James Madison Papers

Benjamin Harrison to Virginia Delegates, 19 July 1782

Benjamin Harrison to Virginia Delegates

FC (Virginia State Library). In the hand of Archibald Blair.

Richmond July 19th. 1782.


I enclose you a copy of the direction of a Letter dated 14th. May which came to me from Winchr. three days ago which I shou’d not have open’d but for its being frank’d by Mr. Livingstone, I am really concernd that so little care should have been taken in Communicating the Birth of a Dauphine to me,1 it may perhaps induce a belief in the Minister and french Court that it is a matter of no joy to the State, and that we are grown at least luke Warm in our attatchment to our illustrious ally. I know of no other way to satisfy the Minister, that his not being sooner complimented on the joyfull occasion by the State was not oweing to either Negligence or want of Attatchment, but by begging the favor of you to make Him fully acquainted with the circumstances and requesting Him to make them fully known to the French Court—the Letter that I have the honor to send Him on the occasion you will please to deliver Him at the same time. I prefer the mode of complimenting his Most Christian Majesty by Letter rather than by address, haveing ever look’d on the Latter as highly improper and too great an acknowledgement of the inferiority for the Sovereingnty of a State—the Way to become great and to make others think so is not only to act in Character but to shew the World that We claim & will support a Rank amongst the Nations of it.

A Report has prevaild here that Mr. John Todd of Kentuckie was in Philadelphia—last Winter was twelve Months—2 and that during his stay He associated himself with those who were for seperateing that Country from a dependance on this and was deeply concern’d in the measures taken at Philadelphia to bring that event to pass, if either of you know any thing of this I shall be much obliged to You for the communication.3 no letter or papers came by the last post from Philadelphia, we are much at a loss for the reason of this.4

I am &C.

1The “copy” has not been found. See Randolph to JM, 18 July, and nn. 10 and 11.

2That is, in the winter of 1780–1781. The editors have inserted the dashes to clarify the meaning.

3See 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 , I, 277, n. 4; III, 21, n. 1; 275, n. 8; Jefferson to JM, 24 March, and n. 5; Pendleton to JM, 27 May, and n. 11. Colonel John Todd, Jr., who had held important civil and administrative positions in the county and district of Kentucky and the county of Illinois since 1776, was appointed by Governor Harrison and the Council of State on 6 July 1782 to be chief judge of the Supreme Court of Judicature of the District of Kentucky (Thomas P. Abernethy, Western Lands and the American Revolution, pp. 166, 202, 248–49; 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, 118). For a year or more before he was slain by Indians on 19 August 1782 at the Battle of Blue Licks in Kentucky, Todd had become increasingly critical of George Rogers Clark for his ineffective military defense of the settlers south of the Ohio River, and for his opposition to the efforts of many Kentuckians to gain greater autonomy or even separate statehood (Thomas P. Abernethy, Western Lands and the American Revolution, pp. 251, 264–65; Calendar of the Virginia State Papers, III, 130–31, 300–301). No evidence has been found that Todd visited Philadelphia in 1780–81. In a letter of 15 April 1781 he offered to go there if Congress favored his application to be continued as surveyor of the Illinois country, now that he had heard of its cession by Virginia to the United States. The College of William and Mary had appointed him to that office in 1778. On 12 June 1781 Congress decided to let his letter “lie on the table” (NA: PCC, No. 56, fol. 97; JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XX, 632).

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