A Petition by Rachel Lovell Wells, 1786
Source, Petition of Rachel Wells, May 18, 1786, Papers of the Continental Congress, (M-247), Roll 56, Item 42: VIII, 354-355.
Rachel Lovell Wells (ca.1735-ca. 1796), a wax sculptor, loaned considerable money to New Jersey during the Revolutionary War. Like many New Jersey women, she was in difficult circumstances after the war and petitioned the New Jersey legislature in 1785 for the repayment of the money. She claimed she had loaned a considerable sum of money to the state to fight the war and been robbed of 2,000 pounds and more. Her petition was refused, as were her second and third. In May 1786 she petitioned the Continental Congress, as well, in an effort to reclaim some of her loses. It is unknown if she was successful. In this petition Wells explains her circumstances and puts her case.
To the Honorable Congress, I Rachel do make this Complaint Who am a widow far advanced in years & dearly have occasion of ye interest for that cash I lent the state.
I was a Sitizen in the jearsey when I Lent ye State a Considerable Sum of money & had I justice done me it mite be Suficant to Support me in ye country whear I am now, near bordentown I Lived hear when Mr. Joseph borden Capt. of office for the state but being torn to peases and robd by the Britans and others I went to Ph[iladelphia] to try to get a Living as I cant do nothing in bordentown in my way so after ye British left there I went to Ph[iladelphia] & was their in the year 1783 when our assembly was pleasd to pas a Law that no one should have any interest that livd out of jearsey state I have Sent in a petition to ye assembly they say it lies in your brest as the Cash was Lent to you. They gave me a form of an oath which runs thus that I was a Residentor when I put ye cash into the office & was in ye year 83 and am Still I can swear that I was then & am now but in 83 I was not Now gentelemen is this Liberty Had it bin advertised that he or She that moved out of the State Should Loose his or her interest you mite have Some plea against me But I am innocent suspected no trick I have don as much to carry on the war as maney that sett now at the healm of government and no notice taken of me before this one of your assembly borrowed L300 in gold of me just as the war comencd & and now I can nither git interest nor principal nor even security Why, because they have pasd a Law that no officer Shall be troubeld under five years after peace comensd Not only so but one of our Chaplens to our army I believe has robd me of one hundred & Eighty Six pound, & my account was provd & causd into ye office apinted for that Purpose of what I had sufferd by ye English which came to two thousand Eight hundred & five pound hard cash But this I can bair but to be robd but my Country men is very trying to nature. My dr Sister Wright wrote me to be thankfull that I had it in my power to help on the war which is well anough but then this is to be considerd that others git their interest &. why then a poor old widow to be put of who am thus stript I often think of a text in Scripture Ecclesiastes ye 9 & 15th their was in the City a poor man that by his wisdom deliverd the City yet no one rememberd that I am poor man had their bin given to Sister Wright only one quarter of an ackor of ground to have Laid her bones in I should not have thought I beleve of the matr as it was her desire to be buried hear how did She make her country her whole atention her letters gave us ye first alarm…
I think gentelmen, that I can ask for my Interest as an individal on her account now she is no more, I only want my one, Cant there be order given to our assembly that the widow Rachel Wells in and of the jarsey state may have the Interest of her cash that she Lent ye state in 1778 & not make good that Law made in Eighty Three I hartely pity the others that ar in my Case that cant speak for themselves May god direct you there is gold enough and to spare God has spread a plentifull tabel for us & you gentelmen are the carvors for us. Pray forgit not the poor weaklings at the foot of the tabel Ye poor sogers has got Sum Crumbs that fall from their masters tabel – Sum 2/6, Sum 2/3 in the pound why not Rachel Wells have a littel interest if she did not fight She threw in all her mite which bought ye sogers food & Clothing & Let them have Blankets & Since that She has bin obligd to Lay upon straw and glad of that. . . I do expect to hear Something to my Satisfaction verey soon
That I may say before I leave this world that the states did me justice, though I never expect to See the principal is the prayer of your humbel sarvent Rachel Wells
Bordentown may 18, 1786