James Madison Papers

Resolution to Reimburse Owners of Damaged Tobacco, 8 January 1787

Resolution to Reimburse Owners of Damaged Tobacco

Resolved that the Executive be authorized to defray all expences incurred in saving the Tobacco from the late fire in this City,2 by the sale of a sufficient proportion of the damaged Tobacco.

Ms (Vi). In a clerk’s hand.

1The resolution was introduced and passed in the House on 8 Jan. 1787, the last day of the session. JM was ordered to carry it to the Senate, where it was passed the same day (JHDV description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia; Begun and Held at the Capitol, in the City of Williamsburg. Beginning in 1780, the portion after the semicolon reads, Begun and Held in the Town of Richmond, In the County of Henrico. The journal for each session has its own title page and is individually paginated. The edition used is the one in which the journals for 1777–1786 are brought together in two volumes, with each journal published in Richmond in either 1827 or 1828 and often called the “Thomas W. White reprint.” description ends , Oct. 1786, pp. 146, 148). The fire had occurred earlier in the day.

2The Va. Independent Chronicle description begins Virginia Independent Chronicle (Richmond: Augustine Davis, 1786–90). Beginning on 13 May 1789 entitled, Virginia Independent Chronicle, and General Advertiser. description ends carried a report of the fire datelined, “Richmond, Jan. 10.

“Last Monday, between 3 and 4 o’clock in the morning, the store-house formerly occupied by Mr. John Hartshorne, was discovered to be on fire, and notwithstanding the united exertions of the citizens and others, the flames soon communicated to Mr. Anderson’s tavern, and the other houses near it, and in a short time there was a general conflagration, the flames spreading in every direction on each street, and in about 3 hours between 40 and 50 store-houses and dwelling-houses were entirely consumed, together with Byrd’s warehouses, and about 70 hogsheads of tobacco. The fire for some time appeared to direct its course down the street, which continued raging, as the wind increased, till about day-light, when the wind shifted more to the southward; by which means the fire was stopped at the pump, by pulling down two small houses; and it was with the greatest difficulty the public buildings and Treasury office were preserved from taking fire.—The Speaker and six more gentlemen of the Hon. Assembly, thought it necessary to remove the money and papers from the Treasury office, which they accomplished, and lodged at the Council Chamber; but the wind continuing to blow from the South so furiously, that place took fire three times, upon which the gentlemen thought it best to remove the money, &c. to a place of greater safety, which they effected, and deposited at the house of his Excellency the Governor, leaving a proper guard to extinguish the fire, and preserve the Council Chamber from being burnt. The loss sustained by individuals on this occasion, is estimated at upwards of £130,000” (Va. Independent Chronicle, 10 Jan. 1787). The Va. Gazette and Weekly Advertiser description begins Virginia Gazette, and General Advertiser (Richmond: Augustine Davis, 1790–1809). Formerly Virginia Independent Chronicle. description ends (11 Jan. 1787), Va. Journal and Alexandria Advertiser (18 Jan. 1787), and Pa. Gazette (24 Jan. 1787) carried similar reports of the fire. The Alexandria newspaper included a list of the “principal sufferers who lost their houses, &c.” Among them were Anderson’s Tavern and Dixon and Holt’s printing office, as well as Byrd’s Warehouse, and a number of merchants’ stores.

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