Alexander Hamilton Papers

Continental Congress Report on the Discharge of Noncommissioned Officers and Soldiers, 23 May 1783

Continental Congress
Report on the Discharge
of Noncommissioned Officers and Soldiers

[Philadelphia] May 23. 1783

The Committee consisting of Mr. Hamilton, Mr. Peters and Mr. Gorham to whom was referred a letter of the 9th. from the Superintendent of finance and Secretary at war,1 in order to confer with them on the resolutions of the 7th. & 28th. of April and 2d Inst report2 “that all the non commissioned officers and soldiers in the service of the United States, enlisted to serve during the war, be discharged; and that the Secretary at war and Commander in Chief take the proper measures for doing this, in a manner most convenient to the soldiery and to the inhabitants, having the men previously conducted, under proper officers, to their respective states, and that they be at the same time authorized to retain as many officers as they may judge necessary to command the men who still continue in service, permitting the others to retire.3

JCH Transcripts description begins John C. Hamilton Transcripts. These transcripts are owned by Mr. William H. Swan, Hampton Bays, New York, and have been placed on loan in the Columbia University Libraries. description ends . Although this report is printed in JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (Washington, 1904–1937). description ends , XXIV, 358, it has not been found among the Papers of the Continental Congress, National Archives.

1The letters from Robert Morris and Benjamin Lincoln are in the Papers of the Continental Congress, National Archives.

2The resolutions of these dates were in the writing of H.

3There was disagreement in Congress on whether the soldiers should be discharged or granted a furlough. According to Madison, H’s report calling for the discharge of soldiers enlisted for the war was based on the belief “that it was called for by Economy and justified by the degree of certainty that the war would not be renewed.” Those who were in favor of furloughing rather than discharging the soldiers “wished to avoid expence, and at the same time to be not wholly unprepared for the contingent failure of a definitive treaty of peace.” As no compromise between the opposing ideas could be reached, “it was agreed that the whole subject should lye over” (“Notes of Debates in the Continental Congress,” MS, James Madison Papers, Library of Congress).

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