Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO GOVERNOR LIVINGSTON. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. VII (1778-1779)
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
TO GOVERNOR LIVINGSTON. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. VII (1778-1779) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890). Vol. VII (1778-1779).
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 GOVERNOR LIVINGSTON.
I have received the honor of your two letters both of the 1st instant.
I have generally been so happy as to agree with your Excellency in sentiment on public measures; but an instance now occurs, in which there happens to be a difference of opinion. I am extremely apprehensive that very disagreeable consequences may result from an increase of the standing pay of the militia. It would create an additional cause of discontent to the soldiery, who would naturally draw a comparison between their situation and that of the militia, and would think it very hard and unjust, that these should receive for temporary services a greater reward than they for permanent ones. This would occasion disgust and desertion, if not mutiny, among those already in the army, and would be a new discouragement to others from entering into it. The only remedy would be, to augment the pay of the soldiery to an equal sum, and the like must be done in the other States for their militia. The addition of Public expense would then be excessive; and the decay of our credit and currency proportional.
Your Excellency will agree with me, that every step should be carefully avoided, which has a tendency to dissatisfy the army, already too little pleased with its condition, and to weaken our military establishment already too feeble, and requiring every prop our circumstances will afford to keep it from falling into ruin. I should imagine the militia of the country are to be drawn out by the authority of the government, rather than by the pecuniary reward attached to their service; if the former is not sufficient, the latter, I apprehend, will be found ineffectual. To make the compensation given to the militia an inducement of material weight, it must be raised so high, as to bear a proportion to what they might obtain by their labor in their civil occupations; and in our case to do this, it must be raised so high as, I fear, to exceed the utmost stretch of our finances. But if it is thought indispensable to increase emoluments of service, in order to bring out the militia, it will be best to do it by a bounty rather than a fixed monthly pay. This would not be quite so palpable, nor strike the minds of the army with the same degree of force. But even this is a delicate point; and I have uniformly thought the large bounties, which have been given in the State enlistments and to militia, have been a very fertile source of evils and an almost irreparable injury to the service.
I have taken the liberty to communicate my sentiments on this subject with great freedom to your Excellency, as it appears to me a matter of extreme importance; and as I have the most entire confidence in your candor and friendship. If my objections do not appear valid, you will at least ascribe them to their proper motives. I shall, agreeable to your Excellency’s wish, continue the troops or the principal part of them at their present stations, as long as it can be done without interfering with the main object. * * * I have the honor, &c.