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Whipple William

Declaration Signer William Whipple Signs a Document about Resupplying the Army

Manuscript document signed "Wm. Whipple", 2 pages, dated November 11, 1778, measuring 7.25" x 12", countersigned by Gouverneur Morris and Nathanial Scudder.

Just a day prior to this circular letter, the Continental Congress appointed William Whipple, Gouverneur Morris, and Nathaniel Scudder to a special committee to oversee the commissary and quartermaster departments, which were chafing under supply chain problems. The committee sent this circular letter to all of the state governors, and, in this case, Continental Congress President Henry Laurens. The committee insists that the state executives understand the impracticability of continuing the war, at least of continuing it to advantage, while we remain supremely ignorant of the Supplies our Country is capable of affordingwhile urging vigilance against the graft and fraud that had previously plagued the supply chain.

In full: 

"Circular Philadelphia 11th November 1778;In Committee of Congress; Sir;

The great & increasing difficulties in the Quarter Masters & Commissary Generals Departments, have induced Congress to adopt the Resolution, of which we have the Honor to enclose you a Copy. Among the measures immediately necessary for placing [these] matters on a proper foundation, is the acquiring a knowledge of the proper resources of these States. The Articles of consumption which we would most particularly be informed of, are Flour, Wheat, Rye, Barley, Oats, Corn & Rice, Beef, Pork, working Oxen & Horses, Cyder & Vinegar. The Ignorance & the Interests of mankind oppose so strongly our wishes in this respect, that after every Effort & every prudent precaution, our information will perhaps be of far less importance than could be wished. It is however our Duty to aim at it, and we have no reason to doubt your Excellency’s Concurrence in the Steps necessary to attain what we have in view: Especially when it is considered, how readily your own good Sence will dictate, the impracticability of continuing the war, at least of continuing it to advantage, while we remain supremely ignorant of the Supplies our Country is capable of affording.

We have to intreat that your Excellency, from your knowledge of the productions of the several parts of your State, would appoint some proper persons in whose Industry & Secrecy you can confide, to make proper Lists through the districts you shall severally allott to them, of the Quantity & number of such of the Articles above named, as are produced in it, which may probably be over & above the necessary consumption of the Inhabitants, and also as nearly as possible the Quantity &c which they consume over and above their own production, or of what they do not produce. We hope that these lists may be transmitted to us, with all convenient Speed, to the End that proper Arrangements may immediately be made for the ensueing Campaign. Upon transmitting an Account of the Expenses which may accrue in this Business, they shall immediately be paid. You will perceive Sir, that every precaution should be taken to prevent this Object from transpiring, lest as on many former Occasions the Devoted Adherents of Lucre should make a gain of the Publick Distresses.

We are respectfully Your Excellency’s most Obt & Humble Servants  Nath.l Scudder Gouv Morris W.m Whipple"

William Whipple (1730-1785) signed the Declaration of Independence as a representative to the Continental Congress from New Hampshire. He was a ship’s captain and established himself as a merchant in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He also served in the provincial congress, New Hampshire House of Representatives, Committee of Safety. He became a brigadier general in the New Hampshire state militia and led successful campaigns against British General Burgoyne in the Battles of Stillwater and Saratoga. In 1778, he successfully led New Hampshire troops in the Battle of Rhode Island. He later was named associate justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court.

Gouverneur Morris (1752-1816) was born in Westchester County, New York, in what is now part of the Bronx. He was a member of New York’s revolutionary provincial congress (1775-1777) served in the militia, drafted New York’s state constitution along with John Jay and Robert Livingstone, and joined the local Committee of Safety. From 1777-1778 he served in the Continental Congress and signed the Articles of Confederation before losing reelection in 1779. He was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia and played a major role there, giving 173 speeches (more than any other delegate), writing the document’s Preamble, and helping write the final draft, and signing the Constitution. He later served as minister to France (1792) and as a U.S. Senator.

Nathaniel Scudder (1733-1781) was a physician who served New Jersey as a delegate to the provincial congress and later the Continental Congress, where he signed the Articles of Confederation. He was also a member of the county Committee of Safety, the militia, and the New Jersey Legislative Council and General Assembly.

Another copy of this circular, addressed to the Governor of North Carolina, sold at Sotheby’s in 2010 for over $18,000.

Condition: Very good. The text is somewhat light though entirely legible; our scans provide an accurate picture. Professional archival restorations at folds, infill with loss of one word. Small holes.


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