Talbot County Courthouse [Md.]: Nov. 2, 1781.
One page. Folio. A Signer of the Declaration Tries to Feed the Army After Yorktown. In a blue half morocco and cloth clamshell case, spine gilt. Old fold lines. Document separated into two pieces along central horizontal fold. Light soiling. Good. Item #248011
Unsigned draft of a letter in the hand of William Paca - Maryland Signer of the Declaration of Independence - to Captain John Voorhees of the New Jersey Militia discussing the need for forage for cattle and flour for the Army. William Paca was a Maryland politician and lawyer who signed the Declaration of Independence and would go on to become the third governor of Maryland and later a federal judge. At the time this letter was written, Paca was sitting as a judge on the Court of Appeals for Admiralty and Prize Cases. In 1787, Paca declined to serve as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, and opposed the Constitution when it was made public because it lacked a Bill of Rights, though he would become a firm supporter of the federal government once the Bill of Rights was added.
In this letter, Paca writes to John Voorhees, Captain of the New Jersey militia, lamenting that he is not able to do more for the army by way of forage or supplies, but hoping that the current feeling of public spirit will be pervasive enough that the populace will be willing to assist the army. The Continental Army had won a decisive victory at Yorktown just two weeks before, which would be the last major battle of the American Revolution. He writes, "Surely on such an occasion as the present there must be public spirit enough to lend the state a little hay and pasturage for the support of a few cattel for a few days."
His letter reads, in full:
"Sir, We rec'd yours of the 25th and in answer thereto we can only say we wish it were in our power to enable you to fulfill your engagements for forage for cattle: we have had a small sum of hard money sent us for the special purpose of getting flour barrels, & therefore cant be applied to other purposes, which is far short of the sum wanted; we have requested Mr. Rd. Tilghman with whom we have lodged fifty pounds to pay you a proportion of it to satisfie as far as possible your contracts for flour barrels. If forage is wanted for cattle try all the means of persuasion to get it of the well affected: surely on such an occasion as the present there must be public spirit enough to lend the state a little hay & pasturage for the support of a few cattel for a few days [crossed out: but if persuasion will not do however painful and distressing it is to give the order we must nevertheless submit to the necessity of the case and direct you to seize such forage as the subsistence of the cattel requires]."
A nice letter, highlighting the perennial problem of supplying the Continental Army, written by a Signer of the Declaration of Independence.
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