Virginia Delegates to Benjamin Harrison
RC (Virginia State Library). Written by Arthur Lee except for Theodorick Bland’s signature. Docketed, “Virga Delegates Letter July July 16th 1782.” Although JM did not sign the letter, it clearly was written on his, as well as Bland’s and Lee’s behalf. The omission of his signature may be explained by the comment at the close of JM’s letter to Pendleton of this date (q.v.).
Philadelphia July 16. 1782
We had the honor of receiving your Excellencys Letter of the 6th.,1 together with one of the same date from the Clerk of the Council, enclosing the Resolutions of the Assembly on the Supplies requested from his most Christian Majesty.2
The Resolutions we immediately transmitted to the minister of France.3
We shall inform your Excellency from time to time, of the proceedings of the several Legislatures touching the seizure of british Goods. That of N. Jersey has lately passd an Act for this purpose.4
It gives us very great pleasure to be informd, that an effective Law is at length passd, not only for the good of the Service, but because, tho’ many other States are equally deficient without equal reason, yet the whole odium is centerd upon Virginia.5
We have informd the Delegates of S. Carolina, of what your Excellency mentions. Those of N. Carolina are not here.6 Still we are without any intelligence from Europe or the Islands. Genl. Washington & Count Rochambau are at present in this City, to consult on the operations of the Campaign.7
There is a report here from N. York that the Enemy have evacuated & burnt Charles-town, & sent the garrison to the W. Indies.8 Sir Guy Carelton is so desirous of retreiving the Soldiers we have taken, that he offers, if we will exchange them for Seamen, to stipulate that they shall not serve against the United States during twelve months.9 But he will find this artifice, somewhat too shallow for his purpose. Lippencut is not, nor is it expected he will be, given up.10
We have the honor to be, with great respect, Yr. Excellency’s most obedient & most humbl. Servts.
Theok: Bland jr
3. La Luzerne.
5. See Randolph to JM, 20 June, and n. 48; Harrison to Virginia Delegates, 6 July 1782. Lee means that, in view of the fact that Virginia in 1781 had been a main theater of the war, she could not be as justifiably blamed as many other states for delinquency in filling her quota of continental troops.
6. See Randolph to JM, 5 July, n. 7; Harrison to Virginia Delegates, 6 July 1782. Present in Congress from South Carolina were Ralph Izard, Arthur Middleton, David Ramsay, and John Rutledge (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XII, 390–92). For the North Carolina delegation, see Harrison to Virginia Delegates, 12 April 1782, n. 4.
7. See Jones to JM, 8 July 1782, n. 7. Washington reached Philadelphia on Sunday, 14 July, one day after Rochambeau’s arrival in that city. Their principal conference was on 19 July (Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington description begins John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington, from the Original Sources, 1745–1799 (39 vols.; Washington, 1931–44). description ends , XXIV, 430, 433–35, 471; Virginia Gazette description begins Virginia Gazette, or, the American Advertiser (Richmond, James Hayes, 1781–86). description ends , 3 August 1782).
8. The rumor, which was reported in the Pennsylvania Packet of 16 July, had no foundation in fact.
9. See Report on Fish and Fuel for Naval Prisoners, 1 July 1782, n. 1. Besides making this offer in his dispatch of 7 July 1782 to Washington, Carleton expressed his willingness to have the American seamen return to naval service as soon as they were released (NA: PCC, No. 152, X, 629–32). This at best was a small concession, because, after their incarceration in British prison ships, few sailors were physically qualified for duty. In a letter of 9 July to the president of Congress, Washington commented: “notwithstanding the plausibility of the terms on which Sir Guy Carleton proposes the exchange of American Seamen for British Soldiers & it must still be obvious, that it would amount to nearly the same thing to have the Prisoners so exchanged employed against our Allies in the West Indies, as it would to have them acting against ourselves on the Continent” (Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington description begins John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington, from the Original Sources, 1745–1799 (39 vols.; Washington, 1931–44). description ends , XXIV, 406). On 15 July Congress referred this letter and Carleton’s offer to a committee consisting of John Witherspoon, JM, and John Rutledge (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXII, 388 n.). For its report on 12 August 1782, see JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIII, 462).