in whatever country you 
may be, and vv'iether in public or in private life, be as- 
sured of my warmest and most respectful esteem, -and that 
my best wishes for your hn[)piness shall be clothed with 
the utmost efforts in my power to promote it on every 
proper occasion. 

I am, Sir, with perfect res()ect, he. 





Office of Finance. September 30th, 1784. 


1 do myself the honor to enclose for llie inspection of 
Congress a copy of a letter of the 14th of last month from 
the Marquis de Lafayette ; and with it I send the originals, 
which were delivered by him to me. The unexampled 
attention to every American interest, which this gendeman 
has exhibited, cannot Aul to excite the strongest emotions in 
his favor, and we must at the same time admire the judg- 
ment wiiich he has shown in the manner of his applications, 
as well as the industry in selecting proper materials. There 
can be little doubt, but that his interest at his own Court 
must always prove beneficial to this country, while the same 
cordiality shall continue whioli now subsists between him 
and the venerable Plenipotentiary now resident at Passy. 

I shall not hazard opinions upon the matters wh.ich have 
employed the attention of M. de Lafayette, as a negotiator 
from this country to that whicii gave him birth. It would 
be intruding sentiments which will suggest themselves. 
But while 1 feel the delicacy and perhaps the danger of 
asking from France the moderation or abolition of partic- 
ular duties, thereby establishing a precedent for similar 
requests on her part, 1 hojje Congress will pardon a wish 
proujpted by the general interests of commerce, that the 
statement of all those duties might be translated and pub- 
lished, for the government of those who may form expe- 
ditions to those different ports now opened to us. 
I have the honor to be, &ic. 





Philadelphia, October 11th, 1784- 
The subscriber having taken measures to provide foi 
the payment of his various engagements on behalf of the 
United States, and particularly for such of his notes as 
may be in circulation, gives this public notice to all who 
may be concerned therein, that although he be no longer 
in office, yet those notes will all be duly paid at maturity ; 
and for such payment he hereby pledges himself per- 
sonally to the holders, and therefore requests that if any 
attempt should be made to obtain them by any suggestions 
at less than the specified value, such attempts may be de- 


Office of Finance, November let, 1784. 
1 have the honor of enclosing to your Excellency, and 
pray you will deliver to the United States in Congress, tl)e 
commission by which I was appointed Superintendent of 
their Finances. It gives me great pleasure to reflect 
that the situation of public affairs is more prosperous than 
when that commission issued. The sovereignty and in- 
dependence of America are acknowledged. May they be 
firmly established, and effectually secured. This can only 
be done by a just and vigorous government. That these 
States, therefore, may be soon and long united under such 
a government, is my ardent wish, and constant prayer. 
With perfect respect, I have the honor to be. Sic. 









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