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To James Madison from Jacquelin Ambler, 5 October 1782

From Jacquelin Ambler

RC (LC: Madison Papers). Docketed by JM, “Octr. 5. 1782.” Cover missing.

Richmond Octo. 5. 1782

Dear Sir

The Sheriffs having supplied us with a little more Money I was enabled to make a dividend among the Officers of Government— £120.. —.. for each of the Gentlemen of the Delegation. one half of this I just had time in the hurry of business to send you Mr. Harrison’s drft on Mr. Holker for last week;1 and should have sent you the other half this week but cannot get such a Bill as I like. I am really unhappy that the circumstances of the Treasury will not enable me to make a larger dividend. I am not insensible how extremely disagreeable your situations must be.

There is a terrible report circulating here respecting the Kentucky settlement. 60 or 70. are said to be cut off—among them Colo. Todd. I hope it is not true.2 if these people would suffer me I would write you a more decent scrawl but they oblige me to finish.3

I am Dr. Sir Yrs.

J: A.

1In accordance with the usual practice in Virginia since 1634, a statute enacted on 1 July 1782 by the General Assembly again designated the sheriffs as the official tax collectors but also stipulated that, “where the sheriff cannot or will not give security for the due collection of the taxes,” the court of his county “shall appoint one or more” collectors in his stead (Cyrus Harreld Karraker, The Seventeenth-Century Sheriff: A Comparative Study of the Sheriff in England and the Chesapeake Colonies, 1607–1689 [Chapel Hill, N.C., 1930], pp. 53–59, 130–39, 144–46; Minute Book, House of Delegates, May 1782 description begins Minute Book, House of Delegates, May 1782, MS in Virginia State Library. description ends , p. 85; 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 , I, 224; XI, 66, 70).

For Benjamin Harrison, Jr., and Company and its business connections with John Holker, see Ambler to JM, 31 August, and nn. 1 and 2; JM to Randolph, 10 September 1782. On 1 October 1782 Benjamin Harrison, Jr., had been appointed by the Council of State to sell for cash the commonwealth’s tobacco, hemp, and flour which had been received in payment of taxes (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, 150–51).

2After mentioning on 28 September as probably inaccurate a rumor from Kentucky of a hard-fought battle of undetermined outcome, the Virginia Gazette description begins Virginia Gazette, or, the American Advertiser (Richmond, James Hayes, 1781–86). description ends on the date of the present letter noted briefly that the report of the Kentuckians’ defeat was “likely to prove true.” On 19 August at the Lower (Big) Blue Licks on the Licking River, Wyandot Indians disastrously defeated 182 mounted militia led by Colonel John Todd, killing him and sixty-four members of his command and capturing four others (R[obert] S[pencer] Cotterill, History of Pioneer Kentucky [Cincinnati, 1917], pp. 189–95; Calendar of Virginia State Papers description begins William P. Palmer et al., eds., Calendar of Virginia State Papers and Other Manuscripts (11 vols.; Richmond, 1875–93). description ends , III, 269–70, 275–76, 280–83, 300–301, 333–34). Early in October Governor Harrison received accounts of the battle from participants or from men who had arrived at the scene soon after the engagement, along with memorials from Fayette County describing the alarm of the settlers and their dire need of military aid (ibid., III, 301–4, 331–33, 337–38; 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, 154, 155; 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, 337–38).

3The pressure of business upon Ambler as treasurer of Virginia.

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