To the Honorable Congress of the United States March 30, 1779

To the Honorable Congress of the United States March 30, 1779

PHILADELPHIA,

HONORABLE SIRS:

On the 19th Inst. I applied by letter to this honorable House, requesting a copy of their proceedings respecting me from January 26 to January 16th, the day on which the papers of the foreign committee were taken out of my keeping. And by a personal application to Mr. Thomson your Secretary I have since learned that nothing has been done thereon.

I am thus laid under the necessity of renewing my application to Congress for copies of all papers and Proceedings respecting me, except copies of my own Letters of January 6th, 7th, 8th, and March 19th.

Were I asking a favor I should address my language accordingly, but my application being a matter of right, I cannot discredit the latter by giving it the disguise of the former. I conceive that the character of no Person can be constitutionally secure, where a formal judgment can be discretionarily produced and published and the grounds and proceedings on which that judgment is founded withheld, or subject to future and private alterations.

Congress have published their judgment in a Resolution of January 12th and I have a right to know the proceedings. That resolution is prefaced in the Pennsylvania Packet with a letter signed "]ohn Jay"; yet as far as I have a right to know, that letter may be spurious; for as I have never been wanting in any duty I could perform, or service I could render, to America or her allies, I ought not to believe that the Honorable President of Congress would address a letter to the Minister (see footnote 1) of France, which by a very close laid implication holds me up as deserving the "Indignation and resentment of both countries."

I ought likewise not to believe, that at the time I was innocently suffering public abuse for endeavoring, in the sincerity of good will to justify this honorable House from Mr. Deane's libellous publication of December 5th, that any gentleman, a member of this House, would add to the burthen of that undertaking so necessary at that time to the injured and insulted character of Congress, and withal feel so little for himself and the dignity of the State he represented, as to prefer the dishonor of the libel by discrediting the detection of the libeller.

Neither ought I to believe, that, while, apprehensive of clandestine conduct in Mr. Deane to the injury and inconvenience of the United States, I was endeavoring, both officially and otherwise, to collect information on the points in question respecting his proceedings that any Member of this honorable House would use his vote and influence to prevent such information, and thereby to fix on his constituents, a Man, who, there were many reasons to believe was unworthy their esteem and undeserving their confidence.

Furnished with opportunities and anxious in my wishes to support the interest of the United States, I very soon became possessed of many suspicious circumstances respecting Mr. Deane and judging to what issue they would lead and render at that time of the personal reputation of Congress, I sent in the most pressing letters of January 6th, 7th and 8th hoping thereby to prevent a precipitate determination on a business which to my knowledge was not sufficiently before the House, the result of which, I had reason to conclude, would contradict the beginning. For though Congress might have reasons to declare that the supplies were not a present from His most Christian Majesty, yet the reasons could form no grounds whereon to conclude they were "not a present" because the commissioners letter of the 30th of November, 1777 would have informed you that you were left "to consider them as the effects of private benevolence!

Thus frustrated in my endeavors to promote the interest of the United States, to cement the affections of the countries in alliance, and to guard even the Personal honor of Congress, by detection in the first instance, and by intimation in the last, I am now anxious to know what returns they severally made to me, that I may not render evil for good.

I am Honorable Sirs Your Honors obedient Humble Servant,

THOMAS PAINE.

  1. The resolution Paine refers to read: "That in answer to the memorials of the honorable Sieur Gerard, minister plenipotentiary of his most Christian Majesty, of the 5th and 10th instant the president be directed to assure the said Minister, that Congress do fully, in the clearest and most explicit manner, disavow the publications referred to in his said memorials, and as they are convinced by indisputable evidence, that the supplies shipped in the Amphitrite, Seine, and Mercury were not a present, and that his most Christian Majesty, the great and generous ally of these United States, did not preface his alliance with any supplies whatever sent to America, so they have not authorized the writer of the said publications to make any such assertions as are contained therein, buton the contrary, do highly disapprove of the same."-Editor.