George Washington on Congress

Lee Cary
In December 1778, Silas Lee, former representative of the United States in the Court of France, was embroiled in a dispute with Arthur Lee, also an envoy to France.

In the midst of a congressional brouhaha surrounding the dispute, General George Washington visited Philadelphia from his army's encampment at White Plains, New York.  When he witnessed the comfort enjoyed by its citizens -- in sharp contrast to the plight of his army -- and the conflict underway in Congress, he wrote Benjamin Harrison that the nation's affairs were "on the brink of ruin."

"A picture of the times, and of Men; from what I have seen, heard, and in part know, I should in one word say that idleness, dissipation and extravagance seem to have laid fast hold of most of them. The Speculation, peculation, and an insatiable thirst for riches seems [sic] to have got the better of every other consideration...Party disputes and personal quarrels are the great business of the day, whilst the momentous concerns of an empire, a great and accumulated debt; ruined finances, depreciated money and want of credit are but secondary considerations and postponed from day to day, week to week, as if our affairs wore the most promising aspect." (Excerpted from Robert Morris, Charles Rappleye, pp.167-168)

General Nathanael Greene was on the scene and offered this observation of Washington's response:

"Our great Fabius Maximus was the glory and admiration of the city.  Every exertion was made to show him respect, but the exhibition was such a scene of luxury and profusion they gave him more pain than pleasure."

So it seems it's true that the more things change, the more they remain the same.

In December 1778, Silas Lee, former representative of the United States in the Court of France, was embroiled in a dispute with Arthur Lee, also an envoy to France.

In the midst of a congressional brouhaha surrounding the dispute, General George Washington visited Philadelphia from his army's encampment at White Plains, New York.  When he witnessed the comfort enjoyed by its citizens -- in sharp contrast to the plight of his army -- and the conflict underway in Congress, he wrote Benjamin Harrison that the nation's affairs were "on the brink of ruin."

"A picture of the times, and of Men; from what I have seen, heard, and in part know, I should in one word say that idleness, dissipation and extravagance seem to have laid fast hold of most of them. The Speculation, peculation, and an insatiable thirst for riches seems [sic] to have got the better of every other consideration...Party disputes and personal quarrels are the great business of the day, whilst the momentous concerns of an empire, a great and accumulated debt; ruined finances, depreciated money and want of credit are but secondary considerations and postponed from day to day, week to week, as if our affairs wore the most promising aspect." (Excerpted from Robert Morris, Charles Rappleye, pp.167-168)

General Nathanael Greene was on the scene and offered this observation of Washington's response:

"Our great Fabius Maximus was the glory and admiration of the city.  Every exertion was made to show him respect, but the exhibition was such a scene of luxury and profusion they gave him more pain than pleasure."

So it seems it's true that the more things change, the more they remain the same.