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Brooks, John (1752-1825) to Henry Knox

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02437.01629 Author/Creator: Brooks, John (1752-1825) Place Written: Boston, Massachusetts Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 26 September 1782 Pagination: 3 p. : address : docket ; 31.8 x 19.4 cm.

Summary of Content: Discusses a variety of issues related to his presenting a petition to the Massachusetts State Legislature. Has attempted to meet with Governor [John] Hancock, who has promised to notify them when a meeting would be convenient. Describes the positions and concerns of many legislators regarding half-pay of officers, on which the petition seems to focus. Docketed at the top of page one by Knox.

Full Transcript: [draft]
Agreably to my promise I do myself the honor to communicate to you the measures we have taken & since we arrived at this place.

(On my arrival, on the 9...th, I waited on Governor Hancock - he rec'd your letter with great politeness, & promised to be altogether ours. On the 18th the court met; and lest his Excellency had forgotten the circumstance of our being in town, we thought proper to address him as a committee, requesting to be inform'd when an interview would be convenient and agreable. We rec'd for answer that he was much engaged in preparing some papers for the court, but that when he could attend to us he would give us reasonable notice.)

We spent several days in conversing with different characters. The majority possessed an extreme degree of reserve - This was not, however, universal. Mr. Laurell, who was the first we open'd the matter to, treated it with great candor, and I think is fully to be relied on. But none have been more explicit, or enter'd into our ideas more fully, than Mr. J. Adams. He declares that he is not only highly in favor of our application, but is willing to grant even a larger sum than a calculation will give. A number of others appear candid and clever; but we are unfortunate in the absence of Mr. Tracey, Mr. Sedgwick, Mr. Thomas, and some other similar characters. [Mr. Weard? is very sour indeed, and will oppose us to the last, and upon such principles or will engage the attention of the little people; too many of whom I fear, one where they ought not to be. I might have mention'd Mr. Washburn previous to Weard for he seems to be the most influential ? among the country members, & is in the same box with the quondam? General.]

We did not think it expedient to present our petition til the day before yesterday. It is committed to Generals Brooks & Warner from the Senate, and Mes. Otis, Wales & Dench from the house. We have had but a short interview with them. To day we enter our business. If possible we shall endeavor to draw from them a proposition; but they advance with so much caution that I do not expect to succeed in that point. If we fail here, we shall be more communicative & explicit with them than we have been hitherto ; and hold up the idea of a calculation of lives, which we find frighten some of them almost to death - for they suppose (that is many of them) if an officer is 30 years old, he will have to receive 30 or 40 years half pay. They will no doubt be better inform'd; but it is positive that a proposition may grow from their extravagant ideas of half pay, to which we can suede. We are but in the threshold of the business no judgment can be formed on the probability of of the final issue - I feel extremely anxious for it, and I am certain all the talents of the committee will be exerted to have it honorable & agreeable [but our regret at your absence is by no means lessened as the business advances upon us]. When any thing shall take place that shall give a complection to our affairs, I will not fail to advertise you of it.

P.S. Nothing yet from the Governor - Major Tyler tells us he heard him express himself against our plan, but ex nihilo, &c.
See More

People: Brooks, John, 1752-1825
Knox, Henry, 1750-1806
Hancock, John, 1737-1793

Historical Era: American Revolution, 1763-1783

Subjects: Revolutionary WarRevolutionary War GeneralMilitary HistoryContinental ArmyGovernment and CivicsSoldier's PayFinancePensionsPetition

Sub Era: The War for Independence

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