James Madison Papers

To James Madison from David Jameson, 15 September 1781

From David Jameson

RC (LC: Rives Collection of Madison Papers). Docketed by JM, “Jameson, David Sepr. 15. 1781.”

Richmond Sep 15. 1781

Dr. Sir

I was not favoured with any letter from you by this weeks post. In my letter by last Post I gave you reason to suppose Gen. Washington was in Virga. A man from Fredsbg assured me just as I was closing my letter, that the Genl. had crossed Potowmack. I am truly sorry for the mistake.1 The Governor is at Camp—the Delegates Lr to him I recd.,2 and am much pleased to find Col Laurens is arrd. with the Clothing Arms &c. It is unlucky the Vessels did not come further South.* The Clerk of the House of Delegates is not yet come to Town, as soon as he does, I will apply to him for the Indian treaty you desire.3 I inclose you the acts of the last Session of Assembly. I cannot get from Mr Harrison the payMaster, A list of the S. Caro. officers & the Sums advanced them from our Treasury4 Is it not high time Congress should reimburse the large Sums expended by this State on Accot. of the ceded Lands5—Claims for considerable sums are now demanded which Mr Pollock says he advanced, and wch. we are quite unable to pay. A Mr. Clarke Mr Pollocks agent in Phila. presses for payment.6 I have advised Mr Ross to write to the Delegates on the occasion.7

It is not in my power to give you a partr. accot. of the engagement between the French & British Fleets off our Capes last week—perhaps you may obtain this accot from the french Minister It is reported that some british transports were sent in two days ago.8 I wrote you in my last that neither of the printers had paper enough to publish a Gazette9 I am with great esteem

dr Sir Yr obedt hb Ser

David Jameson

1Jameson’s letter, probably dated 8 September, has not been found. On 9 September 1781 Washington crossed the Potomac on his way from Baltimore to Mount Vernon (Douglas S. Freeman, George Washington, V, 325).

2See Virginia Delegates to Nelson, 4 September 1781. Governor Nelson, who also was commanding general of the state forces of Virginia, served with the troops most of the time from 20 August to 30 November 1781, when he retired from the governorship. As the senior member of the Council of State, Jameson was lieutenant governor.

4See Jameson to JM, 15 August 1781. Benjamin Harrison, Jr., had been a deputy paymaster general of continental troops in Virginia since his appointment on 15 February 1776 (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , IV, 151; 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, 376, 377, 389). Between 4 and 17 August the Governor in Council had advanced in excess of £600,000 in support of the military efforts of the Carolinas and Georgia, with the greater portion of the outlay going to South Carolina (ibid., II, 370, 371, 373, 376).

5Probably a reference to the expenses of the expeditions of George Rogers Clark against the British in the area north of the Ohio River, and to the cost of establishing civil government there (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, 260–63, 274–77).

6See Jefferson to Virginia Delegates, 15 March, n. 1; and Virginia Delegates to Jefferson, 1 May 1781, n. 1. Daniel Clark (d. 1799) was a Spanish subject and a New Orleans merchant of “considerable wealth and influence” (American Historical Review, XXXII [1926–27], 802–3; Louisiana Historical Quarterly, XXVII [1944], 18–19). On 22 June 1781 he had petitioned Governor Nelson to be reimbursed the forty thousand Mexican dollars which he had advanced to Virginia from “his private fortune” to help sustain her military operations in the Illinois country (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, 180–81). On 21 July Clark presented to the Council of State for payment Oliver Pollock’s draft on Virginia for 54,981 Spanish milled dollars, which Clark alleged that he had loaned to Pollock. Although some of Pollock’s outlays as commercial agent of the state appeared to have been made without proper authorization, the Council of State directed that Clark be furnished with commodities to a value of $20,000, provided that he post a bond to refund the money “in case so much shall not appear to be due to Mr Pollock” (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, 362–63, 364–65). Despite the fact that the Virginia General Assembly in December 1781 resolved that Clark should be paid the balance of nearly $35,000 owed him, he had not received all of this sum by June 1783 (Journal of the House of Delegates description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of Virginia, March 1781 Session in Bulletin of the Virginia State Library, XVII, No. 1 (January 1928). description ends , October 1781, pp. 38, 45, 56, 63–64; May 1783, pp. 36–37). Between 1784 and 1786, Virginia made arrangements to honor most of Pollock’s claims against her, but as late as 1811 he again petitioned the General Assembly in vain, alleging that he still was owed $9,574 with accrued interest (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, 535–36; James Alton James, Oliver Pollock: The Life and Times of an Unknown Patriot [New York, 1937], pp. 288, 298, 300–305, 334, 343–44). As Secretary of State of the United States, 1801–1809, JM was to become well acquainted with Daniel Clark’s nephew and namesake, both when he served as American consul at New Orleans and later as delegate from the Territory of Orleans in Congress.

7If David Ross, the commercial agent of the Commonwealth, wrote to the Virginia delegates about Pollock’s claim, the letter has not been found.

8See JM to Pendleton, 3 September 1781, n. 3. Several brief accounts of the Battle of the Capes on 5–6 September reached Philadelphia before JM received the present letter (Pennsylvania Journal, 19 September 1781). On his way from Newport to Chesapeake Bay, Barras captured “two transports from Charlestown, bound to New-York, with some soldiers on board, and a number of women and children” (Pennsylvania Packet, 4 October 1781). On 24 September British warships from New York, convoying transports bearing troop reinforcements to Cornwallis, were barred by the French fleet from entering Chesapeake Bay (W. M. James, British Navy in Adversity, p. 297).

Authorial notes

[The following note(s) appeared in the margins or otherwise outside the text flow in the original source, and have been moved here for purposes of the digital edition.]

* I hope we shall have part of the Clothing for the Virga line, they are very bare[?] & we have it not in our power to do much for them10

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