James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William Russell, 22 February 1796

From William Russell

Orange, February 22d. 1796


Inclosed you have several papers relative to my claim against the United States, and am sorry to trouble you so much about the business. I should esteem it a singular favor if you would still try to settle it for me, as I am in want of what is due me at present, and desire no more than is just and right. After informing Mr. Robertson of my business, he referred to his Papers and finding that I was intitled to Wages from the 24th. Septr. 1781 ’till the 18th. Jany 1782 he gave me the inclosed Certificate, which I hope will be satisfactory, together with the other papers. He inform’d me that he had lodged an Account in a Mr. Burwell’s1 Office of New York of every person who he employed in the Commy. Department, of the time they were employed and the time they quited the service. In answer to a remark of a part of the Original Certificate being cut off, I have only to say that I don’t know how it could happen, however am in hopes that no part of the Writeing is cut off. When I engaged with Mr. Robertson I was appointed to Issue provisions to a body of troops at Surry old Court-house, but they march’d from there before York-town, afterwards I was employed in Conducting public Stores to different places for the use of the Public &C and had a harder tour than if I had been stationed altogether at one particular post. Should it so happen that the return of my Claim can not be found, I think it would be a cruel hardship for me to loose my Wages on account of it. There is no general rule without an exception, and justice and equity ought to be an inducement in particular Cases, for a person to deviate from the strict tenor of the Law, however, hope that there will be no difficulty in settling the business. Any trouble and expence you may be at I am willing to make ample Compensation for. Should it so happen that the Commissioner will not settle my Claim, I wou’d thank you not to send the inclosed papers by the post, least they should fail comeing to hand, but Keep them for me ’till you return to Orange. Wishing you and Family all possible health and happiness, I remain Sir, yr mo: obt. Servt.

Wm Russell.2

P. S. Mr. Robertson says he thinks the Wages that I am entitled to is 40 Dollars pr. Month, however the Commissioner Knows what the law allows.

W. R.

RC and enclosures (DLC). RC franked and addressed by Russell to JM at Philadelphia. Docketed by Richard Harrison, “see remark within” (see Harrison to JM, 1 June 1796). The enclosed certificates, signed by James Madison, Sr. (as justice of the peace for Orange County), 11 Feb. 1796, and John Robertson (former superintendent commissary of issues for the state of Virginia), 16 Feb. 1796, concerned Russell’s claim.

1Jonathan Burrall of Connecticut was a commissioner of accounts for the Continental Congress. He served in the same capacity for settling the accounts of the quartermaster’s and commissary’s departments of the army, 1786–89 (E. James Ferguson et al., eds., The Papers of Robert Morris, 1781–1784 [6 vols. to date; Pittsburgh, 1973—], 4:252–53 n. 5; Burnett, Letters of Members of the Continental Congress, 8:317–18 n. 2).

2William Russell married Mary Merry in Orange County in 1789. He may have been the person of that name who was clerk of James City County and of the town, college, and hospital at Williamsburg, ca. 1785–ca. 1803 (VMHB description begins Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. description ends , 26 [1918]: 298, 30 [1922]: 243 n. 19; Tyler’s Quarterly description begins Tyler’s Quarterly Historical and Genealogical Magazine. description ends , 2 [1920–21]: 183, 184; WMQ description begins William and Mary Quarterly. description ends , 1st ser., 18 [1909–10]: 220; CVSP description begins William P. Palmer et al., eds., Calendar of Virginia State Papers and Other Manuscripts (11 vols.; Richmond, 1875–93). description ends , 4:113, 9:370).

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