Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO SAMUEL OGDEN. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. X (1782-1785)
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TO SAMUEL OGDEN. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. X (1782-1785) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890). Vol. X (1782-1785).
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TO SAMUEL OGDEN.
About the first of this month I wrote you a long letter. I touched upon the state of the army, the situation of public creditors, and wished to know from you as a friend, what causes had induced the Assembly of Virginia to withdraw their assent to the Impost Law, and how the Continental creditors (without adequate funds) were to come at or obtain security for their money. I little expected at the time of writing that letter, that we were on the eve of an important crisis to this army, when the touchstone of discord was to be applied, and the virtue of its members to undergo the severest trial.
Newburg, 19 January, 1783.
You have not been altogether unacquainted, I dare say, with the fears, the hopes, the apprehensions, and the expectations of the army, relatively to the provision, which is to be made for them hereafter. Altho’ a firm reliance on the integrity of Congress, and a belief that the Public would finally do justice to all its Servants and give an indisputable security for the payment of the half-pay of the officers, had kept them amidst a variety of sufferings tolerably quiet and contented for two or three years past; yet the total want of pay, the little prospect of receiving any from the unpromising state of the public finances, and the absolute aversion of the States to establish any Continental funds for the payment of the Debt due to the army, did at the close of the last Campaign excite greater discontents, and threaten more serious and alarming consequences, than it is easy for me to describe or you to conceive. Happily for us, the officers of highest rank and greatest consideration interposed; and it was determined to address Congress in an humble, pathetic, and explicit manner.
In every conversation which I have had with you, on the subject of your letters of the 31st of last month, and 15th inst., I was pointed, because I meant to deal candidly, in assuring you, it was not my intention to interest myself in behalf of any particular characters, that my motives were altogether public, and that if I could not take the business up upon the broadest basis, and while a defection on the part of the refugees would be productive of advantages to the American cause, I would have no concern with it.
While the Sovereign Power appeared perfectly well disposed to do justice, it was discovered that the States would enable them to do nothing; and in this state of affairs, and after some time spent on the business in Philadelphia, a Report was made by the Delegates of the army, giving a detail of the proceedings. Before this could be communicated to the Troops, while the minds of all were in a peculiar state of inquietude and irritation, an anonymous writer, who tho’ he did not boldly step forth and give his name to the world, sent into circulation an address to the officers of the army, which, in point of composition, in elegance and force of expression, has rarely been equalled in the English Language, and in which the dreadful alternative was proposed, of relinquishing the Service in a body, in case the war continued, or retaining their arms in case of peace, until Congress should comply with all their demands. At the same time, seizing the moment when the minds were inflamed by the most pathetic representations, a General meeting of the officers was summoned by another anonymous production.
I am sorry to observe to you, that there appears to me to be a delay on the part of the refugees or loyalists, which is to be ascribed more to design than to necessity. It seems as if the object with them was to get at the ultimatum of Great Britain, before any decided steps should be taken with the country they have abandoned. This, sir, you will do me the justice to acknowledge, is not only incompatible with my ideas, but to my express declaration to you:—for the foundation on which I meant to build, and the only one upon which I could attempt to include and recommend obnoxious characters, was their decision and influence; and the consequent advantages, while the intention of the enemy should be suspended and unknown.
It is impossible to say what would have been the consequence, had the author succeeded in his first plans. But, measures having been taken to postpone the meeting, so as to give time for cool reflection and counteraction, the good sense of the officers has terminated this affair in a manner, which reflects the greatest glory on themselves, and demands the highest expressions of gratitude from their Country.
The matter has already been near three months in agitation, and for aught that has come to my knowledge, is yet in statu quo. One month, perhaps, a few days now, will unfold the designs of the British cabinet, or rather those of the Parliament. Let me ask then, if these be to prosecute the war vigorously, will the gentlemen of that class, in whose behalf you particularly interest yourself (after their address to the king of Great Britain, which I have lately seen) give any aid to this country? If the determination is in favor of peace, and peace takes place on the terms which are expected, will not their inveterate obstinacy and procrastination, put it out of the power of any man, to adduce an argument in their favor?
The Proceedings have been reported to Congress, and will probably be published for the satisfaction of the good people of these United States. In the mean time I thought it necessary to give you these particulars, principally with a design to communicate to you without reserve my opinion on this interesting subject. For, notwithstanding the storm has now passed over, notwithstanding the officers have in despite of their accumulated sufferings given the most unequivocal and exalted proofs of Patriotism, yet I believe, unless justice shall be done, and funds effectually provided for the payment of the Debt, the most deplorable and ruinous consequences may be apprehended. Justice, honor, gratitude, policy, every thing is opposed to the conduct of driving men to despair of obtaining their just rights, after serving Seven years a painful life in the Field. I say in the Field, because they have not during that period had any thing to shelter them from the inclemency of the seasons but Tents and such Houses as they could build for themselves.
I confess to you, Sir, their policy strikes me in so unfavorable a point of view, that I no longer find an inclination to have any further agency in the business; for I am convinced from their address, and other circumstances, that they will never turn their faces towards this country until the back of Great Britain is turn’d upon them. And that their delay proceeds from no other cause than an intention to await the event of their application in another quarter.
Convinced of this, and actuated as I am, not by private and Interested motives, but by a sense of duty, a love of justice, and all the feelings of gratitude towards a body of men, who have merited infinitely well of their Country, I can never conceal or suppress my Sentiments. I cannot cease to exert all the abilities I am possessed of, to show the evil tendency of procrastinated justice, for I will not suppose it is intended ultimately to withhold it, nor fail to urge the Establishment of such adequate and permanent funds, as will enable Congress to secure the payment of the public Debt, on such principles as will preserve the national faith, give satisfaction to the army and tranquillity to the Public. With great esteem and regard, I am, &c.
I have only to add that I am the more confirmed in this opinion, upon observing that there is no idea held up in the copy of your brother’s letter of the 3d of December (the original of which never came to my hands,) or in any of the subsequent ones, which gives the smallest insight into the business; or that will support me in any deduction favorable to it; the former of which is expressly contrary to the information I received from you at our last interview, as the letter from your brother to you (which was to pass through my hands) was to be couched in such terms, as I should understand, tho’ unintelligible to others, who should be unacquainted with the business. Your own letter of the 31st, committed to the care of Mr. Morris, was brought here a few days ago only, by a common soldier, who delivered it at the office and retired before I had read, and could enquire how he came by it, nor do I know at this hour. Upon the maturest consideration, Sir, I have so fully made up my judgment on this subject, that I could wish never to hear any thing farther upon it. I am, sir, &c.
P. S. The author of the Anonymous Address is yet behind the curtain; and, as conjecture may be grounded on error, I will not announce mine at present.