The Papers of General Nathanael Greene

From Joseph Clay


Want of conveyance only has prevented my writing you before this, though material has occurr'd. I have a prospect of procuring 4 or 500,000 Dollars from two or three Gentlemen who are collecting Money to purchase Bills, & expect as they inform me to get near that sum: I hope I may get at least 70 for l for them. I am told at Philadelphia they are at 6/ per Dollar for Bills at 30 Days Sight, which is equal to 80 for l. Our Bills are all at 90 Days. I hope to hear particularly from there very shortly, which has restrained me from pushing to get the Advance fix'd, especially as the Money is not ready. I wish much to hear from you relative to Rum & Sugar & as these Articles will rise, and indeed every other, if the Enemy continue to possess the Posts in Virginia. I am backward in making any purchases here without your directions, for two reasons, the one not knowing what Quantities might be proper for me to purchase, & the other doubting the Security of this place while the Enemy continue so near it on the Sea Board, which was not I believe known when you wrote last.
As I found little or was to be done here in the way of Cloathing on Purchase, I have been inquiring for the sake of information whether any thing cou'd be done by way of Contract, and on what terms, & I find we might procure Supplies in my opinion in that way on much better Conditions & sooner than any other that I know of. Messrs Stanley Greene & Ince, who have several fast Sailing Vessels, offer to Import any thing we please from the West Indies that can be procured there at 100 per Cent on the Cost there, to be Imported on their own Account & Risque free of all other Charges, that they wou'd send a Vessel away immediately for that purpose & Order her to return here or to any safe Port we may direct with all possible dispatch, the payment to be in Foreign Bills, Bills on Philadelphia or Continental Money, to be made (in whatever Money it may be) equal to the Sterling Value of it; though the Advance is high yet compared with what we are Daily oblig'd to give, its very moderate, & Supplies wou'd be much more certain than they can ever be in the way we are at present, depending on mere Casualties & fortuitous events for every necessary we stand in need of. Did I look on myself as properly Authorized to make Contracts of this kind for Supplies & Cloathing, & was assured that Congress wou'd enable me to fulfil them punctually I shou'd not hesitate a moment to Contract for two or three small Vessels to run constantly until we were fully supplied, or a more eligible plan cou'd be fell on which can only be by Importing from Europe direct. If you approve of any thing being done in this way I will make the Contract on behalf of the United States in such way as you may direct, 'twill be necessary to determine immediately, as these Gentlemen are pushing their Vessels out with all possible dispatch to St Eustatia, from whence as they are rather doubtfull of the Security of this Port they mean to Order them all to return to Philadelphia unless we shou'd agree with them, in which Case they will Order (as I before observ'd) one or more of them to return directly here with all possible dispatch, or to any other safe Port as we may direct, 'twill also be necessary to determine what the Cargo shou'd consist of, & as the Articles most wanted possibly may not be to be had at the Port they may go to 'twill also be proper to fix what Articles shall come in their Room. I suppose in Six Weeks a Vessel might make a Voyage. I mention these matters for your information as to what can be done here, if you approve of the Plan I will do the needfull agreable to your directions. I wou'd wish to be inform'd in whose hands I am to lodge any thing I may purchase, or what I am to do with them. I have not had it in my power to call on any Person who have received Bills on the Northern States to procure Supplies. I have not heard from Eden Town but expect every Day to receive Intelligence from there, as I wrote per a safe Conveyance in regard to Supplies & Money. I forgot to notice that I shou'd be furnish'd with a Warrant for the Bills Exchange I delivered to Major Burnett, in Order that I may make the proper charges & get myself discharg'd to that Amount, as I stand chargeable to the United States for the whole of them. We have New here. I am wth great respect, Sir,

Your most Obedt humble Servt

Joseph Clay

P.S. Shou'd I not hear from you before the last of Mr Stanleys Vessels are ready to Sail I believe I shall run the risque of Contracting for one Vessel to return wth Blanketts & Cloathing that is if he will agree wth me without your positive directions. If the Vessel comes in safe Congress cannot be a loser by it.
Autograph letter signed (MiU-C) 4 pp.