James Madison Papers

Session of Virginia Council of State, 29 March 1779

Session of Virginia Council of State

MS (Virginia State Library).

Editorial Note

The official manuscript “Journal of the Council of State of Virginia,” from which the earlier samples of the minutes of this body were taken for reproduction in the present volume, is missing for this session. The minutes given below reproduce those entered in rough form by the secretary of the council in the “Council Minute Book.”

Monday March 29th 1779

present Jno Page Esqr. Lieut Govr

D Digges D Jameson Jas Madison Jos. Prentis & B Waller Esqrs.

Colo. Theoderick Bland having been apptd by Genl Washington to command at ye barracks of ye Convention Troops in Albemarle,1 & having made application to this board for Instructions & assistance—the board were of opinion that a small party of Light horse to pursue Deserters & be ready for emergencies & such Supplies for a Table as will maintain ye dignity & importance of his Station are things necessary; but as ye Superintendence of that business has been expressly disclaimed by them,2 they could do no more than recomd it to ye Col to send for 15 Dragoons f’m his own Regt3 to serve at ye barracks, & to certify to Congress as their opn that a Table is necessary;4 which ye Lieut Govr. was requested to do by Lr. a Lr. was accordgly written & ordd. to be recorded. (Copy filed).

A Lr. from Majr. Genl. Lincoln5 referring to Majr. Meade6 for an acct of Affairs to ye Southard was read; & Majr. Meade attending & having related ye Distressed Situation of Genl Lincoln for want of Troops the Board advised that Colo. Mason7 be written to, to March off so many Militia ordered for ye Expedition as he may be able to collect, without delay, by ye shortest Rout to join the Genl & a Lr. was written & recorded.

The Board, taking under their consideration sevl Letters f’m Colo Muter8 relative to ye procuring Boats for ye reception of ye Stores f’m on board ye Flags of Truce, & finding such Interruptions to their Delibe[r]ations by having their attention called off so often to ye affairs of ye Convention Troops;9 advised that Colo Muter be requested & empowerd to take under his direction entirely ye management of every thing relative to ye Business of ye Flags of Truce & to hire such Vessel, as may be necessary for ye more Expeditious Dispatch of ye sd Flags And a Letter was written to Colo Muter accordgly. A Copy filed.

Adjd. till Friday next ten oClock

John Page
Dudley Digges
David Jameson
J. Prentis
Ben: Waller

1Theodorick Bland (1742–1790) was appointed on 5 November 1778 to “regulate and conduct” the convention troops on their journey from Massachusetts to Virginia. Bland left on this service the next day (Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington description begins John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington, from the Original Sources, 1745–1799 (39 vols.; Washington, D.C., 1931–44). description ends , XIII, 207–8). Later he was in Congress with JM from 1780 to 1783, served in the Virginia legislature, and opposed the ratification of the Federal Constitution in the Convention of 1788. Nevertheless, he was the only member of the Virginia delegation in the first United States Congress who supported Hamilton’s proposal to have the federal government assume the states’ debts.

2The Council of State’s disclaimer has not been found, but on 14 December 1778 the House of Delegates resolved that the governor “despatch an express immediately to the honorable the president of Congress, and the board of war … informing them of the difficulties attending the guarding of the said prisoners with draughts from the militia, and the danger of an escape from such a guard, and to request Congress will order a sufficient corps of continental troops for that purpose, and to inform them that in the mean time every step will be taken to secure the prisoners till the arrival of such troops, which is to be as soon as possible” (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 1778, pp. 112–13). This was rejected by the Senate.

3Bland was colonel of the 1st Continental Dragoons (F. B. Heitman, Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army, p. 89).

4Meaning that Bland should receive supplies enabling him to entertain in a manner appropriate to his rank.

5Major General Benjamin Lincoln (1733–1810) had been commander of the southern department since September 1778. At this time he and his troops were in the Savannah neighborhood. In May 1780 he was captured with his army at Charleston but was exchanged in time to participate in the Yorktown campaign. He was Secretary at War from 1781 to 1783, commander of the force that suppressed Shays’s Rebellion, and lieutenant governor of Massachusetts in 1788.

6Major Everard Meade (1746–1802) of Amelia County was a captain in the 2d Virginia Regiment in 1776. On 7 May 1777 he was appointed an aide-de-camp to Major General Lincoln (Journals of the Council of State, I, 21; Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington description begins John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington, from the Original Sources, 1745–1799 (39 vols.; Washington, D.C., 1931–44). description ends , VIII, 23). Meade rose to the rank of colonel, and commanded Spotswood’s 2d Legion at least until August 1782 (Journals of the Council of State, III, 112, 133). He served in the Virginia Senate from 1795 to 1797 and was a trustee of Hampden-Sydney College (John H. Gwathmey, Historical Register of Virginians in the Revolution, p. 540; P. Hamilton Baskervill, Andrew Meade of Ireland and Virginia: His Ancestors and Some of His Descendants and Their Connections [Richmond, 1921], p. 42).

7David Mason (1733–1792) had resigned his commission as a colonel of the 15th Virginia Regiment on 31 July 1778 because of his wife’s illness. In May 1779 he commanded a Virginia militia regiment in North Carolina. He represented Sussex County in the House of Burgesses from 1758 to 1775, in all but one of the Revolutionary conventions of 1775 and 1776, and in the House of Delegates in 1780 and 1781. He also held many local offices (Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington description begins John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington, from the Original Sources, 1745–1799 (39 vols.; Washington, D.C., 1931–44). description ends , XI, 423; Journals of the Council of State, I, 455, 500; III, 366; Writers’ Program, Virginia, Sussex County: A Tale of Three Centuries [Richmond, Va., 1942], pp. 43, 44, 54; Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, XVI [1908], 180).

8George Muter.

10Although JM is recorded as present at the sessions of 29 and 31 March, he did not sign his name to their minutes. The fact that in each instance a space was left for his signature probably indicates that he was not present when the original minutes were signed.

Index Entries