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Letter from Thomas Burke to Nathanael Greene
Burke, Thomas, ca. 1747-1783
January 31, 1782
Volume 16, Pages 492-493


Salem, January 31st, 1782.


I arrived here last night and find no prospect of an Assembly Competent to business.

I perceive the State is in very great derangement, and to reform it is an herculean task. I tremble to undertake it, and yet I cannot reconcile it to my Republican principles to decline it. Indeed I perceive my presence in the State will prevent the legal administration by any other hand. Was it not for this, I believe, notwithstanding your Opinion that I might proceed previous to hearing from General Leslie, I should decline acting until I had a Certainty that the Equivalent in exchange for me had been sent in and received by the Enemy, because this would remove even the Scruples of Delicacy with which I am still much distressed. Nor does it entirely satisfy me, that Governor Wright, who departed from his parole on the same ground of danger to his person, still acts, and no equivalent has ever been rendered nor men offered.

This case is probably not known to you, and, as it is in point, I beg leave to refer you to Governor Rutledge for the particulars of it.

I will immediately apply myself to restoring peace and Internal Security to this State, and to the making Such disposition of its resources as may be assisting to the Army under your command. I have already had a Conference with the Commissary General, and I find that we shall be able to afford some Supplies, which very probably you may soon find occasion for.

The greatest difficulty will be in the transportation. I suppose it practicable to convey them, either to Or to some the by means of a I request you to give me your sentiments on this matter, and if you approve the modes, or any of them, I will take measures for carrying them into Execution immediately.

I found Col. Stewart of Maryland here. He has communicated to

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me his Instructions, to which I will pay the most early & assiduous Attention. Such things as the Executive shall be found Competent to, you may rely on as far as the resources of this State will afford. I perceive you are apprehensive of wanting some supplies of foreign Commodities, some such I am told are now ready in the Sea Ports of this State but the old Difficulty of Transporting them occurs. I request you to write me as early as possible and say by what mode you desire them to be Conveyed; in the Mean time some preparations are making for carrying them in the Ordinary Mode.

Inclosed are some Papers put in my hands by Col. Lytle. I am but too sensible of the Justice of his Complaint and I suppose the Particulars are too well known to you to require a repetition. He is indeed a very valuable officer and His Claim to exchange very early well founded. I must refer many particulars on which it might be well to write to you to a future Letter when I hope fuller informasion will enable me to give you greater Satisfaction.

I cannot hear of the approach of your Lady, and I suppose the Severity of the weather will prevent your having the pleasure of seeing her for some time.

I will conclude at Present with assuring you of my best assistance on every occasion.

And that I am,
With the Highest Esteem,
Your very Obedt. Servt.,
Hon. Gen. Greene.

Additional Notes for Electronic Version: A copy of this letter published with Greene's papers includes a postscript, "The Key to the Cypher here used shall be transmitted by a safe hand in a few days," but according to an editor's footnote, it has not been found. "The Papers of General Nathanael Greene," Dennis M. Conrad, editor, Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1998, Vol. X, p. 287.