Office of Finance 27th February 1783.
I do myself the Honor to enclose in the Paper Number one the Copy of a Letter to the President of Congress which was written on the twenty fourth of last Month. I should have transmitted it to you on the next Day but contrary to my Expectations Congress enjoined Secrecy—I yesterday wrote the Letter of which Number two is a Copy and in Consequence of it I am this Instant informed that the Injunction of Secrecy is taken off. I seize therefore the earliest Moment to give you the Information.
I do assure you Sir that Nothing would have induced me to take this Step but a painful Conviction that the Situation of those to whom the Public are indebted is desperate. I beleive sincerely that a great Majority of the Members of Congress wish to do Justice But I as sincerely beleive that they will not adopt the necessary Measures because they are afraid of offending their States. From my Soul I pity the Army, and you my dear Sir in particular, who must see and feel for their Distresses without the Power of releiving them. I did flatter myself that I should have been able to present them that Justice to which they are entitled, and in the mean Time I labored to made their Situation as tolerable as Circumstances would permit. For the Assistance which you have Kindly afforded me, I pray you to accept my Thanks, and be assured that I shall ever retain for it the most grateful Emotions. My Thanks are due also to all our Officers, for I know that unwearied Pains have been taken to give them disagreeable Impressions: I am therefore doubly Indebted for the just Sentiments which, amid so many Misrepresentations, they have constantly entertained. I hope my Successor will be more fortunate than I have been, and that our glorious Revolution may be crowned with those Acts of Justice, without which the greatest human Glory is but the Shadow of a Shade. I am with sincere Esteem & Respect Sir your most obedient & humble Servant
DLC: Papers of George Washington.
Office of Finance 24th Jany 1783.
As Nothing but the public Danger would have induced me to accept my Office, so I was determined to hold it until the Danger was past, or else to meet my Ruin in the common Wreck. Under greater Difficulties than were apprehended by the most timid, and with less Support than was expected by the least Sanguine the generous Confidence of the Public accomplished more than I presumed to hope.
Congress will recollect, that I expressly stipulated to take no Part in past Transactions. My Attention to the public Debts, therefore, arose from the Conviction that funding them on solid Revenues was the last essential Work of our glorious Revolution. The Accomplishment of this necessary Work, is among the Objects nearest my Heart and to effect it, I would continue to sacrifice Time Property and domestic Bliss.
Many late Circumstances have so far lessened our Apprehensions from the common Enemy, that my original Motives have almost ceased to operate. But other Circumstances have postponed the Establishment of public Credit in such Manner that I fear it will never be made. To encrease our Debts while the Prospect of paying them diminishes does not consist with my Ideas of Integrity. I must therefore quit a Situation which becomes utterly insupportable. But lest the Public Measures might be deranged by any Precipitation, I will continue to serve until the End of May. If effectual Measures are not taken by that Period to make permanent Provision for the public Debts, of every Kind, Congress will be pleased to appoint some other Man to be the Superintendant of their finances. I should be unworthy of the Confidence reposed in me by my fellow Citizens if I did not explicitly declare, that I will never be the Minister of Injustice. With perfect Esteem & Respect I have the Honor to be Sir your Excellency’s most obedient and humble Servant.
Office of Finance 26th Febry 1783.
A Number of those who have contracted Engagements with me will I know place a personal Reliance on me for the Fulfilment of them. As the Time approaches very fast when I am to quit this Office it is proper for me to make the necessary Preparations. Among these I must place the due and seasonable Information which as an honest Man I must convey to those who have confided in me. I am therefore to pray that the Injunction of Secrecy contained in the order of the twenty fourth of January last may be taken off—At the same Time I take the Liberty to suggest to Congress that the early appointment of my Successor will give him opportunity to take such Measures as may prevent many Inconveniencies that might otherwise happen. With perfect Respect I have the Honor be Sir Your Excellency’s most obedient & humble Servant.