George Nicolson to Virginia Delegates
RC (NA: PCC, No. 78, XIX, 377–80). Addressed to “The Honble the Delegates for the State of Virginia in Congress.” The docket reads: “Estimate of Monies wanted for the purpose of repairing arms &c for the State of Virginia. May 29h. 1781. Referred to the Board of Treasury. Treasury Board 30th May 1781 A Warrant Reported on Mr Smith.”
[ca. 28 May 1781]1
|repairing 2000 Stand of Arms and fitting on Bayonets||@ 9/–||£ 900.|
|400 Bayonets purchased for the above||7/6||150.|
|80 Chests for the Arms||7/6||30.|
|in part payment for the Waggonage to be advanced here||120.|
|Specie or the Value in Currency||£ 1200.2|
Above you have an estimate of money wanted for the immediate purpose of defraying the repairs of the Arms lent the State of Virginia by the Continent, and for which 800 Stand will be retaind and Sold by the Gunsmiths agreeable to contract, unless a Sum adequate to their demand can be raised to pay them, whereby our State will be deprived of that number of Arms in so critical a juncture.
At present the confused situation of our Country prevents any funds being thrown into my hands, in so short a time as will pay for the articles contain’d in the estimate. I therefore most earnestly request you would represent the situation of matters to the Honbl the Congress and endeavour to obtain from them the whole or such part of the £1200. which they can possibly assist us with.3
I have the Honour to be Gentle. Your mo: ob. Servt
Geo: Nicolson for
David Ross C. A for S. of V.4
Requested to be advanced on Account of the State of Virginia which is to be accountable.
J. Madison Junr.
1. This is probably the approximate date of the “Estimate” and letter for the following reasons: Late in May the delegates from Virginia were assisting Nicolson in Philadelphia to expedite the forwarding of arms, both new and repaired, along with other military supplies, to Lafayette’s army and to recently recruited militiamen in Virginia (Ross to Virginia Delegates, 18 May; Nicolson to Virginia Delegates, 25 May 1781). On 30 May 1781 Joseph Jones wrote and signed, and had his two colleagues sign, an endorsement of the sum requested by Nicolson. The delegates presumably referred the letter to Congress on that day, because on 31 May Congress agreed to the favorable recommendation of the Board of Treasury and stipulated that this was “to have preference to all others not specially directed in payment” (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XX, 582).
2. See Virginia Delegates’ Agreement with Cowell, 27 April 1781, and n. 2.
3. The congressional directive of 31 May specified that a warrant be issued on Thomas Smith, commissioner of the continental loan office for Pennsylvania, in favor of Nicolson for ten thousand dollars of the new emission, Virginia to be accountable (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XX, 582). In view of the fact that Congress at this time equated £1 specie as £5 of the “new emissions,” and £1 of the latter as $2.66⅔ (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XX, 573–74), Nicolson’s estimate of £1,200 equaled about $15,960. Therefore the $10,000 warrant would only partially cover the cost.
4. Commercial agent for the state of Virginia.
5. Jones inadvertently wrote “1780” rather than “1781.”