James Madison Papers

Virginia Delegates to Benjamin Harrison, [ca. 17] September 1782

Virginia Delegates to Benjamin Harrison

RC (Pierpont Morgan Library, New York City). In JM’s hand, except for Arthur Lee’s signature. Addressed to “His Excelly. Governor Harrison.” Cover missing.

Philada. [ca. 17] Sepr. 1782.1


The copy of sundry late resolutions of Congress herewith inclosed2 will inform your Excellency of the necessity they have been under of enlarging their requisitions on the States. This necessity has resulted in part from the perseverance of Rhode-Island in declining to accede to the 5 PerCt. impost.3

Since our last a Ship has arrived at this place from Holland, with a supply of goods for the army, amounting in value to upwards of £22,000. Sterlg. The despatches brought by her contain an official notification of the reception of Mr. Adams by the States General, in quality of Minister Plenipotentiary from the U. States. They also inform Congress that some progress had been made, towards a Treaty of Amity and Commerce between the two Republics; and that in consequen[ce] of a contract entered into by Mr. Adams with a Mercantile House for the negociation of a loan of 5,000,000 of Guilders, upwards of 1 Million & a half had been subscribed, and upwards of 1 Million actually paid in. It was uncertain how ever to what amount the subscriptions would be continued.4

On Friday last two large French frigates with supplies of money &c. for the French army, and despatches for Congress & the French Minister, came into Delaware bay. Having no pilots on board, they got into a wrong channel, and proceeded in it till the appearance of a superior enemy below rendered it impossible to return into the right one. In this perplexity they pushed forward and attempted to force their passage with the aid of the tide over the shoal which obstructed it. In the attempt one of them was successful & has since got up safe to Chester. The other stuck and was lost. The money &c. and despatches on board her were fortunately saved. It is said that the Capt. and crew have fallen into the hands of the Enemy.5 These [?] despaches being not yet come up, we can say nothing of their contents.6

We have the honor to be with the highest respect Yr. Excellency’s obt. & humble Servts

J. Madison Jr.

A. Lee

The post is not yet come in from the Southward.7

1The similarity between the contents of this letter and the one written by JM to Edmund Randolph on 16–17 September, including the information which JM added on the seventeenth (q.v.), makes virtually certain that JM also drafted this dispatch on that day. See n. 7, below.

2Although the enclosures have not been found, they probably were copies of the resolution of 10 September and of several or all of the four resolutions of 14 September. The first apportioned among the states the $1,200,000 required for paying the interest on the domestic debt. By the others, Congress ratified the terms of the loan offered by the Dutch bankers, determined to seek an additional $4,000,000 in Europe, and resolved to acquaint the ministers of the United States abroad and Louis XVI with the need for this further sum (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIII, 564, 571, 578, 579–80).

3See JM to Randolph, 16–17 September 1782, and nn. 11 and 13.

4See JM to Randolph, 11 September, A.M., and n. 3; 11 September, P.M., and n. 3; and 16–17 September 1782, and nn. 6, 8, 9, and 15.

7See JM to Randolph, 16–17 September, and n. 22. The fact that 17 September was a Tuesday is further evidence that this letter was written on that date.

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