DISBANDING THE ARMY.
WASHINGTON presented the rightful claims of the “patriot army”* with a warmth and energy which never but this once appear in his communications to congrese; and his words gained intenser power from his disinterestedness. To a committee on which were Bland and Hamilton, he enforced, by every consideration of gratitude, justice, honor, and national pride, the “universal” expectations of the army, that, before their disbanding, they should receive pay for at least one month in hand, with an absolute assurance in a short time of pay for two months more. “The financier will take his own measures, but this sum must be procured. The soldier is willing to risk the hard-earned remainder due him for four, five, perhaps six years upon the same basis of security with the general mass of other public creditors.”†
“The expectations of the army,” answered Hamilton, “are moderation itself.”‡ But, after a week’s reflection, Morris, who had already written to congrese “our public credit is gone,”# replied to the committee that the amount of three months’ pay was more than all the receipts from all the states since 1781; that there was no resource but the issue of paper notes in anticipation of revenue.∥
* Washington to congrese, 18 March 1783. Sparks, viii., 396–399.
† Washington to Bland, 4 April 1783.
‡ Hamilton to Washington, 11 April 1783. Letters to Washington, iv., 17.
# Diplomatic Correspondence, xii., 342.
∥ R. Morris to Hamilton, 14 April 1783. Diplomatic Correspondence, xii., 846.