James Madison Papers

To James Madison from David Jameson, 25 November 1780

From David Jameson

RC (LC: Rives Collection of Madison Papers).

Richmond Nov 25th. 1780

Dr Sir

I duely recd. your favour of the 14t. and am much obliged to you for forwarding my letters to my Nephew.1 I have desired him to trouble you with his letters to me and must beg the favour of you to send them as opportunities may offer—I suppose it will not be right to frank them by Post It appears by the proceedings of a Court Martial held in Pittsylva. many were privy to and aiding in the intended insurrectn. in that County, but they were chiefly if not altogether composed of the lower rank of the people. three of them by the name of Lay, Billings & Lawless (who were the ringleaders of those tryed) were adjudged guilty of Treason, but there was error in the proceedings & they are to have another trial.2 I much dislike the mode of trial by Ct. Martial & wish to see that only in use wch. the Constitution points out. Several persons of more note in Pittsylva. were mentd. as promoters of the insurrection And indeed in all the Counties where insurgents have appeared, Men of note have been named as abettors, but on examination few have incurred censure—some have been strongly suspected, but not sufficient proof The 22d. the Enemy’s Ships left Hampton Road and stood down the Bay We suppose they mean to go to So. Carolina, but time must discover their destination3 I am with great esteem

Dr Sir Yr. Mo hb Servt

David Jameson

this by the Express

1JM’s letter of 14 November to Jameson is lost, but its content probably approximated what JM wrote on the same day to Jones and Pendleton (q.v.). Jameson’s “nephew” was most likely Lieutenant Colonel John Jameson (1757–1810) of the 2d Continental Dragoons, who was with Washington’s army in northern New Jersey. He had been a member of the county’s Committee of Safety in 1775 and was county clerk of Culpeper County for many years (Ephraim Orcutt Jameson, The Jamesons in America … [Boston, 1901], p. 141).

2See Jefferson to Virginia Delegates, 27 October 1780, n. 2. No source known to the editors identifies “Lay, Billings & Lawless,” although the last two bore family names well known in Pittsylvania County (Maud C. Clement, History of Pittsylvania County, pp. 277, 284). They probably took advantage of the “act for granting pardon to certain offenders,” adopted by the Virginia legislature on 11 December 1780 (Hening, Statutes description begins William Waller Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large; being a Collection of all the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619 (13 vols.; Richmond and Philadelphia, 1819–23). description ends , X, 324–26).

3See Jameson to JM, 4 November, n. 3, and 18 November 1780, n. 10.

Index Entries