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LETTER IN BEHALF OF THE ARMY.
of the army
President of Congress, earnestly entreating a speedy decision on the late address forwarded by a committee
. A letter was accordingly written by Washington, breathing that generous, yet well-tempered spirit, with which he ever pleaded the cause of the army.
“The result of the proceedings of the grand convention of officers,” said he," which I have the honor of enclosing to your Excellency for the inspection of Congress, will, I flatter myself, be considered as the last glorious proof of patriotism which could have been given by men who aspired to the distinction of a patriot army, and will not only confirm their claim to the justice, but will increase their title to the gratitude, of their country.
Having seen the proceedings on the part of the army terminate with perfect unanimity, and in a manner entirely consonant to my wishes ; being impressed with the liveliest sentiments of affection for those who have so long, so patiently, and so cheerfully suffered and fought under my immediate direction ; having, from motives of justice, duty and gratitude, spontaneously offered myself as an advocate for their rights ; and having been requested to write to your Excellency, earnestly entreating the most speedy decision of Congress upon the subjects of the late address from the army to that honorable body; it only remains for me to perform the task I have assumed, and to intercede on their behalf, as I now do, that the sovereign power will be pleased to verify the predictions I have pronounced, and the confidence the army have reposed in the justice of their country.”
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After referring to former representations made by him to Congress on the subject of a half pay to be granted to officers for life, he adds : If, besides the simple payment of their wages, a further compensation is not due to the sufferings and sacrifices of the officers, then have I been mistaken indeed. If the whole
army have not merited whatever a grateful people can bestow, then have I been beguiled by prejudice and built opinion on the basis of error. If this country should not, in the event, perform every thing which has been requested in the late memorial to Congress, then will my belief become vain, and the hope that has been excited, void of foundation. And if, as has been suggested for the purpose of inflaming their passions, the officers of the army are to be the only sufferers by the Revolution; if, retiring from the field, they are to grow old in poverty, wretchedness, and contempt; if they are to wade through the vile mire of dependency, and owe the miserable remnant of that life to charity, which has hitherto been spent in honor;' then shall I have learned what ingratitude is, then shall I have realized a tale which will embitter every moment of my
future life. But I am under no such apprehensions. A country, rescued by their arms from impending ruin, will never leave unpaid the debt of gratitude.”
This letter to the president was accompanied by other letters to members of Congress ; all making similar direct and eloquent appeals. The subject was again taken up in Congress, nine States concurred in a resolution commuting the half pay into a sum equal to five years' whole pay; and the whole matter, at one moment so fraught with danger to the republic, through
1783.] AUTHOR OF THE ANONYMOUS LETTERS.
the temperate wisdom of Washington, was happily adjusted.
The anonymous addresses to the army, which were considered at the time so insidious and inflammatory, and which certainly were ill-judged and dangerous, have since been avowed by General John Armstrong, a man who has sustained with great credit to himself various eminent posts under our government. At the time of writing them he was a young man, aide-decamp to General Gates, and he did it at the request of a number of his fellow-officers, indignant at the neglect of their just claims by Congress, and in the belief that the tardy movements of that body required the spur and the lash. Washington, in a letter dated 23d January, 1797, says, “I have since had sufficient reason for
" believing that the object of the author was just, honorable, and friendly to the country, though the means suggested by him were certainly liable to much misunderstanding and abuse.”
NEWS OF PEACE-LETTER OF WASHINGTON IN BEHALF OF THE ARMY
-CESSATION OF HOSTILITIES PROCLAIMED-ORDER OF THE CINCIN
NATI FORMED-LETTER OF WASHINGTON TO THE STATE GOVERNORS
-MUTINY IN THE PENNSYLVANIA LINE-LETTER OF WASHINGTON ON THE SUBJECT-TOUR TO TIE NORTHERN POSTS.
At length arrived the wished-for news of peace. A general treaty had been signed at Paris on the 20th of January. An armed vessel, the Triumph, belonging to the Count d'Estaing's squadron, arrived at Philadelphia from Cadiz, on the 23d of March, bringing a letter from the Marquis de Lafayette to the President of Congress, communicating the intelligence. In a few days Sir Guy Carleton informed Washington by letter, that he was ordered to proclaim a cessation of hostilities by sea and land.
A similar proclamation issued by Congress, was received by Washington on the 17th of April. Being unaccompanied by any instructions respecting the discharge of the part of the army with him, should the measure be deemed necessary, he found himself in a perplexing situation.
The accounts of peace received at different times, had raised an expectation in the minds of those of his
A PLEA FOR THE SOLDIERS.
troops that had engaged "for the war,” that a speedy discharge must be the consequence of the proclamation. Most of them could not distinguish between a proclamation of a cessation of hostilities, and a definitive declaration of
peace, and might consider any further claim on their military services an act of injustice. It was becoming difficult to enforce the discipline necessary to the coherence of an army. Washington represented these circumstances in a letter to the president, and earnestly entreated a prompt determination on the part of Congress, as to what was to be the period of the services of these men, and how he was to act respecting their discharge.
One suggestion of his letter is expressive of his strong sympathy with the patriot soldier, and his knowledge of what formed a matter of pride with the poor fellows who had served and suffered under him. He urged that, in discharging those who had been engaged “for the war,” the non-commissioned officers and soldiers should be allowed to take with them, as their own property, and as a gratuity, their arms and accoutrements. “ This act,” observes he, “would raise pleasing sensations in the minds of these worthy and faithful men, who, from their early engaging in the war at moderate bounties, and from their patient continuance under innumerable distresses, have not only deserved nobly of their country, but have obtained an honorable distinction over those, who, with shorter terms, have gained large pecuniary rewards. This, at a comparatively small expense, would be deemed an honorable testimonial from Congress of the regard they bear to