George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Henry Babcock, 24 October 1780

Hartford 24th Octbr 1780


I have had the Honor of proposing to the Genl Assembly of Connecticut a Method of pay’g the Army, with solid Coin, and furnishing Magazines of Provisions, with the same Currency; & not compel your Excellency, to distress the Inhabitants of the Jerseys; who have repeatedly sustained great Injurys, both from the Enemy, as well as our Army. Your Letters upon the Subject laid before the Assembly by Govr Trumble, gave Pain to every humane benevolent Breast to hear, them read. Partly owing to the repeated Alterations made by Congress, in their unstable Mode of Supply’s and in their injudicious Alterations of the Qr Mastr Genls Department; and what is of more Consequence the want of Cash—The Paper Medium is up—I have therefore proposed that the whole Plate of the Continent be surrendered up, by it’s inhabitants, & Coined for the Publick Use; and to compel those who have not Virtue enough to make such a sacrafize voluntarily; to tax their Plate at one Third of the Value anually, in three years, we have the whole Gratis—Those who lend their Plate to be paid at the Close of the War, with Interest; and that full Confidence, may be given to the Publick Faith, & Collateral Security to be pledged of the perfected Estates, for the faithful Discharge & Payment of the same. We by our Census have 38,472 1/2 oz. of Plate, By our having no Capital; in Connecticut [we] have less than any other State of equal Numbers [   ] third most likely left out—Luxury has not crept in here as in the other States—Besides it will have a wonderful Effect upon our Enemy’s by finding that we are not only willing to part with our Luxurys; but by spirited manly Exertions in the Field, establish our Independence. And they will be compelled to make overtures of Peace. Simillar to what happened in the Reign of Lewis the 14th, who your Excellency is sensible observed upon his Finances being exhausted to his Nobles "In the early Part of my Reign I faught for Glory, in the latter from Necessity" The Nobles sent their Plate to the Mint, the Ladies of Quality sold their Jewels. An Army of 400,000 Troops was levied, and an honorable Peace without firing a Gun was the Consequence. This upon my Honor, I believe would be our Case, was a simmillar Mode to be adopted. There is to be a Convention of the New England States together with N. York to meet at this Place; before whom this Matter is to be laid, by them to Congress, By Congress to the whole Cont. Those who are desirous of keeping some Family Plate, by lending us many oz. [of] ready coined, may be indulged. If it should meet with your Excellencys Approbation I dare say it might iasily be obtained.

You are fully sensible that the Enemy flatter themselves, that the Rags with which our Army are paid, will prove our Ruin; for You have convinced the World that the Continental Army are second to no Troops upon Earth, Witness Prince Town, Trenton, Monmouth Saratoga Stony Point, Cambden &c. &c. &c. I have the Honor to be with Sentiments of the highest Respect & profoundes[t] Esteem—Your Excellencys most obedt & most humble Servant

Henry Babcock

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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