James Madison Papers

Virginia Delegates to Thomas Jefferson, 3 April 1781

Virginia Delegates to Thomas Jefferson

RC (Virginia State Library). Written by Theodorick Bland and signed by JM and Bland. Bland inadvertently dated it “1771” rather than 1781. Addressed to “His Excelly Thos. Jefferson Esqr. Govr of the State of Virginia” and franked by Bland. Docketed by a clerk, “James Madison’s Ltr April 12th. 1781.”

Philadelphia April 3d 17[8]1


We have been favord with Your Excellencys enclosing a State of the affair between Mr. Nathan and the Commonwealth of Virginia which we are endeavoring to put in train for a decision on the Principles you have been pleased to direct, the event of which yr. Excellency shall be informd of as soon as tis decided.1 The Unfortunate consequences which have attended the Naval engagement of Chesapeake on the 16th Ultimo,2 we feel with unspeakeable regret, as they have snatchd from us the pleasing prospects we had cherished for some time past, of frustrating the Sanguine project of the Enemy (of subjugating most of the Southern States this Campaign) and thrown our Country into a Situation which must require her utmost exertions, with all the aid that can be sent her to extricate her from. This we shall leave no means unessayed to effect, on our parts.

The Same unhappy event, has deprived us of the immediate Use of the Arms and Stores, which were to have gone from Rhode Island (the Cargoe of the Comite) on board a french frigate, but we have the Satisfaction to Inform yr. Excellency that they are safe arrived at this place, in the Frigate which was to have Carried them to Virginia. we have orderd them to be landed and have taken the necessary Steps to forward them with all possible dispatch by a safe Route to Virginia, having committed them to the Care of Col: Febiger,3 under the direction of the board of War4 but it is with much concern that we find on this as well as on many other occasions where we might yield considerable service to our Country on pressing emergencies, the want of Small Sums of Money is frequently an insurmountable obstacle to a speedy execution of our intention, and the important matters which engage our attention in Congress, interferes with the necessary attention, required5 by such objects when the ready means of executing them are no[t in our hands.]6 The Remedies to these inconveniencies we leave to the Wisdom of Yr. Excellency and the Legislature7 we have the Honor to be Yr. Excellys. Most obedt. svts

James Madison Junr.

Theok: Bland.

3Christian Febiger was in Philadelphia at this time acting as General Nathanael Greene’s agent for obtaining and forwarding supplies.

5Bland interlineated “required” above a deleted “that shd be paid.”

6The bracketed portion appears in Calendar of Virginia State Papers description begins William P. Palmer et al., eds., Calendar of Virginia State Papers and Other Manuscripts (11 vols.; Richmond, 1875–93). description ends , II, 9, apparently published before the letter was mutilated.

7The special session of the Virginia General Assembly had adjourned on 22 March without removing “these inconveniencies” (Journal of the House of Delegates, March 1781 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 , p. 52).

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