James Madison Papers

Virginia Delegates to Thomas Nelson, 7 November 1781

Virginia Delegates to Thomas Nelson

RC (Virginia State Library). Written by Edmund Randolph. JM’s name was signed by Joseph Jones.

Philadelphia Novr. 7. 1781


For the present week, we have nothing particular to communicate; the State of the discussion of the cession of Virginia not yet being prepared.1 We shall therefore postpone any farther observations on this head, intending to accompany our next information with an account of the quota of money, assigned to Virginia by a late resolution of congress.2 We beg leave to acknowledge your excellency’s favor of the 20th. of October, by the last post.

We have the honor to be Sir with great esteem yr. excellency’s mo. obt. servts.

James Madison jr

Edm: Randolph

Jos: Jones

1See Virginia Delegates to Nelson, 9 October, and nn. 5–17; 16 October, and nn. 5 and 6; 23 October, and n. 4; Protest of Virginia Delegates, 10 October; Motion of Virginia Delegates on Western Lands, 16 October, and n. 6; 26 October, and n. 6; JM to Pendleton, 30 October 1781, and n. 12. The delegates had no reason to do more in the present dispatch than mention a subject which, on the same day in a private letter, Randolph was reviewing in considerable detail for Nelson’s benefit (Burnett, Letters description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress (8 vols.; Washington, 1921–36). description ends , VI, 259–61). In Randolph’s words: “the delegates are almost worn down with motions respecting your cession of western territory. The disgust and jealousy conceived against Virginia leave us the bare consolation of having deserved some degree of success; for in no instance have we obtained the smallest.… A new report was accordingly made on saturday last, in which it is recommended to Virginia to make a cession with different reservations and conditions. It still remains undetermined by the house. I … expect nothing favorable. I foresee that Virginia will repeal her cession.” The “new report” of Saturday, 3 November (NA: PCC, No. 30, fols. 1–13), was not debated until it was made the subject of a motion (q.v.) by the Virginia delegates eleven days later (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXI, 1098, 1113–14).

2See JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXI, 1087–88, 1089–91. Having agreed on 30 October that $8,000,000 would be needed for the ensuing year, Congress named a committee, consisting of one delegate from each of the twelve states then represented, to assign to each state a quota from this total sum. Virginia’s share, $1,307,594 (in excess of 16 per cent), was equaled only by that of Massachusetts. Randolph, who had been the member from Virginia on this committee, informed Nelson, in the letter mentioned in n. 1, that the other states would not dare to alienate Virginia altogether on the issue of the western lands because “she possesses real importance, when I recollect the quota assigned to her out of the eight millions of specie dollars.” The Virginia delegates probably forwarded a copy of the quota table to Nelson in a letter of 17 November, now missing.

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