Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Samuel Huntington, 20 March 1780

From Samuel Huntington

Philadelphia, 20 Mch. 1780. Circular letter to the state executives enclosing a resolve of Congress of 18 Mch. “calling upon the several States to bring in the Continental Currency by monthly taxes, or otherwise as shall best suit their respective Circumstances, … and making provision for other Bills to be issued in Lieu thereof.” Requests that there be no delay in submitting this resolve to the Assembly, which should be convened if not now sitting in order to enact laws to carry out this measure. Encloses also a resolve of Congress of this day “recommending the revision of such Laws as may have been passed making the Continental Bills a Tender in Discharge of Debts &c.”

FC (DLC: PCC, No. 14); 2 p. Enclosures missing; printed in JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, ed. W. C. Ford and others, Washington, 1904–1937 description ends , xvi, 262–6, 269.

Congress’ Resolve of 18 Mch. was the important and controversial “new plan of finance”: it called for the redemption of the old Continental currency at one-fortieth of its face value and an emission of new currency to be fully supported by specific taxes levied by the states. In effect a declaration of bankruptcy, it was a bold attempt to undercut speculators and make a fresh start on a sound footing. In Virginia the plan met with strong opposition, was first rejected, and then, under strong pressure from the more nationally minded Virginia leaders both in Congress and at home, was accepted by the Assembly on 12 July upon condition that a majority of the other states first adopt it. See Burnett, Continental Congress, p. 426–7; Hening, description begins William W. Hening, The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia description ends x, 241–54 (an Act for calling in and redeeming the money now in circulation, and for emitting and funding new bills of credit); JHD description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia (cited by session and date of publication) description ends , May 1780, 1827 edn., p. 84 and passim; frequent references in TJ’s correspondence in the following months; see especially letters to Madison, 26 July; to Huntington, 27 July; from Huntington, 4 Aug.; and from Charles Lee, 7 Aug. 1780.

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