James Madison Papers

Virginia Delegates to Benjamin Harrison, 1 April 1783

Virginia Delegates to Benjamin Harrison

RC (Virginia State Library). In hand of Theodorick Bland, Jr., except for the signatures of the other delegates. Cover franked by Bland and addressed by him to “His Excelly. Benjn: Harrison Esqr. Govr. of Virginia.” Docketed, “Letter fr. Virga. Dels Apl 1. 83.”

Philadelphia April 1st 1783


Your Excelly. will have received by our Express the important Intelligence brought by the Triomphe.1

That Intelligence (together with Authenticated Copies of Count D’Estaings dispatches relating to Peace which were received by the Minister of France) was sent into New York immediately by An officer in the department of foreign Affairs, and proposals, founded on the presumption of their Authenticity, were made to Sr. Guy Carleton and Admiral Digby by Congress, that a Suspension of Hostilities should immediately take place both by Sea and Land, that a Stop might be put to the further effusion of Human Blood.2 However Humane the motives might be which dictated these proposals, we find, the Application has not Succeeded. The British Commanders have Informd Congress that no Authority has reached them from their Court—they could not therefore think themselves Justified in taking such a step—thus Untill that shall arrive, every thing remains with the British in Statu quo, altho the Hands of the French Naval Force in America are tied.3 Your Excelly will no doubt Judge it proper that this Intelligence may be conveyed as speedily as possible to our Sea Ports, to prevent the Risque which Vessels Sailing in this Critical Juncture might run.4

We sincerely wish that your Excelly wd. be pleased to urge to the Assembly at their next meeting, the making a provision for Establishing a Credit for the Delegates in this Place or where Congress may sit, so that they may be Enabled to draw their Salaries as they become due, that they may no longer be Subject to that uncertainty which they have hitherto Experienced, which lays them under every disadvantage in their expenditure, Exposes them to be obliged to borrow frequently on the most Humiliating terms to supply their real necessities, and consigns them to the Hands of Extortionate Usury.5

We received no Public letter by the last Post.6

We are with the most perfect respect Yr. Excellys most obedt. svts

Theok: Bland Jr.

A. Lee

J. Madison Jr

Jos: Jones.

1Delegates to Harrison, 24 Mar., and hdn., and n. 7; 25 Mar. 1783, and n. 4.

3JM Notes, 31 Mar. 1783, and nn. 5, 6.

4The Virginia Gazette of 5 April printed a copy, attested as accurate by La Luzerne, of the orders directing ships of the French navy to cease hostilities at sea. This issue of the Gazette also included a report that Congress had provided for a similar order to be communicated by Robert Morris to American armed vessels, and for Carleton and Digby to be notified thereof. A week later the same newspaper added immediately below a copy of Morris’s circular letter of 25 March a statement that the British commanders, lacking orders from King George III, had refused to follow Congress’ example. Although the editor of the Virginia Gazette probably derived this information from Governor Harrison, there is no other evidence that he “conveyed” the delegates’ word of British non-compliance “as speedily as possible to our Sea Ports.” See also Cal. of Va. 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, 460–61, 464.

6Harrison’s letter of 20 March, which should have reached Philadelphia “by the last Post,” possibly never was received by the delegates. See Harrison to Delegates, 20 March 1783, n. 4.

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