George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Joseph Jones, 6 September 1780

From Joseph Jones

Phila: 6th Sepr 1780

Dear Sr

I have received your favour of the 13th ulto upon the subject of a Report respecting a certain Gentleman and thank you for the freedom and candid manner of your Communications. The resentment discovered agt the Gentleman alluded to began to subside before your Letter came to hand and though for some time it was occasionally mentioned in conversation it has lately dyed away and will I expect not be revived—The Report of the Committee not only accepted his resignation but went further and I believe had it been then determind the Gentleman would have been informed his Services in the line of the Army would have been dispensed with that he might have leisure to attend to the settlement of his accounts. Had this step been taken it is probable a resignation would have ensued and perhaps a public discussion in the papers wch could have produced no good and upon the whole I am well pleased the matter was carryed no further than it has been.1 But unacquainted as I am with antecedent circumstances and judging from what was before me my Opinion was the Gentleman was justly reprehensible for the manner of his conduct as a Servant of the public employed in an important office or as a Citizen embarked in the common cause of America. The amasing Sums of money gone into that Departmt under his superintendence, abt Eighty millions and it is said about thirty millions unpaid the whole of which is unaccounted for has excited uneasiness not only in this Body but the people at large who call out for a settlement of the public accounts and although repeated endeavours have been used to bring the Officers in the great departments of the Army to account none have been rendered nor any likelihood of bringg them to a settlement. The em-bezelmt & waste of public property in these departments have greatly contributed to enhance our Debt and depreciate the currency and these abuses demand inquiry and punishment but I see no fair prospect of obtaining satisfaction for past transgressions and shall be happy to find we shall be able to avoid the like practices in future—a reform or an attempt to Reform seemed absolutely necessary for the satisfaction of the public and although the new System was pronounced a physical impossibility in execution others who have served long in the Army and were of the Committee that made the alterations entertained a contrary opinion and they affirm the Gentleman now in office if he can be supported with money can fully carry the new System into execution.2 In short I have seen some and have been told of so many abuses in the Q. Masters Comries and medical departments in the course of the last two years that I candidly confess I feel a degree of resentment agt the conduct of many in those departmts bordering on prejudice so nearly that I have resolved to condemn no person even in opinion withot due proof of delinquency least I should injure the Character of some honest Man in the general censure wch unhappily is but too prevalent.

What I feared for some time is at length but too evident that our designs agt New York must wait for more favourable circumstances to attempt carrying them into execution—perhaps something may in the course of the Winter be done to the South should we be in a situation to recover our losses there and be in time provided with a well appointed Regular Army and magazines of provisions laid up it is to be hoped we shall in the Spring before the Enemy can be reinforced and obtain supplies be in condition to act offensively agt N. York. Your Letters of the 20th last month and the 27th circular to the States are before a Committee and will in a day or two be Reported upon as to Flour and meat3—the great objects of drawing forth in time a competent regular Army and laying up Magazines will soon come in and I hope soon go through Congress that the several States may proceed to make the necessary provisions. I shall leave this place on Thursday for Virginia and mean to attend our next Session of Assembly in hopes of promoting a cession on the part of the State of their claim to the Lands to the N.W. of the Ohio to the united States which will be recommended to all the States having unappropriated western territory for the purpose of compleating the Confederation.4 I shall be glad to hear from you while there upon any matters that may occur and you shall think proper to communicate. with great esteem I am D. Sr Yr aff. hum: Servt

Jos: Jones.


1Jones had served on the congressional committee that reported on Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene’s resignation as quartermaster general (see GW to Jones, 13 Aug., and JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 17:690–91, 697).

2Congress had reformed the quartermaster general’s department and selected Timothy Pickering as quartermaster general (see Samuel Huntington to GW, 5 Aug., n.1).

4Samuel Huntington, president of Congress, wrote a circular letter to state governments on Sunday, 10 Sept. urging “particular States which have Claims to the Western Territory” to cede Congress those lands to encourage “a final ratification of the Articles of Confederation” (Smith, Letters of Delegates description begins Paul H. Smith et al., eds. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774–1789. 26 vols. Washington, D.C., 1976–2000. description ends , 16:45–46). The Virginia legislature adopted the desired legislation in January 1781 (see Thomas Jefferson to Huntington, 17 Jan. 1781, in Jefferson Papers description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 41 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950–. description ends , 4:386–87).

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