Report on Salaries of
Southern Delegates and Civil Officers
MS (NA: PCC, No. 26, fols. 305, 307). Congress added JM’s proposal (fol. 307) to that of Thomas McKean (fol. 305) to make its resolution of 30 July 1781. This resolution was a substitute for a committee report docketed: “Report of Comee on the means of furnishing certain delegates with Money and paying the salaries due to civil officers & clerks[,] Delivered July 27. 1781[,] Entd. read. a resolution passed July 30. 1781.”
[ca. 30 July 1781]1
That, until the Delegates for the states of North Carolina, South Carolina & Georgia, shall receive remittances from their respective States for their support, during their attendance in Congress, the superintendent of finance be authorized & directed [to] supply such of them as have their families with them a sum not exceeding 200 dollars per month, each, and to such as have not families with them 150 dollars per month each, the said sums to be charged to the said States respectively[;]2 That the Superintendt of Finance be authorized & directed to make provision for discharging the arrears of pay due to the officers on the Civil establishmt. of the U. States, & for the future payment of their salaries as the same shall become due.3
1. On 10 July, upon John Mathews’ motion, Congress appointed a committee to confer with the superintendent of finance and report how delegates from states controlled by the enemy, and hence unable to receive their pay, could be provided with money for their support while attending Congress; and by what means the overdue salaries of “the civil officers and clerks of the boards or offices immediately under Congress” could be paid. The members of the committee were Oliver Ellsworth, chairman, George Clymer, John Mathews, William Sharpe, and JM (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XX, 733). The “reports” or “Report” of the committee, laid before Congress on 27 July, were a subject of discussion and action three days later. Neither the published journal nor the papers of the Continental Congress make clear what took place in the committee or in Congress in regard to the report(s) (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXI, 811, 813–14; NA: PCC, No. 26, fol. 301–2).
The matter is blurred by the following facts. (1) The published journal for 27 July mentions “reports,” but that for 30 July mentions “Report.” Was this merely a clerical inconsistency, or does it help, as will be noted in (4) below, to clarify JM’s share in the matter? (2) Perhaps, because Ellsworth was in ill health, the recommendation of the committee, or of a majority of the committee, was written in its original form by Mathews, who apparently ended the report with the statement, “Your committee beg leave to sit again.” If this statement was in the report as submitted to Congress (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXI, 813–14), why did the committee present a definite recommendation and, at the same time, ask to be permitted to continue its deliberations? Might this final sentence have been added in Congress by Mathews after he found that the report aroused opposition? (3) The manuscript report is amended in the hand of Thomas McKean. Did he, in spite of the silence of surviving records, join the committee between 10 and 27 July, and amend Mathews’ draft before it was submitted to Congress? Or, as seems more likely, did he alter the manuscript report during the debate on 30 July and, by so doing, lead Mathews to ask Congress—unsuccessfully as it turned out—to permit the committee “to sit again”? (4) In spite of Congress’ directive of 10 July, Mathews’ report contains no recommendation “for paying the salaries due to the civil officers.” Was this omission intentional or merely an oversight? If it was intentional, it may signify a prime matter upon which the members of the committee could not agree and explain why the published journal of 27 July states that the committee submitted “reports.” In other words, on that day, Mathews laid his recommendation before Congress, and JM may also have presented his addendum bearing upon the overdue salaries of civil officials. In the published journal of 30 July, Mathews’ recommendation is given in the small type customarily used in printing committee reports, while JM’s supplement is embodied in the resolution adopted by Congress for dealing with the two matters—interrelated only because both required money—which had been submitted to the committee on 10 July. For this reason it seems likely that the resolution given above originated on 30 July as an acceptable outcome of the debate on Mathews’ report. The portion of this resolution preceding the semicolon is in Thomas McKean’s hand and is his altered form of the first of the two recommendations comprising Mathews’ original report. The balance of the resolution is in JM’s hand.
2. The effect of this portion of the resolution, in affording financial relief to delegates from the Carolinas and Georgia, was evident on 31 July and 2 August (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXI, 817–18, 825–26).
3. For the service which this portion of the resolution rendered to “officers on the civil list,” see the resolution of Congress of 2 August (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXI, 825).