Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. IV (1776)
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. IV (1776) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1889). Vol. IV (1776).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.
Cambridge, 4 April, 1776.
I was honored with your favors of the 21st and 25th ulto. on the 2d. instant, the former by Mr. Hanson, &c. the latter by Fessenden. I heartily wish the money had arrived sooner that the militia might have been paid as soon as their time of service expired. The disappointment has given them great uneasiness, and they are gone home much dissatisfied, nor have I been without severe complaints from the other troops on the same account. When I get to New York I hope a sufficient sum will be there ready to pay every claim.1
It is not in my power to make report of the deficiency of arms, in compliance with the direction of Congress, at this time, as some of the regiments are at and most of the others on their march to New York; nor do I know that it would answer any good purpose, if it were, having made repeated application to the several assemblies and conventions upon the subject, and constantly received for answer, that they could afford no relief.
When I arrive at New York I shall in pursuance of the order of Congress detach four battalions to Canada, if the situation of affairs will admit of it, and shall be extremely happy if they and the troops already there can effect the important end of their going.
In my letter of the 1st inst. and per post, I enclosed you a copy of a letter from Governor Cooke advising me of the arrival of a ship of war, &c., at and near the harbor of Newport. I have now the pleasure to inform you that the report was entirely premature and without any foundation. You have a copy of his letter of the 1st inst. to this effect. I wish the alarm had never been given. It occasioned General Sullivan and his brigade to make an unnecessary and inconvenient diversion from their route.
Enclosed is a copy of an account presented by the Honorable General Court of powder furnished the Continental Army by this Colony. From the account it appears that part of it was supplied before the army was under my command, and, therefore I know nothing of it; but have not the smallest doubt of the justice of the charge. I shall leave about two hundred barrels of this article with Major General Ward, out of which Congress will direct him to make a return, if they think proper, and also repayment of what may have been furnished by the other governments.
A proclamation of General Howe’s, issued a few days before his departure from town, having fallen into my hands, I have enclosed you a copy, which may probably have been the occasion of large quantities of goods being carried away, and the removal of many persons, which otherwise would not have happened.1
Colonel Warren, paymaster-general, finding the army likely to be removed from hence, informed me the other day, that the situation of his affairs and engagements in the business of the colony are such, as to prevent him personally attending the army; and offered, in case it should be required, to resign. This was rather embarrassing. To me it appears indispensably necessary that the paymaster-general, with his books, should be at or near head-quarters. Indeed it is usual for the head of every department in the army, however dispersed that army may be, to be with the commanding general, keeping deputies in the smaller departments. On the other hand, Colonel Warren’s merit and attachment to the cause are such, that I could do nothing less than desire, (as some money must be left for the pay and contingent charges of the army which will remain here,) that he would wait here till Congress shall be pleased to give their sentiments upon the matter,1 sending in the meantime some person in whom he could confide with the money, (but little of which there will be to carry, tho’ great the demands, as nine of the regiments which have marched to New York have only received £500 each towards their pay for the months of February and March, and others not one farthing). I hope therefore this matter will be considered by Congress and the result transmitted me as soon as done.
I would also mention to Congress, that the militia regiments, which were last called upon, in making up their abstracts, charged pay, the officers from the time they received orders to raise companies, and the privates from the time they respectively engaged to come, or were called upon, though they did not march for a considerable time after, some not within three, four, to twenty days, and during all which they remained at home about their own private affairs, without doing any thing else than preparing for the march, as they say by way of plea. This appeared to me so exceedingly unreasonable, and so contrary to justice, that the public should pay for a longer time than from the day of their march to that of their return, that I ordered the abstracts to be made out accordingly, and refused to give warrants on any other terms. They say that the enlisting orders, which went out from their governments, give them the pay they claim. The fact may be, that something in these may seem to authorize it; but I must submit it to Congress, and wish for their decision, whether the Continent must pay it.1 I am, &c.
P. S. I shall set off to-day.2
[1 ]“I have no hopes of procuring the hard money I gave you expectations of; the possessors of it are not of late accustomed to a paper currency, and keep their gold and silver close.” Washington to General Schuyler, 3 April, 1776. The Continental bills would not, of course, circulate in Canada.
[1 ]The following is an extract from the proclamation:—“As linen and woollen goods are articles much wanted by the rebels, and would aid and assist them in their rebellion, the Commander-in-chief expects, that all good subjects will use their utmost endeavours to have all such articles conveyed from this place Provision was likewise made for receiving them on board a vessel.
[1 ]Colonel Warren resigned the office of paymaster-general; and Colonel Palfrey was appointed as his successor on the 27th of April.
[1 ]“Resolved, That the pay of the officers and soldiers of the militia, lately called to Cambridge, commence on the day of their march, and cease on that of their return.”—Journals of Congress, 4 May, 1776.
[2 ]Read in Congress April 15th. Referred to Wythe, Harrison, and S. Adams.