Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from the Virginia Delegates in Congress, 6 March 1781

From the Virginia Delegates in Congress

Phila: 6th. Mar: 1781


The Minister of France having imparted to Mr. Jones as Chairman of a Committee appointed to confer with him on some secret matters the intentions of Ct. Rochambeau and Mr. Destouches explained in the inclosed note, we thought it of such consequence that your Excellency should be certainly apprized of them, that notwithstanding the probability of the communication being made through some other channel we determined to guard against all risk of failure by despatching one of the established Expresses. As the success of the Enterprize depends much on secrecy of preparation, and celerity of execution, we beg leave to intimate to your Excellency, that it is the wish of the Minister that no persons should be admitted to a knowledge of it, from whom it can be justifiably concealed, and that such military stores, particularly heavy cannon and mortars, as are in the hands of the State and will be wanted for a siege may be in readiness to go forward at a moments call. The Minister also wishes that some supplies of provision, of beef especially, for the French troops may be included in your general preparations. We are with great respect Yr: Excelys. obed. hum. Servts.,

Jos. Jones

Jas. Madison Junr.

RC (DLC: PCC, Portfolio 103); in the hand of Joseph Jones, signed by Jones and Madison; addressed and endorsed. The place and date are written at the end of the text of the letter. At the bottom of the second page TJ wrote, probably much later: “this probably should have been dated the 5th. or 6th. Mar. 1781.”; he then deleted this notation. Enclosure not found.

On 2 Mch. La Luzerne wrote to the President of Congress informing him that De Tilly had left Chesapeake Bay and that he had captured the British ship Romulus; and requesting that Congress appoint a committee “to whom he will have the honor of communicating some further information relative to these operations.” On the same day Congress appointed a committee of five, including Jones, to confer with the French minister (Wharton, Dipl. Corr. Am. Rev. description begins The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States, ed. Francis Wharton description ends , iv, 271; JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, ed. W. C. Ford and others, Washington, 1904–1937 description ends , xix, 224–5; Huntington to TJ, of this date; see also TJ to James Maxwell, 16 Feb. 1781, and references there).

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