Philadelphia: December 9, 1784.
2pp., written on both sides of a single folio sheet, clipped portion of the original address panel mounted at lower edge on verso. Letter Between Two Founding Fathers in the Confederation Period. Minor foxing. Small tape repair along one fold Item #321444
"I received with great pleasure your kind congratulations on my return & shall be happy in every opportunity to express how much & how truly I value your obliging friendship. Your acceptance of a seat in Congress was an unexpected pleasure as I was informed you had utterly declined it. Indeed your long service might have entitled you to claim some indulgence, but it is the more generous in you to waive it & your experience now enables you to render more important service. I was appointed without my concurrence & with express leave to consult my private affairs which I must do to a considerable degree if Congress remains at Trenton. But the Gentleman in the Delegation conform so generally in sentiment with each other & with those interest where I particularly respect that I have the less concern on that head. You will find them men of principle & possessing good ideas of government as I think you approve. I had heard of the candidate for the treasury & think with you a better may be found. Mr. Pettit's talents lay in that line & he is a man of principle. Take him in temper, skill in accounts & real integrity. I do not think he has many superiors in this country. I do not know the value of the appointment but I believe he will accept it if the scale is not so parsimonious..."
Written in the brief period while the fifth Confederation Congress was meeting at French Arms Tavern in Trenton, New Jersey (Nov 1 to Dec. 24 1784), the Commissioner of the Board of Treasury position had been offered to William Denning, though he would decline on the day following this letter from Reed to Gerry. Perhaps no single issue most dominated the Confederation Congress more than how to deal with the debt of the new nation. In 1781, Robert Morris was designated Superintendent of Finance and managed the country's finances through 1784, when he resigned because of ill health. In March 1784, the Congress created a Treasury Board of three Commissioners. However, it took nearly a year for the three to be appointed: Arthur Lee, Samuel Osgood, and Walter Livingston.
Joseph Reed (1741-1785) was a distinguished Philadelphia lawyer and Revolutionary officer; he served as General Washington's secretary and aide-de-camp, and subsequently as adjutant general of the Continental Army. He was a member of the Continental Congress in 1778 and President of Pennsylvania from late 1778 to 1781. In 1784, being in ill health, he travelled to London for recuperation, returning at the end of the year around the time of this letter. Gerry (1744-1814)served in the Continental Congress and was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. He was an early and vigorous advocate of American Independence, and played a crucial role in the formation of the new United States government, insisting on a bill of rights being added to the new Constitution. He served as James Madison's Vice President, though his name is perhaps most remembered, however ignominiously, in connection with the term "gerrymandering." .
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