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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, William, 1742-1818
July 15, 1779
Volume 14, Pages 154-157

[From Executive Letter Book.]

Philadelphia, July 15th, 1779.


Immediately on receiving your favor of May 25th, last, we laid before Congress the several matters wherewith you charged us, but unavoidable interventions have prevented our obtaining their Resolutions on them all previous to the date hereof. The intense heat of this season, and the great length of the march, make it almost certain that an order for the North Carolina Troops to join the Southern Army would be attended with consequences fatal to their health, and such as must deprive the public of their services everywhere, during this campaign, if not forever; it was, therefore, judged most expedient to postpone such orders until they can be executed without such imminent hazard of inconvenience.

The Resolutions, relative to the desired Emissions, are the best which we have been able to obtain, altho', in our opinion, they are not altogether so well calculated for the relief of the

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sufferers, especially in our Country, as they might have been. But the measure by which they were desired, and from which great public good was expected, has still many advocates in Congress, notwithstanding the experience of all parts of America which groans under the evils it has produced.

The Congress has, with great reluctance, granted even the partial payment of your draft in our favor. The Continental Currency is so much depreciated that every one sees the necessity of putting an entire stop to emissions, and relying on the exertion of the States for supplying the public necessities. The power of the States, individually, is much better understood, much better established, much more simple and vigorous in its operations, relative to public credit, and, let us add, much more relied on, than that of Congress. It is, therefore, more competent to give securities, which will give value to paper currency, than Congress, in their unconfederated state, can give. The Congress, sensible of this, and also sensible that increasing the Continental Emissions must be attended with very injurious consequences, have taken up Ideas very different from such as heretofore prevailed. Should the War continue longer than the present campaign, the state must furnish the supplies, either by contributions in kind or by Taxes in money; and these are the chief reasons which the Congress have, at present, in view, they will probably have recourse to loans, a measure only justifiable on principles of necessity, which is burthensome and unequal in a very high degree, and which, it is much to be wished, may be avoidable for the present campaign. The Congress wish to provide by Loans, and by what remains of the former Emissions not yet expended. While intent on this object it was a great disappointment to them to receive so great a requisition as two millions and a half from one of the States, and many deem it better to let any one State struggle through the want of money than to send them any from the public Treasury in its present circumstances. The resolution was at length taken to advance one million, and we were obliged to be satisfied therewith. It is hoped that when the State is fully informed of the state of affairs, she will provide for her Exigencies some other way, and forego the remaining part of the requisition. We confess this to be our wish, and doubt not it would be the wish of our Constituents, were the difficulties of our finances

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as well known to them as to us. The sum granted cannot be paid before the beginning of August, and, as soon as possible, it shall be sent forward. If the residue cannot be dispensed with we shall make a future application to Congress, but we are far from being sanguine in our hopes of success.

We thank your Excellency for the further information you have given us relative to the proceedings of the Assembly. We feel the highest satisfaction from the generous provisions made for our fellow Citizens in the Army. Permit us, however, to represent to you, Sir, that the intentions of the Assembly, with respect to the clothing for the officers, are far from being carried into due execution, and we beg leave to recommend it to your attention, relying on your exertions in behalf of so meritorious a body of our Citizens. The Assembly have always manifested intentions very liberal in providing for the expenses of their Delegates, but it is impossible to judge how adequate any allowance will prove to the unavoidable disbursements. We sincerely wish that all our Citizens were well armed, and to press the necessity thereof on our fellow citizens. The Predatory War, which we may apprehend hereafter, if hostilities shall continue, will require everywhere vigilance, readiness and vigor. We are convinced that, so far as the first and last can avail, our Country will be safe while you preside over her, but without arms our Virtue and vigilance cannot avail much. We wish it to be thought an object of the highest consequences to supply them. You will see by the enclosed papers that a descent has been made in Connecticut, and we have advice from Europe that it was planned in the British Cabinet. This is a proof at once of the predatory designs of the enemy, and of that imbecility which prevents them from carrying on operations of greater vigor, and more competent to their design of conquest. We wish we could give you a satisfactory Idea of our Foreign affairs, but they are still in so obscure and undecided a state that this is impossible. We are also yet under strict Injunctions of secrecy, but, shonld decisions be made deeply affecting the happiness and safety of our Country, we shall feel ourselves under obligations, stronger than any other, of laying the whole of the affair before the State. We are sorry to find that we differ in sentiments with some of the Delegates of Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and South Carolina on questions which

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are of the utmost importance to all, but peculiarly so to them, and to us as States possessing Internal Staples, and being composed chiefly of husbandmen. Jersey, Delaware and South Carolina, on the questions alluded to, are usually divided; Pennsylvania votes differently from us, but we have the satisfaction to find that New York, Maryland and Virginia concur with us. We lament that our Eastern brethren have, at present, objects in view in the pursuit of which we cannot concur with them, tho' we feel every possible disposition to unite with them in all pursuits not inconsistent with the safety and happiness of our Country. We excuse them because the objects are to them immediately interesting, but, in our opinion, not so much so to all, or to any of the States, as to justify some measures that are under consideration.

We have the honor to be, with great respect,
Your Excellency's ob. Serv't,

P.S. Three hundred and thirty Dollars have been advanced to the Express, for which he has given a receipt to be accountable to you. Genl. Hogun desires the enclosed to be submitted to your inspection, in order to give an Idea of the expense of Trimmings, which, not having been sent with some clothes which came forward from the State, puts the officers under the necessity of purchasing them here at an expense which very few of them can bear.