<br /> Lee Letter: n709

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Arthur Lee
Recipient: Congress

To the Honble. the Congress of the United States, The Memorial of
Arthur Lee

Your Memorialist desires to submit to the justice of Congress – that when
his Salary, as one of the Ministers of these United States, reported by
the Board of Treasury, was resolvd to be due to him, no order was made
for the payment of it, as has been done in the case of every other
Minister at foreign Courts, so that he coud obtain neither principal
nor interest, but only common Certificates acknowleging the debt &
promising payment. Your Memorialist begs leave to observe, that not
only foreign Ministers have been paid, but even Agents & Factors,
who had profits on large sums of public mony advanced to them, have
been also paid considerable Sums out of the invoices borrowd in France.

Your Memorialist presumes, that Congress will immediately perceive, that
his standing thus the sole object of neglect, not only deprives him of
what has been ascertaind as due for his Services, but seems to be a
mark of the displeasure of Congress, which he is far from conceiving he
has deservd.

He therefore submits to Congress, the justice of ordering the payment of
his Salary, with that of his Secretary, directed to be carried to his
credit by the Resolve of Augt. 4. 1781,2 in
the same manner as has been done, in the case of other foreign
Ministers; that such payment shall cancel the Certificates he has
receivd.

Your Memorialist woud have made this representation sooner, but that the
facts on which he ground it were not so fully known to him, & he
was informd by the Treasurers, that there were no means in their power
to pay him, or any other public Creditor.

Arthur Lee

Notes:

Manuscript, Papers of Continental Congress, item 41, U.S. National Archives
and Records Administration, Washington, D.C. Endorsed: “Memorial of
Arthur Lee, to be paid with interest the certificates given for the
balance due on accot. of his salary. July 12. 1782. Referred to Mr
Witherspoon, Mr Lowell, Mr Middleton.”

1 This day Lee presented a memorial to Congress requesting an order for
payment of his salary as a commissioner in Europe. See JCC,
22:386n.2. Congress had already acknowledged, the previous August,
that £2,238 sterling remained due to him and loan office
certificates payable in one year had been issued. Lee’s memoria; was
referred to a committee which submitted a report on July 18 that was
read the following day. Congress accepted the committee’s
recommendation that bills be drawn on Benjamin Franklin for the
amount due “with Interest from the Time of settling his Accounts,”
but added “that the Certificates given to Mr. Lee for that Ballance
be Canceled.” See PCC, item 137, 2:5 – 6; and JCC, 22:337 – 38, where the
report is erroneously entered under the date June 19. Although the
resolution was “referred to the Superint. of finance to take order,”
Robert Morris refused to act without another direct order of
Congress, fearing perhaps in view of the controversy over the
suspension of interest payments on loan office certificates that he
would be accused of favoring a member of Congress over other
certificate holders. It was not until November 14 that Morris sent a
report to Congress seeking authorization to exchange Lee’s
certificates for bills of exchange drawn on France, a request that
Congress approved on November 18. See JCC, 23:727 – 28; PCC, item
137,2: 1 – 4; and Morris, Papers (Ferguson), 6:507n.2. See also Charles
Thomson’s Notes of Debates, July 25, 1782.

2 Actually August 6, 1781, for which see JCC, 21:832 – 34.