George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Samuel John Atlee, 28 February 1781

To Colo. Saml J. Atlee and Captns Danl Topham, Robt Caldwell, Bernard Ward, Matthias Wenderman, John Richardson, Danl Brodhead Junr[,] John Lawrence, John Morgan and John Helm Supernumerary Officers of Penna Line.

Head Quarters New Windsor Feby 28th 1781.


I have received your letter of the 6th Inst. accompanied by one from Col. Atlee of the 10th. I assure you I feel the force of your observations so far as they apply to the general principle of a hardship on the discrimination between the officers reduced by the former and those reduced by the latter arrangement. This difference is certainly unfortunate, for all on whom it fell; but I do not think it could with propriety by rectified in your case without being extended to the whole of the supernumeraries.

In the vicissitudes of public affairs it often happens that classes of men of equal merit are unequally compensated by their country, and sometimes attempt to remedy the evil after it has happened may have worse consequences than the evil itself. I do not say this is the case in the present instance, but there is a delicacy in the matter that makes me wish not to interfere in it.

The terms in which you express your sentime[nts] of mine, assure me that you will justly interpret the motives which induce me to decline seconding your application to the Assembly persuaded that nothing would give me greater pleasure than to promote as far as I could do it with propriety every measure calculated to produce an equal and generous compensation to men who deserve so much the equity and generosity of their country. I beg you to believe Gentlemen that I am with sentiments of the warmest esteem, &c.

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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