Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Samuel Huntington, 4 March 1781

From Samuel Huntington

Philadelphia March 4. 1781


Your Excellency will be informed by the enclosed Act of the third Instant of the Measures Congress have adopted for the removal of the Convention Troops into the State of Pennsylvania. The like Information is transmitted to Governor Lee, and the President of Pennsylvania.

I have also informed Governor Lee, that should your Excellency find it necessary to order the Prisoners taken at Cowpens to move Northward through Virginia, as intimated in your late Advice to me, He (Governor Lee) must consider them as included with the other Prisoners and give Orders accordingly.

It is necessary that the Executive of Maryland, or the Commanding Officer have seasonable Notice that they may be prepared to receive the Prisoners when they arrive on the Borders of Maryland.

I have the Honor to be with very great respect your Excellency’s most obedient & most humble Servant,

Sam. Huntington President

RC (Vi); endorsed: “Pt. of Congress Letter March 4th 81 S. Huntington.” FC (DLC: PCC, No. 15). Enclosure (Vi).

As the result of Benjamin Harrison’s negotiations with Congress concerning the removal of the Convention prisoners from Virginia, Congress, on 24 Feb., ordered the Board of War to remove the prisoners to “some State more northerly.” On 26 Feb. the Board of War reported to Congress that they were unable to execute the order “for want of means.” The report of the Board, together with the postscript of TJ’s letter to Huntington of 17 Feb., was referred to a committee which reported on 3 Mch. On consideration of the committee’s report Congress adopted the resolution enclosed in this letter which directed that the British prisoners be sent to York and the Germans to Lancaster, Pa.; that the state of Virginia be responsible for their “removal, safe keeping and supply” to the borders of Maryland; that the state of Maryland be responsible for their conduct thereafter to their new locations, the supplies to be furnished by Pennsylvania after they entered that state; and that the Board of War be responsible for their “future security and supply” (TJ to Benjamin Harrison, 29 Jan.; TJ to Samuel Huntington, 17 Feb.; JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, ed. W. C. Ford and others, Washington, 1904–1937 description ends , xix, 195–6, 229–30; CVSP description begins Calendar of Virginia State Papers … Preserved in the Capitol at Richmond description ends , i, 553).

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