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To James Madison from Joseph Jones, 2 December 1780

From Joseph Jones

RC (LC: Madison Papers).

Richmond 2d. Decr. 1780

Dear Sir.

I have no Letter from you by this weeks Post although I expect you sent one as Mr. Griffin informs me what News there was worth communicating, especially the contents of Mr. Adams’s Letter, you had mentioned.1 I have been much indisposed the greatest part of this week and not able to give much assistence in the business upon hand which are chiefly the Bills for recruiting the Army—and emiting and funding I suppose six Millions of pounds.2 The first was reported to the House near a week past and has been the subject of Debate every day. It went in a plan for giving Negro bounties3 and has been rejected by an amendment from the word Whereas[.] the amendment proposes to give a bounty of five thousand pounds to each recruit for the war or three years[,] which is yet uncertain[,] but I expect it will be the last and this money to be demanded from all persons having assessable property above 100£ Specie value at the rate of 2 PCt. at present it stands no lower than those having property above three hundred but I expect it will be brought to 100£. The money or some specifics which are allowed to be paid in lieu of money are to be collected by the last [of] Janry. This collection added to the Tax to be paid by the people under the Act of the last Session will be very difficult for them to comply with but the situation of the Treasury withot. money and the demands now due from the public and the late expe[nces] occasioned by the invasion4 will soon exhaust the new emission which will be gone as soon and as fast as they can make it for almost the whole burthen of the Southern Army will and must as Genl. Green informs us fall on this State.5 I am in hopes the bounty of 5 will be reduced to three thousand pounds which will then for 3000 men amount to 9,000,000 an amazing Sum for a bounty. But our Legislators are timid or affect many of them to be timid abt. a draft which had better be made of ye. Militia to serve two years witht. bounty unless a very small one and that body or any other that may be necessary supplyed from the Militia by rotation to be at Camp by the time the others are to come away and to serve other two years. In the meantime let an exemption from draft or even Militia Duty out of the State be offered by the Law to every person who recruits a Soldier for the war whereby a number of our people will be constantly endeavouring to enlist Soldiers for the war and a great number I have no doubt might be so enlisted for a much less Sum than the bounty prop[osed] to be offered. If we raise the 3000 only for three years it is intended to furnish money to the officers or some proper person to take the proper occasion of enlisting as many of them for the War as they can and there are moments when most of them may be enlisted.6 It is in contemplation to send some proper person to lay before Congress the resources of this State and its ability to maintain the Southern War in which embassy perhaps North Carolina may join that more dependence may not be placed on us than we are able to bear least a disappointment may ensue as we have no doubt the great operations of this Winter and next Spring will be to the South. The Person is also to press the making strong remonstrences to France and Spain for their cooperation with proper Force by Sea and Land to recover S. Carolina and Georgia—a Resolution to this effect now lies on the Table.7 Mr. Henry has sent in his resignation[.] no proposal yet of filling his place and am doubtfull whether it will be done as some think to save expence the number should be lessened. Our accounts as well as those of the preceding Delegates are before a Committee.8 No step yet taken abt. the cession of Lands but will be taken up so soon as the recruiting and supply Bills are passed. Mr. Mason has not yet appeared and I do not expect he will this session as he has the remains upon him of a severe fit of the gout. however I have my hopes we shall obtain a cession of all beyond the Ohio.9 Certainly if Lessly is gone to the Southward and anor. reinforcement from New York and also one expected from England in that quarter Congress or the Commander in Chief shod. send on to the Southwd. the pensylvania line before it is too late for if their reinforcements arrive they will go where they pleas[e] as our army will be unable to withstand them and the severity of the approaching Season will retard the march exceedingly of any succour by Land.10 Mrs. Jones still continues to suffer the assaults of the Ague and Fever and she writes me it has so weakened and reduced her she fears she shall not be in condition to go north and if her state of Health shod. be such as to render her unable to travel I think I shall decline it myself.11 Have you fixed any thing with Pemberton or Pleasants[?] if you have not and either of them are disposed to Rent upon the Terms I mentioned endeavour to make it conditional that if in a month or six weeks I shod. decline the bargain I may be at liberty as they shod. if any other offered to Rent their places.12 As soon as I return Home or soon after you shall hear further from me upon this subject. I send for my Horses today and shall return abt. the 10th. or 12.13 Your Letters after the receipt of this please to direct to Fredericksb[urg] untill further informed. I have [this] moment your Letter14 wch. I expect by some mistake went on to Petersburg as this is the day for the return of the Post from there. I find you have engaged Pleasants House for me and must abide by it. I thank you for your trouble in that matter and shall be ready to return you the favour whenever in my power. I am

Yr. Aff Friend

Jos: Jones

1Near the close of this letter, Jones wrote that he had just received JM’s letter of 21 November. In this, JM made his earliest known reference to John “Adams’s Letter.” And yet, in this first sentence, Jones remarks that JM “had mentioned” Adams’ letter. Perhaps by an oversight, Jones neglected to say that Colonel Grayson had traveled faster than the “weeks Post” and had already delivered JM’s letter of 25 November (q.v.) in which the Adams’ dispatch is also referred to. Possibly, however, Jones should have added “to Cyrus Griffin” after “you had mentioned.” For another reference to Adams’ dispatch see Mathews to Greene, 27 November 1780, n. 1.

2See Jones to JM, 18 November, nn. 6 and 7, and 24 November 1780; JM to Jones, 28 November 1780.

3Someone, but most probably not Jones, underlined “for giving Negro bounties” in the manuscript.

4The British invasion of Virginia by Major General Leslie’s troops.

5In Richmond, on 20 November 1780, General Greene wrote to Governor Jefferson pointing out that “on Your exertions hang the Independence of the Southern States” (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 , IV, 130; Jones to JM, 18 November 1780, n. 2). Here, as remarked in n. 3, much of the passage from “Southern Army” to the end of the sentence is underlined, and the passage is further emphasized by a vertical mark beside it in the left-hand margin.

6In the form passed by the Virginia General Assembly on 1 January 1781, the recruitment act differed substantially from Jones’s discussion of it in this letter (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, 326–37; 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 , October 1780, p. 79).

7Although the House of Delegates adopted a resolution on 2 December to this effect and sent it to the Senate for consideration, the choice of Speaker Benjamin Harrison as special emissary to Congress and to the minister of France was not made until 27 December, and then only after Richard Henry Lee had withdrawn as rival candidate for the appointment (ibid., pp. 34, 35, 65, 70, 76–77; JM to Jones, 12 December 1780; Jones to JM, 2 January 1781). In the manuscript a vertical line, probably not drawn by either Jones or JM, margins the passage from “It is in contemplation” to two lines beyond “on the Table.”

8This session of the Virginia Assembly did not fill the vacancy left by James Henry’s resignation on 28 November as a delegate in Congress (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 , October 1780, p. 31; Jones to JM, 2 October, n. 12, 18 November, and 24 November 1780, n. 11; Virginia Delegates to Jefferson, 5 November 1780, n. 1). Someone underlined the words, “Mr. Henry has” in the manuscript.

10See Jameson to JM, 4 November 1780, n. 3; JM to Jones, 21 November 1780, n. 13. At this time, Washington was planning to make a surprise attack upon the British in New York City and had no intention of weakening his army in order to reinforce Greene. The Pennsylvania line was establishing its winter quarters near Morristown, N.J. (Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington description begins John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington, from the Original Sources, 1745–1799 (39 vols.; Washington, D.C., 1931–44). description ends , XX, 418, 424, 428, 447).

11See Jones to JM, 2 and 9 October, and 10 November 1780. In the manuscript a marginal line extends from “if her state of Health” to thirteen words beyond the location of n. 12.

12See JM to Jones, 21 and 28 November 1780.

13The exact date of Jones’s departure from Richmond is not known. From his letter to JM of 8 December (q.v.), he apparently intended to leave for his home five or six days later, or nearly three weeks before the Virginia Assembly adjourned.

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