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Letter from John Penn, Thomas Burke, and William Sharpe to Richard Caswell
Penn, John, 1740 or 1-1788; Burke, Thomas, ca. 1747-1783; Sharpe, John
May 20, 1779
Volume 14, Pages 89-90

-------------------- page 89 --------------------
[From Executive Letter Book.]

Philadelphia, May 20th, 1779.


We have seen a paper signed by several of the officers of the Continental Troops, raised by the State over which you preside, and which we have the honor to represent in Congress, and we deem it a duty we owe to these, our brave and meritorious fellow Citizens, to declare our sense of the measure which they have adopted.

The grievances of which they complain, we are convinced, press them with difficulties much more severe than they have expressed, and the prices of necessaries, which they have stated, are far from being exaggerated. They are, in truth, below what are now current, the money being greatly depreciated since the date of their memorial. The hopes of attracting the attention of their Country, so as to obtain effectual provision against their present distress and for future support after peace shall be restored to their Country, appear to us extremely reasonable, and we persuade ourselves they are not ill founded.

We have that confidence in the wisdom, justice and liberality of our Country, which permits us not to doubt that they will pay due attention to our fellow Citizens, who have opposed their bosoms to the swords of our Enemies, who have steadily persevered in exerting their courage and talents for their Country under the pressure of every want and every severe calamity which can wound the human senses and embitter human life. And we beg, Sir, to offer our wishes that this subject may be considered by the General Assembly as of the highest importance, and deserving their most early attention. Measures in principle similar to this taken by the officers of our Troops, have been taken by the officers of several other States, and we are happy in observing that ours have, in their address to the General Assembly, displayed a modesty which we could wish not to have been singular, but which, in justice to them, we are obliged to declare to be so as far as we have had an opportunity of remarking.

-------------------- page 90 --------------------

Their complaints are and indeed always have been less loud and importunate than those of any others, altho' it must be owned their sufferings have been greater and their merit not less than those of any other Corps. This circumstance, in our opinion, the better entitles them to an early and generous attention.

It may be thought that such redress as the officers pray for ought more properly to be administered by Congress, but experience has proved that present provision can more conveniently and effectually be made by the States; and it is not quite clear whether, agreeable to the true genius of a Federal Republic, the future provision for the Military ought to be made by and at the will of the Magistrate, who must have the supreme, united executive power.

But what makes the immediate interposition of the States necessary is that Congress have not time to apply the remedy so early as the inconvenience demands.

We venture to press our Country, not only in favor of the application of our officers, but also in favor of our fellow Citizens, who are in the Ranks. We doubt not the Assembly will readily see the propriety of their being furnished with present comfortable subsistence, and that such future provision be made as will make it their inclination to become useful Citizens in a peaceful community.

We have the honor to be, with due respect,
Your Excellency's Mo. ob. humbl. Servts.,
Gov. Caswell.