James Madison Papers
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Expense Account as Delegate in Congress, 20 December 1781

Expense Account as Delegate in Congress

MS (Virginia State Library; and LC: Madison Papers, Vol. 91). JM’s covering letter, if any, to the Virginia Auditors of Public Accounts has not been found.

1781. From Sepr. 20 to Decr. 20—1781.
Pena. Curry. Pena. Curry.
Sepr. 25. To cash arising from a bill drawn Sepr. 13. }  87—5—3 By balance due Sepr. 203
in my favr. for £100 by T. Pleasants Agt. Decr. 20. By Board &c. including liquors &c £85—13—2
for Mr. Ross, on R: Morris1 60 days sight By Expence of 2 Horses  19— 5— 
Novr. 5. To cash recd. of T. Pleasants  12— — By washing £6—11 — 2 Cord Wood £5  11—11  
To do. rcd. of do  23— — By allowance for 91 days4 at  

1Thomas Pleasants, Jr., David Ross, and Robert Morris. Evident here is the high discount rate, exceeding 12½ per cent, about which the delegates had complained to Governor Harrison [Nelson] in their letter of 4 December 1781 (q.v.), and which in the present instance was attached to a bill repayable at face value within sixty days of presentation.

2The three debits making up this total were entered without change by the auditors on their ledger sheet for JM (MS, Virginia State Library). The ink on JM’s memorandum of these transactions, retained for his files, is faint and the paper badly water-stained. This memorandum records:

Sepr. 25. To 52—6—3 resulting from a bill for £100 } 87£[?]
drawn in my favor Sepr. 13th at 60 days
sight on R. Morris by Thos. Pleasants jr.
A. for Mr. Ross
To 4 half Joe recd of T Pleasants
To [£]23 recd of

The editors do not understand where JM derived the figure “52—6—3,” and by what scale of appreciation he converted the amount into “87£”[?]. The fact that £52 6s. 3d. plus £23 plus £12 (“4 half Joe”) equal £87 6s. 3d., or virtually the sum netted by JM from the £100 bill, as shown on the copy prepared for the auditors, has to be accounted merely a coincidence in order to avoid adding to the mystery.

3See Expense Account, 20 September 1781, and n. 3. JM necessarily left the “balance due” a blank because the Virginia General Assembly had not determined what increase in the per diem salary, above the $20 in paper currency stipulated in 1779, should be granted as an offset to the rapid depreciation since that year.

4See n. 3, above. On his retained memorandum JM detailed this credit column as follows:

Sepr 26 By 30 bushels of Oats at 2/ £3
Ocr. [?] By 2 Cords of wood £5
Ocr. [?] By pd. for washing [2—6]
Novr. 6 By Hay £6 }  6
By Oats 7/6  1—17—6
Novr. 20th By 15 bushels do. 30/
By Hay  7—10
By washing  1—17—6
Decr. [?] 20 By stablage  5
By washing  2— 7 —6
For Horses £9.7.6 not charged in last acct.
23.7.6 as above
13.10 rcd. from J.J. & E.R. for supply to their Horses
19. 5 net expence for this quarter

“J.J. & E.R.” obviously stands for Joseph Jones and Edmund Randolph. The total for laundry, entered on the auditors’ copy, will not agree with JM’s retained itemization, unless the cost of this item in October, blotted out by a water stain, was the amount inserted within brackets by the editors.

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