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Virginia Delegates to Benjamin Harrison, 29 April 1783

Virginia Delegates to Benjamin Harrison

RC (Virginia State Library). In the hand of Theodorick Bland, except for the signatures of Arthur Lee and John Francis Mercer. Cover franked and addressed by Bland to “His Excelly. Benjn: Harrison Esqr. Govr. of Virginia.” Docketed, “Lr. from the Deleg: in Congress, April 29th. 1783.” The absence of JM’s signature, even though he apparently was in Philadelphia on 29 April when he wrote to Jefferson and Washington (qq.v.), may reflect his preoccupation with other matters requiring attention before his departure from the city on that day with the family of William Floyd. See JM Notes, 25–26 Apr. 1783, and n. 2.

Philadelphia April 29th. 1783

Sr.

By yesterdays post we were Honord with Yr. Excellencys favor of the 19th Inst. We have informed Mr. Nathan of its contents, so far as they related to him. Mr. Pollock has declined offering any security for the present, as he expects the returnd Bills themselves, which he says will be the best Vouchers in his power to give.1 We doubt not your having received, before this, the official information of the Cessation of Hostilities & the Proclamation Issued by Congress.2

Nothing Material has happend Since our last, except that it has been moved in Congress, by us, in order to sound the present disposition viz “that the United States in Congress assembled will and they do hereby accept the Cession of Territory made to them in the act of the Legislature of the Commonwealth of Virginia bearing date the   day of   on the Terms and stipulations therein mentiond, except so much thereof as stipulates that the U. S. in Congress assembled shall guarantee to the said Commonwealth the remaining Territory containd within the Bounds therein described”3 It was committed and has produced a report of the Committe viz that the report of the former committe on the Cessions be taken up and Considerd; that report Yr. Excellency has been heretofore informd, has been repeatedly considerd and as often laid aside,4 nor shd. we have now taken any steps to call it into view, but that we considerd it as our duty to produce if possible some decisive determination on a matter so important to the welfare of our state, and of such consequence to the U States in General.5

The report has not yet been taken up, on the recommendation of the Comme., but we expect will in a few days, when we shall inform Yr. Excellency of its fate6 we are respectfully Sr.

Yr. Excellys most obedt. Svts

Theok: Bland jr.

John F. Mercer

A Lee

3JM Notes, 9 Apr. 1783, and nn. 2–11; 18 Apr. 1783, and nn. 2–6. Except for unimportant differences in capitalization, punctuation, and abbreviation, Bland correctly quoted his motion of 23 April (NA: PCC, No. 30, fol. 579; JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIV, 271–72). In the offer of cession of 2 January 1781, the Virginia General Assembly listed the following among the provisos to which Congress must agree if it accepted the grant: “That all the remaining territory of Virginia, included between the Atlantic Ocean and the southeast side of the river Ohio, and the Maryland, Pennsylvania and North Carolina boundary lines dividing them from Virginia, shall be guaranteed to the Commonwealth of Virginia by the said United States” (JHDV 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 , Oct. 1780, p. 80; Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (6 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , II, 72–77; 300, and n. 2; 301, n. 3). Of these boundary controversies, the ones with Pennsylvania and Maryland had been mostly adjusted, even though many Virginians who found that they had settled outside their native state continued to be unhappy, and the jurisdictional division of Chesapeake Bay between Virginia and Maryland was still unclear. The southwestern boundaries of Virginia had not been precisely defined, but Virginia and North Carolina were not sharply in conflict over that issue (Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (6 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , II, 53, n. 3; III, 14, n. 17; 138, n. 7; 313, n. 2; IV, 38, n. 3; 52, n. 2; 118, n. 3; 126, n. 1; 154; 155; 184, n. 2; 187, n. 1; 215, n. 2; 268, n. 27; 287, n. 27; 341, n. 5; V, 115–16; 119, n. 19; 276–77; 277, nn. 4, 5, 8, 9; JHDV 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 , May 1783, p. 90).

4John Rutledge, chairman of the committee, reported on 25 April: “The Comee to whom was refr’d a Motion of Mr. Bland, of the 23 April, report, That, in their opinion, it will be proper for Congress to proceed to a Determination on the report of 3d. Novr. 1781 respecting the Cession from the State of Virginia, & that a decision upon the sd. Motion be postponed, until that report shall be taken into consideration” (NA: PCC, No. 30, fol. 577; No. 186, fol. 97). See n. 6, below.

The report on 3 November 1781, drafted by Elias Boudinot, chairman, on behalf “of the former committee on the Cessions,” occasioned much inconclusive debate at that time but was not spread on the journal of Congress until 1 May 1782 (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXI, 1098, and n. 2; XXII, 225–32, 240–41; Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (6 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , III, 294; 295, and n. 6; 304, and n. 1; 305, n. 2; IV, 157–59; 198, n. 6; 206, n. 2; 219–20; 221, n. 11). During the next eleven months, although the problem of the western lands was vigorously discussed several times in Congress, the Boudinot report apparently had not been revived. See, for example, JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXII, 423, 604; Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (6 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , V, 115–16; 117, n. 9; 201, n. 9; 292, n. 19; JM Notes, 9 Apr., and n. 2; 18 Apr. 1783.

5The delegates probably hoped that Congress would reach a “decisive determination” upon the subject of Bland’s motion in time for the result to be laid before the Virginia General Assembly during its session of May 1783.

6The report of the Rutledge committee was not “taken up” and accepted by Congress until 4 June (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIV, 381). The Virginia General Assembly, although informed on 19 June 1783 by Governor Harrison of this action, adjourned nine days later after instructing its delegates to seek Congress’ consent to a larger reservation northwest of the Ohio River for bounty lands to allot to Virginia veterans than was withheld in the offer of cession (Executive Letter Book, 1783–1786, p. 157, MS in Va. State Library; JHDV 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 , May 1783, pp. 90, 93; NA. PCC, No. 75, fols. 386–87).

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