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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Circular letter from Robert Morris to the state governors
Morris, Nathaniel G.
May 12, 1783
Volume 16, Pages 790-791

[From Executive Letter Book.]


Office of Finance, 12th May, 1783.


I do myself the honor to enclose to your Excellency Acts of Congress of the 8th of April & 2d Instant together with a Copy of my Letter in answer. Permit me to assure you Sir, that nothing would have induced me to continue in Office but a view of the public distresses. These distresses are much greater than can easily be conceived. I am not ignorant that attempts are made to infuse the pernicious Idea that foreign aid is easily attainable and that of the monies already obtained a considerable part remains unappropriated. If such attempts were injurious only to my reputation I should be entirely silent but they are calculated to prevent exertions and are therefore injurious to the public service. I most sincerely assure you that I do not expect success in the application to France directed by the Act of the second Instant altho’ my earnest endeavours shall not be wanting. If however it should prove successful we will only be enabled to draw resources from it at a future period and the amount is to be replaced from the produce of existing requisitions on the States. With respect to the monies which have already been obtained abroad I will not pretend to say what lights those Gentlemen may have who speak on the subject in a decisive tone, but I candidly acknowledge that I have never yet been able to obtain a clear state of them, which is the reason why no account of those monies has yet been laid before the public. Those who know the confusion in our domestic transactions from which we are but just beginning to be extricated will not be surprised that foreign transactions dependant on them should also be deranged, neither can it be expected that in the midst of a War the accounts could be so soon adjusted and transmitted as is to be wished. I have written to obtain them and a Commissioner is employed in adjusting them. From the best State and estimate which I have, I can assure you that what remains at my disposition is extremely small.

Your Excellency is doubtless informed that at the close of last

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year there was an anticipation on the public credit to the amount of above four hundred thousand Dollars. This anticipation amounts to a greater sum now than it did then and a very considerable addition must be made at the disbanding of the army. My mere assertions might I am sensible be drawn into doubt, but Sir, there is evidence sufficient to convince every considerate man. The expenses of 1782 were above twenty two hundred thousand Dollars. Those of 1783 are greater by a month’s pay made to the Army and by extending the Contracts for rations near five months of this year are already expired. One month’s pay for the Army is above two hundred and fifty thousand Dollars according to the establishment and altho’ the army is not compleated to its establishment, yet the deficiency being in private centinels will not form a great deduction.

The conclusion from what I have stated is clear and irresistable. There is no reliance but on the energy of the States and it is on that reliance that I rest for the affairs of my department. I shall not add anything to what is said in the Resolutions of Congress as inducement for, or to stimulate, exertions because I cannot suppose that the voice or the words of an individual servant will meet an attention which is not paid to the representatives of the whole Empire expressed in its solemn acts and on the most urgent occasion, where Wisdom, Justice and Gratitude combine to enforce the requisitions.

I am your & Sir,