Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Robert Morris, 5 October 1782

From Robert Morris1

Office of Finance [Philadelphia] 5 Octo: 1782


I enclose you the Copy of an Act of the first Instant2 with the Copy of my Circular Letter to the Governors inclosing it.3 You will consider this Act as an Additional Evidence of the firm Determination of our Sovereign to persevere in those Systems which they have adopted. I recommend this Act to your serious and vigilant Attention in all its Parts. It is a mighty fashionable Thing to declaim on the Virtue and sufferings of the Army and it is a very common Thing for these very Declaimers to evade by one Artifice or another the Payment of those Taxes which alone can remove every Source of Complaint. Now Sir it is a matter of perfect Indifference by what Subterfuge this Evasion is effected whether by voting against Taxes or what is more usual agreeing to them in the first Instance but taking Care in the second to provide no competent Means to compel a Collection which cunning Device leaves the Army at last as a Kind of Pensionary upon the voluntary Contributions of good Whigs and suffers those of a different Complection to skulk and skreen themselves entirely from the Weight and Inconvenience. I am far from desiring to involve in general and indiscriminate Censure all the Advocates for wrong Measures. I know that much of it may be attributed to an Ignorance which exists both from the Want of proper Means and Materials of Instruction and from the Defect of Experience. But the Evil exists and you must labor assiduo[u]sly for the Remedy.

I am Sir your most obedient and humble Servant


LC, Robert Morris Papers, Library of Congress; copy, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress.

1This was sent as a circular letter to the receivers of continental taxes in the several states.

2The congressional resolutions of October 1 were the result of a representation of the New Jersey legislature which stated that other states had made partial payments to the soldiers of their own lines and that unless Congress took measures to assure equal justice to the troops of New Jersey the legislature would apply a part of the taxes appropriated to the use of the United States to pay the state’s soldiers. The resolutions stated that Congress had adopted “every means in their power” to pay the troops and had consistently discouraged partial payments by the states; that no money advanced by the states to the Army should be considered as advanced by the United States; and “That the several states be required to make speedy payment of the respective quotas into the public treasury, that Congress may be thereby enabled to pay the officers and soldiers of the American army the amount of their pay for the present year” (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (Washington, 1904–1937). description ends , XXIII, 631).

3Morris’s circular to the governors of the states was also dated October 5. He enclosed the congressional resolutions of October 1 and stated that it was not his duty “to ask for our Officers and Soldiers any Reward but merely the Means to do them Justice” (Robert Morris Papers, Library of Congress).

Index Entries