Fourth President of the United States
|Click Here to view the US Mint & Coin Acts 1782-1792|
in Congress Assembled
November 4, 1782 to November 3, 1783
November 4, 1782 to November 3, 1783
Copyright © Stan Klos, President Who? Forgotten Founders 2004 & 2008
Students and Teachers of US History this is a video of Stanley and Christopher Klos presenting America's Four United Republics Curriculum at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. The December 2015 video was an impromptu capture by a member of the audience of Penn students, professors and guests that numbered about 200.
Presidents of the United States in Congress Assembled
March 1, 1781
July 6, 1781
July 10, 1781
July 10, 1781
November 4, 1781
November 5, 1781
November 3, 1782
November 4, 1782
November 2, 1783
November 3, 1783
June 3, 1784
November 30, 1784
November 22, 1785
November 23, 1785
June 5, 1786
June 6, 1786
February 1, 1787
February 2, 1787
January 21, 1788
January 22, 1788
January 21, 1789
Elias Boudinot was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 2, 1740. His great-grandfather, Elias Boudinot, was a Huguenot, who fled France after a series of King Louis XIV’s edicts that methodically revoked the decree of Nante reinstituting religious persecution. Elias Boudinot’s grandfather settled first in New York in 1687 and there Elias Boudinot II, was born to his wife, Marie Carree, on August 3, 1706.
In 1721 Boudinot’s father apprenticed as a silversmith with Simeon Soumain in New York City. In 1729 he immigrated to Antigua in the West Indies where he worked as a silversmith until 1737. On the island he courted and married Mary Catherine Williams whose family was originally from Wales. Over the next twenty years they had nine children. The first, John, was born in Antigua. Of the others, only the younger Elias and three of his siblings Annis, Mary, and Elisha reached adulthood.
The silversmith couple relocated to Philadelphia in 1738 and there, in 1740, Elias Boudinot was born. An advertisement from the September 10, 1747 Pennsylvania Gazette, announced that "Elias Buddinot, silversmith, is removed from the house next door to the Post-office, in Market-street." The family would move to Princeton, New Jersey in 1753 operating both a silversmith shop and the local post office. "As a boy he had played along its fertile street when his father's silversmith shop was also the village post office."[i]
In Princeton, Boudinot’s sister Annis was a standout in the community due to her beauty, charisma, and exceptional command of English composition. Today, Annis is best known as the first woman poet to be published in the British American Colonies. Her poems, which number 120,[ii] appeared in leading newspapers and magazines of the day. Consequently, she was courted by the most accomplished men in Central New Jersey. Richard Stockton, who was son of John Stockton one of the founders of the College of New Jersey,[iii] won Annis’ heart and they were married in late 1757 or early 1758. Richard Stockton was a lawyer, jurist, and one of Princeton’s leading citizens.
Annis, as his wife, took charge of the Stockton estate improving the stately house and gardens. Now known as Morven, the home of New Jersey’s governors, Annis gave the estate its poetic name after Fingal the King of Morven.[iv] Annis and Richard were close friends throughout their marriage and had six children together: Julia (born 1759), Mary and Susan (born 1761, twins), Richard (born 1764), Lucius Horatio (born 1768), and Abigail (born 1773).
Richard Stockton took Annis’ younger brothers, Elias and Elisha, under his tutelage instructing them in law. During this period Elias began to court Hannah, Richard Stockton’s sister, writing to her at 18 years of age that:
she press forward towards a heavenly goal, and begs that she will not let one who is but mortal, and flesh and blood like herself, be a means of drawing off her soul from the great things of another world. I return you my most cordial acknowledgment for your expressions of the thankful heart to the Almighty God for me, oh that he would turn the blessing on your own breast, with the addition of his heavenly influence and make me worthy the title you so lavishly bestow upon me.[v]
In 1760, after serving an apprenticeship with his brother-in-law, Elias was admitted to the New Jersey Bar. He began his practice in Elizabethtown, New Jersey that same year. Elias married Hannah Stockton, on April 12, 1762, drawing the two families even closer together. Their correspondence is voluminous especially during Boudinot’s 1778-1784 war service. During the Courtship of Hannah in 1758 he writes:
Hannah and Elias, previous to their marriage, addressed each other as Eugenia and Narcissus, following a fashion which appears to have been in vogue with lovers in those days, which, to our modern, practical, and workaday minds, may seem somewhat stilted; but we may apply Mr. Boudinot's own words, when writing to his only daughter later as to her conduct: "I am too well acquainted with the human heart to wish you entirely to change the manners of the present day, or to appear altogether affectedly singular. It will be most for your advancement, as well as happiness, to take the world as you find it, and endeavor to convert even the prejudices of fashion and common life into such proper channels, as to make them subservient to your advancement in usefulness."[vi]
The couple had two children, Maria Boudinot, who died at age two, and Susan Vergereau Boudinot who married a Philadelphia lawyer William Butler. The eminent Butler would gone on to become Pennsylvania’ Chief Justice and George Washington’s second Attorney General.
Boudinot’s father followed Elias to Elizabethtown in 1762, opening another silversmith shop and working there until his death in 1770. Elias, along with his younger brother Elisah, remained in their Essex County law practice well into 1770’s. They were outstanding lawyers, much in demand. In his writings, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Joseph Philo Bradley recalled a law professor’s stories about the brothers as thus:
Old Dr. Cannon, a professor in New Brunswick, told me, that when he was a boy fourteen or fifteen years old he was at school at Hackensack and used to love to attend the court there, and Dr. Peter Wilson, the principal of the Academy, let him go to the court, and two brothers, lawyers, elegant men, tall, handsome and every way prepossessing, used to attend the court, coming from Elizabethtown for that purpose; Their names were Boudinot, and whenever they spoke, crowds were attracted to hear them, on account of the elegance and eloquence of their speeches; these brothers were Elias and Elisha Boudinot.[vii]
Elias Boudinot’s eloquence and brilliance was not forgotten at Princeton being appointed to the College of N.J.’s Board of Trustees in 1772.
For More Information go to
America's Four United Republics
America's Four United Republics
Boudinot was dutiful to the “cause of independence” in New Jersey which arguably began on March 12, 1773 when the Virginia House of Burgesses initiated inter-colonial communications by forming a standing committee of correspondence. New Jersey waited until February 8, 1774 to form its nine member committee that had its first meeting in New Brunswick on May 31st, 1774 after receiving the news of the British blockade of Boston Harbor. On that date the committee members replied to Massachusetts Committee of correspondence:
Yours of the 13th Inst enclosing a copy of the late Act of Parliment blocking up the Harbor of Boston and the Resolutions of the Town meeting in consequence thereof is now before us. It is our deepest concern we View the proceedings of Administration and late Act of Parliament respecting Boston, and look not only to ourselves but all the other Colonies to be equally concerned with you in the Terrible and Unconstitutional Act. We propose at so alarming an event to request our governor to call the assembly & hope you will find us disposed, to join you in appointing Deputies to attend a Congress, Petitioning the King or in adopting any other legal mode for obtaining redress that may be thought most Eligible or most likely to succeed., serving as a member of the Committee of Correspondence for Essex County in 1774. He often used his influence and exceptional legal mind to awaken the New Jersey Provincial Congress to speedily approve the resolutions of the Continental Congress.[viii]
This New Jersey-Massachusetts correspondence ignited colonial patriotic fervor in the Boudinot brothers. On June 7, 1774 a public advertisement was issued calling for all Essex County residents to gather in Newark to discuss Boston's plight with Great Britain. The meeting was opened with the unanimous choices of Stephen Crane[ix] as Chairman and the younger Boudinot brother, Elisha, as Clerk of the meeting. The chairman conducted the meeting expertly allowing everyone who had a plan, including Elias Boudinot, to bring it forth with ideas being discussed openly. This resulted in the following resolves being passed:
This meeting taking into Serious consideration some late alarming measures adopted by the British Parliament, for depriving his Majesty's American Subjects of their undoubted and constitutional rights and privileges, & particularly, the act for blockading the Port of Boston, which appears to them, pregnant with the most dangerous consequences to all his Majesty's dominions in America: do unanimously resolve and agree,
I. That under the enjoyment of our constitutional privileges and immunities, we will ever cheerfully render all due obedience to the crown of Great Britain, as well as full faith and allegiance to his most gracious Majesty, King George the third: and do esteem a firm dependance on the mother country, essential to our political security and happiness.
II. That the late act of Parliament relative to Boston, which so absolutely destroys every idea of safety and confidence, appears to us, big with the most dangerous and alarming consequences; especially, as subversive of that very dependance, which we would earnestly wish to continue, as our best Safe-guard and protection: and that we conceive, every well-wisher to Great Britain and her Colonies, is now loudly called upon to exert his utmost abilities, in promoting every loyal and prudential measure, towards obtaining a repeal of the said Act of parliament and all others subversive of the undoubted rights and Liberties of his Majesty's American Subjects.
III. That it is our unanimous opinion, that it would conduce to the restoration of the liberties of America, should the Colonies enter into a joint agreement not to purchase or use any articles of British Manufactory;
and especially any commodities imported from the East-Indies, under such restrictions as may be agreed upon by a General congress of the said Colonies hereafter to be appointed.
IV. That this county will most readily & Cheerfully join their Brethren of the other counties in this Province, in promoting such congress of Deputies, to be sent from each of the Colonies, in order to form a General plan of union, so that the measures [to] be pursued for the important ends in View, may be uniform and firm: to which plan when concluded upon, we do agree faithfully to adhere. And do now declare ourselves ready to send a Committee to meet with those from the other Counties, at such time & place, as by them may be agreed upon, in order to elect proper persons to represent this Province in the said general congress.
V. That the freeholders and Inhabitants of the other Counties in this Province, be requested speedily to convene themselves together, to consider the present dis stressing state of our Public affairs: & to correspond, and consult with such other Committees, as may be appointed as well as with our committee, who are hereby directed to correspond and consult with such other committees, as also with those of any other Province: and particularly, to meet with the said county Committees, in Order to nominate and appoint deputies to represent this Province in General congress.
VI. We do hereby unanimously request the following Gentlemen to accept of that trust: and accordingly do appoint them our Committee for the purposes aforesaid, Viz. Stephen Crane, Henry Garritse, Joseph Riggs, William Livingston, William P. Smith, John DeHart, John Chetwood, Isaac Ogden, and Elias Boudinot Esq"[x]
Elias was named as an Essex County committeeman which propelled him into a leadership role in the protest movement against British policies sweeping, not just New Jersey but, the North American British colonies. On July 23, 1774 a gathering of country committeeman, of which Elias was one, marked the first extralegal conference in New Jersey. County Committeemen, from all parts of New Jersey, were brought together effectively uniting N.J.’s protest movement. Without approval by the State Assembly appointed New Jersey's delegates to the First Continental Congress enacting this resolution:
At a general meeting of the Committees of the several Counties in the Province of New Jersey, at New Brunswick, on Thursday, the 21st July, and continued to the Saturday following. Present, seventy-two Members. Stephen Crane, Esquire, in the Chair.
The Committees taking into their serious consideration the dangerous and destructive nature of sundry Acts of the British Parliament, with respect to the fundamental liberties of the American Colonies, conceive it their indispensable duty to bear their open testimony against them, and to concur with the other Colonies in prosecuting all legal and necessary measures, for obtaining their speedy repeal. Therefore, we unanimously agree in the following sentiments and Resolutions:
1st. We think it necessary to declare, that the inhabitants of this Province, (and we are confident the people of America in general) are, and ever have been, firm and unshaken in their loyalty to his Majesty King George the Third; fast friends to the Revolution Settlement; and that they detest all thoughts of an independence on the Crown of Great Britain; Acccordingly we do, in the most sincere and solemn manner, recognize and acknowledge his Majesty King George the Third to be our lawful and rightful Sovereign, to whom under his royal protection in our fundamental rights and privileges, we owe, and will render all due faith and allegiance.
2d. We think ourselves warranted from the principles of our excellent Constitution, to affirm that the claim of the British Parliament, (in which we neither are, nor can be represented) to make laws, which shall be binding on the King's American subjects, "in all cases whatsoever," and particularly for imposing taxes for the purpose of raising a revenue in America is unconstitutional and oppressive, and which we think ourselves bound in duty to ourselves and our posterity, by all constitutional means in our power, to oppose.
3d. We think the several late Acts of Parliament for shutting up the port of Boston, invading the Charter rights of the Province of the Massachusetts Bay, and subjecting supposed offenders to be sent for trial to other Colonies, or to Great Britain; the sending over an armed force to carry the same into effect, and thereby reducing many thousands of innocent and loyal inhabitants to poverty and distress; are not only subversive of the undoubted rights of his Majesty's American subjects, but also repugnant to the common principles of humanity and justice. These proceedings, so violent in themselves, and so truly alarming to the other Colonies, (many of which are equally exposed to Ministerial vengeance,) render it the indispensable duty of all, heartily to unite in the most proper measures, to procure redress for their oppressed countrymen, now suffering in the common cause; and for the re-establishment of the constitutional rights of America on a solid and permanent foundation.
4th. To effect this important purpose, we conceive the most eligible method is, to appoiut a General Congress of Commissioners of the respective Colonies; who shall be empowered mutually to pledge, each to the rest, the public honor and faith of their constituent Colonies, firmly and inviolably to adhere to the determinations of the said Congress.
5th. Resolved That we do earnestly recommend a general non-importation and a non-comsumption agreement to be entered into at such time, and regulated in such manner, as to the Congress shall appear most advisable.
6th. Resolved. That it appears to us, to be a duty incumbent on the good people of this Province, to afford some immediate relief to the many suffering inhabitants of the town of Boston.
Therefore, the several County Committees do now engage to set on foot, and promote collections, without delay, either by subscriptions or otherwise, throughout their respective counties; and that they will remit the moneys arising from the said subscriptions, or any other benefactions, that may be voluntarily made by the inhabitants, either to Boston, or into the hands of James Neilson, John Dennis, William Ouke, Abraham Hunt, Samuel Tucker, Dr. Isaac Smith, Grant Gibbon, Thomas Sinnicks, and John Carey, whom we do hereby appoint a Committee for forwarding the same to Boston, in such way and manner as they shall be advised will best answer the benevolent purpose designed.
7th. Resolved. That the grateful acknowledgements of this body are due to the noble and worthy patrons of constitutional liberty, in the British Senate, for their laudable efforts to avert the storm they behold impending over a much injured Colony, and in support of the just rights of the King's subjects in America.
8th. Resolved. That James Kinsey, William Livingston, John Dehart, Stephen Crane, and Richard Smith, Esquires, or such of them as shall attend, be the Delegates to represent this Province in the General Continental Congress, to be held at the City of Philadelphia, on or about the first of September next, to meet, consult, and advise with the Deputies from the other Colonies; and to determine upon all such prudent and lawful measures as may be judged most expedient for the Colonies immediately and unitedly to adopt, in order to obtain relief for an oppressed people, and the redress of our general grievances. Signed by order. Jonathan D. Sergeant, Clerk.
Although Elias was not selected as a Continental Congressman he remained an active member of the Essex County Committee of Correspondence. As a Wealthy Whig and respected member of the community, Boudinot played an important role in the movement often counteracting radical measures with calls for moderation and negotiations with British loyalists.
The leader of these loyalist was N.J. Colonial Governor William Franklin, the son of the now First Continental Congress Delegate Benjamin Franklin of Philadelphia. Governor Franklin was remained powerless without a colonial police force and a N.J. militia being primarily made up of protest movement members. In a bold move, Governor Franklin summoned the General Assembly of New Jersey after the First Continental Congress concluded in Philadelphia. It was his plan, that in a 1775 session, he could convince the members to condemn the actions of the First Continental Congress. The session was held and the protest movement leaders accomplished exacted the antithesis the General Assembly passing the following resolutions:
Mr. Crane and Mr. Kinsey also laid before the House the Proceedings of the Continental Congress, held at Philadelphia, in September last, which were read. On the question, whether the House approve of the said Proceedings? It passed in the affirmative.
Resolved, That this House do unanimously approve of the Proceedings of the Congress; such as are of the people called Quakers, excepting only to such parts as seem to wear an appearance, or may have a tendency to force, (if any such there be,) as inconsistent with their religious principles.
Resolved unanimously, That James Kinsey, Stephen Crane, William Livingston, John De Hart, and Richard Smith, Esquires, or any three of them, be and they are hereby appointed to attend the Continental Congress of the Colonies, intended to be held at the City of Philadelphia, in May next, or at any other time and place; and that they report their proceedings to the next session of the General Assembly; instructing the said Delegates to propose and agree to every reasonable and constitutional measure for the accommodation of the unhappy differences at present subsisting between our mother country and the Colonies, which the House most ardently wish for.
The House also being informed, that at the Congress held at Philadelphia, the 6th of September last, a motion was made to give some of the Colonies a greater number of votes in the determination of questions to be agitated therein, than to others; and conceiving such motion to be of dangerous consequence, do also instruct their Delegates not to agree to a measure of that kind, unless it should be agreed at the same time that no vote to be taken on such principles, shall, in future, be obligatory on any Colonies whose Delegates do not consent thereto.
Ordered, That Mr. Speaker do transmit a copy of the foregoing Resolutions to the Speakers of the Assemblies of New-York and Pennsylvania.
Resolved unanimously, That the Thanks of this House be given to James Kinsey, Stephen Crane, William Livingston, John, De Hart, and Richard Smith, Esquires, for their faithful and judicious discharge of the trust reposed in them at the late Continental Congress.[xi]
Following the N.J. Assembly's action, Elias Boudinot became more active in his Committee of Correspondence duties. This letter to the Morris County Correspondence Committee, on April 30, 1775, gives the reader an example of Boudinot’s political prowess of moderation and not alienating British loyalists.
We have been much surprized, by an Information just received from a Mr. MorreII of Chatham given to his Brother of this Town, that there is a determination of a considerable number of your County, to raise a Liberty Pole at Chatham tomorrow and from thence they are to proceed to Mr. Thomas Eckley's where it is supposed they intend to offer Violence to his Person on account of some imprudent Expressions said to be inimical to the Liberties of this Country; and that this determination is in Consequence of an Example said to be set by our People here, with regard to Dr. Chandler.
Deeply impressed therefore with a sense of the unhappy Consequences that must necessarily attend a Proceeding of this kind with regard to our Common Cause, we are at the Trouble & Expence of an Express to you on this occasion, beseeching you immediately to exert your selves to prevent a Measure that if adopted by the friends of Liberty will be such a Stain to our Characters as Men & Christians, that it may in the End deter every good Man from joining with us. It is our honor that while we are engaged in so glorious a Struggle for what is more dear to us than Life, that even our very Enemies in the midst of us enjoy that Peace & Liberty which we so ardently wish for ourselves.
As to the Precedent alleged to be drawn from our Example respecting Dr. Chandler, nothing can be more untrue. The fact stands thus. A Number of men from a small distance from the Town having been under Arms all day towards Evening some of them became rather intoxicated with Liquor and being urged by a Person who was incapable of the exercise of his reason, (and we are afraid in order to answer some private design) marched away suddenly to Dr. Chandler's House, without the least suspicion of the Committee as to their design. They were immediately followed by the Committee who arrived [in] time enough to send them back before they entered the Doctors Yard, by which means all violence was prevented. And we are unanimous in discountenancing every Act of Violence to the Person or Property of any man whatever as a Measure essentially necessary to our union & Success and directly contrary to your & our Resolutions. And as there is no opposition to our publick Measures either with you or us we cannot think that Liberty Poles & unnecessary Meetings can be necessary or any ways serve the common Cause and if the People will undertake & carryon any publick Measure without the advice of the Committees chosen by themselves it will be impossible to perfect any plan for the general good.
These are our Sentiments wrote in a great hurry, which we communicate to you as Brethren, from the earnest desire we have to preserve a similarity of Sentiment and Practice among all the Friends of Liberty in this Colony.[xii]
One month later, Elias Boudinot became one of the 58 founding deputies of the New Jersey Provincial Congress which marked a turning point of protest to rebellion in the colony.
Its origin lay in the crisis created by the skirmish at Lexington Green. Acting upon the April 24 suggestion of a Princeton town meeting that a provincial congress be established, the Provincial Committee of Correspondence, concerned by the "alarming and very extraordinary conduct of the British Ministry" and the "several acts of hostility that have been actually commenced," on May 2 called upon the counties to appoint delegates to attend a colony-wide convention to be held in Trenton on May 23 "in order to consider of and determine such matters as may then and ther.e come before them." The eighty-five men who attended the historic gathering of the First Provincial Congress moved quickly beyond emergency measures to assume the mantle of legitimate governmental authority in the colony. The extralegal political apparatus in New Jersey had been completed; a revolutionary government was taking shape. That fact was not lost on Jerseymen who, with the issuance of the Provincial Association, were forced to decide where their primary allegiance lay. Many faced a difficult decision: to sign the Association was to commit treason, but to refuse to sign would be to incur the wrath of the local committee. Still, as the Association makes clear, the purpose of the rebellion was defense of political liberties and not independence.[xiii]
The new Provincial Congress appointed Elias Boudinot to both its Committee of Correspondence and its Committee of Safety. The later committee’s charge was to keep watch on the distrusted royal government and oversee the New Jersey militia. Boudinot, along with William Smith, were selected to coordinate the efforts of the N.J. Provincial Congress with Continental Congress and charged with delivering this letter to Philadelphia:
In Provincial Congress of New-Jersey, Trenton, May 25, 1775.
GENTLEMEN: In the present very alarming crisis, we have been appointed by the several Counties of this Province as their Deputies, to meet in Provincial Congress.
We are accordingly now convened in this place, with dispositions the most heartily to concur, to the utmost of our abilities, in the common cause of America. Yet we think it not advisable to enter into any measures of consequence, until some general plan may be agreed upon and recommended by you.
In this first instance of such Assembly in the Colony, without any precedent among ourselves to direct us, and, at the same time, anxiously concerned to make our Provincial measures consistent with that plan which may be devised and recommended by the Continental Congress, we have judged it necessary to address ourselves to you, for such advice and assistance as you, in your wisdom, may think proper to favour us with. For this purpose we have deputed two of our members, William P. Smith and Elias Boudinot, Esquires, the bearers hereof, whom we recommend to the Congress, requesting you will furnish us, by them, with such directions concerning the line of conduct in which we ought to act, as will prevent any measures we may adopt from marring or obstructing the general views of the Congress, or disappointing your expectations. Signed by order: HENDRICK FISHER, President.[xiv]
Boudinot returned to Trenton, two months later, as a deputy to the second assembly of Provincial Congress of New-Jersey his post. As of Committee of Safety member his leadership became crucial to the cause with the new Commander-in-Chief, George Washington, who was in dire need of supplies and men for the relief of Boston. This task was daunting and in spite of Washington’s success in freeing Boston from British occupation.
In March 1776 the United Colonial Continental Congress commissioned William Alexander, Brigadier General, to prepare for the defense of Long Island from the British. General Alexander held the title of the “Earl of Stirling” and was almost always referred to, despite his loyalty to the cause, as Lord Sterling. On March, as Chairman of the N.J. Committee of Safety, Boudinot wrote this letter of explanation to Lord Sterling explaining why his own hometown had not met its quota for troops:
I was in great hopes that, in raising the proportion of men that was allotted for this town towards the number requested by your Lordship, it would fall to Captain Wheeler, with his Company of Minute-men (formerly Captain Alling' s) to go; but I was disappointed, as I am now informed that Elizabethtown has failed in sending their men. And if you should still think it necessary to increase your number, and would either take the trouble to write a line to Captain Wheeler, requesting his company, or to Colonel Ward, desiring him to send for them, (which ever you might think proper,) I dare promise by to-morrow afternoon, as good a company as any in the service would attend you. If you should think it the most eligible way to apply to Colonel Ward, please to let it be in writing, that he may send your note to Captain Wheeler, as that will raise the ambition of the men. I must beg your Lordship will not mention to Colonel Ward, or any one, that you have this request, as if you should, it would excite the jealousies of the other companies. There is no necessity of having anything to do with Committees in this affair, as the men will turn out at your request alone. I am, in great haste, with respect, your Lordship' s most obedient servant.[xv]
May 1776 was now fast approaching and the election of representatives to the Third N.J. Provincial Congress would be considered which would represent the New Jerseyans’ position on the question of independence. The Reverend John Witherspoon, who was the President of the College of New Jersey, had maintained discreet public silence on the British imperial affairs until 1775. Now Witherspoon had become an outspoken advocate of the protest and, in early 1776, was establishing a Somerset County committee to organize a grass roots effort to elect secessionist candidates to the assembly. Letters had been sent out on March 27 to each of the NJ County Committees inviting them to send delegates to a conference in New Brunswick on April 18 to discuss "some matters of great importance." The announcement of the meeting was also carried in Dunlap's Pennsylvania Packet; or, the General Advertiser on April 1, 1776. Boudinot writes, in later years, his recollections of the meeting:
We accordingly attended the Meeting in the Afternoon when Dr. Witherspoon rose and in a very able and elegant speech of one hour and an half endeavored to convince the audience & the Committee of the absurdity of opposing the extravagant demands of Great Britain, while we were professing a perfect allegiance to her Authority and supporting her courts of Justice. The Character of the speaker, his great Influence among the People, his known attachment to the liberties of the People, and the artful manner in which he represented the whole subject, as worthy their attention, had an effect, on the assembly that astonished me.
There appeared a general approbation of the measure, and I strongly suspected an universal acquiescence of both Committee & Audience in approving the Doctor's I never felt myself in a more mortifying situation. The anonymous publication; The Meeting of the Trustees of the College but the Day before made up wholly of Presbyterians; Their President leaving them to attend the meeting & avowing himself the Author of it; The Doctor known to be at the head of the Presbyterian Interest; and Mr. Smith & Myself both Presbyterians, arriving at New Brunswick in the morning, as if intending to go forward & then staying and attending the meeting, altogether looked so like a preconcerted Scheme, to accomplish the End, that I was at my wit's end, to know how to extricate myself from so disagreeable a situation, especially as the measure was totally ag[ ainst] my Judgment.
On a minutes Conversation with Mr. Smith, I determined at all events to step forward & leave my Testimony of the Scheme in toto. Two of the Committee had delayed the Question by speaking in favour of it, but no one had spoken in opposition, till I rose, and in a speech of about half an hour or better, stated my peculiar Situation and endeavoured to show the fallacy of the Doctors Argument, that his plan was neither founded in Wisdom, Prudence, nor economy; That we had chosen a Continental Congress, to whom we had resigned the Consideration of our public Affairs — That they coming from every Part of the Union, would best represent all the Colonies now thus united — They would know the true Situation of our Country with regard to Finances, Union & the Prospects we had of a happy Reconciliation with the Mother Country — They would also be possessed of our relative Circumstances with regard to the other Nations of Europe — In short that they were the only proper Judges of the Measures to be pursued,, and that we had no right to involve them in Distress & Trouble by plunging ourselves into a Measure of so delicate a Nature until they should advise us in what Manner to Proceed, &c. &c.
This Opposition wholly unsuspected by the Doctor with the great Attention of all present, a little disconcerted him but he soon recovered himself and began a Reply, when two or three gentlemen of the Audience came to me & desired that I would inform the Doctor, that if he proceeded any farther, they would not be answerable for his Safety — I answered, that the Request was an unreasonable one — That I had been the only Person present who had opposed him, that he had a Right to be heard in Reply, and if they disliked the Proposition they ought openly to come forward & to give their Opinions —
The Doctor had not spoken twenty Minutes, when I observed some persons whispering to him — He directly stopped— Informed the Chairman that he found that he was giving Offense, and therefore he should say no more on the Subject, but hoped that the Committees would return to their respective Counties & consult their Constituents, without coming to any Determination on the Subject — To this I objected, urging the Impropriety of breaking up without a Vote, as in that Case the Opinion of the Meeting would be variously reported in the different Counties according to each Man's political Creed and the People would by these Means be led astray —
The Doctor was a good deal out of Humor, & contended warmly agt a Vote — But a large Majority of the Meeting insisted on a Vote, which being taken, out of 36 Members there were but 3 or 4 who voted for the Doctor's Proposition, the Rest rejecting it with great Warmth — Thus ended this first Attempt to try the Pulse of the People of New Jersey on the Subject of Independence, and yet when advised by the Continental Congress, no Part of the Union was more hearty, than the State of New Jersey.[xvi]
Boudinot’s recollections are selective on his zeal for Independence in the late spring of 1776. New Jerseyans, especially those residing on the crossroads between New York City and Philadelphia, feared the military and political repercussions of independence. As a member of the Committee of Safety, Boudinot had a much better understanding of the colossal military and political effort that would be required to unite and govern a new nation whose first mission was to defeat the greatest 18th Century military power in the world. As a successful lawyer tutored by a shrewd businessman father, Boudinot was a Whig that feared independence. He understood the history of Republican governments reported fatalities in every experiment. Four days after Richard Henry Lee submitted his Independence resolution to the Colonial Continental Congress, Boudinot makes his case against the measure:
Soon as we Declare for Independency, every prospect of Peace must Vanish. Ruthless War, with all its aggravated horrors, will ravage our once happy land; Our Sea Coasts & Ports will be ruined & our ships taken as Pirates; Torrents of Blood be split, & thousands reduced to beggary & wretchedness. This Melancholy contest would [torn] till one Side Conquered. Supposing Britton Victorious; however high my opinion of British Generosity, I should be exceeding sorry to Receive terms from her, in the haughty tone of A Conqueror-Or-Supposing Such A failure of her manufactories, Commerce & Strength, that Victory should incline to the Side of America, yet who Can Say in that Case what extremities her Sense of Resentment & self-Preservation will Drive G. B. to?
For my part I should not in the least be Surprised if on Such A prospect, as the Independency of America, She would parcel out this Continent to the Different European Powers. Canada might be restored to France, Florida to Spain, with additions to each. Other States might also come in for a portion. Let no [torn] think this empty or improbable, the Independency of America would be so fatal to Britons, that she would leave nothing in her Power to prevent it. I believe as firmly as I do my own existence that if every other Method failed, she would try Some Such expedient as this, to disconcert our Scheme of Independence and let any Man figure for himself the Situation of these British Colonies, if only Canada were Restored to France.
But supposing once more that we were able to Cut off every Regiment that Britain Can Spare, or hire, & to destroy every Ship she can send; that we could eat off any other European Power, that would presume to intrude upon the Continent. Yet A Republican form of Government would neither Suit the Genius of the People nor the Extent of America.
In nothing is the Wisdom of the Legislator more Conspicuous than in adapting his form of Government to the Genius, Manners, Dispositions & other Circumstances of the People with whom he is Concerned. If this important [torn] is overlooked, Confusion will ensue, his System will sink into Neglect & Ruin; what Checks or Barriers may be interposed, Nature will always surmount them, & finally prevail. The Americans are properly Britons; they have the manners, habits, & Ideas of Britons, & have been accustomed to A Similar form of Government. But Britons Could never bear the extremes, either of Monarchy or Republicanism. Some of their Kings have Aimed at Despotism, but always failed. Repeated Efforts have been made towards Democracy, and they equally failed. Once indeed Republicanism triumphed over the Constitution,' the Despotism of One person ensued; both were finally expelled. The inhabitants of Great Britain were equally anxious for the Restoration of Royalty in the year 1660, as they were for its expulsion in 1642. If we may Judge future events by former Transactions, in Similar Circumstances, this would most probably be the Case of America, were A Republican form of Government adopted in our present ferment. After much Blood was Shed, those Confusions would Terminate in the Despotism of someone Successful adventurer, and Should the Americans be so fortunate as to emancipate themselves from that Thralldom, perhaps the whole would end in A Limited Monarchy, after Shedding Could never bear the extremes, either of Monarchy or Republicanism. Some of their Kings have aimed at Despotism, but always failed. Repeated Efforts have been made towards Democracy, and they equally failed. Once indeed Republicanism triumphed over the Constitution,' the Despotism of One person ensued; both were finally expelled. The inhabitants of Great Britain were equally Anxious for the Restoration of Royalty in the year 1660, as they were for its. Expulsion in 1642, If we may Judge future events by former Transactions, in Similar Circumstances, this would most probably be the Case of America, were A Republican form of Government adopted in our present ferment. After much Blood was Shed, those Confusions would Terminate in the Despotism of someone Successful adventurer, and Should the Americans be so fortunate as to emancipate themselves from that Thralldom, perhaps the whole would end in A Limited Monarchy, after shedding Torrents of Blood.
Limited Monarchy is the form of Government which is most favorable to Liberty, which is best adapted to the Genius & Temper of Britons; although here & there amongst us, A Crack Brain Zealot for Democracy or Absolute Monarchy may be Sometimes founds America is too unwieldy for the Feeble Dilatory Administration of Democracy. Rome had the most extensive Dominions of any Ancient Republic, but it should be Remembered that very Soon after the [illegible] Conquest, Carried the Romans beyond the Ancient Limits that were proportioned to their Constitution, they fell under A Despotic yoke. A very few years had elapsed from the time of their Conquering Greece, & first entering Asia, till the Battle of Pharsallia, where Julius Cesar put an end to the Liberties of his Country. And Depend upon it America will not be long without A Julius Cesar, and Consider what Deluges of Blood must fix A Julius Cesar in America.
Holland is the most Considerable Republic in Europe at Present yet the Small Kingdom of Ireland is more than twice as large as the Holland indeed has Considerable Colonies in the East & West Indies, but they are under as Rigid and Arbitrary Administration, as any Colonies of France & Spain. Holland is mentioned by our warm advocates for Independence as A pattern for us to follow, as if that were the only Land of Liberty, Crowned with every Blessing, and exempt from every evil. But, hear an Undeniable truth: the National Debt of Holland is much greater in proportion than that of England, the Taxes in Holland exceed not only those in England but even those in France, inasmuch I Scarcely know anything they have which has Escaped Taxation, except the Air they Breathe. Nay more the People at Large have no Voice in Choosing the Members of their Several Senates, as We have in Choosing Representatives; the Members of each Senate upon any Vacancy, Elect new Members and the Deputies from those Senates Constitute the States General, So that in fact the People have no Share in the Government, as with us. They have nothing to do but pay and Grumble. Yet this is the Country held up for imitation, and if we were to follow it, I have no Doubt; we should soon resemble them in paying Taxes too great to be born, as well as in every other matter.
In Short let us imagine for A Moment that an American Republic is formed, every Obstacle Surmounted; A Very Serious article yet Remains to be inquired into, VIZ: Expense Necessary to Support it. It behooves those who have any property to think of this part of the Business. It would be impossible to ascertain with any kind of Accuracy the expense that would be Necessary for the Support of this New Republic. It would be very great undoubtedly; it would appear intolerable to the Americans who have hitherto paid so few Taxes. I think on A Moderate Computation it would amount in Ships, Building, Rigging, Ammunitions, Men & Provisions, & a Land Army, with the Necessaries thereto, will amount to perhaps Two Millions, Five Hundred Thousand Pounds, the Interest of which must be Sunk Annually, and According to the best accounts of the Number of People grown to Maturity on the Continent 'twill amount to A Tax of 30 £ Sterling A head. A very Respectable Sum only the annual Interest, but if the Principal is ever to be Sunk Must be Greater. With the expense the Continent has already been at, and the paper Money now outstanding in provincial Currency, the Annual Tax on heads Cannot be less than 50.0£ Sterling on each head, And we are to Consider how few heads pay the Burdon of the Taxes. I don't think I have rated this expense too high, and were the Trial made; I verily believe the expense would be much greater. And where the Money is to Come from that is to Defray this enormous expense, I know not, Unless Some of our Warm ones for independency, have Discovered the Philosophers Stone, by which Iron & other Base Metals, May be Transmuted into Gold. Certain I am that our Commerce & Agriculture the two principal Sources of our Wealth, will not Support such an expense. But here it may be said, that all the evils above specified, are more tolerable than Slavery. With this Sentiment I Sincerely agree. Any hardships however great are preferable to Slavery. But then I ask, is there no other Alternative in the present Case? Is there no Choice left us but Slavery, or those evils? I am Confidant there is, & that both may be equally avoided. Let us only Show A Disposition to Treat, or Negotiate in Earnest, and if once properly Began, there is A Moral Certainty, that this Unhappy Dispute will be Settled to the Mutual Satisfaction and Interest of both Countries. For my part I have not the least Doubt of it, Provided we Steer Clear in every Shape of an Independency and Show A Disposition for Peace.
I Shall further observe, though' it may be of Dangerous Consequences, that the Continental Congress were not Delegated by the People with any View to alter the present Constitution, nor Declare, nor even to Recommend a Separation from GB [Great Britain]. I have ever held that unlimited Power will end in Tyranny, and from the first of this unhappy Dispute, Blamed the people for Establishing a Set of men to Rule over us with unlimited Power. On Such A plan is the Continental Congress Established, and their Authority so great, and the People have foolishly made it high Treason, to speak anything Contrary to the order of Congress. Yet I am determined to oppose any Arbitrary Measure that shall be attempted to be laid on us, Whether by Monarchy, or Democracy. I may perhaps suffer for my freedom of Speech. But let me tell you, any Infringement on the Liberty of an Individual, is in Effect A Violation of the Liberty of the Whole Community. Therefore I Sincerely Wish every Member of Society would Stand forth in the Defense of his Liberty, against every invader thereof, and not Consent to the Congress's Declaration of Independency, Until the General Voice of the People Can be taken, without which they have no more Right to Declare it, than they have to Establish the Pretender to the Crown of Great Britain, absolute Monarch of America.
I declare these to be my Sentiments and am humbly of Opinion nothing I have offered but what Breathes the true Spirit of Liberty. If any Member here or any other person, has anything to offer against what I have advanced, he has my Liberty freely to Declare it, and if they are more in favor of Liberty than What I have offered, Shall Stand Convicted, and Cheerfully Subscribe to his Sentiments.
My most ardent Wish next to future happiness, is to See Tranquility Restored to America, our Liberty's, Properties, & Trade Settled on A Firm, Generous, & Constitutional plan, so that Neither of the Former should be invaded, nor the latter impoliticly or unjustly Restrained, that in Consequence of this A perfect Reconciliation With G. Britain Established & Union formed, by which both Countries, Supporting & Supported by Each other, might Rise to eminence & Glory, And be the Admiration of Mankind, till time be no more.
In Such a Plan the Real Interest of America is Indubitably to be Sought, And Could my influence avail, there would not be A Dissenting Voice in the Colonies. All would Unite as One Man and use every Effort to have such A plan Speedily Settled.[xvii]
Three weeks later, the conservatives in the Colonial Continental Congress could not stop the movement that began swell after the publication of Thomas Paine’s Common Sense in January 1776. All but Maryland, New Jersey, and New York had sent delegates empowered to vote for Independence. Boudinot had thrown his NJ Provincial vote into the lot of Continental Congressmen Jonathan Dickinson Sergeant, John De Hart, and Richard Smith who had resigned their seats over the Independence issue. Only William Livingston remained in Philadelphia. On June 22nd, 1776 the Provincial Congress created a new government and elected pro-independence delegation to represent the colony in Philadelphia. Elias Boudinot’s brother-in-law, along with John Witherspoon, was among those selected to ultimately sign the Declaration of Independence.
The Congress proceeded to the election of Delegates to represent this Colony in Continental Congress, when Richard Stockton, Abraham Clark, John Hart, Francis Hopkinson, Esquires, and Dr. John Witherspoon, were elected by ballot to serve for one year, unless a new appointment be made before that time.
Resolved, That the following Instructions be given to the Delegates so elected,
To Richard Stockton, Abraham Clark, John Hart, Francis Hopkinson, Esquires, and the Rev. Dr. John Witherspoon Delegates appointed to represent the Colony of New Jersey in Continental Congress. The Congress empower and direct you, in the name of this Colony, to join with the Delegates of the other Colonies in Continental Congress, in the most vigorous measures for supporting the just rights and liberties of America. And, if you shall judge it necessary and expedient for this purpose, we empower you to join with them in declaring the United Colonies independent of Great Britain, entering into a confederacy for union and common defense, making treaties with foreign nations for commerce and assistances, and to take such other measures as to them and you may appear necessary for these great ends, promising to support them with the whole force of this Province; always observing that, whatever plan of confederacy you enter into, the regulating the internal police of this Province is to be reserved to the Colony Legislature.[xviii]
Independence was declared and Elias Boudinot would fall in behind the cause earning the confidence on the new United States Continental Congress when he agreed to serve, at the request of General Washington, as the Commissary General of Prisoners. Mr. Boudinot recalls that:
In the spring of 1777 General Washington wrote me a letter dated Morristown April 1st, 1777, requesting me to accept a commission as commissary-General of Prisoners in the Army of America. I waited on him and politely declined the task, urging the wants of the Prisoners and having nothing to supply them: He very kindly objected to the conduct of gentlemen of the country refusing to join him in his arduous Struggle. That he had nothing in view but the salvation of his Country, but it was impossible for him to accomplish it alone: That if men of character and influence would not come forward and join him in his exertions, all would be lost — Affected by this address and Supposing that I could be of some service to the Prisoners and at the same time have an eye on the military Power and prevent its encroachments on the Civil authority, I consented to accept the Commission, on the General's assurance that I should be supplied by the secret Committee of Congress with hard money for the relief of Prisoners and that I should only be subject to his orders, in the conduct of my department.
The Commissary General of Prisoners’ ostensible function was supervising British prisoner of war compounds while ensuring that captured Continental soldiers received the proper treatment British POW camps. Chief Justice John Marshall writes in his landmark work, Life of Washington that:
No commissary of prisoners having been appointed, they had been turned over to the different states and committees; and it became necessary to search out and collect them, in order to their exchange. Great delays were unavoidably produced by this state of things, and the suffering Americans were taught to impute the continuance of their captivity to their own general. In addition to this, it not infrequently happened that the British prisoners were sent in without the knowledge of General Washington, and in some cases they passed unobserved, with permits from the state authority, through his camp, directly into that of the enemy.[xix]
On June 6, 1777 the US Continental Congress passed this resolution:
That a commission be granted to Elias Boudinot, Esqr. as commissary general of prisoners of war; the said commission to be dated the 15 day of April last, and Mr. Boudinot to be allowed the pay and rations of a colonel: That Elias Boudinot, Esqr., commissary general of prisoners, be empowered to appoint two deputy commissaries of prisoners; the said deputies to be allowed the pay and rations of majors.[xx]
In fact, Washington would utilize Commissary General Elias Boudinot to coordinate intelligence activities, many of which stemmed from British prisoners sympathetic to the independence of the United States. Boudinot writes:
Soon after I had entered my Department, the Applications of the Prisoners were so numerous and their distress was so urgent, that I exerted every Nerve to obtain Supplies but in Vain — Excepting ,£600— I had received from the Secret Committee on Bills Of Exchange at my first Entrance into the Office—I could not by any Means get a Farthing more, except in Continental Money, which was of no Avail in New York—I applied to the General describing my delicate Situation and the continual Application of the Officers, painting their extreme Distress and urging the Assurance they had recd that on my Appointment, I was to be furnished with adequate Means for their full Relief.
The General appeared greatly distressed and assured me that it was out of his Power to afford me any Supplies — I proposed drawing Clothing from the public stores, but to this he objected as not having anything like a sufficient Supply for the Army — He urged my considering & adopting the best Means in my Power to satisfy the Necessities of the Prisoners & he would confirm them — I told him I knew of no Means in my Power but to take what Monies I had of my own & to borrow from my Friends in New York, to accomplish the desirable Purpose — He greatly encouraged me to the Attempt, promising me that if I finally met with any Loss, he would divide it with Me — On this I began to afford them some Supplies of Provisions over & above what the Enemy afforded them, which was very small & very indifferent.
The war was progressing slowly and Boudinot’s voluminous correspondence from this office paint a picture of half-starved troops struggling to keep the cause of independence alive with an insolvent Congress scrambling for funds to conduct the war. There was little money on the coffers for the care of prisoners. Boudinot writes Hannah a day after the Battle of Brandywine which ultimate will result in the British occupation of Philadelphia:
As hard as it is for me to write, I must improve this opportunity to thank you for your kind letters which have given me much consolation under every difficulty. All that you have done is right and gives me much Pleasure. You will see by the enclosed, my Situation at this date, as my fever and pain in my head did not abate.
I came to this Town yesterday; scarcely had I arrived when the thunder of cannon proclaimed a battle near Wilmington. An express soon arrived which informed us of a general engagement which lasted till 5 o'clock in the Afternoon, from eight in the morning and much in our favor, but alas the fate of the Day then turned against us, and our Army was worsted and obliged to leave the Field, and retreat to Chester. The enemy has suffered greatly some say between 2 and 3 thousand, our loss about 1000.
Our troops have rallied at Chester and the enemy has not thought proper to move forwards. As our Army are still in high spirits, we hope for the best, amidst the gloom. God's will be done. As you may expect, all is confusion here.
I am so engaged in sending off the prisoners, that I forget my misfortune. A Moment is now very precious, therefore even my dearest Wife and Daughter must put up with being denied more than is absolutely necessary, but must beg you will think of everything that is loving tender and affectionate, and be assured that and more would naturally flow from the Pen of the most Affectionate husband to the dearest, the tenderest connections. You may depend, on the first intelligence, if anything decisive happens to day, as I expect the fate of this City will be determined within 48 hours, but remember that no News will be good News.
Ten days later Boudinot write Hannah about the impending occupation:
HI wrote you this morning which I enclose but as our affairs have much changed since, I embrace another opportunity to acquaint you with them — For Reasons best known to our Councils of War, which are many and long, the Enemy have been allowed to pass the Schuylkill unopposed and have marched directly down to the city, where they will arrive this Evening or tomorrow Morning. What the issue is to be is known only to Him who knows all things. Whether we are to attack them when all our Troops come up, which are many, as we hear reinforcements are coming in from all quarters, I know not — I confess things have a gloomy aspect but I am constrained to hope for the best God rules and will even yet do his Will, which is all my hope and all my desire.[xxi]
Boudinot would serve in this capacity until 1778 when he was elected a delegate to the United States Continental Congress. He writes of his negotiations with British on prisoner exchange just after he was elected:
In the winter of 1778 while laying at the Valley Forge both Armies called loudly for the Exchange of Prisoners. Propositions were accordingly made by the British to which Congress agreed by giving full Powers to appoint Commissioners to meet a like Number on the Part of the British for the Purpose .The General accordingly appointed Colonel Hamilton, Colonel Harrison, Colonel Grayson and myself. General Howe appointed Colonel O'Hara, Colonel Stevens & Capt. Fitz Patrick and we were to meet at German Town
Previous to the Meeting, as it was a matter quite new to us, we proposed a Meeting of General Officers with General Washington that we might discuss the business before them and know their opinions. About this Time Congress sent a Committee of their Body, into the Army to reform it. General Washington called this Committee to the Meeting. General Washington sat as Chairman. We discussed the Matter over — The Committee of Congress soon discovered their Sentiments against an exchange and urged it as the Opinion of Congress that the settling this Cartel should be merely ostensible for the Purpose of satisfying the Army & throwing the Blame on the British, but true Policy required us to avoid an Exchange of Prisoners just at the Opening of the Campaign.
We absolutely refused to undertake the Business on these Principles. If we went we were determined to make the best Cartel we could for the Liberation of our Prisoners. That we would not be made Instruments in so dishonorable a measure. General Washington also resented it and said his troops looked up to him as their Protector and that he would not suffer an opportunity to be loss of liberating every Soldier who was then in captivity let the Consequence be what it might . The Committee were much disgusted, and soon left the Army (where they gave much dissatisfaction) and returned to Congress.
Before the Meeting of the Commissioners General Washington received a Resolution of Congress couched in the most insulting Terms, setting forth that he had appointed Commissioners to settle the Cartel whom he knew had Principles adversary to the true Interests of America &c &c. On this I applied to the General & desired to be excused from the Service; He refused — ordered us to the Duty, and told us to make the best Treaty in our Power, and he would ratify it, and he would take the risqué upon himself.[xxii]
It was during this period of wintering with Washington and his troops at Valley Forge that he received word that New Jersey had elected him a delegate to the US Continental Congress. He wrote Hannah of his conundrum over his duty to his state and General Washington:
I write this merely to say something on the subject of my late election to the representation of our State in Congress. I have lately received it from the clerk of the House. I think it was on Christmas day. I know not what to say to it, am exceedingly puzzled to determine what is my duty but at all events shall not attempt it till I see and consult you on this head. The only motive that can induce me to accept is yet to be communicated to you. You know my heart, that I have never aimed at any public employment, nor ever had a desire to enter into political consequence, my whole plan has been to glide thro' this troublesome scene of things in domestic ease and enjoyment free from the Bustles of the World; the accomplishing of which I began to think was never at hand. I was called to my present employment not from any desire of increasing either my wealth or importance but from an abhorrence of being an Idle Spectator of my country's Distress and a proportionate fondness for obliging our worthy General. I acknowledge that my devoutest and most constant Prayers at the Throne.[xxiii]
Boudinot accept the office of Continental Congress Delegate resigning his position as Commissary General. As a congressman, he made an inquiry into the congressional committee’s meddling, occurring the previous winter, into his and the Commander-in-Chief’s negotiation with British on prisoner exchange. Boudinot writes in June,
I went as a Delegate to Congress, and the first Thing I did was to search the secret Minutes for this Resolution of Congress, determined to have them expunged from the Minutes — not being able to find it I applied to President Laurens to know where I might find it. He laughed & said that Congress was so ashamed of the Measure that was run upon them by the Committee from the Army, that in two or three Days after they had expunged the Whole from their Minutes.[xxiv]
Boudinot would spend his year appointment in Congress advocating money for prison reform and intelligence.
Elias was elected to the United States, in Congress Assembled in 1781 under the Articles of Confederation to fill Delegate Burnett's place in the Continental Congress due to his retirement in 1781. On July 23, 1781 he attended the first United States in Congress Assembled (USCA) and produced the credentials of his appointment. Five day later he wrote John Stevens about voting challenges and Washington’s need for requisitions:
I think it my Duty as well as an honor to have the pleasure of addressing you on my taking a seat in the Congress as one of your Delegates, and shall be very glad of a continued Correspondence while at this place, as I should be always glad to Conform myself to the general Ideas of my Constituents — I set off for this place on the 18th Inst but was much surprised on my arrival here to find that by the Resolution of the Joint meeting Appointing D. Elmore & myself, that we are restricted from representing the State of New Jersey unless one of the former Delegates are present — This we consider as making an Invideous Distinction between us, and could not have taken our seats under this partial appointment consistent with our Reputation & feelings had not Dr Witherspoon assured us that it was barely a misprision of the Clerk, this has prevailed on me to Continue here till we can hear from you, which I must beg to be, by return of the Next Stage — I would be glad of your Information what appeared to you to be the sense of the Legislature, for tho' Congress made no objection to our representing the State yet it will not be safe or prudent for us to vote alone under the express Declaration of the State to the Contrary unless we are properly assured that it is a mistake … It is a matter of the highest Consequence that the Requisitions of our worthy General on the Different States be punctually and immediately Complied with — You could not do a more essential service to those States than to urge completion of the levies for the Army—Lord Cornwallis has retired to Portsmouth and the Marquis after gaining great Laurels in his late attack on his lordship is refreshing his little Army so as at the same time to cover the Country — Could you with propriety communicate what you consider as the Ideas of our Legislature relative to the dispute of Vermont & the expediency of their being declared a free & independent State I should be much obliged.[xxv]
Also on the 29th, Delegate Boudinot wrote his wife of the difficulties in finding lodgings near the Pennsylvania State House due to Georgia and Carolina refugees.
Tho' late in the evening, I am glad to get rid of my fellow Lodgers and retire from their very disagreeable company (on this day) to hold converse with my better self … I tryed in vain to get Lodgings near the State House, and altho' I was kindly invited to my old Quarters, yet the irregularity of Congress Hours & the circumstances of the Family were such as obliged me to refuse it — The City is so filled with the distressed Georgia & Carolina Refugees that I was afraid that I should be prevented getting any quarters outside of a Tavern, at last I have got a room at Mrs Clark's in the house Mr. Searl's family lived, at the corner of Chestnut & Front Streets opposite Woods the watch maker. I am in the third story & with very disagreeable company particularly on the Sabbath — I give 7 dollars per week for my board & find my own drink, wood & candles … Lord Cornwallis since his drubbing by General Wayne, has retreated quite to Portsmouth & the Marquis is refreshing his troops in such manner as to cover the Country. Julia goes on Tuesday for Princeton, so that I shall then be all alone — I hope my beloved Wife is much happier with her little family about her than I am here… [xxvi]
On August 3rd, Boudinot was appointed Chairman of a committee to take into consideration the state of the prisoners in the power of the enemy. In this position he was privy to up to date military information reporting to his brother Elisha:
I write this barely to communicate the important news of the day — General Greene by a variety of well-judged Maneuvers which do him honor, after Lord Rawdon had obliged him in Prudence to raise the siege of fort, in his turn obliged his Lordship to evacuate that important fortress, abandon his strong Post on the Congaree (a country abounding with Provisions) and fall down to Orangeburgh about 80 miles from Charles Town. Here Genl Greene detached Genl Marion with the Militia and Col. Lee's Legion to surprise the Post at Monk's corner 20 miles from Charles Town. On the way Col. Lee sent Cap. Eggleston with a few troops of Horses to annoy the Enemy's Cavalry then foraging in the country, the Capt. passed them unperceived and gained three miles in their front and when discovered was taken for militia Horse — The Enemy came out in an irregular loose body and was received by Capt Eggleston with Judgm' & Bravery — Lee's words are "They were soon routed, dispersed and cut to pieces " — except a Capt Liu' Cadet 45 men & horses with accoutrements complete brought off Prisoners and one man of the whole escaped to be a living Evidence of the Fact — By a flag from Charles Town we are informed that we succeeded also at Monk's Cornor. A vessel just this moment from Cadiz announces the capture and arrival of the whole station Fleet with their convoy — also the capture and arrival at Cadiz of 5 English India men. I forgot to tell you that there had been a Mutiny among the English Troops at Carolina in quelling of which 100 men were killed & wounded.[xxvii]
As the Committee’s Chairman, on August 21st Boudinot reported to the USCA on General Washington’s letter of the 8th regarding prisoner exchanges. The Journals report:
… that at a meeting of the commissaries of prisoners for both parties, in the month of June, 1778, a demand was made by the American Commissary for payment of a number of Canadian officers, taken at St. Chambly, and sent into the British lines in 1776. The British commissar; at the same time demanding an allowance for 440 American prisoners taken at the Cedars, and returned on parole: that it was then agreed between said commissaries that both these demands should rest, one against the till the British commissary should obtain a certificate Whereupon, Resolved, That the commander in chief be, and he is hereby authorized to go into a full exchange of lieutenant-general Burgoyne, and all the remaining officers of the convention of Saratoga, with the enemy, in such manner as to him shall appear most conducive to the general interests of the United States.
Resolved, That the prisoners taken by the enemy at the Cedars, may be considered as subjects of exchange, notwithstanding any former resolutions of Congress to the contrary; and that the commander in chief be, and hereby is instructed to charge in the intended exchange, the several officers taken in Canada, and whose ranks were disputed by the enemy and engaged by their commissary to be settled and adjusted in manner aforesaid, according to the ranks mentioned in their paroles, unless the enemy produce sufficient proof of a diffident rank.
The report of the committee, to whom was referred a report of the board of treasury relative to certain bills of exchange, was taken into consideration; and, thereupon, Resolved, That the commander in chief be, and he is hereby instructed to remonstrate to the commanding officer of the British troops, on the subject of 16 sets of bills of exchange, drawn by sundry British officers prisoners of war, in payment of the allowance of two dollars per week, allowed them by Congress, and by the said officers ordered to be protested, as appears by the several protests attending the said bills; and that he report the answer of the said commanding officer to Congress.[xxviii]
Later that month, Elias Boudinot wrote a lengthy letter regarding his reporting to the State legislature through a new committee while they were out of session and the issue over New York and New Hampshire’s claim to the Vermont territory.
I think it my Duty in every great national Question especially that are of general Importance & in which the Welfare of the union is concerned, to keep the Legislature informed of the proceedings in Congress and particularly of the Conduct of their Delegates that nothing of Consequence may be done by them contrary to the Sense of their Constituents. It would indeed be an advantageous Circumstance for the State, was a committee of Correspondence appointed on the recess of the Legislature, thro whom mutual Information might be kept up between the Delegates in Congress & the State. Suffer me on this Occasion officially to trouble your Excy. with some late Transactions in Congress relating to the State of Vermont so called,[xxix] in which I apprehend the united States are particularly interested, and which in the End are likely to involve the States in a civil war, and to beg your Excy. to lay the same before the Legislature at their next Meeting. When I took my Seat in Congress last July, I found that frequent Applications had been made to Congress by the States of New York & N Hampshire in order to settle the Line between the two States on the West of Connecticut River-by which a Tract of Land of about 100 Miles Long & 50 broad claimed by the Inhabitants as an independent State, would be included in one or both of those States. The Inhabitants stiling themselves the State of Vermont made application to be recognized an Independent State & received into the Union, engaging to fulfull equal Duties to any State in the union agreeable to the Constitution. The States of New York & N Hampshire insisted that this tract of Country had been part of the One or both of those Colonies & still belong to one or both of them as States & therefore could not be dismembered by Congress. The People by their Agents insisted that they being oppressed by the late Colony of New York had opposed her Government previous to the Revolution-that they were the first to begin the Revolution-that they took the fortress of Ticonderoga & Crown point-that at the Revolution they were in a State of Nature-That they then set up a new Government and have ever since been in the actual Possession of Sovereign Power-That they have a Legislature, have enacted Laws, erected Court of Justice, levied Men-That they have done their Part in the common Cause-That they fought the Battle of Bennington and finally that they would not submit the Question of their Independence to any Jurisdiction or Power on Earth and therefore protested agt all Right in Congress to determine that Question but in Case they were Represented in that Body, they would submit to the Terms of the Confederation in every Point. Their Claim extended from the west of Connecticut River to a Line 20 Miles East of North River & from Massachusetts South to North Latitude 45 North. Congress had engaged to proceed to the Settlement of the Dispute on a certain Day, but finding the Matter of too ser[ious] a Nature to trifle with and that the consequence might involve the States in a bloody civil war at a very critical & important period and that on a Question whether the Inhabitants of sd. Territory should govern themselves or be governed by others agt their Will, and considering that all Government was for the happiness of the People, postponed this Question and so it remained in July last. About this Time Application was made to Congress by the Governor of N Hampshire complaining of the Incroachmt of those People & praying the Aid of Congress, this was committed with a former report of a Committee to another Committee, who having fully considered the Matter and reported to Congress the whole was taken up in a new point of Light.[xxx]
By the end of August, George Washington and the French Allies abandoned the plans to attack New York and were headed south to engage General Cornwallis who had been battling his way north through the Carolinas and into southern Virginia. The French troops made a striking display to the citizens as they marched through Philadelphia on the 3rd and 4th of September 1781. The troops were reviewed by Elias Boudinot and the other USCA Delegates. The Pennsylvania Gazette reported on September 5th:
On Thursday last arrived in this city, their Excellences’ General Washington and the Count de Rochambeau, with their respective Suites. They were met and accompanied to town by his Excellency the President of the State, the Financier General, and many other Gentlemen of distinction, together with the Philadelphia troops of horse. Every class of citizens seemed to vie with each other in shewing marks of respect to this illustrious pair of Defenders of the Rights of Mankind. [xxxi]
After the allied forces left Philadelphia, the USCA reorganized the U.S. Navy by placing its executive officers under the Agent of the Marine, Robert Morris. The Superintendent of Finance had been appointed to this second office five days earlier in anticipation of the Navy’s reorganization. By mid-September things were heating up in the war. News came in that:
Arnold returned to New-York from an Expedition to New-London in Connecticut, leaving his Troops on Board the Transports in Huntington Bay. He has destroyed all the Stores & Shipping at that place, except six vessels that escaped by favor of the wind. The two fortifications there were taken by Assault, and all put to the sword, except eleven men who had hid themselves. After plundering New-London he burnt it, leaving only three or four houses standing. It is said he is going on another Expedition immediately.[xxxii]
The USCA, once again, fear a British attack on Philadelphia. Elias wrote Governor Livingston that he considered Philadelphia “as our most vulnerable post.”
We are much alarmed here on the apprehended invasion of this State by General Clinton from New York. Indeed this city could not have been attempted in a more defenseless state, or at a time which would so essentially have affected the common cause. Congress have ordered down to this town 500 Continental troops under General St. Clair from Lancaster. 3000 men of the Militia of this State are ordered to be in the field without delay and half of the militia of the Delaware State. Congress have great and indeed I may say the greatest dependence on the militia of our State and hope they will be found actually in the field should the enemy appear ever so suddenly. As some days are always taken to arrange anybody of Militia, the sooner they are called out the better. I confess for my own part, I consider this city as our most vulnerable post.[xxxiii]
The British never attacked Philadelphia and the USCA would later dispatch Arthur St. Clair to Yorktown where Cornwallis was defeated by the allied forces. Mr. Boudinot writes:
The seige of Yorktown was mearly accidental — General Washington the Fall & Winter before, had planned with a Committee of Congress, the storming of the Works at New York and the repossession of that City. He communicated his Design to the French General and the Arrival of Count De Grasse with a French Fleet was part of the Plan. Requisitions on the different States for a Supply of Men to the necessary Amount was duly made by Congress, they to be in the Field by a given Day. The necessary Preparation especially a number of very large battering Cannon were provided. A little before the expected Reinforcement the Marquis La Fayette was very hard pressed by the British in Virginia. He had not Men enough to make head against them, and was driven to a Dependence on maneuvering altogether — He wrote to Genl Washington for Aid alleging the Impossibility of maintaining his Ground without Reinforcement. General Washington answered him by letting him into his Designs on New York — That he must do as well as he could with the Force he had, as he could not spare him a Man, but when the Enemy should discover his Intention it would work a Diversion in the Marquis" Favor. This Letter was sent by the Mail — This was captured in passing thro' Jersey and the Letter fell into the Enemy's hands Then his whole Design was betrayed with the Weakness of the Marquis — However Preparations went on but the Day for the Assembling the Troops arrived, and the Supplies did not more than fill up the Places of the Sick & Dead thro' the Winter.
The General remonstrated to Congress & the States in vain. His Numbers were not half sufficient to justify an Attack on New York. He feared, he should become the Derision of the French Army & the Enemy. His Mind ever full of Resources immediately suggested the Plan of taking advantage of the Enemy's Knowledge of his Plans. He wrote to Congress, had a Confidential & secret Committee appointed (of which I was one) immediately assembled the Army (such as it was) in the County of Essex & Morris near New York . Had the large battering Cannon sent on at a heavy Expense from Philadelphia. Erected very large Ovens at Chatham about eleven Miles above Elizabeth Town.
Everyone was on Tiptoe with the Expectation of soon entering into New York. On the Morning of his intended Departure, about Daylight, he sent for an old Inhabitant of New York, who lived in the Neighborhood and who was suspected of giving Intelligence to the enemy And put a Number of important Questions to him about the Situation of the Country in & about Middle Town & Sandy Hook in the County of Monmouth where the Man was born & bred. Also as to the state of the Land on the opposite Shore on Long Island With regard to landing of Troops, Water, &c. alleging that he was fond of knowing the Situation of different Parts of the Country as in the Course of the War he might unexpectedly be called into the Part of the Country. He urged upon him the most profound Secrecy and by no Means to lisp a Word of what had passed between them.
In one Hour the Army marched apparently for Princeton, which might be a good Road to Monmouth if a Deception was intended. I happened to be in the Neighborhood of the Army and about ten o'clock called on the Man on whom the General had enjoined so much Secrecy, and to convince me that the Seige of New York was determined & that by the Way of Monmouth & Long Island he told me everything that had passed between him and the General, and I doubt not but that the British Genl had it also the same Night.
The British never suspected any other Design till they were informed that the American Army had passed the Delaware. Then it was too late When they arrived at Philadelphia the Army discovered great Discontent at not receiving certain Arrears of Pay long withheld from them. It was thought neither prudent nor safe to proceed without making Pay at least, in Part. Money was also wanted to hire Vessels and other Means to proceed down the Chesapeake Bay. The Treasury was empty. Congress had no Means to raise the Money. Requisitions had been resorted to in vain.
In this exigency the vigorous exertions of the Honble Robert Morris, the Superintendent of Finances, relieved their Distress. He went out among his merchantile & other Friends and borrowed on his own Responsibility upwards of 30,000 Dollars which answered every Purpose, and the Army soon appeared before Yorktown.
Mr. Boudinot further writes:
At the siege of Yorktown the French Troops brought out by Count de Grasse were absolutely necessary to complete the line of Circumvallation and perfect the Siege. About 2 days before the capture the Count sent word to Genl Washington that he should within 48 hours withdraw those Troops & that he must provide accordingly. This was in effect raising the Siege. General Washington remonstrated against it in vain. He sent the Marquis La Fayette on board the fleet to dissuade Count de Grasse from so ruinous a Measure. He obstinately persisted, and said his orders were positive & not discretionary.
General Washington finding nothing but storming the Enemy's lines would prevent the raising the Siege and that would necessarily occasion the loss of great numbers on both sides to avoid which he fell upon the following Expedient. He sent out Colonel Hamilton with some other Officers with a Flag of Truce, on some business. They were met half way by a number of British Officers. They carried with them something to eat & drink. In Conversation they mentioned to the British Officers their concern for them as gentlemen & soldiers that the American army had determined to storm their Lines; that the American Soldiery and Country People were so exasperated at the Conduct of the British to the southward, that they could not answer for the Consequences, as they did not think they could be restrained by Authority and Discipline; that they knew General Washington's humane Temper and his wished to avoid the unnecessary shedding of blood; That in case of a Capitulation the same terms the British troops gave to our troops at Charles Town, with the addition of the officers wearing side Arms & being immediately sent on their parole into New York, they believed might be obtained; that they did not wish their names to be mentioned, &c. &c.
Within a few hours after their return proposals for surrendering or Terms were sent out, and the Capitulation took place. Count de Grasse remained several days (notwithstanding the positive nature of his orders) to enjoy the pleasure of the Surrender, the rejoicings, &c. &c., General Washington then earnestly requested his landing a body of American troops near Eden Town in North Carolina, that the British in that Neighborhood might be surprised — but he absolutely refused, tho' he spent twice the time necessary for the purpose doing nothing before he left the Coast.
When the messenger brought the News of this Capitulation to Congress, it was necessary to furnish him with hard money for his Expenses. There was not a sufficiency in the Treasury to do it and the Members of Congress of which I was one, each paid a Dollar to accomplish it.[xxxiv]
By early November, 1781, despite the great victory at Yorktown, Elias Boudinot was anxious to return home expecting to be replaced as a delegate by the N.J. Assembly. The second USCA was due to commence on November 5, 1781 but the members, without Boudinot, would fail to achieve the minimum seven state delegation quorum. Boudinot, on the very day he was returning home received a letter from John Stevens notifying him that he was appointed as a delegate to the second USCA. Boudinot was persuaded by the other delegates to accept the office and remain in Philadelphia so New Jersey would have two representatives in the USCA thus qualifying a seventh state to convene Congress. Boudinot writes to John Stevens on November 5th:
Embarrassed on this Occasion, I was preparing to return home, having had no Idea of remaining here longer than this day, being the Terms on which I first accepted the Appointment. Indeed had this not been the Case, the exhausted State of my Finances and the derangement of my Family Affairs would oblige me to return. The monstrous Expense attending a residence in this City, must soon take away the Ready Cash of any fortune among us. However as there were only Mr. Clark & myself here, and our Presence absolutely necessary to form a Congress in this important Conjuncture, We took our Seats this Day and have proceeded to the Choice of a President, Mr. Hanson of Maryland. I shall Continue here this Week, in hopes that your honorable Houses will urge the attendance of one of the other Gentleman. by that Time. I shall do myself the honor of calling on you next week, as I have some matters of great Importance I would willingly communicate to the Legislature before my Return Home. Never was there Time which required a full representation of the States more than the present as Matters of the utmost future Consequence to this rising Empire, are & must be the Subjects of constant discussion.[xxxv]
Boudinot’s service as USCA delegate was very active in the 1781-1782 session, for information on this session please visit www.johnhanson.net.
|Click Here to view the US Mint & Coin Acts 1782-1792|
Boudinot was again elected as a USCA Delegate for the term of 1782 and 1783.[xxxvi] On November 4th, 1782 the delegates elected him president by a member count of 16 to 11 on. The law of one state one vote ended the tally seven states to four with two states not voting.
The opposing four states cast their votes for three different southern delegates.[xxxvii] President Boudinot wrote his wife:
|Original Journals of the United States in Congress Assembled manuscript entry recording|
the election of Elias Boudinot as its President - image courtesy of Stan Klos
The opposing four states cast their votes for three different southern delegates.[xxxvii] President Boudinot wrote his wife:
I wrote you this Morning, which will probably get to hand before this. You must not blame me hastily for a Step, which from the Nature of the Thing, must be taken before & without consulting you. I informed you that I had this morning accepted the Chair of Congress. Your presence is doubly necessary, and I shall be very awkwardly situated till you arrive. As to my Affairs at home, you & Mr. Pintard must settle the whole -- you must leave home, for at least one Year. I think you had best sell whatever you think we shall not stand in need of. I leave the whole to your Judgment -- only keep the young Steers, and such of the Calves as you think you shall want, or all of them if you please. You must get all the Cash you can; as that all will not be sufficient. Sell one or two Horses, the largest Colt & the little Mare if you can get a good Price for her, say £25 -- but not otherwise. Sell the Waggon, Plough, Harrow, Chair (reserving your ride to Princeton) & supernumerary Hogs, send one Cow to Pangburns to make up for the lost one. If you can, let out the Steer & Oxen, if you can't, sell the last -- do it. Coll Ludlow will assist you. You must bring whatever you think proper with you. Phillis must come, if not Lena too. I want a body Servant much. Johnson is gone to Maryland. If you could hire Dier for the Year at a reasonable Price I should be glad. You must do as you Please. As to the Family, I know not what to say about them. I think if you could manage it so that Mr. P could live in the House & Mr. Remson lodge in the office, it would answer a valuable Purpose -- but I really know not what to advise to. I wish Mr Remsen to come down here on Saturday or Monday (would be best) before the Superior Court next week, that I may instruct him particularly on the Business of the Court. I scarcely know what I write. I am all dressed for the reception of Compliments, Congratulations &c &c. How happy should I be was you here. This goes by Dr. Romain who promises to call on you with it. I am my Dearest Love with unbounded Affection -- [P.S.] Love to Susan, Mr. Pintard & all Friends.
On the 11th of November, President Boudinot wrote John Hanson:
It gives me real pleasure, that among the first duties of my office, I am honoured with the agreeable commands of Congress, to communicate their unanimous vote of Thanks, for your valuable and important services, while in the chair of Congress.
Be assured Sir, that you can only form an Idea of the satisfaction I enjoy on this occasion, by consulting your own feelings on receiving this grateful and honourable testimony of your Country's approbation.
Boudinot was a lifelong friend of Alexander Hamilton and very close to Robert Morris. He belonged to "the wealthy, wise, and the good,” had the ear of George Washington and was a dutiful servant to the “constructive party.” [xxxviii] On November 27th, Elias Boudinot responded to George Washington's kind letter commending him on the election to the Presidency. He also included a resolve for General Washington to apprehend Luke Knowlton and Samuel Wells of New Hampshire because they were reported to have been "in a dangerous correspondence and intercourse with the enemy" by the deposition of Christopher Osgood of Rhode Island.
The business of this third USCA was overshadowed by the negotiations occurring, a continent away, in Paris. On November 17th Peace Commission Jay wrote U.S. Foreign Secretary Livingston a long letter outlining his progress in the DefintiveTreaty of Peace negotiations stating:
Although it is uncertain when I shall have an opportunity either of finishing or transmitting the long, particular letter which I am now undertaking to write, I think the matter it will contain is too interesting to rest only in my memory, or in short notes, which nobody but myself can well unfold the meaning of. I shall, therefore, write on as my health will permit, and when finished shall convey this letter by the first prudent American that may go from hence to Nantes or L'Orient. My reception here was as friendly as an American minister might expect from this polite and politic court; for I think they deceive themselves who suppose that these kind of attentions are equally paid to their private as to their public characters. [xxxix]
Jay’s account was precise and concluded with an account from the time Mr. Oswald received a suitable Commission to negotiate a viable Treaty and his reasons for excluding France from the negotiations:
On the 27th of September, Mr. Vaughan returned here from England, with the courier that brought Mr. Oswald's new commission, and very happy were we to see it. Copies of it have already been sent to you, so that I will not lengthen this letter by inserting it here; nor will I add anything further on this head at present, than to assure you that Mr. Vaughan greatly merits our acknowledgments.
The next thing to be done was to prepare and draw up the proposed articles. They were soon completed and settled between us and Mr. Oswald, by whom they were sent to his court, with letters declaring his opinion that they ought to be accepted and agreed to; but they differed with him in opinion.
These articles, for very obvious reasons, were not communicated to the Count de Vergennes.
Mr. Oswald did not receive any opinion from his court relating to our articles until the 23d of October, when letters from the minister informed him that the extent of our boundaries, and the situation of the Tories, &c., caused some objections, and the minister's secretary was on the way here to confer with us on those subjects.
On the 24th of October, I dined at Pussy with Dr. Franklin, where I found M. Rayneval. After dinner we were in private with him a considerable time. He desired to know the state of our negotiation with Mr. Oswald. We told him that difficulties had arisen about our boundaries, and that one of the minister's secretaries was coming here with papers and documents on that subject. He asked us what boundaries we claimed. We told him the river St. John to the east, and ancient Canada, as described in the proclamation, to the north. He contested our right to such an extent to the north, and entered into several arguments to show our claim to be ill founded. These arguments were chiefly drawn from the ancient French claims, and from a clause in the proclamation restraining governors from making grants in the Indian country, &c.
He inquired what we demanded as to the fisheries. We answered that we insisted on enjoying a right in common to them with Great Britain. He intimated that our views should not extend further than a coast fishery, and insinuated that pains had lately been taken in the eastern States to excite their apprehensions, and increase their demands on that head. We told him that such a right was essential to us, and thug our people would not be content to make peace without it; and Dr. Franklin explained very fully their great importance to the eastern States in particular. He then softened his manner, and observed that it was natural for France to wish better to us than to England; but as the fisheries were a great nursery for seamen, we might suppose that England would be disinclined to admit others to share in it, and that for his part he wished there might be as few obstacles to a peace as possible. He reminded us, also, that Mr. Oswald's new commission had been issued posterior to his arrival at London.
On the 26th of October Mr. Adams arrived here, and in him I have found a very able and agreeable coadjutor ... I am sensible of the impression which this letter will make upon you and upon Congress, and how it will affect the confidence they have in this court. These are critical times, and great necessity there is for prudence and secrecy.
So far, and in such matters as this court may think it their interest to support us, they certainly will, but no further, in my opinion.
They [France]are interested in separating us from Great Britain, and on that point we may, I believe, depend upon them; but it is not their interest that we should become a great and formidable people, and therefore they will not help us to become so. It is not their interest that such a treaty should be formed between us and Britain as would produce cordiality and mutual confidence. They will therefore endeavor to plant such seeds of jealousy, discontent, and discord in it as may naturally and perpetually keep our eyes fixed on France for security. This consideration must induce them to wish to render Britain formidable in our neighborhood, and to leave us as few resources of wealth and power as possible.
It is their interest to keep some point or other in contest between us and Britain to the end of the war, to prevent the possibility of our sooner agreeing, and thereby keep us employed in the war, and dependent on them for supplies. Hence they have favored and will continue to favor the British demands as to matters of boundary and the Tories.
The same views will render them desirous to continue the war in our country as long as possible, nor do I believe they will take any measures for our repossession of New York unless the certainty of its evacuation should render such an attempt advisable. The Count de Vergennes lately said that there could be no great use in expeditions to take places which must be given up to us at a peace.
Such being our situation, it appears to me advisable to keep up our army to the end of the war, even if the enemy should evacuate our country; nor does it appear to me prudent to listen to any overtures for carrying a part of it to the West Indies in case of such an event.
I think we have no rational dependence except on God and ourselves, nor can I yet be persuaded that Great Britain has either wisdom, virtue, or magnanimity enough to adopt a perfect and liberal system of conciliation. If they again thought they could conquer us, they would again attempt it.
We are nevertheless, thank God, in a better situation than we have been. As our independence is acknowledged by Britain, every obstacle to our forming treaties with neutral powers and receiving their merchant ships is at an end, so that we may carry on the war with greater advantage than before in case our negotiations for peace should be fruitless.
It is not my meaning, and therefore I hope I shall not be understood to mean, that we should deviate in the least from our treaty with France; our honor and our interest are concerned in inviolably adhering to it. I mean only to say that if we lean on her love of liberty, her affection for America, or her disinterested magnanimity, we shall lean on a broken reed, that will sooner or later pierce our hands, and Geneva as well as Corsica justifies this observation.
I have written many disagreeable things in this letter, but I thought it my duty. I have also deviated from my instructions, which, though not to be justified, will, I hope, be excused on account of the singular and unforeseen circumstances which occasioned it. Let me again recommend secrecy. [xl]
Jay spoke of their perfect accord as a team acknowledging Mr. Adams's services on the eastern boundaries and Franklin's contributions on the subject of the Tories. John Adams wrote in his Diary of Jay’s resolve in the negotiations:
That J. insists on having an exchange of full Powers, before he enters on Conference or Treaty. Refuses to treat with D'Aranda, untill he has a Copy of his Full Powers. Refused to treat with Oswald, untill he had a Commission to treat with the Commissioners of the United States of America. -- F. was afraid to insist upon it. Was afraid We should be obliged to treat without. Differed with J. Refused to sign a Letter &c. Vergennes wanted him to treat with D'Aranda, without. [xli]
Adams also went on to record describing Jay’s, now jaded, feelings about the French and their involvement in the negotiations. Adams recorded in his diary on November 5, 1782:
Mr. Jay likes Frenchmen as little as Mr. Lee and Mr. Izard did. He says they are not a Moral People. They know not what it is. He doesn’t like any Frenchman. -- The Marquis de la Fayette is clever, but he is a Frenchman. -- Our Allies don’t play fair, he told me. They were endeavoring to deprive us of the Fishery, the Western Lands, and the Navigation of the Mississippi. They would even bargain with the English to deprive us of them. They want to play the Western Lands, Mississippi and whole Gulf of Mexico into the Hands of Spain. [xlii]
Adams wrote to Abigail on November 8th of the Peace Commissioner’s negotiations:
The King of Great Britain, by a Commission under the great Seal of his Kingdom, has constituted Richard Oswald Esqr. his Commissioner to treat with the Ministers Plenipotentiary of the United States of America, and has given him full Powers which have been mutually exchanged. Thus G.B. has Shifted suddenly about, and from persecuting us with unrelenting Bowells, has unconditionally and unequivocally acknowledged us a Sovereign State and independent Nation. It is surprising that she should be the third Power to make this Acknowledgment. She has been negotiated into it, for Jay and I peremptorily refused to Speak or hear, before we were put upon an equal Foot. Franklin as usual would have taken the Advice of the C. de V. [ Comte de Vergennes] and treated, without, but nobody would join him. [xliii]
Adams wrote Foreign Secretary Livingston of the negotiations on November 21st:
We live in critical moments. Parliament is to meet, and the King's speech will be delivered on the 26th. If the speech announces Mr. Oswald's commission, and the two houses, in their answers, thank him for issuing it, and there should be no change in the ministry, the prospect of peace will be flattering. Or, if there should be a change in the ministry, and the Duke of Portland, with Mr. Fox and Mr. Burke, should come in, it will be still more so. But if Richmond, Camden, Keppel, and Townshend should retire, and my Lord North and company come in, with or without the Earl of Shelburne, the appearances of peace will be very unpromising. My Lord North, indeed, cannot revoke the acknowledgment of our independence, and would not probably renounce the negotiations for peace, but ill-will to us is so habitual to him and his master, that he would fall in earnestly with the wing-clipping system; join in attempts to deprive us of the fisheries and the Mississippi, and to fasten upon us the Tories, and in every other measure to cramp, stint, impoverish, and enfeeble us. Shelburne is not so orthodox as he should be, but North is a much greater heretic in American politics.
It deserves much consideration what course we should take in case the old ministry should come in whole or in part. It is certain, at present, that to be obnoxious to the Americans and their ministers is a very formidable popular cry against any minister or candidate for the ministry in England, for the nation is more generally for recovering the good-will of the Americans than they ever have been. Nothing would strike such a blow to any ministry as to break off the negotiations for peace; if the old ministry comes in, they will demand terms of us at first, probably, that we can never agree to.
It is now eleven or twelve days since the last result of our conferences were laid before the ministry in London. Mr. Vaughan went off on Sunday noon, the 17th, so that he is no doubt before this time with my Lord Shelburne. He is possessed of an ample budget of arguments to convince his lordship that he ought to give up all the remaining points between us. Mr. Oswald's letters will suggest the same arguments in a different light, and Mr. Strachey, if he is disposed to do it, is able to enlarge upon them all in conversation.
The fundamental point of the sovereignty of the United States being settled in England, the only question now is, whether they shall pursue a contracted or a liberal, a good-natured or an ill-natured plan towards us. If they are generous, and allow us all we ask, it will be the better for them; if stingy, the worst. That France don't wish them to be very noble to us may be true. But we should be dupes, indeed, if we did not make use of every argument with them to show them that it is their interest to be so, and they will be the greatest bubbles of all if they should suffer themselves to be derived by their passions, or by any arts, to adopt an opposite tenor of conduct. [xliv]
John Jay was especially concerned over the fate of the Tories in the negotiations, especially New York as the British had held the city for six long years. There was much dissent among N.Y. patriots over the loyalist who prospered in the city during the revolution. New York Governor Clinton just after he was elected:
… persecuted, robbed, plundered, banished, and imprisoned, the unhappy loyalists at a great rate. His inveteracy, his rancour, and hatred to Great Britain and the Loyalists, he carried so far, that he has been heard to say, ‘that he had rather roast in hell to all eternity, than‘ consent to a dependence upon Great Britain, or ‘shew mercy to a damned Tory.’ [xlv]
On Monday, November 25th the Commissioners heard from Stratchey and Oswald. Adams recorded in his diary:
Dr. F., Mr. J. and myself at 11 met at Mr. Oswalds Lodgings. Mr. Stratchey told us, he had been to London and waited personally on every one of the Kings Cabinet Council, and had communicated the last Propositions to them. They every one of them, unanimously condemned that respecting the Tories, so that that unhappy Affair stuck as he foresaw and foretold that it would.
The Affair of the Fishery too was somewhat altered. They could not admit us to dry, on the Shores of Nova Scotia, nor to fish within three Leagues of the Coast, nor within fifteen Leagues of the Coast of Cape Breton.
The Boundary they did not approve. They thought it too extended, too vast a Country, but they would not make a difficulty. That if these Terms were not admitted, the whole Affair must be thrown into Parliament, where every Man would be for insisting on Restitution, to the Refugees. He talked about excepting a few by Name of the most obnoxious of the Refugees.”[xlvi]
In his diary, Adams continues recording the proposed changes to the Treaty and surprising details and concludes that day’s business writing:
Mr. Jay desired to know, whether Mr. Oswald had now Power to conclude and sign with us? Stratchey said he had absolutely. Mr. Jay desired to know if the Propositions now delivered us were their Ultimatum. Stratchey seemed loth to answer, but at last said No. -- We agreed these were good Signs of Sincerity.[xlvii]
The fourth U.S. Peace Commissioner, former President Henry Laurens arrived in Paris in late November 1782. Adams wrote of his participation in the negotiations of the Preliminary Treaty:
November 29, 1782 -- Met Mr. Fitzherbert, Mr. Oswald, Mr. Franklin, Mr. Jay, Mr. Laurens, and Mr. Strachey, at Mr. Jay's, Hôtel d'Orléans, and spent the whole day in discussions about the fishery and the Tories.
Commissioner Oswald produced a paper from his pocket, in which he had drawn up a claim, and he said the first principle of the treaty was equality and reciprocity. Now, they demanded of us payment of debts, and restitution, or compensation to the refugees.
Upon this, I recounted the history of General Gage's agreement with the inhabitants of Boston, that they should remove with their effects, upon condition that they would surrender their arms; but as soon as the arms were secured, the goods were forbid to be carried out, and were finally carried off in large quantities to Halifax. Dr. Franklin mentioned the case of Philadelphia, and the carrying off of effects there, even his own library. Mr. Jay mentioned several other things, and Mr. Laurens added the plunders in Carolina, of negroes, plate, &c.
I said I never could put my hand to any articles without satisfaction about the fishery; that Congress had, three or four years ago, when they did me the honor to give me a commission to make a treaty of commerce with Great Britain, given me a positive instruction not to make any such treaty without an article in the treaty of peace acknowledging our right to the fishery; that I was happy Mr. Laurens was now present, who, I believed, was in Congress at the time and must remember it. Mr. Laurens upon this said, with great firmness, that he was in the same case and could never give his voice for any articles without this. Mr. Jay spoke up, and said it could not be a peace; it would only be an insidious truce without it.
Negotiations continued in good faith and on the following day Adams recorded:
November 30, 1782. - We met first at Mr. Jay's, then at Mr. Oswald's; examined and compared the treaties. Mr. Strachey had left out the limitation of time, the twelve months, that the refugees were allowed to reside in America, in order to recover their estates, if they could. Dr. Franklin said this was a surprise upon us. Mr. Jay said so too. We never had consented to leave it out, and they insisted upon putting it in, which was done.
Mr. Laurens said there ought to be a stipulation that the British troops should carry off no negroes or other American property. We all agreed. Mr. Oswald consented. Then the treaties were signed, sealed, and delivered, and we all went out to Passy to dine with Dr. Franklin. Thus far has proceeded this great affair. The unravelling of the plot has been to me the most affecting and astonishing part of the whole piece.
I was very happy that Mr. Laurens came in, although it was the last day of the conferences, and wish he could have been sooner. His apprehension, notwithstanding his deplorable affliction under the recent loss of so excellent a son, is as quick, his judgment as sound, and his heart as firm as ever. He had an opportunity of examining the whole, and judging and approving; and the article which he caused to be inserted at the very last, that no property should be carried off--which would most probably, in the multiplicity and hurry of affairs, have escaped us--was worth a longer journey, if that had been all. But his name and weight is added, which is of much greater consequence.[xlviii]
When the news of the signed Preliminary Treaty was communicated to French Foreign Minister Vergennes, he wrote to Conrad Alexandre Gérard de Rayneval in England that the concessions of the English exceeded all that he had believed possible. Rayneval replied: "The treaty seems to me like a dream." [xlix]
The deed was done. Jay’s gamble of ignoring the orders of Congress and excluding France resulted in a remarkable Treaty for the United States. The ever remarkable Benjamin Franklin smoothed things over with the French Court, a new loan from France to America was secured marking an acceptance of the triumph secured by Jay and his fellow Commissioners. Alexander Hamilton wrote to Jay, after examining the Treaty:
I have been witness with pleasure to every event which has had a tendency to advance you in the esteem of your country; and I may assure you with sincerity, that it is as high as you could possibly wish. All have united in the warmest approbation of your conduct. I cannot forbear telling you this, because my situation has given me access to the truth, and I gratify my friendship for you in communicating what cannot fail to gratify your sensibility.
The peace which exceeds in the goodness of its terms, the expectations of the most sanguine does the highest honor to those who made it. It is the more agreeable, as the time was come, when thinking men began to be seriously alarmed at the internal embarrassments and exhausted state of this country. The New England people talk of making you an annual fish-offering as an acknowledgement of your exertions for the participation of the fisheries.
We have now happily concluded the great work of independence, but much remains to be done to reap the fruits of it. Our prospects are not flattering. Every day proves the inefficacy of the present confederation, yet the common danger being removed, we are receding instead of advancing in a disposition to amend its defects. The road to popularity in each state is to inspire jealousies of the power of Congress, though nothing can be more apparent than that they have no power; and that for the want of it, the resources of the country during the war could not be drawn out, and we at this moment experience all the mischiefs of a bankrupt and ruined credit. It is to be hoped that when prejudice and folly have run themselves out of breath we may return to reason and correct our errors.
After having served in the field during the war, I have been making a short apprenticeship in Congress; but the evacuation of New York approaching; I am preparing to take leave of public life to enter into the practice of the law. Your country will continue to demand your services abroad.[l]
As can be imagined, the violation of the instructions of Congress greatly displeased a majority of the Delegates but not President Boudinot who was closely aligned with the Jay and the conservative faction of the USCA. Delegate and future President James Madison, who voted to include France in the negotiations, wrote: "In this business Jay has taken the lead, and proceeded to a length of which you can form little idea. Adams has followed with cordiality. Franklin has been dragged into it." [li] Historian Jared Sparks, in his "Life of Franklin," contends that the violation of their instructions by the American commissioners in concluding and signing their treaty without the concurrence of the French government was "unjustifiable."
John Jay, however, was just following the strategy his Congress adopted in 1779, when the alliance of France was not a year old, and the great triumph over Burgoyne was fresh. John Jay’s Continental Congress notwithstanding the pressure of Minister Gerard, the French envoy, had adopted the following conditions as the ultimatum for peace:
1. The acknowledgment of the independence of the United States by Great Britain, previous to any treaty or negotiation for peace.
2. The Mississippi as their western boundary.
3. The navigation of that river to the southern boundary of the States with a port below it.
As the war progressed, French financial and military assistance increased exponentially and thus its importance to the Congress. The tone of the congressional instructions were modified, under the pressure, first of French Minister Gerard and then of Count Luzerne, his successor. Specifically, on the 25th January 1780, Gerard having obtained the appointment of a Committee of Congress informed the Continental Congress that the territories of the United States would extended no further west than the limits to which settlements were permitted by the English proclamation of 1763. In other words, the United States had no right to the navigation of the Mississippi because they would have no territory adjoining any part of the river. This left Spain in the position to conquer both Floridas with the intent to hold them for their empire. The Northwest Territory, Jay reasoned, on the east side of the Mississippi that belonged to Great Britain would most likely be conquered by Spain. Presently, one needs only to look at 1780’s map of North America showing "the boundaries of the United States, Canada, and the Spanish possessions, according to the proposals of the court of France,"[lii] to more fully understand Jay’s great accomplishments on behalf of the US.
If John Jay and his fellow USCA commissioners followed the instructions to govern themselves by the opinion of French Minister Vergennes, the Treaty would have shut out the United States from the Mississippi and the Gulf. It would have deprived the United States of America of Alabama, Mississippi, the greater part of Kentucky and Tennessee, the whole of Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and part of Minnesota, as well as the navigation of the Mississippi. The United States, to this day, owes John Jay a great debt of gratitude.
In Philadelphia, on December 11th President Boudinot wrote Washington about Great Britain’s plan to vacate Charleston, SC.
a letter from General Greene of the 11th of November", we are informed, "that the evacuation of Charles Town will not take place till the 20th or 21st. The enemies are in readiness to embark and have got transports sufficient to carry them off; but it is said they are waiting for Admiral Pigot to convoy them to the West Indies. [liii]
Earlier that month, a Federal Court convened in Trenton under the Articles of Confederation’s Article IX. The Agents for Pennsylvania and Connecticut assembled before judges appointed by the United states in Congress Assembled: William Whipple of New Hampshire; Nathaniel Greene of Rhode Island; David Brearley of New Jersey; William Churchill Houston of New Jersey; Cyrus Griffin and Joseph Jones of Virginia, and John Rutledge of South Carolina, as judges to try the century old land dispute. General Greene and John Rutledge could not attend, and Thomas Nelson of Virginia and Welcome Arnold of Rhode Island were substituted. After much debate the Commissioners' compensation was set at $10 Spanish Silver dollars per day and expenses. It was agreed the court should meet at Trenton, New Jersey, on Tuesday, November 12, 1782. Only five of the judges reported to the court to settle a century old boundary dispute between Pennsylvania and Connecticut over the Wyoming Valley. While the court was in session, Congress went about its regular business and on Christmas Eve, the USCA amended the Post Office ordinance to extend franking privilege.[liv]
In December of 2016, just before our National Collegiate Honors Council Partners in the Park meeting with Ranger Patricia Jones, we visited Independence Hall carrying an original Pennsylvania vs Connecticut 1782 manuscript. Originally, the manuscript was one of official copies delivered to President Elias Boudinot at Independence Hall on Tuesday, December 31, 1782, which was distributed to the Delegates. After a 233 year absence, this First Federal Court Decision, engrossed in the hand of Articles of Confederation presiding Court Clerk John Neilson made its way back to Independence Hall. Ranger Patricia, in this photograph, is holding the historic decree on the first floor assembly room where Congress enacted the Declaration of Independence and six years later the USCA resolved to convene an Articles of Confederation Federal Court to meet at Trenton on Tuesday, November 12, 1782 to settle the PA vs CT land dispute.
The Pennsylvania vs Connecticut Trenton Federal Court decree was issued on December 30th, 1782. This federal court decision awarded the disputed lands lying between the 41st parallel north and the 42nd parallel north in northeastern North America to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The manuscript, pictured below, was written in the hand of Articles of Confederation Court Clerk John Neilson and records the unanimous decision of the five judges: William Whipple, Welcome Arnold, David Brearley, Cyrus Griffin and William C Houston - For More Information Click Here
On January 6, 1783, Continental Army officers Newburg submitted an "Address & petition from the Officers of the Army” and according to Madison “… it was referred to a grand Committee. This reference was intended as a mark of the important light in which the memorial was viewed.”[lv] The address, now known as the Newburg Petition is significant because it marked the beginning of the Ohio Company which would eventually acquire vast tracts of land in the Northwest Territory.
The Ohio Company of Associates grew out of a petition to “his Excellency, the President and Honorable Delegates of the United States of America in Congress assembled,” framed by Brigadier – General Rufus Putnam,[lvi] acting for a group of officers encamped at Newburgh, New York, in the last year of the Revolution (1783) Signed by 288 officers “in the Continental line of the army,” the petition reminded Congress of its promise of “certain Grants of Land” to officers and soldiers who served to the “establishment of Peace.” The petitioners asked that the grants be located in the Ohio country and that provision be made for the sale of additional land “to such of the Army as wish to become adventurers,” that is, investors in the frontier. Putnam forwarded the petition to General George Washington, Commander-in-Chief of the American army, with the request that he lay it before Congress, together with his own commendation. Washington forwarded the Newburgh petition to the Congress of the Confederation without immediate result, but Putnam continued his interest in land in the West.[lvii]
The petition was not immediately acted upon and this fostered more unrest in the ranks because the USCA was woeful behind in its payments to the U.S. Army.
On January 23, 1783, a committee chaired by James Madison made an attempt to establish a Library of Congress. Madison submitted a list of approximately 1300 books to the USCA. Described as "proper for the use of Congress," the books were collected by Madison who was assisted by Thomas Jefferson. Madison urged that "it was indispensable that congress should have at all times at command" authorities on public law whose expertise " would render . . . their proceedings conformable to propriety; and it was observed that the want of this information was manifest in several important acts of Congress." [lviii] Madison's proposal was defeated because of "the inconveniency of advancing even a few hundred pounds at this crisis."
The lack of capital to pay the Delegates or even reimburse them for their most meager expenses became crucial in the winter of 1783. Once again, in February, Congress found itself not adequately represented by the States. On February 24th the President sent the following circular to all the states:
I have the honor to enclose a Resolution of Congress founded on reasons of the utmost importance to the United States. I need not add arguments to enforce a measure, which must appear, on the first blush, of absolute necessity, especially when, from the critical state of our Affairs, all the wisdom of the States is required.[lix]
The resolution enclosed by President Boudinot was dated February 21 and it "recommended to the States of Delaware, Maryland and Georgia, to send Delegates immediately to Congress, and to each State in the Union, to keep up a constant representation." [lx]
By spring 1783, the demands Great Britain exacted out of the Preliminary Treaty of Paris included the large sums of money owed to British merchants. The United States and their people were obliged to make land and monetary restitution. In conformity to the letter and spirit of the preliminary treaty, the USCA urged in strong terms the propriety of making restitution to the merchants and British loyalists. Imposing the necessary taxes to fund the repayment of debt to Great Britain was, however, beyond the power of the USCA. The little foreign money the United States could borrow to satisfy British claims in non-American specie placed a great strain on the national treasury. Many delegates began to realize that the only true means of ever repaying the debt, especially to the Army, was the public sale of lands in what would be known as the Northwest Territory.
On March 10 the failure of the USCA to act on the Newburg land Petition, its arrears in military pay, its failure to settle food and clothing accounts and its lack of action in making provisions for the promised lifetime pension of half pay reached a boiling point with the officers and men encamped at Newburgh, NY. The officers issued anonymous grievance papers and called for a meeting on March 11th. In consequence of the circulation of the papers, Commander-in-Chief George Washington issued this general order on the same day.
The Commander-in-chief, having heard that a general meeting of the officers of the army was proposed to be held this day at the New Building, in an anonymous paper, which was circulated yesterday by some unknown person, conceives, (although he is fully persuaded that the good sense of the officers would induce them to pay very little attention to such an irregular invitation,) his duty, as well as the reputation and true interest of the army, requires his disapprobation of such disorderly proceedings; at the same time he requests, that the general and field officers, with one officer from each company, and a proper representation of the staff of the army, will assemble at twelve o'clock on Saturday next at the New Building, to hear the report of the committee of the army to Congress. After mature deliberation they will devise what further measures ought to be adopted, as most rational, and best calculated to attain the just and important object in view. The senior officer in rank present will be pleased to preside, and report the result of their deliberations to the Commander-in-chief. [lxi]
The meeting of the officers was held on the 15th, at the hour and place appointed in the general order. General Gates, as the senior officer, presided but to everyone's surprise, the Commander-in-Chief entered the meeting. He asked to speak to the officers, and a surprised General Gates relinquished the floor. Washington gave a short speech, now known as the Newburgh Address that recognized the validity of their arguments but urged his disgruntled officers to trust the USCA. He then removed a letter from his vest from a USCA delegate. Taking a pair of reading glasses from his pocket, he prefaced the letter saying:
'Gentlemen, you will permit me to put on my spectacles, for I have not only grown gray, but almost blind, in the service of my country.' This little address, with the mode and manner of delivering it, drew tears from [many] of the officers.[lxii]
The conspiracy collapsed and when Washington left the room officers offered numerous resolutions re-pledging their loyalty to the United States of America:
Resolved unanimously, That at the commencement of the present war, the officers of the American army engaged in the service of their country from the purest love and attachment to the rights and liberties of human nature; which motives still exist in the highest degree; and that no circumstance of distress or danger shall induce a conduct, that may tend to sully the reputation and glory, which they have acquired at the price of their blood and eight years' faithful services.
"Resolved unanimously, That the army continue to have an unshaken confidence in the justice of Congress and their country; and are fully convinced, that the representatives of America will not disband or disperse the army until their accounts are liquidated, the balances accurately ascertained, and adequate funds established for payment. And, in this arrangement, the officers expect that the half-pay, or commutation of it, should be efficaciously comprehended.
Resolved unanimously, That his Excellency the Commander-in-chief be requested to write to his Excellency the President of Congress, earnestly entreating the more speedy decision of that honorable body upon the subjects of our late address, forwarded by a committee of the army, some of whom are waiting upon Congress for the result. In the alternative of peace or war, this event would be highly satisfactory, and would produce immediate tranquility in the minds of the army, and prevent any further machinations of designing men to sow discord between the civil and military powers of the United States.[lxiii]
Although this monetary military mutiny was averted, other funding challenges threatened the solvency of the USA. The U.S. Mint legislation that Robert Morris, the Superintendent of Finance, proposed was never enacted so there was no US coinage. The USCA had made United States and State paper notes legal tender by law but even the new paper currency had depreciated drastically and had almost no value overseas. This, along with the Treaty of Paris requirement to make good on all pre-war and actual citizen debt had dire consequences on U.S. merchants and investors. Citizen payments to each other were made in this depreciating paper. Citizens, who received payment by Congress with U.S. currency, were unable to satisfy their foreign debts as Europeans, in most cases, flat out refused the payments.
The army that had successfully reversed the tide of British victories in 1780 and 1781 now awaited USCA action for its staggering services. The States were in no position, due to massive war debt, to remit the soldiers their years of back pay let alone amass more liability maintaining a peacetime Army. The United States' only option was to devise a plan of future payment to the armed forces while somehow dismissing large numbers of officers and soldiers. Moreover this had to be accomplished without pay enough to enable them to return home and make ends meet. These were battle hardened patriotic men who had sacrificed the prime of their life in serving their country.
On March the 22nd Congress acted a resolve to commute Continental officers' half pay for life to full pay for five years.
Whereas the officers of the several lines under the immediate command of his Excellency General Washington, did, by their late memorial transmitted by their committee, represent to Congress, that the half-pay granted by sundry resolutions, was regarded in an unfavourable light by the citizens of some of these states, who would prefer a compensation for a limited term of years, or by a sum in gross, to an establishment for life; and did, on that account, solicit a commutation of their half pay for an equivalent in one of the two modes above-mentioned, in order to remove all subject of dissatisfaction from the minds of their fellow-citizens: and whereas Congress are desirous, as well of gratifying the reasonable expectations of the officers of the army, as of removing all objections which may exist in any part of the United States, to the principle of the half pay establishment, for which the faith of the United States hath been pledged; persuaded that those objections can only arise from the nature of the compensation, not from any indisposition to compensate those whose services, sacrifices and Sufferings, have so just a claim title to the approbation and rewards of their country:
Therefore, Resolved, That such officers as are now in service, and shall continue therein to the end of the war, shall be entitled to receive the amount of five years' full pay in money, or securities on interest at six per cent. per annum, as Congress shall find most convenient, instead of the half pay promised for life, by the resolution of the 21 day of October, 1780; the said securities to be such as shall be given to other creditors of the United States, provided that it be at the option of the lines of the respective states, and not of officers individually in those lines, to accept or refuse the same; and provided also, that their election shall be signified to Congress through the Commander in Chief, from the lines under his immediate command, within one month two months, and through the commanding officer of the southern army, from those under his command, within three six months from the date of this resolution.[lxiv]
On March 24th, to save money, they recalled all Continental ships on cruise. Congress spent the remainder of the month debating the report on the public credit and discussing how to best oversee the office of finance.[lxv]
In April Congress ordered the suspension of enlistments in the Continental Army. On the 4th they began debates on the public credit and later revised U.S. Dollar quotas to ease the monetary crisis. On April 11th President Boudinot signed a cease-fire proclamation ending military hostilities with Great Britain.
|President Boudinot signed a cease-fire proclamation - image courtesy of the Library of Congress|
On April 15th, after much deliberation on the debt concession to the loyalists, President Boudinot signed the Preliminary Treaty of Peace and a week later authorized Washington to discharge Continental troops. Robert Morris, with peace assured, sought to leave his office as Superintendent of Finance but on April 28 President Boudinot prevailed upon him to continue until the reduction of the Continental Army was complete.[lxvi] Morris who sought to return to "Morrisania" where his mother's claims against the British under the Treaty amounted to $8,000 pounds agreed to stay on through the military monetary crisis.
On May 1 Elias Boudinot directed the secretary at of war to negotiate a cease-fire with hostile Native American nations and resolves:
Resolved, That no person or persons, citizens of these United States, or any particular State in the union in their separate capacity, can or ought to purchase any unappropriated lands belonging to the Indians without the bounds of their respective states, under any pretense whatsoever.[lxvii]
On May 19 - 20 Boudinot presided over a heated debate of the treaty article requiring the restitution of confiscated loyalist property. On May 26th to avoid the problem of dismissing a standing underpaid Army, furloughs were freely granted to many soldiers with no intention of requesting they return. The soldiers, eager to visit home, disbanded and dispersed all over the thirteen States without any pandemonium or disorder. The crisis of not paying the Army was tactically averted. Ramsay, in his 1789 account of the incident reports:
The privates generally betook themselves to labor and crowned the merit of being good soldiers, by becoming good citizens. Several of the American officers, who had been bred mechanics, resumed their trades. In old countries the disbanding a single regiment, even though fully paid, has often produced serious consequences, but in America where arms had been taken up for self-defense, they were peaceably laid down as soon as they became unnecessary. As soldiers had been easily & speedily formed in 1775, out of farmers, planters, and mechanics, with equal ease and expedition in the year 1783, they dropped their adventitious character, and resumed their former occupations. [lxviii]
Secretary for Foreign Affairs Robert Livingston resigned in early June. This required President to act as Secretary for Foreign Affairs until the appointment of John Jay in March 1784. During this period, the papers of the Department of Foreign Affairs remained locked, sealed, and inaccessible with the President doing minimal Secretary Duties. The foreign relations were managed wholly by Congress, upon reports of special committees.[lxix]
On June 21st, Continental troops in Lancaster grew desperate to receive long overdue back pay. They mutinied and marched to Philadelphia with some 300 under arms from that city’s barracks joining them as they surrounded Independence Hall where the both the Pennsylvania Executive Council and the USCA were in separate sessions. The mutineers demands were made in very dictatorial tones to Congress and the President that “…unless their demand were complied with in twenty minutes, they would let in upon them the injured soldiery, the consequences of which they were to abide.”[lxx]
Boudinot sought the help of the Pennsylvania Assembly, also in session, in Independence Hall. The President requested they call out the Pennsylvania Militia but that body refused believing the state soldiers would only join the mutineers escalating the hostage crisis. Word had been sent to Major General Arthur St. Clair:
The mutinous soldiers presented themselves, drawn up in the street before the State House, where Congress had assembled. The executive Council of the State sitting under the same roof, was called on for the proper interposition. President Dickinson came in, and explained the difficulty under actual circumstances, of bringing out the militia of the place for the suppression of the mutiny. He thought that without some outrages on persons or property, the temper of the militia could not be relied on. Genl St. Clair then in Philadelphia was sent for, and desired to use his interposition, in order to prevail on the troops to return to the Barracks. His report gave no encouragement.
In this posture of things, it was proposed by Mr. Izard that Congress, should adjourn. It was proposed by Mr. Hamilton, that General St. Clair in concert with the Executive Council of the State should take order for terminating the mutiny. Mr. Reed moved that the General should endeavor to withdraw the troops by assuring them of the disposition of Congress to do them justice. … In the meantime the Soldiers remained in their position, without offering any violence, individuals only occasionally uttering offensive words and wantonly pointed their Muskets to the Windows of the Hall of Congress. No danger from premeditated violence was apprehended, but it was observed that spirituous drink from the tippling houses adjoining began to be liberally served out to the Soldiers, & might lead to hasty excesses. [lxxi]
St. Clair, along with Delegate Alexander Hamilton went out amongst the mutineers and listened to their grievances and demands that were relayed to President Boudinot. Congress refused to negotiate and ordered the General to march the soldiers to back to their barracks. [lxxii] Congress adjourned and proceeded out of Independence Hall led by Major General Arthur St. Clair. “Soldiers, though in some instances offering a mock obstruction, permitted the members to pass through their ranks.”[lxxiii]
President Boudinot on June 23rd wrote his brother requesting his aid to protect Congress in what would be the new Capitol of the United States.
My dear Brother Philada. 23 June 1783 -- I have only a moment to inform you, that there has been a most dangerous insurrection and mutiny among a few Soldiers in the Barracks here. About 3 or 400 surrounded Congress and the Supreme Executive Council, and kept us Prisoners in a manner near three hours, tho' they offered no insult personally. To my great mortification, not a Citizen came to our assistance. The President and Council have not firmness enough to call out the Militia, and allege as the reason that they would not obey them. In short the political Maneuvers here, previous to that important election of next October, entirely unhinges Government. This handful of Mutineers continue still with Arms in their hands and are privately supported, and it is well if we are not all Prisoners in a short time. Congress will not meet here, but has authorized me to change their place of residence. I mean to adjourn to Princeton if the Inhabitants of Jersey will protect us. I have wrote to the Governor particularly. I wish you could get your Troop of Horse to offer them aid and be ready, if necessary, to meet us at Princeton on Saturday or Sunday next, if required.[lxxiv]
A committee, with Alexander Hamilton as chairman, waited on the State Executive Council to insure the Government of the United States protection in Philadelphia so Congress could convene the following day. Elias Boudinot, however, received no pledge of protection by the Pennsylvania militia and ordered an adjournment of the USCA on June 24th to Princeton, New Jersey. This was the last time the Confederation Congress would convene in Pennsylvania.
The President issued and released this Proclamation to the Philadelphia newspapers explaining the USCA’s move to Princeton:
|Elias Boudinot signed Presidential Proclamation moving the Seat of Government to Princeton, NJ. |
Imaged courtesy of Stan Klos
A Proclamation. Whereas a body of armed soldiers in the service of the United States, and quartered in the barracks of this city, having mutinously renounced their obedience to their officers, did, on Saturday this instant, proceed under the direction of their sergeants, in a hostile and threatening manner to the place in which Congress were assembled, and did surround the same with guards: and whereas Congress, inconsequence thereof, did on the same day resolve, " That the president and supreme executive council of this state should be informed, that the authority of the United States having been, that day, grossly insulted by the disorderly and menacing appearance of a body of armed soldiers, about the place within which Congress were assembled; and that the peace of this city being endangered by the mutinous disposition of the said troops then in the barracks, it was, in the opinion of Congress, necessary, that effectual measures should be immediately taken for supporting the public authority: and also, whereas Congress did at the same time appoint a committee to confer with the said president and supreme executive council on the practicability of carrying the said resolution into due effect; and also whereas the said committee have reported to me, that they have not received satisfactory assurances for expecting adequate and prompt exertions of this state for supporting the dignity of the federal government ; and also whereas the said soldiers still continue in a state off open mutiny and revolt, so that the dignity and authority of the United States would be constantly exposed to a repetition of insult, while Congress shall continue to fit in this city; I do therefore, by and with the advice of the said Committee, and according to the powers and authorities in me vested for this purpose, hereby summon the Honorable the Delegates composing the Congress of the United States, and every of them, to meet in Congress on Thursday the 26th of June instant, at Princetown, in the state of New Jersey, in order that further and more effectual measures may be taken for suppressing the present revolt, and maintaining the dignity and authority of the United States; of which all officers of the United States, civil and military, and all others whom it may concern, are desired to take notice and govern themselves accordingly.
President Boudinot chose Princeton for the seat of government because he was a former resident, a Trustee of the College of New Jersey, and his wife was from a prominent Princeton Stockton family. Additionally, Princeton was located approximately midway between New York and Philadelphia and the College of New Jersey had a building large enough in which the USCA could assemble.
National Collegiate Honor’s Council Partners in the Park Independence Hall Class of 2017 at the Benjamin Franklin Museum. Sydney Cannon is holding Presidential Proclamation issued on June 24, 1783 by USCA Elias Boudinot that moves the Seat of Government from Philadelphia to Princeton, New Jersey due to a military mutiny. The proclamation appears as a a full front page printing in the Connecticut Journal dated Wednesday, July 9, 1783, New Haven, CT, which was printed by Thomas and Samuel Green. – For more information visit our National Park and NCHC Partners in the Park Class of 2017 website
Several historians maintain that the USCA first convened at Colonel George Morgan’s House, named Prospect when they first assembled in Princeton. I was unable to find any record of their commencement in the 1784 USCA Journals, delegate letters, period newspapers and magazines at Morgan’s house. Princeton University Varnum Collins, however, makes a compelling case that the USCA did assemble at Prospect:
The evidence favoring the view that “Prospect” was the scene of the opening meetings is more compelling in its strength. Congress had come to Princeton hastily and apparently without making any effort to ascertain definitely the practical accommodations of the village. Mr. Boudinot may have had Nassau Hall in his mind as a meeting place at the outset; but when Colonel Morgan, who was well acquainted in Congress, stated in his letter of the 25th that one of his buildings contained “a better room for them to meet in” than the members could be “immediately accommodated with elsewhere.” Mr. Boudinot probably accepted the offer as at least a temporary arrangement. Furthermore in the list of available accommodations issued in October by the citizens of Princeton, Colonel Morgan announces his willingness to have “the Congress Room” in his house fitted up for winter use if desired. It is difficult to explain this designation of any room at “Prospect” unless a previous occupation of it by Congress had given it a right to that title. Finally it is noted in a memorandum book of Charles Thomson, Secretary of Congress, that the sheet of paper bearing the record of the distribution of ten sets of the Journal was lost “in removing the Office from the House of Col. Morgan to the College.” Unfortunately, this record is dated merely “1783;” but when half of the rooms in Nassau Hall were vacant it is altogether improbable, considering the close relation existing between the Secretary of Congress and that body itself, that he should have used Colonel Morgan's house as an office if Congress were sitting in Nassau Hall. It is easier to believe that he moved his belongings over to the college building because Congress was moving also. We may, then, take it for granted that the first three meetings (June 30th, July 1st and 2d) were held in Colonel Morgan's house and that thereafter the sessions were held in the college building, in the library room presumably, except on state occasions, when they were held in the prayer-hall. The library-room which had been stripped by the British was on the north side of the second floor over the main entrance, and was about thirty by twenty-four feet in size.[lxxv]
Additionally, Princeton University’s website on the Prospect House states:
Prospect House owes its name to the stone farmhouse first constructed on the site in the mid-18th century by Colonel George Morgan, western explorer, U.S. Agent for Indian Affairs and gentleman farmer. The superb eastern view from that farmhouse prompted Colonel Morgan to name his estate "Prospect." Morgan’s estate, a popular stopping of place in Revolutionary times, was visited by such diverse groups as a delegation of Delaware Indians, 2,000 mutinous soldiers of the Pennsylvania Line and the Continental Congress. When Prospect was acquired in 1849 by John Potter, a wealthy merchant from Charleston, S.C., he replaced the colonial structure with the present mansion.[lxxvi]
University’s Nassau Hall, therefore, served as the U.S. Capital Building from July 3, 1783 to November 4, 1783. The structure was built in 1756 at a cost of £2,900 for the College of New Jersey. Originally the brick-paved halls extended one hundred and seventy-five feet of what was the largest stone structure in the Colonies. In November, 1776, the British took possession of the building and used it as barracks and hospital but were briefly ejected by George Washington during the Battle of Princeton. After the war Nassau Hall, was found to be in great disrepair with “mostly bare partition walls and heaps of fallen plaster."[lxxvii] An Article in the New American Magazine of 1760 reported on the building:
There are three flat-arched doors on the north side giving access by a flight of steps to the three separate entries (an entry refers here to the hallway on each floor running the full length of the building). At the center is a projecting section of five bays surmounted by a pediment with circular windows, and other decorations. The only ornamental feature above the cornice, is the cupola, standing somewhat higher than the twelve fireplace chimneys. Beyond these there are no features of distinction.
The simple interior design is shown in the plan, where a central corridor provided communication with the students' chambers and recitation rooms, the entrances, and the common prayer hall; and on the second floor, with the library over the central north entrance. The prayer hall was two stories high, measured 32 by 40 feet, and had a balcony at the north end which could be reached from the second-story entry. Partially below ground level, though dimly lighted by windows, was the cellar, which served as kitchen, dining area (beneath the prayer hall), and storeroom. In all there were probably forty rooms for the students, not including those added later in the cellar when a moat was dug to allow additional light and air into that dungeon.[lxxviii]
For its regular sessions, the USCA met in Nassau Hall’s library room, which was located over the front entrance. For official dignitary occasions, it adjourned to the chapel on the main floor. The move of the capital from Philadelphia to the College of New Jersey was a boom for the Princeton economy.
It had leaped at a bound into national importance; from a “little obscure village” it had within the week “become the capital of America.” And where the “almost perfect silence” of a country hamlet was wont to reign, now nothing was “to be seen or heard but the passing and rattling of wagons, coaches and chairs.” To supply the metropolitan taste of Congressmen the produce of Philadelphia markets was brought up every week, with the result that the village street now echoed to the unfamiliar “crying about of pineapples, oranges, lemons, and every luxurious article both foreign and domestic.”[lxxix]
President Elias Boudinot, in the first session of the USCA brought Superintendent of Finance Robert Morris’ letter to the attention of Congress where he requested permission to return Philadelphia. Boudinot on June 30th wrote Morris that the USCA “had no objections to you returning to Philadelphia and resuming the business of your department. On this information I doubt not but that you will immediately proceed to the City accordingly.”[lxxx]
The USCA then turned to a resolution that was proposed by Alexander Hamilton ordering General Howe to march fifteen hundred troops to Philadelphia to disarm the mutineers and bring them to trial. The matter was sent to a committee. General Washington had already taken action and dispatched the troops in response to President Boudinot’s letter of the 21st requesting is aid. General Howe had already arrived just outside of Princeton that evening writing Commander-in-Chief Washington on the 1st “I arrived yesterday with the Troops within four Miles of this Place where they will halt until twelve to Night.” The following day, the USCA resolved:
That Major General Howe be directed to march such part of the force under his command as he shall judge necessary to the State of Pennsylvania; and that the commanding officer in the said State he be instructed to apprehend and confine all such persons, belonging to the army, as there is reason to believe instigated the late mutiny; to disarm the remainder; to take, in conjunction with the civil authority, the proper measures to discover and secure all such persons as may have been instrumental therein; and in general to make full examination into all parts of the transaction, and when they have taken the proper steps to report to Congress.[lxxxi]
With the resolution in hand, Howe set out for Philadelphia. He spent the night of July 2nd encamped in Trenton and started crossing the Delaware River into Pennsylvania the following morning. Near Trenton Howe met with General St. Clair coming to Princeton and he updated the general on the situation. General St. Clair pressed on to Princeton and met with the President that evening. Boudinot wrote General Washington:
General S'. Clair is now here, and this moment suggests an Idea which he had desired me to mention to your Excellency, as a Matter of Importance in his View of the Matter in the intended Inquiry at Philadelphia.— That the Judge Advocate should be directed to attend the Inquiry — By this Means the Business would be conducted with most Regularity — The Inquiry might be more critical, and as several of the Officers are in Arrest, perhaps a Person not officially engaged, may Consider himself in an invidious Situation — It is late at Night, and no possibility of obtaining the Sense of Congress, and therefore your Excellency will consider this as the mere Suggestion of an individual & use your own Pleasure.[lxxxii]
George Washington, after receipt of the letter, ordered Judge Advocate Edwards to repair at once to Philadelphia.[lxxxiii]
The USCA resolution directing General Howe to move with the troops against the mutineers affronted General St. Clair and he regarded it as an attempt to supersede his command and undermine his negotiations. General St. Clair took it upon himself to write Congress the following letter:
[General Howe came to enquire into the conduct of the officers and Sergeants after the Mutiny that drove Congress from Philadelphia]
Sir, When I had the honour to wait upon you at Princetown I was pleased to find that General Howe had been ordered to Pennsylvania and at the same time I was flattered to hear, as I did, from several of the members of Congress that It was left at my discretion either to direct the enquiry into the late disorders amongst the troops this State, or leave it entirely to him. For though it was not more than had a right to expect it was a piece of attention that could not fail to be gratifying.
At the time I left Princetown I had determined to leave the matter entirely to General Howe, but upon selection finding myself in command in this state, having been called to it by the secretary at War previous to his departure for Virginia and that I had also been brought into view by Congress, it struck me that another officer taking up the business would have an odd appearance and must beget sentiments unfavorable to me. I therefore acquainted General Howe that I had understood the Resolution of Congress left me, at least an option. [struck out - "justify the appointment of a Junior Officer to carry into effect what a Senior had began"] I read the Resolution and understood it as he did that the business was to be conducted by him; but upon reconsidering it, the expressions I see will admit of another construction. I wish they had been more explicit on my own account, because if they had, there could have been no doubt about the line I should pursue, nor could there have been insinuations (underlined) to my prejudice. My conduct must have been either satisfactory to congress or not -- if not, the instances should have been pointed out, and I might have defended myself, but against an implied censure, there is no defence, and nothing in my opinion but incompetence or worse, can justify the appointment of a junior officer to carry into effect what a senior officer had began. On General Howe's because he might have found himself in a disagreeable circumstances from not fully comprehending the views of congress and my situation. I beg Sir I may not be misunderstood. I am not soliciting to be continued in command here. I have the highest respect for Congress but I owe something to myself also, and I have to declare to them in the most express terms, that I can take no farther command in the State and to require that they will please to direct the Secretary at War to order General Howe or some other officer to manage the business of dismissing the Pennsylvania line.* I have been long enough in publick life to know that there are injuries a man must bear they have and been so often repeated to me as to have rendered me callous, nor are the conversations that arise from them the less poignant that cooperation cannot be demanded. I have the honour to be sir, etc,.
*To General Howe I shall afford all the assistance I can and shall attend the court Martials as an evidence whenever I receive notice of its being convened.
President Elias Boudinot chose not to bring the letter before Congress replying:
I duly recd your favor of yesterday but conceiving that you had mistaken the Resolution of Congress, I showed it to Mr. Fitzsimmons and we have agreed not to present it to Congress, till we hear again from you. Congress were so careful to interfere one way or the other in the military etiquette, that we recommitted the Resolution to have everything struck out that should look towards any determination as to the Command, and it was left so that the Commanding officer be him who it might, was to carry the Resolution into Execution; and it can bear no other Construction. If on the second reading you choose your Letter should be read in Congress, it shall be done without delay.
I have the honour to be with Great respect
Your very Humble Servt
Elias Boudinot, President
P. S., You may depend on Congress having been perfectly satisfied with your conduct.
Boudinot undoubtedly trusted St. Clair’s judgment and spared him the embarrassment of making his letter known to Congress. William Henry Smith, the complier of Arthur St. Clair’s Papers concludes his chapter on this incident stating:
Before this force could reach Philadelphia, St. Clair and the Executive Council had succeeded in quieting the disturbance without bloodshed. The principal leaders were arrested, obedience secured, after which Congress granted a pardon. The resolution directing General Howe to move with the troops, gave offense to General St. Clair, who regarded it as an attempt to supersede him in his command. Thereupon, he addressed a sharp letter to the President of Congress, who very considerately refrained from laying it before that body. Explanations followed, showing that St. Clair had misconstrued the order, and peace prevailed once more.[lxxxv]
|Elias Boudinot signed to Major General Arthur St. Clair regarding the USCA flight to Princeton - |
Image courtesy of Stan Klos
The USCA now turned to other issues that were pressing on their agenda. Finding money for the payment and disbandment of the army was paramount to USCA business to avoid further mutinies. The finalization of the Preliminary Treaty of Peace with Great Britain also presented more monetary challenges due to merchant and Tory reparations required in the settlement. The selection of a permanent federal residence for the government also became important with the USCA being outset out of Philadelphia by its own military. Additionally, with peace around corner the States reasserted their sovereign rights even challenging those granted to the USCA under the Articles of Confederation. The USCA was entitled to requisition money from the States to carry on central governments functions established under the constitution. The requisitions required proportional assumptions of national debt and budgets to be meted out fairly to the States. Rarely did the States comply often complaining that they had no delegates present during the treasury sessions of the USCA. It was no wonder that the delegates convened and worked until lunch on the 4th of July. Professor Collins writes of the celebration:
It began at 1 o'clock in the afternoon with a salute of thirteen guns fired on the front campus. Then the oratorical contest between the two representatives of the college literary societies, the Cliosophic and the American Whig, took place in the college chapel. The orators were Ashbel Green, representing the American Whig Society, who spoke on "The Superiority of a Republican Form of Government," and Gilbert Tennent Snowden of the Cliosophic Society, the subject of whose oration is not known. Both of the speakers were seniors. After the intellectual feast was over, it would have been entirely contrary to precedent if the company had not adjourned to the Sign of the College or to Hudibras Inn to do justice to the punch that Christopher Beekman and Jacob Hyer always prepared for their guests on Independence Day. At six o'clock President Boudinot welcomed to a banquet at "Morven" between seventy and eighty guests, among whom were the members of Congress, the French Minister M. de la Luzerne, the faculty of the College, the two undergraduate orators of the day and prominent gentlemen of the town and neighborhood. After dinner President Boudinot proposed the usual thirteen toasts, each of which was accompanied by a discharge of artillery. Later in the evening there was a display of fireworks on the front campus, a feature so successful that it was repeated the next night.[lxxxvi]
There were, of course, many other matters obviously demanding attention, as, for instance, the foreign relations of the United States, the relations with the Indians, and in particular, the inadequacy of the Articles of Confederation to the new era; but these questions had not the special claims of urgency and of prominence gained from recent events that made the others the chief bones of contention during the rest of the summer.
The USCA remained in Princeton for only four months and very little of great importance had been decided while it was there. Attendance in Congress was often very low, "much of the time no more than six states represented.”[lxxxvii] On October 31, 1783, in the final days of Boudinot’s presidency, Peter John van Berckel presented his credentials as the minister representing the Netherlands. The USCA was mortified over the fact that he was received in such an out of the way farm town without a Robert Livingston’s office to properly greet him, James Madison wrote Governor Edmond Randolph on October 13th:
Mr. Van Berkel arrived a few [days ago]. Congress are in a charming situation to receive him, [being] in an obscure village, undetermined where they will spend the Winter, and without a Minister of F.A
The event was a success, facilitated perhaps by information provided just prior to the ceremony that the treaty between the United States and Great Britain had been signed on September 3, 1783. The treaty document was signed at the Hotel d'York located at 56 Rue Jacob, by John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and John Jay (representing the United States) and David Hartley (a member of the British Parliament representing the British Monarch, King George III). Henry Laurens, however, headed for the south of France when the negotiations were finalized in late August to spend time with his brother. Consequently, he was not present for the signing which, occurred on September 3, 1783 only five days after his departure. John Adams writes to Abigail the day after the signing:
I have the Satisfaction to inform you that the definitive Treaties were all signed yesterday, and the Preliminaries with Holland were signed the day before. Ours is a simple repetition of the provisional Treaty. So we have negotiated here, these Six Months for nothing. ... Dr. Franklin has fallen down again with the Gout and Gravel. He is better, and has been to Versailles and Paris, but he breaks visibly. Mr. Laurens , has a Brother declining, so that he will go to the south of France, until he knows his brother's fates I Shall go to Holland and stay some time. I may be called to Paris again, and may take a tour to England. Write me, prudently, by any way. If my health was firm, I could bear the uncertainties of Life better. [lxxxviii]
It is curious that a patriot who played a crucial role in the negotiation of the Treaty, suffered many indignities of war including losing a son and being imprisoned in the Tower of London would not remain a few more days to sign such a historic manuscript as the Treaty of Paris. Here, at the very least, is an example of one truly being his brother’s keeper.
On September 3, Britain also signed separate agreements with France and Spain, and (provisionally) with the Netherlands.
Treaty of Paris: Treaty of Paris Signed by John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and John Jay Commissioners of the United States in Congress Assembled on September 3, 1783 -- Courtesy of the National Archives [lxxxix]
In early October the USCA took up the matter for selecting a “permanent residence” for the seat of the federal government. Specifically the USCA were considering their options including the Legislature of New Jersey’ offer of federal jurisdiction over any district within the State to the extent of twenty miles square, and to grant £30,000 in specie for the purchase of lands and the erection of buildings. The resolutions also invited the inhabitants of New Jersey desiring the national capital in their particular locality to transmit their proposals to their USCA representatives. The inhabitants of Lamberton in Nottingham Township were among those who presented to USCA the advantages of their specific locality.
On October 6, 1783, when Congress took up the question “in which State buildings shall be provided and erected for the residence of Congress; beginning with New Hampshire and proceeding in the order in which they stand,” each State was successively negated. On October 7th Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts motioned “that buildings for the use of Congress be erected on the banks of the Delaware near Trenton, or of the Patowmack, near Georgetown, provided a suitable district can be procured on one of the rivers as aforesaid, for a federal town.”[xc] Amendments left only the names of the rivers and it was finally resolved that the site should be “That the place on the Delaware for erecting buildings for the use of Congress, be near the falls,”[xci] that is, near Trenton on the Jersey side, or in Pennsylvania on the opposite side. Congress further resolved:
That a committee of five be appointed to repair to the falls of Delaware, to view the situation of the country in its neighbourhood, and report a proper district for carrying into effect the preceding resolution: the members, Mr. Gerry, Mr. S. Huntington, Mr. Peters, Mr. Duane, Mr. Clark.[xcii]
The question now resolved itself into a dispute between New England, which favored Trenton, and the Southern States who sought a capital at near Georgetown on the Potomac River. Accordingly, on October 8, 1783, the Southern members supported a motion to reconsider the proceedings of the previous day:
… re-consider the resolution of yesterday, by which the residence of Congress is to be fixed near the falls of Delaware, in order to fix on some other place that shall be more central, more favourable to the Union, and shall approach nearer to that justice which is due to the southern states. And on the question to re-consider the resolution of yesterday, by which the residence of Congress is to be fixed near the falls of Delaware.[xciii]
This motion failed, as did other amendments, and the selection of Trenton or its immediate vicinity as the next U.S. Capitol appeared to be an accomplished fact. On the thirteenth of October, 1783, Madison wrote to Governor Edmund Randolph:
Trenton was next proposed, on which question the votes were divided by the river Delaware . . . . The vicinity of the falls is to become the future seat of the Federal Government, unless a conversion of some of the Eastern States can be effected. [xciv]
The continued opposition to a northern capital continued and it led to a compromise, proposed by Elbridge Gerry, and was adopted by Congress on October 21, 1783.
And that until the buildings to be erected on the banks of the Delaware and Potomac shall be prepared for the reception of Congress, their residence shall be alternately at equal periods of not more than one year, and not less than six months in Trenton and Annapolis; and the President is hereby authorized and directed to adjourn Congress on the 12th day of November next, to meet at Annapolis on the 26th of the same month, for the despatch of public business.[xcv]
This Act moved Francis Hopkinson, of Bordentown, to write an article entitled “Intelligence Extraordinary.” Hopkinson wrote that This miraculous pendulum is to vibrate between Annapolis, on the Chesapeake, and Trenton, on the Delaware; a range of about 180 miles. [xcvi]
During the course of these discussions the citizens of Trenton called a town meeting at French Arms to “formulate attractive conveniences” to induce the members of Congress to adjourn to their city rather than Annapolis. Rooms and board were offered to the members of Congress by many of Trenton’s most influential citizens, and “Good Hay in any quantity” was promised.[xcvii] In spite of these inducements, Congress adjourned from Princeton, November 4, 1783, to meet at Annapolis on the twenty-sixth of the same month. At Annapolis the question of the federal capital was again reopened, but no definite action was taken.
Two days before adjourning General Washington issued his farewell orders, in the most endearing language. After giving them his advice respecting their future conduct, and bidding them an affectionate farewell, Washington concluded with these patriotic words:
"May ample justice be done them here, and may the choicest of Heaven's favours, both here and hereafter, attend those, who under the divine auspices have secured innumerable blessings for others. With these wishes, and this benediction, the commander in chief is about to retire from service; the curtain of separation will soon be drawn, and the military scene, to him, will be closed forever." [xcviii]
With a great strain on the federal government's treasury the USCA had managed four months wages towards, on average, four years of back pay rightfully due the army. The example of George Washington and this USCA payment to the troops, though a trifling ten percent of the monies due, enabled these brave men to peacefully disperse into all 13 states. The Commander-in-Chief, as stated when he took command eight years earlier, sought and accepted no compensation for his services during the entire revolutionary war effort.
The term of President Boudinot was now at an end needing only to address, once again, postal theft and yet executing another resolution to call on improving Delegate attendance. The USCA Journals report this chronology of the Boudinot Presidency:
November 4 Convenes new Congress; elects Elias Boudinot president. November 7 Orders Washington to free Charles Asgill. November 8 Requests British officials to continue investigation of the death of Joshua Huddy. November 12 Renews appointment of Thomas Jefferson as peace commissioner. November 14 Debates report on Vermont's seizure of New York citizens. November 18 Appoints Thomas Barclay commissioner to settle the accounts of Continental officials abroad. November 19 Adopts new rules for carrying out the reorganization of the Continental Army. November 20 Debates Pennsylvania petitions on providing for the state's public creditors. November 21 Debates salaries of officials abroad. November 25-26 Debates propriety of exchanging Henry Laurens for Earl Cornwallis. November 27 Orders seizure of two Vermonters reported to be in correspondence with the enemy.
December 3 Accepts resignation of secretary for foreign affairs. December 4 Grants John Paul Jones' request to serve with French navy. December 5 Censures Vermont officials; appoints appeals court judges. December 6 Directs superintendent of finance to exhort states to comply with fiscal quotas; appoints deputation to go to Rhode Island to secure ratification of impost amendment. December 11 Authorizes hiring out of prisoners of war. December 12 Receives Rhode Island explanation of rejection of impost amendment. December 13 David Howell acknowledges authorship of published letter violating congressional secrecy rules. December 16 Adopts response to Rhode Island's rejection of impost amendment. December 17 Reaffirms determination to send deputation to Rhode Island. December 21 Postpones resignation of secretary for foreign affairs; grants secretary leave of absence. December 24 Amends Post Office ordinance to extend franking privilege. December 25-26 Observes Christmas. December 31 Instructs peace commissioners to seek commercial reciprocity with Britain.
1783-- January 1 & 2 Thanks France for military aid and naval protection. January 3 Records Trenton trial decree in Connecticut Pennsylvania boundary dispute (first settlement of interstate dispute under Articles of Confederation) January 6 Receives army petition on pay arrears; appoints committees to inquire into the management of the executive departments. January 7 Debates setting exchange rate for redeeming old Continental emissions. January 10 Learns that superintendent of finance has over drawn bills of exchange on "the known funds procured in Europe"; army deputation meets with grand committee on Continental Army grievances. January 13 Debates expediency of negotiating additional foreign loans. January 14 Acquiesces in Rhode Island delegates' request to share intelligence from abroad with state's officials; debates land valuation formula in grand committee. January 17 Thanks General Greene and the southern army; declares inexpediency of seeking additional foreign loans. January 21 Receives U.S.-Dutch treaty negotiated by John Adams. January 22 Ratifies Franco-American contract negotiated by Benjamin Franklin. January 23 Ratifies Dutch treaty. January 24 Orders investigation of abuses of flag of truce by the Amazon; rejects report recommending establishment of a library for Congress. January 25 Directs the superintendent of finance to pay the Continental Army. January 27-31 Debates proposals for funding the public debt. January 30 Rejects Pennsylvania proposal to pay interest due on Continental securities owned by its own citizens.
|Elias Boudinot signed to Dutch Treaty - |
Image courtesy of Library of Congress
February 4 Receives Vermont remonstrance against threatened Continental intervention. February 4-8 Debates proposals for funding the public debt and setting state quotas. February 10-14 Debates proposals for funding the public debt and setting state quotas. February 17 Adopts plan to appoint commissioners for estimating land values and setting state quotas. February 18 Orders superintendent of finance to estimate the public debt, and each executive department to report a comprehensive civil list. February 21 Exhorts states to maintain their representation in Congress. February 25-28 Debates proposals for commutation of Continental officers' half pay.
March 4 Amends ordinance "for establishing courts for the trial of piracies." March 6-7 Receives report on funding the public debt. March 10 Debates commutation of Continental officers' half pay. March 11 Debates revenue proposals. March 12 Receives the preliminary treaty of peace. March 12-15 Reads treaty and foreign dispatches. March 17 Receives Washington's report on the army crisis at Newburgh. March 18 Debates report on the public credit. March 19 Debates proposal to censure ministers for ignoring negotiating instructions. March 20-21 Debates report on the public credit. March 22 Adopts resolve to commute Continental officers' half pay for life to full pay for five years. March 24 Recalls all Continental ships on cruise. March 27-28 Debates report on the public credit. March 29 Rejects proposal for increasing congressional oversight of the office of finance. March 31 Renews committee for overseeing the office of finance.
April 1 Recommends that states revise formula for setting Continental quotas; learns of call for an economic convention at Hartford; receives invitation to locate Continental capital in Kingston, N.Y. April 4 Orders suspension of enlistments in Continental Army; debates report on the public credit. April 7 Revises Continental quotas. April 11 Adopts cease-fire proclamation. April 15 Ratifies preliminary treaty of peace. April 17 Orders sale of Continental horses. April 18 Asks states for authority to levy revenue duties. April 23 Authorizes Washington to discharge Continental troops. April 24 Directs Washington to confer with Gen. Guy Carleton on the evacuation of New York. April 26 Adopts Address to the States on new revenue plan. April 28 Requests Robert Morris to continue as superintendent of finance until the reduction of the Continental Army. April 30 Rejects motion to hold debates in public.
May 1 Directs secretary at war to negotiate cease-fire with hostile Indian nations; authorizes American ministers to negotiate treaty of commerce with Great Britain. May 2 Appeals to states for collection of taxes for payment of discharged troops; recommends that states adopt copyright laws for protection of authors. May 9 Asks states to convene assemblies to adopt fiscal recommendations. May 15 Revises rules to appoint committees by secret ballot. May 19-20 Debates treaty article on restitution of confiscated loyalist property. May 22 Instructs Francis Dana on negotiating treaty with Russia. May 26 Instructs American ministers on peace terms concerning evacuation of American posts and carrying off of American slaves; instructs Washington on furloughing Continental troops. May 29-30 Debates treaty articles on British debts and loyalist property.
June 2 Appoints Oliver Pollock commercial agent to Cuba. June 4 Debates Virginia cession of western land claims; refers offers to locate the Continental capital at Kingston, N.Y., or Annapolis, Md., to the states (to be debated October 6). June 10 Receives report of the mutiny of a troop of Virginia dragoons. June 11 Directs furlough of Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia troops. June 12 Instructs American ministers on avoiding treaties of armed neutrality. June 13 Receives "mutinous memorial" from Continental Army sergeants. June 17 Commends the conduct of business in the office of finance. June 19 Receives notice of the mutiny of Continental troops at Carlisle; appoints committee to confer with Pennsylvania officials on the mutiny. June 20 Debates Virginia cession of western land claims. June 21 Confronts mutineers of the Pennsylvania Line; authorizes president to reconvene Congress at Trenton or Princeton, NJ. June 21 President Boudinot issues proclamation reconvening Congress at Princeton. June 30 Reconvenes at Princeton, NJ.
July 1 Directs Gen. Robert Howe to suppress mutiny; adopts report explaining congressional response to the mutiny. July 2 Thanks New Jersey officials for their reception of Congress. July 9-11 Debates proposals for paying arrears due Continental troops. July 16 Orders recall of commissioners investigating British embarkations from New York; directs Secretary Thomson to maintain record of unrepresented states. July 23 Receives Philadelphia address inviting Congress' return. July 28 Returns noncommittal response to Philadelphia address; directs General Washington to attend Congress; relieves General Howe's detachment ordered to suppress Pennsylvania mutiny. July 29 Ratifies treaty of amity and commerce with Sweden. July 30 Directs superintendent of finance to publish regulations for receiving "Morris notes" in payment of taxes.
August 1 Rejects motion to adjourn to Philadelphia. August 6 Authorizes distribution of "necessities" to Delaware Indians and friendly "northern nations." August 7 Orders preparation of "an equestrian statue of the Commander in Chief." August 9 Authorizes furloughing additional Continental troops and continuation of subsistence for Hazen's Canadian regiment. August 13-14 Debates motion for returning to Philadelphia. August 15 Receives proceedings of the court-martial of the Philadelphia mutineers. August 18 Directs superintendent of finance to report estimate of the Continental debt. August 26 Conducts audience with General Washington. August 28 Debates ordinance for prohibiting settlement of Indian lands.
September 1 Receives Pennsylvania Assembly resolves for returning to Philadelphia. September 10 Orders renewal of committees to oversee the executive departments. September 13 Adopts stipulations concerning the cession of Virginia's western land claims; confirms acquittal of leaders of the Philadelphia mutiny. September 16-19 Debates Massachusetts' call for retrenchment of Continental expenses. September 22 Adopts proclamation regulating the purchase of Indian lands. September 24 Adopts secret order authorizing Washington to discharge Continental troops "as he shall deem proper and expedient." September 25 Reaffirms commitment to commutation of half pay claims; proclaims treaty with Sweden; debates report on federal jurisdiction over site of congressional residence. September 29 Lifts injunction of secrecy on most foreign dispatches. September 30 Promotes Continental officers not promoted since 1777.
October 1 Debates instructions for ministers abroad. October 3 Debates Indian affairs. October 6-9 Debates location of the Continental capital. October 8 Receives Quaker petition for suppression of the slave trade. October 10 Resolves to leave Princeton; debates location of the capital. October 15 Adopts resolves regulating Indian affairs. October 17 Debates location of the capital. October 18 Adopts Thanksgiving proclamation. October 21 Adopts two capital locations-Congress to meet alternately "on the banks of the Delaware and Potomac." October 22 Orders distribution of the peace treaty to the states. October 23-24 Debates peacetime military arrangements. October 27-28 Fails to convene quorum. October 29 Adopts instructions for negotiating commercial treaties. October 30 Authorizes Pennsylvania to negotiate Indian lands purchase. October 31 Ratifies fiscal contract with France; holds audience with Dutch minister van Berckel.
November 1 Orders Post Office theft inquiry; adopts rules to improve congressional attendance. November 3 Convenes new Congress; elects Thomas Mifflin president (elects Daniel Carroll chairman in the president’s absence). November 4 Authorizes discharge of the Continental Army-"except 500 men, with proper officers. "Adjourns to Annapolis, to reconvene the 26th.
After the Presidency, Boudinot resumed his law practice. In 1788, after the ratification of the constitution, he was elected to the first, second, and third congresses, serving from March 3, 1789, until March 3, 1795. He was appointed by Washington in 1795 to succeed Rittenhouse as Director of the United States Mint in Philadelphia, holding the office for ten years.
Elias Boudinot passed the rest of his life at Burlington, New Jersey, and devoted his retirement years to the study of biblical literature. He had amassed a modest fortune and chose philanthropy in his later years as a permanent endeavor. Boudinot was a trustee of Princeton College and in 1805 endowed it with a collection of natural history, valued then at $3,000. In 1812 he was chosen a member of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, to which he gave £100 in 1813.
He assisted in founding the American Bible Society in 1816, was its first president, and gave that organization $10,000. He was interested in attempts to educate Native Americans, and when three Cherokee youths were brought to the foreign mission school in 1818, he allowed one of them to take his name. This boy became a man of great influence in his tribe. At the age of 25, this young Elias became the first editor of the bilingual English/Cherokee newspaper, Cherokee Phoenix that had begun publication in the Cherokee Nation East in 1828. Cherokee Elias Boudinot was a signer of the Treaty of New Echota, which ceded Native American Lands to Georgia leading to the “Trail of Tears.” On June 10th, 1838 Cherokee Boudinot was assassinated along with two others by Native Americans west of the Mississippi for their support of the controversial Treaty.
President Elias Boudinot died on October 24, 1821 at the age of 81. He is buried at Saint Mary's Episcopal Churchyard in Burlington, New Jersey and his tombstone reads:
Here lies the remains of the honorable Elias Boudinot, L.L.D. His life was an exhibition of fervent piety of useful talent and extensive benevolence. His death was the triumph of Christian Faith the consummation of hope, the dawn and pledge of endless felicity. To those who knew him not no word can paint and those who knew him know all words are paint. Mark the perfect man and behold the upright for the end of that man is peace.
[i] Varnum Lansing Collins, "The Continental Congress at Princeton" Princeton University Library: Princeton, New Jersey, 1908, p 37. Hereinafter referred to as Collins.
[ii] Annis Boudinot Stockton, edited by Carla Mulford. Only for the Eye of a Friend: The Poems of Annis Boudinot Stockton. (University Press of Virginia: Charlottesville, 1995).
[iii] In 1896, the college officially changed its name from the College of New Jersey to Princeton University.
[iv] Fingal King Of Morven, Knight- Errant, A. Donaldson, London: 1764
[v] Jane J. Boudinot, editor, The life, public services, addresses and letters of Elias Boudinot, LL.D. President of the Continental Congress, Volumes I & II, Houghton Mifflin and Company, Boston, 1896, pages 27, hereinafter, Life of Elias Boudinot.
[vi] Ibid, pages 27-28,
[vii] Life of Elias Boudinot, p.24,
[viii] Larry R. Gerlach, Editor, New Jersey in the American Revolution, 1763-1783: A Documentary History, The Committee of Correspondence of the New Jersey Assembly to the Boston Committee of Correspondence, May 31, 1774, http://slic.njstatelib.org/NJ_Information/Digital_Collections. Hereinafter referred to as: New Jersey in the American Revolution: Title of the online document.
[ix] Stephen Crane (1709 – July 1, 1780) was a prominent politician Essex county who served as sheriff, Elizabethtown committeeman (1750), a judge of the court of common pleas (1766 to 1773), NJ Colonial Assemblyman (1766-1773) and as speaker in 1771. He was also mayor of Elizabethtown and later became a delegate to the Continental Congress from 1774 to 1776. He opposed separation from Great Britain which caused the NJ’s Provincial Congress, of which he was a member, to replace their entire delegation in June 1776.
[x] New Jersey in the American Revolution: The Essex County Resolves on the Boston Port Act, June 11, 1774
[xi] Proceedings of the Continental Congress, communicated to the House by the Delegates, Proceedings of the Congress unanimously approved, Delegates to the Congress to meet in May next, appointed, The Delegates instructed to Disagree to any Proposition in the Congress to give some Colonies more Votes in the determination of Questions to bind the whole, than to others, American Archives, Documents of the American Revolution, January 24, 1775 to the Continental Congress; Kinsey, James; Livingston, William; Crane, Stephen; De Hart, John. Hereinafter referred to as the American Archives:
[xii] New Jersey in the American Revolution: Elias Boudinot to the Morris County Committee, April 30, 1775
[xiii] New Jersey in the American Revolution: The New Jersey Provincial Association, May 31, 1775
[xiv] American Archives, New-Jersey, Provincial Congress, Letter to the Continental Congress May 25, 1775
[xv] American Archives, Elias Boudinot letter to Lord Stirling, Newark, New-Jersey, March 17, 1776
[xvi] William Wallace Atterbury D.D., Elias Boudinot: Reminiscences of The American Revolution, New York, 1894, p 12, Hereinafter referred to as Elias Boudinot: Reminiscences
[xvii] New Jersey in the American Revolution: Elias Boudinot, "Thoughts on the present State of American Affairs, " June 11, 1776
[xviii] American Archives, Five Delegates elected to represent the Colony in Continental Congress, Instructions to the Delegates, Saturday, June 22, 1776
[xix] John Marshall, The life of George Washington: commander in chief of the American forces, during the war which established the independence of his country, and first president of the United States, Volume 1, James Cristy, Philadelphia, 1836, note on p. 26. Hereinafter referred to as The Life of Washington.
[xx] “Commissary General.” .Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789, ed. Worthington C. Ford et al. (Washington, D.C., 1904-37), 19:137, June 6, 1777. Future references will be to JCC, 1774-1789.
[xxi] Life of Elias Boudinot, page 72
[xxii] Elias Boudinot: Reminiscences, pages 27-28
[xxiii] Life of Elias Boudinot, page 75
[xxiv] Elias Boudinot: Reminiscences, page 29
[xxv] Elias Boudinot to John Stevens, July 23, 1781, LDC 1774-1789
[xxvi] Elias Boudinot to Hannah Stockton Boudinot, July 29, 1781, LDC 1774-1789
[xxvii] Elias Boudinot to Elisha Boudinot, August 12, 1781, LDC 1774-1789
[xxviii] Journals of the USCA, August 21, 1781
[xxix] In 1764 King George III established the boundary between New Hampshire and New York along the west bank of the Connecticut River, north of Massachusetts, and south of 45 degrees north latitude. New York, however, refused to recognize the towns created by land grants and sold by New Hampshire Governor Benning Wentworthland as titles known as the New Hampshire Grants. Dissatisfied colonists organized and On January 15, 1777, representatives of the New Hampshire Grants declared the independence of the Republic of New Connecticut. On June 2, 1777, a second 72 delegates convention met in Windsor renaming the statethrough the adoption of new constitutionon July 8, 1777. The constitution was the first written national constitution drafted in North America, the first to prohibit slavery and the first giving all adult males, not just property owners, the right to vote. One month later a combined American force, under General Stark's command, attacked the British column at Hoosick, New York, just across the border from Bennington, Bermont. The army, which included the Green Moutain Boys, killed or captured virtually the entire British detachment. General Burgoyne never recovered from this loss and eventually surrendered the remainder of his 6,000-man force at Saratoga, New York, on October 17. Vermont continued to govern itself as a sovereign entity based in the eastern town of Windsor for fourteen years. Throughout the 1780s, the USCA failed to acknowledge Vermont as a separate state independent of New York.
[xxx] Elias Boudinot to William Livingston, August 25, 1781, LDC 1774-1789
[xxxi] John Nagy Editor - Pennsylvania Gazette 1728-1800 on-line publication by Accessible Archives, September 5, 1781, Malvern, PA, - http:www.accessible.com
[xxxii] Thomas McKean to George Washington , September 15, 1781, LDC 1774-1789
[xxxiii] Elias Boudinot to William Livingston, September 29, 1781, LDC 1774-1789
[xxxiv] The Life of Elias Boudinot, pages 234-237
[xxxv] Elias Boudinot to John Stevens, November 5, 1781, LDC 1774-1789
[xxxvi] The Life of Elias Boudinot, page 213.
[xxxvii] Sanders, Jennings B., The Presidency Of The Continental Congress 1774-1789; A Study in American Institutional History, Gloucester, MA Peter Smith 1971 p 24
[xxxviii] Ibid, page 63
[xxxix] Ibid, John Jay to Robert Livingston, November 17, 1782.
[xli] Adams, John. John Adams diary 35, 26 October - 17 November 1782. Folded sheets, first leaf serves as cover (22 pages). Original manuscript from the Adams Family Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society. Page 2
[xlii] Ibid, page 10
[xliii] Adams, John. Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, 8 November 1782. 4 pages. Original manuscript from the Adams Family Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society
[xliv] Wharton, Francis, ed, The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States, John Adams to Robert Livingston, November 21, 1782.
[xlv] Jones, Thomas, Floyd De Lancey, History of New York During the Revolutionary War: And of the Leading Events, New York Historical Society: 1879, pages 329-300
[xlvi] Adams, John. John Adams diary 37, 22 - 30 November 1782. Stitched sheets without covers (23 pages, 1 additional blank page). Original manuscript from the Adams Family Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society, page 3.
[xlvii] Ibid, page 7
[xlviii] Smith, Paul H., ed. Letters of Delegates to Congress, The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence --J. Adams' Journal of Peace Negotiations, November 28 and 29, 1782.
[xlix] Wilson, James Grant and John Fiske, Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography; D. Appleton and company, 1888, page 410
[l] Smith, Paul H., ed. Letters of Delegates to Congress, Alexander Hamilton to John Jay, July 25. 1783
[li] Madison, James, The Papers of James Madison, J. & H. G. Langley, 1841, page 518
[lii] Fitzmaurice, Edmond, George Petty and William Petty Lansdowne, Life of William, Earl of Shelburne, Afterwards First Marquess of Landsdowne: With Extracts from His Papers and Correspondence, Published by Macmillan, 1876, page 170
[liii] Smith, Paul H., et al., eds. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774-1789. 25 volumes, Elias Boudinot to George Washington December 11,. 1782, Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1976-2000).
[liv] Journals of the United States in Congress Assembled, Postal Franking Privilege, December 24,, 1781
[lv] Letters of Delegates to Congress, James Madison’s Notes, January 6, 1783
[lvi] Rufus Putnam (April 9, 1738–May 4, 1824) French and Indian War military officer, Revolutionary War general, Northwest Territory judge and first Surveyor General of the United States.
[lvii] Neu, Irene D., Background of the Ohio Company of Associates, Manuscripts and Documents of the Ohio Company of Associates, Special Collection, Marietta College Library.
[lviii] Ibid, January 23, 1783
[lix] Ibid, February 24, 1783
[lxi] Sparks, Jared The Writings of George Washington, American Stationers' Company, John B. Russell, 1835, page 558
[lxii] Ford, Worthington Chauncey and Washington, George, The writings of George Washington, Volume 10, G.P. Putnam' Sons, 1891 page 170
[lxiii] Sparks, Jared, The Writings of George Washington, American Stationers' Company, John B. Russell, 1835, pages 564-65.
[lxiv] Journals of the United States, in Congress Assembled, March 22, 1783
[lxv] Journals of the United States, in Congress Assembled, March 24, 1783.
[lxvi] Ibid, April 11-28, 1783.
[lxvii] Ibid, May 1, 1783
[lxviii] Ramsay, David, The History of the American Revolution, Published - James J. Wilson, Trenton: 1811 page 415
[lxix] Burnett, Letters, VII, 192. pp. 269-270, 461; Journal, XXVI, 49-50, 64-65, 104-105. According to Gaillard Hunt, "Lewis R. Morris, the first Under-Secretary of the Department, had been left by Livingston in charge of the Department's business, but Congress gave him no authority to act, so he soon left the office.”
[lxx] Smith, William Henry and Arthur St. Clair, The St. Clair Papers: The Life and Public Services of Arthur St. Clair : Soldier of the Revolutionary War, President of the Continental Congress; and Governor of the North-western Territory : with His Correspondence and Other Papers, Published by R. Clarke, 1882, page 114
[lxxi] Journals of the United States in Congress Assembled, Saturday June 21, 1783
[lxxii] Opt Cit, Page 116
[lxxiii] Journals of the United States in Congress Assembled, Saturday June 21, 1783
[lxxiv] Smith, Paul H., et al., eds. Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774-1789. Elias Boudinot to Elisha Boudinot June 23, 1783, 25 volumes, Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1976-2000)
[lxxv] Collins, Varnum Lansing, The Continental Congress at Princeton, The University library, 1908, pages 57-58
[lxxvi] Princeton University, Prospect House History, March 15, 2012, http://www.princeton.edu/prospecthouse/history.html
[lxxvii] Collins, Varnum Lansing, Princeton, Oxford University Press, New York: 1914, page 82
[lxxviii] Savage, Henry L., ed., Nassau Halls, 1756-1956, published by Princeton University, September 22, 1956.
[lxxix] The Continental Congress at Princeton, page 57 with quotes references to H. C. Alexander, Life of J. A. Alexander, Vol. I, p. 16, being letter of Ashbel Green, a senior in college, to his father, July 5th, 1783. Also Independent Gaxttteer, November 1st, 1783.
[lxxx] Letters of the Delegates, Elias Boudinot to Robert Morris, June 30, 1783
[lxxxi] Journals of USCA, July 1, 1783
[lxxxii] Letters of the Delegates, Boudinot to Washington July 3, 1783
[lxxxiii] Letters of Washington, General Orders, July 7, 1783
[lxxxiv] Boudinot, Elias, Original Manuscript, Klos Western Collection, July 9, 1783
[lxxxv] The St. Clair papers, Volume I, page 115
[lxxxvi] The Continental Congress at Princeton, page 73
[lxxxvii] Burnett, The Continental Congress, op. cit.,p. 580
[lxxxviii] Adams, John. Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, 4 September 1783. 3 pages. Original manuscript from the Adams Family Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society
[lxxxix] Treaty of Paris, original Manuscript, September 3, 1783, National Archives of the United States
[xc] Journals of the United States in Congress Assembled, Tuesday October 7, 1783
[xciii] Journals of USCA, Wednesday October 9, 1783
[xciv] Madison Papers, Vol. 1, p. 576.
[xcv] Journals of USCA, Tuesday October 21, 1783.
[xcvi] Hastings, George Everett, The life and works of Francis Hopkinson, by George Everett Hastings. Chicago, Ill., The University of Chicago press 1926 page 151
[xcvii] The Papers, Continental Congress, No. 78, Vol. XXII, pp. 283-6.
[xcviii] Fitzpatrick, John C. Editor. The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript George Washington to Continental Army Farewell Orders, November 2, 1783, Rock Hill, New Jersey.
The Congressional Evolution of the United States of America
Continental Congress of the United Colonies Presidents
Continental Congress of the United States Presidents
July 2, 1776 to February 28, 1781
202-239-1774 | Office
202-239-0037 | FAX
Dr. Naomi and Stanley Yavneh Klos, Principals
Continental Congress of the United Colonies Presidents
Sept. 5, 1774 to July 1, 1776
September 5, 1774
October 22, 1774
October 22, 1774
October 26, 1774
May 20, 1775
May 24, 1775
May 25, 1775
July 1, 1776
Commander-in-Chief United Colonies & States of America
George Washington: June 15, 1775 - December 23, 1783
Continental Congress of the United States Presidents
July 2, 1776 to February 28, 1781
July 2, 1776
October 29, 1777
November 1, 1777
December 9, 1778
December 10, 1778
September 28, 1779
September 29, 1779
February 28, 1781
Presidents of the United States in Congress Assembled
March 1, 1781 to March 3, 1789
March 1, 1781 to March 3, 1789
March 1, 1781
July 6, 1781
July 10, 1781
July 10, 1781
November 4, 1781
November 5, 1781
November 3, 1782
November 4, 1782
November 2, 1783
November 3, 1783
June 3, 1784
November 30, 1784
November 22, 1785
November 23, 1785
June 5, 1786
June 6, 1786
February 1, 1787
February 2, 1787
January 21, 1788
January 22, 1788
January 21, 1789
Presidents of the United States of America
D-Democratic Party, F-Federalist Party, I-Independent, R-Republican Party, R* Republican Party of Jefferson & W-Whig Party
(1881 - 1881)
*Confederate States of America
Chart Comparing Presidential Powers - Click Here
United Colonies and States First Ladies
United Colonies Continental Congress
18th Century Term
Elizabeth "Betty" Harrison Randolph (1745-1783)
09/05/74 – 10/22/74
Mary Williams Middleton (1741- 1761) Deceased
Elizabeth "Betty" Harrison Randolph (1745–1783)
05/20/ 75 - 05/24/75
05/25/75 – 07/01/76
United States Continental Congress
07/02/76 – 10/29/77
Eleanor Ball Laurens (1731- 1770) Deceased
11/01/77 – 12/09/78
Sarah Livingston Jay (1756-1802)
12/ 10/78 – 09/28/78
Martha Huntington (1738/39–1794)
09/29/79 – 02/28/81
United States in Congress Assembled
Martha Huntington (1738/39–1794)
03/01/81 – 07/06/81
Sarah Armitage McKean (1756-1820)
07/10/81 – 11/04/81
Jane Contee Hanson (1726-1812)
11/05/81 - 11/03/82
Hannah Stockton Boudinot (1736-1808)
11/03/82 - 11/02/83
Sarah Morris Mifflin (1747-1790)
11/03/83 - 11/02/84
Anne Gaskins Pinkard Lee (1738-1796)
11/20/84 - 11/19/85
11/23/85 – 06/06/86
Rebecca Call Gorham (1744-1812)
06/06/86 - 02/01/87
Phoebe Bayard St. Clair (1743-1818)
02/02/87 - 01/21/88
Christina Stuart Griffin (1751-1807)
01/22/88 - 01/29/89
Constitution of 1787
April 30, 1789 – March 4, 1797
March 4, 1797 – March 4, 1801
Martha Wayles Jefferson Deceased
September 6, 1782 (Aged 33)
March 4, 1809 – March 4, 1817
March 4, 1817 – March 4, 1825
March 4, 1825 – March 4, 1829
December 22, 1828 (aged 61)
February 5, 1819 (aged 35)
March 4, 1841 – April 4, 1841
April 4, 1841 – September 10, 1842
June 26, 1844 – March 4, 1845
March 4, 1845 – March 4, 1849
March 4, 1849 – July 9, 1850
July 9, 1850 – March 4, 1853
March 4, 1853 – March 4, 1857
March 4, 1861 – April 15, 1865
February 22, 1862 – May 10, 1865
April 15, 1865 – March 4, 1869
March 4, 1869 – March 4, 1877
March 4, 1877 – March 4, 1881
March 4, 1881 – September 19, 1881
January 12, 1880 (Aged 43)
June 2, 1886 – March 4, 1889
March 4, 1889 – October 25, 1892
June 2, 1886 – March 4, 1889
March 4, 1897 – September 14, 1901
September 14, 1901 – March 4, 1909
March 4, 1909 – March 4, 1913
March 4, 1913 – August 6, 1914
December 18, 1915 – March 4, 1921
March 4, 1921 – August 2, 1923
August 2, 1923 – March 4, 1929
March 4, 1929 – March 4, 1933
March 4, 1933 – April 12, 1945
April 12, 1945 – January 20, 1953
January 20, 1953 – January 20, 1961
January 20, 1961 – November 22, 1963
November 22, 1963 – January 20, 1969
January 20, 1969 – August 9, 1974
August 9, 1974 – January 20, 1977
January 20, 1977 – January 20, 1981
January 20, 1981 – January 20, 1989
January 20, 1989 – January 20, 1993
January 20, 1993 – January 20, 2001
January 20, 2001 – January 20, 2009
January 20, 2009 to date
Capitals of the United Colonies and States of America
Sept. 5, 1774 to Oct. 24, 1774
May 10, 1775 to Dec. 12, 1776
Dec. 20, 1776 to Feb. 27, 1777
March 4, 1777 to Sept. 18, 1777
September 27, 1777
Sept. 30, 1777 to June 27, 1778
July 2, 1778 to June 21, 1783
June 30, 1783 to Nov. 4, 1783
Nov. 26, 1783 to Aug. 19, 1784
Nov. 1, 1784 to Dec. 24, 1784
New York City
Jan. 11, 1785 to Nov. 13, 1788
New York City
October 6, 1788 to March 3,1789
New York City
March 3,1789 to August 12, 1790
Dec. 6,1790 to May 14, 1800
November 17,1800 to Present
Book a primary source exhibit and a professional speaker for your next event by contacting Historic.us today. Our Clients include many Fortune 500 companies, associations, non-profits, colleges, universities, national conventions, PR and advertising agencies. As a leading national exhibitor of primary sources, many of our clients have benefited from our historic displays that are designed to entertain and educate your target audience. Contact us to learn how you can join our "roster" of satisfied clientele today!
Hosted by The New Orleans Jazz Museum and The Louisiana Historical Center
Hosted by The New Orleans Jazz Museum and The Louisiana Historical Center
A Non-profit Corporation
A Non-profit Corporation
Primary Source Exhibits
727-771-1776 | Exhibit Inquiries
202-239-1774 | Office
202-239-0037 | FAX
Dr. Naomi and Stanley Yavneh Klos, Principals
Primary Source exhibits are available for display in your community. The costs range from $1,000 to $35,000 depending on length of time on loan and the rarity of artifacts chosen.
|U.S. Dollar Presidential Coin Mr. Klos vs Secretary Paulson - Click Here|
The United Colonies of North America Continental Congress Presidents (1774-1776)
The United States of America Continental Congress Presidents (1776-1781)
The United States of America in Congress Assembled Presidents (1781-1789)
The United States of America Presidents and Commanders-in-Chiefs (1789-Present)
The United States of America Continental Congress Presidents (1776-1781)
The United States of America in Congress Assembled Presidents (1781-1789)
The United States of America Presidents and Commanders-in-Chiefs (1789-Present)
Post a Comment
Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.