James Madison Papers

Virginia Delegates to Benjamin Harrison, 18 June 1782

Virginia Delegates to Benjamin Harrison

RC (Virginia State Library). In JM’s hand except for Bland’s signature. JM wrote all italicized words in the official cipher. Docketed, “Virga Dels Lr. June 18th 1782.” Accompanying the manuscript in the Virginia State Library is a page upon which the second paragraph of the letter was decoded by Archibald Blair, clerk of the Council of State.

Philada. 18th. June 1782.


The Post having been robbed of his mail on his return through Maryland, we had not the honor yesterday of receiving any letter from Your Excellency.1 If it reaches us at all it will probably be through the channel of the New York Gazette.

Since our letter of the 4th. instant which inclosed a proposition from Count Beniouski2 some circumstances have come to our knowledge which induce us to believe that altho’ for the reasons stated in our letter he is not to be classed with common adventurers yet his professions and undertakeings greatly exceed his resourses for fulfiling them. In particular we have decisive evidence that [he] cannot command the aid of the French Court in raising and transporting his legion and it is of itself evident that no private funds3 can be equal to such an expence. We do no injustice to his character in adding that the effect of the rejection of his plan by Congress has betrayed a temper which is very far from enhancing our esteem for him.

The destination of the fleet which lately sailed from N. York is still unknown;4 nor have we reced. a word of intelligence from any other quarter.

We have the honor to be with the greatest respect & esteem Yr. Excellency’s Obt. & hble. Servants.

J. Madison Jr.

Theok. Bland Jr.


The Letter from Oliver Pollock with the bill inclosed in it was put into our hands by the Gentleman in whose favor the bill is drawn, with a request that we would inclose it to the Executive.5 As we shall probably be applied to here after for information on this subject we beg the favor of your Excellency to let us know the steps taken thereon.

3In the decoded page mentioned in the headnote, this word is omitted, and “private” is “privates.”

5Pollock’s letter and the bill have not been found. The bill was returned to the delegates (Harrison to Virginia Delegates, 29 June 1782). “The Gentleman” was Thomas Irwin, a Philadelphia merchant. In a letter of 18 June to Harrison, Irwin stated that the bill, which he had asked JM to forward, was drawn on Virginia for 6,819 Spanish milled dollars owed him by Pollock for goods which the latter had purchased on Virginia’s behalf—presumably for the use of George Rogers Clark and his troops (Calendar of Virginia State Papers description begins William P. Palmer et al., eds., Calendar of Virginia State Papers and Other Manuscripts (11 vols.; Richmond, 1875–93). description ends , III, 196). On 31 July the Council of State, faced with a shortage of funds, authorized Harrison “to direct the State Agent to accept the said Bill payable in Six Months from this Date, with Interest from the first Day of September next” (Journals of the Council of State description begins H. R. McIlwaine et al., eds., Journals of the Council of the State of Virginia (3 vols. to date; Richmond, 1931——). description ends , III, 130). See also 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, 98, 99 n., 256, 257 nn.; Harrison to Virginia Delegates, 29 June 1782, and n. 5.

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