Instruction to Virginia Delegates
in re Contracts
FC (Virginia State Library).
Wednesday the 4th of June 1783
Resolved that the Delegates representing this State in Congress be instructed to take proper Steps for procuring and transmitting to the Executive of this State copies of all Accounts and Vouchers relative to disbursements and Contracts made with the Individuals of this State by any person acting under the authority of Congress in order that a proper inquiry may be made into their conduct.1
1. On 17 May 1783 Colonel William Finnie petitioned the Virginia General Assembly for relief from impending legal judgments against him for unpaid debts incurred on behalf of Congress when he had been deputy quartermaster general of the southern department for Virginia (JHDV description begins (1828 ed.). Journal of the House of Delegates of Virginia, Anno Domini, 1776 (Richmond, 1828). description ends , May 1783, p. 10; Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (7 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , III, 59, n. 6). His petition was in harmony with the resolution drafted by JM and passed by Congress on 13 March 1783 (ibid., IV, 91–92). On 7 May of that year Congress adopted Arthur Lee’s further resolution on the subject, recommending that the state legislatures provide for the indemnification of continental officers penalized by state courts for acts necessitated by “military operations” (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIV, 330). In the General Assembly on 30 May, Lee introduced a bill of similar tenor. Following referral of his proposal to the committee of the whole house, the House of Delegates on 17 June resolved to defer further consideration of the measure until “the second Monday of September next” (JHDV description begins (1828 ed.). Journal of the House of Delegates of Virginia, Anno Domini, 1776 (Richmond, 1828). description ends , May 1783, pp. 27, 62). This postponement had been foreshadowed on 4 June, when Patrick Henry, chairman of the Committee of Propositions and Grievances, successfully moved that Finnie’s petition be rejected and that the present instruction to the delegates be adopted (JHDV description begins (1828 ed.). Journal of the House of Delegates of Virginia, Anno Domini, 1776 (Richmond, 1828). description ends , May 1783, pp. 34–35). Harrison almost certainly enclosed a copy of the instruction in his letter to the delegates of 20 June (q.v.). See also Delegates to Harrison, 14–15 Aug. 1783, n. 2.
2. Clerk of the House of Delegates.
3. Clerk of the Senate.