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McDougall, Alexander (1732-1786) to Henry Knox

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02437.01912 Author/Creator: McDougall, Alexander (1732-1786) Place Written: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 12 February 1783 Pagination: 3 p. : address : docket ; 24.2 x 18.2 cm.

Summary of Content: Written by General McDougall, but signed anonymously as "Brutus" to Major General Knox. McDougall reports that he seems to be making progress in lobbying Congress for funding for half-pay pensions for the officers. Says that since the Committee of the Army (made up of McDougall and Colonels Brooks and Ogden) came to Philadelphia that "the Sentiment is daily gaining ground, that the Army will not, nor ought not, to disband till Justice is done to them." Says a motion might be brought up by supportive Congressmen to not disband the army until "Justice is done to them." Asks Knox to keep quiet on the subject until the vote takes place. Says he is lobbying members of Congress for funding. Hopes the country will have enough sense to do justice to the army without any violent declarations from the officers. Says the army needs to prepare for what might happen. "Free" stamped on address leaf with no signature.

Background Information: For information on the identity of Brutus see Richard H. Kohn, "The Inside History of the Newburgh Conspiracy: America and the Coup d'Etat," William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 27, no. 2 (April 1970), 187...-220. A footnote on page 197 says that Mary-Jo Kline noted that McDougall tried to mask his handwriting in the body of the letter, but not in the address leaf. She compared it to another McDougall letter, which is now GLC02437.01933, to identity the writer. She could have also noted that both letters use the same slightly blue-tinted paper.See More

Full Transcript: [draft]
Dr Sir, Phia 12th Feby 1783

Since the Committee of the Army came here, the sentiment is daily gaining Ground, that the Army will not, nor ought not to disband ...till Justice is done to them. - Various considerations conspire to produce this opinion. Some of the sensible members of Congress justly [inserted: apprend], [sic], that determination as certain; and foresee that such a declaration on the part of the Army, however Justifiable will disgrace the national Character, as the cause of it will be apparent to the whole world, - the denial of Justice to Army. - To prevent this, as well as to avoid the unforeseen consequences which may happen from the Armys declaration; it is not improbable but a motion will be made [2] made in Congress not to disband the Army till Justice is done to them. But as this [inserted: is] but in Embrio, I wish you to be silent on the subject till, the event takes place. - or till you hear further from me. - Since the late recent reports of a peace, General McDougall has been sounding some of the Members for Congress, what they will do with the Army on such an event? Will they disolve them without Setling [sic] with them, or money to carry them home? The answer is in the negative. In short the Idea is becoming more and more familiar every day to members of Congress, and the Citizens of this place, that the Army will not disband Till Justice is done to them. But I still hope, the Country have yet so much sense of Justice and Policy [inserted: left] as do justice to the army without any violent declaration on their part. - But the Army ought not to loose a moment in prepareing [3] for events. - and for the worst that may happen to them. - Believe me to be with great truth your affectionate
Major General Knox Commanding
By post. at West Point
from Brutus 12 Fby 1783
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Historical Era: The New Nation, 1783-1815

Subjects: Newburgh ConspiracyRevolutionary WarRevolutionary War GeneralContinental CongressCongressContinental ArmyMilitary HistorySoldier's PayFinancePensionsPetitionGovernment and CivicsMutinyRebellion

Sub Era:

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