George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Mathews, 17 October 1780

From John Mathews

Philadelphia Octr 17th 1780

My Dear sir

At the time I wrote to you respecting that part of the system for the army, that has been agreed on by Congress, I had despaired of its being submitted to your opinion.1 I had moved for it, but my proposition was rejected, on a principle, that the whole should go together—We have received your Excys sentiments on this very important subject, such, as I evidently foresaw would be the result of your serious consideration. Your observations are incontrovertible, & unless Congress are so bigoted to the Idols they have set up, & are determined to reject every principle that can have the least tendency to invalidate the foundation on which it is erected, they must ultimately adopt the plan you propose.2 No other, I am convinced, can ever answer our purposes. But even in this case a most tremendous inconvenience arises—for here is the month of October better than half spent, & probably, before Congress come to a final determination, November will be arrived, & then there remains only two months for prosecuting this great work—the time is certainly too short. for its completion. I consequently dread the arrival of the first day of January.3 Had Congress put this business in the train that was proposed early in Septr so much precious time would have been saved, as, in all probability would have given success to the plan. However, we must now use our best endeavours to put things on as good a footing as the nature of the case will admit of. Yr Excys letter of the 11th inst. is committed to the same committee who brought in the former report, together with that report, but nothing is, as yet, done in it.

My plan respecting the annual recruits was only meant to render the System as useful as possible, for if an alternative must be admitted into it we should endeavour to derive every possible advantage from it, I therefore thought it best, to have the power to detain the men, & take our chance for its success, rather than they should at all events be at liberty to disband themselves at a certain day.4

Your Excys appointment of Genl Greene to the command of the southern army, has given general satisfaction—to the five southern states, I know it has given the highest satisfaction.5 I have the honor to be with every sentiment of respect & Esteem Yr Excys most affect. hmbe servt

Jno. Mathews

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