Report on Mission
To Inform States of Financial Crisis
MS (NA: PCC, No. 47, fols. 341, 343). Docketed by JM, “Report of The Committee Appointed to confer with the Superintendt of Finance on the subject of his letter of the 17 day of May 1782.” Below this on the docket, the words “Delivered May 21.—Passed.” appear to have been written by Charles Thomson. An incomplete copy of the report, in Thomson’s hand and signed by him, is in the Henry E. Huntington Library.
The background of this report has already been presented (Motion To Inform States of Financial Crisis, 20 May 1782, and its headnote and n. 3). JM prefaced the text of the report with these words, “The Committee appointed to confer with the Superintendt of Finance on the subject of his letter of the day of report.” Except for two interlineations in a hand which at least closely resembles JM’s, the rest of the report was written by John Rutledge. Robert Morris had pointed out to the committee that although every state was delinquent in meeting its financial obligation to Congress, the amounts owed and the steps being taken to pay what was owed varied greatly from state to state. Rejecting his proposed circular letter to the executives of the states, which he had submitted to Congress on 17 May, the committee recommended the adoption of the alternative proposal he had made (Burnett, Letters description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress (8 vols.; Washington, 1921–36). description ends , VI, 357, n. 5).
[22 May 1782]
The Committee appointed to confer with the Superintendt of Finance on the subject of his letter of the day of 1 report—That they have confer’d with the Superintendt. of Finance on the subjt. refer’d to them, &; from the Informn. recd. on this Confere. they find that some of the States have not passed Laws for levying any part of the Quota of the Contl. Estimate for this year—that some others have passed Acts for raising only a part of such Quotas; & that others have passed Laws for raising the whole, but at distant Periods, & that several of such Laws are in some respects, defective. your Comme apprehend that a circular Letter to each of the States, being inapplicable to their different Cases, is improper, but it appears to your Comme absolutely necessary that the most effectual Means be used for obtaining a general Compliance with the Requisitions of Congress.
Therefore your Comme recommend that [Mr Montgomery & Mr Root be appointed to repair to the states eastward of this & that Mr Rutledge & Mr Clymer proceed to the] States [to the southward]2 to make such Representations, as are best adapted to their respective Circumstances, & the present Situation of of publick affairs, & as may induce them to carry the Requisitions of Congress, into Effect, with the greatest dispatch & That the persons so to be sent confer with the Superintendt. of Finance, the Secretary at War, & the Secretary of foreign Affairs, who are authorised to commt. to them, such Informn:, from their respective departments, as may be most conducive to the End proposed.
1. Robert Morris’ letter of 17 May 1782.
2. The passages enclosed within brackets by the editors may have been written by JM. These interlineations, replacing Rutledge’s deleted “proper Persons be sent to the several,” probably recorded an action by Congress following the submission of the report. Joseph Montgomery and George Clymer of Pennsylvania, Jesse Root (1736–1822) of Connecticut, and John Rutledge of South Carolina were possibly chosen for the mission because their states had sufficiently large delegations in Congress to permit these four men to be absent without breaking the quorum. During the debate on 22 May, the committee’s report was amended by requiring the emissaries “before they leave the city” to “make the like representations to the State of Pennsylvania,” and by excusing Clymer and Rutledge from proceeding to war-ravaged South Carolina or Georgia, “unless they shall for special reasons find it absolutely necessary” (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXII, 289–90). The trip of Montgomery and Root lasted from either 27 or 28 May until 15 July, and that of Clymer and Rutledge from about 26 May until 27 June (Burnett, Letters description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress (8 vols.; Washington, 1921–36). description ends , VI, xliii, 1, lii; JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXII, 299). The two latter, however, delayed starting the southern phase of their journey until 2 June (JM to Randolph, 4 June 1782, and n. 17). On 14 June their “Communications” were heard jointly by the Virginia House of Delegates and the Senate (Minute Book, House of Delegates, May 1782 description begins Minute Book, House of Delegates, May 1782, MS in Virginia State Library. description ends , p. 71).