James Madison Papers

Samuel Nightingale, Jr., to Virginia Delegates in Congress, 15 February 1781

Samuel Nightingale, Jr.,
to Virginia Delegates in Congress

Draft (Rhode Island Historical Society).

Providence Feby 15th 1781


I Recd your Favor of 2nd Jany, and your Order for the Goods, in my hands, in favor of Monsr. La Touch,1 and have Deliverd them to his Agent Monsr Dubosy2 ye 31st Jany last as Pr a Rect Inclosed,3 and hope they will arrive in Virginia in good order. Monsr. Dubosy refused to give a Rect for the paritcular Articles, as he had not seen them. In your Order you mention that I should send the Amunition there was but little and that Clamed by Monsr. Couloux La Vigna, and it was Delivered him.4 There is some Chinces & Velvets & Thick felts that was marked MR yet in my hands, it is supposed these belong to Mr. Robert Morris of Philadelphia,5 There is also the Cordage & Sole Leather, (all the rest are sent by the above conveyance) These are articles that cannot be much wanted in Virginia, and there is some charges to pay here, I propose selling these for that purpose, and as soon as they are sold shall send you an Acct of them, with the Bills that are now unpaid. I have had much more Trouble with these goods than to receive goods from any Person, and sell them, as I attended the whole time of unlading & Storeing them, takeing there marks & Numbers, opening and makeing an Invoice of the whole, then Packing them up untill after Coart, Gitting Evidences, attending the Tryal at the Admiralty Coart, dividing the goods, and makeing Invoices of the division, Packing up the goods again, giveing Copies of all the Invoices and other papers to remain in the Admiralty office, Settling with the Recaptors not without Difficulty &c &c—For which I propose Chargeing Two & one half Pr. Ct. Commissions, Five Pr. Ct. is the customary Commissions in the New England States.

I sent a Letter to His Excelency Govr. Jefferson with these goods, inclosing Monsr. Dubosy Rect, also a general Invoice mentiong the Number of pieces [of] Broad Colth, Serges, Linnens, and all the things that was deliverd them.6 A more particular Invoice I before sent you. I now send you a Copy of the Invoice of the whole Cargo that came in the Schooner Le Committe to Providence, with some Accounts & bills[.]7 I did not pack the Arms in Straw, as I Proposed to you some time past, but was ready to do it, if they went by land; but it was not necessary as they went by water.8

Messrs Madison & Bland

1Destouches. For an identification of “the Goods,” see Nightingale to Virginia Delegates, 6 December 1780, n. 4.

2See Virginia Delegates to Nightingale, 30 December 1780, n. 2. “Dubosy” may have been Denis Jean Florimond Langlois de Montheville, Chevalier du Bouchet (1752–1826), deputy adjutant general of the French army in the United States.

3Not found.

4Coulaux la Vigne (Vigna), resident in Philadelphia, represented Penet, d’Acosta Frères et Cie of Nantes, which claimed ownership of “Le Comité” and its stores. Shortly after the schooner and its stores had been sold at public auction on 26 September 1780, Vigne presented a power of attorney to the judge of the Admiralty Court of Rhode Island, sufficiently convincing to award him “the neat Proceads of all that was sold” (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 , IV, 143). The cargo, of course, had not been sold.

5Robert Morris, partner in the important banking and trading firm of Willing and Morris and soon to be superintendent of finance.

6In the Rhode Island Historical Society is Nightingale’s retained copy of his letter of 31 January 1781 to Jefferson. Attached to the letter is a copy of a statement listing as the property of Virginia delivered to “Dubosy,” forty-five chests of arms, six casks, five boxes, and eight bales of unspecified “Merchandize,” and three casks, three boxes, and one bale of unidentified “Medicines.” An equal quantity of Virginia’s goods had been awarded by the Admiralty Court to the American privateers that had retaken “Le Comité” at sea from its British captors. In addition to the above articles Nightingale mistakenly sent on to Virginia two other “Parcels of Medicines” marked “CV.” On 9 April 1781, Jefferson returned these to the Virginia delegation in Congress for delivery to their rightful owner, Coulaux la Vigne (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 , V, 395).

7Inclosures not found.

8See Nightingale to Virginia Delegates, 6 December 1780. Nightingale had first written and crossed out the following sentence: “I wrote you some time past that I Intendid to git the Arms repacked, I found it would be attended with considerable Expence, on that Account I did not meddle with them, as a little expence would fit them to go by water, (which I got done before they went away) but I should not have sent them by land, before they were in proper order[.]” On 9 February, Theodorick Bland informed Jefferson by letter that, thanks to the efforts of the Virginia delegates and especially to his own efforts, the arms owned by Virginia aboard “Le Comité” were at last in the hold of a French frigate “intended to be sent” to Chesapeake Bay (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 , IV, 567). The ship never reached Chesapeake Bay, and the arms had to be landed at Philadelphia. From there the Virginia delegates forwarded them by land (ibid., V, 326, 550–51).

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