141
141
Palfrey, William, as Continental Paymaster General
Estimate
3,5005,000
LOT SOLD. 2,188 USD
JUMP TO LOT
141
Palfrey, William, as Continental Paymaster General
Estimate
3,5005,000
LOT SOLD. 2,188 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

The JAMES S. COPLEY LIBRARY: MAGNIFICENT AMERICAN HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS: FIRST SELECTION

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New York

Palfrey, William, as Continental Paymaster General
Autograph letter signed ("Wm Palfrey"), 2 pages (12 3/4 x 7 7/8 in.; 324 x 210 mm), Pumpton Plains (New Jersey), 13 July 1777, to Elbridge Gerry (in Philadelphia) with fragment of address leaf mounted on second page "To the Hon[ora]ble Elbridge Geary Esq: Member of Congress Philadelphia per Mons[ieur André de] Goy"; formerly folded, thin paper residue in right margin of verso from prior mounting not obscuring text. Red half-morocco drop-box, gilt-stamped blue leather title labels on spine.
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Catalogue Note

"It is really curious that the Pay Master General of the Army of the United States of America should retail his Cash as a Sutler does his Liquors."

Palfrey (1741–1780) who served both Generals Charles Lee and Washington, was appointed paymaster in April 1776. Here he asks Gerry to send more money and in smaller packages: "Just as we were upon the March from Morris Town I receiv'd a Supply of 524000 dollars. The demands upon the chest will soon exhaust it, and I think it would be adviseable to prepare another reinforcement as soon as possible — I should be oblig'd to you to mention to the Board of War the impropriety of sending such a large quantity of small change when we are continually shifting our quarters. A small parcel is very clever, but it never should exceed one ream of small to two reams of large — I have now two very large boxes of small money which I cannot open for want of a place to stow it, and as it is only nail'd up it would not be difficult for a designing person to carry off part of it."

He complains of his poor accomodations for dispensing pay: "I have now no other place to transact my Business in but the narrow Compass of a Waggon in which I cannot stand upright." Then follows the initial highlighted quotation above. He has evidently been applying to Congress for a new rank, and now gently threatens to quit: "I was in hopes before now to have heard from you on the subject of my repeated applications, but I suppose you decline it till the matter is finally determined — I have taken my resolution, which is to wait with patience till the last of August, if nothing is done by that time, I shall resign my Commission & return home to my family."

Palfrey refers to the recent loss of Fort Ticonderoga: "The Affair of Ticonderoga will probably give a new Turn to American Politics — It is a most mysterious affair and we wait with great impatience for an Eclairissement. I hope it will not turn out so bad as our fears suggest."

The JAMES S. COPLEY LIBRARY: MAGNIFICENT AMERICAN HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS: FIRST SELECTION

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New York