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Motion on Supplies for Southern Army, [7 May] 1782

Motion on Supplies for Southern Army

Printed text (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXII, 244).

[7 May 1782]

On motion of Mr. [James] Madison, seconded by Mr. [Ezekiel] Cornell,1

Resolved, unanimously,2 That a committee be appointed to confer with the Superintendant of finance and Secretary at War, on the practicability and means of procuring supplies for the southern army by contracts, and report thereon.3

1The words in brackets are in the JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends . Ezekiel Cornell had entered Congress in June 1780 after considerable service as an officer in the continental army and the Rhode Island militia (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XVII, 485). This experience fitted him to share prominently in the activities of Congress relating to the army. In January 1782 he helped draft a revised “Plan for Conducting the Inspector’s Department.” Nine months later, after long hesitation, he made Washington “exceedingly happy” by accepting the “Office of Inspector of the Contracts &c.” (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXII, 30–33; Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington description begins John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington, from the Original Sources, 1745–1799 (39 vols.; Washington, 1931–44). description ends , XXV, 185).

2These italicized words obviously were added after the adoption of the motion.

3See Harrison to Virginia Delegates, 9 February, and nn. 3 and 4; Virginia Delegates to Harrison, 25 February 1782, and n. 3. The motion was referred to John Rutledge, Theodorick Bland, and Samuel Osgood. David Ramsay (S.C.), who replaced Rutledge on the committee on 3 June, wrote the report which was presented on 21 June 1782. It included Robert Morris’ assertion that because he lacked enough money to supply by contracts everywhere “was no reason why it should not be done where it could.” Congress directed the secretary at war to “take every step in his power to discover the causes of delay, embezzlement, and other circumstances which have so frequently arrested the supplies for the southern army.” Morris was ordered to report why that army could not be supplied by contracts (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXII, 244 n., 342–43). During the spring and summer of 1782 acrimonious disputes between high-ranking officers of the northern army and the contractors who supplied its food caused Morris much embarrassment (Clarence L. Ver Steeg, Robert Morris, pp. 142–49).

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