George Washington Papers
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To George Washington from the Board of War, 25 May 1780

From the Board of War

War Office [Philadelphia] May 25th 1780.

Sir

Congress having entered into the Inclosed Resolution of the 21st of April;1 The Board have been considering of such Methods of carrying it into execution as would be most advantageous to the Public, and at the same time be most likely to procure an immediate Supply to the Prisoners: They have attempted to get the Bills negociated in New York, but the demands of the persons they applied to, were so extravagant, and the success of the Affair so doubtful, that they were discouraged from pursuing this Method: they have also thought of selling the Bills in Philadelphia for Paper money & then of purchasing Gold to send to the Prisoners; however on enquiring farther into the Matter it was discovered, the loss would be considerable, & that it would have a great Influence on the Depreciation of the Currency.

Mr Pintard has informed the Board, that ⟨h⟩e is of opinion, if your Excellency was to make the requisition, that General Kniphawsen would grant permission, to him, to negociate the Bills in New York; and that if this Liberty is allowed him, he has no doubt but it would be more advantageous to the Public than any other mode which has yet been proposed.2

There is indeed some reason to suppose he is not mistaken in his Judgement: The Brittish & Hessian Prisoners are universally allowed to negociate thier Bills among us,3 and there is equal Justice that a similar Indulgence should be extended to us.

The Board have furnished Mr Pintard with Bills for 25,000 Dollars, to be negociated in New York, that no time might be lost, in case Your Excellency coincided with them in Sentiment.4 I have the Honor to be with the highest respect Your Excellency’s Most obed. Hble Servant5

Joseph Carleton Secy p.t.
By order

LS, DLC:GW. A note on the cover reads “favd by Mr [Lewis] Pintard.”

1The enclosure has not been identified, but Joseph Carleton probably enclosed one or both congressional resolutions passed on 21 April regarding a monetary provision for officers in captivity. The first resolution stipulated that a sum equivalent to $10,485 “be placed in the hands of the commissary general of prisoners, out of which he be directed to pay to each of the officers confined in Philadelphia, while the enemy had possession of the city, and now in captivity, the sum of thirty two pounds like money, equal to 80 dollars, and the farther sum of   to the same persons respectively, to be computed at the rate of two dollars a week from the time of their being prisoners until their board was paid by the public.” The second resolution directed that a sum equivalent to over $31,000 “be advanced to the commissary general of prisoners” for distribution “among all the officers in captivity” for clothing, board, and other necessities. Congress also ordered that the commissary be given an amount equaling $6,250 “for the purposes of supplying the sick soldiers and sailors, in captivity, with necessaries, and for other contingent expences relating to the prisoners” (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 , 16:381–83).

3In a resolution adopted on 21 Jan. 1778, Congress listed conditions under which David Franks, then commissary of British prisoners, or any other agent, could “negotiate bills within these United States for the supply of prisoners taken from the enemy, or to purchase provisions, or other necessaries for such purpose” (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 , 10:77–81).

4GW replied to the Board of War on 5 June.

Congress subsequently provided means to supply money to commissaries to assist prisoners (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 , 17:762–63; 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 , 18:912).

5Carleton wrote the closing.

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