George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Nathanael Greene, 14 October 1780

From Major General Nathanael Greene

West Point Octo. 14 1780


Inclosed I send your Excellency the estimates of the annual expence of the war; and the amount of what each State can pay towards the charge. Nothing more can be expected from them than to prove that our income is not equal to our expence. They are calculated upon as low or lower scale than the real cost will amount to.1

Besides these estimates there are several other matters not included in the bills namely the expences of the Navy, the charge of enlisting Men, the support of our Ministers abroad at foreign Courts, the interest of our funded Monies with a great variety of other matters which can only be calculated upon under the head of contingencies; but will operate upon the people in the bills of general charges. On the other hand the States are taxed as high as they can bear and much higher I am afraid than will be paid; unless our governments are far more nervous than they have been.

By the account current your Excellency will see that our expences overrun our income near one half; and this is a fact that I have been a long time convinced of; tho I did not think, our arrearages had been as great as I now am perswaded they are.

I wish my knowledge was more competent to the business; and that I had, had more leisure to have done justice to the subject. I have devoted as much time, paid as much attention and got as good information as my situation and circumstances would admit. If the calculations shall in any manner reflect any light upon the subject; or pave the way to further and more accurate estimates I shall be amply rewarded.2 I am with great esteem & regard Your Excellencys Most Obedient humble Sert

Nath. Greene

ALS, DNA: RG 93, manuscript file no. 25471; copy, MiU-C: Greene Papers.

1The enclosed estimate lists an “annual tax” for each state that totals £1,715,000, or $5,716,666.67. Another enclosed estimate lists Continental army expenses that total $10,548,555, below which sum is written: “This is calculated on the lowest estimate, without any allowance for Contingent expences nor are the expenses of the Foederal administration included” (both DNA: RG 93, manuscript file no. 25471; see also GW to Greene, this date, postscript).

2GW acknowledged this letter when he wrote Greene on 16 October.

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