From Otho H. Williams
Baltimore 5 April 1792
My Dear Sir
Your official letter respecting the punctual collecting of duties shall have my particular attention.1
The advantages expected from your eventual agreement with the bank of Maryland have not been realized by the merchants, owing I understand, to some want of concert among the directors;2 But I have reason to expect that all will be settled this Week.
I am much gratified by your intimation that my name has occurred in conversation about a successor to the unfortunate St. Clair3—and I thank you for your concern about my health. I am so happy as to tell you that my health is much restored; But, my Dear friend, if I had the best health, and all the best qualifications for such a command, what is there in it to excite ambition, or to gratify any other passion?
Happy in my family, and possessing a decent sufficiency, what should induce me to hazzard the fate of Harmar,4 or the more hapless st. Clair—Or even if I were prosperous and Should even prove myself as great as Greene I might, like him, be traduced in my grave: while my family might beg, in vain, for protection.5
I regret extremely the mortifications to which our friend St. Clair is exposed; but he, unfortunately shall I say, lives to face his accusers.
Greene, poor fellow, is gone, and as it would seem has left scarcely an advocate behind him. The shameful speech of Genl. Sumpter upon Mrs Greenes petition6 excited my indignation, and I resolved upon saying some thing to the public in reply to it. But diffidence suspended the execution of my purpose; I have taken up my paper again, and after scratching a great deal almost persuade myself that it ought to appear.7
Peruse it, and if you can approve let it appear, all at once, in one of the Philadelphia papers—Ours would divide it into two or three scraps, and dissipate the little force it has.
If there is any more brawling in Congress about the unmerited abuse or neglect of the s. Carolina Militia, or the NC Militia,8 I will take occasion to give a detail of occurrences which shall place their merits in a proper light. The Vanity of puffing the southern Militia has, more than once disgraced the Ho: Rep——, and the insolent vulgarity of some of its members deserves public reproof.
I am with great Esteem and Confidence Dr. sir, Your most Obt
O. H Williams
ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress; ADfS, Maryland Historical Society, Baltimore.
3. Major General Arthur St. Clair had resigned from the United States Army on March 5, 1792, because of widespread complaints following the defeat of the troops under his command by Indians on November 4, 1791. For an account of this defeat, see “Conversation with George Hammond,” December 15–16, 1791, note 2.
4. Brigadier General Josiah Harmar had led an unsuccessful campaign against Indian tribes in the West in September and October, 1790.
5. Major General Nathanael Greene had died in 1786 leaving various accounts pending at the Treasury. For an account of Green’s financial difficulties, see “Report on the Petition of Catharine Greene,” December 26, 1791.
6. In a debate on January 9, 1792, on the petition of Catharine Greene, widow of Nathanael Greene, for indemnification by the United States, Thomas Sumter, Representative from South Carolina, argued that the petitioner had no valid claim (Annals of Congress, III description begins The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States; with an Appendix, Containing Important State Papers and Public Documents, and All the Laws of a Public Nature (Washington, 1834–1849). description ends , 321–23).
7. In response to a suggestion of Henry Lee, Williams had prepared a defense of Greene, addressed “To the Citizens of the United States” and signed “Vindicator.” After Lee and Edward Carrington had modified and corrected Williams’s draft, they returned it with the suggestion that Williams have it published in Philadelphia. The undated draft, partially in Williams’s handwriting, contains an account of Greene’s southern campaign (Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress). For Williams’s correspondence with Lee and Carrington, see Calendar of the General Otho Holland Williams Papers description begins Calendar of the General Otho Holland Williams Papers in the Maryland Historical Society (Baltimore, 1940). description ends , 250, 252–56.
8. In the debate of January 9, 1792, on the petition of Catharine Greene, Sumter “closed the debate in sundry remarks on extracts from letters wrote by General Greene during the late war, inserted in Gordon’s History of the American Revolution, which extracts contain unfavorable reflections on the militia of South Carolina, and the patriotism of the inhabitants of that State” (Annals of Congress, III description begins The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States; with an Appendix, Containing Important State Papers and Public Documents, and All the Laws of a Public Nature (Washington, 1834–1849). description ends , 326–27). In a debate of March 9 on the same subject, John Steele, Representative from North Carolina, “adverted to the letters which he [Greene] wrote, abusing the people South of the Potomac, at the very time he was experiencing their munificence and liberality” (Annals of Congress, III description begins The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States; with an Appendix, Containing Important State Papers and Public Documents, and All the Laws of a Public Nature (Washington, 1834–1849). description ends , 455).