James Madison Papers

Session of Virginia Council of State, 13 February 1778

Session of Virginia Council of State

MS (Virginia State Library).

Friday February 13th 1778

Dudley Digges Esquire Lieutenant Governor
John Blair David Jameson &
Nathaniel Harrison James Madison jr

A Warrant was issued by the Lieutenant Governor with the Advice of the Council, for one hundred pounds payable to Colonel Thomas Marshall upon Account for forwarding the recruiting his Regiment of State Artillery1

The Lieutenant Governor having in the absence of the Governor received a Letter to his Excellency from the Treasury Board mentioning that on account of the great Demands from all Quarters on the Continental Treasury it had become necessary to draw on their Loan Office in this State for thirty five thousand Dollars payable to Alexander Rose Esquire for the purchase of Supplies for the Army; and desiring that the said Mr Rose might receive out of the Treasury of this State so much as he might not be able to negotiate at the said Loan Office the Commissioner thereof giving Certificates for the amount of the money so advanced, to be kept until he can exchange the same. The Board duly weighing the importance of this Business & the necessity of Complying with this request, advise the Lieutenant Governor notwithstanding the weak Condition of our own Treasury at present, to give a Warrant on the Treasury for Six thousand one hundred & eighty pounds eighteen Shillings equal to twenty thousand six hundred & three Dollars, & a Draught on Maurice Symonds Esquire Agent for the State at Charles Town for ten thousand Dollars more payable to said Mr Rose or order, which Sums together with what he has received at the Loan Office, amount to the thirty five thousand Dollars drawn for.2 But the Board at the same time advise the Lieutenant Governor or his Excellency the Governor if he should return in time, to write the Treasury Board, that there being a Loan Office here for the purpose of borrowing Money for the use of this State it can by no means consist with our Circumstances to lend Money till the Continental Loan office here may be enabled to repay it, which from appearances will not happen in any short time and that the Loan is made in complyance with the urgency of the occasion, and in full confidence that the Continental Treasury Board will in some short time repay the Money lent, either by remitting the same to the Treasury of this State, or by honouring the Governors Draught for the amount as soon as it shall become necessary to make it.3 The Lieutenant Governor accordingly issued his Warrant on the Treasurer in favor of Mr Rose for Six thousand one hundred & eighty pounds eighteen Shillings & a Draught on Maurice Symonds Esquire at Charles Town for ten thousand Dollars. a Letter was written Mr Symonds advising him thereof.

On considering the petition of Major Thomas Smith of Gloucester County the Board advise the Lieutenant Governor to grant him leave to apply to the Commanding Officer either at York or Hampton for a flag of Truce attending with a proper officer to go on Board any of the Ships of War belonging to the Enemy lying convenient to these Stations respectively to make application for thirteen Slaves which he has lost, and are said to be on board some of the said Ships.4

On Considering the petition of Colonel Littleton Savage of Northampton County, in behalf of himself & others who have lost Slaves, which are supposed to be on board some of ye Enemy’s Ships; the Lieutenant Governor is advised to empower the County Lieutenant of the said County (no Troops being stationed at this time on that Shore) to send a proper officer of his Militia, to go with a Flag of Truce, attended by the owners of Such Slaves, in order to make application to have them returned.5

Adjourned till tomorrow 10. oClock

Signed  Dudley Digges
John Blair
Nathl Harrison
David Jameson
James Madison jr

1Colonel Thomas Marshall (1730–1802), the father of Chief Justice John Marshall, was chosen by the Assembly in November 1777 to command a proposed regiment of artillery (Journal of the House of Delegates description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia; Begun and Held At the Capitol, in the City of Williamsburg. Beginning in 1780, the portion after the semicolon reads, Begun and Held in the Town of Richmond. In the County of Henrico. The Journal for each session has its own title page and is individually paginated. The edition used, unless otherwise noted, is the one in which the journals for 1777–1781 are brought together in one volume, with each journal published in Richmond in 1827 or 1828, and often called the “Thomas W. White reprint.” description ends , October 1777, pp. 27, 30). He had been a burgess from Fauquier County for five terms in the 1760’s and early 1770’s, and attended the conventions of 1774, 1775, and 1776. From 1783, when he moved to Kentucky, until his death, he was prominent in its political and economic life (Albert J. Beveridge, The Life of John Marshall [4 vols.; Boston, 1916–19], I and II, passim).

2On 3 October 1776, Congress ordered the creation of loan offices in each state to forward the money which its citizens were willing to loan at interest to the central government. The current request of the Board of Treasury was made on 26 January 1778 (Journals of the Continental Congress, V, 845–46; X, 90–91). Colonel Maurice Simons (1744–1785), a prominent resident of Charleston, S.C., commanded the militia of that city during much of the war (Journals of the Council of State, III, 11, 33; South Carolina Historical and Genealogical Magazine, XXXVII [1936], 144, 150 n.). Alexander Rose (ca. 1738–1807) was a well-known Charleston merchant. He was in business at least from 1768 to 1799 (ibid., XVII [1916], 8, 10 n., 40; XXIV [1923], 181; XXX [1929], 238–39; XXXII [1931], 80; L [1949], 2, 147 n.).

3On 9 March a warrant for $30,603 was authorized by Congress for the reimbursement of “the governor and council of the State of Virginia” (NA: PCC, No. 136, II, 139, 211; Journals of the Continental Congress, X, 234). The money reached the state treasury on 17 April (H. R. McIlwaine, ed., Official Letters of Virginia Governors, I, 266).

4Major Thomas Smith (d. ca. 1807), a militia soldier, planter, and merchant of Gloucester County and (after 1791, when Mathews County was formed) of Mathews County. He was a justice of the peace in both counties, agent for state trade and director of military stores from 1777 to 1779, a delegate to the General Assembly from 1780 to 1790 and 1793 to 1796, and a delegate to the Virginia Convention of 1788, which ratified the Federal Constitution (ibid., I, 67 n.; Polly Cary Mason, comp., Records of Gloucester County, Virginia [2 vols.; Newport News, 1946–48], I, 121; Earl G. Swem and John W. Williams, eds., Register of the General Assembly, pp. 11–33, 40–46, 244). The expression “flag of truce” had several connotations during the war. In this instance, after arranging in advance with the British commander, a patriot under such a “flag” could safely enter the enemy lines on a matter of legitimate business. Sometimes the term refers to a ship engaged in the exchange of prisoners of war, or carrying materials for their support (Session of Council of State, 29 March 1779).

5Littleton Savage (ca. 1740–1805) was a member of the Northampton County Committee of Safety in 1774–1776, a county justice in 1792, and a colonel of militia. He is sometimes identified with the neighboring county of Accomack because of his landed property there (Journals of the Council of State, I, 334; III, 385, 390; William and Mary Quarterly, 1st ser., XVI [1907–8], 104; Lyon G. Tyler, ed., Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography, I, 319). John Burton (ca. 1746–1786) was the Northampton County lieutenant. From 1769 to 1774 he had been a burgess from that county, and he was a member of its Committee of Safety and a delegate to the Revolutionary Convention of March 1775 (Journals of the Council of State, I, 334; William G. and Mary Newton Stanard, comps., The Colonial Virginia Register, pp. 184–96, passim, 202).

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