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Robert Treat Paine Papers, Volume 4

From Henry Marchant
Marchant, Henry RTP
Philadelphia Sept. 19th. 1778 Dear Sir,

It is long since I had the Pleasure of Your Favour of the 2d. of June.1 I had some thoughts of pleading some Excuses for my Delay, but upon the whole, it is the shortest Way at least, to plead guilty and throw my self upon the Mercy of the Court.

I find there has been some Difference in Opinion upon the Resolution of Congress you refer to. The most prevailing I beleive has been against your Construction of it. Upon the present Instance however I should readily concur in giving up the Contl. Share to the Merits of the Captors.2 I cannot presume however what will be the Sentiments of the Court, or of Congress. Not knowing whether the Resolution of Congress respecting the allowance to be made the Comrs. appointed to enquire into the Causes of the failure of the Expedition against Rhode Island was ever transmitted to you, I enclose it to you—By which it appears we are refered to the Depu. Paymaster Genl. in the Eastern Department.

I mean to exhibit my Account for my Service only, noting that I have already recd. my Expences—And I mean to charge the same per Day as was allowed me by the State at that Time as a Delegate in Congress, viz five Dollars. I have also sent a like Copy to Mr. Ellsworth. He is expected here in a few Days—Nor are we without Hopes of seeing you this Fall.

Before this I dare say you have heard of the Fate of Stateing Bills, on Regulations of Prices.3 They all fell to the Ground—Thus you may see 52 the Weight & Influence of Monopolizers & Extortioners. The Necessity of such acts I only foresaw, and also the present Consequences from the non-complyance with Them—But some great State Polliticians will spin their Thread till it breaks. Had those Acts been carried into Execution—Millions would have saved—The Credit of the Money mainly supported, at least as far as further Emissions have tended to sink it.

I entirely agree with you Sir, that we have had, & still have more to fear from the Decay of publick & private Virtue, than from the Arms of Britain, with any possible Aids she might procure. This is an Evil that not only Congress, but every Legislature, ought immediately with Might & Main to pay their Attention to.

America would have had Peace before this Day had She deserved it; and I wish to God She was as ready for the Blessing, as Heaven is to grant it. It is to Miracles we are to ascribe Our present Situation—But appearances which strike with Wonder and Astonishment all Europe, are scarcely noticed by two many amongst ourselves. They Expect that Congress and Washington, have some magick Wands to raise, feed & cloath Armies with.

However that be, tis certain, that Thousands of vile Extortioners and devillish monopolizers rise up with more majick Arts & Spells to counteract every Attempt to give Strength and Vigour to our arms and accomplish the Blessings of Peace Liberty and Independence—To such Men as those, Tories are virtuous Men, and Britons & Hessians less unnatural.

I lament Sir the Failure of the Expedition agt. Rhode Island. I rejoice however that the Arms of America far from being sullied, have reaped Glorey & Honor in the Attempt. I resolve the Misfortune into the just Providence of God. Again I say Heaven knew we were not under proper Habits and Temper of Mind to receive the fulfillment of the Blessings, which yet I trust are reserved for this Land. I hope Time & Reflection will put the most candid construction upon the Conduct of the Count D. Staing.4 We may not Doubt of His Honor & Integrity, much less of the strongest Assurances we have of the Friendship of his Royal Master. I have not Room to add, unless I tire you with a new Sheet.

I am Dear Sir, your Friend & Servant, Hy: Marchant

RC ; addressed: “The Honorable Robert T. Paine Esqr. Boston State of Massachusetts Bay From Hy. Marchant.”; endorsed.

53 1.

Not located.


This perhaps refers to the congressional resolve of Feb. 3, 1778, authorizing the Committee of Commerce to recommend people as attorneys in the various states to claim Continental shares from libeled prizes (Journals of the Continental Congress, 10:112).


On June 4, 1778, Congress resolved to recommend to all states that they suspend or repeal any laws concerning the regulation of prices, “by a change of circumstances in the commerce of these states” (Journals of the Continental Congress, 11:569–570).


Charles Hector, Comte d’Estaing (1729–1794), the admiral whose leadership of the French fleet in the attempted attack on Newport and the siege of Savannah both ended in failure and recrimination. D’Estaing returned to France in 1780 and was guillotined during the French Revolution (American National Biography).