James Madison Papers

Virginia Delegates to Thomas Nelson, 20 August 1781

Virginia Delegates to Thomas Nelson

RC (New York Public Library). Entirely in JM’s hand, except for the signatures of the other delegates. Addressed to “His Excellency Thomas Nelson Esqr. Governor of Virginia[,] By Mr Nicholson.” Probably it was delivered by George Nicolson, returning from Philadelphia, where he had been sent by the commercial agent of Virginia to purchase matériel for state troops. See Agreement with Cowell, 27 April 1781, n. 5.

Philada. Augst. 20th. 1781


We have the honor to inclose herewith to your Excellency a copy of the correspondence between us & the Executive of this State relative to a legal process instituted by Simon Nathan against the goods imported in the Ship Franklin on account of the State of Virginia:1 with sundry papers relative to a charge against Mr. Gabriel Penn to which the Committee of Commerce request the attention of the Executive:2

In consequence of your Excellency’s on the subject of salt,3 we have obtained from Congress passports for the importation of fifty thousand bushels of that article from the Island of Bermudas, which the President informs us he has already transmitted to you by Express.4

We have the honor to be with the highest respect & esteem Yr. Excelly’s Obt. & humble servants.

Jos: Jones.

J. Madison Junr

Theok. Bland

Edm: Randolph

1Enclosures not found. See Virginia Delegates to Executive Council of Pennsylvania, and to Reed, 9 and 13 July, respectively; and Reed to Virginia Delegates, 10 and 12 July 1781. Why the forwarding was so long delayed can only be surmised. Possibly it had been overlooked in the pressure of other business; possibly retained in the event that Nathan should appeal his case to Congress.

2Gabriel Penn (1741–1798) of Amherst County rose in the militia from sergeant at the time of the French and Indian War to lieutenant colonel during the siege of Yorktown in 1781. In the civil affairs of his county, during and after the Revolution, he served as a vestryman, justice of the peace, deputy sheriff, and sheriff (1793). Although the “charge” against him is unknown, it may have been connected with his position as county inspector of provisions in 1781. He had been a delegate from Amherst County in the Convention of 1776 and in the House of Delegates, 1776–1778 (Lenora Higginbotham Sweeny, Amherst County, Virginia, in the Revolution [Lynchburg, Va., 1951], passim; Calendar of Virginia State Papers, VI, 284, 620; 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 , I, 281, 291; II, 350, 461).

4See Virginia Delegates to Nelson, 14 August 1781, and n. 2. For the letter of 15 August 1781 from President Thomas McKean, transmitting the passports, see Burnett, Letters description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress (8 vols.; Washington, 1921–36). description ends , VI, 185–86.

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