George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Nixon, August 1780

August 1780


A letter from your Excellency to Messrs Meredith and Barclay at Trenton has been by those gentlemen handed to us, as best able to give the necessary information respecting some of those subjects of enquiry on which it turns—We perceive from it that considerable dependance is placed upon the Pennsylvania bank for keeping the army supplied with provisions; but how far this dependance should justly go, your Excellency will be best able to judge when we shall have laid before you a state of its affairs—The ground work was a deposit of money arising from subscription—this subscription is about eleven hundred thousand pounds continental currency of which we are now in the receipt of two payments of ten per Cent each—but on what we principally rested was that convenience, the trading people would find in lodging their money in the bank, taking our notes payable on demand, by which, as the notes might be expected to have a free and continued circulation, we should have the command of a vast fund for our purchases. From these two sources of supply we have as yet drawn but about four hundred thousand pounds with a well grounded confidence however, that the production of the latter will be proportionately greater, the longer it remains open—part of this amount, agreeable to the prudential rules of similar institutions; it was necessary to receive in our hands: with the remainder we should have proceeded in the purchases of flour, had any been at market, which, since the harvest, has not been the case, but for the attention we thought ourselves obliged to shew to the requisition of tents from the Committee of Congress with the army, who informed us they were of still more indespensible necessity than flour—Of these Mr Francis the factor of the bank has purchased materials for five or six hundred which he has directed to be made up and will forward to the army—We shall however in consequence of your Excellency’s letter desist from further purchases in this article and resume our original design, as flour can be obtained—but as to the daily or weekly quantities we shall be able to supply we can have no certain assurance. On the whole our sentiments are, that it will be proper to consider the bank rather as coming in aid of the ordinary means of supply, than as being in itself equal to any great effect without them, and that it will not by any means supersede the necessity of any one of them, but ’tho we cannot venture to say what degree of support this establishment may receive from the publick, we can assure your Excellency that there is the best disposition in all those who have the conduct of it, to extend its means and make it as extensively useful as possible. We are your Excellency’s most obedt hum. Servants

John Nixon

Geo. Clymer

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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