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To James Madison from Joseph Jones, 28 June 1783

From Joseph Jones

RC (LC: Madison Papers). Docketed by JM, “June 28. 1783.” Cover missing.

Richmond. 28th. June 1783.

Dear Sr.

I have your favours by the Post and by the Secretary of War.1 The day before yesterday the bill for granting a revenue to Congress upon the 3d. reading was ordered to lay on the Table [.] Tas—ll then moved for leave to bring in another under a different Title which was agreed to and yesterday it was presented and on the first reading postponed to the next Session of Assembly.2 The first bill was imperfectly drawn and had undergone such alterations as to be thot. unfit to be enacted into a law. it granted the 5 P Ct. impost and the duty on enumerated articles not as a general fund but to be carryed to the credit of the State and to be in force if Maryland Pensa. & N. Carolina adopted the impost. it granted the land Tax and if any deficiency the poll Tax to furnish the quota of this State if the 1.500.000 doll.3 the first to be collected by the naval officers the latter by the Sheriffs,4 the whole appropriated to Congress on account of this States quota of the common debt. The latter bill was drawn to grant the import duty as a general fund the collection under the controul of the Executive but to be paid to the Continental receiver for the use of Congress. the reason of this bill being brot. before the House in that form was the apparent change in many members after discussing the first bill to fall in with the proposition of Congress except as to the mode [of] collecting.5 this conciliatory disposition was much improved by the arrival of a letter from Genl. Washington on the subject which the Speaker recd. just before the question was about to be taken on the first bill and being read in consequence of the consent of the House to hear the letter before the question was taken had a good effect.6 but two days alone remaining of the time allotted by the members for finishing the business and the fixed determination to break up at that day (Saturday)7 suspended all hope of accomplishing any thing effectual this Session. I think if the Members could have been prevailed on to continue a week longer the business wod. have been finished nearly to the wish of Congress. this Session has passed over withot. doing any thing of consequence.8 Yesterday I suggested to the House an Idea with respect to the cession—to instruct the Delegates to recede from the Guarantee provided Congress wod. agree to the other conditions & limit the time (sometime in Nov. next) when they shod. accept or the c[e]ssion stand revoked.9 It will be vain to attempt relaxing the clause respecting the Companies. the other parts of the report of the last Com: appear to be agreeable here.10 The Secretary of War yesterday through the Executive laid before the House a request to be empowered to procure for the U. States abt. ten Acres of land for the purpose of establ[ish]ing a magazine. a bill is ordd. in for the purpose.11 Resolutions are to be presented to day for furnishing Congress a place of residence—Wmsburg. the public buildings and lands or a tract of territory opposite George Town as may be most agreeable, with a large Sum to erect Hotels for the Delegates, and other necessary buildings will be offered in full Sovereignty. liberal as the offer of Maryland has been our people seem disposed not to be backward in surpassing that liberality where they think a lasting benefit may result to the Community.12 I wish they could have seen the plan of Congress (as to revenue) in the same light and have acted with equal policy and liberality of sentiment [.]13 this day closes the Session. I intend to Mr. Randolphs this evening in my way home where I have not yet been.14 the heat of the weather and this infernal hole at this Season of the year has almost laid me up. Although Virga. may not grant the funds for discharging their quota of the common debt in the manner desired by Congress they are I think determined to furnish ample revenues for the purpose. Mr. Laurens gives us no hope of speedily obtaining the definitive Treaty.15 Nothing has been done in the Citizen bill, it lyes over, and a severe law agt. British subjects coming into this Country, remains in force [.] The Executive may by a proper use of this law until the next Session keep out such as ought not to com[e] among us.16 After geting home you shall be informed w[hen] I shall see you in Philadelphia. Joe is yet afflicted wi[th] the Spleen and ought to go to the Springs or up the Country. If John Dawson will accompany Mrs. Jones and Joe up the Country I do not know but I may visit f[or] two or three months the City of Phila: during the sickly season.17

yr. aff Friend

Jos: Jones

2Pendleton to JM, 26 May, and n. 11; Jones to JM, 21 June, and nn. 6, 7. For Henry Tazewell, see Jefferson to JM, 7 May 1783, and n. 9. Following his motion, he was elected chairman of a committee of three, including Jones, to draft a revenue measure for consideration by the House of Delegates (JHDV description begins (1828 ed.). Journal of the House of Delegates of Virginia, Anno Domini, 1776 (Richmond, 1828). description ends , May 1783, pp. 86, 93).

3Jones to JM, 14 June, and n. 7; Randolph to JM, 21 June 1783. The $1,500,000 was the amount to be requisitioned from all the states by Congress in 1783. Of this total, Virginia’s quota was $253,500 (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, 432; 433, n. 3; 434, nn. 6, 7). Jones should have written “of” rather than “if” immediately after “State.”

5Jones to JM, 14 June 1783, and nn. 11, 12.

6Between 8 and 21 June Washington addressed a long circular letter to the executive of each state. The copy received by Governor Harrison on 26 June is dated 12 June 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, 483, and n. 29, to 496). In the letter Washington devoted a paragraph to praise of the plan for restoring public credit and of the “Address to the United States,” drafted by JM. In Washington’s words: “no real friend to the honor and Independency of America, can hesitate a single moment respecting the propriety of complying with the just and honorable measures proposed; if their Arguments do not produce conviction, I know of nothing that will have greater influence; especially when we recollect that the System referred to, being the result of the collected Wisdom of the Continent, must be esteemed, if not perfect, certainly the least objectionable of any that could be devised; and that if it shall not be carried into immediate execution, a National Bankruptcy, with all its deplorable consequences will take place, before any different Plan can possibly be proposed and adopted; So pressing are the present circumstances! and such is the alternative now offered to the States!” (ibid., XXVI, 489).

As “the Legacy of One, who has ardently wished, on all occasions, to be useful to his Country,” Washington asked as his “final and only request” that Harrison “communicate these sentiments to your Legislature at their next meeting” (ibid., XXVI, 496). Although note of the fact does not appear in the journal, Harrison enclosed Washington’s letter to the speaker of the House of Delegates on 26 June 1783 (Executive Letter Book, 1783–1786, p. 163, MS in Va. State Library). See also Randolph to JM, 28 June 1783.

10For the “last Com:” and the issue of the “Companies,” 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, 502; 503, nn. 4, 6; JM to Jefferson, 20 May, and n. 5; JM Notes, 4 June, and n. 2; 6 June, and n. 1; 10 June, and n. 3; JM to Randolph, 10 June 1783, and n. 16.

11JM to Randolph, 17 June, n. 10; JM Notes, 19 June 1783, and n. 9. A letter from the governor, enclosing one from Benjamin Lincoln, secretary at war, was referred by the House of Delegates on 27 June to “a committee of the whole House on the state of the Commonwealth.” The same day, on the recommendation of that committee, a committee of five members, Charles Mynn Thruston, chairman, was ordered to prepare a bill to enable Congress “to procure ten acres of land in this State, for the public use.” Later that day the proposed bill passed two readings and was adopted on 28 June by each house of the General Assembly (JHDV description begins (1828 ed.). Journal of the House of Delegates of Virginia, Anno Domini, 1776 (Richmond, 1828). description ends , May 1783, pp. 91, 93, 94, 97, 99; Hening, Statutes description begins William Waller Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619 (13 vols.; Richmond and Philadelphia, 1819–23). description ends , XI, 288).

13Either Jones or JM underlined “plan of Congress” and two italicized words later in the paragraph. JM many years later interlineated “as to revenue” and enclosed the phrase in parentheses.

14For Randolph’s home, 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 , IV, 148, n. 2. Jones had not been home since at least 18 May (Jones to JM, 25 May 1783, and n. 1).

15Jones referred to Henry Laurens’ dispatch of 15 March, received by Congress on 10 June (NA: PCC, No. 185, III, 66; Wharton, Revol. Dipl. Corr description begins Francis Wharton, ed., The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States (6 vols.; Washington, 1889). description ends ., VI, 303–5). JM’s missing letter to Jones, enclosed in JM’s letter of 17 June to Randolph (q.v., and n. 15), may have mentioned Laurens’ dispatch. See also Pendleton to JM, 4 May, n. 6; 23 June; JM to Jefferson, 10 June, and nn. 2, 3, 7; to Randolph, 10 June 1783.

16Jones to JM, 31 May, and nn. 11–14; 8 June, and nn. 26, 27; 14 June; 21 June 1783, and nn. 20, 21.

17For Jones’s return to Philadelphia, see JM to Randolph, 6 May 1783, n. 9. By “Spleen,” Jones probably meant that his son, Joseph, Jr., about three years of age, was either asthmatic or feverish and irritable (Matthew Baillie, The Morbid Anatomy of Some of the Most Important Parts of the Human Body [2d ed.; London, 1797], pp. 252–64; 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 , IV, 367, n. 14). By “Springs,” Jones may have signified Berkeley Warm Springs (ibid., I, 73, n. 2). John Dawson (1762–1814), a brother of the first husband of Jones’s wife (Mary Waugh Dawson), was graduated by Harvard College in 1782. He was a delegate from Spotsylvania County in the Virginia General Assembly, 1786–1789, a member of the convention of his state which ratified the Constitution of the United States in 1788, and a congressman from 1797 to 1814. He served during the War of 1812 as an aide-de-camp of Major General Jacob Brown and Major General Andrew Jackson. Dawson and JM frequently corresponded between 1785 and 1812. 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 , IV, 261, n. 11.

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