James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Joseph Jones, 6 July 1787

From Joseph Jones

Richmond 6th. July 1787

Dr. Sr.

I have your letter of the 26th. ult. The Post preceding the arrival of yours brought a letter from the Governor, inclosing Mr. Wythes resignation, when the filling the vacancy made by that Gentlemans departure from Convention was considered, and determined by the Executive to be unnecessary. The length of time the Convention had been seting, and the representation of the State then attending, being within one of the number at first appointed, and these Gentlemen of established Character and approved abilities—were considerations that I believe had weight and governed the determination. Had the supplying Mr. Wythes place been thought necessary, I have no doubt Mr. Corbins well known abilities, and his being on the Spot, wod. have pointed him out to the Executive as a proper person.1 It is supposed by some Doctr. M.Clurg will soon retire. Should that be the case and the other Gentlemen remain I am inclined to think from what formerly passed at the Board, they will be deemed a representation competent to the great objects for which they were appointed.

If the Mass: Assembly should pursue such measures as from the specimens you mention there is reason to fear they will, the example may probably prove contagious and spread into New Hampshire, whereby the eastern politics will become formidable, and from the principles which appear to govern them and the number of adherents, pernicious consequences are to be apprehended.2

Tobacco still rises. The price now current will nearly bring us what the State allowed and it is probable by next Thursday the day we have fixed for the Sale we shall find purchasers giving a price for all the upland Tobacco at least equal to if not higher than the State price. Although the Treasury board refused to take the Tobacco at the State price, we have been applied to this day by Hopkins to postpone the Sale untill he can apply to and be directed by them what to do, or allow him to bid for the Tobacco to the amount of the Bills on him wch. he says is about 25000 dols. All circumstances considered we have agreed he may purchase to the amount of 4000 £. to be considered as Specie, and to be accompanied with the proper proportion of indents under the requisition of 85.3 Yr. friend

J Jones

RC (DLC). Docketed by JM.

1See 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 , IV, 120. George Mason had suggested Francis Corbin, who was then in Philadelphia, as a replacement for Wythe (Mason to Beverley Randolph, 30 June 1787, Rutland, Papers of George Mason, III, 918–19).

2The spring elections in Massachusetts had returned a legislature more sympathetic toward the participants in the recent Shays uprising (Starkey, A Little Rebellion, pp. 184–86). In June the General Court repealed the act disqualifying the insurgents from voting and holding office. The House of Representatives also passed a resolution for removing the seat of government from Boston, but rejected a motion granting a general pardon to the insurgents (James Sullivan to Rufus King, 14 June 1787; Theodore Sedgwick to King, 18 June 1787, C. R. King, Life and Correspondence of Rufus King, I, 222–23, 223–24; Pa. Gazette, 27 June 1787).

3On the sale of public tobacco (tobacco collected in payment of taxes), see Jones to JM, 29 June 1787 and n. 2. In refusing to accept tobacco at the “State price” the Board of Treasury indicated that the money commanded by the market price of the tobacco could be paid toward the state’s requisition quota (Board of Treasury to John Hopkins, May 1787 [extract], enclosed in Edmund Randolph to Speaker of the House of Delegates, 15 Oct. 1787 [Vi: Executive Communications]). Following the announcement that the tobacco would be sold to the highest bidder, Hopkins informed the council that the Board of Treasury would probably “agree to the receipt of it specifically on Account of the Quota of Virginia to the United States.” He requested a postponement of the sale until he received specific instructions, however, because at the time he had “no authority to receive any thing but Specie in discharge of the Specie proportion of the Requisitions of Congress” (Hopkins to Beverley Randolph, 6 July 1787 [Vi: Continental Congress Papers]). As Jones indicated, the council denied this request, but did allow Hopkins to become a purchaser of the public tobacco (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 , IV, 124).

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