Alexander Hamilton Papers

Continental Congress Report on Conference with the Superintendent of Finance, 28 April 1783

Continental Congress
Report on Conference
with the Superintendent of Finance

[Philadelphia] April 28, 1783

[The Committee appointed to confer with the superintendant of Finance respecting his Continuance in his Office1 have conferred with him accordingly]2 and report that [the Substance] of the conferrence [was on the Part of Mr. Morris as follows:]

That his continuance in office was highly injurious to his private affairs and contrary to his private inclinations; but that he felt the importance of the exertions necessary to be made at the present juncture towards the reduction of the army in a manner satisfactory to them and convenient to the public; that therefore if Congress should think his services towards effecting that object of importance and should desire them, he would be ready to continue them till arrangements for that purpose could be made, and the engagements taken by him in consequence as well as those already entered into could be finally completed. That in this case he should hope for the support of Congress.3

[Resolved, That the Superintendant of Finance be informed that Congress are of opinion the public Service requires his Continuance in Office till Arrangements for the Reduction of the Army can be made, and the Engagements that shall be taken by him in Consequence, as well as those already entered into shall be finally completed.]4

D, in the writings of Elias Boudinot, Samuel Osgood, and H, Papers of the Continental Congress, National Archives; copy, signed by Charles Thomson, Robert Morris Papers, Library of Congress.

1The resolution of April 23, 1783, the last part of which was written by H, was referred back to the committee which had reported it. The committee was composed of Samuel Osgood, Theodorick Bland, H, James Madison, and Richard Peters. Information on Morris’s continuation in office is given in George Washington to H, April 22, 1783, note 4. See also “Report on Continuance in Office of the Superintendent of Finance,” April 23, 1783.

2The bracketed portions of this report are not in the writing of H.

3For Morris’s version of this conference, see “Report on Continuance in Office of the Superintendent of Finance,” April 23, 1783, note 2.

On April 29, 1783, Morris made the following entry in his Diary:

“This Morning when I received the Book from the Office of the Secretary of Congress in which the Acts of Congress that respect this Department are entered every Day I perceived that the Committee which had Conferred with me respecting my Continuance in Office, after the last Day of next month had not reported the whole of the Conversation which passed and that the report as entered on the Journals of Congress mistates the Sense of what passed on my Part, therefore I wrote a Note to the Honble. Mr. Osgood informing the Committee that they had misconstrued my Sentiments. He soon called here and upon my repeating some material parts of the Conversation he acknowleged they had been omitted. I requested him to call the Committee together again, but he said they had made their Report and are disolved but he would immediately return to Congress, have my Note to him read and move to have the Report of the Committee expunged from the Journals.” (Robert Morris Papers, Library of Congress.)

Osgood successfully moved to “expunge” the second paragraph of this report from the Journals (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (Washington, 1904–1937). description ends , XXIV, 311).

On May 1 Morris met again with the committee:

“The Honble. Mr. Hamilton, Mr. Fitzsimmons, Mr. Wilson Mr. Carrol Mr. Gorham and Mr. Osgood called to Confer with and Convince me of the Propriety of continuing in this Office untill the Army are disbanded and Peace Arrangements take place &c. To all their Arguments I opposed my Observations on the Conduct of Congress towards me; And I wish for nothing so much as to be releived from this cursed Scene of Drudgery and Vexation. I determined not to Continue and told them I will immediately write a Letter to that Effect to the President.” (Robert Morris Papers, Library of Congress.)

It was not until May 3 according to an entry in his Diary that Morris agreed to remain in office:

“The Hon. Mr. Wilson, Colo Hamilton and Mr. Fitzsimmons came to assign Reasons why I shall not quit this Office on the last of this Month and Use many Arguments to induce me to continue until the Army are disbanded and proper Arrangements taken &c. I find all my Friends so extremely anxious on this Subject that I have considered it maturely and as Congress have pledged themselves to support me, and to enable me to fulfill all Engagements taken on Public Account, I have concluded to continue so much longer as may be necessary to disband the Army and fulfill my Engagements already taken as well as those to be made for the above Purpose.” (Robert Morris Papers, Library of Congress.)

4The report was adopted on April 28, 1783.

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