James Madison Papers
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Benjamin Harrison to Virginia Delegates, 11 January 1782

Benjamin Harrison to Virginia Delegates

FC (Virginia State Library). In the hand of Charles Hay, assistant clerk of the Council of State.

In Council January 11th. 17821

Gentlemen

We have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your favor of the 1st instant and to inform you that the packet by Captain Irish did not get to hand time enough for the assembly which rose on the fifth.2 They have passed a bill for raising 3000 men. We have no doubt of getting them provided Congress will forward the Continental bounty which in addition to twenty dollars given by the State we consider very sufficient for the purpose and gives us every reason to hope for the speedy Completion of our Quota, but ready money alone can give Success to this business.3

They have laid a Tax of one per Cent. on land, ten Shillings on all negroes ten shillings two pounds of bacon and half a bushel of wheat on all white Titheables—besides an heavy duty on all imported Articles.4

Armands Corps and all the Continental Staff are unprovided for, nor has the State any means of supporting them. The well known disorders and Irregularities of that Corps are much to be dreaded; We have therefore to press in the most earnest manner that they be immediately furnished with such necessaries as they may want or that they be removed out of the State.5

We have also to request that you forward the journals for the years 1777 & 78 also from the 10th of May 79, to the 17th; from the 20th of June to 26 of July; from the 2d of October to 11th Do. from the 31st July 80 to this day and also the regulations respecting the promotion of Officers.6 I am &c

Benjamin Harrison

1This letter was not approved in Council until 12 January (Journals of the Council of State description begins H. R. McIlwaine et al., eds., Journals of the Council of the State of Virginia (3 vols. to date; Richmond, 1931——). description ends , III, 25).

2See Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (4 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , III, 305, n. 1.

3“An act to recruit the Virginia line on the continental establishment” became a law on 5 January 1782 (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 1777–1786 are brought together in two volumes, with each journal published in Richmond in 1827 or 1828, and often called the “Thomas W. White reprint.” description ends , October 1781, p. 74; 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, 499–500). By an ordinance of 3 October 1780, as amended eighteen days later, Congress had promised a bounty of “not exceeding fifty dollars” to each recruit who enlisted for the duration of the war and fixed Virginia’s quota as eight regiments of infantry, one of artillery, and two of cavalry. On 10 December 1781 Congress decided to retain this quota for the next year, but the delinquencies of the states in paying their money quotas left Congress unable during the early months of 1782 to fulfill the pledge of a $50.00 bounty to each recruit (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XVIII, 894–95, 959; XXI, 1163–64; Jameson to JM, 23 February 1782; McIlwaine, Official Letters description begins H. R. McIlwaine, ed., Official Letters of the Governors of the State of Virginia (3 vols.; Richmond, 1926–29). description ends , III, 214).

4This paragraph mentions merely a few provisions of two comprehensive and complicated statutes—one entitled “An act for laying taxes in certain enumerated commodities,” and the other “An act for ascertaining certain taxes and duties, and for establishing a permanent revenue.” They were enacted on 5 January 1782. Harrison would have been more accurate if he had mentioned that masters were exempted from taxation on aged and infirm slaves and that free Negroes paid the same taxes as whites (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 1777–1786 are brought together in two volumes, with each journal published in Richmond in 1827 or 1828, and often called the “Thomas W. White reprint.” description ends , October 1781, p. 74; 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, 490–92, 501–17).

5By this date Charles Armand Tuffin, Marquis de La Rouërie, usually known in America simply as Colonel Charles Armand (1750–1793), had exasperated Governor Harrison by his complaints about unco-operative Virginia officials and by his arbitrary impressment of wagons and horses for the use of his partisan legion. In a letter of 6 December 1781, Harrison had acceded to the request of Armand to recruit troopers in Virginia but had bluntly told him that, if he needed wagons, he should seek them from the continental quartermaster. Although the differences of opinion between the governor and the colonel were to continue for many months, Harrison no doubt hoped even at this time that Armand and his legion would be removed from the state (McIlwaine, Official Letters description begins H. R. McIlwaine, ed., Official Letters of the Governors of the State of Virginia (3 vols.; Richmond, 1926–29). description ends , III, 106–7, 120, 127, 137, 196, 315).

Ever since Armand had entered the continental service as a colonel on 10 May 1777 (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , VII, 346), he had commanded cavalry-infantry units, mostly comprising “Deserters from the Enemy’s foreign Troops, French men, and others not owing Allegiance to the King of Great Britain” (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XI, 642–45; XIV, 755; XVI, 187, 203). Although this miscellaneous personnel, frequently of dubious antecedents, was hard to discipline, it had served effectively in the field, except at the Battle of Camden (Henry Lee, Memoirs of the War in the Southern Department of the United States [2 vols.; Philadelphia, 1812], I, 181 n.). Armand had often threatened to resign unless he was made a brigadier general—a rank finally awarded him by Congress in 1783—but his undoubted devotion to the cause led him to return to France for about eight months in 1781, seeking there at his own expense to collect better equipment for the men and horses of his command (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XIII, 148; XVI, 72, 78, 187; XVIII, 1010–11, 1058; XIX, 75–76; XXIV, 343–44). When he returned to the United States in September of that year, he found that his corps had been reduced by attrition during his absence to about sixty-five men, of whom over half had no mounts (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XX, 682; NA: PCC, No. 164, fols. 454, 466). Authorized by Congress to rebuild his legion to its full strength of about 250 troopers, Armand set about doing it in Virginia with his customary vigor and disregard of civilian officials (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXI, 976, 994, 1024).

6Beginning with its first meeting in May 1775, the Second Continental Congress employed a succession of printers, including William and Thomas Bradford, Robert Aitken, John Dunlap, and David C. Claypoole, to publish its non-secret proceedings, or extracts from them on particular subjects. Except between April and December 1779, when a weekly edition was provided for, Congress tried to have the journal appear in monthly installments, followed by an edition embracing a full calendar year. Regularity of publication was interrupted by the British occupation of Philadelphia and frequently by shortage of money or paper. Article IX of the Articles of Confederation stipulated that copies of the monthly edition should be supplied to the members of Congress for the use of the legislatures of their states. The appendix of the concluding volume of each year of the JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends lists early editions of the journal. As samples of the attention given by Congress to the publication of its proceedings, see JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , III, 393; V, 829; XI, 416; XII, 1115–16; XIII, 179, 395; XV, 1459–62; XVIII, 1237. Upon his return to Virginia in March 1782, Edmund Randolph apparently delivered the journals requested by Governor Harrison in the present letter (Virginia Delegates to Harrison, 15 February and 19 March 1782).

On 25 May 1781 Congress had adopted rules to regulate the promotion of army officers (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XX, 539–42), but on 16 November 1781, by an almost unanimous vote, including JM’s, Congress decided that these regulations should not bar the promotion of “any officer, on account of extraordinary merit or eminent services, contrary to the rule of succession therein mentioned” (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXI, 1119).

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