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Letter from John Hancock to Elias Boudinot
Hancock, John, 1737-1793
October 28, 1783
Volume 16, Pages 988-990


Boston, 28th October, 1783.

To His Excellency the President of Congress,


The great and unequal quantity of Continental bills of the old emission, so called, now remaining in the hands of the good people of this Commonwealth is so grievous and therefore a matter so important to them that this Legislature is constrained repeatedly to remonstrate it to your honorable body.

The several States were earnestly called upon by Congress to redeem their respective proportions of those Bills at a time when the existence of the army and the very cause the United States were contending for was threatened by their great and rapidly increasing depreciation. We would with all due deference urge the attention of Congress to a matter so interesting to us. Permit us Sir, to ask, were not all the States equally obliged to redeem their quotas? Did they all fulfil that obligation? Are there not some states who have not redeemed one farthing? Has not this State redeemed its full proportion as charged upon it by Congress? They have done it at the rate for 40 for one agreeably to the recommendation. Can it be expected that while so great a share of their property lies dead in their Coffers the people will be able to yield their aid for the future supply of the public Treasury? And how long can it be supposed it will be before a manly and free people, sensible of such unequal burdens will hearken to the dictates of their own feelings and even refuse to advance more till they are relieved? The Congress, the Legislatures of the several States, wise and virtuous men see the importance of maintaining the National honor and faith. And is not the National honor and faith concerned in this matter? It is said that Congress is bound to fulfil every contract made, the half pay or commutation for instance, that they have pledged their faith and cannot recall it. And is not the public faith as strongly pledged and as irrevocably in this case as in any other? We appeal to the Resolutions of Congress and rely upon it that the representative body of the United States will speedily afford relief to that

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State which perhaps has discovered itself the most forward in its duty in this particular case, and come to a decision which public Justice, public faith and honor shall point out and require.

To other subjects of no less importance this Commonwealth would again Sir, call the attention of Congress.

The vast expense this State was at in forming and carrying on the expedition against Penobscot—true it is this expedition was engaged in by this State; but when such a measure is pursued that in its consequences must affect the whole union, they conceive it to be of national concern, and therefore ought to be a national debt. In the exigencies of our affairs in the late arduous contest, this State on this and other occasions often thought it to be her duty to seize every advantage that could advance the common cause to part with her property and render her services relying on the goodness of her cause, the necessity of the measures and the assurances of Congress that there should be a day of equal retribution. The enemy were advantageously posted for the purpose of extending their depredations by land and still better situated to annoy the commerce of the United States. With a view to prevent those evils this Commonwealth engaged in the undertaking which Congress she then believed would have recommended readily had not their attention at that time been drawn to other and more important scenes, the operations of the enemy in other States. As the States were all interested in this expedition Congress will not let the whole burden of it fall an intolerable load on those who generously engaged in it because in the chance of war it proved unfortunate.

This expense added to the large bounties allowed and given by the State in recruiting that army that fought in the defence of the whole is a source of great uneasiness, for the Commissioner for settling the accts. of this Commonwealth with the United States not thinking himself authorized by the resolves of Congress and by his instructions to allow those bounties, and consequently in his settlements taking no notice of them excites the fears and apprehensions of the people of this Commonwealth that this is to be another source of inequality. This construction of the resolves, and those proceedings create the greatest dissatisfaction in their minds as they are contrary to what they and their Legislature ever Supposed to be the Spirit and meaning of them and of all their federal engagements of

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this general extent, for in all matters of War and peace and other general concerns these United States ought to be considered as one compact Nation engaged in one common cause and every part and individual of it to be rewarded as far as practicable in proportion to the services performed.

This Commonwealth Sir, would not only call the attention of Congress to the large proportion of troops furnished by this State but to the large bounties they were obliged to give, because many of their subject were engaged on the seas in the common cause and because a large proportion of them were constantly employed in the Land service of the Continent.

This Commonwealth Sir, on these considerations and many other that might here be recited do think it just and equitable their just right and claim that the Commissioner appointed for the purposes above mentioned should in settling with this State have now explicit instructions to allow the several bounties given by it in recruiting the army as a charge against the United States.”