George Washington Papers

To George Washington from South Carolina Line Officers, February–March 1790

From South Carolina Line Officers

State of South Carolina [February-March 1790]

To the President of the United States.

The Memorial of the underwritten, late Officers of the South Carolina Line, on the Continental Establishment Sheweth

That in the year 1781, the honorable the Congress made arrangements, whereby every Officer in the American Army, was to have received four months Pay in Specie. That in the year 1782 they again made arrangements for two months more Pay.

That in pursuance thereof, all the Officers received Six months pay in Specie, except those of this, and one or two other States.

That, from Causes unknown to your Memorialists, they were unfortunately deprived of that Relief, which was intended for them, and for the Want of which, they were deprived of many Necessaries of Life. That Congress having some time ago taken the hardship of their Case into consideration, and with all the Injustice done them, recommended by their Resolve of the [ ] day of 178[ ] that this State, should compleat to the several Officers, the said six months Pay, amounting in the whole to about Ten thousand Dollars. to be deducted out of the Requisitions of Congress.

That in pursuance of such Resolve, the Commissioners of the Board of Treasury furnished each of your Memorialists, with an Order on the Commissioner of the Loan Office of this State ⟨for⟩ the amount of his demand. That the said Commissioner ⟨mutilated⟩ declared, that he is without funds for the satisfaction of the⟨m⟩ and they are given to understand, that no provision has been made for these their just claims. Your Memorialists, then can not but feel themselves hurt, under the Reflection, th⟨at⟩ this is now the only State, whose Officers are not yet paid ⟨the⟩ said six months pay: And they are still more mortified, when they find no provision made for the payment of that which ought to have been paid, seven or eight years ago; And that the order has, during that whole period, been lying dormant in their hands, without bearing the least Interest. They are however persuaded, that upon their Grievance being represented, full and ample justice will be done them, and that they will receive such Relief, as will seem just & equitable.

LS, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters. This petition was signed by Brig. Gen. Isaac Huger and fifteen other officers or their representatives “for themselves & others of the ⟨South⟩ Carolina Line.” The memorial is endorsed “recd March 5th. 1790.”

The officers of the South Carolina line sought back pay for 1782 and 1783 as early as 19 July 1786 when the Continental Congress discussed the matter and passed it on to the Board of Treasury for investigation. The board reported on 26 July 1786 that the officers of South Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina were entitled to $37,066 56/90 but had not been paid because of the state of the finances. It was suggested that the amount be deducted from future South Carolina specie payments (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 30:417, 444–45). See also ibid., 31:465–66, 761.

The officers of the South Carolina line also presented a petition on 5 Mar. 1790 to the House of Representatives seeking payment of their Revolutionary War claims (PHi: Pierce Butler Papers). The petition was referred to the secretary of the treasury and Hamilton reported to the House on 18 Mar., substantiating the officers’ claims but arguing that they were not entitled to the interest (DHFC, description begins Linda Grant De Pauw et al., eds. Documentary History of the First Federal Congress of the United States of America, March 4, 1789-March 3, 1791. 20 vols. to date. Baltimore, 1972—. description ends 3:316, 335; Syrett, Hamilton Papers, description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends 6:305–6). On 17 May 1790 the House resolved to request GW to transmit to the executives of Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina a list of all officers to whom pay was still owed, notifying claimants that they could be paid upon proper application (DHFC, description begins Linda Grant De Pauw et al., eds. Documentary History of the First Federal Congress of the United States of America, March 4, 1789-March 3, 1791. 20 vols. to date. Baltimore, 1972—. description ends 3:414).

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