James Madison Papers

Session of Virginia Council of State, 2 July 1778

Session of Virginia Council of State

MS (Virginia State Library).

Thursday July 2d 1778.

His Excellency
Dudley Digges David Jameson &
Nathaniel Harrison James Madison jun.

It being represented to the Board that Doubts have arisen concerning the extent of the privilege granted to the Officers and Soldiers raised in this State of being supplied with Goods from the public Stores at the reduced prices—They do advise the Governor to direct the Commissary of Stores in this City1 and the Agent appointed to issue Necessaries to Virginia’s Quota of Troops in the grand army,2 not to furnish Goods at the said prices to Commissaries Contractors or Waggon-Masters or any others retaining to the Army whose Salaries are not Limited or ascertained by Law, it being presumed that such persons have provided an adequate reward for their Services in their respective Contracts and consequently do not come within the intention of the Law.

And the Board considering the great confusion and abuses that might result from the Commissary of Stores selling Goods at ye reduced prices to the Troops without any regulation as to the Time of applying and the quantity to be taken, do Advise the Governor to Instruct Mr Armistead not to issue any Goods to the Officers or Soldiers unless their Wants be certified in a Necessary Roll, specifying the name and wants of each Individual, by the Commander in chief of the State Troops for the time being, at each Station, which Roll the Governor is further advised to direct the Commanders in chief aforesaid to provide once a Month as soon as may be after the Day on which the Troops receive their Monthly pay And his Excellency orders accordingly.3

Adjourned till tomorrow 10 oClock

Signed  Dudley Digges
Nathl Harrison
David Jameson
James Madison Jun

1William Armistead, Jr. (1754–1793), of New Kent County resigned from the Court of Admiralty in August 1776, and on 3 December 1777 he became Virginia’s commissary of stores. He held this office until 18 February 1782. His duties were “to receive all Goods & other Necessaries that may be imported or purchased for the use of this State and to purchase all such other Articles as may be wanted from time to time & to deliver them out in such manner as shall be found Necessary, & to do every thing in his power for preserving the Stores that may come into his possession.” Armistead was one of the representatives of his county in the House of Delegates from 1784 to 1786 (Journals of the Council of State, I, 122; II, 40, 359; III, 47; Earl G. Swem and John W. Williams, eds., Register of the General Assembly, pp. 20, 22; C. G. Chamberlayne, ed., The Vestry Book and Register of St. Peter’s Parish, New Kent and James City Counties, Virginia [Richmond, 1937], p. 557).

2Colonel Richard Morris (ca. 1746–1821), first of Hanover and later of Louisa County, was a planter and merchant. In 1776 he was a state treasury official and a state commissary and paymaster. On 3 June 1778 he was named in place of John Hawkins as purchaser of provisions for the Continental Army. His public career appears to have closed following his service as state coordinator of the specific grain tax, 1781–1782, and as a member from Louisa County in the House of Delegates in 1788 (John H. Gwathmey, Historical Register of Virginians in the Revolution, p. 566; Journals of the Council of State, II, 143; Calendar of Virginia State Papers, II, 397, 491; Louisa County Records, Will Book No. 6, p. 270, microfilm in Virginia State Library).

3This order was apparently not strong enough to solve the problem of supplies for the soldiers, for on 26 October 1778, when JM was still at Montpelier, the Council of State took the following action:

“It being represented to the Board that great abuses are practised by the Soldiers in their Dealings at the public Store whereby they obtain more Goods than are necessary for their own use making Sale of the overplus and that the former Regulations directing that necessary Rolls from each Station signed by the Commanding Officer to be sent to the Commissary of Stores monthly, specifying the Goods wanted for each Officer & Soldier is neglected: The Governor is advised to issue Orders to the Commissary of Stores to refuse delivering the Goods to the Officers & Soldiers of this State unless the Names of the Officers & Soldiers be mentioned & the several Articles be specified in such Rolls from each Station aforesaid; & to direct the Clerk to transmit a Copy of this Order to the Commanding Officer at each Garrison Which his Excellency Orders accordingly” (Journals of the Council of State, II, 203–4).

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