To his Excellency Elias Boudinot June 7th, 1783

To his Excellency Elias Boudinot June 7th, 1783

PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS

State Of N. Jersey,

BORDENTOWN,

SIR:

As I have never troubled Congress with any application on my own account, but, on the contrary, have, from reasons both of delicacy and principle, made a point not to do it, I am the more encouraged to hope, that my request, in the present case, will be granted.

Whatever may have been my private situation or difficulties for these eight years past, I have, nevertheless, carefully concealed them from Congress as well as from the public. I had chosen my part and line of conduct, and whatever misfortunate event might have befallen the public cause, as I must have had my full share in it, so I must have submitted to its fate.

But as the war is now happily and prosperously closed, I am consequently relieved, in common with every gentleman who had rendered himself conspicuous in the contest, from all uneasy sensations respecting the issue. But still the case is different with me to what it is with others. For besides the general principle of right, and their own privileges, they had estates and fortunes to defend, and by the event of the war they now have them to enjoy. They are at home in every sense of the word. But with me it is otherwise. I had no other inducement than principle, and have now nothing else to enjoy. I came to a troubled country just time enough to befriend its rights, and share in its distress; for could personal interest have influenced me, my conduct would not have been what it has been, and I am happy in the reflection, that it has, in the rule of principle, been what it ought.

It is now very probable that circumstances, of which I am, at present, the best, and, perhaps, the only judge, may occasion my departure from America. I found her in adversity and I leave her in prosperity: and it is my ambition to have it known, that during this long contest for public freedom and happiness, that I have in every instance been governed by the most disinterested principle of public good, totally uninfluenced by party of every kind, and that in thus serving a country, I have neither sought, received, nor stipulated for any honors, advantages, or emoluments for myself.

As I have, in some degree, attracted the notice not only of the popular, but of the political and literary world, and as I have seen it asserted, especially in foreign publications, that whenever Congress had any new measures to propose, the success of which they were doubtful of, that I was employed to sound and prepare the disposition of the public. I humbly conceive it convenient to the honor of Congress and the country, as well as necessary to my own reputation, that every such idea of supposed influence should be removed, and that it should appear, as it truly is, that so far as it lay in my power to promote the cause of freedom and the happiness of mankind, that every such service of mine has been freely done and generously given. For men who act from principle, however separated by circumstances, will, without contrivance, act alike, and the concurrence of their conduct is an evidence of their rectitude.

Therefore my humble request to Congress is, that they would please to

direct me to lay before them an account of such services as I have rendered to America and the circumstances under which they were per- formed, from the commencement of the war to the conclusion thereof.

I am your Excellency's most obedient Humble Servant,

THOMAS PAINE.

(Paine's request was referred to Messrs. Clarke, Peters and Hawkins and the writer was to have met them on June 23d, but the mutiny of troops upset the entire machinery of government and Congress left Philadelphia so hastily that Paine was not given an opportunity of stating his case. He again sought a hearing but received no satisfaction until August when the committee delivered a report stating that "a just and impartial account of our interest for public Freedom and happiness should be handed down to posterity"; that this would best be done by an official historiographer, one moreover "who has been and is governed by the most disinterested principles of public good, totally uninfluenced by party of every kind"; that Paine had rendered invaluable services to the United States "without having sought, received or stipulated for any honors, advantages, or emoluments for himself; that a History of the American revolution compiled by Mr. Paine is certainly to be desired." Hence the committee proposed that he be appointed historiographer to the United States at a salary to be determined later. The report was permitted to lie on the table.-Editor.)