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Formation of the Union By Albert Bushnell Hart Characters: 2091

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02

To follow the history of the Confederation from year to year would be unprofitable. It was a confused period, with no recognized national leaders, no parties, no great crises. We shall therefore take up one after another the important questions which arose, and follow each to the end of the Confederation.

[Sidenote: Half-pay question.]

[Sidenote: Protests.]

The first duty of Congress after peace was declared was to cut off the military expenditures (§ 42). The food, clothing, and pay of the army amounted to about $400,000 a month. Provision had been made for bounty lands for the soldiers; the officers expected some more definite reward. On April 26, 1778, Congress, by a majority of one State, had voted half pay for life to the officers, as an essential measure for keeping the army together. In the four years following, five different votes had been passed, each annulling the previous one. Another proposition, in November, 1782, was to remit the whole matter to the States. On March 10, 1783, appeared the so-called "Newburg

h addresses,"-an anonymous plea to the army, urging the officers not to separate until Congress had done justice in this respect. A crisis was threatened. Washington himself attended the meeting of the officers, and counselled moderation. He used his utmost influence with Congress, and on the 22d of March secured a vote of full pay for five years. As the treasury was empty, the only payment to the officers was in certificates of indebtedness, upon which interest accumulated during the next seven years. Massachusetts protested, declaring the grant to be "more than an adequate reward for their services, and inconsistent with that equality which ought to subsist among citizens of free and republican states." In June, 1783, three hundred mutineers surrounded the place of meeting of Congress, and demanded a settlement of their back pay; and the executive council of Pennsylvania declined to interfere. The result was that Congress changed its place of meeting, and ever after retained a lively resentment against the city of Philadelphia.

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