James Madison Papers
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To James Madison from Thomas Jefferson, 26 July 1780

From Thomas Jefferson

Printed text (Boyd, Papers of Jefferson description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson (16 vols. to date; Princeton, N.J., 1950——). description ends , III, 506–7).

Richmond July 26. 1780.

Dear Sir

With my letter to the President1 I inclose a copy of the bill for calling in the paper money now in circulation, being the only copy I have been able to get. in my letter to the delegates I ask the favor of them to furnish me with authentic advice when the resolutions of Congress shall have been adopted by five other states.2 in a private letter I may venture to urge great dispatch & to assign the reasons. the bill on every vote prevailed but by small majorities, & on one occasion it escaped by two voices only. it’s friends are very apprehensive that those who disapprove of it will be active in the recess of assembly to produce a general repugnance to it, and to prevail on the assembly in October to repeal it. they therefore think it of the utmost consequence to get it into a course of execution before the assembly meets. I have stated in my public letter to you what we shall consider as authentic advice lest a failure in that article should increase the delay. if you cannot otherwise get copies of the bill, it would be worth while to be at some extraordinary expence to do it.

Some doubt has arisen here to which quarter our 3000 draughts are to go? as Congress directed 5000 militia to be raised & sent to the Southward including what were ordered there, & these 3000 (which I think will be 3500) draughts are raised in lieu of so many militia, the matter seems clear enough. when we consider that a fourth or fifth of the enemy’s force are in S. Carolina, it could not be expected that N. Carolina, which contains but a tenth of the American militia should be left to support the Southern war alone; more especially when the regular force to the Northward & the expected aids are taken into the scale.3 I doubt more whether the balance of the 1,900,000 Doll. are meant by Congress to be sent Northwardly, because in a resolution of June 17. subsequent to the requisition of the sum before mentioned they seem to appropriate all the monies from Maryland Southward to the Southern military chest. we shall be getting ready the balance, in which great disappointments have arisen from an inability to sell our tobacco; and in the mean time wish I could be advised whether it is to go Northward or Southward.4 the aids of money from this state through the rest of the present year will be small, our taxes being effectually anticipated by certificates issued for want of money, & for which the sheriffs are glad to exchange their collections rather than bring them to the treasury. Congress desired N. Carolina & Virginia to recruit remount, & equip Washington’s & White’s horse. the whole has been done by us except as to 200 saddles which the Q. M. expects to get from the Northward.5 this draws from us about six or seven hundred thousand pounds, the half of which I suppose is so much more than was expected from us. we took on us the whole, because we supposed N. Carolina would be considerably burthened with calls for occasional horse, in the present low state of our cavalry; & that the disabled horses would be principally to be exchanged there for fresh.

Our troops are in the utmost distress for clothing, as are also our officers. what we are to do with the 3000 draughts when they are raised I cannot foresee.

Our new institution at the college has had a success which has gained it universal applause. Wythe’s school is numerous. they hold weekly courts & assemblies in the capitol the professors join in it; and the young men dispute with elegance, method & learning. this single school by throwing from time to time new hands well principled & well informed into the legislature will be of infinite value.6

I wish you every felicity & am Dr. Sir Your friend & sert.

Th: Jefferson

P.S. you have not lost sight of the map I hope.7

1Letter of 27 July 1780 to Samuel Huntington, president of the Continental Congress (Boyd, Papers of Jefferson description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson (16 vols. to date; Princeton, N.J., 1950——). description ends , III, 508–13).

2Jefferson’s “letter to the [Virginia] delegates,” presumably dated 26 or 27 July, has not been found. By “the resolutions of Congress” he meant those of 18 March 1780 (Journals of the Continental Congress, XVI, 262–67), passed by a close vote over the opposition of the delegations from the southern states, including Virginia. These resolutions asked each state to emit new bills of credit to an amount proportionate to its usual quota of money (Virginia’s was 16⅔ per cent of the total expected from all the states) due to be paid monthly into the continental treasury. Every state, up to a total equivalent to its quota, might use each $1.00 of its new currency to redeem $40.00 of the approximately $200,000,000 of the depreciated congressional issues then outstanding; and Congress resolved not to emit any more paper money. The new issue by each state was not to exceed 5 per cent of the old issues to be called in and burned. Each new bill would pay an annual interest of 5 per cent to the holder and be redeemable in specie not later than 31 December 1786. To prevent these new bills from depreciating and to prepare for this redemption day, Congress urged each state to levy additional taxes and accumulate a sinking fund, presumably in specie. In token of the fact that Congress pledged to redeem the new currency in specie, in case any state could not do so, every new paper note issued by a state was to bear the signature of the continental loan officer for that state, as well as the signatures of its own loan officers. Of the new emissions, 40 per cent were to be at the disposal of Congress, and 60 per cent at that of the issuing state.

“The bill,” which Jefferson inclosed in his letter to “the President,” was one of the two on this subject, passed by the Virginia legislature in July 1780 after much debate (Journal of the House of Delegates 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, unless otherwise noted, is the one in which the journals for 1777–1781 are brought together in one volume, with each journal published in Richmond in 1827 or 1828, and often called the “Thomas W. White reprint.” description ends , May 1780, p. 84; 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 , X, 241–54, 279–86). Designed to enforce the resolutions of Congress, mentioned above, these statutes provided for a sinking fund, a variety of new taxes, and the emission of $1,666,666.67 in new bills. This equaled 5 per cent of $33,333,333.34, which was Virginia’s quota (16⅔ per cent) to redeem, at $1.00 to $40.00 of the outstanding $200,000,000 of continental paper currency. One provision, however, stipulated that the new system was not to become operative until the governor had received “authentick advices” that a majority of the states, not counting enemy-occupied Georgia and South Carolina, had “actually or conditionally approved of … the said resolutions of congress of the eighteenth of March last” (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 , X, 254). On 4 August President Samuel Huntington, on 7 August Charles Lee, secretary to the Board of Treasury of Congress, and on 5 September 1780 the Virginia delegation in Congress, dispatched to Jefferson these required “authentick advices” (Boyd, Papers of Jefferson description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson (16 vols. to date; Princeton, N.J., 1950——). description ends , III, 527–28, 531–32; Jameson to JM, 23 August 1780, n. 3; and Certification of Virginia Delegates in Congress, 5 September 1780). Because of the delay which would be caused by this proviso in the law of Virginia, and because of its need for emergency funds, the legislature in July 1780 provided for the issuance of not over “two millions of pounds” of treasury notes “for supplying the present urgent necessities of this commonwealth” (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 , X, 279–86).

3On 17 June 1780 Congress urged Virginia to have five thousand of its militia in the hard-pressed patriot army in South Carolina by sending there “with all possible despatch” whatever additional number was needed to bring its total up to that figure. On the same day, Congress also asked Virginia to ready for instant call three thousand more men (Journals of the Continental Congress, XVII, 523–24). Thereupon the Assembly enacted three statutes—two to have 2,500 militiamen dispatched with all speed as a three-month reinforcement of the southern army, and the other to raise three thousand men for service until 31 December 1781 (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 , X, 221–26, 229, 257–62). In order to recruit these three thousand soldiers, each county lieutenant was directed to raise one-fifteenth of the total number of militia in his county, either by calling for volunteers who would be given money bounties for enlisting, or, if need be, by resorting to a draft. He could count as part of this quota whatever men had already gone from his county to the southern army or to the army defending the western frontier. Jefferson assumed that the men so raised would probably number 3,500 rather than three thousand, and that they would also be allocated by Congress to the army in the South—especially since the congressional troop table had fixed Virginia’s obligation at 6,070 men and North Carolina’s at only 3,640 (Journals of the Continental Congress, XVI, 150).

4Of the $1,953,200 which Congress, on 19 May 1780, requested from Virginia within thirty days, the state dispatched $1,430,239 8/9 to Philadelphia on 30 June 1780. On 17 June, however, Congress asked all states from Maryland south, until further notice, to send their money quotas directly to the headquarters of the southern army. Jefferson was in doubt whether this directive applied to the balance of $522,960 1/9 still owed by Virginia under the resolution of 19 May (ibid., XVII, 437, 524; Boyd, Papers of Jefferson description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson (16 vols. to date; Princeton, N.J., 1950——). description ends , III, 510).

5In April 1780, in fighting at Monck’s Corner and Lanneau’s (Lenud’s) Ferry, the British in South Carolina had decimated the cavalry of Colonel Anthony Walton White (1751–1803) and of Lieutenant Colonel William Augustine Washington (1752–1810) of the 3d Continental Dragoons (Journals of the Continental Congress, XVII, 527–28; Journal of the Virginia House of Delegates, May 1780, p. 89; William B. Willcox, ed., The American Rebellion, pp. 168–69).

6As a member of the Board of Visitors of the College of William and Mary, Jefferson had been instrumental in reforming its curriculum and in establishing a chair of “Law and Police,” with George Wythe (1726–1806) as its first incumbent (Boyd, Papers of Jefferson description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson (16 vols. to date; Princeton, N.J., 1950——). description ends , II, 535–43; Dumas Malone, Jefferson the Virginian [Boston, 1948], pp. 284–85; Robert M. Hughes, “William and Mary, the First American Law School,” William and Mary Quarterly, 2d ser., II [1922], 40–43).

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