James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Joseph Jones, 21 May 1782

From Joseph Jones

RC (LC: Madison Papers). Addressed to “Honble James Madison jr. Philadelphia.” Docketed, “May 1782.”

Spring hill 21st. May 1782

Dr. Sr.

The friendly visits of my Neighbours and acquaintance[s] since my return1 has and still continues to occupy my time[.] having not been free from Company since the day after my geting home, of course I have thought little of those matters which used while in Philadelphia to employ our attention and have not yet fixed the time of my visit to Richmond wh. will be regulated by information from there. our last accounts (whether true I know not) but your advices by the Post will inform you, say there was a House on Wednesday last.2 if so I shall in eight or ten days pay my respects to them.3 It is said several petitions will be presented urging a further emission of paper currency as indispensibly necessary to supply the scarsity of specie. some through folly, others from wickedness may countenance this measure but I cannot believe there can be found in the Assembly a Majority of those Characters untill the fatal adoption of the proposition shall convince me of my mistake.4 It is certain that specie is either very scarse or if in the Country locked up as the want of it is universally complained of by the planter and merchant.5 It must be very scarse or our commerce very languid as I am told good merchantable flour may be purchased over the mountains for 7/6 P hundred and I know Tobacco (upland too) will not produce upon this River 2d. Cash. the reason assigned [is] want of money to purchase. imported articles in general 100 PCt. higher than in Philadelphia and as the great part of the goods for sale come from that quarter and of late from N. York thu[s? i]t is easy to account for the drain of specie and what must be the consequence to these States from such a ruinous trafic and a hampered commerce.6

I have not been able to find your pamphlet7 among my Books & papers. shod. I come across it you may be certain proper care shall be taken of it and conveyed by the first safe hand. did you not lend it to Mr. Lee or Col. Bland? I think you had it from me sometime before I came away and for the perusal of one of those Gentlemen? pray my friend let me have the Revolutionist from No. 4[.] I have it to that number.8 The April packet from England may be daily expected at New York[.] by her we may probably hear the result of the proceedings in consequence of Genl. Conways motion.9 I hear little of recruiting our line. the business, they say, is at a stand for want of money as indeed is almost every other public exertion. some military men say they could recruit our line if they had a specie bounty to offer. this cannot be furnished untill the Taxes bring it in and these, if at all, will not be productive untill October. Virga. will therefore this summer have few [m]en in the field unless for the spur of the oc[casion]. perhaps the assembly may thin[k it] necessary to order out a Body for the ti[me being?]10 Mrs. Jones11 begs her Compliments to the Ladys and joins me in the same to Col. Bland and yourself

Yr. aff Friend & Servt.

Jos: Jones.

1Probably about 10 May Jones arrived from Philadelphia at Spring Hill, his estate in King George County ten miles east of Fredericksburg. See JM to Randolph, 9 April 1782, n. 6.

3Jones may have intended to make himself available for questioning by the House of Delegates, as Lee and Randolph had already done (JM to Randolph, 7 May, and n. 11; Randolph to JM, 16–17 May 1782).

4See Randolph to JM, 5 May and n. 7; 10 May; JM to Randolph, 14 May 1782.

5See Pendleton to JM, 15 April, and n. 4; Lee to JM, 16 May 1782, and nn. 8, 9.

6Jones’s home was near the Rappahannock River. Three weeks earlier Arthur Lee evidently found that the “sweet-scented” tobacco, customarily grown in Tidewater Virginia and the “upland too,” was selling along the Rappahannock River and near Chesapeake Bay at threepence a pound (JM to Lee, 7 May 1782, headnote). The reference to “N. York” signified that the avenues opened by Virginia and Tory merchants at Yorktown were still being utilized. See Lee to JM, 16 May, and n. 9; Harrison to Virginia Delegates, 18 May 1782.


8No pamphleteer or contributor to a newspaper, writing under the pseudonym, “the Revolutionist,” has been identified. Jones probably meant “The Continentalist” essays of Alexander Hamilton. Of these the first four had appeared in the New-York Packet, and the American Advertiser (Fishkill, N.Y.) on 12 and 19 July, 9 and 30 August 1781, respectively (Harold C. Syrett and Jacob E. Cooke, eds., Papers of Alexander Hamilton, II, 649–52, 654–57, 660–65, 669–74). The remaining two numbers of this series appeared in the same newspaper on 18 April and 4 July 1782, respectively (ibid., III, 75–82, 99–106).

9General Henry Seymour Conway (1721–1795), a Rockingham Whig and a member of Parliament from 1741 to 1784, had opposed Lord North’s policy toward the thirteen American colonies before the Revolution. Conway’s motion, which needed only one more vote to carry in the House of Commons on 22 February and passed without a division five days later, was an important step leading to the fall of the North ministry (Virginia Delegates to Harrison, 19 March, n. 7; 7 May, n. 4; JM to Pendleton, 23 April, n. 5; JM to Randolph, 14 May 1782, and n. 2).

10The words of this sentence were partially destroyed when the manuscript was unsealed by JM. The bracketed inserts are the editors’. For the recruitment law, adopted at the May 1782 session of the Virginia General Assembly, see Jameson to JM, 23 March 1782, n. 5. During May and June 1782 the Governor in Council ordered the militia of particular counties to perform special duties, such as guarding prisoners of war and defending the western frontiers and the Eastern Shore (Journals of the Council of State description begins H. R. McIlwaine et al., eds., Journals of the Council of the State of Virginia (3 vols. to date; Richmond, 1931——). description ends , III, 82–83, 84, 88, 90, 91, 104, 109).

11In 1779, about two years after the death of his first wife, Mary Taliaferro Jones, Joseph Jones married Mary Waugh Dawson (ca. 1740–ca. 1785), the widow of the Reverend Musgrave Dawson (d. 1763) of Caroline County, and the daughter of Alexander Waugh (d. 1793) of Orange County, Va. (George Harrison Sanford King, comp. and ed., Marriages of Richmond County, Virginia, 1668–1853 [Fredericksburg, Va., 1964], p. 249). These data, unknown to the editors until the present volume was in preparation, render inaccurate the identification of Mrs. Jones in Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (4 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , II, 108, n. 14, and oblige the insertion of “the first” before “Mrs. Jones’s” in ibid., III, 51, n. 4.

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