James Madison Papers

Report on Conference with Robert Morris, 10 January 1783

Report on Conference with Robert Morris

MS (NA: PCC, No. 31, fols. 339–40). In Charles Thomson’s hand, except for one passage written by John Rutledge and another by JM. See nn. 4 and 5. On the folio below the report, Charles Thomson recorded and signed an account of the action of Congress upon the report. He docketed the folio, “Report of Mr Rutlidge Mr Osgood Mr Madison on the Superintendt letter of 9 Jany 1783 & proceedings thereon Jany 10: 1783 Secret.”

The Comee. consisting of Mr Rutlidge Mr Osgood & Mr Madison to whom was referred a letter of 9 Jany 1783 from the Superintendt of finance to confer with him thereon and report thereon, report that they have conferred with the Superintendt.1 who communicated to them the2 Subject referred to in his letter3 under their Promise of Secrecy4—untill Congress shall direct them to communicate the same to them; and request the sense of Congress whether the Committee shall now make such communication5

1JM Notes, 9–10 Jan. 1783, and nn. 9, 11.

2Between “them” and “the” Thomson wrote and canceled “under an injunction of secrecy.”

3JM Notes, 9–10 Jan. 1783, and nn. 12, 14.

4The words from “under” through “Secrecy” are in John Rutledge’s hand. For Morris’ insistence upon secrecy in his conference with the committee, see ibid., and nn. 9, 13.

5The words from “untill” to the close of the report are in JM’s hand. Following the submission of the report, Congress ordered the members of the committee to reveal what they had been told by Morris. For a summary of his confidential communication to the committee, see JM Notes, 9–10 Jan. 1783. Upon being apprised of this communication and especially of Morris’ inability, unless he drew bills “to an amount beyond the known funds procured in Europe,” to maintain the army and fulfill his other contracts, Congress by a unanimous vote authorized Morris to draw, if necessary, up to the total “of the money directed to be borrowed” abroad and ordered “the whole of this matter be kept secret” (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIV, 43–44; JM Notes, 9–10 Jan. 1783).

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