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Title:[Letter] 1808 Mar. 3, Georgetown [Virginia, to] Gabriel Duvall / David Henley: a machine readable transcription of an image
Author:Henley, David

This work is the property of the Tennessee State Library and Archives, Nashville, TN. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching, and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text. For all other use contact the Tennessee State Library and Archives, 403 Seventh Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37243-0312. (615) 741-2764.

Date: March 3, 1808
Extent: 8p
Summary:This is a letter from David Henley to U.S. Comptroller of the Treasury, Gabriel Duvall, dated March 3, 1808. Henley has apparently been accused of owing money from his time spent as an agent for the War Department in Tennessee (formerly the Territory Southwest of the Ohio River.) This letter is explaining in detail his time there. Henley mentions many of the people he worked with. He explains how hard he worked and how little his pay was, comparing his job and salary to other's. He defends his actions, pleads for justice, and promises to pay some of the money back.
Collection:David Henley Collection

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Gabriel Duvoll esquire George town 3 March 1808

It is for to represent my present situation with the government that I address you.

And as I have no reason to doubt the justice of the government of the United States in all cases. even though an individual should fall short in his [unclear: assents ] and though a balance may appear against him, if that arises from missfortune [misfortune] and not from any unjust design; but none especially when the causes from which that accident has arisen is from an exertion to save public expenditures, and waste, to obedience to orders too extensive in the complicated business he was engaged in, and to promote the public wellfare [welfare] , then has that individual who is so unhappy to be under such circumstances a double claim to consideration and allowance

Having this promised my address as avowing my hopes that I shall meet with that justness so applicable to my case I shall proceed to state the causes from which such missfortune arose, and endeavor in plain truth to represent my case in a proper light

In the Year 1798 I came upon terms under the then Secretary of War ( Genl [General] Knox ) to go to what was then called the territory South [added: west] of the Ohio , I received my instructions which are in the Accountants office, and my agreement was to return every year to the seat of government, to settle my Accounts, and report concerning what might touch the interest of the United States.

The first Year or that of 1796 I returned presented my accounts to Mr Howell who was then the

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Accountant, and reported to General Knox, it was urged on me to return again to that Country, but before I went General Knox went to his estate in the eastern part of Massachusetts , he continued over his time he had Set and on return the Western expedition was on foot, all was hurry and bustle on the occasion, a Mr David Allison whose character is well known, having been paymaster the first year, from my report of mal practise was deranged, and instead of my having an Accountant of good character which my instruction allotted. I was requested to select an officer from the regular troops to assist me, and that some proper person should be elected and sent on to me (however none came) I appointed Capt [Captain] Richard as the fittest person within the limits of my orders, he was very unfit for the business; when I called on him to account for the money he had in his hands Governor Blount ordered him to North Carolina to recruit, he went without making a settlement. Colonel Pickering followed General Knox as Secretary of war to him I wrote and requested to return agreeably to my engagement, he desired me to remain till certain arrangements took place, in the time of his official capacity some papers were sent to me by Judge McMaury and in which Governor Blount was implicated and which I sent on to the war office. in acknowledging them, orders were sent by Government for me to proceed to Nashville and enquire into those injuries, accordingly I obeyed and went to Nashville two hundred miles from Knoxville , and sent on the depositions taken by Judge Overton to the rest of

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government. Governor Blount perceiving his conduct checks had the influence in that Country to bring forward a convention, which declared the territory to be entitled to become a State [unclear: with ] which resolution was accepted and confirmed by Congress and he was chosen a Senator for the State of Tennessee Mr McHenry succeeded Colonel Pickering as the Minister for war, in his administration, the whole business of the [unclear: State ] for public concerns devolved upon me, it was in his time Mr James Byers came forward to me with a letter he had by address drawn from Cary the interpreter, which disclosed Governor Blounts treasonable designs, after taking correct copies and both him and myself certifying to them, advised him to go on with it immediately to the seat of government, and at that instant requested Mr Byrers to remind Mr McHenry & Mr Wolcott of my letters requesting my leave to return to settle my accounts.

Mr Blount in every instance endeavored to thrawt my proceedings in public business, and when it was put out his power, he would promote the intentions of others, and an instance of a most malicious prosecution was instituted against me by his advice, that was by a Mr Hillsman for passing a counterfit [counterfeit] dollar which I might have paid him in a Sum of money innocently, which has often been the case with others. I was [unclear: arrainged ] at the bar as a Culprit, though the Court conceiving it a malicious and groundless charge treated me with respect, and invited me to take my seat along side the lawyers, the examination of evidence proved it to be so, and I was acquitted to the satisfaction of my friends.

When Mr Blounts treasonable

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designs was allowed in the Senate of the United States and he left his seat in Congress and fled from justice to the State of Tennessee, orders were sent to me to accompany Major Lewis who was sent on the business to take him and his accomplishes, then I went a circuit of two hundred miles. It was also in the time of Mr McHenry that Mr Hills was sent on to my assistance, who was to frequently intoxicated that it became an arduous task to keep him fit for the duties of his office, and when Sober he was unable to keep regular accounts, although I knew his failing such was obliged to trust to him to settle an account with Capt Richard who I before mention to have acted as paymaster to amount of 45 or fifty thousand dollars Capt Richard being ordered away by Col [Colonel] Butler with his Company, I had it not in my power from the excursions I was obliged to make to attend to that settlement

The fronteer [frontier] settlers and the indians were at variance and to prevent hostilities twelve hundred regular troops were sent on under the command of Colonel Butler, which encreased [increased] my business greatly, and some part of the time I was obliged to furnish the regular troops with provisions and the Cavalry with Forage I also had to attend to the factory that was then at Tellico and those accounts amounted to some thousand of dollars.

The Country was new and proper persons could not be had that time to aid in business. Such a complication of payments continually to be made to militia, Regulars, and old arreages, caused confusion that could not be regulated with the assistance I

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then had, and in the midst of this great business I was endangered in life and property. My House and office being exposed by some Villians that set fine to my barn that consumed it with about eight Tons of Hay; at that time there was in the House twenty thousand dollars with all my Books and Vouchers, but by my exertion, and the Citizens of the town of Knoxville, the public money and my papers were saved, although the flames had threatened so far that a person could scarcly [scarcely] bare to be on the roof of the House. Colonel Butlers situation became extreemely [extremely] critical and it was owing to his prudent conduct, that the United States troops and the frontier people did not break out into open war, but all the orders from government were forwarded through me, and often was I desired to carry them myself.

All these instances in being taken from my office made it impossible for me to pay that attention so necessary were [where] so much money was expended. The accounts running on for ten years to the amount of six hundred and fifty to seven hundred thousand dollars exposed me to failure.

I wrote and solicited every Gentleman that administered in the war department to Mr McHenry and Mr Wolcott stating my loss of property in not ordering me on, and lastly stating the injury in my private property in the rents of certain Houses in Alexandria, and debts collected which loss was

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actually twelve hundred dollars, besides the property Town there might have sold for a great advance, at the time the french evacuated St. Domingo and came to Baltimore

It is worthy of consideration, that though it appears by my accounts a balance is against me, I saved for the public Fifty thousand dollars by my attention to business and in reforming abuses, which Mr Dinsmoor the present agent will give his opinion [unclear: To ] and for my extra services in furnishing troops &c [etcetera] have had no allowance. One thousand dollars per annum the Salary allowed me was not equal to such great business it is only one and half per Cent, merchantile [mercantile] rules is to allow two and half per cent for receiving and remitting, when I first went upon those terms it was not expected, that the whole public business of that state was to devolve upon me, nor such a regular force sent there, and I was encouraged to remain there by letters intimating something better would be done for me. I have no fault to find with the former ministers, I believe those respectable characters then in office did what in their opinion seemed most for the wellfare of their Country both in arrangement and economy, but this I know the policy then pursued was disliked by the people and I bore the brunt, for often have I been accused of and faulted for the public measures, but they have since found they paid too great a compliment to my talents in those insinuations as my services were performed

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under their instructions who best knew the merritt [merit] of them, I cannot but think they treated me hardly, in not ordering me on to close my accounts under them; it appears to me they being certain of their own fall, either neglected to do what was right on the occasion, or was willing their Sub officers should come off as they could.

I cannot but observe the Salary allowed me is not in proportion to those allowed the Store keeper at Tellico, and the other agents, when the Store never had more than ten thousand dollars worth of goods at one time, and scarcely sold half that quantity yearly, the indian agents in the Nation, there time was that of leisure compared to mine, which was incessant toil and labor, with the responsibility for large Sums of Money and quarter [unclear: masters ] stores, provisions &c___

If any person is entitled to consideration for old claims or losses I can relate enough to awaken the sympathy of all persons. All my military Services were paid of in paper that was of little or no use, and large balance as agent with Mr Otis for clothing the Army to the amount of twenty thousand dollars was in similar payments and loss. At the beginning of the Revolutionary war my family suffered greatly by fire the day of the Bunkers hill battle, and my brothers have fell, that I am the only one left to solicit justice of government

For the truth of those

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assertions and observations I appeal as relates the late Governor Blount and the State to the members representing that state, as relates to my late assistant Mr Hills to those in the war office who knew his intemperance and to Mr Williams who was then in the Country, it is a vice that generally encreases, it did so in him that I could have no confidence, had a good Accountant been sent, my accounts would have exhibited a proper Statement and if their [there] had been loss shown where is was

Now I can only appeal to government for justice and consideration in my case. I now state that part of the balance I am willing to pay. My Son in order to accommodate me has taken lands in Tennessee as part of an estate we jointly were concerned in, in Alexandria , it consists of an half acre lot and a good House, the other may be two thirds of an acre in a good situation, the whole property might be estimated till threatened with war to eight thousand dollars, but its value may now be reduced. It will be an encreasing property on the confirmation of peace and in giving up this I shall receive nothing for ten Years hard and laborious service. I have no money nor could I raise any at this time, and as I am now advanced in Years could wish to have the affair closed and meet my fate

Before I concluded would not be unmindfull [mindful] of my thanks to your Sir for your kindness in paying attention to my letter, and defering [deferring] prosecution till this time.

please to accept of my respects
and am Sir yr obd servt [your obedient servant]
DH [David Henley]

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