James Madison Papers

To James Madison from David Jameson, 10 August 1781

From David Jameson

RC (LC: Rives Collection of Madison Papers). Docketed by JM, “Jameson, D Aug. 10. 1781.”

Richmond Aug 10th. 1781

Dr Sir

I desired Mr. Jones in my letter to him about the Delegates money,1 to present my complimts. to you to let you know I had not been favoured with a line from you since May2 and that I had not had it in my power to write to you; being driven from Post to pillar to secure my person and employing my best endeavours to save some of my property. I succeeded as to myself but many articles fell into the Enemys hands what most sensibly effects me at present tho’ of inconsiderable value compared with other things is the loss of my clothes. Seven of my most valuable Negroes went some time ago, and now that Cornwallis has taken post at York3 I suppose more must go My Stocks and a considerable quantity of Grain which I had made below will I suppose be entirely eat up by the Enemy. I will not trouble you with an Accot. of the Enemy’s movements till their last, (to me) most extra one. They had embarked the greater part of their troops both Horse & Foot, their heavy Cannon &c., and for sometime we supposed they were going to Potowmack or perhaps to Maryland. some thought they intended to Sea, and some of their motions gave much colour to this opinion. at length they turned upwards and on Wednesday the 1st. of this Month upwards of thirty of their Vessels entered York River they immediately landed on both sides the River and we are assured have been very industrious in fortifying themselves. this should seem as if they expect a French Fleet and that they think they can defend their Vessels, or perhaps they intend a permanent Post there as well as at Portsmouth4 They have not made incursions far into the Country on this side, nor do I believe they have on the other.

The Marquis with his Army is in New Kent and moving downward.5 We have not yet been able to get copies of the Acts of the last Session of Assembly or I would acquaint you with them. The Sum to be emitted is 20 Millions wch. although an enormous Sum I do not think will be sufficient till next meeting6 unless we have aid from Congress or stop all further advances for the war South of us,7 the latter must be done and very shortly too, or our own Army disband. We have born the burthen of four States for almost two years and can struggle no longer under it. most of the three last Emissions has been employed on continental Accot. and we do not find that Congress have once thought of relieving us. is it reasonable that this State should give up their all for the common cause, under continual Invasion And some of the sister States enjoy ease and affluence without contributing a shilling. this is doubly disgusting to many here who are reduced from splendor to poverty & still using their last efforts against the common Enemy. Neither of our printers are in condition to publish a Gazette.8 I am with great respect

Dr Sir Yr obedt hb Servt

David Jameson

1Apparently this letter never arrived, for Joseph Jones wrote on 20 August 1781 that “I know not certainly upon what footing the Delegates now are, having no satisfactory information on that head since I left the Assembly last Fall” (Burnett, Letters description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress (8 vols.; Washington, 1921–36). description ends , VI, 191–92). See Virginia Delegates to Jefferson, 8 May 1781, and n. 1. David Ross, however, was better informed, for as recently as 19 July he had advised Governor Nelson that “our Delegates in Congress having been in the utmost distress for money, Mr. Nicholson has negotiated a loan for £400 for their present support” (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 , II, 230; see also Expense Account as Delegate in Congress, 20 September 1781, and n. 2).

2None of JM’s letters to Jameson has been found.

3Yorktown was Jameson’s home.

5On 11 August, when he was at “New Kent Mountain,” a hill near New Kent Court House, Lafayette wrote Washington that Cornwallis was entrenching at Yorktown and Gloucester and “the sooner we disturb him the better. But unless our maritime friends give us help we cannot much venture below.” Ten days later Lafayette had advanced only a few miles east, to the point where the Pamunkey and Mattaponi rivers join to form the York (Louis Gottschalk, ed., Letters of Lafayette to Washington, pp. 216–18).

6See Jameson to JM, 10 March, n. 6; and Virginia Delegates to Jefferson, 27 April, n. 6, and 5 May 1781, n. 6. Following its adjournment on 23 June, the next regular session of the Virginia General Assembly was scheduled to convene on 1 October 1781 (Journal of the House of Delegates description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of Virginia, March 1781 Session in Bulletin of the Virginia State Library, XVII, No. 1 (January 1928). description ends , May 1781, p. 32).

7On 1 August the Virginia Council of State, “upon reconsidering the propriety of sending on immediate aid of Militia to General Greene,” decided to hold back the troops “until information be received that their services are immediately required” (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, 369).

8See Lee to Virginia Delegates, 12 June 1781, n. 11. By “our printers” Jameson probably meant James Hayes, Jr., and John Dixon in association with Thomas Nicolson (ca. 1758–1808) (Heads of Families at the First Census of the United States Taken in the Year 1790. Virginia [Washington, 1908], p. 117; Richmond Enquirer, 18 November 1808). The Dixon-Nicolson partnership may already have ended (Lee to Virginia Delegates, 12 June 1781, n. 11).

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