George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Joseph Jones, 2 October 1780

From Joseph Jones

Virga 2d Octr 1780

Dear Sr

The Medical Department was under the consideration of a Committee before I left Congress and will it is probable undergo a change that may curtail the number of the present appointments—should this be the case and the new arrangement take place before I return (whi⟨ch⟩ at present it is my intention to do before Christmas) I shall recommend to the support of the Virginia Delegates the Gentlemen you have been pleased to mention, whose long Services and well know[n] Characters intitle them to be among the first Officers in the establishment.1

If I am not mistaken the spirit of party is much abated in Congress some instances of the old prejudices and partialities that disgraced and must ever disgrace their Councils I think I have discovered, but they are few; and I entertained hopes the Flame was nearly extinguished—and although some restless tempers, as some there are and ever will be in public Assemblies of Men, may attempt to revive those disputes, which were carryed to such height between the contending Factions as to neglect the more important concerns of the public; there are I trust a sufficient number of mild Spirits who will oppose and repress such dishonorable attempts and confine themselves to the discussion alone of such matters Justice and the general welfare require—I am certain the important objects now before Congress are sufficient to engage their attention and employ their time without perplexing themselves by a revival of old and expiring Controversies. It was with reluctance I left Philadelphia before the Report upon your Letter respecting the Army ⟨a⟩nd Magazines was compleat2 and the arrangement of the Civil offices of Congress were digested3 but an apprehension that the Assembly was to meet the first Monday in October as usual and a desire of spending a short time with my Family before I went to Richmond determined me to set out so as to reach Home abt the middl⟨e⟩ of September—I now find I might have staid a fortnight longer as the Session does not commence untill the third Monday in this month.4 Congress having taken some Steps towards compleating the Federal Union which I anxiously wish to accomplish induced me to be here early in the Session that the Sense of this State upon that interesting question might be taken—That if the proposition was approved it might be devulged to the other States without delay and Virginia being more interested then any other in a cession of unappropriated territory the example could not fail to have weight and be followed by others. We are already too large for the Energy of republican Government and I fear shall be so if the Assembly shall relinquish their claims to the North west of the Ohio to the Continent5—I wished too to be present the begining of the Session to urge the filling up our Battalions immediately and providing Magazines in time as the ensuing Winter to the South and the approaching Spring to the North if our Ally shall command the Water might afford us favourable opportunities of acting to advantage. but alas! instead of the French commanding the Water we have the mortification to hear Rodney with 12 Ships of the line and four frigates has arrived at the Hook—where for God sake is Ct Guichen with his great and formidable Fleet? surely not inactive.6 Adieu Yr aff. Friend & humble Servt

Jos: Jones.


1Jones replied to GW’s letter to him dated 9 Sept. (see GW to John Mathews, same date, source note; see also Jones to GW, 6 Sept.).

3Jones had been appointed to a committee formed “to report a plan for the revision and new arrangement of the civil executive departments of the United States under Congress” (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 17:791).

4A new session of the Virginia legislature commenced on 16 Oct. (see Va. Statutes description begins William Waller Hening, ed. The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619. 13 vols. 1819–23. Reprint. Charlottesville, Va., 1969. description ends [Hening], 10:321).

5Jones alludes to the Articles of Confederation and state claims to western lands.

6Virginia delegate James Madison had written Jones on 19 Sept. with this intelligence (see Smith, Letters to Delegates, 16:94; see also William Heath to GW, 6 Sept., n.3).

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