From Joseph Jones
RC (LC: Madison Papers). Cover missing.
Richmond 14th. June 1783
I have your favors of the 3d. & 6th. with the papers inclosed.1 since my last2 the plan of revenue recommended by Congress has been considered in a Comtee. of the whole, and the result contained in the inclosed resolutions which were agreed to withot. a division [;] the number appearing in support of the plan of Congress being so few as not to require it.3 Mr. B——xt——n and young Mr. Nelson only supported it.4 In the course of the debate Mr. R. H. L. & Mr. C. M. T. spoke of Congress as lusting after power.5 the Idea in the Letter to Rhode Island, that Congress having a right to borrow & make requisitions that were binding on the States, ought also to concert the means for accomplishing the end, was reprobated in general as alarming, and of dangerous tendency. In short some of the Sentiments in the letter to Rhode Island tho’ argumentative only, operated so powerfully on peoples minds here, that nothing could induce them to adopt the manner recommended by Congress for obtaining revenue.6 If the 5 PCt is granted to be credited to the States quota, which is the prevailing opinion, it will defeat that revenue unless all the States consent, and N. H. Cont Jersey & N. Car: never will I expect agree to it.7 Our people have great jealousy of Congress and the other states, think they have done more than they ought, and that the U. S. owe them at least one million pounds.8 these notions they will not relinquish tho’ they acknowledge they are not ready to settle the account.9 after the two first resolutions had passed P. H. separated from R. H. L. & his party and warmly supported the granting the duties to Congress and the other revenue to make up this State’s quota.10 I will make an attempt to obtain the 5 Pct. as a general revenue, and to authorize the payment of the other revenue by the Collectors to the Continental receiver, instead of the State Treasurer.11 if these can be effected the funds will be on a tolerable footing, but for the delay which a departure from the plan of Congress must occasion.12 The disposition to oblige the Officers of our line with lands beyond the Ohio in the room of thos[e] on Cumberland, which are said to be insufficient and very generally barren, has occasioned several leading memb[ers] to press for withdrawing our cession to Congress, that no obstacle might remain to gratifying the Officers. hitherto we have been lucky enough to delay a determination, which however cannot be many more days postponed.13 A. L. proposed a resolution two days ago to withdraw it. an amendment was proposed to fix a time (the 1st. Sept. next) when it shod. stand revoked if not accepted by Congress. the Committee rose withot. coming to a resl14 something of this sort will I think ultimately take place. if a secret instruction to our Delegates was practicable to relax, if necessary, any of the Conditions, I shod. like it, as I wish heartily to relinquish that Country to the U. States.15 the expence attending that Country I shall soon know as the Commissioners who have been out to settle the accoun[ts] are just returned.16 the proposed alteration for ascertaining the proportions of the States, from the conversations I have had with Gentlemen on the subject will be approved.17 I entertain however no sanguine expectation of any thing I hear in conversation since the great Majority agt the plan of revenue, which from conversation when I first arrived I was led to believe wod. be adopted.18 many now say the reading the pamphlet of Congress determined them agt. the measure, disapproving the Sentiments conveyed in the letter to R. I. You cannot well conceive the deranged state of affairs in this Country. there is nothing like system or order. confusion and embarrasmt. must ever attend such a state of things.19 The two great Commanders20 make excellent harrangues, handsome speeches to their men but they, want executive Officers or shod. be more so themselves to be usefull, indeed, so far as I am able to judge from the short time I have been here,21 we are much in want of usefull men, who do business as well as speak to it. a Pendleton and Jefferson wod. be valuable acquisitions to this assembly. we want too a Fitzsimons or some men of his merchantile knowledge and experience.22
The Citizen bill remains in the Situation as when I last wrote.23 before we rise it is probable something may be done in it, especially if the definitive Treaty arrives, which it is probable, as a Ministry has been formed, will soon take place.24 To divest those who appeared to oppose the payment of the British debts from any attempt of that sort so repugnant to the article of the Treaty and as an alternative less offensive25 I have intimated that it wod. be better to giv[e] an instruction to our Commrs. for settling the Treaty of Commerce to propose a suspension of payment for some years to make it more convenient to the Debtors and it is probable something may be done in that way as an instruction to our Delegates in Congress.26 In a Com: on the State of the Commonwealth yesterday, Nathans demand in consequence of the arbitration was taken up but Mr. N——l——s insisting there was a Comr. in Town employed in settling the accots. agt. the public of the Illinois Country who could give information abt. that claim, and shew there had been fraud in the transaction, the Com[ee]. rose withot. coming to a conclusion. it is to be brot. on again today when the Comr. (Col. Fleming) is to be examined.27 It is asserted great impositions have taken place in polloc[k’s] affair, which is also before the House and to come on next Tuesday.28 I have sold my Chariot and I think shd my Phaeton, in which case, and if I get the money for them I may spend two or three months this fall in Philadelphia as I must get a carriage made there.29 of this you shall be informed. Complimts. to Bland & Mercer hope they will be content to rece[ive] from you an accot. of what we are doing if not otherwise informed.30
3. The resolutions, of which Jones enclosed a copy, are summarized in his letter of 8 June to JM, n. 5. See also Jefferson to JM, 7 May, n. 13; JM to Randolph, 20 May; 27 May; Jones to JM, 31 May 1783.
4. Carter Braxton and William Nelson.
7. Being proposals to amend the Articles of Confederation, the 5 per cent impost and several other recommendations in the plan for restoring public credit could not become effective without the approval of every state legislature. The proceeds from the imposts were designed to be a main source from which each state should fill its financial quota requisitioned by Congress. In considerable measure, the goods of foreign origin purchased by citizens of the four states mentioned by Jones, respectively, had been transshipped from ports in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, and Virginia. These four states, and Pennsylvania as well, would gain part of their revenue for the supply of Congress at the indirect expense of their less fortunate neighbors. See 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 , VI, 168, n. 28; 290–91; 294, n. 23; Jameson to JM, 24 May. and n. 3; Jones to JM, 8 June 1783, n. 9.
9. 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 , VI, 210, n. 3; 214, n. 4; 262, n. 6; 296, n. 40; 310; 344; 469, n. 5; Instruction to Delegates, 4 June 1783, and n. 2.
12. The Virginia General Assembly refused to sanction the collection of imposts by congressional appointees, as requested in the plan for restoring public credit. The Assembly, however, appeared certain to designate for the use of Congress the proceeds from some taxes to be channeled by agents of the state into its own treasury and then transmitted to Philadelphia. Obviously a “delay” must occur, because citizens would not be required to pay their taxes until 20 November 1783 (Randolph to JM, 9 May, and n. 4; Jones to JM, 25 May; 31 May; 8 June, and n. 5; Pendleton to JM, 26 May 1783, n. 11).
14. Arthur Lee’s motion and the amendatory motion were probably offered during a meeting on 12 June of the committee of the whole house on the state of the commonwealth (JHDV description begins (1828 ed.). Journal of the House of Delegates of Virginia, Anno Domini, 1776 (Richmond, 1828). description ends , May 1783, p. 51). For this reason they were not entered in the journal of the House of Delegates for that day. For the “cession” issue in Congress, see Jefferson to JM, 7 May, and n. 3; JM to Jefferson, 20 May, and n. 8; JM Notes, 5 June, and n. 1; 6 June, and n. 1; 9 June, and nn. 2, 3; 10 June, and nn.; JM to Randolph, 10 June 1783.
17. 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 , VI, 440; 492; 496, n. 27. The session of May 1783 of the Virginia General Assembly adjourned without approving the recommendations by Congress to change the base for allocating financial quotas from comparative state-by-state land values to population. See Jones to JM, 8 June, n. 9; 21 June 1783.
20. Patrick Henry and Richard Henry Lee.
22. JM to Randolph, 27 May, and n. 7. As Jones knew, the Virginia General Assembly eight days earlier had elected Jefferson to be a delegate in Congress. See Jones to JM, 8 June, and nn. 10, 11. Edmund Pendleton would never again be a member of the Virginia House of Delegates (Pendleton to JM, 26 May 1783, nn. 1, 2). Thomas FitzSimons, a delegate in Congress from Pennsylvania, was a banker and merchant in Philadelphia (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 , VI, 20, n. 4; 263, n. 14; 471, n. 1).
25. Before “offensive” there is an asterisk, probably added either by Jones with the unfulfilled purpose of appending a footnote, or by JM to call his own particular attention to the sentence. For the “debts” in their relation to the preliminary treaty of peace, see Harrison to Delegates, 9 May, and n. 6; Randolph to JM, 15 May, and n. 5; JM Notes, 30 May 1783, and nn. 1–3.
27. “N——l——s” was George Nicholas. For Colonel William Fleming, one of the Virginia commissioners on western accounts, see 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, 139, ed. n.; V, 229, n. 4. For Simon Nathan and his financial claim against Virginia, see Delegates to Gálvez, 4 May, ed. n.; JM to Jefferson, 20 May, and n. 4; Jones to JM, 8 June, and n. 19; Randolph to JM, 28 June 1783.
28. For Oliver Pollock and his financial claim against Virginia, see 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 , VI, 474; 475, nn. 4, 5; 476, n. 6; Delegates to Gálvez, 4 May, ed. n., and nn. 2, 3; Jones to JM, 8 June. Action by the House of Delegates on the Pollock claim was delayed until Monday, 23 June 1783 (JHDV description begins (1828 ed.). Journal of the House of Delegates of Virginia, Anno Domini, 1776 (Richmond, 1828). description ends , May 1783, pp. 76–78).