James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Jacquelin Ambler, 11 May 1782

From Jacquelin Ambler

RC (LC: Madison Papers). Addressed to “The Honobl. James Madison of Congress Philadelphia.” Docketed by JM, “May 11. 1782.”

Virginia Richmond May 11th. 1782

Dear Sir

I am exceedingly obliged by the friendly sentiments in your last respecting my late appointment.1 I have not been long enough in it to determine whether it will be attended with less inquietude than the former,2 but I think I discover a greater degree of trouble.

Mr. Webb seems determined to set out on Monday; if so he will probably reach Phila. as soon as this gets to hand;3 it gives me satisfaction to think you will be speedily reimbursed for the Money advanced Mr. Jameson.4 I sincerely wish our Treasury would enable us to make you a remittance. We have not had ten pounds Specie in it since my coming into Office, and it is much to be feared there will not any come in for a long time.5 The People begin already to complain of the burthen laid on them by the last Assembly, & make no scruple of asserting the impossibility of raising hard Money for the Land Tax.6 Want of Commerce prevents a due circulation of what Money is in the State, so that tho’ the Army of our Allies spend some with us, it remains in few hands.7 The Officers of Civil Government have not been paid for the last ten Months; my Quarters Salary in the Spring of 1781. amounted to 9-16- at the then depreciation.8 We don’t know what to make of this intelligence under the Philaa. Head May 2. 17829 I hope your next will throw some light on the Subject

Yours with great esteem & regard

J: Ambler

1In a letter now missing, JM must have congratulated Ambler upon his appointment as acting treasurer of the Commonwealth of Virginia. See Jameson to JM, 9 March, n. 6; Randolph to JM, 11–13 April; Pendleton to JM, 22 April 1782, and n. 12.

2Membership on the Council of State.

3Foster Webb, Jr. See Randolph to JM, 19 April, and 16–17 May; Ambler to JM, 20 April 1782, and n. 2. Webb’s stay in Philadelphia lasted from about 21 May until 6 June 1782 (Ambler to JM, 18 May; JM to Randolph, 6 June 1782).

4See Ambler to JM, 20 April 1782, and n. 1.

5See Jameson to JM, ca. 12 January, and 9 March, and n. 4; Harrison to Virginia Delegates, 9 February; JM to James Madison, Sr., ca. 12 February, and 30 March; Ambler to JM, 6 April 1782.

6See Jameson to JM, 23 February, and n. 6; and 2 March 1782, and n. 3. On 2 May 1782 St. George Tucker, in a letter to Theodorick Bland, had commented upon the increasing opposition to the land-tax law and the “ten thousand difficulties” which would ensue if it were repealed (Charles Campbell, ed., The Bland Papers: Being a Selection from the Manuscripts of Colonel Theodorick Bland, Jr., of Prince George County, Virginia [2 vols.; Petersburg, Va., 1840–43], II, 79).

7See Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (4 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , III, 261–62; 263, n. 9; 324–25; 326, n. 3; Pendleton to JM, 15 April 1782, and n. 6.

8Ambler refers to his salary as a member of the Council of State. According to the law defining a councilor’s salary (Jameson to JM, ca. 12 January 1782, and n. 6), Ambler was owed about 18.3 per cent or £146 8s. of the quarterly stipend of £800 for all the councilors. The latter sum had to be divided among them in proportion to the number of meetings which each had attended. In the present letter, Ambler equated the £146 8s. as £9 16s. in specie by applying a depreciation ratio of about 15 to 1.

9Ambler had read the 11 May issue of the Virginia Gazette description begins Virginia Gazette, or, the American Advertiser (Richmond, James Hayes, 1781–86). description ends . This paper copied “Intelligence of the last Importance” from Philadelphia under a 2 May date line. The “Intelligence” comprised reports which had reached New York City by packets arriving there from Great Britain on successive days. The earlier report concerned “the full determination of the British Cabinet to pursue the War with redoubled vigour.” The later report was to the effect that Parliament had acknowledged the independence of the United States of America. See Virginia Delegates to Harrison, 7 May 1782, and n. 4.

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