George Washington Papers

Isaac Mansfield, Jr., to Tobias Lear, 16 April 1794

Isaac Mansfield, Jr., to Tobias Lear

Marblehead [Massachusetts] Apr. 16. 1794


Early in the late War, James Mugford Commander of the Schooner Franklin was killed in an Engagement in taking the Powder Ship; the Powder Ship at that time you may recollect was a very important Acquisition.1

The Administrator on Mugford’s Estate has applied for a Bounty provided for in such Case; the application was dated in December last, we received an answer from Treasury Department auditors office dated Feb. 13, a Reply to which directed to Richard Hamilton Auditor of the Treasury bears date Mar. 10.2

Another Matter in which I am personally interested is this; having served in the capacity of a Chaplain, after repeated applications I have obtained my Wages; but, my Rations were not included from a mistaken apprehension that my first application was so late that I was barred by the Statute of Congress of March 27. 1792. To rectify this Apprehension I addressed Mr Howell the paymaster in a Letter dated March 7.3

Both these Letters we forwarded to Mr Goodhue to be communicated to the persons to whom they were directed4—We have been delayed, (I do not say, unreasonably) and are now amused with an Idea that we are barred by the Statute of Mar. 27. 1792 which Suspended Limitations of Claims till Mar. 27. 1794.

Our Letters were in the Office at Philadelphia some days before the 27th.

If it may comport with the Dignity of The President, with all dutiful Respect we request his Attention to the Subjects before-mentioned. I subscribe myself Your Friend & H. Servant,

Isaac Mansfield

ALS, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters.

1While in command of the armed schooner Franklin, James Mugford, Jr. (1749–1776), of Marblehead, captured the British ordnance storeship Hope, Alexander Lumsdale, master, on 17 May 1776. This ship “had on board 1500 Barrils of powder & 1000 Stand of Arms” (Richard Devens to John Adams, 17 May 1776, Naval Documents description begins William Bell Clark et al., eds. Naval Documents of the American Revolution. 11 vols. to date. Washington, D.C., 1964—. description ends , 5:133; Artemas Ward to GW, 17 May 1776). Mugsford was killed in another naval battle on 19 May 1776 (Ward to GW, 20 May 1776).

2The administrator of Mugford’s estate sought payment according to a bounty approved by the Continental Congress on 15 Nov. 1776, which authorized that “20 dollars be paid to the commanders, officers, and men of such continental ships or vessels of war, as shall make prize of any British ships or vessels of war, for every cannon mounted on board each prize, at the time of such capture, and 8 dollars per head for every man then on board and belonging to such prize.” Congress repealed this bounty on 10 July 1782 (PCC description begins Papers of the Continental Congress, 1774–89. RG 360, National Archives. description ends , 6:954, 22:380). The auditor of the Treasury was Richard Harrison. The December 1793 application and the correspondence of 13 Feb. and 10 March 1794 have not been identified.

3For a previous letter containing this same complaint, see Mansfield to GW of 19 Sept. 1792. Even if Mansfield’s letters were received by the deadline of 27 March 1794 that was imposed by “An Act for providing for the settlement of the Claims of Persons under particular circumstances barred by limitations heretofore established,” 27 March 1792, Section One of that act expressly states that “nothing herein shall be construed to extend to claims for rations or subsistence money” (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 . 1:245). Joseph Howell, Jr., served as the acting paymaster general in GW’s administration until replaced by Caleb Swan on 8 May 1792, when he became accountant to the Department of War (GW to U.S. Senate, 8 May 1792 [first letter]). Mansfield’s letter to Howell of 7 March 1794 has not been identified.

4Congressman Benjamin Goodhue, of Salem, Mass., was currently in Philadelphia to attend the first session of the Third Congress.

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