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McDougall, Alexander (1732-1786) to Henry Knox

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02437.01819 Author/Creator: McDougall, Alexander (1732-1786) Place Written: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Type: Manuscript letter signed Date: 9 January 1783 Pagination: 3 p. : docket ; 24.2 x 18.2 cm.

Summary of Content: Written by General McDougall to Major General Knox. Says nothing decisive about whether the half-pay pension issue has been decided. Says it took a week of travel to get to Philadelphia in bad weather. Wanted to lobby the delegates before the memorial was put before Congress. Says that has been accomplished and after the memorial was submitted, Congress decided to form a committee with a member from each state. Says that they will meet tomorrow night. Encloses a list of the committee members (not included here). Reports that "The Result of our Conversation with the members is, that a great Majority of Congress, are seriously disposed to do everything in their power for the fulfilment of all their engagements to the Army." But goes on to say "the great difficulty is Cash for present Wants and permanent funds, for what has been long due, and for what they have promised us in the future." Says that Congress should recommend to the states to make provisions to pay the country's debts. Wonders if New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New Jersey will even pass vague laws recognizing those debts. Wants Knox and Washington to think about the issue as he will probably have to question them about it soon. Says "The expences at this place are enormous." Next to docket is a pencil drawing of a classical building with a row of arches.

Full Transcript: [draft]
Philadelphia 9th January 1783
Dear Sir,

I cannot slip this opportunity by Colonel Gouvion, without dropping you a line, although it is not in my power to communicate any thing ...decisive. We were a week on our journey to this City, occationed [sic] by bad and cold weather. It was judged expedient to converse with the delegates of the different States on the Subject, of our business before the Memorial was delivered, in order that their Minds might be fully possessed of the Nature and importance of the Subject or our errand least any member unfavorable to us should attempt to give the Matter less Consideration that it deserves.
That has generally been accomplished. The Memorial delivered, and a Committee appointed consisting of a member from each State represented in Congress, and to morrow night is fixed for a formal Conference with them. Inclosed [sic] is a list of them from which, you may form some judgment of the issue. The Result of our Conversation with the members is, that a great Majority of Congress are seriously
[2] disposed to do everything in their power, for the fulfillment of all their engagements to the Army. And they are rather pleased than otherwise at the address's coming on. But the great difficulty is Cash for present Wants and permanent funds, for what has been long due, and for what they have promised us in future.
These are the difficulties, for supposing the equivalent for half pay settled by Congress; and all other dues, and they should earnestly recommend to the Stats to make provision for the payment of those debts. Will New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New Jersey pass even Vague Laws to recognize those debts? If not what security will the Officers have? Massachusetts and New York may pass such Laws without funds, and make no provision for the payment of the principal or Interest [struck: which] [inserted: or want] for [struck: want of] [inserted: which] the debt will depreciate so much, as to be of no value to the Officer. Under these apprehensions, as well as others of general Concern to the Confederacy, what if it should be proposed to unite the influence of Congress with that of the Army and the public Creditors to obtain permanent funds for the United states which
[3] will promise most ultimate Security to the Army? This mode or that I wish you and General Huntington to cast your thoughts on this Subject, as we may probably find it necessary to put the questions to you and the Officers for our Government. From present appearances, it is not probable, we shall be able soon to compleat [sic] our business, altho Congress should give all the dispatch we can reasonably expect. The expenses at this place are enormous. The other Gentlemen being out, you are to consider this as my private Letter. My Compliments to Mrs Knox.
I am Dear Sir
Your affectionate humble
Alex M Douglall
Major General Knox
from Genl McDougall
9h Jany. 1783.
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Historical Era: The New Nation, 1783-1815

Subjects: Newburgh ConspiracyRevolutionary WarRevolutionary War GeneralMilitary HistoryContinental ArmySoldier's PayFinancePetitionPensionsContinental CongressCongressTravelEconomicsDebtLawGovernment and CivicsPresidentArchitecture

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