[Ms., Ford Collection, Lenox Library; a draft is in the Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library,]
Boston April 30th 1784
I was favord with your Letter of 24th March, but by a Multiplicity of Affairs, which, as it happened I was at that Time engaged in, I was prevented returning an Answer so speedily as you desired. For this Reason I afterwards thought an Answer would be of no Importance. Decency alone should, however, have induced me to have acknowledgd the Favor. I hope you will excuse the Omission.
Some time in the Month of September last, a Gentleman in Connecticutt requested me to give him my Opinion of a Subject, perhaps too much altercated in that State as well as this, The Commutation of half Pay granted by Congress to the Officers of the late Army for Life for full Pay during the Term of five years. I did not hesitate to say in Return, that in my Opinion Congress was, in the Nature of their Appointment, the sole Judge of the necessary Means of supporting the late Army raised for the Defence of our Common Rights against the Invasions of Great Britain; and if, upon their own deliberate Councils & the repeated Representations of the Commander in Chiefe of the Army, they judgd that the Grant of half Pay for Life was a Measure absolutely necessary for the Support of a disciplined Army for the Purpose before mentiond, they had an undoubted Right to make it; and as it was made in behalf of the United States by their Representative authorizd to do it, each State was bound in Justice & Honor to comply with it, even tho it should seem to any to have been an ill judgd Measure; because States & Individual Persons are equally bound to fulfill their Obligations, and it is given as Characteristick of an honest Man, that “though he sweareth (or promiseth) to his own hurt he changeth not.” I moreover acquainted him, that although I was never pleasd with the Idea of half Pay for Life, for Reasons which appeard satisfactory to myself, some of which I freely explaind to him, yet I had always thought, that as the Opportunities of the Officers of the Army of acquiring moderate Fortunes or making such Provision for their Families as Men generally wish to make, were not equal to those of their Fellow Citizens at home, it would be but just & reasonable, that an adequate Compensation should be made to them at, or as soon as conveniently might be after, the End of the War; and that he might therefore conclude, that the Commutation, if it be an adequate Compensation had fully coincided with my Ideas of Justice & Policy.