Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to George Weedon, 4 April 1781

To George Weedon

In Council April 4. 1781.


Your Letters of the 1st. 2d. and 3d. instant1 came to hand this morning. It is not in our power to send any additional arms to you at this time. I must therefore on this subject refer you to a Letter of mine which you had not then received, desiring that such men from the Counties destined for the present tour, as you have more than you can arm, may be sent over to General Muhlenberg, who I fear will not be able to keep his riflemen till the reliefs get to him.

I inclose you a resolution of Council as to the exchange of Citizens formed in general terms, the board being determined that nothing shall ever be done for this or that man particularly but under general rules the advantage of which shall result equally to the lowest and highest citizens. [Colo. Curle having been taken in arms, we think ourselves authorized to exchange for him in the military line. But we some time ago proposed Colo. Elligood in opposition to Colo. Matthews who was taken at the battle of Germ[an]town and to this proposition have not yet received fi[nal] answer. It would be very unjustifiable therefore to [defeat] Colo. Matthew’s right by agreeing to the exchange no[w pro]posed of Elligood for Colo. Curle, nor have we in our po[ssessi]on any other subject of the same rank to propose. Indeed we fear the right of turn will stand as an insuperable obstacle to every proposition for the exchange of this Gentl[eman] when we recollect that a whole line stands before him in Captivity in Charlestown; and can we get over this without incurring the bitterest reproaches for the Gentlemen who would be thus put by, reproaches the more painful to us, as they would be unanswerable. I wish with all my soul Colo. Curle’s enlargement on parole could be obtained. I think our indulgences to the captive officers of the enemy have been so liberal that, Genl. Philips especially, to whom this is known would not refuse it, particularly in so cruel an Instance as that of Colo. Curle. When I speak of an indulgence to him on parole I mean such a parole as a man of honour may sign and not one on pain of life and fortune, which could have been framed only by a person insensible of the obligations of honour. To tender one of these would be an insult on Colo. Curle, and tantamount to the refusing him altogether.]

I inclose you a List of the prisoners we have here. Any exchange of them which you can effect on the rule of Soldier for Soldier, Sailor for Sailor, citizen for citizen shall be confirmed by us.

I have the honor to be with great respect Sir Your mo. ob. Hble. Servt.,

Th: Jefferson

RC (PPAP); in a clerk’s hand, signed by TJ; slightly mutilated. FC (Vi); one or two words have been supplied from this text. Tr of that part of the text enclosed in brackets (supplied) is in NHi and was enclosed in TJ to Steuben, 6 Apr. 1781, q.v. Enclosure (PPAP): Extract from minutes of Council, attested by Archibald Blair, clerk of Council, as follows: “It is the opinion of the Board that in any exchanges which may be negotiated with the enemy of citizen for citizen, the terms of exchange be strictly adhered to, calling for such citizens of ours first as have been longest in captivity. But as no register of captive Citizens has been or could have been kept for want of information, it must suffice that this rule be applied according to the best information at the time of the exchange. Should the enemy at any time think proper to liberate absolutely any number of captive citizens of this State of which they shall be possessed, an equal number of theirs shall be liberated by us whensoever so many shall be in our possession.”

On the proposed exchange of Elligood in opposition to Colo. Matthews, see note to letter from Innes to TJ, 30 Mch.

1Weedon’s letter of 3 Apr. apparently arrived after RC was transcribed from FC, for it originally read “1st and 2d instant” (as does FC) and was then altered to read as above.

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