James Madison Papers

Expense Account as Delegate in Congress, [20 December] 1780

Expense Account as Delegate in Congress

MS (Virginia State Library). In this instance, unlike on 25 September (q.v.) when JM forwarded an expense account to the Virginia Auditors of Public Accounts, he either wrote no covering letter to them or it has been lost. The statement given below covers the quarter from 20 September to 20 December 1780 and is taken from a double-size master sheet on which Madison recorded his debits and credits as a delegate from December 1779 to 20 March 1781. Also in the Virginia State Library is the ledger page for Madison of the Auditors of Public Accounts of his state. Among his papers in the Library of Congress are two sheets in his hand—one headed “Expences from the 20th of Sepr. 1780” and the other, “Money received from the 20th Sepr. 1780.” Entries on this retained copy or on the auditors’ ledger page which help to clarify the quarterly statement, given below, are mentioned in the notes.

Dr. [James Madison Junr. in account with the Commonwealth of Virginia] Cr.
1780 From Sepr. 20—to Decr. 20–1780
To Balance on last settlement 9962⅓ Dollars1
1780 [Dollars]
Ocr. 17 }
Nov. 1
Novr. 8
To Cash recd. of Geo. Meade & Co. for draught on the Auditors in their favor 6666⅔2 Decr. 20 By Board & Lodgs. including liqrs & Co.7 from Sepr 20 1889
By incidental expenses not included the above 8008
[Nov. 14]3 To do. recd of—Graatz4 in part of a draught on the Auditors in their favr. (my share 10,000) 40005 By expence of two Horses at public Stables 2827⅓9
Decr. 6. To do recd from Turnbull & Co 236916 By extra do. during occasional scarcities of forage there 1370⅔10
44320 By 5¼ Cord of Wood 27611
By Candles—276—washing 1025—Barber 350 164112
By allowance for 91 days at 20 Drs. per day 182013
By advance to Robt Jewel for cloathg. food & medicine for 6 sick Sailors belongg. to Virga. exchanged at N. Y. 276015
By Cash pd. for box to inclose the Books of the Delegates sent to Virga. under the care of Col. Febiger16 30
Balance 11502

1See Expense Account as Delegate in Congress, 25 September 1780—the next to last entry in the credit column.

2This figure represented a fairly complicated transaction. The auditors sent to the Virginia delegates a draft for £8,000 Virginia currency in favor of George Meade & Co. of Philadelphia. This amount at 3⅓ for 1 equaled $26,666⅔ in continental money, to be divided evenly between the four delegates—Theodorick Bland, Joseph Jones, JM, and John Walker. Hence each would receive $6,666⅔. But in this figure another settlement was also involved. When Jones left Philadelphia in September 1780, he borrowed the equivalent of £3,000 Virginia currency from JM (Jones to JM, 9 October 1780, n. 3). Jones arranged to clear two-thirds of this debt by having £2,000 paid from the amount which Virginia owed to him. Thus, although Madison received from Meade & Co. $5,000 on 17 October, $3,678 on 1 November, and $4,655⅓ on 8 November, or $13,333⅓ in all, only one half of this total was a payment to him by Virginia. The other half was “on acct of JM & J[oseph] J[ones]” and hence not chargeable against JM by the auditors (JM’s retained copy of his financial accounts, mentioned in headnote). Jones cleared the £1,000 remainder of his obligation by sending JM that amount from Virginia.

3Date omitted on both JM’s master sheet and his retained copy. Date taken from auditors’ ledger page.

4Michael Gratz of Philadelphia.

5In the letter from the Virginia delegates to the auditors, 11 September 1780, a draft of $30,000 receivable from Gratz is mentioned. Each of the three delegates (Walker had left Congress) was to receive $10,000 of it. JM drew $4,000 on 14 November and the rest early in 1781 (Receipt to Gratz, 3 January 1781; Expense Account as Delegate in Congress, 27 March 1781, in Virginia State Library).

6See Jefferson to Virginia Delegates, 14 November 1780. The auditors’ ledger page records 78, 92, and 100 to 1 as the depreciation rate allowed for the Meade, Gratz, and Turnbull drafts, respectively. Thus this Turnbull payment to JM amounted only to £71 1s. ($23,691 ÷ 3.33 ÷ 100).

7This may be an abbreviation for “company” or a symbol for “etc.”

8Here JM appears to have reduced to a round number what he recorded in his retained copy as “Fruits &c. prior to 25th. of Ocr .… 200” and “To Fruits &c & wine .… 658⅓.”

9On his retained copy, no sum appears for “To Horses & Stablage.”

10This figure is the approximate total of the following five entries on his retained copy: “Sepr. 28. 3 Bushels of Oats at 30 drs. per Bushel .… 90”; “Octr. 7. 12 do [Bushels] .… 300”; “Novr. 2. 5 Bushels of Oats at 28 drs .… 140”; “Novr. 24. To Oats .… 180”; and “Decr. 18th To 20 Bushels of Oats at 33 drs .… 660.” These add up to $1,370. Having undercharged for fruits and wine (above, n. 8), he may have felt justified in adding an extra two-thirds of a dollar here so as to make his total expenses for the quarter amount to an even number of dollars.

11On his retained copy JM wrote “Octr. 25. 5¼ Cords of wood at £175 with cartage &c.… 267.0.” Multiplying £175 by 5¼ and dividing the result by 3.33 equals approximately 276. JM evidently noted the erroneous total on his retained copy but, without changing it, he merely entered the correct sum on the copy for the auditors.

12This amount should have been $1,651 ($276 + $1,025 + $350). And yet, JM once again varied from an entry in his retained copy. There he recorded, “To Barber .… $300.” There also are these entries: “Novr 28. To washing .… 575”; “Dec 19 . . To washing .… 450”; and “Novr. 7—To 12 lb. Candles at 23 drs .… 276.” Hence his charges for washing and candles on his quarterly statement and on his retained copy are in agreement.

13The per diem allowance had been fixed by the Virginia General Assembly (Expense Account as Delegate in Congress, 25 September 1780, n. 5). JM kept no record of this item on his retained copy.

14The sum of the seven figures above the horizontal line is 27,624 rather than 30,028. The difference of 2,404 resulted from four errors made by JM in his computation. First of all, he clearly arrived at 30,028 by adding the itemizations on his retained copy and then mistakenly assumed that the items on his copy for the auditors would total the same amount. Second, when he added the items on his retained copy, he misread 267.0 (see n. 11 above) as 2,670. Hence on this one item he was in error by 2,403. Note 11, above, also points out that his retained copy differed by 9 from his copy for the auditors. Finally, as indicated in note 12, the 276, 1025, and 350 on his retained copy, by being erroneously totaled on the copy for the auditors as 1,641, rather than 1,651, resulted in a difference of 10 between the two copies. Thus, 2,403 minus 9 plus 10 equals 2,404, which was the net amount of JM’s overcharge. Judging from the ledger page for JM in the account book of the auditors, they failed to detect his error either in his candles-washing-barber entry or in his addition of the seven figures mentioned at the beginning of this note.

15Robert Jewell (d. 1781) was warden of the “new jail” at 6th and Walnut streets in Philadelphia, where war prisoners were often confined (Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, XLI [1917], 411–12; John F. Watson, Annals of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania in the Olden Time … , revised by Willis P. Hazard [3 vols.; Philadelphia, 1927], III, 179–80; Journals of the Continental Congress, XVII, 676–77).

16Colonel Christian Febiger.

17Although it is reasonable to believe that these expenses were approved by the Auditors of Public Accounts for submission to the legislature of Virginia, no documentary evidence of this fact is known to exist. In late December 1780, when JM’s quarterly statement probably reached Virginia, the legislature was rushing its business to completion in the face of the news of an invasion of the state by British troops under Brigadier General Benedict Arnold. There is no mention in the General Assembly’s journal for the closing days of that session or for the subsequent session from 2 to 22 March 1781 of the accounts of the delegates in Congress for the last quarter of 1780. On the other hand, JM had over $30,800 placed to his credit in Philadelphia by Virginia in February 1781 (Expense Account as Delegate in Congress, 27 March 1781, in Virginia State Library). This would hardly have been done if his accounts for the preceding quarter had not passed muster with the state authorities.

Index Entries