To the Honorable Congress of the United States April 3, 1779
From the original letter at the Library of Congress.
Philadelphia April 3d. 1779
On the 19th and 30th ult. I applied to Congress for copies of all papers and proceedings respecting me from Jany 2d to Jany 16 To which I have received no direct answer.
I am told that on the reading my last of the 30th Congress came to a resolution to publish their journals weekly — By so doing they do a Justice to the Public; but there is likewise a personal Justice due to me, because I am personally concerned, and my application is an assertion of my particular personal right, for I apply not for the Journals generally, but for such parts of them and other papers in which I am immediately interested.
I admit the right of Congress to have dismissed, or superseded me without assigning any reason, or affording any hearing, because want of capacity, of which the Employers in all Cases, are supposed to be sole judges, is of itself a good private reason for dismission, or the finding a fitter person a good reason for supersedure.
But I deny the right of Congress to pass Censure without a hearing, because Censure is a judgment supposed to proceed from a comparison of Evidence and reasons for and against.
It is my design to furnish the United States with a History of the Revolution, and it is as necessary that my character should stand fair as that of any member of this Honble House. Neither can I suffer a blemish to be thrown on me which I am Conscious I do not deserve, or desire a defection to be concealed which I am proved guilty of.
The Resolution of Congress of Jany 12th directs the President to inform the Minister of France of their disavowal of my Publications; which they had an inherent right to do; because it means no more than that the said Publications were made without their knowledge and consent. I had made the same disavowal on the part of Congress, Collectively and Individually, to the Honble Sieur Gerard, and that not only verbally but in writing on the 2d of Jany. Namely, that no members or member of Congress knew literally or in Substance of what I intended to publish till it appeared in the papers — I act from myself and for myself and mean ever to do so —
The Resolution likewise directs the President to disapprove, which as a matter of State Convenience I should have seen the propriety of submitting quietly to; but the Resolution no where directs the President to form and publish a judgment of the motives which induced me to make those publications, yet the Letter signed John Jay of Jany 13th addressed to the Honble Sieur Gerard, after repeating the full extent of the Resolutions, adds “Nor have I the least doubt that every attempt to injure the Reputation of either or impair their mutual confidence, will meet with the”Indignation and Resentment of both”
Therefore in addition to my application for the papers I humbly beg Congress to inform me whether the extra Judicial Sentiment in the letter is the Sentiment of Congress applied to me as one who deserves the “Indignation and Resentment of both Countries,” for that it is intentionally applied to me by somebody I have a right to conclude —
I have generally stated my reasons for this request, viz. the Reputation of an historian, but I have other reasons which I shall declare after I am honored with the Sense of Congress.
If Congress requires any explanation from me in any part, except the reason which I reserve, till after their determination be known, I am ready to attend having a days notice.
I am Honble Sirs your Honors Obt Hble Servt