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To James Madison from David Jameson, 21 May 1780

From David Jameson

RC (LC: Rives Collection of Madison Papers).

Richmond May 21. 1780

Dr Sir1

I had the pleasure to receive two letters from you the 15th, one dated the 2d by Post & the other the 9th by the return messenger I am sorry to find one of my letters has not got to your hands2—in it I told you I applied to Mr Blair and the Attorney and offered to pay for the Books you had from Dunmores Estate Mr Blair referred to the Attorney and the latter said he did not know how to act—he concluded however with saying that he would pay for the Books and let you or me know the amount when he had done so.3 I think I sent the Letter by Cap Harrison, if you set out for Phila. before his return, it may now be in Orange.4 The Maryland & Delawar[e] troops arrived at Petersburg the 17th. every effort has been made and is making for their March & accomodation on the Route[.] yesterday the Assembly passed a resolution impowering the Executive to impress Waggons Teems &c if needful on the occasion Also one of a more extraordinary import—to impress Horses Saddles &c. to mount the Men[.] this last I think it will be impossible to execute in time to answer the end. it will distress the people from whom the Horses are taken very much; and when collected I doubt if it will be possible to find forage for them in so little time as it would take to March the men on foot, however the attempt will be made, at least as much will be put in motion as the Quarter Master thinks can be effected[.] every person is anxious to give every possible aid to So. Carolina. The Assembly have voted 2500 Militia to be sent on. We have lent to North Carolina 2000 Arms toward equipg. their Militia to be sent to So. Carolina. Col Porterfield with about 500 of our State Regulars will I expect get to Chas. Town (or to the place of Rendezvous on this side) by the last of the Month.5 I am sorry to inform you that yesterday was the first meeting of the Senate for the Session, they could not before get a sufficient number of members*

The Members of our board are much confined. we have but four; which makes the attendance fatiguing. in a few days we are to have three vacancies filled up[.] the persons are not yet proposed in Assembly. those talked of are Mr Ambler, G Webb, R. Adams, T. Randolph, B Stark & some others I do not recollect6 There is a Bill carried in, to put down the boards of War & Trade—it is proposed to have a Military Commissioner to act in the first & an Agent in the other.7

Mr. Bee8 is now here and sets out to day for Phila. he has been some time from Chas. Town but from his Accot. of their strength &ca I have hope that pla[ce] will not fall. Much—perhaps all, depends on the ability of our forces (collecting on this side Cooper River) to keep the communication open

Richmond must one day or other be a great Town and were we in Peace I should think it a proper place for the Seat of Government. at present I do not think it so I believe I shall never be reconciled to it as a desirable place of residence. half the mornings since I have been here the Town has been covered with Fog. if so at this Season, what may we not dread in August? and who not used to it, can stand the thin putrid state of the Air? I have been long used to the Salt Air and think I cannot enjoy health without it I think with you no Man has a right to withdraw himself altogether from the service of his Country at this critical time, but you will allow he may make room for a better Man to fill his place. Your letter mi[gh]t raise an idea too flattering on this subject A sacrifice ought to be made, but of time, (a risk) of health, and of fortune too, is too much. three days allowance will not pay more than one days expence as we now stand And to give salaries to all equal to the depreciation would exaust a Treasury. I am very glad when I hear of a prize taken by our Conl. Vessels[.] I think we ought to see some of them but all our share has been as you know, to see and feed some of the prisoners10 I am with real respect and esteem Dr Sir Yr mo. Obedt Serv

David Jameson

1David Jameson’s friendship with JM probably dated from their service together on the Council of State.

2Neither the two letters from JM to Jameson nor the earlier one from Jameson to JM have been found.

3The “Attorney” was Edmund Randolph (1753–1813), the attorney general of Virginia, 1776–1786. His later service as governor, member of the Federal Constitutional Convention, Attorney General of the United States, and Secretary of State is well known. John Blair and Randolph were two of the five commissioners named on 15 June 1776 by the Virginia Convention “to sell at publick auction [on twelve months’ credit] the Slaves and personal Estate of Lord Dunmore” located in or near Williamsburg. The commissioners announced that the auction would be on 25 June 1776 (Peter Force, ed., American Archives, 4th ser. [6 vols.; Washington, D.C., 1837–46], VI, 1573; Virginia Gazette [Williamsburg, Purdie], 21 June 1776). In presenting his claims to the British government, Dunmore declared that he had at the governor’s palace in Williamsburg “a valuable Library consisting of upwards of 1500 volumes” (“American Loyalists Transcripts, 1783–1790,” LVIII, 202, in New York Public Library). What volumes JM purchased is not known.

4Probably Benjamin Harrison, Jr. (1755–1799), Richmond merchant, business associate of Robert Morris, and brother of William Henry Harrison. During the Revolution he was deputy paymaster general of Virginia for continental troops.

5This military activity, including the dispatch of about fourteen hundred Delaware and Maryland troops under Major General Johann Kalb, had as its immediate aim the relief of General Benjamin Lincoln’s troops, besieged by the British in Charleston, S.C. (Christopher L. Ward, The Delaware Continentals, 1776–1783 [Wilmington, Del., 1941], pp. 326–27; 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 , May 1780, pp. 10, 11, 16, 17, 20; 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, 221–26). Colonel Charles Porterfield (1750–1781), quartermaster general of the Virginia state line, died 10 January 1781 of wounds received at the Battle of Camden, S.C., 16 August 1780 (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, 497). Although Charleston fell to the British nine days before Jameson wrote this letter, word of the disaster did not reach Richmond until 5 June (ibid., III, 403 n.).

6On 24 May 1780, Andrew Lewis (1720–1781), George Webb (1729–ca. 1786), and Jacquelin Ambler (1742–1798) were chosen by the Assembly as members of the Council of State. Richard Adams (1726–1800), Thomas Mann Randolph (1741–1793), and Bolling Stark had also been given consideration (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 , May 1780, p. 21).

7This bill, introduced on 12 May, was passed on 8 July 1780 (ibid., pp. 8, 79; 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, 291–92).

8Thomas Bee (1725–1812) was on his way to Philadelphia to begin two years of service in Congress as a delegate from South Carolina. Arriving at his destination about 6 June, he may have had with him Jameson’s letter to JM (Journals of the Continental Congress, XVII, 490).

9In fact it was the 9th (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 , May 1780, p. 4).

10This sentence and the five preceding sentences probably disclose at least some of the matters mentioned to Jameson by JM in his now missing letters of 2 and 9 May (above, n. 2).

Authorial notes

[The following note(s) appeared in the margins or otherwise outside the text flow in the original source, and have been moved here for purposes of the digital edition.]

* it was the 8th9 of the month before the Delegates had Members enough for a House

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