To the Congress of the United States January 7, 1779
From the original letter at the Library of Congress:
From the manner in which I was called before the House yesterday, I have reason to suspect an unfavorable disposition in them towards some parts in my late publications. What the parts are against which they object, or what those objections are, are wholly unknown to me. If any gentleman has presented any Memorial to this House, which contains any charge against me, or any ways allude in a censurable manner, to my character or interest, so as to become the ground of any such charge, I request, as a servant under your authority, an attested copy of that charge, and in my personal character as a freeman of this country, I demand it. I attended at the bar of this House yesterday as their servant tho’ the warrant did not express my official station, which I conceive it ought to have done otherwise it could not have been compulsive unless backed by a Magistrate. — My hopes were, that I should be made acquainted with the charges, and admitted to my defence, which I am at all times ready to make either in writing or personally.
I cannot in duty to my character as a freeman submit to be censured unheard. I have evidence which I presume will justify me. And I intreat this House to consider how great their reproach will be, should it be told, that they passed a sentence upon me without hearing me, and that a copy of the charge against me was refused to me; and likewise how much that reproach will be aggrevated should I after wards prove the censure of this House to be a Libel, grounded upon a mistake which they refused fully to enquire into.
I make my application to the heart of every gentleman in this House, that he, before he decides on a point that may affect my Reputation, will duly consider his own. Did I court popular praise I should not send this letter. My wish is, that by thus stating my Situation to the House, they may not commit an Act they cannot justify.
I have obtained Fame Honor and Credit in this Country. I am Proud of these honors. And as they can be taken from me by any unjust censure grounded on a concealed charge, therefore it will become my duty afterwards to do justice to myself. I have no favor to ask more than to be candidly and honorably dealt by, and such being my right. I ought to have no doubt but this House will proceed accordingly. Should Congress be disposed to hear me, I have to request that they will give me sufficient Time to prepare.
I am Honorable Sirs your honors most obt and dutiful Humble Servant,
Philadelphia, Jan. 7th 1779