James Madison Papers

Benjamin Harrison to Virginia Delegates, 27 July 1782

Benjamin Harrison to Virginia Delegates

FC (Virginia State Library). In the hand of William Tatham, assistant clerk of the Virginia Council of State, and directed to “The Virginia Delegates in Congress.”

Virginia In Council July 27th. 1782.


A Mr. Linctot of the Illinois was appointed Indian Agent in that Country by Governor Jefferson on behalf of this State. It appears by his Accounts and some Letters of Colo. Broadheads who commanded at fort Pitt that he also acted in the same capacity (tho’ not regularly commissioned) for the continent. I wish to be inform’d whether he has received anything for that service, and beg the favor of you to make the necessary inquiry.1 The feeding the Garrison of York Town embarras’s us exceedingly I request you will attend particularly to it, and use your endeavours to get them taken off our hands, or a resolution pass’d that will enable the State certainly to obtain credit for the expenditures, which is so highly reasonable that no just objection can be made to it.2 A vessel from Providence3 is just arrived the Capt. reports that he call’d at Savannah, that the Enemy had evacuated it, and that Waine4 was in possession.5

I am Gentlemen &c.

B. H.

1Daniel Maurice Godefroy de Linctot (ca. 1740–ca. 1783) was a Canadian who had served as an ensign in the French army during the French and Indian War. By the outset of the Revolution he and his older brother (d. 1778) lived at Cahokia and, as fur traders, had gained the friendship of many of the Indian tribes in the upper Mississippi Valley. In 1779 the French habitants at Cahokia chose him to command a company of militia. Thereafter, and perhaps even earlier, he supplied food and other commodities to the troops of George Rogers Clark. According to Clark, Linctot also rendered a signal service by persuading Indians either to make war on the British or at least to remain neutral. On 5 August 1779 Clark commissioned Linctot as Indian agent in the Mississippi Valley west and north of the Illinois River (George A. Brennan, “De Linctot, Guardian of the Frontier,” Journal of the Illinois Historical Society, X [1917–18], 323–66; Louise Phelps Kellogg, ed., Frontier Retreat on the Upper Ohio, 1779–1781 [Madison, Wis., 1917], p. 176 n.; Clarence Walworth Alvord, ed., Kaskaskia Records, 1778–1790 [Springfield, Ill., 1909), pp. 163, 177–78; James Alton James, ed., George Rogers Clark Papers, 1771–1781 [Springfield, Ill., 1912], pp. cvii, 150, 297, 301 and n., 328–29, 341–42, 355, 363; ibid., 1781–1784 [Springfield, Ill., 1924], pp. 28 n., 230, 243–44).

On 17 February 1780, when Linctot was in Williamsburg trying vainly to obtain a full settlement of his accounts, Governor Jefferson rewarded his “courage, zeal and attachment” by appointing him Indian agent in the “northwestern department.” For this service he was to receive “the pay of five shillings in silver money by the day and the rank and rations of a major” (Boyd, Papers of Jefferson description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson (16 vols. to date; Princeton, N.J., 1950——). description ends , III, 296). By then Linctot had established his residence at Vincennes, but he spent much time in the Ohio country and at Fort Pitt, still cultivating the friendship of the Indians and also their assistance on Clark’s proposed expedition against the British post at Detroit. Linctot apparently was not recompensed by Congress for co-operating closely at Fort Pitt with Colonel Daniel Brodhead (1736–1809), continental army commandant of the “western district” (ibid., III, 296, 322–23, 479; IV, 113–14, 180, 249–50, 283, 479, 600; V, 320; 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 , II, 292, nn. 3 and 7; III, 209, 210, n. 4; 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 , II, 88 and n., 89, 95, 103, 105, 106; Clarence W. Alvord, ed., Kaskaskia Records, p. 163; James A. James, ed., Clark Papers, 1771–1781, p. 388).

When Harrison wrote the present letter, Virginia had neither paid Linctot’s salary and rations nor remunerated him for most of the expenses incurred during his negotiations with the Indians. His expense account was referred for audit to the commissioners of Virginia for the settlement of western accounts, but he or his assignee received by June 1783 the salary and ration money due him from 17 February 1780 to 18 January 1783. The latter date appears to have marked the termination of his appointment as Indian agent. His death seems to have occurred between then and 30 April of that year (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, 63, 70, 280–81, 285, 389, 399; 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 , II, 389; III, 175, 269; Journal of the House of Delegates description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia; Begun and Held at the Capitol, in the City of Williamsburg. Beginning in 1780, the portion after the semicolon reads, Begun and Held in the Town of Richmond. In the County of Henrico. The journal for each session has its own title page and is individually paginated. The edition used, unless otherwise noted, is the one in which the journals for 1777–1786 are brought together in two volumes, with each journal published in Richmond in 1827 or 1828, and often called the “Thomas W. White reprint.” description ends , May 1783, pp. 64, 72–75; October 1783, p. 82; James A. James, ed., Clark Papers, 1781–1784, pp. 28–29, 159, 230, 253, 278–79, 380–82).

2See Virginia Delegates to Harrison, 23 July 1782, n. 3; 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, 270–71.

3New Providence Island in the Bahamas.

4Brigadier General Anthony Wayne.

5On 27 July 1782 the Pennsylvania Journal announced as almost certainly true the departure of the British garrison from Savannah. Although the ship captain who informed Harrison has not been identified, the news appeared in the Virginia Gazette description begins Virginia Gazette, or, the American Advertiser (Richmond, James Hayes, 1781–86). description ends of 3 August. Complying with General Carleton’s orders, the British had evacuated the town on 11 July 1782 (John Richard Alden, The South in the Revolution, 1763–1789 [Baton Rouge, La., 1957], p. 266).

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