James Madison Papers

Alexander Spotswood to Virginia Delegates, 19 August 1781

Alexander Spotswood to Virginia Delegates

RC (NA: PCC, No. 78, XXI, 109–11). Addressed “To The Hb. The Virga. Delegates” and docketed: “Letter from Alexr Spotswood Augt. 19h. 1781. read 21st. referred to Mr Varnum Mr Duane Mr Bland Report of Committee. Aug 27. 1781 Entered. Read.”

Philadelphia August 19th 1781


My business here is to procure accoutriments For the two Legions now raiseing for the defence of our state,1 and which I have the honr. to Command and it is with pleasure that I inform you, that when I left Virginia the officers were recruiting rapidly—and I have every reason to believe that both Legions will be compleat before I can possibly Return

By the inclosed certificate you will observe, that the united states is indebted to Mr. Edward Simpson £1003 .. 9 .. 6 Specie, which sum his Excellency Gr. Nelson has pledged his word to pay Mr Simpson, provided he woud give me an order for the above sum due him from the states, to enable me to procure such accoutriments as was necessary for the equipment of the Legions, (and without which they cannot possibly Take the Field). this Mr. Simpson agreed to as will appear at the bottom of the certificate.2

You no doubt are well acquainted with The Strength of the Marquisses army—as well as the situation of our Country—Cut to pieces by five large navigable rivers, and of course out of the power of that great officer (with his present Force) to do more than prevent the enemy penetrating into the heart of our Country, until he is reinforced, so as to enable him to detatch from his main body & in order to put it in my power to Join him with the Legions, I must beg that this letter with the Certificate may be laid before yr: Ho. Body, and that you will as quick as possible honr. me with an answer.

From the certificate, it does not appear that the money is to be appropriated for the use of the publick[.] shoud any doubts arise on this head I do declare on my most sacred honr., that every shilling is to be Laid out in procuring3 such accoutriments as the Legions will want, and which I have put i[n] a train of Forwardness at Baltimore, on a supposition that I shd. most certainly receive this money.4

I am yrs. with Sentiments of respect & Esteem yr mt. Obt Sert

Alexr Spotswood

1See Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (2 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , I, 225, and n. 5; 282, n. 6. On 10 May 1781 the Virginia Council of State had advised Governor Jefferson to commission Spotswood, as of 20 March, “Brigadier General of the Two Legions” (Journals of the Council of State description begins H. R. McIlwaine et al., eds., Journals of the Council of the State of Virginia (Richmond, 1931——). description ends , II, 344; 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. 42). See also Pendleton to JM, 26 March 1781, and n. 16.

2Enclosure not found. Edward Simpson (ca. 1752–ca. 1789) of Spotsylvania County had earlier been employed by the state to repair arms and to supply military equipment. On 8 August he petitioned Governor Nelson for an exemption from military duty for artisans who were “employed with him by Genl: Spotswood in making the necessary accoutrements &c for his Legion” (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, 66, 303; Boyd, Papers of Jefferson description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson (16 vols. to date; Princeton, N.J., 1950——). description ends , V, 38 n., 53, 109, 300). On 15 November 1782 the treasurer was ordered to give Simpson “fifteen Hhds of upper Rappahannock Tobacco” in payment of part of his account with the state (Journals of the Council of State description begins H. R. McIlwaine et al., eds., Journals of the Council of the State of Virginia (Richmond, 1931——). description ends , III, 176). Later establishing himself in Fredericksburg, Simpson was soon involved in marital difficulties. Perhaps these explain his move in 1787 to Philadelphia, where he became a merchant (Fredericksburg City Court Records, Deed Book B, pp. 1–3, 9, microfilm in Virginia State Library).

3The two preceding words were inadvertently repeated.

4Spotswood’s memorial was laid before Congress on 21 August, and that body resolved six days later that his request could not “at present be complied with” (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXI, 892, 912). For an explanation of the rejection, see Virginia Delegates to Nelson, 28 August 1781.

Index Entries