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Bartlett, Josiah (1729-1795) to William Whipple

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC00193 Author/Creator: Bartlett, Josiah (1729-1795) Place Written: Kingston, New Hampshire Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 21 April 1777 Pagination: 3 p. : docket ; 32 x 22 cm.

Discusses various Tory conspiracies, such as counterfeiting currency (to cause inflation) and spreading smallpox. Describes the difficulties of recruiting sufficient men for the army. Notes that many men have marched to Ticonderoga. Postscript dated 22 April 1777 mentions the arrival of a French ship. Bartlett represented New Hampshire in the Continental Congress.

Background: The Continental Congress faced serious problems financing the Revolution. Lacking the power to tax, Congress made assessments of the states, but they provided only limited funds. To pay for the war, the Continental Congress began to issue a national currency known as the Continental dollar. Without gold or silver to back the currency, Congress simply printed the money it needed. Rapid inflation resulted. Soon the currency was virtually worthless, prompting the phrase, "Not worth a continental." Since the thirteen states continued to print their own paper money, fourteen different kinds of currency were in circulation, contributing to further confusion.
Historians estimate that about 20 percent of the population were Loyalists who supported the British cause. Contrary to the common assumption that most Loyalists were wealthy, it now appears that their composition mirrored that of the population as a whole.

April 21st 1777
My Dear Sir
Yours of the first Inst. by Capt. Wentworth is come to hand, and am very glad to be informed of the favorable accounts Recd from Europe, and thank you for communicating them to me: I have for some time been very sensible of the Difficulties & Dangers [struck: of] [inserted: from] such a flood of paper Bills, and Believe [inserted: we] shall lay on a pretty considerable tax the present year, the Legislature seem sensible of the necessity of it, and in order to its being laid Equally, have ordered a new proportion to be made among the Several Towns [inserted: this spring]. We have lately Discovered in a most Diabolical Scheme to ruin the paper currency by counterfeiting it, vast quantities of [inserted: the] Massachusetts [inserted: bills] & ours that [struck: is] [inserted: are] now passing are Counterfeit, and so neatly done that is is Extremely Difficult to Discover the Difference, we are but newly acquainted with the scheme and have not made all the Discoverys we hope for, But by what appears at present, it is a Tory plan and one of the most infernal that was ever hatched: [inserted: There are] Great numbers of people bound together by the most Solemn oaths & imprecations, to Stand by Each other [inserted: &] to Destroy the persons who betray them: Beside ruining the paper currency it Seems their Design is, this Spring to Spread the Small pox thro the country: R: Fowle Benjn Whiting & Some others in the State are Certainly Concerned and we have reason to think most of the Tories in New England [inserted: are in the Plan]. Last Thursday by agreement Massachusetts & this State Seized on a considerable number who are now confined, hope we shall [inserted: make] further Discoverys & Defeat the plan; no trouble pains or Danger will by Spared for that purpose.
[2] In my last I informed you of the appointment of General Folsom & George Frost to be delegates to relieve you. Folsom, Contrary to all Expectation, has declined accepting; Frost told me he Expected to Set out sometime this week, so he may possibly be with you before you Receive this, the Court has adjourned to the fourth of June and none Can be appointed to relieve you till then, I suppose Col Thornton will return on Frosts arrival. The raising the army for 3 years, is, (as I always Expected) attended with Extreme Difficulties, But we are Exerting every nerve to Surmount them; I hope there is three Quarters of them raised and near two thirds of them marched for Ti- we want to raise men for our own Defense & for the assistance of Rhode Island, but Dare not for fear of puting a full stop to raising the Continental Regiments, for nobody will inlist for 3 years if he has an opportunity to Engage for one only.
Since you have raised the interest I believe the Loan office goes on here pretty well Col. Gilman who is the Commisr lately told me he wanted to Send for more Certificates, I Believe he lately answered an order for fifty Thousand Dollars Drawn on him by your President; however he has or will soon inform the Board of Treasury of the State of his office
Since so much money has been found to be counterfeit people begin to be Scrupolous of the Continental Bills, and are looking out for marks, but by reason we have no Standard of the former emissions, we are not able to Detect them if there are any, and I have some reason to Suspect there are Some & that they came from New York; I wish you would procure proof Sheets of Every emission & Send them forward to be kept in the treasury of this State for that purpose agreable to a former order of Congress, this I formerly mentioned in one of my former [3] former letters but know not whether you have Recd it, it would be a good opportunity to Send it by Col. Thornton when he returns.
If you Know what was the Business Gen: Lee wanted to communicate to Congress when he requested Some members to be Sent him, please to inform me, if proper.
We Seem to have many Difficulties to Encounter both from our open & Secret Enemies within and without, who are meditating our Destruction by fraud and Deceit as well as open violence, However I trust that by the assistance of that Power who Loves justice and hates iniquity & oppression the United States will rise Superior to all their Machiavellian plots & Schemes and will be soon happy & prosperous, Blessed with peace health & plenty, that you & I may live to See that happy Day is the Sincere wish of him who is with Great esteem & Respect your very
affectionate Friend and
Humble Servant
Josiah Bartlett
April 22nd I have just Recd the good news of the arrival of another french ship-the particulars you will Receive as Soon or Sooner than this
J Bartlett 21 Apl

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