To William Greene1
Philadelphia [December 11, 1782]2
Congress are equally affected and alarmed by the information they have received that the Legislature of your state at their last meeting have refused their concurrence in the establishment of a duty on imports.3 They consider this measure as so indispensable to the prosecution of the war, that a sense of duty and regard to the common safety compel them to renew their efforts to engage a compliance with it; and in this view they have determined to send a deputation of three of their members to your state, as expressed in the inclosed resolution.4 The Gentlemen they have appointed will be able to lay before you a full and just representation of the public affairs, from which they flatter themselves will result a conviction of the propriety of their solicitude upon the present occasion. Convinced by past experience of the zeal and patriotism of the state of Rhode Island, they cannot doubt that It will yield to those urgent considerations which flow from a knowlege of our true situation.
They will only briefly observe that the increasing discontents of the army, the loud clamours of the public creditors, and the extreme disproportion between the current supplies and the demands of the public service are so many invincible arguments for the fund recommended by5 Congress. They feel themselves unable to devise any other, that will be more efficacious, less exceptionable or more generally agreeable; and if this is rejected they anticipate calamities of a most menacing nature, with this consolation however, that they have faithfully discharged their trust, and that the mischiefs which may follow cannot be attributed to them.
A principal object of the proposed fund is to procure loans abroad. If no security can be held out to lenders, the success of these must necessarily be very limited. The last accounts on the subject were not flattering; and when intelligence shall arrive in Europe that the state of Rhode Island has disagreed to the only fund, which has yet been devised there is every reason to apprehend it will have a fatal influence on their future progress. Deprived of this resource, our affairs must in all probability rapidly hasten to a dangerous crisis, and these states be involved in greater embarrassments than they have yet experienced, and from which it may be much more difficult to emerge.
Congress will only add a request to Your Excellency that if the Legislature should not be sitting, it may be called together as speedily as possible to enable the Gentlemen whom they have deputed to perform the purpose of their mission.6
ADf, Papers of the Continental Congress, National Archives.
1. The draft is prefaced by the following statement: “The Committee appointed to prepare a letter to the state of Rhode Island report the following for the consideration of Congress.” It probably was prepared for the signature of Elias Boudinot, President of Congress. The resolution reported by the committee, which consisted of H, James Madison, and Thomas FitzSimons, stated that the letter “be sent to the governor of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, with the deputation appointed to proceed to that State” (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (Washington, 1904–1937). description ends , XXIII, 783).
Greene was the governor of Rhode Island from 1778 to 1786.
2. The date is that of the introduction of the report in Congress.
3. For information on Rhode Island’s refusal to accede to Congress’s demand for the authority to impose impost duties, see “Motion on Payment of Interest on the Domestic Debt and on Sending a Deputation to Rhode Island,” December 6, 1782.
4. The enclosed resolution was that of December 6. The deputation was composed of Thomas Mifflin, Abner Nash, and Samuel Osgood.
5. The preceding “the” and the words “recommended by” are not in the writing of H.
6. At the bottom of the page H wrote the words “His Excellency” without the name of an addressee.