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Putnam, Rufus (1738-1824) [Rufus Putnam's examination "of certain anonymous letters" leading to officers' discontent]

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02437.10105 Author/Creator: Putnam, Rufus (1738-1824) Place Written: s.l. Type: Manuscript letter Date: circa 11 March 1783 Pagination: 6 p. : docket ; 35.9 x 23.5 cm.

Summary of Content: Pertains to the Newburgh Petition and Conspiracy. General Putnam writes an open letter "to the Officers in the Army" expressing reservations about officers' plan to obtain back pay and other concessions from Congress. Urges them not to threaten or wage "War against the community" or Congress. Instructs the officers not to persuade Congress by negative means, noting "...having once made a Separation between the Civil and Military power, between Congress & her Army, you have then passed the Rubicon." Argues that the men will have to remain in the field until all debts are discharged, if they threaten Congress with military power. Points out that the military will have to recede in disgrace if Congress does not comply with the officers' demands; the only other option will be civil war. Asks whether soldiers will be willing to stay on the battlefield after peace is declared between the United States and Great Britain, and if so, how long will they agree to serve without pay. Declares, "...how vain then is the idea that the Officers of the Army who have been so many Years telling the World how poor they are, should be able to obtain a sufficient credit to Support an Army, designed to Subjugate, or overturn the present Constitution of America- Have you then any alternative for subsisting your Army but that of plundering your Country?" Urges more moderate measures, and expresses admiration for General George Washington. In the hand of Henry Knox's aide John Lillie.

Background Information: By 1783, many soldiers and officers in the Continental Army had not received wages for several months. In some cases, these men had not been paid in years. General Rufus Putnam ...spearheaded a drive to convince the Confederation Congress to pay the men in land from the Ohio Country. See More

People: Putnam, Rufus, 1738-1824
Washington, George, 1732-1799

Historical Era: The New Nation, 1783-1815

Subjects: Revolutionary WarRevolutionary War GeneralMilitary HistoryContinental ArmySoldier's PayMutinyRebellionNewburgh ConspiracyCongressContinental CongressFinanceArticles of Confederation

Sub Era:

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