Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from David Ross, Enclosing a Letter from James Maury, 26 May 1781

From David Ross, Enclosing a Letter from James Maury

Point of Fork 26th. May 1781


I have just now received the inclosed letter from Mr. James Maury which I send for your perusal. Any thing that you think in my power to do for him I will Chearfully perform it.

Agreable to your desire I furnished him with every thing I thought necessary for his embarking and instructed him to take a passage from the E. Shore if he found any inconvenience in going from Hampton.

The Money he mentions in his letter is an order for £10,000 which I gave him on the Treasurer to pay his expenses and lay in provisions for the voyage. I have just now received a letter from the Marquis recquesting me to meet him at Richmond. I shall sett off tomorrow morning but expect to return in 2 days.

The Greatest Part of the Powder belonging to the State is now at this Place under a Guard of 7 men.

Mr. Anderson is now in such a way as to repair 100 muskets per week and from the additional number of hands which he’ll be able to sett to work next week I suppose he will then repair at the rate of 150 per week. I am with great respect Sir Your very huml Serv,

David Ross

I Have got a piece of Ravens Duck at this place for you to make the addition to your Marque[e]

James Maury to David Ross

Richmond 24 May 1781

Dear Sir

Not having been able to procure the Money, Horse or Servant for my Journey to Hampton, I am still here. General Cornwallis too, in the Interim, having reached Petersburg, I am desirous of making another application for my Vessell. It occuring to me also that every obstacle to negociating for the permission of sending Tobaccoe to our prisoners being now removed, the Governor would willingly endeavor to have it effected here, by which much Time, much Trouble and much Expence would be saved. No Misunderstanding as yet between the opposite Commanders. The Marquis sent in a Flag the day before yesterday with a passport from Congress for the Vessell loaded with necessaries for the Convention Troops, which Flag Lord Cornwallis admitted notwithstanding it so soon followed after the Affronts recieved by his predecessor. We have now some Tobaccoe and some vessells which we can call our own. If you think as I do I pray you urge these Considerations to his Excellency and send the Bearer my Brother with your Dispatches to him. If his Excellency approves our proposal blank Commissions of Flag of Truce should be sent for as many vessells as will answer the purpose that in Case of Success they might be protected. I refer you to my Brother for the News. I am with much regard Dr Sir yr very humble Servant,

J. Maury

RC (Vi); addressed to TJ at Charlottesville, “favored by Mr. Maury”; endorsed. Enclosure (Vi); addressed to Ross at “Point-fork By Favor of Mr. F. Maury.”

It is probable that TJ had requested a Marquee because of a shortage of housing in Charlottesville, for the sudden influx of a large number of state officials and members of the legislature no doubt taxed the capacity of homes and taverns in that village. William Davies, for example, had sent to John Peyton for a marquee for his own use and on 25 May Peyton wrote him: “Agreeable to your request I have sent up my waggon with your Marquee. … I presented your order to Captain Russell for the thin duck to mend your Marquee, which he refused delivering without the barrons orders” (Peyton to Davies, 25 May, Vi). But, as he expected to leave office almost at once, TJ must have requested the marquee for the use of his successor; TJ, of course, not only stayed at Monticello himself but reported that the “Speakers of the two houses and some other Members were lodging with us” (Vol. 4: 265). The affronts received by his predecessor: TJ, of course, was the one who felt that he had been first affronted and the present letter, containing what must have been the first news he received that Lafayette had tendered the passports for the Riedesel, would not seem to have been the most diplomatic method that Maury could have chosen to present his cause (see TJ to the Virginia delegates, 10 May; Lafayette to TJ, 28 May; and Ross to TJ, 28 May). Every obstacle … being now removed: That is, removed by the death of General Phillips. See Ross to Davies, 4 Aug. 1781, CVSP, ii description begins William P. Palmer and others, eds., Calendar of Virginia State Papers … Preserved in the Capitol at Richmond, Richmond, 1875–93, 11 vols. description ends , 291.

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