Thomas Jefferson to Virginia Delegates
FC (Virginia State Library). Written by a clerk.
In Council April 13th. 1781
Your letter of the 3d inst. came to hand yesterday. You will by this Time have received letters from me desiring you to do what you have done as to the Arms and in some measure as to the refugees.1 It would be more agreable to us that they should be sent to France than delivered up to us. I beg leave to add to the Names of those I before mentioned one Cranmer who is said to be the most mischievous of the whole.2 There may be others, whom it would be desireable to have removed with them, were their names known to us.
I inclose you a Copy of an intercepted letter from a Captain Thomas of the British in which you will find a Display of the present plan of the Enemy as to Chesapeake Bay and it’s waters, and Copies of Letters from Captain Reade, and Colonel Richard Henry Lee, shewing that the plan is now in a Course of execution.3 I trouble you with them as they may enable you to avail us of any Opportunity which may occur of getting the bay scoured. I also inclose an extract of a letter from General Greene to Baron Steuben,4 to shew you what are the Apprehensions for the Want of lead since the failure of our Mine.5 I am &
1. See Jefferson to Virginia Delegates, 6 April 1781, for his directions about “the Arms” which had been a part of the cargo of “Le Comité.” The governor must have expressed his will in regard to “the refugees” (Virginia Delegates to La Luzerne, 2 April 1781, and n. 2; JM to Jefferson, 3 April 1781) in the now missing dispatch of 7 April, acknowledged by the delegates in their letter written ten days later (q.v.). On 4 April the Council of State had agreed upon a policy with regard to the exchange of captive citizens (Journals of the Council of State description begins H. R. McIlwaine et al., eds., Journals of the Council of the State of Virginia (Richmond, 1931——). description ends , II, 327).
2. In his letter of 7 April, Jefferson probably listed the names of Loyalist refugees from Virginia who might be especially “mischievous” if given the opportunity. In all likelihood “Cranmer” was John Cramond (Crammond), a native of Scotland who had been a merchant in Norfolk as early as 1761 and came to own considerable property in that town and in Norfolk County. Captured in December 1775 while serving in the armed force led by John Murray, Earl of Dunmore, he was released from jail by order of Governor Henry on 8 November 1777 and later reappeared as an assistant commissary and collector of forage for the British army. On 19 February 1781 he was recaptured by the French warships which visited Lynnhaven Bay. At some time after the date of the present letter and in accordance with Jefferson’s expressed wish, Cramond was taken to Brest, France. Escaping from there in March 1782, and barred from returning to Virginia, where his property to the value of £9,200 had been sequestered, he eventually settled in Kingston, Jamaica (“Transcript of the Manuscript Books and Papers of the Commission of Enquiry into the Losses and Services of the American Loyalists … in the Public Record Office of England, 1783–1790,” LIX, 589–609, in the New York Public Library; Journals of the Council of State description begins H. R. McIlwaine et al., eds., Journals of the Council of the State of Virginia (Richmond, 1931——). description ends , II, 25, 489; Jameson to JM, 3 March 1781, n. 6; Isaac Samuel Harrell, Loyalism in Virginia: Chapters in the Economic History of the Revolution [Durham, N.C., 1926], p. 97 n.).
3. The letter of 20 March of Commander William Thomas to Captain Thomas Symonds (Jameson to JM, 10 March 1781, n. 10) was copied and transmitted to Jefferson by Lafayette. Thomas, who commanded the “Hope” near Annapolis (Pendleton to JM, 19 March 1781, n. 18), proposed an expedition up the Potomac to destroy American shipping in the river and to prevent Lafayette’s troops at Annapolis from proceeding by water to Alexandria, Va. On 6 September 1781 the “Hope” was wrecked off Savannah, Ga. (Calendar of Virginia State Papers description begins William P. Palmer et al., eds., Calendar of Virginia State Papers and Other Manuscripts (11 vols.; Richmond, 1875–93). description ends , I, 583–84; 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, 342–44; Wm. L. Clowes, Royal Navy, IV, 111). Edmund Read (Reade) (ca. 1745–1802) of Charlotte County was a first lieutenant of the 4th Virginia Regiment, continental line, in 1776–1777, a captain of a state regiment from 1779 to 1782, and later a major of militia. He served as a delegate from Charlotte County to the Virginia General Assembly in 1779, 1783, and 1785–1786 (Swem and Williams, Register description begins Earl G. Swem and John W. Williams, eds., A Register of the General Assembly of Virginia, 1776–1918, and of the Constitutional Conventions (Richmond, 1918). description ends , p. 421; Alice Read Rouse, The Reads and Their Relatives … [Cincinnati, 1930], pp. 43, 548). From Richard Henry Lee’s letter of 9 April and Read’s of the next day, Jefferson learned of the British depredations along the Potomac River and of ten British ships going toward Alexandria, in part to block the expected movement of American troops from Maryland into Virginia (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, 394, 399).
4. For this extract, dated 2 April 1781, see ibid., V, 418 n.
5. The lead mine in that part of Montgomery County from which Wythe County was to be formed in 1790 was under the supervision of Colonel Charles Lynch, using slaves as his work force. The principal vein was exhausted early in 1781, and Jefferson so informed Lafayette on 24 March (ibid., V, 199 and n., 232). Apparently about a month later a new vein was discovered at the mine, giving promise of “a very abundant Supply of Lead” (ibid., V, 600).