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To James Madison from Joseph Jones, 24 November 1780

From Joseph Jones

RC (LC: Madison Papers). Jones’s dating of this letter is so indistinct that it could be either the “24th” or “25th.” References in his text to specific actions taken by the legislature on particular days make certain that he was writing on the 24th, even though JM acknowledged the letter as of 25 November.

Richmond 24th. Nov. 1780

Dear Sr.

I have yours of the 14th: and from my soul wish I could inform you we proceed with that vigor and despatch the urgency of the public wants require. The Bill for filling up the quota of our continental Troops has not yet been reported although we have been in a Com: upon it a fortnight. Such various opinions prevail as to the mode of raising them as well as the bounty to be given that I can hardly yet venture to say what will be the result. I think however we shall give a bounty in Negros to such Soldiers as will enlist for the War[,] the Negro not to be transfered but [or?] forthcoming if the soldier shall desert the Service[,] and in that case revert to the public to recruit another man in his room[.] If in thirty days men are not recruited by bounty for the War a draught to take place. It seems to be the prevailing opinion for three years though I expect this long period upon a draft will be opposed but I have my hopes it will be carryed for that time. This Bill will however go into the House Tomorrow or Monday.1 we shall then take up Finance and I see clearly we shall totally defeat the scheme of the 18th. of March last by the large emissions the urgent and pressing demands of the State require and render unavoidable, I think at least 5 M. pounds.2 almost the sole support and succour of the Southern department depend upon Virginia and perplexed and surrounded with diffi[culty] as we are there yet appears among people in general a disposit[ion] to make exertions to their utmost ability and I have my hope we shall accomplish a great proportion if not the whole required from us. methods are pursuing by the Executive3 to obtain a good store of Beef and we have directed a Com. to go to North Carolina to concert with that Government the laying up a sufficiency of Pork as that article is rather scarce here but in much greater plenty there. The Executive will be armed with powers competent to drawing forth every resource and if we can but furnish money for transporta[tion] and other contingent charges, the great specific supplies that will be furnished will I hope keep matters in a way that will not let the army suffer for want of our assistence.4 The Enemy have left us without leaving behind them as heretofore those marks of ravage and devastation that have but too generally attended their progress. all the unrigged vessels remain unhurt[—]no burnings and but little plundering and this when done was by the Tories in general and reprobated we are informed by Lessly & the Commodore as well as the principal officers of their army and Fleet. Surely this sudde[n] and most extraordinary change in the behavior of the Enemy has meaning which though we are yet at a loss to unfold will ere long be made manifest.5 We have no late account from the Southward[.] the last from Gates Smallwood and Morgen speak of our Force being inconsiderable and almost naked and frequently withot. provision. Genl. Greene is gone forward leaving Baron Steuben here to arrange matters with this State and then to follow him.6 We have had a warm debate in the House upon a Bill to explain and amend the act of the last Session for funding the New Bills of Credit of Congress under the scheme of the 18th of March. The question agitated whr. those Bills as well as the two million of state money issued last Session shod. be a tender in payment of Debts and determined that they shod. be a legal tender. H——n——y for the question & R. H. L. agt. it and both aided by their auxiliaries took up two days or nearly in discussing the question. indeed we loose a great deal too much time in idle unnecessary debate.7 Mr. Blair was yesterday chosen to succeed Mr. Nicholas in the chencery and Tomorrow we fill up the vacancy in the Genl. Court, wch. I plainly see will be the lot of Mr. Fleming. I had thought of G——f——n but found it was in vain to propose him[.]8 I expected somebody wod. mention Mr James Henry but it has not been done. I believe that wod. be also useless as you know the advantage a member has over an absent person. I this day presented pet. for relief to Mr. Dunlap for his loss but am very doubtfull whether it will be attended with success. I wish to hear what he says abt. geting another apparetus or wher. he declines the business altogether[.] I shod. be sorry he should do so as I am certain he wod. be very usefull to the State and will in the end find his account in undertaking the Business.9 Mrs. Jones I find is not yet well of her ague and Fever wch. being of the third day will I fear continue on her some time as it has already been her companion through the Fall.10 The extract of your Letter to the Govr. respecting supply of money was laid before the House as well as Col. Blands quere for his satisfaction upon a scruple respecting commerce. they are refd. to a Com. and so are the Delegates accots. Mr. M. S.’s account lodged in the auditors office occasions speculation. You would do well if not already done to transmit a state of the accounts from the Book and in particular M. S.s as it is said it was never examined according to custom by the Delegates. this last upon second thought shod. not come alone[.] it will appear pointed[.] it wod. be better to get the whole transcribed by some person and pay him charging the State. I shall endeavour if the matter comes on before I leave Richmond to get the Delegates Supply of money fixed upon some sure and certain fund that they may no longer be exposed to the difficult[ies] lately experienced.11 R. H. Lee talks of lessening the number to save the expence.12 Compliments to the Gent. of our Delegation and believe me

Yr. aff Friend & Sert.

Jos: Jones

1See Jones to JM, 18 November 1780, n. 6. Someone, but probably not Jones and possibly not JM, drew on the manuscript a pencil line under “bounty in Negros to such Soldiers” and a vertical mark in the left-hand margin bordering the lines of text running from “we shall give” to “not recruited by bounty for the.”

2Ibid., n. 7.

3In the manner mentioned in n. 1, “the sole” is underscored and a marginal mark gives emphasis to the lines of text beginning “support and succour” and ending “pursuing by the Executive.”

4Ibid., n. 8. A marginal line marks the text from “be armed with powers” to “and devastation that.”

5Jameson to JM, 4 November, n. 4, and 18 November 1780, n. 10. The “Commodore” was George Gayton.

6See Jones to JM, 18 November 1780, n. 2. Jones probably refers to letters received by Governor Jefferson from Brigadier Generals Edward Stevens and Daniel Morgan and Major General Horatio Gates—this last letter inclosing a dispatch to him from Major General William Smallwood (1732–1792) of Maryland (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, 103, 112–13, 129). These letters, forwarded by Jefferson, were read in Congress on 27 November, before JM could have received the present letter from Jones (Journals of the Continental Congress, XVIII, 1095).

7See Jones to JM, 18 November 1780, n. 7. The abbreviations stand for Patrick Henry and Richard Henry Lee. The words in the manuscript beginning “a tender in payment” and ending “idle unnecessary” are underlined and a marginal, vertical line borders most of this same passage.

8The persons mentioned in these sentences were John Blair, Robert Carter Nicholas (1728–1780), and William Fleming (1736–1824), who, as Jones predicted, became a judge of the General Court on 28 November (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), and Cyrus Griffin.

9See Jefferson to Virginia Delegates, 31 August 1780, n. 3; Jameson to JM, 4 November 1780, n. 6; 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, pp. 28, 49–50.

10See Jones to JM, 2, 17, and 24 October 1780.

11See Virginia Delegates to Jefferson, 5 November 1780, n. 1. On 19 December 1780, when the Virginia House of Delegates resolved that most of the congressional delegates’ accounts were “fairly stated and fully reasonable,” it refused to approve those of Cyrus Griffin and Meriwether Smith unless each man justified the expenses for which he claimed reimbursement from the state (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. 58). After Bland directed his now vague “quere” to Jefferson, the latter sent it along to Speaker Benjamin Harrison on 17 November with a covering note mentioning Bland’s “difficulty … in reconciling his qualification as a delegate [in Congress] to the peculiar channel into which he had previously turned his private fortune” (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, 121). Bland probably was worried by a legislative act of 1779, requiring each delegate to take oath that he was engaging in no foreign or domestic trading other than in commodities of his “own growth or manufacture” (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, 113). On 19 December 1780, the House of Delegates evidently accepted a committee’s interpretation of this statute to the effect that activities of the sort engaged in by Bland were not banned by it (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. 58).

12By an act of the legislature in 1779, the number of delegates in Congress from Virginia was reduced from a maximum of seven to a maximum of five, “any one of which, or a majority of those present, if more than one, to give the vote of the 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 , IX, 388–89; X, 74–75, 163). Lee failed in his effort to reduce this maximum. In the manuscript this sentence about Lee is underscored, as is also “Gent.” in the concluding sentence.

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