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Not having seen or heard of any resolve of Congress for establishing the principles of promotion in the army, I am apprehensive that the report of the committee, who had this matter under consideration, is now sleeping in Congress. This, and a recent instance in the Pennsylvania regiment of artillery in proof of the absolute necessity of adopting some mode, by which the whole army may be bound, and a stop thereby be put to those disputes, which keep it in a continual state of distraction and discontent, are the reasons for my troubling you again on this subject, and praying that some decision may be come to by Congress. It is much easier to avoid disagreements, than to remove discontents ; and I again declare, that if my differing in sentiment from the opinions of the committee in some points has been the occasion of delay, I would, rather than have the matter lie over a moment, yield a free assent to all their propositions ; for any principle is better than none. I also wish, though this is more a matter of private than public consideration, that the business could be taken up on account of Mr. Tilghman, whose appointment seems to depend upon it ; for, if there are men in the army deserving the commission proposed for him, he is one of them.
This gentleman came out a captain of one of the light infantry companies of Philadelphia, and served in the flying camp in 1776. In August of the same year he joined my family, and has been in every action in which the main army was concerned. He has been a zealous servant and slave to the public, and a faithful assistant to me for nearly five years, a great part of which time he refused to receive pay. Honor and gratitude interest me in his favor, and make me solicitous to obtain his commission. His modesty and love of concord placed the date of his expected commission at the 1st of April, 1777, because he would not take rank of Hamilton and Meade, who were declared aids in order (which he did not choose to be) before that period, although he had joined my family, and done all the duties of one, from the 1st of September preceding.
My public letters to Congress will have informed you of the situation of this army, and I have no scruple in giving it as my decided opinion, that, unless a capital change takes place soon, it will be impossible for me to maintain our posts, and keep the army from dispursing.
The resolution of Congress to appoint ministers of war, foreign affairs, and finance, gave, as far as I was able to learn the sentiments of men in and out of the army, universal satisfaction. Postponing the first, delaying the second, and disagreeing about the third, have had the directly contrary effect ; and I can venture to assure you, not from random guess or vague information, that the want of an able financier, and of a proper plan for the disposition of foreign loans, will be a greater bar to the obtaining of them than perhaps Congress are aware. I could say more on this subject, were I at liberty ; but I shall only add, that there is not in my opinion a moment to be lost in placing a proper character at the head of our finance, that he may as soon as possible enter upon the duties of his office. I am, &,c.
- George Washington
- The Writings of George Washington Being His Correspondence, Addresses, Messages, and Other Papers, Official and Private, Selected and Published from the Original Manuscripts. Vol VIII, Jared Sparks, 1839