Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Miles King, 30 May 1781

To Miles King

Charlottesville May 30th 1781


The passports for the British flag vessel was by me put under cover to Genl. Phillips and delivered to an Officer appointed by Major Genl. Baron Steuben to carry it in with a flag and to attend the vessel to and from her port of destination.

The movements of the enemy and uncertainty with what part of them Genl. Phillips was, prevented the Officer from going on before the arrival of the Major Genl. Marquis Fayette who then undertook to have it forwarded. Since this I have heard nothing of it and did not doubt it was gone on. I advise your messenger to go by the Marquis head quarters to whom I will write by him that you may be certainly informed where it is and when to expect it. Your messenger said you have lately written to me but I have not received the Letter. We are still doubtful of the Arrival of a Fleet talked of. I am &c.,

Thomas Jefferson

FC (Vi).

King’s letter, to which this is an answer, was enclosed in TJ’s letter to Lafayette of the same day, following, and has not been found. Your messenger said you have lately written to me: This probably refers to King’s letter of 11 May which, though endorsed as “recd May 81,” may have arrived in Richmond after TJ had departed on 15 May and may not have come to his attention before the present letter was written. Since this I have heard nothing of it: This is a surprising statement, for, if TJ read the letter of James Maury enclosed in that of David Ross of 26 May (which TJ received and answered on the same date), he knew that Lafayette had sent to Cornwallis the passport for the flag Riedesel on 22 May. It is apparent that on 30 May he had read Maury’s letter of 24 May (see second letter to Lafayette of this date).

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