James Madison Papers

Motion on Letter from J. M. P. Le Gras, [9 May] 1780

Motion on Letter from J. M. P. Le Gras

MS (NA: PCC, No. 19, III, 537). This motion of the Virginia delegates is in the hand of Joseph Jones. A copy of the motion (now in the Henry E. Huntington Library) written by Charles Thomson, together with the letter of Le Gras and its inclosures, was forwarded by Samuel Huntington on 11 May 1780 to Governor Jefferson (Boyd, Papers of Jefferson description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson (16 vols. to date; Princeton, N.J., 1950——). description ends , III, 373).

[9 May 1780]

The Delegates of Virginia1 to whom were referred the Letter and papers inclosed of P. Legras2 Report that the same are proper for the consideration of the general Assembly of Virginia and in their opinion ought to be transmitted to the Executive of that State.3

1JM, Joseph Jones, Cyrus Griffin, and James Henry.

2Not found but dated 22 March 1780. Congress had referred them to the Virginia delegates on 14 April 1780 (Journals of the Continental Congress, XVI, 362). Lieutenant Colonel Jean Marie Philippe Le Gras or Legrace (ca. 1740–ca. 1788), a merchant of Vincennes serving under a commission from Colonel George Rogers Clark, had been acting for at least six months prior to the date of this motion as one of the principal purchasers in the Illinois country of military supplies for Clark and his troops. The mercantile firms of New Orleans appear to have been his main source of supply (William Hayden English, Conquest of the Country Northwest of the River Ohio, 1778–1783: and Life of Gen. George Rogers Clark [2 vols.; Indianapolis and Kansas City, 1896], I, 356; Boyd, Papers of Jefferson description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson (16 vols. to date; Princeton, N.J., 1950——). description ends , III, 270–71, 274, 316, 328–29).

3Congress adopted this motion on 9 May 1780 (Journals of the Continental Congress, XVII, 416–17). On 5 June, after Jefferson submitted a copy of the motion, together with the Le Gras letter and its inclosures, to the Virginia House of Delegates, it referred them to a committee. The report of this committee on 20 June probably reflects the matter which had led Le Gras to appeal to Congress. Judging from the report, the military and civil officials of Virginia in the Illinois country had been paying for goods and services in continental currency which had already been called in by Congress. Following instructions, these officials then sequestered the obsolete emissions but gave the holders no currency in exchange. To remedy this injustice, the House of Delegates adopted the recommendation of its committee by resolving that, “the called in emissions of continental money, sealed up by the county or district commandants in Illinois, and certified, ought to be exchanged for other emissions.” The Senate agreed to this resolution on 24 June (Journal of the House of Delegates description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia; Begun and Held At the Capitol, in the City of Williamsburg.Beginning in 1780, the portion after the semicolon reads, Begun and Held in the Town of Richmond. In the County of Henrico. The journal for each session has its own title page and is individually paginated. The edition used, unless otherwise noted, is the one in which the journals for 1777–1781 are brought together in one volume, with each journal published in Richmond in 1827 or 1828, and often called the “Thomas W. White reprint.” description ends , May 1780, pp. 35, 55–56, 62).

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