James Madison Papers

Benjamin Harrison to Virginia Delegates, 28 September 1782

Benjamin Harrison to Virginia Delegates

FC (Virginia State Library). In William Tatham’s hand and directed to “Virginia Delegates in Congress.”

In Council Septemr. 28th. 1782.


Your favor by the last post with it’s enclosures came safe to hand. I thank you for the papers. their contents are very interesting I think they give us a prospect of peace, and hope your Communications from Paris1 will confirm them. I wish the Members of Congress could be properly impress’d with the distress’d situation of this State with respect to circulating Gold and Silver, if they were they could never make such frequent demands on us for it.2 They judge of us by what they see in the Vortex in which they are placed. what little money we had is mostly swallowed up there.3 I know your Necessities are great but let them be what they will they can never force from the people what they have not, and it is extremely dangerous to press them too hard. The State has a great quantity of valuable Commodities on hand, which the Executive are using every endeavour to turn into Cash but I have too much reason to fear the greatest Difficulty in doing it indeed I am confident many of them must be sold exceedingly below their value.4 The recruiting Business is now going on tho’ slowly. the money in most of the Counties is in Hand5 but the wretch’d situation of the poor fellows who return from the Army damps the enlistments much. you shall be inform’d from Time to Time of it’s progress. I am &c.

B. H.

1In view of the governor’s mention of “Communications from Paris,” he probably was acknowledging the delegates’ letter of 17 September (q.v.), even though this dispatch, unlike theirs of a week earlier (q.v.), did not refer to an enclosure of newspapers.

2Harrison’s remark probably was prompted by the recent call of Congress upon Virginia to increase by $174,000 her financial quota for 1782. See JM to Randolph, 16–17 September, and n. 13. Although congressional policy occasioned the governor’s evident irritation, JM interpreted it as also a criticism of the delegates’ frequent mention of their financial need (JM to Randolph, 8 October 1782). For the scarcity of specie in Virginia, see Randolph to JM, 6 August; 30 August, and n. 9; Ambler to JM, 16 September 1782.

3That is, Philadelphia.

4Shortly before writing this dispatch, Harrison had been advised that, because of the lack of cash, tobacco owned by Virginia should be bartered for grain and “long forage” in order to meet the acute need of food by the state troops and their horses (Calendar of Virginia State Papers description begins William P. Palmer et al., eds., Calendar of Virginia State Papers and Other Manuscripts (11 vols.; Richmond, 1875–93). description ends , III, 326).

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