Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Nicholas Reib, 17 February 1802

From Nicholas Reib

Philada. Feby 17th 1802

The subscriber wishes you profound health and that you may live long to the Service and as an Ornament to your Country—Your Administration being vested in Wisdom Justice & Philantropy and knowing that you are no Respecter of Person, and that truth & Justice is your Motto, he therefore trusts you will favour him in perusing and paying due Attention to these few lines.—On the 11th of Febuary 1778, An act was Passed in & by the Congress of the US. allowing each and every Artificer or Mechanic 20 Dollars pr Month besides bounty Clothing & Backration of which you will find a Copy thereof—My Account will show Clearly & Evident what my Claims to the US. are, and what I have Received in part. My Demand where $474.67. and that of my Sons $314.67.—In the Year 1782 I obtained a Certificate from the war office for $135.—In which the time of Payment was not Mentioned this Certificate the Assembly of Pennsylvania took up and Returned another in lieu thereof. after some time they annulled the same said Certificate. that the Brokers where advised to pay no more than 2/6 in a pound. as I could not Expect more than others I was under the necessity of taking 70/100 pr Month Instead of 20 Dollars.—I Received a Certificate in the year 1794 for my son of which you have also a Copy by that I was Entitled to $9.30. pr month upon which I lost $30. I also employed a man during the war in my stead who I paid 20 Dollars bounty in the presence of Cap Sholten for which I have never Received a cent State Bounty.—In Consequence of which I have frequently presented Petitions until March in the year 1794, when my whole Demand was approved & Recognised by Congress that I should Receive all that is Remaining unpaid, that is to say Months pay Bounty & Board. the Backration was Struck out which the Pennsylvania Legislature is to make good. the Approbation of my Demands you will find in the Journals of 1794. I pray you to forward me a Copy of the above aforesaid act. I could write a whole Volume of the Impropriety of Detaining the money so long. My son and myself have often been Requested to work at the Shoe making business in the Manufactory and that that was promised us, you can also observe in the Journals when we Left the Business.—I hope & pray you will gratify me with an Answer to this Address.—I am

Sir, Your Very Humble Servt.

Nicholas Reib

RC (DLC); in an unknown hand, signed by Reib; addressed: “His Excellency Thomas Jefferson President of the United States Washington Virginia”; endorsed by TJ as received 22 Feb. and so recorded in SJL. Enclosures not found, but see below.

Philadelphia cordwainer Nicholas Reib enlisted in Colonel Benjamin Flower’s corps of artillery artificers in May 1780. Despite his advanced age and infirmities, he served until March 1782, when he employed another to serve in his place. Reib presented his first claim for back pay to Congress in May 1782, and petitioned repeatedly for the settlement or resettlement of his account until 1800 (Reib to Congress, 3 and 15 May 1782, in DNA: RG 360, PCC; JHR description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1826, 9 vols. description ends , 1:464–5, 658; 2:26, 447–8; 3:662, 698).

An act was passed in & by the Congress: a resolution by Congress of 11 Feb. 1778 allowed artificers in Flower’s regiment to receive $20 per month, plus the same bounty, clothing, and benefits granted to the Continental artillery. On 19 Dec. 1782, however, this payment was reduced to $12 per month and Congress ordered that all unsettled accounts up to 31 Dec. 1781 be settled for pay and depreciation from 1 Aug. 1780 to 31 Dec. 1781 at a rate of $12 per month, with payments to be made in funded certificates (JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, D.C., 1904–37, 34 vols. description ends , 10:149; 23:819–20).

Reib’s Son, Peter Reib, served in Flower’s regiment from May 1780 until August 1781, when he joined the crew of a ship of war. On 7 June 1794, Congress authorized the settlement of Peter Reib’s account “on the same principles on which the accounts of those who served in the same corps were adjusted and settled” (U.S. Statutes at Large description begins Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States … 1789 to March 3, 1845, Boston, 1855–56, 8 vols. description ends , 6:17).

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