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To James Madison from Jacquelin Ambler, 1 February 1783

From Jacquelin Ambler

RC (LC: Madison Papers). Docketed by JM, “Feby. 1. 1783.” Cover missing.

1. Feb. 1783

Dear Sir

The Auditors continue to be so thronged with business that I have not been able to obtain from them Answers to any of the other Queries,1 nor will they undertake to liquidate your Account themselves. I shall therefore as soon as I have a leizure moment get the scale of depreciation left by Colo. Bland, & reduce the Sums myself;2 and, as it will make no very material difference whether the Account is finally adjusted now or a month or two hence, I will transmit you a Copy of the Account before I make a settlement with the Auditors in order that you may point out any errors or omissions.3 The Attorney took out a warrt. on your Account some time since. I think the sum was some where about £40. I mention this because I had myself applied for warrants to the amount of the £500. remitted you—& no more.4 We have not received £20. specie in the Treasury since the rising of the Assembly5

I am unhappy in not being able to make some remittance to the Gentlemen of the Delegation, & hearing yesterday there is between £400 & £500 in the hands of the Sheriff of Northampton on the Eastern Shore for Taxes I have written to him pressingly to remit the whole to Mr. Jones or any other Member as soon as possible & to advise by Letter immediately that you may be informed of the Measures he is about to take in the Business—his name is William Sachell.6 Whatever monies may be received in this way the Gentlemen will please to inform me of immediately & to empower me to take out Warrants for the proportion of each.7 Is it to be Peace or War?

Yrs.

J.A.

1Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (6 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , V, 345–48; 349, n. 10. Ambler was the treasurer of Virginia. The auditors were Bolling Stark, John Boush, and Harrison Randolph (ibid., IV, 367, n. 9).

2Using the Philadelphia merchants’ table of depreciation, which Robert Morris had sent to Theodorick Bland on 11 November 1782, Ambler intended to “reduce” to their specie equivalents the amounts of old continental or Pennsylvania currency paid by Virginia to JM from time to time during his tenure as a delegate. To comply with the Virginia statute of 1 July 1782, the money still owed JM by the state also had to be converted into its specie value (ibid., V, 19, n. 4; 191; 192, n. 3; Delegates to Harrison, 21 Jan. 1783, and n. 3). The stipulation in the law for allowing each delegate in Congress the equivalent of eight dollars specie (a half johannes) per diem had been interpreted by the auditors to apply “to all times past, as well as future” (Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (6 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , V, 29). Until May 1781, when continental currency ceased to circulate in Philadelphia, JM had been paid with those rapidly depreciating bills. Thereafter the small installments sent to him by Virginia were in Pennsylvania paper money or its equivalent (ibid., III, 162, n. 4; V, 76, n. 4).

4For the £40 and the £500, see Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (6 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , V, 266, n. 1. These sums appear to have been debited against JM’s account in November 1782. “The Attorney” was Edmund Randolph, attorney general of Virginia.

6William Satchell, Sr. (ca. 1735–1794), was a master carpenter-planter who owned many acres and over forty slaves in Northampton and Accomack counties. Appointed undersheriff of Northampton County on 15 May 1782, he was on the date of the present letter acting sheriff and served until 12 November 1783, when a new sheriff posted his bond with the county court (Northampton County Court Records, Will Book 29, pp. 282–86; Minute Book, 1777–1783, p. 358; Order Book 30, p. 51, all on microfilm in Va. State Library; JCSV description begins H. R. McIlwaine et al., eds., Journals of the Council of the State of Virginia (4 vols. to date; Richmond, 1931——). description ends , III, 285; Augusta B. Fothergill and John Mark Naugle, comps., Virginia Tax Payers, 1782–1787, Other than Those Published by the United States Census Bureau [n.p., 1940], p. 110).

7Ambler was disappointed in his expectation that the financial embarrassment of “the Gentlemen” of the Virginia delegation would soon be relieved with tax money collected by Satchell (Ambler to JM, 8 Feb. 1783; 22 Mar.; Delegates to Auditors, 27 Mar. 1783).

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