Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from the Virginia Delegates in Congress, 1 May 1781

From the Virginia Delegates in Congress

Philada. May 1st. 1781


We enclose herewith a letter from Oliver Pollock Esqr. which will inform your Excellency of a very large claim which may soon be expected on the Treasury of Virginia.

Mr. Nicholson Agent for Mr. Ross arrived here yesterday. We fear it will not be possible for him to get some of the most essential articles even if an exchange of his funds can be negociated, and that the difficulty of such an exchange will be a great obstacle to his getting such articles as are to be had. As far as our efforts can avail him they will not be spared. We had previous to his coming taken some measures which we flatter ourselves will yield about 2000 good muskets in about two weeks. The transportation is not included otherwise than by a naked order of Congress and must now be referred to Mr. Nicholson.

The 1100 Stand belonging to the State have at length gone forward, with most of the other Articles brought hither with them. The 8th. of this month is the day fixed we understand for the march of the Pennsylvania line from York Town.

The report from N. York is that Clinton is disembarking his troops.

We also inclose herewith an extract of a letter from Genl. Washington which needs no comment.

We have the honor to be with the highest respect & regard Yr. Excellys obt. & hmble Servts.,

J. Madison Junr.

Theok. Bland

M. Smith

RC (Vi); in Bland’s hand; signed by the three delegates; endorsed in part: “Letter from Delegates 1 May 1781. Not answerd.” Enclosures not found: The extract of the letter from Washington may have been taken from his of 25 Apr. 1781 to the president of Congress (Washington, Writings, ed. Fitzpatrick, xxi, 503–504).

Pollock’s very large claim: was considered by the Council on 21 July 1781, when Daniel Clark presented a draft on Virginia “by Oliver Pollock esqr of New Orleans, for the sum of fifty four thousand nine hundred and eighty one milled Dollars.” The Council pointed out that Pollock had never been authorized to draw on the state except for bona fide and actual expenditures for supplies bought in behalf of the state, and on “an account of particulars first rendered and approved by the Executive”; the commercial agent of the state (David Ross) was therefore advised to accept the draft on the express condition “that payment shall be made to him of whatever balance shall be found due to Mr. Pollock from the State, on a final settlement of his accounts by the Commissioners appointed for liquidating all claims against the State in the Western country; provided the said balance does not exceed the draft now produced by Mr. Clark.” This, however, did not satisfy Clark, who had advanced money to Pollock for “no other motive than to serve the State” and who asserted that he would be reduced “to the greatest difficulties” if he did not receive at least part of the sum due; whereupon the Council directed Ross to pay Clark “the sum of ten thousand Milled Dollars, or the value thereof in any commodity as may be agreed on” provided Clark gave bond to make a refund in case it should turn out that the state did not owe the money to Pollock. (Va. Council Jour. description begins Journals of the Council of the State of Virginia, ed. H. R. McIlwaine description ends , ii, 362–3; see also 353 and 364–5 for related orders; for an account of Pollock’s self-sacrificing advances of funds in behalf of Virginia and of the state’s long delay in making settlement, see James A. James, Oliver Pollock, N.Y. and London, 1937, and the sketch in DAB description begins Dictionary of American Biography description ends by the same author. See also TJ to Bernardo de Gálvez, 8 Nov. 1779.)

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