Notes on Debates
MS (LC: Madison Papers). For a description of the manuscript of Notes on Debates, see Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (6 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , V, 231–34.
The resolution permitting the soldiers to retain their arms was passed at the recommendation of Genl. Washington see letter in the files.1
The resolution for granting furloughs or discharges was a compromise between those who wished to get rid of the expence of keeping the men in the field, and those, who thought it impolitic to disband the army whilst the British remained in the U. S.2
Apl. 24. see Journal 3
1. In a letter of 18 April to President Elias Boudinot, Washington mentioned “an Idea which has been hinted to me, and which has affected my Mind very forcibly.” He urged that the troops who had “engaged for the War” be given “at the Discharge” the “Arms and Accoutrements” which had been the “constant companions of their Toils and Dangers.” Besides being “an honorable Testimonial from Congress,” he continued, these “Badges of Bravery and military Merit,” used to establish “our National Independence and Glory,” would be “preserved with sacred Care” by the veterans and “handed down” to their “posterity” (Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington description begins John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington, from the Original Sources, 1745–1799 (39 vols.; Washington, 1931–44). description ends , XXVI, 332–33).
2. This “resolution,” together with the one adopting Washington’s suggestion concerning “Arms and Accoutrements,” comprised the three opening paragraphs of a committee report drafted mainly by Samuel Osgood and in small measure by Alexander Hamilton. Congress adopted the committee’s suggestion that, although duration-of-war enlistments did “not expire until the ratification of the definitive treaty of peace,” Washington should be authorized, “if circumstances shall require it, to grant furloughs or discharges” to soldiers of that status, “as he may judge most expedient” (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIV, 269–70). This “compromise” reflected not only the divergence of opinions mentioned by JM, but also the ominous discontent, mentioned by Washington in his letter of 18 April, of duration-of-war troops, who believed that the news of the preliminary treaty of peace warranted their release from further service (JM to Jefferson, 22 Apr., n. 14). For the continuance of British armed forces in New York City and its neighborhood, see Delegates to Harrison, 22 Apr. 1783, and n. 6.
3. On 24 April, besides adopting a resolution already mentioned (Delegates to Harrison, 22 Apr. 1783, and n. 7), Congress resolved: “That the Secretary at War and the Superintendant of finance, take immediate measures for removing the lines of Virginia, Maryland and Pensylvania, [together with the corps of artillery and cavalry] now under the command of Major General Greene, to such places within their respective states as they shall think proper.” JM was one of the twenty-three delegates who voted in favor of the resolution. The three South Carolina delegates, together with Theodorick Bland and John Francis Mercer of Virginia, voted “no” (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIV, 275–76).
During a conference on the morning of 24 April, JM and the four other members of a committee, Samuel Osgood, chairman, persuaded Robert Morris, superintendent of finance, to delay the effective date of his resignation if essential “for the Purpose of Compleating such Payment to the Army as may be agreed on as necessary to disband them with their own Consent” (Syrett and Cooke, Papers of Hamilton description begins Harold C. Syrett and Jacob E. Cooke, eds., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton (15 vols. to date; New York, 1961——). description ends , III, 341, and nn. 2, 4, 342, and nn. 1, 3; JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIV, 283–85). In a letter of 23 April Richard Peters, a member of the committee, succinctly characterized the problem: “The Difficulty which heretofore oppress’d us was how to raise an Army. The one which now embarrasses is how to dissolve it. Every thing Congress can do for the Satisfaction of our deserving Soldiers will be done. But an empty Purse is a Bar to the Execution of the best Intentions” (Burnett, Letters description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress (8 vols.; Washington, 1921–36). description ends , VII, 150). See also JM Notes, 4–5 Mar., n. 11; 22 Mar. 1783, n. 2.