James Madison Papers
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To James Madison from Joseph Jones, 21 July 1783

From Joseph Jones

RC (LC: Madison Papers). Lacks docket and cover.

Spring Hill. 21. July 1783

Dr. Sir.

I find mine to you of the last week was not in Town in time for the Mail which it seems is now made up at ten o’Clock in the forenoon and is rather inconvenient for those of the Country near the Town as they cannot receive and answer letters the same week unless in Town. my letter will I presume go forward this week.1 I did suppose Congress wod. not again return to the City2 and shod. be sorry to hear they had done so unless invited or some step taken by the Executive to atone for the slight put on that Body.3 had I been present I shod. have opposed the removal at the time but having done so and the cause assigned I shod. not consent to return untill some concession or act of contrition on the part of the offenders authorised the measure the act of the Executive must be deemed the act of the state untill disclaimed or censured by the supreme authority and it is not probable this will be the consequence considering the composition of the present Assembly unless this conduct of Mr. D. shod. lessen the attachment of some of his adherents.4

I know not yet whether I shall visit congress if I do I shall depart hence the begining of next month. I shall feel the inconvenience of the removal in the want of su[ch] good accommodations as I hoped and expected to get at my friend Mrs. House’s where if Congress have retd. or shall return I depend upon quarters of which the next post shall convey notice.5 The proclamation of ou[r] Executive has I am told given offence to the B. party and threats have been thrown out of calling for the council Books next Session with a view to censure the advisers of the measure. I am no prophet, but will venture to foret[ell] the person who attempts it will fail in his project and meet rather the censure than applause of the people.6 If the definitive treaty arrives before the meeting in the fall, I except we shall then have a long and warm Session.7 My Compliments to the Gents. of the Delegation8

Yr aff Friend

Jos: Jones.

1Jones to JM, 14 July 1783. The “Town” was Fredericksburg, the post office stop nearest to Jones’s estate of Spring Hill in King George County, Va.

2Philadelphia.

3The “Executive” was President John Dickinson and the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania. See JM to Randolph, 30 June, and citations in n. 2; Hamilton to JM, 6 July 1783, n. 5.

4Jones to JM, 14 July, and n. 3; JM to Mercer, 16 July, and n. 4; JM to Jefferson, 17 July 1783. Neither Dickinson and the Supreme Executive Council nor “the supreme authority” (“the State of Pennsylvania in General Assembly”) ever explicitly expressed “contrition” for the failure of the civil authorities to act vigorously against the mutineers. Although assuring Congress on 3 July of readiness to co-operate in apprehending the ringleaders, the executive of the state voiced to Congress on 14 July the hope that the rank-and-file continental troops of Pennsylvania who had shared in the uprising would be pardoned (NA: PCC, No. 38, fols. 147, 151).

On 13 August Dickinson and the Council “authorized” the Pennsylvania delegation “to declare in the most respectful Terms to Congress that their return to Philadelphia” would be “an Event” which would afford the executive of the state “the greatest satisfaction” (NA: PCC, No. 69, fol. 1155). In resolutions unanimously adopted on 29 August 1783, the General Assembly, besides making known its wish that a site in Pennsylvania would become Congress’ permanent home, guaranteed that if Congress should decide to return temporarily to Philadelphia, its former accommodations would be available there and “effective measures” would be taken “to enable the Executive of the State to afford speedy and adequate support and protection to the honor and dignity” of Congress (NA: PCC, No. 69, fols. 451–52). See also JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIV, 432–33, 442, n. 2, 451, n. 1, 452–53, 484–85, 506–8; XXV, 580–81; Pa. Archives description begins Samuel Hazard et al., eds., Pennsylvania Archives (9 ser.; 138 vols.; Philadelphia and Harrisburg, 1852–1949). description ends , 1st ser., X, 69, 72; JM to Mercer, 16 July, and n. 4; to Randolph, 5 Aug. 1783; Burnett, Letters description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress (8 vols.; Washington, 1921–36). description ends , VII, 217, 253–54, 255, and n. 2, 266, 274, 279, 293.

5Jones to JM, 14 July, and n. 7; 28 July. Upon Jones’s arrival late in August in Princeton, he and JM shared an uncomfortably small room, making the accommodations at Mrs. Mary House’s boardinghouse in Philadelphia seem palatial by contrast (JM to James Madison, Sr., 30 Aug. 1783).

6Randolph to JM, 12 July, and nn. 2, 3; 18 July. Jones’s “B” stands for British. At the outset of the message of 20 October to the House of Delegates, Governor Harrison justified his proclamation on the basis of the statute warning citizens against having “free and unrestricted intercourse” with Loyalists and British subjects and prohibiting all erstwhile enemies from remaining in or coming to Virginia (Executive Letter Book, 1783–1786, p. 214, MS in Va. State Library). Although the House of Delegates on 17 November “Ordered” that the Governor in Council “lay before the House the journal of their proceedings from the month of October 1782 to the present time,” and the governor complied three days later, the journal of the House records no motion relating specifically to the proclamation (ibid., p. 236; JCSV description begins H. R. McIlwaine et al., eds., Journals of the Council of the State of Virginia (4 vols. to date; Richmond, 1931——). description ends , III, 308; JHDV description begins (1828 ed.). Journal of the House of Delegates of Virginia, Anno Domini, 1776 (Richmond, 1828). description ends , Oct. 1783, p. 21). The journal of the Council of State, by stating that all five of the counselors present on 2 July had “advised” Harrison to issue the proclamation “forthwith,” thus presented any would-be critics with a united front (JCSV description begins H. R. McIlwaine et al., eds., Journals of the Council of the State of Virginia (4 vols. to date; Richmond, 1931——). description ends , III, 276–77). The Virginia General Assembly, besides re-electing Harrison governor on 27 November, enacted on 22 December a law in place of the ones which had warranted his proclamation, extending to all residents of the United States on 19 April 1775 who thereafter had not borne arms voluntarily against the United States, had not been even part owners of enemy privateers or other armed vessels, or had not served on or under the direction of “the Board of Refugee Commissioners of New York,” full “rights of citizenship in Virginia,” except those of voting “for members to either house of assembly” and holding “any office of trust or profit, civil or military” (JHDV description begins (1828 ed.). Journal of the House of Delegates of Virginia, Anno Domini, 1776 (Richmond, 1828). description ends , Oct. 1783, pp. 36, 42, 47, 50, 53, 56, 60, 69, 70, 83; Randolph to JM, 18 July 1783, n. 6; 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, 324–25).

7On 3 February 1784, over seven weeks after Congress on 13 December 1783 had received the definitive treaty, a copy of that treaty, as ratified by Congress on 14 January 1784, reached Governor Harrison (JCSV description begins H. R. McIlwaine et al., eds., Journals of the Council of the State of Virginia (4 vols. to date; Richmond, 1931——). description ends , III, 326; JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXV, 812; XXVI, 23).

8JM, Theodorick Bland, and John Francis Mercer.

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