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Virginia Delegates to Benjamin Harrison, 22 April 1783

Virginia Delegates to Benjamin Harrison

RC (Virginia State Library). In hand of Theodorick Bland, except for JM’s signature. Cover franked by Bland and addressed to “His Excelly. Benjn. Harrison Esqr. Govr. of Virginia.” Docketed by Thomas Meriwether, “Lr. from the Delegs. in Congress. April 22d. 1783.”

Philada. April 22d 1783

Sr.

Your two Favors of April 5th & 12th1 came both to hand by yesterdays Post. little Interesting has happend Since our last, except that Congress have agreed to a Modification of the Recommendation to the States, for Vesting in Congress a revenue adequate to the funding the Public Debt, which being limited in its duration, and divested of some other exceptionable conditions, containd in the former requisition, We anxiously hope will for the Public good, and our National Honor & Credit be speedily and generally complied with by the States.2 A Frigate (the Active) arrived last night from France, at Chester. her dispatches are not yet come up. We hope in our next to Inform your Excelly. of their Contents.3 We shall endeavor to procure your Excelly. a Copy of the recommendation above mentiond, but if disappointed in this, we expect you will soon receive it officially from Congress.4 The Comr. in Chief and the Secy. at War have orders to make arrangements with Sr. Guy Carleton for receiving possession of the Posts occupied by the British in the United States, and for delivering up the land Prisoners in our possession. the Naval ones on both Sides are already set at Liberty.5 We are sorry to add that late advices from New York inform us that no steps are taken there which Indicate a Speedy evacuation of that Place.6 we are with perfect respect

Yr. Excellys. most obedt. Sevts.

J. Madison Jr

Theok. Bland

P. S. Since the above Sr. G: Carleton has written to Congress, to request some person or persons may be sent to N. York to take possession of the Negroes & Publick property in conformity to the 7th article of the Preliminary Articles7

1Q.v. Governor Harrison’s letter of 5 April has not been found.

2JM’s Notes, 18 Apr. 1783, and n. 7. The “former requisition” was the proposed 5 per cent impost amendment to the Articles of Confederation, which Rhode Island had refused and Georgia had neglected to ratify. In contrast with the intention of Congress to continue that suggested levy indefinitely and to control its administration, the customs duties in the new plan for restoring public credit were to be limited in duration to a maximum of twenty-five years and collected by state-rather than Congress-appointed officers. The new plan also sought to assure a more prompt and complete payment by the states of the annual requisitions of Congress, by assuring them that the financial quotas would be “equalized from time to time,” would be allocated on the basis of comparative populations as soon as the states ratified an amendment of the Articles of Confederation to that effect, and would be accounted for yearly in an itemized statement of the income and outgo (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XIX, 112–13, 217; XXIV, 257–61; 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, 291, n. 9; 416, n. 3; 478, n. 2; JM Notes, 24 Jan., n. 20; 27 Jan., n. 12; 28 Jan. 1783, n. 19).

3The Pennsylvania Packet on 24 April announced that after a voyage of thirty-eight days from Rochefort-sur-Mer the French frigate “Active” had reached Chester on the Delaware River, about fifteen miles below Philadelphia, on the morning of 22 April, and that the fast sailer “George Washington” had arrived from Lorient the next day. In their letter of 29 April to Governor Harrison (q.v.), the delegates omitted mention of dispatches, possibly because, as the Packet had commented on the twenty-fourth, they contained no important news not already known.

Charles Thomson’s record of correspondence suggests that the “Active” probably brought to the Chevalier de La Luzerne a dispatch of 27 February from the Comte de Vergennes relating to the ratification of the preliminary treaty of peace between Great Britain, France and Spain, and to the steps being taken to conclude a definitive treaty. Having received a copy of this dispatch from La Luzerne, Robert R. Livingston submitted it to Congress on 23 April (NA: PCC, No. 185, III, 62). The dispatches from William Carmichael, chargé d’affaires at Madrid, Charles G. F. Dumas, nominally chargé d’affaires at The Hague, and Lafayette apparently arrived on the “George Washington” and were laid before Congress on 25 April 1783. See NA: PCC, No. 185, III, 63; Wharton, Revol. Dipl. Corr description begins Francis Wharton, ed., The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States (6 vols.; Washington, 1889). description ends ., V, 710–11, 783–85; VI, 184–87, 215–18, 256–57, 259–61, 268–71.

4On 18 April Congress appointed JM, chairman, Oliver Ellsworth, and Alexander Hamilton, a committee to prepare an address to accompany the copy of “the recommendation” to be sent to the executive of each state (NA: PCC, No. 186, fol. 95). For the address, drafted by JM, see Address to the States, 25 April 1783. On 9 May Elias Boudinot, president of Congress, forwarded with his circular letter to the executive of each state a printed copy of “the recommendation” and the address (Burnett, Letters description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress (8 vols.; Washington, 1921–36). description ends , VII, 160–61; Harrison to the House of Delegates, 22 May 1783, Executive Letter Book, 1783–1786, p. 133, MSS in Va. State Library).

5In the first of these two sentences, Bland summarized a resolution adopted by Congress on 15 April (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIV, 242–43). For “Naval” prisoners of war, see 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, 41; 67, n. 3; 85; 106, n. 9; 257, n. 18; Ambler to JM, 8 Feb., n. 3; Delegates to Harrison, 12 Mar. 1783, n. 14; Burnett, Letters description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress (8 vols.; Washington, 1921–36). description ends , VI, 565, n. 2. See also Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington description begins John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington, from the Original Sources, 1745–1799 (39 vols.; Washington, 1931–44). description ends , XXVI, 340–41.

6In a letter of 18 April, received three days later by Boudinot, Washington remarked that he was “totally ignorant of the designs of the Enemy in New York, who, from all I am able to collect, are making no shew of an early Evacuation of that City” (Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington description begins John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington, from the Original Sources, 1745–1799 (39 vols.; Washington, 1931–44). description ends , XXVI, 331; JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIV, 265, first n. 1). See also 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, 103, n. 7.

7For this “article of the Preliminary Articles” of peace between the United States and Great Britain, 30 November 1782, see JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIV, 249–50; 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, 111–12; 112, nn. 1, 11; Delegates to Harrison, 12 Mar. 1783, and n. 14. Upon receiving from Livingston the letter of 14 April to him from General Sir Guy Carleton, Congress on 22 April appointed Alexander Hamilton, chairman, John Rutledge, and Nathaniel Gorham, a committee to suggest a reply. Later the same day Congress adopted the committee’s report recommending the appointment of three commissioners who, with their British counterparts, should “inspect and superintend all embarckations” for the purpose of reporting to Carleton “every infraction of the letter or spirit” of the seventh article. On 24 April Congress decided that Washington should “take such measures” to make its resolutions effective, “as to him shall seem expedient” (NA: PCC, No. 25, II, 209; No. 185, III, 62; No. 186, fol. 96; JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIV, 274, and n. 1).

As early as 15 April Carleton had published the text of the seventh article, warned all shipmasters “at their peril” and all troops under his command to comply strictly with the article, and stated that three British officers and two Americans, then in New York City, would “superintend all embarkations” (Pa. Packet, 24 Apr. 1783; Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington description begins John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington, from the Original Sources, 1745–1799 (39 vols.; Washington, 1931–44). description ends , XXVI, 302–3, 364–65).

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