Letter from George Washington to Thomas Burke
Washington, George, 1732-1799
Volume 14, Pages 59-60
GENERAL GEORGE WASHINGTON TO DR. THOMAS BURKE.
[From Executive Letter Book.]
Head Quarters, April 5th, 1779.
I had not the honor to receive your letter of the 22nd ult. 'till this morning. By some means or other it had taken a circuitous route by the way of Peekskill, most probably through the inattention of the person to whom it was delivered in the first instance.
With respect to the subject of your letter, after thanking you and your colleague for your polite attention in referring the matter to me previous to your acting in it, lest it might contravene some general plan of mine, I beg leave to observe, that if the three hundred dollars bounty pr. man, voted by the State, is given, it had better be, as you suggest, in addition to the bounty allowed by Congress, and only to such men as will enlist during the War. To give it for a shorter term of enlistment would be impolitic in the extreme, in my opinion, as the consequences, which must evidently
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flow from it, will be exceedingly injurious, and will greatly overbalance any present relief that the measure can produce. For my part, I am most clearly convinced of the impolicy of State bounties in all cases. A more pernicious system never was adopted, and a more pernicious one cannot be persevered in. It has occasioned a thousand ills and infinite discontents. Men who enlisted at early and intermediate periods for the war for moderate bounties have become dissatisfied at seeing such enormous sums paid for short services, and there are numbers on this account, under this description, that are trying by every possible artifice to prove that their engagements were only temporary. Though they should not succeed in this, it is certain there will be great desertions—murmurings—perhaps what will be worse. Upon the whole, I do not know that an offer of the bounty, even to encourage enlistments for the war, will be by any means advisable.
I have the Honor to be,
With Respect and esteem, Sir,
Your most Obed't Serv't,