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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Report by a committee of the Continental Congress concerning public accounts, including cover letter from Robert Morris to the state governors
United States. Continental Congress
June 1783
Volume 16, Pages 832-835

[From Executive Letter Book.]


Office of Finance, 21st June, 1783.


I do myself the honor to enclose for your Excellency’s perusal the report of a Committee of Congress appointed to examine into the conduct of this Office.

I do this in order that every doubt may be removed as to the

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authenticity of those accounts which have been rendered Congress and transmitted to the State. For strange as it may seem to any person of common sense and common honesty yet a concurrence of testimony compels me to believe that there are people in different parts of America who affect to believe that the public property has been dissipated or remains unaccounted for.

With perfect respect,
I have the honor to be, &c.,

By the United States in Congress Assembled,
June, 1783.

Congress took into consideration the report of the Committee appointed to inquire fully into the proceedings of the Office of Finance and then same being read,

Ordered that it be entered on the Journals as follows:

“The Committee appointed to examine into the transactions of the Office of Finance having completed that enquiry to the first of January, 1783, Report, That it appears to them the business of that Office has been conducted with great ability and assiduity in a manner highly advantageous to the United States and in conformity with the system laid down by Congress.

In the course of this enquiry the Committee have found, that since the appointment of the Superintendent of Finance the public accounts of receipts and expenditures have been punctually and regularly kept; that many of the accounts which preceded this institution have already been settled and most of the others put into a train of adjustment.

That all the persons who have been entrusted with public money under the present appointment have been regularly called upon for an account of its expenditure and that their accounts have all been furnished excepting only the quarter Master General the purveyor of the hospital and late Commissary General of Prisoners, and the accounts of issues of clothing from the clothier General. The reasons which have prevented the settlement of their accounts will appear in their correspondence with the Financier on the Subject.

The Committee find by the Correspondence of the Office that the

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States have all been called upon for an acconnt of the Specifics by them respectively supplied for the use of the Continent; but that no answers have yet been given nor any accounts furnished. And that a number of people who have heretofore been entrusted with public money do still neglect or refuse to settle their accounts, and that for want of Laws in the several States the Superintendent has it not in his power to compel them to a proper settlement.

In examining the reforms which have been made in the public expenditures, the attention of the Committee was necesarily called to the expenditures of former years, for the particulars of which they refer to the papers C. No. 1 to 7. In comparing these expenditures with the present and making every allowance for the difference of times and circumstances the Committee are of opinion that the order and economy which have been introduced since the establishment of this Office have been attended with great saving of public money as well as many other beneficial consequences.

Among other reforms they find, that in the department of Commissary of Issues no less than two hundred and fifty persons were discharged whose pay (exclusive of rations for themselves and their horses) amounted to 126,300 Dollars per Annum. That in one instance a demand was made for one thousand tons of hay for the post of Philadelphia, of which ten tons only were granted, the residue being rendered unnecessary by the arrangement.

They find that under the present administration the whole Sum which has been brought into the public Treasury from the 14th day of May, 1781, to the first of January, 1783, amounts to Dollars
That the whole expenditures for that period amount to
Out of which has been paid to the Army
That there was expended for ration for the army in 1782
That the quarter Master General’s department in 1782 is charged with
And the Medical department in that year

That the expenditures in 1782 exceeded the receipts 404,713 Dollars which was supplied by a circulation in the Notes of the Superintendent of Finance. Upon comparing the accounts of the public receipts and expenditures (exhibited to Congress) with the Books of the Treasury they found that they had been fairly and regularly stated, and it appears to them that the business of that office is

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conducted with great diligence and accuracy, and in conformity with the rules laid down by Congress.

With respect to the foreign money transactions the Committee confined their enquiry principally to what respected the Superintendent of Finance, and find that the Bills of Exchange which he has drawn are duly credited at the Treasury.

On motion,

Ordered, That a Committee be appointed to consider what further measures are necessary to compel persons who have received public Monies to account.