From Benjamin Harrison
RC (LC: Madison Papers). In Harrison’s hand. Lacks superscription but is docketed by JM, “Govr. Harrison Novr. 30. 1782.” Under the place and date line, someone unknown wrote, “Harrison Ben:”
Richmond Novr. 30th. 1782.
many thanks to you my Dear Sir for the Books, they are extremely dear but as you justly observe the price should be no objection, when the want of them is considered. I fall miserably short in my remittance you must impute this to my real ignorance of the cost of such books.1 The balance shall be forwarded by the next opportunity2
Colo Bassett has brot. me a Beau hat, to be quite in character I want a fine cockade, which strange to tell can not be got here will you procure me one from your favorite milliner and send it by post in your packet.3
No news yet of the surrender or rather the evacuation of Chs Town, tho’ I shall look for it in about a week.4
The inquirey gos on but slowly, the day fixt for tryal is next friday. Bland, Page and M. Smith are summond to attend as witnesses.5 No Bill yet brot in for raising Money, and I have some fears nothing will be done in that way, till the spring, as some of the leading members think the people can not pay more than the taxes already imposed,6 whether this is altogether true I will not undertake to say but you may depend on it we are in a wretched situation.
what little money we have is going out every day to Philadelphia, the single article of chariots,7 if the folly of sending for them continues, will entirely drain us in twelve months more, and to add to our misfortunes we have made the shortest crop of every thing that has been made since my remembrance8—I am Dr Sir
Your most obedt Hble Servt
1. Judging from Harrison’s remarks in this and the preceding sentence, either a letter from him and one from JM to him are missing, or else an intermediary—perhaps Colonel Burwell Bassett—had conveyed the governor’s request for books with a “remittance” to JM and had delivered the volumes, together with JM’s voucher or oral comments upon their cost, to Harrison. The titles of the books are unknown, but they may have included John Trumbull’s M’Fingal and the Reverend William White’s The Case of the Episcopal Churches in the United States Considered. See JM to Randolph, 10 November, and n. 2; Pendleton to JM, 25 November 1782, and n. 13. For Colonel Bassett, see JM to Randolph, 12 November 1782 (first letter), and n. 1.
2. The amount of the “balance” has not been determined, but Harrison later asked George Nicolson, a merchant of Richmond who planned to visit Philadelphia in January 1783, to deliver the money to JM (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 , III, 87, n. 5; Harrison to JM, 4 January 1783, LC: Madison Papers).
3. A “Beau hat” was Harrison’s humorous description of a stylish headgear rather than a particular type of hat. When, if ever, JM sent a cockade to Harrison is not known. Isaac Parrish may have been JM’s “milliner” in Philadelphia (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, 248; 251, n. 29).
5. See Randolph to JM, 29 November, and n. 7. When Meriwether Smith, a member of the Council of State, was a delegate from Virginia in Congress, he usually opposed the measures favored by the Richard Henry Lee-Samuel Adams faction (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 , II, 40, n. 2; 149, n. 4; IV, 438, n. 5). On the other hand, Bland and Lee were often in accord.
7. Covered four-wheel carriages. For other comments about Virginia’s scarcity of specie and adverse balance of trade with Philadelphia, see Randolph to JM, 30 August, and n. 18; 20 September; JM to Randolph, 24 September; Harrison to Virginia Delegates, 28 September; 8 November 1782.