James Madison Papers
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To James Madison from Joseph Jones, 29 June 1787

From Joseph Jones

Richmond 29th. June 1787.

Dr. Sr.

We are not to know the result of your deliberations for five or six weeks to come, as from all accounts your Session will continue untill some time in August. Some of your uxorious members will become impatient from so long absence from home. How does the Dr. stand it—enjoy himself as usual in the society of his friends, or cast longing looks towards Richmond. Mrs. McClurg is, and looks well, and will I dare say on his return prove at least a full match for him. Mrs. Randolph & the children have I hope got up Safe. Present her if you please my compliments. Tell the Governor we shall not venture to speculate in indents or any other cont. securities. Had we the power and the means to follow a certain Gentlemans advise the adoption of his plan wod., with me at le[as]t, have required other authority to support it.1 We have directed the sale of the Tobacco on hand in the manner as you will see by the inclosed paper and have some hopes the price will be advanced nearly to the State price by the receipt of the interest warrants. These will soon answer the purposes of specie. I am told it has had the effect to appreciate the warrants 2 [½] Pct.2 The sudden demand at Petersburg the last week for Tobacco in consequence of many arrivals started The price there to 24/6 wch. had for some time stood at 22/6. Here it rose from 23 to 24/. I am told at Fredericksburg the price has got to 22/6—it has been 20/ only. Somehow it is kept down here and will I fear be checked in Petersburg.

We last evening had a letter from the Searcher at Alexandria3 complaining of a rescue from his possession of a Schooner he had seized. She is from St. Kitts[,] had entered in Maryland but was detected in landing in Alexandria some rum [(]the number of Hhds. not mentioned) which occasioned her seizure by the Searcher. The communication we have received shews that the people of the Town were more disposed to act in opposition to law than support the Officer in the execution of his duty. We have directed one of the armed Boats to endeavour to recover the Vessell wch. we hear moved towards G. Town. We have also called for the names of those who assisted the Capt of [the] Vessell to escape and directed the Searcher to move for the penalty agt. those who refused to assist him, when summoned by him to afford their aid.4 The last post I heard, late in the evening, that Mr. Harrison was to set out in the Stage in the morning, I sent Anty. to him with the two books, requesting he wod. convey them to you. Yr. friend & Servt

Jos: Jones

Will you send me the 7th. essay on Finance.5 Adams’s book is here and I can get the reading of it.

RC (DLC). Docketed by JM. Enclosure not found. Brackets enclose letters and numbers illegible in the Ms.

1See Jones to JM, 7 June 1787 and n. 2.

2The revenue appropriation law of 1786 authorized the council “to direct the treasurer in the mode of selling the tobacco paid for taxes” (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, 329). See also the “act to enable the citizens of this commonwealth to discharge certain taxes, by the payment of tobacco” (ibid., XII, 258–60). The sale was to take place on 12 July, “one fourth of the purchase to be paid in specie and three fourths in military interest Warrants” (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, 115). Jones doubtless sent JM the Va. Independent Chronicle description begins Virginia Independent Chronicle (Richmond: Augustine Davis, 1786–90). Beginning on 13 May 1789 entitled, Virginia Independent Chronicle, and General Advertiser. description ends of 27 June 1787, which announced the sale. The “State price” of tobacco was that set by the legislature at the October 1786 session as the rate at which tobacco would be receivable in taxes. The price ranged from eighteen to twenty-eight shillings per hundredweight, depending on the location of the warehouse (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, 258–59). Military interest warrants were issued by the state auditors for interest due on “military certificates” that had been paid to the officers and soldiers of the state and Continental lines (ibid., X, 462).

3James Mease McRea (1765–1809), who was appointed 7 June 1786 (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, 557). His letter to Governor Randolph of 26 June 1787 is in 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, 301.

4See 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, 119–20, 122. McRea’s letter describing the rescue of the schooner Dart, commanded by a Captain Dodds, was followed on 29 June by a lengthy report from Charles Lee, naval officer of the South Potomac district. The searcher’s first attempt to seize the vessel was resisted by the captain and crew, “who were on deck armed with handspikes, &c.” McRea then summoned help from “sundry persons … who all refused.” The searcher and naval officer were later permitted to board, but after the two officials left the schooner Captain Dodds and his men, assisted by several persons on shore, overpowered their guards and set sail for Georgetown on the Maryland side of the river. Lee attempted to have the captain arrested at Georgetown, but the Maryland authorities were uncooperative (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, 308–9). Shortly thereafter the Dart sailed down the river and slipped by Alexandria at night. The state boat Patriot, which had been dispatched to intercept the Dart, was forced to return to Hampton for repairs after losing her main mast “in a gale of Wind.” The delay enabled the Dart to make a clean escape (McRea to Beverley Randolph, 2 and 11 July 1787, ibid., IV, 311, 314; Beverley Randolph to McRea, 16 July 1787, and Beverley Randolph to Capt. Michael James, 27 July 1787, Executive Letter Book description begins Executive Letter Book, 1786–1788, manuscript in Virginia State Library. description ends , pp. 131, 140). To prevent similar incidents in the future the Council of State ordered the other state boat, the Liberty, to cruise the Potomac constantly between Georgetown and Quantico, “and chiefly near the Town of Alexandria.” The Liberty was not ready for duty until August, however, after undergoing repairs for a “bottom much eat with the worm” (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, 137; Michael James to Beverley Randolph, 22 July and 1 Aug. 1787, 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, 323, 325).

Smuggling was a chronic problem in Virginia, the inevitable result of restrictive trade laws and the lack of an effective means of enforcement. In the case of the Dart the searcher’s attempts to carry out the law were forcibly resisted by a hostile populace thirsty for cheap rum. At least one prominent Alexandria merchant, Robert Townsend Hooe (1743–1809), openly encouraged the resistance to the seizure of the Dart. When McRea attempted to board the vessel, Hooe shouted, “Knock the Damn’d Imperious Raskal down and don’t suffer him to make Seizure, &c.” McRea noted that Hooe’s behavior would have great influence “among the lower class of people, who wou’d think they wou’d thereby be justified in commiting every outrage” (McRea to Beverley Randolph, 11 July and 24 Aug. 1787, ibid., IV, 314, 335).

5A Citizen of Philadelphia [Pelatiah Webster], Seventh Essay on Free Trade and Finance.

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