James Madison Papers

Virginia Delegates to Benjamin Harrison, 28 January 1783

Virginia Delegates to Benjamin Harrison

RC (Virginia State Library). In the hand of Arthur Lee, except for JM’s signature. Addressed to “His Excellency The Governor of Virginia.” Docketed by Harrison, “Lr. fm our Delegates in Congress Jany 28 ’83.” Below this, “Jany 28 1783” is written in an unknown hand.

Philadelphia Jany. 28th. 1783


Your Excellency’s favors of the 4th. & 11th. are before us.1 We have laid before Congress the Enclosures which were intended for them; & shall acquaint your Excellency of their determinations upon them, as soon as they are made.2 Mr. Nathan’s affair is a matter of some difficulty in the arrangement. We do not see how either Party can be bound by an award, that is not founded on a rule of Court of Law, in a cause depending before it; nor have we any document to show, that the State will be bound in consequence of some legislative Act authorising the Executive to submit the question to Arbitrators. But we shall advise on what is best to be done, & acquaint your Excellency with the result. It woud be a matter of some doubt & delicacy to tempt Mr. Nathan by submitting so large a Sum to his Oath.3

We concur most cordially with your Excellency in rejoiceing on the great event of the evacuation of Charles-town.4 A little time, we hope, will bring us decisive information, whether war or peace will be the issue of the present negociations at Paris; & we shall lose no time in making the communication to your Excellency.5

We have the honor to be with the profoundest respect, Yr. Excellency’s most obedt. & devotd Servts.

J. Madison Jr. 

A. Lee6

Congress recd. a few days ago a letter from Mr. Adams of the 8th. of Oct. accompanied by copies of a Treaty of Amity & Commerce & of a Convention concerning recaptures, with the States Genl. Both of them have been ratified and will be published as soon as the length of them will admit.7

A Lee


2The “enclosures” which Theodorick Bland presented to Congress on 27 January were the following papers from the General Assembly of Virginia, forwarded to the Virginia delegates in Governor Harrison’s letter of 4 January (q.v.): (1) a copy of the act repealing the act ratifying the proposed impost amendment; (2) a copy of a resolution concerning the state’s financial quota of 1782; (3) a copy of a resolution in regard to the loss of vouchers for money expended by the state on behalf of the Confederation; (4) a copy of a resolution and other documents about the contract with the merchants-capitulant of Yorktown; and possibly (5) a copy of a resolution respecting the exchange of cannon with the continental army. On 31 January Congress referred the second item to a committee which was discharged on 6 May without making a report, and the third and fourth to another committee which reported on 6 February 1783 (Papers of Madison description begins William T. Hutchinson, William M. E. Rachal, et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (6 vols. to date; Chicago, 1962——). description ends , V, 452, and n. 1; 457–58; 459–60; 461–63; NA: PCC, No. 185, III, 53; No. 186, fol. 81; JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIV, 96, 106, 121–23; JM Notes, 27 Jan.; 31 Jan.; 10 Feb. 1783).

6Why Theodorick Bland and Joseph Jones did not sign this letter is unknown. Although Jones had been in Congress on 25 January, his precarious health may have prevented his attendance three days later (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXIV, 94; JM to Randolph, 28 Jan. 1783; Worthington C. Ford, ed., Letters of Joseph Jones of Virginia, 1777–1787 [Washington, 1889], p. 97). Bland had shared in the debate in Congress on 28 January (JM Notes, 28 Jan. 1783).

7JM Notes, 21 Jan., and n. 2; 23 Jan., and n. 1; 24 Jan.; Report on Treaty, 23 Jan. 1783, and nn. 15, 22.

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