James Madison Papers

Endorsement of Philip Mazzei’s Petition, 25 April 1784

Endorsement of Philip Mazzei’s Petition

April 25th. 1783[4].

I have perused a paper entitled “A representation of Mr. Mazzeis conduct from the time of his appointment to be Agent of the State in Europe untill his return to Virginia”; and believe the proceedings of the Executive Board whilst I was a member of it to be therein correctly stated.1 Not having been present at the conversation between Governor Henry and Mr. Mazzei relative to an allowance of £1000 Sterlg per annum for his expences, I can say nothing as to that fact. I recollect only that that sum was mentioned at the Board as a Salary not exceeding the dignity of the business on which he was to be sent; and that the prevailing idea was that the salary should be left unfixed till his return to Virginia when he ought to receive a decent reward over and above the sum which he should have necessarily expended in supporting the rank and promoting the object of his Commission.2

J. Madison Jr.

RC (PHi). Misdated 1783 by JM. The page bearing JM’s endorsement also has a briefer one by John Page, and an accompanying sheet has similar testimonials from Dudley Digges and David Jameson.

1See Mazzei’s “narrative,” Bulletin of the New York Public Library, XXXVIII (1934), 541–62. JM was a member of the Virginia Council of State from 14 Jan. 1778 until shortly after 14 Dec. 1779. JM, Digges, and Page were among the members of the Council of State who were present on 8 Jan. 1779, when Mazzei was commissioned by Governor Henry as the Virginia agent empowered to procure a loan and military supplies in Europe. His mission failed. In his old age Mazzei recalled that Governor Henry had asked him, in the presence of JM and other members of the Council, whether £1,000 would be an adequate sum to cover his expenses (Marraro, trans., Memoirs of Philip Mazzei, pp. 224–25, 267–68, 275–81).

2On 12 June 1784 Governor Harrison in Council directed the state Board of Auditors “to issue Warrants on the Contingent Fund” in Mazzei’s favor for £2,133 6s. 8d., “being the balance due him for his services & expences.” Prior to 10 June 1784, he had received some payment, on account, for his services (JCSV description begins H. R. McIlwaine et al., eds., Journals of the Council of the State of Virginia (4 vols. to date; Richmond, 1931——). description ends , III, 354–55, 319, 351). See also Harrison to Mazzei, 23 Dec. 1783; Harrison to Leighton Wood, 10 June 1784, Executive Letter Book description begins Executive Letter Book, 1783–1786, manuscript in Virginia State Library. description ends , pp. 250, 337; Giovanni E. Schiavo, Philip Mazzei, One of America’s Founding Fathers (New York, 1951), pp. 154–55. Prior to Mazzei’s departure for Europe he had received £7,000 Virginia currency. On 6 Apr. 1780 in Paris he was advanced 300 louis d’or by a banker acting on behalf of Virginia. Harrison in Council considered all these sums to total 600 louis d’or a year, the remuneration set for Mazzei from 8 Jan. 1779 to 8 Apr. 1783 (JCSV description begins H. R. McIlwaine et al., eds., Journals of the Council of the State of Virginia (4 vols. to date; Richmond, 1931——). description ends , III, 354). Governor Harrison in Council on 24 Jan. 1782 terminated Mazzei’s appointment, and in a letter of 31 May 1783, Harrison told Mazzei that his commission had expired three months after the notice of his recall reached him—that is, 30 Nov. 1782. Evidently the governor in Council later decided to pay Mazzei for an additional period of about four months (ibid., pp. 34, 425).

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