George Washington Papers

To George Washington from William Grayson, 3 October 1785

From William Grayson

New York Octob. 3rd 1785

Dear Sir

The requisition is at length finished, & which I have now the honor of inclosing; the article of 30,000 dollars for fœderal buildings at Trenton is expunged; & I think the opposition to that measure is gaining strength. Some of the Southern States begin to view it in a different light.1

Congress have passed a resolution authorizing the Post Master general under the direction of the Board of Treasury to contract with the Owners of the Stage coaches for the transportation of the Mail; it is expected the contracts will be formed in the course of the next month: after which there will be three mails a week through the Southern States. A new Ordinance for the Post Office is ready to be reported in which there are clauses for cross posts from Alexandria to Fort Pitt, & from Albany to the limits of Canada, but it is doubtful whether in this present Congress either will take effect.2

Mr Payne has a memorial before Congress, to be allowed a sum of money for his services, to which there is a favorable report from a Commee but I am fearful that nothing of consequence will take effect.3 I have the honor to be with the highest respect Yr Affect, fd & Most Obedt Serv.

Willm Grayson


1The enclosed broadside, a resolution of Congress dated 27 Sept. 1785 calling upon the states to pay into the common treasury three million dollars by 1 May 1786, is in DLC:GW. Included in the resolution are the estimates of expenditures for the civil and military departments of the Confederation government, for contingencies, and for interest on both the foreign and the domestic debts, as well as a list of the quotas to be paid by each state. GW’s copy of the broadside, signed by Charles Thomson, the secretary of Congress, has this notation: “requisition—1785—200 Copies—received in the office—1st of October—1785—Printed by Mr Dunlop (John Dunlap].”

2Grayson seconded the resolution that Congress adopted on 7 Sept. to authorize the postmaster general, Ebenezer Hazard, to enter into contracts for carrying the mail from Portsmouth, N.H., to Savannah, Ga., and from New York City to Albany. On 5 Oct. Congress voted to instruct the postmaster general “to establish cross posts, where the same shall thereby be rendered necessary” (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 29:684–85, 807–8). On 1 Jan. 1786 mail for the first time was officially transported by stagecoach instead of postrider, but not until the nineteenth century was it carried by coach as far as Savannah. See Oliver Wendell Holmes, “Shall Stagecoaches Carry the Mail?: A Debate of the Confederation Period” (William and Mary Quarterly, 3d ser., 20 [1963], 555–73).

3Congress on 26 Aug. had “Resolved, That the early, unsolicited and continued labours of Mr. Thomas Paine, in explaining and enforcing the principles of the late revolution, by ingenious and timely publications upon the nature of liberty and civil government, have been well received by the citizens of these states, and merit the approbation of Congress; and that in consideration of these services, and the benefits produced thereby, Mr. Paine is entitled to a liberal gratification from the United States” (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 29:662–63). On this day, 3 Oct., Congress ordered the Board of Treasury to pay Paine “the sum of three thousand dollars, for the considerations mentioned in the resolution of the 26th of August last” (ibid., 796). For GW’s earlier attempts to have the state of Virginia reward Paine, see GW to James Madison, 12 June 1784, and Madison to GW, 2 July 1784.

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