Motion of Virginia Delegates on Exchange of Flour
MS (NA: PCC, No. 19, VI, 607). Written by Joseph Jones.
[21 June 1781]
On the Motion of the Delegates of Virginia—
Resolved that the Commissary Genl. of purchases1 be authorised to exchange with Nicholson2 Agent for the State of Virginia now in Philadelphia, so much a part of the flour within the State of Pennsylvania, Delaware or Maryland belonging to the United States as the Superindt. of finance shall approve,3 for a like Quantity to be delivered for the Use of the sd United States in the State of Virginia, by the aforesaid Agent4
1. Colonel Ephraim Blaine (1741–1804) of Pennsylvania had been commissary of the 8th Pennsylvania Regiment, 1776–1777, commissary of supplies, continental army, 1777, and deputy commissary general of purchases for the middle department, 1777–1780. Appointed commissary general of purchases for the continental army on 1 January 1780, he was to hold that office until 24 July 1783 (Heitman, Historical Register Continental description begins F. B. Heitman, Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army during the War of the Revolution (Washington, 1893). description ends , p. 105). In Nathanael Greene’s judgment he was “as unequal to the business as he [was] fond of it” (Douglas S. Freeman, George Washington, V, 152, n. 70).
2. George Nicolson.
3. At the bottom of the sheet on which this motion appears, there is written the following, apparently also in Jones’s hand, “as Mr R Morris with the advise & concurrence of the comr in chief shall approve.” This was substituted for “as the Superindt. of finance shall approve,” before Congress adopted the motion (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XX, 687; Pendleton to JM, 28 May 1781, n. 4).
4. This resolution was one of a number passed without dissent during the third week of June to hasten arms, clothing, and food to Lafayette’s army in Virginia (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XX, 679, 682, 687). As was the fate of other resolutions intended to assist the Marquis, the present one was excellent in purpose but futile in effect. By 8 September Lafayette, who had already attributed the dearth of provisions for his men to “want of sistem,” was fuming to the commander-in-chief, “I do not know in the name of God what prevents them coming, their is no Continental Commissary of purchases and the State one [Major Richard Claiborne] has little sence, and no activity” (Louis Gottschalk, ed., Letters of Lafayette to Washington, pp. 222, 229).