From James White
[Augusta, Ga.] December the 2 1791
May it please your Exelency this is my third Letter to you in Which I gave you A true State of my Case2 as thay have Misd Your perusal I Shall Trouble you with this I Early Ingaged In the Cause of Independancey and was Imployed in making of Cannon and Bullets for which the British Disstroyd all my Tools Stock and provisions to the Amount of 200 pounds Worth at the Lowest Calcullation this I Could have Born But our own Armey Came and Sat Down on my plantation and Staid thare Six Months in which time thay Did not Leave me A rail Nor A tree to Make a rail of Which Abloiged me to Sel my plantation for which I Received 5233 Contonantal Dollars of the omishons May the 20 1777 and April the 11 17783 I moved out into the State of North Carolinah whare the whole of it wood not purchase Me one Bushel of Corn I was Informd thare was A man appointed by Congress to take it and Give me Sumthing in Lew that mite purchase Bread for my family Who was plaisd in the wild woods whare was not A grub taken Up I traviled Down to him which was more then 200 miles Distance but he wood not take it on Saying he had wrot to Congress to apoint a man in Every County to take it in as it Hurt the Back peopel by Coming all the way Down to Him I had to Return towards home with my money but Was Soon Convins’d it was no money Calling at A tavern for a feed for my horse and Self telling the Landlord I had No money But them omissions that was Cald in of which I wood Give his own Asking But he Said he would not Give me A grots worth for the full of A washen tub of That Sort of Money Travilling on till night it Being Dark I lost my way and was Abloiged to Lay in the woods with Hunger and Cold for my Compny Your Exellency may Judg of my thoughts About the Congress but hoping under This New Constestution to have Sum Justice Dun me I wrote to the Speaker Mr Mulenburg who Informd me It was in the power of Congress to make me whole if they had Gon A littel farther and told me wheather thay wood make me Whole or not it mite have prevented my troubling your Exellency with my Scrowls4 The Congres has Been Very Lavish in heeping their Greautuites and Anuieties upon Barron Steubain who Did Not A whit more for Independanc⟨e⟩ Then my Self5 he Lost nothing All I had was taking away By the Brittish and by our own Army as Above He Did Teuterd the Armey I Made Cannon and Bullets I Do not Plead for Gifts or Rewards for Gods Sake Let me have my Just Dew if You will Not Make me up the Lose of my Tools Make Good Your Resolutions and Suffer me not To Live Wretched Now to wards the Decline of Life for I have Labourd at a Grait Dissadvantaige Not Being Abel to purchase me A set of Tools Sence the British Distroyed Mine I Might have Been A very Servisable ma⟨n⟩ To my Country Being Very Capebel of performing Many of the Macannackel Arts But I fear I ha⟨ve⟩ Intruded two mutch upon your patience when I Reflect Our Country Suffaring for the want of A true Standard of Weights and measures I Canot but Pray Your Exell⟨ency⟩ To Appoint Sum Suteable person to Exammen Weights and Measures it wood prevent mutch Defraud Among the pooerer Sort of peopel the wellfair of Which Depends Mutch upon Your Exellincy Good Conduck the Experionce of Which is Highly Aplaud By all Ranks of peopel Whatsoever this from your Humbel petissioner
Pray Sir If you think A poor mans Case worth Notice and Send mee A line or two Direct to Mr John Smith printer in Agusta Richmon County State of Georgia.6
ALS, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters. The cover bears the notations “Free” and “Augusta Decr 19th.”
1. White wrote “1792,” rather than 1793, but the document is docketed “2d Decr 1793” and filed with other December 1793 letters.
2. One of White’s earlier letters, docketed by GW as “without date” but apparently written between August 1790 and December 1792, is filed with this letter in DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters. In the earlier letter, White, then of Guilford County, N.C., asked GW “to Lay A true State of my Case before the Congress and See if I must Loose all or not.” He told the same story, but added more about his problems. Upon returning from his trip, White wrote, he met with a friend “who agread to Let me have 297 Acres of Land for the Sum of three hundred pounds hard money he to wait without interest until the year 1788 the State of North Carolinah Striking a paper Currency put it out of my power to Comploy with the agreement my friend Sence Dead his heirs Now Calling upon me for prinsopel and interest Which will amount to much higher Sum then the place will Bring altho I have improved it with A good gristmill and Sawmill Dwelling house and other Nessasery buildings. . . . I plead for Nothing But what in Justice I ought to Get that is the Congress wood make Good their Resolves that the Barrer of these Dollars in my possession might Receive A spanish mild Dollar or the Vallue thareof in Gold or Silver I Did Expect when I Receivd them Dollars and Gave my property to the full Value of that mutch Gold or Silver I Cood have pas’d them from me for the Like Currency But the Congress makeing them Good for nothing has Left me in A very Deploreable Situation as I must of Consequence turn of the place I am now on or otherwise pay the money Above Contracted which is out of my power unless Congress make their Money Good.” White’s other letter to GW has not been found.
3. In White’s earlier letter he wrote: “Apploying to your Exelencey to know wheather I Could git Any thing for the Dammages you told me I Shood bee paid for every farthings worth that our armey Distroyd by apploying to the Quarter master Genral Green the Valueation was So low that it wood not moove me out to Carolinah I was forsd to Sell my plantation for the Sum of two thousand Pounds Congress money the Dammages in Clueded which was All of the Dates May the 20 1777 and 11th April 1778.” The plantation apparently was in the vicinity of Valley Forge, as White also wrote that GW “had Sum personal Views of my Suffrings at the Valey forge.” In 1777 and 1778 a man named James White did own a plantation in Charleston Township, Chester County, Pa., adjoining the Schuylkill River near Valley Forge (Pennsylvania Gazette, 11 June 1777; Pennsylvania Packet or the General Advertiser, 1 Sept. 1778).
4. In the earlier letter, White wrote that he had “alread wrote to two of the members of Congress Mr Gilman and Mr Mulenberg all to no purpose.” Frederick A. C. Muhlenberg served as speaker of the House of Representatives for the first federal Congress, from 1 April 1789 to 3 March 1791.
5. By an act of 4 June 1790, Congress granted Steuben an annuity of $2,500 for life (Stat. description begins Richard Peters, ed. The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, from the Organization of the Government in 1789, to March 3, 1845 . . .. 8 vols. Boston, 1845-67. description ends , 6:2)
6. John Erdman Smith (c.1756–1803) printed an Augusta, Ga., newspaper, initially called The Georgia State Gazette or Independent Register and at this time Georgia. The Augusta Chronicle, and Gazette of the State, from September 1786 until his death.