Instructions to Virginia Delegates
in re Settlement of Accounts
RC (NA: PCC, No. 75, fols. 382–83). Docketed, “Resolution of the Assemby of Virga. relative to the Loss of Vouchers &.c Decemr. 28. 1782 to be laid before Congress.”
Saturday the 28th. of December 1782
Mr. Richard Henry Lee reported from the Committee appointed to inquire into the Progress of the Continental Account1 that the Committee had according to Order examined the same and had agreed upon a Report and come to several Resolutions thereupon which he read in his Place and afterwards delivered in at the Clerk’s Table where the same were again twice read and agreed to by the House as followeth:
That the Solicitor2 has laid before them his Proceedings, that they find from the loss of the Proceedings and Papers of the Committee of Safety,3 of the Council, the Papers of the Auditors Office, the former Board of War, the Board of Trade,4 and the deranged situation and Loss of the old Papers in the Treasury that it is utterly impracticable to state an Account of Specifics and that very few Vouchers can be procured to support the Money Charges against the Continent prior to January 1781 when all these Papers were destroyed by the Enemy,5
Resolved therefore that Instructions be given to the Honble. Virginia Delegates in Congress to move that Honble Body that their Commissioners to adjust this States Accounts6 be vested with power to allow of Charges that from circumstantial proof should appear reasonable.7
Resolved that the Solicitor immediately proceed to state the Accounts of Expenditures both pecuniary and Specific from the aforesaid period of January 1781 and direct the Vouchers in the different Offices so as they may be referred to as Necessity may require and in the mean Time to collect all and every Information that may be procured so as to throw a Light upon the Accounts prior to the Destruction of the Papers and for that purpose to make enquiry into the disposal of every considerable Sum of Money that may heretofore have been settled for by the persons intrusted therewith and to procure from all such Persons duplicate Accounts thereof or such other Information that may be in their Power to give.
1. This committee, comprising Richard Henry Lee, chairman, and five other members, had been appointed on 14 November (Journal of the House of Delegates description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia; Begun and Held at the Capitol, in the City of Williamsburg. Beginning in 1780, the portion after the semicolon reads, Begun and Held in the Town of Richmond. In the County of Henrico. The journal for each session has its own title page and is individually paginated. The edition used is the one in which the journals for 1777–1786 are brought together in two volumes, with each journal published in Richmond in 1827 or 1828, and often called the “Thomas W. White reprint.” description ends , October 1782, p. 16).
2. For Leighton Wood, see Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (5 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , II, 79, n. 2. In August 1777, over two years before he became solicitor general of Virginia, he had helped “to prepare the accounts of this state against the Continent” (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 , I, 462).
3. On 17 August 1775 the Committee of Safety, comprising Edmund Pendleton, chairman, and ten other members, was elected by the Virginia Convention which had convened at Richmond in July. Until 5 July 1776, one week after the adoption of the Form of Government of the Commonwealth of Virginia, the committee served as the executive authority of the revolutionary colony and state (Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (5 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , I, 164, nn. 1, 2; David J. Mays, Edmund Pendleton, II, 32, 35–36, 123–25). For the journal of the Committee of Safety, see 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 , II, 405–516; I, 1–66.
4. For the loss of the records of the Council of State, see Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (5 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , IV, 88, n. 2; 231, n. 2. The Auditors’ Office had been established by the General Assembly in the session of October 1776, and the Board of Trade and the Board of War in the session of May 1779 (Hening, Statutes description begins William Waller Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619 (13 vols.; Richmond and Philadelphia, 1819–23). description ends , IX, 245–47; X, 15–18). The session of May 1780 replaced those two boards with “a commercial agent, a commissioner of the navy, and a commissioner of the war office” (ibid., X, 291–92). For the abolition of the offices of commercial agent and commissioner of war, see Randolph to JM, 22 November, and n. 8; Pendleton to JM, 25 November 1782, and n. 6.
6. See Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (5 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , IV, 56, n. 6; 67–68; 69, n. 7; 71; 72, n. 2; 333, n. 2; JM to Randolph, 13 August, and n. 18; Motion on Instruction to Morris, 20 November, and n. 2; Notes on Debates, 20 November 1782.
7. The Virginia delegates submitted these instructions to Congress on 27 January 1783 (NA: PCC, No. 185, III, 53).
8. Clerk of the House of Delegates.
9. Clerk of the Senate.