Virginia Delegates to Benjamin Harrison
RC (Virginia State Library). Written and franked by Arthur Lee. Docketed: “Virga. Delegates Lr. recd. Apl 82[.] March 26h 1782[.] Latest advices from Europe indicate determination of British Cabinet to continue the War.”
Philadelphia, March 26th. 1782
The Superintendant of Finance informs us, that he has sent a proposition to our Executive which he conceives will answer the object of our motion relative to the supply of Beef.1
The latest Advices from Europe assure us of the determination of the british Cabinet to continue the war, & it is believd that the distressing our Commerce will be their principal object with regard to the United States.2 France & Spain are sending strong re-enforcements to the W. Indies; & it is probable they will maintain the superiority in those Seas, in spite of all the efforts of the Enemy3
It is two posts, since we had the honor of a line from your Excellency.4
We have the honor to be with the greatest respect Yr. Excellency’s most obedt & most Humle Servts
J. Madison Jr.
2. To what “latest Advices” Lee refers is unknown, but they may have been from his brother William, then stationed in Brussels. The debates in Parliament, reprinted in issues of Philadelphia newspapers, could have led Arthur Lee readily to conclude that in 1782 Great Britain planned to rely more heavily upon its navy than its army to subdue the American rebellion (JM to Jefferson, 18 March 1782, and n. 7). In his letter of 18 December 1781, read in Congress on 18 March, John Adams had suggested that the British might “try their skill in intercepting our trade” (Wharton, Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence description begins Francis Wharton, ed., The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States (6 vols.; Washington, 1889). description ends , V, 55). See the preamble of Report on Illicit Trade with the Enemy, 19 June 1782.
3. Lee may have derived this information from William Lee or, perhaps less likely, from William Carmichael’s letter of 20 December 1781, read in Congress on 18 March (Wharton, Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence description begins Francis Wharton, ed., The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States (6 vols.; Washington, 1889). description ends , V, 63; and Report on Foreign Dispatches, 20 March 1782, n. 1). Carmichael, of course, could not have heard of Admiral Kempenfelt’s victory over the fleet of the Comte de Guichen (JM to Pendleton, 25 February 1782, and n. 4).