Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to Major William Jackson, [19 June 1783]

To Major William Jackson1

[Philadelphia, June 19, 1783]


Information having been received, that a detachment of about Eighty mutineers are on their way from Lancaster to this place,2 you will please to proceed to meet them and to endeavour by every prudent method to engage them to return to the post they have left. You will inform them of the orders that have been given permitting them to remain in service ’till their accounts shall have been settled, if they prefer it to being furloughed and of the allowance of pay which has been made to the army at large & in which they are to be included. You will represent to them, that their accounts cannot be settled without their officers whom they have left behind them at Lancaster. You will represent to them with coolness but energy the impropriety of such irregular proceedings, and the danger they will run by persisting in an improper conduct. You will assure them of the best intentions in Congress to do them justice; and of the absurdity of their expecting to procure it more effectually by intemperate proceedings. You will point out to them the tendency which such proceedings may have to raise the resentments of their country and to indispose it to take effectual measures for their relief. In short you will urge every consideration in your power to induce them to return; at the same time avoiding whatever may tend to irritate. If they persist in coming to town, you will give the earliest notice to us of their progress and disposition. Should they want provisions, you will assure them of a supply, if they will remain where they are, which you are to endeavour to persuade them to do in preference to coming to town.

I am Sir Yr. most Obed serv

A Hamilton
In behalf of the Committee

ALS, Papers of the Continental Congress, National Archives.

1Jackson was the Assistant Secretary at War.

2After the signing of the provisional peace treaty, Army demands for pay and discharge were aggressively asserted. There was disagreement among congressional delegates on whether to grant the soldiers a furlough or to discharge them. On May 26, 1783, Congress authorized an immediate furlough. The troops, however, objected to either a furlough or discharge without pay. Some of the soldiers ordered home refused to go.

On June 19, Congress was informed that eighty soldiers from the Third Pennsylvania Regiment stationed at Lancaster were marching to Philadelphia under command of their sergeants to secure a settlement of their accounts by Congress. It was reported to Congress that they were gaining recruits en route. Two letters, one from Colonel Richard Butler and another from William Henry, who was later elected a delegate to Congress from Pennsylvania, were sent from Lancaster on June 17 to the president of the Pennsylvania Supreme Executive Council advising him of the mutiny of the Pennsylvania troops. The letters were read in Congress and referred to a committee consisting of H, Richard Peters, and Oliver Ellsworth. The committee was to confer with the Executive Council of Pennsylvania “and to take such measures as they shall judge and find necessary” (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (Washington, 1904–1937). description ends , XXIV, 405, note 1).

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