Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Robert Morris, 9 April 1784

To Robert Morris

Annapolis 9th April 1784


The Grand Committee, to whom was referred a Motion of the Delegates of Massachusetts respecting the Discharge of Contracts said to have been made in that State, by Order of the Q M G for ox Teams, for the Campaign of 1781, request you to give them by the earliest opportunity the best Information in your Power respecting such Contracts, whether made in that or any other State, what are discharged and what are not, and the particular Circumstances of the latter. The Committee are informed by the Delegates of Massachusetts, that one of the Contractors who brot the inclosed Letter, supposes that the Reason why the Massachusetts Contracts were not paid, whilst some others for that Campaign were paid, was that the former were made previous, and the others subsequent to your accepting the Office of Superintendent of Finance, and the Committee request Information on this Head. The Delegates of Massachusetts desire a return of the inclosed letter1 with your Answer.2

The above enquiry going to the transportation furnished on contract only, the Committee would be glad to be informed also whether the claims for that which was procured by compulsion or other means for the same campaign have been admitted at your office and paid in equal degree. The object of this is that having the whole article of transportation for that period under their view they be able to form a resolution either general or special as justice may require.

I have the honor to be with very high respect Sir Your most obedt. & most humble servt.

Dft (DNA: PCC, No. 137, ii, 365–6); without signature or name of addressee (the missing RC was no doubt signed by TJ as chairman of the Grand Committee); partly in hand of Elbridge Gerry and partly in TJ’s hand. Enclosure (missing): On 22 Jan. 1784 the conductors of ox teams of Massachusetts petitioned the General Court complaining that, despite applications to the superintendent of finance, they had not been paid anything on contracts entered into in 1781 with the Q.M.G. “amounting in the whole to something more than fifteen thousand pounds” and requesting that the several sums due the contractors be paid out of the Massachusetts treasury and charged to the United States; the General Court drafted a letter to the Massachusetts delegates in Congress, directing them to propose that the state be allowed to deduct the sums due out of the “State’s quota of the Continental tax, now coming into the Treasury,” and ordered that Gov. Hancock be requested to transmit this letter to the delegates. This resolution was adopted 18 Feb. 1784 and Hancock evidently dispatched the letter the same day; this letter—the enclosure in the present communication—was referred to the Grand Committee on 6 Apr. (Mass. Acts and Resolves, Jan. sess., 1783, ch. 67; Morris to TJ, 29 Apr. 1784; Pickering to TJ, 26 Apr. 1784; JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, ed. W. C. Ford and others, Washington, 1904–1937 description ends , xxvii, 507–508; Burnett, Letters of Members description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress description ends , vii, No. 616).

1Preceding six words interlined by TJ. Gerry had written “I have only to add, Sir … that the letter may be returned,” which TJ deleted in order to add the passage indicated in the following note.

2From this point on the draft is in TJ’s hand.

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