George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Comfort Sands, 25 May 1782

Head Quarters May 25th 1782


After the conversation between Cols. Trumbull & Humphrys and yourself on the 6th of May, (which was reported to me in writing) and the subsequent Papers which passed between them and you, to your Letter of the 11th inst. inclusive; I am astonished beyond expression to find the following Words in a communication from you to the Field Officers of the Army dated the 14th of May, viz., "we have offered the Commander in Chief to submit all disputes in any equiable mode which he may direct"—An assertion so diametrically opposite to the fact, and which carries so strong marks of willful equivocation (as all these transactions were so recent they could hardly have escaped your memory) that I am at a loss on what principle to account for this preposterous conduct; unless you meant to exculpate yourself by an appearance of candor & fairness on your part, and to insinuate to the Army, that if all matters in dispute were not speedily terminated, I must be considered as the sole cause of it, because you had offered that all of them should be decided in any equitable mode I might direct. Whether this was the principle or not is very important to me, it is enough, that this was the apparent tendency of your assertion, and that all the Papers necessary to elucidate the entire proceedings are still in existence.

And now, Sir, in order to refresh your Memory, I must beg leave to draw your attention to two simple facts: did I not propose to you thro’ Cols. Humphrys & Trumbull, immediately upon my receiving the Complaints of the Officers against you, to have all those charges candidly & fairly examined into & decided by three judicious impartial Persons, not belonging to or connected with the Army, one to be appointed by you, another by me, and the third to be nominated, by the two chosen as beforementioned? And did you not positively refuse any such reference without you were allowed to dictate your own conditions & restrictions, and did you not even obstinately persist in such terms of settlement as in my opinion defeated the whole object of the reference? but the truth is incontestable & your answer to these points unnecessary.

In consequence of this, and to avoid any farther altercation or shifting of ground, I transmitted the whole Proceedings to the Secretary at War, on whose decision the matter now rests. But, Sir, if you have not again altered your mind on this subject; I wish to be informed in very clear & explicit terms which cannot admit of misconstruction or misconception, whether you do now offer to the Commander in Chief, to submit all disputes respecting the Contracts to be decided in any equitable mode which he may direct. I shall expect your answer to this question and am Sir.

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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