Remarks on the Hiring Out of British Prisoners
[Philadelphia, December 11, 1782]
The Secy. at War was authorized to permit the British prisoners to hire themselves out on condition of a bond from the Hirers for their return. The measure was not opposed, but was acquiesced in by some, only as conformable to antecedent principles established by Congress on this subject. Col. Hamilton in particular gave this explanation.1
“Notes of Debates in the Continental Congress,” MS, James Madison Papers, Library of Congress.
1. H’s explanation was of the following resolution:
“Resolved, That the Secretary at War be empowered to permit any British prisoner of war to hire himself as a labourer, provided the person who employs him shall give sufficient security for his appearance when called for, in a penal bond of one hundred pounds current money of Pensylvania, and that he pays to the Superintendant of Finance four dollars monthly for the hire of such prisoner while retained in his service.” (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (Washington, 1904–1937). description ends , XXIII, 785.)
The resolution was adopted by Congress on December 11, the date of H’s remarks.