James Madison Papers
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To James Madison from Joseph Jones, 7 June 1787

From Joseph Jones

Richmond 7th. June 1787.

Dr. Sr.

Since my return to Richmond, which place I left soon after the Governor set out, I have yours of the 27th. from Philadelphia. Mr. Dorhman who has arrived here within a few days past informed us your information from New York of other Delegates coming forward was well founded as you had ten States represented when he came away. I entertain hopes from the disposition of the Members convened that harmony will prevail and such improvements of the fœderal system adopted as will afford us a prospect of peace and happiness. I am however strongly impressed with fears, that your labours in Convention, though wisely conducted and concluded, will in the end be frustrated by some of the States under the influence of interests operating for particular rather than general we[l]fare. Be this as it may I cannot doubt but the meeting in Philadelphia will (composed as it is of the best and wisest persons in the Union) establish some plan that will be generally approved.

The Lieutenant Governor tells me he does and shall continue to write to the Governor once a week at least. I shall do the same to you if I can furnish any sort of materials for a letter worth communicating.1 At any rate I may support a correspondence by inclosing you the News papers if I can entertain you with nothing more interesting.

A letter from Mr. A. Lee which the Governor has sent us intimates the propriety of proceeding withot. delay (if the Executive have any money at their command) to purchase up continental securities, which are now low, but which he seems to think will, (if the Convention do any thing that will probably meet the approbation of the States, and the Sales of the lands by Congress take place,) rapidly rise in value. He says also that other States are doing this while it is to be effected on easy terms.2 I wish for information as to the fact, and your Sentiments so far as you conjecture respecting the rise of the value of these papers. We have forbid any further advances of Specie to the Commr. of the U.S. untill we can be assured the proportion of indents will be admitted. Those on the requisition of the last year have been withheld consequently it is too late for the present collection to furnish a proportion of them, and we understand the construction of the Treasury board of the U.S. is that under the requisitions of 84 & 85, the indents issued under each requisition can be received in payment of each and none of the one be admitted in the other, and so of the last year, had they come forward; and of the year 85 none to be recd. but such as were in hands of the State Treasurer the 1st. Janry 87 and of 86 none but such as shod. be in his hands by the 1st. July 87. This was not I believe so understood here by the requisitions, and if they were so intended, wch. may Probably have been the case, a point so material for the States to be acquainted with shod. have been clearly, and not doubtfully expressed.3 We have letters from several of the County Lieutenants of the Kentucke district of Indian incursions and depredations many persons killed and horses carried off, of the families many of them on the frontier coming in particularly in Jefferson. These letters are sent to the Delegates in Congress. We have authorised measures of defence only, well knowing an adherence to the Militia law our best Policy as a State but the measures of the U.S. should go further whenever there is reason for it. Our informations seem to call for such measures or I am persuaded very great distress will attend the Kentucke district.4 We hear nothing of or from Mr. Butler or the Commander of the Troops of the U. St.5 My Compliments to the Governor. I beg your excuse as I really had forgot your former request abt. the 2 books. It shall be attended to now but you will inform me where they are to be sent.

RC (DLC). Docketed by JM. Signature clipped.

1The lieutenant governor of Virginia was Beverley Randolph. Jones was a member of the Council of State and frequently reported its proceedings to JM.

2See Edmund Randolph to Beverley Randolph, 24 May 1787, enclosing Arthur Lee’s letter of 20 May 1787 to Edmund Randolph (CVSP description begins William P. Palmer et al., eds., Calendar of Virginia State Papers and Other Manuscripts (11 vols.; Richmond, 1875–93). description ends , IV, 288–89). The states had begun to assume public securities as early as 1784 in response to Congress’s continuing default on its obligations to public creditors (Ferguson, Power of the Purse, pp. 228–34). Acquiring these securities benefited the states by providing them with “gilt-edged assets against the day when Congress and the states would finally settle their accounts” (ibid., p. 232). Lee, who had inside information by virtue of his position on the Board of Treasury, urged his state to enter the securities market “speedily and secretly. If it must be deferred till the next General Assembly, the loss of the State will be inevitable.” The Council of State declined acting on this advice, however, not having “the power and the means” to follow it (Jones to JM, 29 June 1787). As a result, Virginia did not begin to purchase public securities until after the creation of a sinking fund at the October 1787 session of the legislature (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 , XII, 452–54; 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 , IV, 355–59).

3The Board of Treasury had refused to issue indents to Virginia on the requisition of 1786 because the state had failed to provide adequate funds to meet that requisition (PJM description begins William T. Hutchinson et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (10 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , IX, 300 and n. 1, 363, 364 n. 5). By the terms of the requisition of 1785 the indents collected for taxes under that requisition had to be in the hands of the state treasurer by 1 Jan. 1787; the indents issued under the 1786 requisition had to be collected by 1 July 1787. If the state did not collect its full quota of indents by those dates, the deficiency would have to be paid in specie (JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIX, 770; XXXI, 464). It was also the intention of Congress, though not expressly stated in the requisitions, that the indents issued on a given requisition could be collected and turned into the Continental treasury only in discharge of that requisition. State Treasurer Jacquelin Ambler had recently presented $187,000 in indents issued on the requisition of 1785 to John Hopkins, Continental loan office commissioner for Virginia, of which more than $56,000 had been collected after 1 Jan. 1787. Hopkins, on the advice of the Board of Treasury, informed Ambler that he would receive only those collected before 1 Jan. and accompanied by the proper proportion of specie in payment of the 1785 requisition. The Council of State, evidently expecting the surplus indents to be admitted on the requisition of 1786, for which no indents had yet been issued, ordered the treasurer to stop further payments of specie on the requisitions of 1785 and 1786 (Hopkins to Ambler, 29 May 1787, enclosed in Edmund Randolph to Speaker of the House of Delegates, 15 Oct. 1787 [Vi: Executive Communications]; 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 , IV, 102). Despite the protests of Hopkins and the treasury commissioners, the council refused to rescind this order (Hopkins to Beverley Randolph, 11 June 1787, enclosing Board of Treasury to Hopkins, 29 May 1787 [Vi: Continental Congress Papers]). Rebuffed by the authorities in Richmond, the Board of Treasury turned to the Virginia delegation in Congress. In a statement of 16 June 1787 to the delegates, the commissioners explained how the state could advantageously use the indents it had collected under the requisition of 1785. For example, if the state did not have enough specie to accompany the indents collected on that requisition, it could make specie payments in installments until all the indents in the state treasury as of 1 Jan. 1787 had been turned over to the loan office commissioner. Moreover, having met the specie requirement of the 1784 requisition, the state by special resolution of Congress could present without an accompanying specie payment the indents collected after 1 Jan. 1787 in fulfillment of its quotas of 1782 and 1784. In short, the commissioners concluded, even though they could not permit the indents issued on the 1785 requisition to be paid on that of 1786, the state could easily dispose of the surplus indents in its treasury. The situation in Virginia with respect to indents was no worse than that of many of the other states, they added, and it appeared likely that a majority of them would support a proposal extending the time for receiving the indents on the 1785 requisition or making them receivable on the 1786 requisition. Persuaded by the reasonableness of this statement, the delegates enclosed it in their letter of 22 July 1787 to Beverley Randolph, and urged the state to resume specie payments to the Continental treasury (Burnett, Letters description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress (8 vols.; Washington, 1921–36). description ends , VIII, 625–26; enclosure [Vi: Continental Congress Papers]). The Council of State relented only to the extent of allowing Hopkins to become a purchaser of public tobacco for a specified sum, which was to be applied to the specie portion of the quota of 1785. The restriction on specie payments for the requisition of 1786 remained in effect (Jones to JM, 6 July 1787 and n. 3; 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 , IV, 132; Beverley Randolph to Virginia Delegates, 3 Aug. 1787, Executive Letter Book description begins Executive Letter Book, 1786–1788, manuscript in Virginia State Library. description ends , pp. 142–44; Hopkins to Edmund Randolph, 1 Nov. 1787 [Vi: Continental Congress Papers]). Congress, as the treasury commissioners had foreseen, soon yielded to the wishes of the states by eliminating many of the requirements governing the requisition system (JM to Randolph, 7 Oct. 1787 and n. 5; Virginia Delegates to Randolph, 3 Nov. 1787).

4See the letters of Levi Todd, 30 Apr. 1787, Alexander Bullitt, 16 May 1787, and Benjamin Logan, 17 May 1787, to Edmund Randolph (CVSP description begins William P. Palmer et al., eds., Calendar of Virginia State Papers and Other Manuscripts (11 vols.; Richmond, 1875–93). description ends , IV, 277, 284–85, 286–87). The attacks mentioned in these letters were committed by the Shawnee and Wabash tribes, who inhabited the region north of the Ohio River. The Virginia Council of State advised the Kentucky county lieutenants to organize a system of defense but not to “go without the limits of the State, except in the immediate pursuit of an invading Enemy” (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 , IV, 104–5). Lt. Gov. Beverley Randolph forwarded copies of the letters and council proceedings to the Virginia delegates on 6 June, requesting the aid of federal troops or permission for the Virginia militia to carry out an expedition at federal expense (PCC). These papers were laid before Congress on 6 July and referred to the secretary at war (William Grayson to Beverley Randolph, 7 July 1787, Burnett, Letters description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress (8 vols.; Washington, 1921–36). description ends , VIII, 617). Secretary Knox submitted a gloomy report on 10 July stating that Congress was unable to provide additional troops along the western frontier owing to “the depressed state of the finances.” He could only recommend that the troops already in service in that region be so distributed “as best to restrain the incursions of the savages” and that the commanding officer immediately undertake treaty negotiations with the hostile tribes. Congress agreed to these recommendations on 21 July (JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXXII, 327–32, 370–75; XXXIII, 385–87).

5Richard Butler was the Indian superintendent for the northern district; Col. Josiah Harmar was the commander of U.S. forces along the Ohio.

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