Alexander Hamilton Papers

Continental Congress Report on Conference with the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania on the Mutiny, 20 June 1783

Continental Congress
Report on Conference with the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania on the Mutiny1

[Philadelphia] June 20, 1783

The Committee to whom you were referred the letters & papers communicated to Congress by the Executive council of Pensylvania, through their delegates report.

That they had a conference yesterday as directed with the Supreme Executive Council, in which in the first instance the propriety of calling out a detachment of Militia to intercept the mutineers on their march from Lancaster was proposed to the Council suggesting the danger of their being suffered with impunity to join the troops in the barracks, who a few days before had manifested a dangerous spirit by an insolent and threatening message sent to Congress in the name of a Board of serjeants and who it was apprehended would be ready to make common cause with those on their march for mutinous purposes.2 That the Council having shown a reluctance to call out any part of the Militia expressing an opinion that they would not be willing to act till some outrage should have been committed by the troops, there appeared to the Committee no alternative but to endeavour to dissuade the mutineers from coming to town and if they failed in that attempt, to make use of expedients to prevent the troops in the barracks from joining in any excesses and to induce the detachment from Lancaster to return to that place.

That in this view & at their desire Major Jackson met the detachment then on its march to the city and endeavoured to engage them to return to the former place (urging the considerations contained in the annexed instruction to him)3 but the said detachment persisted in their intention of coming to this city and arrived here this morning. That upon conferring with the Superintendent of Finance, they find there is a probability, that the Pay Master General to whom the settlement of the accounts of the army has been committed, and who having all the documents in his possession can alone execute the business with propriety, will shortly arrive from the army and will immediately enter upon a settlement with the troops in this state; that in the mean time measures will be taken to prepare the business for a final adjustment. That there will immediately be sent to Lancaster a sum of money to be paid to the troops on account of the month’s pay heretofore directed to be advanced to them, the payment of which has hitherto been delayed by particular circumstances; together with notes for three months pay intended to be advanced to the men when furloughed. That they have desired this information to be transmitted to the Commanding officer here and at Lancaster, with this declaration that the corps stationed at Lancaster (including the detachment) can only be settled with or paid at that place.

AD, Papers of the Continental Congress, National Archives. In JCHW description begins John C. Hamilton, ed., The Works of Alexander Hamilton (New York, 1851). description ends , II, 276–77, this document is dated July 1, 1783.

1The committee appointed on June 19 (see H to Major William Jackson, June 19, 1783) to confer with the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania on measures to be taken to deal with the mutinous troops marching from Lancaster to Philadelphia, made a verbal report on the same day; and on the following day, it submitted a written report. According to the Journals, the written report was recommitted, and the committee was requested to amend it by adding its verbal report. The final version of the report is printed in the Journals under date of July 1 (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (Washington, 1904–1937). description ends , XXIV, 413–16), but there are no indications that the committee, as directed, added its verbal report. The report, which is in the writing of H and is printed above, conforms exactly to that in the Journals. It was written, according to the endorsement, on June 20, and no additions or amendments to it have been found.

2On June 17 Congress had received a petition from the troops stationed in Philadelphia. “The troops in the barracks at this place,” James Madison wrote to Edmund Randolph on June 17, “emboldened by the arrival of a furloughed regiment returning to Maryland, sent in a very mutinous remonstrance to Congress, signed by the noncommissioned officers on behalf of the whole. It painted the hardships which they had suffered in defense of their country and duty of their country to reward them, demanding a satisfactory answer the afternoon which it was sent in, with a threat of otherwise taking such measures as would right themselves” (James Madison Papers, Library of Congress).

3See H to William Jackson, June 19, 1783. A copy of the letter was attached to this report.

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