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To Thomas Jefferson from Samuel Huntington, enclosing a Table of Continental Requisitions of Food, 9 November 1780

From Samuel Huntington, enclosing a Table of Continental Requisitions of Food

In Congress Novr. 9th 1780.


Fully convinced of our inability to obtain the grand object of the fœderal Union without the vigorous exertions of the several States we have thought it our duty to make the requisitions contained in the enclosed resolutions; and we wish our constituents to be impressed with the necessity of a speedy and punctual compliance. For although by the blessing of providence we have been conducted thus far in a War with a powerful and enraged Enemy, yet the events of the present year have not enabled us to speak the language of triumph. This indeed may be attributed to a variety of causes, but we cannot refrain from observing that the unpunctuality of the States in their supplies of Men, Money and provisions is not one of the least.

It is unnecessary to point out the public wants and distresses. They are too well known, too generally felt. Hitherto the war has been carried on principally by emissions of paper Money. This being depreciated and Congress having in Compliance with the general inclination and voice of their Constituents, resolved to stop farther Emissions, we are compelled to call upon the States for taxes and specific supplies.

An opinion seems to prevail that foreign Loans can be obtained, and we perceive with regret that some are disposed to place too great reliance on this resourse. Duty compels us to be explicit with our Constituents on a subject of such interesting importance. Every effort has been made for the purpose of procuring Loans; but without sufficient success to justify a relaxation of our own most vigorous exertions.

It is to be observed that a powerful armed Neutrality appears to be formed in Europe determined to support the freedom of Commerce. Should overtures of peace be the result of a Convention of the neutral powers, is it not our interest, is it not our indispensible duty to be prepared for such an event? Our object is of the greatest magnitude, the security, freedom and Independence of the United States: and experience evinces that no Nation can promise itself a safe and honourable peace which is not in condition to maintain a War with vigour. We are confident there is no want of ability in the States to do this. Can arguments then be necessary to call forth every internal resourse which may contribute to put a happy period to the War? Is it not high time to expel from our Country an Enemy whose progress is marked with blood and desolation and whose successes inspire them only with redoubled vengeance?

The estimates may appear large but we conceive them to be absolutely necessary. To the utmost of our power we have endeavoured to correct abuses in the public expenditures. We have called for the aid of the respective Executives. Again we recommend this essential object to their attention. Nothing on our part shall be wanting which may contribute to promote the strictest Oeconomy in dispensing the supplies now required.

We have only to add our earnest desire that no time may be lost, and should the Legislature of your State not be in Session on the receipt of this Letter that it may be immediately convened.

By order and on behalf of The United States in Congress Assembled,

Sam. Huntington President


Continental Requisitions of Food, 4 November 1780
Barr. beef.
240 ℔ @17½
D. pr. barl.
5½ D. pr. C.
8.D. pr. C.
galls. W.
India rum.
bush. salt. bar. pork
220. ℔.
22 D.
barr. flour
224. ℔
New Hampshire 2,500 6,000 2,000  20,124 47,623 
Massachusets 16,000 29,250 9,750  74,576 13,000 2,000 273,831⅔
Rhode island 900 1,500 500  20,000 83. 23,797⅔
Connecticut 15,000 18,750 6,250  25,000 813 3,500 202,399⅓
New York 2,800 1,320 441½ 1,500 16,000 89,295 
New Jersey 3,000 4,000 1,333  996 4,000 12,000 107,152 
Pennsylvania 3,000 1,500 500  50,000 13,028 2,000 55,000 27,383⅓
Delaware 2,000 500 800 3,471 20,240⅔
Maryland 4,800 9,000 3,000  17,007 4,000 5,500 20,000 188,111 
Virginia 9,000 23,670 7,890  70,292 6,673 10,617 7,529 297,645 
N. Carolina 3,000 7,500 2,500  24,000 991 5,000 6,000 119,060 
Virginia to deliver
  Jan. 1. 1780. 9,000 11,000 1,000 10,617 2,500
  Mar. 1. 5,500 500 1,250
  May. 1. 11,000 1,000 2,500 74,411¼
  July 15. 42,792 4,173 1,279
  Aug. 1. 74,411¼
  Nov. 1. 74,411¼
  Feb. 1. 74,411¼

RC (Vi); in a clerk’s hand, signed by Huntington; at head of text: “(Circular).” The original enclosure, an attested copy of an 8-page resolution of Congress, 4 Nov., is also in Vi (and there is also a copy, sent later), but the text presented here derives from a condensed form of the resolution in TJ’s own hand (also in Vi), arranged by him somewhat differently from the original for the purpose of ready reference. Huntington’s letter and its enclosure were transmitted by TJ to Speaker Harrison on 20 Nov. 1780, q.v.

Huntington’s circular letter was drawn by a committee of Congress and agreed to on the day it was sent; several versions are to be found in PCC; see JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, ed. W. C. Ford and others, Washington, 1904–1937 description ends , xviii, 1038–40, especially p. 1040, note. The requisitions on the states, approved 4 Nov., are printed in full in same, p. 1011–18.

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