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To James Madison from Jacquelin Ambler, 3 May 1783

From Jacquelin Ambler

RC (LC: Madison Papers). Cover missing. Docketed by JM, “May 3d. 1783.”

Richmond Virga. 3. May 1783

Dear Sir

Another Week is elapsed, and Mr. Newton has failed to forward the thousand pound Bill which he informed me is due to this State from some Gentlemen in Philad. & both he & the other Commissioners were anxious to pay into the Treasury.1 I regret exceedingly having given you reason to expect it. You cannot be more disappointed than I am on this score. As the Assembly should meet the day after tomorrow I must conclude Mr. Newton means to bring up the Bill himself;2 if he does, I know no mode so likely of your availing yourself soon of a part of the balance due you from the State than by drawing a greater proportion than others from that remittance.3 I hint this because Mr. Jones will be here & expects to receive Money while at Richmond I am told, & most of the other Gentlemen are of so much shorter standing at Congress that I presume the State cannot be much if at all in arrears to them;4 however you can judge better of this than I can & will write your sentiments freely. We are told several British Merchantmen are arrived but it seems they are not allowed to break bulk until the Law is repealed5

Yrs

J. A.

1For Colonel Thomas Newton, Jr., and the two other commissioners of the navy, see Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (7 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , VI, 278, n. 3. The nature of the transaction is not known, but two bills of exchange of £500 were forwarded by Lacaze and Mallet of Philadelphia. See Ambler to JM, 17 May 1783, and n. 2.

2Although the Virginia General Assembly convened on 5 May and mustered its first quorum one week later, Colonel Newton, the delegate from Norfolk Borough, is not mentioned in the journal of the session until 2 June (Swem and Williams, Register description begins Earl G. Swem and John W. Williams, eds., A Register of the General Assembly of Virginia, 1776–1918, and of the Constitutional Conventions (Richmond, 1918). description ends , p. 18; JHDV description begins (1828 ed.). Journal of the House of Delegates of Virginia, Anno Domini, 1776 (Richmond, 1828). description ends , May 1783, pp. 3, 12, 30). By 17 May, Ambler had received from Newton two bills of exchange, each for £500 Virginia currency, which he mailed to JM on that day (Ambler to JM, 17 May; Statement of Receipts, 28 May 1783).

3This JM did. See Delegates to Auditors, 28 May 1783. The receipt was initialed by JM, Theodorick Bland, Jr., and John Francis Mercer. The balance due JM on that date in Virginia currency was £726 8s. 3d., or $2,420 (Statement of Receipts, 28 May 1783).

4Joseph Jones and Arthur Lee, the two other members of the Virginia delegation in Congress, were also delegates from King George County and Prince William County, respectively, in the Virginia General Assembly (Swem and Williams, Register description begins Earl G. Swem and John W. Williams, eds., A Register of the General Assembly of Virginia, 1776–1918, and of the Constitutional Conventions (Richmond, 1918). description ends , p. 18). Jones first attended the May session on 20 May and Lee four days later (JHDV description begins (1828 ed.). Journal of the House of Delegates of Virginia, Anno Domini, 1776 (Richmond, 1828). description ends , May 1783, pp. 19, 21; Jones to JM, 25 May 1783). While in Richmond Jones probably received from Ambler his equitable proportion of the money available for the five delegates in Congress. For Lee in this regard, see Ambler to JM, 7 June 1783. In order of duration of service, their ranking was Jones, JM, Bland, Lee, and Mercer.

5For example, Governor Benjamin Harrison on 28 April had written to Commodore James Barron, Sr., to permit the British merchant ship “Hansford” to proceed to Smithfield, provided that no cargo should be discharged until authorization was granted by the naval officer at Hampton, Va. (Executive Letter Book, 1783–1786, p. 104, MS in Va. State Library). Convinced that the General Assembly would sanction a resumption of trade with the British, Harrison on 14 May issued to all the naval officers a general directive of the same tenor as that in his letter to Barron (ibid., p. 122). Ten days later the General Assembly repealed “All acts and ordinances prohibiting importation of British goods” (JHDV description begins (1828 ed.). Journal of the House of Delegates of Virginia, Anno Domini, 1776 (Richmond, 1828). description ends , May 1783, pp. 14, 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 , XI, 195). See also Randolph to JM, 9 May 1783, and n. 14.

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