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Collection Reference Number GLC02437.01959
From Archive Folder The Henry Knox Papers [0054] 14-28 February 1783 
Title Alexander McDougall to Henry Knox reporting the decision of Congress regarding soldiers' pay and pensions
Date 27 February 1783
Author McDougall, Alexander (1732-1786)  
Recipient Knox, Henry  
Document Type Correspondence; Military document
Content Description Written by General McDougall under the alias "Brutus" to Major General Knox, lamenting Congress's refusal to pay the army and fund pensions for the officers. Says the motion was declined by Congress "for fear the States would consider it a design in Congress to Establish a Force to awe the States. What conduct will be taken towards the Army on a pace is now very uncertain." Says Congress is fearful that the army might take justice into its own hands. Reports "I should not be surprised if an attempt is soon made to split the Army into detachments to prevent their being formidable." Believes that if this happens, half-pay will not be given. Says the states are more concerned about paying down their debts than funding pensions. Says only 7 states can be relied upon for the measure. Says that New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and New Jersey are against it, while Georgia is not represented, Delaware has new delegates, and Maryland is only offering questionable support. Says the goal is to divide the army to avoid making large payments. Says he does not know what type of advice to offer at this point. Mentions the King's speech, but says all other references to peace are vague and contradictory. Claims the balance of evidence is for peace though. Says many letters have recently been miscarried. Stamped "FREE'" on address leaf.
Subjects Newburgh Conspiracy  Revolutionary War  Revolutionary War General  Military History  Continental Army  Continental Congress  Congress  Soldier's Pay  Finance  Pension  Petition  Government and Civics  Mutiny  Rebellion  Debt  Economics  Global History and Civics  Treaty  
Place written Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Theme The American Revolution; Government & Politics; Creating a New Government; Foreign Affairs
Sub-collection The Henry Knox Papers
Additional Information For information on the identity of Brutus see Richard H. Kohn, "The Inside History of the Newburgh Conspiracy: America and the Coup d'Etat," William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 27, no. 2 (April 1970), 187-220. A footnote on page 197 says that Mary-Jo Kline noted that McDougall tried to mask his handwriting in the body of the letter, but not in the address leaf. She compared it to another McDougall letter, which is now GLC02437.01933, to identity the writer. She could have also noted that both letters use the same slightly blue-tinted paper.
Copyright The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History
Module Settlement, Commerce, Revolution and Reform: 1493-1859
Related documents Further letter from Alexander McDougall to Henry Knox concerning half-pay pensions for officers  Letter from Henry Knox to Benjamin Lincoln discussing the threat of disbanding the army before a pay settlement  Letter from Henry Knox to Alexander McDougall concerning soldiers' pay and Congress  
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