Benjamin Harrison to Virginia Delegates
FC (Virginia State Library). In William Tatham’s hand and directed to “Virginia Delegates.”
Council Chamber Augt. 30th. 1782.
I recd. some time ago the Journals of Congress that you sent me but find they are not complete those of 79 being wanting be so good as to send them by the first Oppery.1
Some prisoners return’d from New York have enfused an Opinion into the Heads of our people that their Negros carried away by the Enemy may be obtain’d from Sir Guy Carleton if I would permit them to go with a Flag for them Applications have been made for such a permission which I thought myself bound to refuse as the Intercourse would be dangerous and the Obligation if they were successful might have too powerful an influence over their future Conduct. I have however on the earnest solicitation of Mr. Willoughby who had had ninety taken from him and is thereby ruin’d promis’d to write to you on the Subject, to know in what light such a Step would be look’d on by Congress, and I beg the favor of you to give me your Opinion. One powerful Motive that induced Mr. Willoughby to apply so early was that his informant told him that on the prospects of peace the privateers Men were kidnaping them and sending them to the West indies, and that in a little Time there would be very few left in N. York. if it should be the case can no step be taken to put a Stop to the practice.2 Your Bill for support of the prisoners return’d from captivity shall be duly honor’d.3 I am &c
1. See Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (5 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , IV, 25; 26, n. 6; 66; Virginia Delegates to Harrison, 10 September 1782.
2. Harrison’s information is much in accord with that received by him in a letter of 23 August from Colonel Thomas Newton, Jr., of Norfolk (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, 266). Newton wrote that most of the many slave owners, who were “much distressed” by the loss of their property, were “hearty friends to the Country.” Among these was John Willoughby, Jr. (d. 1791), of Willoughby’s Point, Norfolk County. See Rogers Dey Whichard, The History of Lower Tidewater Virginia (3 vols.; New York, 1959), I, 313; Motion on Slaves Taken by the British, 10 September 1782.