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Benjamin Harrison to Virginia Delegates, 28 December 1782

Benjamin Harrison to Virginia Delegates

RC (LC: Madison Papers). The first page of the letter is folio 53 of Vol. 3 of this collection. Probably about forty years after the delegates received the letter, JM wrote on the obverse of the page, “Harrison Benjn. Decr. 28. 1822.” Someone unknown, after canceling “1822,” wrote “1782” above it. The second page of the letter, bearing only the last paragraph, the complimentary close, and signature, was among the manuscripts owned by Dr. Herbert E. Klingelhofer, Bethesda, Md., in 1958. Apparently when the letter reached the delegates, JM wrote on the obverse of this second page, “Harrison Govr. Decr 28. 1782.” On this same page after the two pages became separated, an unidentified person erroneously noted, “Benj. Harrison to James Madison 28 Decr. 1782,” and drew an arrow pointing from JM’s docket to his. Referring to Harrison, another unidentified person wrote below the erroneous docket, “Signer of Decrn. of Indepce.” The entire letter is in Governor Harrison’s hand, and no copy was entered in the executive letter book.

Richd Decr. 28th. 1782

Gentn.

The post brot. no mail this week, of course I am without your usual favor.1

The assembly will rise today2 but I really can not inform you what they have done, tho I was last night told they had order’d a large sum of money to Congress as soon as it can be collected,3 if it should be so, no delay shall take place on my side. I am so sensibly affected with the situation of your finances, that I want nothing but power to give you the assistance of this state to the utmost of its ability;4 much the greater part of the assembly have the same sentiments, yet they let their good nature get the better of their understanding, and frequently give to individuals what ought to be apply’d to the defence of America.5

Charles Town was not evacuated the 27th of Novr.6 I begin to hear Shelburn is to try his strength in Parliament before that event will take place.7

Of course, it will be precarious whether we regain it8 soon or not. I am

with the greatest respect your most obedient Humble Servant

Benj Harrison

1See Randolph to JM, 27 December 1782, and n. 16. The delegates’ dispatch of 17 December (q.v.) reached Harrison before he wrote to them on 4 January 1783 (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, 420–21).

2The governor was correct (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 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 1782, pp. 86, 91).

5Harrison referred to the numerous occasions during the October 1782 session when the Virginia General Assembly instructed the treasurer or Board of Auditors to pay petitioners the sums claimed by them. For examples, see 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 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 1782, pp. 43–44, 51, 52–53, 76; 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, 180–201, passim.

7See Harrison to Virginia Delegates, 21 December 1782, and n. 7. In his speech on 5 December 1782 opening Parliament, King George III first of all assured the joint meeting of “Both Houses” that he had “lost no time in giving the necessary orders to prohibit the further prosecution of offensive war upon the continent of North America” against “those colonies.” He then added, “Finding it indispensable to the attainment of this object, I did not hesitate to go the full length of the powers vested in me, and offered to declare them free and independent states, by an article to be inserted in the treaty of peace” (Hansard’s Parliamentary Debates description begins William Cobbett, ed., The Parliamentary History of England from the Earliest Period to the Year 1803 (36 vols.; London, 1806–20; continued as Hansard’s Parliamentary Debates). description ends , XXIII, cols. 204–6). The tenor of this address, the signing of the preliminary Articles of Peace on 30 November, and the British evacuation of Charleston on 14 December 1782, are refutations of the rumor about Shelburne.

8The antecedent of “it” is “Charles Town.”

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