The Papers of General Nathanael Greene

From Joseph Clay,

"Want of conveyance" kept him from writing sooner. He may get "4 or 500,000 Dollars" from some "Gentlemen" who are "collecting Money to purchase Bills." The exchange rate will be "at least 70 for 1," with payment due in 90 days; Clay is told that the exchange rate in Philadelphia is 80 to 1 "at 30 Days Sight." Expecting to hear from there soon, Clay has not fixed terms. Asks about purchasing rum and sugar, which he predicts will rise in price, especially if the enemy remain in Virginia. Hesitates to buy either, not knowing the quantity needed and "doubting the Security of this place," with the enemy "so near." Has found no clothing to purchase. A firm with "several fast Sailing Vessels" has offered to import goods from the West Indies "at 100 per Cent [advance] on the Cost." They would send the vessel immediately and return to any port that NG and Clay might direct, with payment to be in bills or in Continental money "equal to the Sterling Value of it." The voyage would take about six weeks; the "Advance," though "high," is moderate compared to what the public pays. If Clay could be "assured" that Congress would "enable" him to "fulfil" the contracts "punctually," he would arrange for two or three small vessels to run constantly until the army was fully supplied. NG must decide immediately, as the firm's vessels are soon to sail for St. Eustatius. Because of the "doubtfull" security at New Bern, they will return to Philadelphia unless contracted for and directed to sail elsewhere. Asks what he should do with the goods he buys. Has been unable to call on anyone who has received "Bills on the Northern States to procure Supplies." Expects to hear soon about money and supplies in Edenton. Asks for a warrant for bills he delivered, so that he can account for them. Adds in a postscript that if he does not hear from NG before the last of the vessels is to sail, he will "run the risque of Contracting for one Vessel to return wth Blanketts & Cloathing." If the vessel "comes in safe Congress cannot be a loser by it."[1]
Autograph letter signed (MiU-C) 4 pp.
    [1.] NG replied on 17 February (PGNG, 7: 300-301).