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As we celebrate the 4th of July... According to some historical reports, Col. George Ross, a Congressional delegate from Pennsylvania, gave Betsy Ross, the wife of Col. Ross'  nephew,  "an unlimited order for as many flags as she could make".  I'd appreciate anyone's thoughts as to whether this constituted a valid contract between the US Government and Mrs. Ross.       

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http://www.ushistory.org/betsy/flagaffs.html

The above link is to Affidavits by relatives of Betsy Ross, recollecting what they were told of the first flags and the above order. I havent found more detail yet on specific contracting by the Continental Congress. Col George Ross was on the secret committee of the Continental Congress that first met with Betsy Ross, who was then a widow. The committee was apparently authorized to procure the first flag and a subsequent order for more flags.   The other members were George Washington of Va.  and Robert Morris of Philadelphia, perhaps the wealthiest colonist of the time and very powerful and influential.  https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Morris_(financier)

EDIT: forgot to mention that there are numerous documents in the Library of Congress for the Continental Congress. For example: 

https://www.loc.gov/item/90898032/

This resolution established the Commissaries for the supply of the Continental Army

 

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Valid contract?  No, it was treason against His Majesty!  Aiding and abetting sedition and insurrection.  :-) 

The secret committee did what was necessary and what it was authorized to do -- that's valid in my eyes.  

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Guest Vern Edwards

Here's a history question for the 4th of July:

Why do so many Americans ooh and ahh over "Queen" Elizabeth (who is really German) and for "Prince" William and his wife and their "royal" babes? Why do they sneer at the French, who started sending us supplies in 1775, who recognized us in 1778, who loved Benjamin Franklin (who stabbed them in the back), who gave us arms and money ($1.3 billion livres), who sent us 6,000 soldiers in 1780, who sent us a fleet, who were with us at Yorktown, and who went deeply into debt to support us and gained little?

And then, the Brits invaded us in 1812 and burned the White House.

Why the "special relationship" with the Brits? I'll be hanging out the French tri-color on July 14, Bastille Day.

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The French:

The differences between the languages appear to separate us. French take great pride in the purity of the French language.

Charles De Gaulle kicked us out (whether right or wrong, deserved or not), which began or intensified a split between the countries. 

 

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Let's assume for a second that there was a US Government, and that the order was "an unlimited order for as many flags as she could make." 

My initial thought is no.  Here's why:

- There was no sum certain.  In order for a common law contract to exist, you need to have a mutual agreement between two or more parties for performance of said contract in exchange for something of value.  The direction provided by Ross did not indicate how Betsy Ross would be reimbursed.   Col. Ross should have issued an unpriced purchase order pursuant to FAR Subsection 13.302-2, and indicated a realistic monetary limitation.

- Because of the close relationship between Col. Ross and Betsy Ross, a personal conflict of interest may have occurred.  We should look into whether the Continental Congress has a mitigation plan or waiver on file pursuant to FAR Section 3.1104.

- Betsy Ross was not registered in SAM.gov and no waiver is on file pursuant to FAR Section 4.1102 (though an exception may apply).

There are a couple of unknowns that may contribute to the legality of the issue:

 - Did Col. Ross have authority to place the order?  I have always understood Robert Morris, the Superintendent of Finance, to be the country's first Contracting Officer, not Ross.  This could have been an authorized commitment with Morris issuing a ratification completed pursuant to FAR Subsection 1.602-3.

- Value of the contract.  I looked in FPDS-NG and CPARS but could not find any evidence of the order (obviously another of Col. Ross' oversights).  Further, there is no evidence of Betsy Ross in the Small Business Dynamic Search Tool.  If the order was above the micro-purchase threshold, Col. Ross may have violated the Small Business Act. 

- Whether funds were available.  The fledgling US Government was broke.  It was borrowing money from most large European powers, and it did not have authority to levy taxes.  The Government could have made the case that Betsy Ross knew or should have known that there was a reasonable expectation that it was not able to pay.  

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There was a war going on.  People were being killed.  All of the revolutionaries were criminals in the eyes of the law.  Hurrah for Colonel Ross!

What about satisfying the customer?  FAR 1.102( d ):  "In exercising initiative, Government members of the Acquisition Team may assume if a specific strategy, practice, policy, or procedure is in the best interests of the Government, and is not addressed in the FAR nor prohibited by law (statute or case law), Executive order or other regulation, that the strategy, practice, policy, or procedure is a permissible exercise of authority."

What about taking prudent risks?  FAR 1.102-2( c )( 2 ):  "The Executive Branch will accept and manage the risk associated with empowering local procurement officials to take independent action based on their professional judgment."

If the revolutionaries had lost the war, then the contract would not have been enforceable in the King's courts.

But "Ol' George Washington whooped that king, and the eagle squalled, 'Let Freedom Ring!'"  One of the first acts of the new Government was to honor the commitments, promises, and contracts made during the revolution.  Ratification -- how about that!

 

 

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I thought of Betsy as more of an employee than an external contractor.  But if she was not an employee, there was an offer, it was accepted, and she was probably paid.

As noted earlier, there was no US Government, so I guess the arrangement was between two individuals. 

 

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Guest PepeTheFrog
On 7/1/2016 at 2:14 PM, Vern Edwards said:

Why do so many Americans ooh and ahh over "Queen" Elizabeth (who is really German) and for "Prince" William and his wife and their "royal" babes? Why do they sneer at the French, who started sending us supplies in 1775, who recognized us in 1778, who loved Benjamin Franklin (who stabbed them in the back), who gave us arms and money ($1.3 billion livres), who sent us 6,000 soldiers in 1780, who sent us a fleet, who were with us at Yorktown, and who went deeply into debt to support us and gained little?

Vern,

A few cynical reasons: The Five Eyes, the creation of the State of Israel, the City of London, the World Wars, and America's transition from republic to empire. PepeTheFrog believes the mainstream media manipulates the public to strengthen the "special relationship."

The only Americans PepeTheFrog has seen truly venerating the royal family had proud, blood ties to England. It is a genetic and cultural nostalgia that you won't find as much outside of the Northeastern colonies. The Scots-Irish in the Appalachians and Mid-Atlantic do not feel the same way at all-- quite the opposite. Aristocratic Southerners consider themselves to be worthy of veneration, instead. The Germanics and Scandinavians of the Midwest are typically unimpressed, due to their individualism. Some Americans are fascinated by the royal family strictly because of supermarket tabloids and television.

As for the French: Americans have never been accused of having a long or accurate historical memory. Some American presidents and presidential hopefuls have spoken French rather well, but they never demonstrate their skill or admit it. It would cost them votes from Americans who would never believe or, God forbid, research the details about your interesting post. Do you remember the idiocy about "freedom fries" instead of french fries?

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Guest Vern Edwards

I remember the idiocy of "freedom fries" very well. All because they wouldn't go along with our madness. And now, virtually all admit that Monsieur Villepin was right.

"No one can assert today that the path of war will be shorter than that of the inspections. No one can claim either that it might lead to a safer, more just and more stable world... This message comes to you today from an old country, France, from an old continent like mine, Europe, that has known wars, occupation and barbarity. A country that does not forget and knows everything it owes to the freedom-fighters who came from America and elsewhere."

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Guest Vern Edwards
1 hour ago, apsofacto said:

I appreciate efforts to revive the French Reign of Terror here at home...

What efforts are you talking about?

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The recent examples have involved animals for some reason:

  • Kid gets into gorilla exhibit at zoo ->gorilla gives kid concussion-> responsible adult shoots gorilla-> trial by media-> week of hatred toward responsible adult
  • Dentist shoots lion in corrupt country-> trial by media-> week of hatred toward dentist

Prior to those:

  • Scientist lands probe on a comet-> wears goofy tee-shirt with scantily clad women at press conference-> Scientist pilloried and forced to grovel by know-nothings .
  • Mozilla CEO gives money to Prop ###-> Activists destroy his life.

These are happening more and more often and I honestly can't keep up.  This doesn't even include university-run show-trials that can occur when two people get drunk and have intercourse.  This is obviously not as bad as the Reign of Terror but we have to crawl before walking.

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Guest Vern Edwards

During the Reign of Terror, September 1793 - July 1794, about 16,594 people were by way of the guillotine -- 2.639 in Paris. Another 25,000 or so were variously executed in other parts of France. Those executed included the king, the queen, and their children. It ended with the beheading of its initiator, Robespierre.

What you described is no Reign of Terror. The people who harassed the gorilla killer were nothing more than overwrought animal lovers, poor things. No Madame Defarges among them. The jackass dentist deserved to be harassed and should have been driven out of business. (I'm an overwrought animal lover.) The scientist was an idiot for wearing that tee-shirt in public, especially since there are so many really cool and funny science tee-shirts that he could have worn. A failure of imagination. I don't know anything about the Mozilla CEO.

No, we're not in the same league. Not even close. When the French did the Reign of Terror, heads rolled and blood ran in the streets.

Quote

We are now, therefore, got to that black precipitous Abyss; whither all things have long been tending; where, having now arrived on the giddy verge, they hurl down, in confused ruin; headlong, pellmell, down, down;—till Sansculottism have consummated itself; and in this wondrous French Revolution, as in a Doomsday, a World have been rapidly, if not born again, yet destroyed and engulphed. Terror has long been terrible: but to the actors themselves it has now become manifest that their appointed course is one of Terror; and they say, Be it so. “Que la Terreur soit a l’ordre du jour.”

Thomas Carlyle, The French Revolution, Vol.III, Part 5, Ch. 1.

We ain't there. Yet.

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