James Madison Papers

Benjamin Harrison to Virginia Delegates, 11 May 1782

Benjamin Harrison to Virginia Delegates

FC (Virginia State Library). In the hand of Thomas Meriwether, who had succeeded Charles Hay as assistant clerk of the Council of State on 7 May 1782.

In Council May 11th. 1782.


I have inclos’d for your perusal a letter to Mr Morris and one to the Chevalier, which you’l please to seal and deliver after reading, and use your endeavours to obviate any difficulties that may be started by the Minister if in your power. I am much at a loss to conjecture what could occasion such a change in him, tho’ I think it clear it originated in Philadelphia on some person in power being informed that the stores were ready to be shiped; if it had come from France, the Minister would certainly be inform’d of their cost: perhaps you may be able to unravel this business; if you are I should be obliged to you for the communication.1 Mr Ross will by this Post remit you Bills for £150 each which I hope will serve you til a way can be found to supply you fully.2 I am &c

1See Virginia Delegates to Harrison, 24 January, and nn.; 28 May 1782, and nn. 11 and 13. Harrison’s letters of 11 May 1782 to Robert Morris and La Luzerne, respectively, are in McIlwaine, Official Letters description begins H. R. McIlwaine, ed., Official Letters of the Governors of the State of Virginia (3 vols.; Richmond, 1926–29). description ends , III, 210–12. Vergennes had informed La Luzerne that the cost of the military supplies, purchased by Virginia and still awaiting shipment from France, would be charged against money loaned to Congress by Dutch bankers. To this, Robert Morris and Harrison both refused to agree. The governor felt “a sensible mortification” because the French evidently distrusted the solvency of Virginia and thereby humbled her citizens “in the eyes of the States themselves, and all the rest of the world.” When they first conferred about the supplies, La Luzerne seems to have encouraged Harrison to believe that the court of Versailles would cover the cost of the goods and accept as security “a bond” pledging the Virginia General Assembly to reimburse the French government “in five annual payments, to commence from the close of the present War.”

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