Report on Army Memorial
[Philadelphia] January 22, 17831
The Grand Committee having considered the contents of the Memorial presented by the army2 find that they comprehend five different articles.
|2dly.||A settlement of accounts of the arrearages of pay and security for what is due.|
|3dly.||A commutation of the half pay allowed by different resolutions of Congress for an equivalent in gross.|
|4thly.||A settlement of the accounts of deficiences of rations and compensation.|
|5thly.||A settlement of the accounts of deficiencies of Cloathing and compensation.|
[Resolved]3 as to the first that the Superintendant of Finance be directed conformable to the measures already taken for that purpose4 as soon as the state of the public finances will permit to make such payment and in such manner as he shall think proper ’till the further order of Congress.
[Resolved] With respect to the second article so far as relates to the settlement of accounts [That the several States be called upon to compleat without delay the Settlements with their respective Lines of the Army up to the first day of August 17805 and] that the Superintendant of Finance be directed to take such measures as shall appear to him most proper for effecting the settlement from that Period.
As to what relates to the providing of security for what shall be found due on such settlement:
[Resolved] that the troops of the United States in common with all the creditors of the same have an undoubted right to expect such security; and that Congress will make every effort in their power to obtain from the respective states substantial funds adequate to the object of funding the whole debt of the United States and will enter upon an immediate and full consideration of the nature of such funds and the most likely mode of obtaining them.
With respect to the 3d article, [resolved that it be left] to the option of all officers entitled to half pay either to preserve their claim to that provision as it now stands by the several resolutions upon that subject, or to accept in lieu thereof 6 years full pay to be paid to them in one year after the conclusion of the war in money, or placed upon good funded security bearing an annual interest of six per Cent; provided that the allowance to widows and orphans of such officers as have died or been killed or may die or be killed in the service during the war shall remain as established by the resolution of the .7
With respect to the 4th and fifth articles the Committee beg leave to delay their report until they have obtained more precise information than they now possess upon the subject.8
AD, Papers of the Continental Congress, National Archives.
1. The endorsement reads: “Report of grand Comee delivered Jany 22. 1783, read, to be considered 23. 23 debated; postponed till 24.” The report is printed in JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (Washington, 1904–1937). description ends , XXIV, 93–96, under date of January 25, 1782.
2. On January 6, 1783, Major General Alexander McDougall and Colonels Matthias Ogden and John Brooks, on behalf of the Army, presented a memorial to Congress for overdue pay and other claims. A committee was appointed to meet the Army deputation, and on January 13 the meeting took place. As a result of the conference, H, James Madison, and John Rutledge were made a subcommittee to report, after consulting with the Superintendent of Finance, on the Army memorial.
3. The bracketed words in this document are not in H’s writing.
4. The phrase “conformable to the measures already taken for that purpose,” according to Madison, was “meant to shew that the payment to the army did not originate in the Memol …” (“Notes of Debates in the Continental Congress,” MS, James Madison Papers, Library of Congress).
5. The report originally stated “to the 31 December 1780.” A motion to substitute “the first day of August” for “the thirty-first day of December” was passed in the affirmative.
For an explanation of the importance of this change in dates, see “Notes of Debates in the Continental Congress,” MS, James Madison Papers, Library of Congress. For a challenge to the accuracy of Madison’s account of H’s part in the controversy, see Hamilton, History description begins John C. Hamilton, Life of Alexander Hamilton, a History of the Republic of the United States of America (Boston, 1879). description ends , II, 358.
6. H here wrote “at the conclusion of the war
six years full pay,” but crossed it out. The printed report (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (Washington, 1904–1937). description ends , XXIV, 95) reads: “or to accept in lieu six years full pay.…” According to James Madison, “a motion was made by Mr. Hamilton, to fill the blank with ‘six’ … in conformity to tables of Dr. Price, estimating the officers on the average of good lives” (“Notes of Debates in the Continental Congress,” MS, James Madison Papers, Library of Congress).
7. H at this point left a blank space. The same blank space appears in the report as printed in JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (Washington, 1904–1937). description ends , XXIV, 95. The resolutions providing pensions for widows and orphans were passed August 17, 1779 (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (Washington, 1904–1937). description ends , XIV, 973–74) and August 24, 1780 (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (Washington, 1904–1937). description ends , XVII, 773).
8. The first part of the report was adopted on January 25, but the last two paragraphs, according to the endorsement, were referred to “Mr. [Samuel] Osgood, Mr. [Thomas] Fitzsimmons, Mr. [John Lewis] Gervais [of South Carolina], Mr. [Alexander] Hamilton and Mr. [James] Wilson [of Pennsylvania].”