James Madison Papers

Credentials as a Delegate to Continental Congress, 14 December 1779

Credentials as a Delegate to
Continental Congress

MS (NA: PCC, Credentials of Virginia Delegates, fol. 45).

In the House of Delegates.
the 14th: December 1779

Resolved that James Henry, Joseph Jones, James Madison jn. and John Walker Esquires, be appointed Delegates to represent this Commonwealth in Congress untill the first Monday in November next, in the room of the Gentlemen who have resigned; they having been so elected by joint ballot of both Houses of Assembly.1


December 14th: 1779. John Beckley C. h. d.
Agreed to by the Senate A Copy
Will: Drew; C. S. John Beckley C. h. d.2

1JM submitted these credentials to Congress on the first day of his attendance, 20 March 1780 (Journals of the Continental Congress, XVI, 268). James Henry (1731–1804) of Accomack County served in Congress only until July 1780. He was a judge of the Virginia Court of Admiralty from 1782 to 1788 and of Virginia’s General Court from 1788 to 1800. Joseph Jones (1727–1805) of King William County was a member of Congress (1777–1778, 1780–1783) and of the House of Delegates (1776–1777, 1780–1781, 1783–1785). He served also as a member of the Virginia Convention of 1788 to consider the Federal Constitution. John Walker (1744–1809) of Albemarle County attended Congress only from May to November 1780. Briefly in 1790 he served in the United States Senate (Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress [8 vols.; Washington, 1921–36], V, lxiv.

2These initials stand, respectively, for clerk of the Senate and clerk of the House of Delegates. William Drew (ca. 1747–1785) of Berkeley County became clerk of the Virginia Senate in June 1779, succeeding Beckley, and retained the office through 1784. He had been a member of the commission to dispose of Lord Dunmore’s Berkeley County estate and clerk of various state and county committees (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 , May 1779, p. 55; October 1780, p. 78). John Beckley (1757–1807) was the clerk of one public agency or another for the greater part of his life. He became clerk of the Henrico County Committee of Safety in 1774 and held eight other clerkships, including that of the Virginia Senate (1777–1779), the Virginia House of Delegates (1779–1789), and the U.S. House of Representatives (1789–1797, 1801–1807). He was first Librarian of Congress and an active participant in the founding of the Jeffersonian Republican party (Journals of the Council of State, I, 232, 295, 298, 445; III, 469, 578; Noble E. Cunningham, Jr., “John Beckley: An Early American Party Manager,” William and Mary Quarterly, 3d ser., XIII [1956], 40–52).

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