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From James Madison to Thomas Jefferson, 3 April 1781

To Thomas Jefferson

RC (LC: Madison Papers). Addressed to “His Excellency Thomas Jefferson Esqr. Governor of Virginia” and franked by JM. Docketed, “Madison Jas April 3. 1781,” by Jefferson.

Philada. April 3d. 1781

Dear Sir

I have received your favor of the 23d of March.1 The publication of which you wish to have a copy for your private use is not yet finished; as soon as it is I shall take care to provide one for you.2 I have repeatedly reminded Dr. Smith of his promise with respect to the map, but have never obtained any thing more than a repetition of the promise. He is at present an inhabitant of Maryland. Just before he left this City he assured me that he should soon send me what you wanted. I have not since heard from him and have very little hope that I ever shall on that subject. It is not improbable that he calculates3 the value of the Chart on its being the single one remaining, and thinks the issuing of copies would depreciate it. The genius of the man and the manner of his behaviour in the course of my applications to him justify such a surmize.4

Notwithstanding the personal advantages which you have a right to expect from an emancipation from your present labours5 and the interest you have given me in your leisure by the promise of your correspondence I cannot forbear lamenting that the State is in the present crisis to lose the benefit of your administration. But as you seem to have made up your final determination in the matter and have I doubt not weighed well the reasons on which it is grounded I shall lament it in silence.6

The letter from the Delegation by the last post informed you of the arrival of the Stores here which were to have been delivered in Virginia by one of the French Ships.7 The infinite importance of them to the State, especially since the arrival of a reinforcement to Arnold of which we are just apprized by the Marquis8 has determined the Delegates to forward them by land without loss of time. This will be attempted in the first instance in the channel of the Q. Master’s Department and if it cannot be effected in that mode without delay we propose to engage private waggons for the purpose on the credit of the State. Should the latter alternative be embraced, I find it will be necessary to stipulate instantaneous payment from the Treasury on the arrival9 of the waggons at Richmond in Specie or the old Continental Currency to the real amount thereof. I mention this circumstance that you may be prepared for it. The expence of the transportation will be between five & six hundred pounds Virginia Money. The exchange between specie & the old paper here at present is about 135 for 1.10

The Delegates having understood that the Refugees taken by Capt: Tilly on his return to New Port from Chesapeak consisted chiefly of persons who formerly lived in Virginia some of whom were traitors who deserved exemplary punishment, and others11 vindictive enemies to the State thought proper to make the inclosed application to the French Minister.12 By conversation I have since had with him on the subject I doubt whether it will be deemed consistent with their general rules of conduct to give up to be punished as malefactors any of the captives made by their fleet which does not serve like their land army as an auxiliary to the forces of the United States. If these persons had been taken by their land forces which serve as auxiliaries under the Commander in chief it seems there would have been no difficulty in the case.13 However the application will certainly prevent the exchange or release to which it refers, if the Executive14 think it expedient to do so. On the least intimation I am persuaded the Apostates would be even sent over to France and secured in the most effectual manner during the war. Perhaps this would not be amiss as being not our Prisoners no use can be made of them in redeeming our citizens from captivity.

About one thousand of the Pennsylvania line will march in a day or two from York Town for the Southern service. When the remainder will follow them is altogether uncertain.15 The detachment under the Marquis is still at Annapolis. The orders of General Washington will govern their movements. Whatever his intentions mig[ht have]16 been at first, I flatter myself the embarkat[ion from] N. York of which he must have been soonest [apprized] & which is now lodged in Chesapeak has dete[rmined] him not to withdraw them from a service wh[ich is] now more in need of them than ever.17

The Ordinance published in the Newspaper [of this] day will be an answer to your request by Col. Harr[ison on the?] sense of Congress on one of the subjects to which it rela[tes. The] flagrant abuses which were covered by those indulg[ences] and the offensive light in which they were justly viewed by our Ally called loudly for their abolition.18

I am Dr Sir Yr. sincere friend19 & servant

James Madison Junr.

1Not found.

2Jefferson probably had asked for a copy of Samuel Wharton’s Plain Facts: Being an Examination into the Rights of the Indian Nations of America, to Their Respective Countries; and a Vindication of the Grant, from the Six United Nations of Indians, to the Proprietors of Indiana, against the Decision of the Legislature of Virginia; Together with Authentic Documents, Proving that the Territory, Westward of the Allegany Mountain, Never Belonged to Virginia, &c. (Philadelphia, 1781). Wharton was a member of the Indiana Company, which claimed an extensive acreage in what is now West Virginia. The Pennsylvania Packet of 24 April 1781 advertised that Plain Facts was “now in the Press, and shortly will be Published.”

3JM wrote this word above a deleted “estimates.”

4For Dr. William Smith, see Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (2 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , II, 103 n. JM probably used “genius” in the sense of character or disposition.

5JM crossed out “of office” after “labours.”

6In his missing letter of 23 March Jefferson must have stated unequivocally that he intended to retire as governor. His term expired on 2 June, but he dated several official letters the next day, a Sunday. The General Assembly elected Thomas Nelson as his successor on 12 June (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 , VI, 77–79 n.; Journal of the House of Delegates description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of Virginia, March 1781 Session in Bulletin of the Virginia State Library, XVII, No. 1 (January 1928). description ends , May 1781, p. 15).

7In a letter of 27 March (q.v.) the Virginia delegates had notified Governor Jefferson of the arrival in Philadelphia of the Virginia goods landed from “Le Comité” at Providence, R.I., in September 1780 (Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (2 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , II, 228, n. 4; 313, n. 8).

8Lafayette’s letter of 25 March to the president of Congress was read in Congress on 31 March 1781. He wrote from Williamsburg, enclosing a copy of his letter of 23 March in which he informed George Washington that an enemy fleet, “said to be 12 sail in all,” had come to anchor in Chesapeake Bay (NA: PCC, No. 156, fol. 109; JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XIX, 335; Pendleton to JM, 2 April 1781, n. 2).

9JM inadvertently followed “on the arrival” with “of the arrival” and then crossed it out.

10On 2 October 1780 Congress had directed the Board of War to “take the proper steps for transporting” to Virginia her share of the cargo of “Le Comité” (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XVIII, 890). When the goods reached Philadelphia, the delegates of Virginia reminded the Board of this directive and suggested that the wagoners could be paid either in Virginia money or tobacco. Thereupon the Board informed Congress on 2 April that the carters refused both methods of payment, because Virginia money was worthless in Philadelphia and the twelve wagons needed for carrying the arms and stores to Virginia would not hold over one-fourth of their pay (£373 13s. 6d. or $995, “new emmission”) in tobacco. On the suggestion of the Board, Congress on 3 April directed the treasurer to issue a warrant for $995 to the deputy quartermaster general for Pennsylvania to enable him to have the goods taken to Virginia “for which the said state is to be accountable” (NA: PCC, No. 147, VI, 377–83; JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XIX, 344–45). See also Virginia Delegates to Jefferson, 1 May 1781.

11A heavily deleted word after “others” may have been “former.”

13Ibid., n. 4.

14JM crossed out “concur with us” after “Executive.”

15By “York Town” JM meant York, Pa. See Pendleton to JM, 26 March 1781, n. 11.

16The right side of the page is missing from this point through “indulgences” in the last paragraph. Except for “ht have,” supplied by the editors, the bracketed portions of the present paragraph have been taken from the abstract in Stan. V. Henkels Catalogue No. 694 (1892). At that time the manuscript was apparently not torn.

17Above, nn. 8 and 15. See Pendleton to JM, 19 March 1781, n. 9.

18The resolution of Congress of 16 March 1781 on non-intercourse with Great Britain (q.v.) was printed in the Pennsylvania Packet of 3 April. In a letter of 29 January Governor Jefferson reminded Benjamin Harrison of Virginia’s “Distress for salt” and asked him, while in Philadelphia as the special delegate of the Virginia General Assembly, to seek to assure the continuance of Virginia’s trade with Bermuda for that article “without umbrage to Congress or the French Minister” (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, 466; Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (2 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , II, 285–86; Jameson to JM, 3 March 1781, n. 5; Motion on Non-Intercourse, 16 March 1781, n. 27).

19Except in his letter of 6 June 1780 (Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (2 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , II, 39), JM had not hitherto used the word “friend” in the complimentary close of any letter to Jefferson known to the editors. On the back of a memorandum by Jefferson, probably written in May 1781 (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 , V, 667), appear these words: “than by employing them there.

“I have the honor to be with the highest esteem & regard Yr Excellency’s most obt & humble s[ervant]

J. Madison, Junr”

To determine when this fragment was written is probably impossible. The formality of the sentence ending with the signature suggests that it may have been the concluding portion of the missing letter known to have been mailed to Jefferson by JM about 20 March 1780, shortly after JM’s arrival in Philadelphia as a delegate in Congress from Virginia (Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (2 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , II, 5, 7, n. 1). On the other hand, the phraseology of the complimentary close more nearly resembles than any other known to the editors the one with which JM concluded his letter of 9 January 1781 to Jefferson (ibid., II, 280).

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