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Statement to the Board of Treasury

Sources & Images
Source Name Image(s)
CollectionNational Archives and Records Administration: Manuscript File, RG93 view image
Document Information
Date September 3, 1787
Author Name John Pierce (primary) Location: New York
Recipient Name [not available]
Summary Statement to the Board of Treasury from the Commissioner of Army Accounts and Paymaster General regarding public monies, certificates, and other fiscal issues. Discusses Joseph Clay - Deputy Paymaster of the Southern Army - with the Board.
Document Format Autograph Draft Letter
Document Notes This document is not signed but is likely by John Pierce.
Content Notes [not available]
Related Persons/Groups John Pierce; Board of Treasury; Paymaster General; public; Congress; Joseph Clay; public; Quartermaster; Army; Southern Army; Deputy Paymaster; loan officer; Hopkins; Alexander; Russell; Comptroller of the Treasury; ;
Related Places New York; Richmond; Treasury; Virginia; Georgia; ;
Keywords money; approbation; misconduct; not arresting the man; paper money; no answer having been received; arrest; frank and candid account; no evidence whatever; disposing of the money; breach of trust; Act of Congress; receiving stolen goods; specie; accounts; receipt; never in my power; vouchers; Treasury Books; extra duty; principal army settlements; ;
Key Phrases [not available]

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New York September 3rd 1787
I feel the most sensible pain from the perusal of the letter from your honorable Board of the 24th ulto which missing me in Virginia, did not come to hand until yesterday. and I presume that when the information, which I now do myself the honor to communicate, is considered, that I shall be deemed as rather meriting approbation for the steps I have taken to secure the money referred to in that letter than as incurring any displeasure for misconduct in it and I hope that I shall not be found to be any further liable in point of consequence of my duty or Interest in consequence of my appointment as Paymaster general, to take any farther further steps to recover it. I am willing however to [undecipherable] and undergo any difficulties which [undecipherable crossed out words] this Board shall be pleased to direct [undecipherable].
I beg leave therefore in the first place to excuse myself for not arresting the man who, it is [undecipherable], was selling this money at Richmond; because a considerable time ago the loan officer there informed me it would be prejudicial to the Interest of the United States to make any noise respecting the paper money and who therefore at my solicitation wrote to your honorable Board requesting to know if it was your wish to arrest anyone on whom the least suspicion fell, or not, but no answer having been received [undecipherable] were left at a loss how to act in cases where the [undecipherable cross-out] request of an arrest for this purpose, founded on mere conjecture, would be more disadvantageous than the public would could be benefitted by it in this situation I found the man who sold this money, who gave me so frank and candid an account of his coming at it that I was convinced that Tho it was most probably the public's,
yet that he might have come honestly by it. Mr Hopkins however as he was the only confidential officer of Congress there, and he I consulted who was opinion as well as myself, that no benefit would arise by taking him up by the authority of the state as there was no evidence whatever against him [undecipherable cross-outs] that would hold could not be held him to bail, and that as the inconvenience already hinted at ought not to be sustained without the approbation of the Board, unless it was with more probability of our meeting with success in detecting the fraud. I considered Mr Alexander, or Russell, in disposing of the money as guilty only of a breach of Trust, and not as criminal in the legal sense of the action word; that the money which the purchaser received was as much money as the acts of congress and the legislatures can make it and that therefore he could not be considered as receiving stolen goods. but as actually in possession of a species of currency that was not to be identified any more than gold or silver. he would not therefore I suppose in law be obliged to be answerable for it to the public in any way, unless it appeared that he stole it from Russell. of which there was not even a suspicion.
In the next place, I take the liberty, [undecipherable cross-out] to state, that I do not consider myself as bound by any [undecipherable] Resolutions of congress or conduct of mine, to be answerable for this money to the public for which purpose I shall endeavor to prove that the deputy Paymasters acting prior to april 8th 1782 are responsible only to the public officers for their conduct, and in no way to me because
1st +
1st That they were appointed by Congress, and removable only by that body, and it is reasonable that the responsibility should rest where the appointment was made, and dependance was placed [undecipherable marginalia]
2ndy They were accountable to the comptroller of the Treasury under the act of September 11 1786 whose duty it was then made expressly to see to the punctual return of the public monies, and who has always considered it as his immediate Business to call on the Deputy Paymasters to account. If therefore it was his, it cannot be considered as my duty unless an express resolution of Congress should had directed it. * continue the 3d [line extends from this point to second asterisk]
1st +
[undecipherable]rdly That when the accounts of my immediate predecessor office were closed, he was not considered as any way accountable for the [undecipherable] he placed in the hands of his deputies, but received his final discharge for the same without reporting to the state of their accounts. - what was that which being deemed reasonable in his case must also be so in mine on which principle indeed my accounts have also long [undecipherable] been closed.

On consideration of the the particular circumstances in which this money has been involved, I presume also it will be found that I have executed every duty which could be possibly incumbent on me in consequence of my office for 1 in the first place, this money was committed into my hands by Congress for the express purpose of forwarding to the different departments, I therefore did my duty and discharged the obligation as far as it rested on me, by acting agreably to those directions. 2ndly That my consigning it to Joseph Clay was the only step I could take, as he was the only confidential officer whom the public had pointed out as the proper person to receive it -- 3dly That its being committed into the hands of the Quartermaster of the army instead of Mr Clay's was done by no act or knowledge of mine but by the direction of the General commanding in the department, which deposit was known soon after to Mr Clay as well as that it was for

his use, his right neglect to secure it for the benefit of the public, was not a fault of mine, but his, to whom it was directed.
4thly That the Tenor of the receipt made Mr Alexander to be accountable to Mr Clay or his order, and not to me; and therefore it it may be doubted whether if was ever in my power by virtue of my office to have got the money out of his hands, had I surmized that Mr Clay had not received it.
5thly That in the month of January 1782, I lodged all my accounts and vouchers with the comptroller of the Treasury which in august following were finally examined, and passed thro' the different offices and the amount of the money in Mr Alexanders hands carried to my credit as will appear by the registers certificate herewith, as this settlement was made, I flatter myself at a more early period than allmost any other public accountants, as it exhibited to the comptroller a full information of the monies which the deputies were accountable for, as it was his duty and not mine, to call them to account and as I am by it finally discharged from the Treasury Books. I presume the good sense and justice of the Board, will acquiesce in my opinion that I am altogether excused in point of Interest from being answerable any further accountable for these payments.
6thly That not long after the close of these accounts, I was [undecipherable] to an extra duty at camp which business took up my undivided attention from that time until the principal army settlements were concluded on my return from Georgia in June 1785, if therefore my inclination and regard for the public aeconomy made it my duty [undecipherable] interest to have occasioned me to watch over such public accountants
as might have been expected to have had public monies in their hands. [Text missing] my mind was not altogether employed in my office. yet during this period, I have an expectation that I shall be excused - for attending solely to my own duty, and neglecting in some measure that of others.
7thly That when I was in Georgia I called on Mr Clay and received his accounts to present to the comptroller for settlement and then was I first informed of the [undecipherable] he had neglected to draw from and left in Mr Alexanders hands. my immediate information to the Board and the different steps taken since that time, this [undecipherable] necessity for enumerating: it is sufficient to say that I believe the Board has received as information of this money, but from me, and that at this time your Board would have been otherwise altogether ignorant of it. I do not however wish to have it understood that I claim any amount for this conduct. it is my inclination only to discharge my duty to the public. my gratitude to that public for what I am [text missing] expectation for [undecipherable cross-out] future support are sufficient inducements to [undecipherable] in me the most ardent attention to this [undecipherable] Interest. nor do I wish to be understood as declining the directions of your Board, which I shall ever follow in this case as well as others with the most implicit difference; but I [undecipherable cross-out] hope [undecipherable cross-out] to be excused, when I signify my desire, that you the Board would not consider me as acting [undecipherable series of words] or as accountable for the money in any way whatever. I beg also that you will be pleased to reconsider the subjects with that impartiality and justice, which I have so often received from your hands, and under this [undecipherable] direct such officers as whose immediate duty it is, to [undecipherable] to the recovery of the money.
+ [undecipherable] with the certainty that there was no principal from of or propriety in apprehending this man I wrote to the Loan Officer at wrote to Charleston by different conveyances & took the liberty to address the Board, requesting that the Loan Officers of Carolina & Georgia might be instructed [undecipherable cross-out] to take immediate measures for [undecipherable cross-out] occurring [undecipherable] previous on whom a legal hold might have been [undecipherable], but I did not write to the board for orders on this subject particular occasion, but I was in a situation, in which I would not have [undecipherable] to their execution
[Marginalia, left vertical text] To the Board of Treasury Sep 9. 1787 Copied