Your Excellency will doubtless lay before the General Assembly a Letter from their Delegates of 22d October, 1782, with some papers to which it refers, also a Communication that was made us on the 10th of January by the minister of France, by order of the King, his master, a Copy of which we forwarded some time ago.
We expected that before this time we should have been able to have furnished you with the particulars of a plan of funding the public debts or at least a considerable part of them, but this business meets with such delays from incidental occurrences and the great diversity of Opinions that prevails among the States, we fear it will not arrive during the first Session of the General Assembly; in the mean while we count it our duty to furnish the State with some account of the chief objects that have lately drawn the attention of Congress, for if we are not mistaken concerning their importance they must on some occasion demand its most serious Deliberations.
On the 6th of January a Committee from the Army presented a Memorial to Congress, explaining many substantial Grievances. A Copy is enclosed. We have promised but have not yet been able to pay them one month’s pay. After much time employed in discussing the subject of commutation for half pay, two days ago the
We have been attempting with much pains to fix on some mode by which the quota of the several States might be determined according to the Eighth article of the confederation, i. e. according to the value of located Lands and their improvements. The rule is good and plain but the question is extremely difficult. How shall the value be fixed? Let the appropriated Lands and their improvements be valued by the Inhabitants of the respective States and we have great reason to believe, from proofs before us, that the valuation would be unequal and unjust, for instance, the average value of lands as they are now rated for the purpose of taxation in the State of Virginia is one-third higher than the value of lands as they are rated in Pennsylvania though it is certain that the Lands in Pennsylvania are at an average worth one third more than the Lands in Virginia. If such valuation should be made in fixing the Continental Quota, Pennsylvania when compared with Virginia would not pay quite half the sum she ought to pay. We have many other arguments which either prove the different frauds or the diversity of Opinions, respecting the value of Lands which prevail in different States. It is presumed that the valuation would be more uniform and just if it was made by a set of Commissioners who should view all the lands and buildings in the United States. But there is reason to believe that such process, like estates entailed, would be perpetual and it would be an even chance which would come first, the fixing the Quotas or the Day of Judgment. The eastern States, who consider the valuation scheme as impracticable, talk much of fixing the Quotas according to the number of Inhabitants, making considerable allowance for slaves. Some of them propose to exclude all slaves under 16 years, which would be rating two slaves for one free man. We presume that the Southern States
On the 24th of January Mr. Morris, who is Financier, from a view of the bad State of our Finances informed Congress that he proposed to resign. Congress however did not take any public notice of that communication, because they expected in a few weeks to be able to adopt a system of Finance which might revive public credit. Some weeks passed and nothing material could be done when a second Letter was received from the Financier both of which he published without the previous knowledge of Congress. A Copy is inclosed. The Letters certainly refer to a want of disposition in the States to provide funds, evidenced in the recent case of Rhode Island and Virginia, but they are incautiously worded and might involve a suspicion that Congress or the States at large did not mean honestly. If public credit had been alive the publishing of those Letters would have proved a sickening dose, but there are times when nothing can hurt. It has been hinted from different quarters that there is danger of our borrowing too much money. The whole sum that has been borrowed from the beginning of the
The Public Creditors, that is to say the Loan Officers Certificates in the State of Pennsylvania, have been extremely importunate for Payment. The clamor originated last Summer in the stoppage of interest, which for some years had been paid in France on Certificates of a certain mission. When the fund was expended the interest ceased to be paid. On this occasion those creditors who had hitherto fared best became most troublesome. They attempted to acquire weight by associating with other creditors and by effecting Combinations in the different States. Some Memorials in consequence have been received from different quarters, but they are not numerous. The complaints however of those people continue, they affect to be considered as a species of Creditors who have distinguished and exclusive claims. Their plea is that the Citizens of Pennsylvania have lent more money to the Union than any other State and nearly as much as all the other States together. It was the fortune of those people to have the mint of the United States near them. As soon as a Dollar was cast they received it warm out of the press in payment for provisions, or whatever they furnished for the Army. This Money was immediately converted into Certificates of which they have received a considerable sum. But they do not willingly admit that our Citizens are quite as heavily loaded with Receipts, Notes, or Certificates of a different kind, all of which they have received for services done, or for property impressed or freely sold for the use of the army, and that the claim of one man for a thousand Dollars is exactly equal to the claim of another man for the same amount, without regard to the particular form or words on the paper by which that claim is certified. With this belief however Congress sometime ago recommended to the States to raise particular Sums for paying the interest of liquidated Debts. Having mentioned the subject of liquidated Debts we cannot help recommending a steady attention on the part of our State to the settlement of all public Accounts in order that we may be able to state an acct. against the United States. While the Auditors
On the 23d of January Congress ratified a Treaty of Amity and Commerce that had been agreed to by our Minister at the Hague with their high Mightinesses of the States General of the United Netherlands. A Copy is inclosed. When our last accounts came
On the 30th of November our Minister for negotiating Peace with England concluded and signed Preliminary articles. A Copy of which is inclosed. They are more favorable than we had reason to expect, but we have some reason to fear that they are not so favorable as some of the States have expected. But we are convinced from the Journal of our Ministers, who have given us a detail of different events, during the negotiation that it was not practicable to have obtained better Terms. The payment of British Debts was long and obstinately refused, but the Merchants in general in England seemed to interest themselves on this Subject; they wish that all Mercantile contracts should be considered sacred; and the British Merchants are such a Body as their Ministry are not willing to oppose. It appeared that without this Article the Treaty could not go on. Our Ministers could easily calculate that the amount was much less than the expense of another Campaign, to say nothing of the additional loss we might suffer. During the last Summer Congress had reiterated their Instructions to the Ministers for negotiating Peace, to contend to the last extremity for the Western Territory, for the New Foundland Fishery and its appendages, for the retention of Tory property and British Debts—however the power or right of making Peace implies the means, and when a Concession became absolutely necessary, it was made in course. The British Minister contended long for the return of all Tories or Refugees, a full act of oblivion and restitution of their property; he alleged that the King’s honor made this Article necessary. Our Ministers had a natural reply, the King’s passions, cherished by the falsehoods and frauds of Tories had continued the War and might prevent a Peace, but we should not accept Peace on the humiliating Terms of cherishing the Plunderers of our Property and murderers of our friends. It was fortunate that those Renegadoes had not so many substantial friends in England as the Merchants had, else it is questioned what the consequence might have been. At present nothing is given them but the promise of a recommendation. Light food; however, the reward is quite equal to the Service.
Yesterday morning the Triumph, a French Corvet, arrived here in a short passage from Cadiz. By this Vessel we have the assurance
We presume that Sir Guy Carlton has not yet received the preliminaries of the General Peace, for he sent us yesterday and not sooner the Copy he had received from England of the Preliminaries signed on the 30th November. Inclosed are the outlines of the General Terms of Pacification by which you will observe that we got a degree less on the Bank of the Mississippi than had been first marked off. The Marquis de la Fayette had prevailed on the Count d’Estaing to send the Vessel mentioned, from the mere hope that she might chance to bring the first news of Peace. But you will observe by her passport, a Copy of which is enclosed, that hostilities are to cease at whatever place she may touch immediately on her giving the notice. As we presume that we shall gain as much as the enemy by this measure, we did not lose a minute in giving Sir Guy Carlton and Admiral Digby the proper Information; by this we hope that some Vessels and what we value more, some lives, may be saved.
Attempts have lately been made to excite sedition in our main army; anonymous inflammatory Papers were circulated by Persons unknown. The Commander in Chief hearing of this measure called a meeting of the officers some days ago. The whole proceedings on this occasion will be laid before you in time, from which you will certainly infer that our Army consists of the best Citizens as well as the bravest Soldiers that ever drew a Sword.
Before we disband our Army and make some other necessary arrangements for Peace some very interesting matters must be submitted to the States; for this reason we presume that another meeting of the General Assembly of North Carolina will be necessary at an early Day.