Report on Mail Robbery
MS (NA: PCC, No. 61, fol. 507). In JM’s hand. Undated and undocketed.
[19 June 1782]1
on report of The Committee2 to whom was referred the letter from the Post Master informing Congress of a robbery of the mail on the day of at 3 do report the following resolution Resolved that the Executives of the States of New Jersey Pennsylvania, Delaware & Maryland be & they are hereby requested to pursue the most likely measures by offering proper rewards at the Expense of the united States & otherwise for recovering the mail and bringing the Robbers to due punishment.4
2. As soon as he heard of the interception of the mail (Harrison to Virginia Delegates, 8 June 1782, n. 1), Postmaster General Ebenezer Hazard (1744–1817) on 17 June notified the president of Congress of the “unhappy Affair” and called it “a new Inducement to wish that the Ordinance respecting the Department may be soon compleated” (NA: PCC, No. 61, fol. 113). Although this ordinance and its supplement would not be adopted until 18 and 28 October, respectively (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIII, 670–78, 688–89), Congress on 17 June referred Hazard’s letter to Theodorick Bland, Thomas McKean, and Turbutt Wright (NA: PCC, No. 191, fol. 16). Why JM drafted the report is unknown. The printed journal of Congress for 19 June leaves the impression that the membership of the committee had remained unchanged (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXII, 337).
3. The journal errs in stating that Hazard had fixed “Sunday the 16” as the time of the robbery (ibid.). Hazard had merely quoted a letter of 16 June from “the Postmaster at Harford Town in Maryland,” stating, “This morning the Post arrived without the Mail, being rob’d within 5 Miles of this Place” (NA: PCC, No. 61, fol. 113). Probably the robbery occurred during the evening of 15 June, as reported in the Virginia Gazette description begins Virginia Gazette, or, the American Advertiser (Richmond, James Hayes, 1781–86). description ends of 29 June 1782.
4. In accordance with this request, President William Moore and the Pennsylvania Supreme Executive Council on 20 June issued a proclamation offering a reward of $200 for the recovery of the mail, an additional $100 for each of the robbers apprehended and convicted, and a “free pardon” to any of them who would turn state’s evidence (Pennsylvania Packet, 22 June 1782). In Maryland Governor Thomas Sim Lee on 16 July offered $300 for recovery and $150 for apprehension and conviction (W. H. Browne et al., eds., Archives of Maryland, XLVIII, 215). The Council and the House of Assembly of Delaware adjourned on 22 June, not to reconvene until 20 October. The brigands were captured in August (Pennsylvania Journal, 7 August; Pennsylvania Packet, 10 August 1782; Papers of the Historical Society of Delaware, VI: Minutes of the Council of the Delaware State from 1776 to 1792 , 743, 748). No proclamation of Governor William Livingston of New Jersey fulfilling Congress’ request has been found. The legislature of the state adjourned on 24 June after scheduling 18 September as the date for reconvening (New Jersey Archives description begins William S. Stryker et al., eds., Documents Relating to the Revolutionary History of the State of New Jersey (2d ser.; 5 vols.; Trenton, 1901–17). description ends , 2d ser., V, 463).