To Henry Knox
Mount Vernon 21st Augt 1786
The inclosed letter I received a short time since. As I am wholly unacquainted with the writer, & circumstances therein mentioned; I can only say, that if the facts are such as there alledged, I think the sufferer is entitled to some redress; but how far it may be in the power of Congress to comply with petitions of this nature I am not able to say. You undoubtedly know much better than I do, & I am sure your exertions will never be wanting to have justice done to those who have suffered by adhering to the cause of our Country.1 I am Dr Sir &c. &c.
1. The letter from Maurice Desdevens has not been found. Knox wrote GW on 23 Oct. that Desdevens had “been teizing congress for a number of years” and had “received considerable emoluments therefrom,” even though Knox had never “been convinced of his services for the Union.” Desdevens, a Canadian commissioned captain by Gen. Richard Montgomery in 1775, petitioned Congress more than a dozen times between 26 Mar. 1781 and 21 July 1786 for various forms of compensation. Acting on Desdevens’s petition of 10 July 1786 that all the papers he had previously submitted in support of his claims for compensation be considered by a committee, Congress voted on 12 July 1786 that Desdevens’s claims “be referred to the board of treasury” (JCC, description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends 30:397–98; 29:497–98). GW wrote Desdevens from Mount Vernon on 22 Aug.: “Sir, I have received your letter of the 8th of July, setting forth the misfortunes which you met with in the late war: As I have wholly laid aside public business, I can do nothing respecting the matter; but think that if the circumstances are such as you have mentioned, you ought to have some redress. I have written to Genl Knox upon the subject, who, I dare say, will do every thing in his power for you, consistently with propriety & justice. I am Sir, &c. G: Washington” (DLC:GW).