George Washington Papers
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To George Washington from Samuel Huntington, 25 January 1780

From Samuel Huntington

Philadelphia January 25. 1780

Sir,

Your Excellency will receive herewith enclos’d an Act of Congress of the 20th Instant together with two other Acts of the 14th & 17th of Decemr to which the former refers.1

These Acts are calculated with a Design to r⟨e⟩tren⟨ch⟩ Expences in the several staff Departments and promot⟨e⟩ as much as possible œconomy therein.

From a variety of Accounts there seems but too much reason to believe that grea⟨t⟩ & unnecessary Expences have incurred in those departments remote from Head Quarters, and out of the View or knowledge of the Heads of the Departments.

The Gentlemen appointed Commissioner⟨s⟩ in the Act of the 20th Instant will be notified to wai⟨t⟩ on your Excellency at Head Quarters as soon as Circumstances will permit to consult & advise on th⟨e⟩ Subject matter of their appointment.2 I have the honour to be with the greatest respect your Excy’s hble Servant

Sam. Huntington President

LS, DLC:GW; LB, DNA:PCC, item 14. The text in angle brackets, where the LS is mutilated or obscured, is taken from the LB.

1Huntington enclosed two documents with resolutions extracted from the minutes of Congress. The first document contained the resolutions of 14 and 17 Dec. 1779, and the second document quoted the resolution of 20 Jan., with related remarks regarding Congress’s proceedings on 21 January. Both documents are signed by Charles Thomson, secretary of Congress.

The resolution of 14 Dec. reads: “Whereas the aid of the several States is necessary in furnishing provisions for the Army and other supplies for carrying on the war, and Justice requires that they be called upon to furnish their respective Quotas at equitable prices:

“Resolved, That all the States shall be called upon to furnish their quotas of such supplies as may from time to time be wanted for carrying on the war and in making the requisitions, due care shall be taken to suit the convenience of the several States; And the articles by them respectively furnished shall be credited towards their quotas of the Monies which they are called upon to raise for the United States at equal prices for Articles of the same kind and quality, and for others in due proportion: And the Accounts shall be finally compared & adjusted so as to do equity to all the States.”

The resolution of 17 Dec. reads: “Resolved, That a Committee of five be Appointed to obtain estimates of the supplies Necessary to be procured for the use of the Army for the year ensuing in the commissary’s and quarter master’s Departments; and also for the support of the War, and report to Congress the quantities and kinds which each State ought to furnish as its quota thereof.

“That when the Legislature of any State shall have undertaken to procure its quota of any of the articles required all purchases of such Articles by the Commissaries and quarter masters in such State be discontinued” (DLC:GW; see also JCC, description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends 15:1377, 1391).

The resolution of 20 Jan. reads: “Resolved, That three commissioners one of whom to be a member of Congress be appointed to inquire into the expences of the Staff departments and the means of retrenching the same. That they or any two of them be authorised to enquire by inspection or otherwise concerning the several posts and places where officers of the Staff are stationed and to require of them any information relative to their respective departments—to discharge supernumerary and delinquent officers, and men of the said departments—to break up unnecessary posts and to establish posts where requisite, to stop all issues of rations and other supplies not indispensably necessary for the service—That they repair to head quarters and that they or any two of them be authorised in conjunction with Genl Washington to reduce the number of horses and waggons employed in the army and to adopt the cheapest and most certain mode of transportation, and any other measures for promoting œconomy in the said department.

“That for the present they be empowered to stop all issues of rations of every kind for the term of three months due to persons not in camp who can be otherwise supplied than from the public stores, and to report the sum to be paid for the rations so stopped.

“That they report such arrangements in any or all of the said departments as they may judge expedient, having regard to the resolutions of Congress of the 14th & 17th of December last.

“That the department of the Barrack Master Genl be abolished; and that he [be] called to an immediate account for the money advanced to him by the United States.”

The related remarks on Congress’s proceedings on 21 Jan. read: “According to order Congress proceeded to the election of commissioners and the ballots being taken—Mr Schuyler, Colo. Pickering and Genl Mifflin were elected” (DLC:GW; see also JCC, description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends 16:75–76, 79).

2Philip Schuyler declined his appointment (see Schuyler to GW, 7 and 12 March [DLC:GW]). The commissioners did not visit headquarters. On 10 March, Congress directed that Timothy Pickering and Thomas Mifflin should, in consultation with a newly appointed congressional committee consisting of Schuyler, Allen Jones, and Roger Sherman, prepare a plan for the reform of the staff departments (see JCC, description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends 16:243–44). Schuyler did not join the committee (see Schuyler to GW, 19 and 22 March [both DLC:GW]). On 27 March, they submitted to Congress a plan to reform the staff departments (see JCC, description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends 16:293–311; see also Nathanael Greene to GW, 22, 28, and 31 March, and 3 April, all in DLC:GW). Congress subsequently referred the plan to a new committee of conference sent to headquarters in April (see Huntington to GW, 18 April [DLC:GW], and Smith, Letters of Delegates, description begins Paul H. Smith et al., eds. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774–1789. 26 vols. Washington, D.C., 1976–2000. description ends 15:15–17; see also JCC, description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends 16:332–33, 354–57, and 362). Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene reported to Joseph Reed that GW was “not pleased” with the appointment of Mifflin (Greene to Reed, 29 Feb., in Greene Papers, description begins Richard K. Showman et al., eds. The Papers of General Nathanael Greene. 13 vols. Chapel Hill, N.C., 1976–2005. description ends 5:425–27).

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