James Madison Papers

Virginia Delegates to Benjamin Harrison, 5 March 1782

Virginia Delegates to Benjamin Harrison

RC (Virginia State Library). Written by Joseph Jones. Docketed, “Virga Delegates Lr. recd. March. 1782. March 5th.”

Phila: Mar: 5th. 1782


This weeks Post has brot. us no Letter from your Excellency.

Mr. Ross has directed Mr. Whiteside a mercht. of this City to pay us £200 each,1 which will enable those of us who have been sometime here to discharge our outstanding balances but will leave a small sum only for future occasions.

We impatiently expect a confirmation of the very interesting intelligence received from the Wt. Indies respecting the entire reduction of the Island of St. Christophers by the Forces of his most christian Majesty and advantage gained by the Fleet of the Ct. de Grasse over that of Sr. Saml. Hood. this last circumstance, if true, will give the Count so decided a superiority, that it is probable other Islands of the Enemy will soon share the fate of St. Christophers.2

The Chevr. de la Luzerne will we expect, in a few days set out for Virginia on a visit To Ct. Rochambeau, you will probably see him at Richmond.3 very respectfully we are

Yr. Excellencys obed Servts.

James Madison jr.

Edm: Randolph

Arthur Lee

Jos: Jones

1See Expense Account as Delegate, 20 March 1782. Probably in 1777, after serving for “about three years” as a clerk in Willing, Morris and Company’s office, Peter Whiteside (1752–1828) became a Philadelphia merchant under the firm name Peter Whiteside and Company. Thereafter Congress occasionally had business dealings with the company (NA: PCC, No. 19, IV, 247–48; JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XI, 738, 837; XIII, 164–66; XVI, 136–37; Clarence L. Ver Steeg, Robert Morris: Revolutionary Financier, with an Analysis of His Earlier Career [Philadelphia, 1954], p. 31; Harper’s Encyclopedia of United States History from 458 A.D. to 1905, based upon the Plan of Benson John Lossing … [10 vols.; New York, 1905], X, 348). By 1784 Whiteside had acquired 50,000 acres of land in Kentucky (Willard Rouse Jillson, comp., Old Kentucky Entries and Deeds: A Complete Index to All the Earliest Land Entries, Military Warrants, Deeds and Wills of the Commonwealth of Kentucky [Louisville, 1926], p. 159).

2See Virginia Delegates to Harrison, 15 February, n. 5; and JM to Pendleton, 25 February 1782, n. 6. The Pennsylvania Packet of 7 March reported that Grasse’s ships outnumbered Hood’s and that an early engagement between the two fleets was almost certain to occur.

3La Luzerne left Philadelphia about 8 March and returned by 13 April, but he did not visit Richmond while in Virginia (Wharton, Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence description begins Francis Wharton, ed., The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States (6 vols.; Washington, 1889). description ends , V, 229, 302–3; Randolph to JM, 11–13 April 1782). In his dispatch of 7 March 1782 to Vergennes, La Luzerne wrote that, besides seeking to persuade Rochambeau to come north for a conference with Washington on military affairs, he hoped to ascertain in Virginia “the causes of the languor which the state has shown for the last three or four years, and rouse the government officials, as best I can, to adopt more vigorous measures” (William E. O’Donnell, Chevalier de La Luzerne, p. 202). Having this objective, it is strange that La Luzerne did not include the state capital in his itinerary. Harrison explained in his letter of 4 May 1782 to the Virginia delegates (q.v.) why he could not go to Williamsburg before 29 March to call upon La Luzerne. On that day the French minister left the town to return to Philadelphia (Pennsylvania Packet, 16 April 1782).

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