a bill for establishing religious freedom(chapter lxxxii)
Well aware that the opinions and belief of men depend not on their own will, but follow involuntarily the evidence proposed to their minds; that Almighty God hath created the mind free, and manifested his supreme will that free it shall remain by making it altogether insusceptible of restraint; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments, or burthens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, who being lord both of body and mind, yet choose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to do, but to exalt it by its influence on reason alone; that the impious presumption of legislature and ruler, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who, being themselves but fallible and uninspired men, have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavoring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world and through all time: That to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical; that even the forcing him to support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion, is depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions to the particular pastor whose morals he would make his pattern, and whose powers he feels most persuasive to righteousness; and is withdrawing from the ministry those temporary rewards, which proceeding from an approbation of their personal conduct, are an additional incitement to earnest and unremitting labours for the instruction of mankind; that our civil rights have no dependance on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry; and therefore the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust or emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injudiciously of those privileges and advantages to which, in common with his fellow-citizens, he has a natural right; that it tends also to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing with a monoploy of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess and conform to it; that though indeed these are criminals who do not withstand such temptation, yet neither are those innocent who lay the bait in their way; that the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous falacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty, because he being of course judge of that tendency will make his opinions the rule of judgment, and approve or condemn the sentiments of others only as they shall square with or suffer from his own; that it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order; and finally, that truth is great and will prevail if left to herself; that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons, free argument and debate; errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them.
We the General Assembly of Virginia do enact that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, or shall otherwise suffer, on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.
And though we well know that this Assembly, elected by the people for their ordinary purposes of legislation only, have no power to restrain the acts of succeeding Assemblies, constituted with powers equal to our own, and that therefore to declare this act to be irrevocable would be of no effect in law; yet we are free to declare, and do declare, that the rights hereby asserted are of the natural rights of mankind, and that if any act shall be hereafter passed to repeal the present or to narrow its operations, such act will be an infringement of natural right.
CORRESPONDENCE and MISCELLANEOUS WRITINGS
to general washington
Williamsburg, June 19th, 1779.
—I have the pleasure to enclose you the particulars of Colo. Clarke’s success against St. Vincenne as stated in his letter but lately received, the messenger with his first letter having been killed. I fear it will be impossible for Colo. Clarke to be so strengthened as to enable him to do what he desires. Indeed the express who brought this letter gives us reason to fear St. Vincenne is in danger from a large body of Indians collected to attack it and said when he came from Kaskaskias to be within 30 leagues of the place. I also enclose you a letter from Colo. Shelby stating the effect of his success against the seceding Cherokees and Chuccamogga. The damage done them was killing half a dozen, burning 11 Towns, 20,000 bushels of Corn collected probably to forward the expeditions which were to have been planned at the Council which was to meet Governor Hamilton at the mouth of Tenissee, and taking as many goods as sold for £25,000. I hope these two blows coming together and the depriving them of their head will in some measure effect the quiet of our frontiers this summer. We have intelligence also that Colo. Bowman from Kentucky is in the midst of the Shawnee county with 300 men & hope to hear a good account of him. The enclosed order being in its nature important and generally interesting, I think it proper to transmit it to you with the reasons supporting it. It will add much to our satisfaction to know it meets your approbation.
I have the honor to be with every sentiment of private respect & public gratitude, Sir, your most obedient & most hbl. servant.
P. S. The distance of our northern and western counties from the scene of Southern service and the necessity of strengthening our Western quarter have induced the Council to direct the new levies from the Counties of Yohogania, Ohio, Monongalia, Frederick Hampshire, Berkley, Rockingham and Greenbrier amounting to somewhat less than 300 men to enter into the 9th Regiment at Pittsburg. The aid they may give there will be so immediate & important and what they could do to the Southward would be so late as I hope will apologise for their interference.
to the president of congress (john jay)
Williamsburgh, June 19. 1779.
—Our delegates by the last post informed us that we might now obtain blank letters of marque for want of which our people have long & exceedingly suffered. I have taken the liberty therefore of desiring them to apply for fifty, & transmit them by a safe conveyance.
The inclosed order being in it’s nature important and generally interesting, I thought it my duty to lay it before Congress as early as possible, with the reasons supporting it; nothing doubting but it will meet with their approbation; it’s justice seems to have been confirmed by the general sense of the people here.
Before the receipt of your letter desiring a state to be made out of the ravages & enormities unjustifiable by the usage of civilized nations committed by the enemy on their late invasion near Portsmouth, I had taken measures for the same purpose meaning to transmit them to you. They are not yet returned to me. I have given the same orders with respect to their still later proceedings in the county of Northumberland.
Our trade has never been so distressed since the time of Lord Dunmore as it is at present by a parcel of trifling privateers under the countenance of two or three larger vessels who keep our little naval force from doing anything. The uniform train of events which during the whole course of this war we are to suppose has rendered it improper that the American fleet or any part of it should ever come to relieve or countenance the trade of certain places, while the same train of events has as uniformly rendered it proper to confine them to the protection of certain other parts of the continent is a lamentable arrangement of fortune for us. The same ill luck has attended us as to the disposition of the prizes taken by our navy, which tho’ sometimes taken just off our capes, it has always been expedient to carry elsewhere. A British prize would be a more rare phenomenon here than a comet, because the one has been seen, but the other never was. * * *
proclamation concerning escheats
Williamsburg, July 1, 1779.
By his Excellency Thomas Jefferson, esquire, Governor or Chief Magistrate of the Commonwealth of Virginia
Whereas the General Assembly, by their act passed at their last session, entitled “an act concerning escheats and forfeitures from British Subjects” did declare “that (1) all persons subjects of his Britannick majesty, who on the nineteenth day of April in the year 1775, when hostilities were commenced at Lexington, between the United States of America, and the other parts of the British empire, were resident, or following their vocations in any part of the world other than the said United States, and have not since either entered into public employment of the said states, or joined the same, and by overt act adhered to them; (2) all such subjects, inhabitants of the said United States, as were out of the said States on the same day and have since by overt act adhered to the enemies of the said states; and (3) all inhabitants of the said States, who after the same day, and before the commencement of the act of General Assembly in tituled, Act declaring what shall be treason,’ departed from the said States, and joined the Subjects of his Britannick Majesty of their own free will; or (4) who by any County Court, within this Commonwealth were declared to be British Subjects within the meaning and operation of the resolution of the General Assembly, of the 19th day of December, 1776, for enforcing the Statute Staple, should be deemed British Subjects,” and by their resolution of the twenty sixth day of the last month, they “required that all the persons so described, and now resident within this Commonwealth should be banished from the same, and the proper measures should be taken to prevent their return, as also to exclude thereout all others so described, and not now resident within this commonwealth” I have therefore thought fit, by and with the advice of the Council of State, to issue this my proclamation, hereby strictly charging and commanding all persons coming under any one of the descriptions in the said Act, and now being within this Commonwealth, to be, and appear before me in Council at Williamsburg, on or before the seventeenth day of August in this present year, in readiness to depart the Commonwealth in such manner as shall then be prescribed to them, as they will answer the contrary at their utmost peril: And I do moreover charge and enjoin all officers civil and military, and all other the good citizens of this Commonwealth, to apprehend and carry securely to the commanding officer of the militia of some county within this Commonwealth, all such persons, whom after the said day, they shall find lurking or being therein: And the commanding officers of the several counties are in like manner charged and required to receive the said persons, and all others so described, whom by the strictest diligence they shall be able to discover and take, to convey them in safe custody to the public jail in the city of Williamsburg, and to make report of such their proceedings to me. And I do further prohibit all persons so described from entering into this Commonwealth during the continuance of the present war with their prince, under colour of any commission, passport, licence, or other pretence whatsoever; and do publish and make known to such of them as shall presume to violate this prohibition, that they shall be deemed and dealt with as Spies, wheresoever they be taken.
Given at Williamsburg on the first day of July, in the Year of our Lord One thousand, seven hundred and seventy nine.
to general baron de riedesel
Forrest, July 4, 1779.
—Your kind letter of June 19 I received on the 2d inst. It is now some time since Colo. Bland wrote for leave to grant Permits to capt. Bartling & Lt. Campbell to come to the Argyle flag. Leave was immediately given by letter to Col. Bland. Sometime after I received another letter from him, accompanied with one from General Phillips informing me that Lt. Campbell was come as far as Richmond, & waited for a permit to proceed. A permit was instantly made out and dispatched. Capt. Bartling was not mentioned on that occasion & therefore no permit was made out for him. The 3d inst. was fixed for Lt. Campbell to be at the flag to do his business, and it was only on the day before that your letter came to me by post. I shall instantly write to capt. Bartling giving him license to proceed, if his business remains still to be done, by a conveyance which occurs tomorrow. I thought it necessary to give you this detail of circumstances that any delays which may happen might be ascribed to those accidents which may have caused them.
I thank you for your kind congratulations; tho’ condolations would be better suited to the occasion not only on account of the labours of the office to which I am called, and its withdrawing me from retirement, but also the loss of the agreeable society I have left of which Mad’me de Riedesel and yourself were an important part. Mrs. Jefferson in this particular sympathizes with me, and especially on her separation from Mad’me de Riedesel. We are told you set out for the Berkely springs about the middle of month. We fear that this excursion, necessary for your amusement to diversify the scenes of discomfort, may deprive us of the pleasure of seeing you when we come to Monticello the last of this month. We shall stay there about a month. Mrs. Jefferson joins me in compliments to yourself & Mad’me de Riedesel, I shall be able to execute her commission as to the spoons and bring them up with me.
to general washington
Wmsburg, July 17, 1779.
—I some time ago enclosed to you a printed Copy of an order of Council, by which Governor Hamilton was to be confined in Irons in close Jail. This has occasioned a letter from General Phillips of which the inclosed is a Copy. The General seems to suppose that a prisoner on capitulation cannot be put into close confinement tho’ his Capitulation shall not have provided against it. My idea was that all persons taken in war were to be deemed prisoners of war. That those who surrender on capitulation (or convention) are prisoners of war also, subject to the same treatment with those who surrender at discretion, except only so far as the terms of their capitulation or convention shall have guarded them. In the Capitulation of Governor Hamilton (a Copy of which I inclose) no stipulation is made as to the treatment of himself or those taken with him. The Governor, indeed when he signs, adds a flourish of reasons inducing him to capitulate, one of which is the generosity of his Enemy. Generosity on a large and comprehensive Scale seems to dictate the making a signal example of this gentleman; but waiving that, these are only private motives inducing him to surrender, and do not enter into the Contract of Colonel Clarke. I have the highest idea of the sacredness of those Contracts which take place between nation and nation at war, and would be the last on earth who should do anything in violation of them. I can find nothing in those Books usually recurred to as testimonials of the Laws & usages of nature and nations which convicts the opinions, I have above expressed, of error. Yet there may be such an usage as General Phillips seems to suppose, tho’ not taken notice of by these writers. I am obliged to trouble your Excellency on this occasion, by asking of you information on this point. There is no other person whose decision will so authoritatively decide this point in the public mind, and none with which I am disposed so implicitly to comply. If you shall be of opinion that the bare existence of a Capitulation in the case of Governor Hamilton privileges him from confinement, tho’ there be no article to that Effect in the capitulation, justice shall most assuredly be done him. The importance of this question in a public view, & my own anxiety under a charge of violation of national faith by the Executive of this Commonwealth will I hope apologise for my adding this to the many, many troubles with which I know you to be burthened. I have the honor to be with the most profound respect & esteem
Yr Excellency’s mo obedt & mo hble Servt.
P. S. I have just received a Letter from Colo. Bland containing information of numerous desertions from the Convention Troops (not less than 400 in the last fortnight). He thinks he has reason to believe it is with the connivance of some of their officers. Some of these have been taken, all of them going northwardly. They had armed themselves with forged passports, and with Certificates of having taken the oath of fidelity to the State; some of them forged, others really given by weak magistrates. I mention this to your Excellency as perhaps it may be in your power to have such of them intercepted as shall be passing through Pennsylvania & Jersey.
Your letter inclosing the opinion of the board of officers in the case between Allison & Lee is come safe to hand after a long passage. It shall be answered by next post.
to the governor of canada (sir guy carleton)
v. s. a.
Wmsburg, July 22d, 1779.
—Your letter on the subject of Lieutenant Governor Hamilton’s confinement came safely to hand. I shall with great cheerfulness explain to you the reasons on which the advice of Council was founded, since after the satisfaction of doing what is right, the greatest is that of having what we do approved by those whose opinions deserve esteem.
We think ourselves justified in Governor Hamilton’s strict confinement on the general principle of National retaliation. To state to you the particular facts of British cruelty to American prisoners, would be to give a melancholy history from the capture of Colo. Ethan Allen, at the beginning of the war to the present day, a history which I will avoid, as equally disagreeable to you and to me. I with pleasure do you the justice to say that I believe these facts to be very many unknown to you, as Canada has been the only scene of your service in America, and, in that quarter, we have reason to believe that Sir Guy Carleton, and the three officers commanding there, have treated our prisoners (since the instance of Colo. Allen) with considerable lenity. What has been done in England, and what in New York & Philadelphia, you are probably uninformed; as it would hardly be made the subject of epistolary correspondence. I will only observe to you, Sir, that the confinement and treatment of our officers, soldiers and seamen, have been so rigorous and cruel, as that a very great portion of the whole of those captured in the course of this war, & carried to Philadelphia while in possession of the British army and to New York, have perished miserably from that cause only; and that this fact is as well established with us, as any historical fact which has happened in the course of the war. A Gentleman of this Commonwealth in public office, and of known and established character, who was taken on the sea, carried to New York and exchanged, has given us lately a particular information of the treatment of our prisoners there. Officers taken by land, it seems, are permitted to go on parole within certain limits of Long Island, till suggestions shall be made to their prejudice by some Tory refugee, or other equally worthless person, when they are hurried to the Provot in New York, without enquiring “whether they be founded upon positive facts, be matter of hearsay, or taken from the reports of interested men.” The example of enquiring into the truth of charges of this nature according to legal principles of evidence, has surely not been set us by our enemies. We enquired what these Provots were and were told they were the common miserable jails, built for the confinement of malefactors. Officers and men taken by sea were kept in prison ships infe[sted] with [ ] ught on by the crowd [Parts of one line and all of another at bottom of the page lacking] from five to ten a day. When therefore we are desired to the possible consequence of treating prisoners with rigour, I need only ask when did those rigours begin? not with us assuredly. I think you, Sir, who have had as good opportunities as any British officer of learning in what manner we treat those whom the fortune of war has put in our hands can clear us from the charge of rigour as far as your knowledge or information has extended. I can assert that Governor Hamilton’s is the first instance which has occurred in my own country, and, if there has been another in any of the United States, it is unknown to me; these instances must have been extremely rare, if they have ever existed at all, or they could not have been altogether unheard of by me, when a uniform exercise of kindness to prisoners on our part has been returned by as uniform severity on the part of our enemies. You must excuse me for saying it is high time, by other lessons, to teach respect to the dictates of humanity, in such a case retaliation becomes an act of humanity.
But suppose, Sir, we were willing still longer to decline the drudgery of general retaliation, yet Governor Hamilton’s conduct has been such as to call for exemplary punishment on him personally. In saying this I have not so much in view his particular cruelties to our Citizens, prisoners with him (which tho’ they have been great, were of necessity confined to a small scale) as the general nature of the service he undertook at Detroit and the extensive exercise of cruelties which they involved. Those who act together in war are answerable for each other. No distinction can be made between principal and ally by those against whom the war is waged. He who employs another to do a deed makes the deed his own. If he calls in the hand of the assassin or murderer, himself becomes the assassin or murderer. The known rule of warfare of the Indian Savages is an indiscriminate butchery of men, women & children. These savages, under this well known character, are employed by the British Nation as allies in the war against the Americans. Governor Hamilton undertakes to be the conductor of the war. In the execution of that undertaking, he associates small parties of the whites under his immediate command with large parties of the savages, and sends them to act, sometimes jointly, and sometimes separately, not against our forts or Armies in the Field, but the farming settlements on our frontiers. Governor Hamilton is himself the butcher of men, women & children. I will not say to what length the fair rules of war would extend the right of punishment against him; but I am sure that confinement under its strictest circumstances, for Indian devastation and massacre must be deemed lenity. I apprehend you had not sufficiently adverted to the expression in the advice of the Council when you suppose the proclamation there alluded to, to be the one addressed to the Inhabitants of the Illinois afterwards printed in the public papers & to be affirmed to contain ’denun [Two lines at bottom of page gone.] ians’ Proclamation, there alluded to, contained nothing more than an invitation to our officers and soldiers to join British arms against those whom he is pleased to call Rebels and Traitors. In order to introduce these among our people, they were put into the hands of the Indians; and in every house, where they murdered or carried away the family, they left one of these proclamations, some of them were found sticking on the breasts of the persons murdered, one under the hand & seal of Governor Hamilton came to our hands. The Indians being the bearers of proclamations under the hand and seal of Governor Hamilton (no matter what was the subject of them) there can be no doubt they were acting under his direction, and, as including this proof, the fact was cited in the advice of the Council. But if you will be so good as to recur to the address of the Illinois, which you refer to, you will find that, tho’ it does not in express terms threaten vengeance, blood & massacre, yet it proves that the Governor had made for us the most ample provision of all these Calamities. He there gives in detail the horrid catalogue of savage nations, extending from South to North whom he had leagued with himself to wage combined war on our frontiers; and it is well known that that war would of course be made up of blood and general Massacres of men, women and children. Other papers of Governor Hamilton’s have come to our hands containing instructions to officers going out with scalping parties of Indians & Whites, and proving that kind of war was waged under his express orders; further proofs in abundance might be adduced, but I suppose the fact is too notorious to need them.
Your letter seems to admit an inference that, whatever may have been the general conduct of our enemies towards their prisoners, or whatever the personal conduct of Governor Hamilton, yet, as a prisoner by capitulation, you consider him as privileged from strict confinement. I do not pretend to an intimate knowledge of this subject. My idea is that the term “prisoners of war” is a generic one, the specification of which is—1st Prisoner at discretion; & 2d prisoners on convention or capitulation. Thus in the debate of the house of Commons of the 27th November last, on the address, the minister, speaking of General Burgoyne (and in his presence) says he is “a prisoner,” and General Burgoyne calls himself “a prisoner under the terms of the Convention of Saratoga,” intimating that tho’ a prisoner, he is a prisoner of a particular species entitled to certain terms. The treatment of the first class ought to be such as to be approved by the usage of polished nations; gentle and humain unless a contrary conduct in an enemy or individual, render a stricter treatment necessary. The prisoners of the 2d Class have nothing to exempt them from a like treatment with those of the first except so far as they shall have been able to make better terms by articles of Capitulation. So far then as these shall have provided for an exemption from strict treatment so prisoners on Capitulation have a right to be distinguished from those at discretion. [Two lines at bottom of the page gone.] certain causes antecedent thereto, tho’ such instances might be produced, from English history too, and in one case where the King himself commanded in person. Marshal Boufflers after the taking of the castle Namur was arrested and detained prisoner of war by King William tho’ by an article of capitulation it was stipulated that the officers and soldiers of the garrison in general, and Marshal Boufflers by name should be at Liberty. However we waive reasoning on this head because no article in the Capitulation of Governor Hamilton is violated by his confinement. Perhaps not having seen the Capitulation, you were led to suppose it a thing of course that being able to obtain terms of surrender, they would first provide for their own treatment. I enclose you a copy of the Capitulation, by which you will see that 2d Article declares them prisoners of war; and nothing is said as to the treatment they were to be entitled to. When Governor Hamilton signs indeed he adds a flourish, containing the motives inducing him to capitulate, one of which was confidence in a generous enemy. He should have reflected that generosity on a large scale would take side against him. However these were only his private motives and did not enter into the contract with Colo. Clarke. Being prisoners of war then, with only such privileges as their Capitulation had provided, and that having provided nothing on the subject of their treatment, they are liable to be treated as other prisoners. We have not extended our order, as we might justifiably have done to the whole of this corps. Governor Hamilton & Capn. Lamothe alone, as leading offenders, are in confinement. The other officers and men are treated as if they had been taken in justifiable war; the officers being at large on their parole, and the men also having their liberty to a certain extent. Dejean was not included in the Capitulation, being taken 8 days after on the Wabache 150 miles from St. Vincennes.
I hope, Sir, that being made more fully acquainted with the facts on which the advice of Council was grounded, and exercising your own good sense in cool and candid deliberation on these facts, and the consequences deducible from them according to the usages and sentiments of civilized nations, you will see the transaction in a very different light from that in which it appeared at the time of writing your Letter, and ascribe the advice of the Council, not to want of attention to the sacred nature of public conventions, of which I hope we shall never, in any circumstances, lose sight, but to a desire of stopping the effusion of ye unoffending blood of women and children, and the unjustifiable severities exercised on our captive officers and soldiers in general, by proper severities on our part. I have the honor to be with much personal respect, Sir, your most obt & most hmble Servt.
to col. william fleming
Albemarle, Aug. 7, 1779.
—The enclosed order will explain to you the general plan adopted for regimenting, officering & stationing the two Western battalions. We are in hopes you will so far proceed in concert with the other commissioners as that the chain of posts to be recommended may form a complete Western defence, leaving no chasm in the middle. We wish you, when you report the stations proposed, to advise us also to what particular station it will be best for the men of each county respectively to go. As it will not be long before the men ought to be raised according to the directions of the law, and it will be proper for the Executive to pay immediate attention to the procuring arms and camp utensils for them. I should therefore be glad if you will be so good as to lay before them a state of the arms in your possession or at any other convenient station: also for your opinion what proportion of the men should be furnished with rifles, where rifles are to be had and on what terms.
to the county lieutenant of hampshire
August 17, 1779.
—You are desired to call together your Field Officers and in conjunction with them to recommend to the Executive a Captain and Lieutenant to take command in one of the battalions to be raised for the defence of the Western frontier, under an act of the late Assembly entitled an act for raising a body of troops for the defence of the Commonwealth. The men to be raised in your County under the same act, and the Officers to be recommended by you, are to hold themselves in readiness on the shortest warning to proceed to such Western rendezvous as shall be notified to them by the Executive or the Field Officer who shall be directed to take command of them.
Be pleased to transmit your recommendations to the Executive in Williamsburgh by the earliest opportunity you can, and also to report to them from time to time your progress in raising your men.
to the president of congress (john jay)
Williamsburg, Sept. 25, 1779.
—The various calamities which during the present year have befallen our crops of wheat, have reduced them so very low as to leave us little more than seed for the ensuing year, were it to be solely applied to that purpose. This country is therefore unable to furnish the necessary supplies of flour for the convention troops, without lessening, by so much as should be purchased, the sowing for another crop. I am therefore to submit to you, Sir, the expediency of ordering your Commissary general to send supplies of this article from the head of Elk or wherever else you may think best, to Richmond. Colo. Aylett informs us they will require about ten thousand barrels for a year’s supply. We hope there will be a plenty of forage and of all other articles, necessary for their subsistence, raised within this State.
to general washington
Williamsburg, Oct. 1, 1779.
—On receipt of your letter of August 6th. during my absence the Council had the irons taken off the prisoners of war. When your advice was asked we meant it should decide with us; and upon my return to Williamsburg the matter was taken up and the enclosed advice given. A parole was formed of which the enclosed is a copy and tendered to the prisoners. They objected to that part of it which restrained them from saying anything to the prejudice of the United States and insisted on “freedom of speech.” They were in consequence remanded to their confinement in the jail which must be considered as a voluntary one until they can determine with themselves to be inoffensive in word as well as deed. A flag sails hence to-morrow to New York to negotiate the exchange of some prisoners. By her I have written to Genl. Phillips on this subject & enclosed to him copies of the within; intending it as an answer to a letter I received from him on the subject of Governor Hamilton. I have the honor to be Sir.
to general washington
Williamsburg, Oct. 2, 1779.
—Just as the letter accompanying this was going off Col. Mathews arrived on parole from New York by the way of headquarters bringing your Excellency’s letter on his subject, with that of the British commissary of prisoners. The subject is of great importance & I must therefore reserve myself to answer after further consideration. Were I to speak from present impressions I should say it was happy for Governor Hamilton that a final determination of his fate was formed before this new information. As the enemy have released Capt. Willing from his irons the Executive of this State will be induced perhaps not to alter their former opinion. But it is impossible they can be serious in attempting to bully us in this manner. We have too many of their subjects in our power & too much iron to clothe them with & I will add too much resolution to avail ourselves of both to fear their pretended retaliation. However I will do myself the honor of forwarding to your Excellency the ultimate result of council on this subject.
In consequence of the information in the letter from the British commissary of prisoners that no officers of the Virginia line should be exchanged till Governor Hamiltons affair should be settled we have stopped our flag which was just hoisting anchor with a load of privates for N. York. I must therefore ask the favor of your Excellency to forward the enclosed by flag when an opportunity offers as I suppose Genl. Phillips will be in N. York before it reaches you. I have the honor to be Sir with the greatest esteem.
to general washington
In Council, Oct. 8, 1779.
—In mine of the second of the present month written on the instant of Colo. Mathews delivery of your letter I informed you what had been done on the subject of Governor Hamilton & his companions previous to that moment. I now enclose you an advice of Council in consequence of the letter you were pleased to enclose me from the British commissary of prisoners with one from Lord Rawdon also a copy of my letter to Colo. Mathews enclosing also the papers therein named. The advice of Council to allow the enlargement of prisoners on their giving a proper parole has not been recalled nor will be I suppose unless something on the part of the enemy should render it necessary. I rather expect however that they will see it their interest to discontinue this kind of conduct. I am afraid I shall hereafter perhaps be obliged to give your Excellency some trouble in aiding me to obtain information of the future usage of our prisoners. I shall give immediate orders for having in readiness every engine which the Enemy have contrived for the destruction of our unhappy citizens captivated by them. The presentiment of these operations is shocking beyond expression. I pray heaven to avert them: but nothing in this world will do it but a proper conduct in the Enemy. In every event I shall resign myself to the hard necessity under which I shall act.
to colonel george mathews
In Council, Oct. 8, 1779.
—The proceedings respecting Governor Hamilton & his companions previous to your arrival here, you are acquainted with. For your more precise information, I enclose you the advice of Council of June the 16th, of that of August the 28th, another of Sep. 19th, of the parole tendered them the 1st instant and of Governor Hamilton’s letter of the same day stating his objections in which he persevered: from that time his confinement has become a voluntary one. You delivered us your letters the next day when the post being just setting out much business prevented the Council from taking them into consideration. They have this day attended to them and found their resolution expressed in the enclosed advice bearing date this day. It gives us great pain that any of our countrymen should be cut off from the society of their friends & tenderest connections while it seems as if it was in our power to administer relief. But we trust to their good sense for discerning & their spirit for bearing up against the fallacy of this appearance. Governor Hamilton and his companions were imprisoned & ironed. 1st. In retaliation for cruel treatment of our captive citizens by the enemy in general. 2d. For the barbarous species of warfare which himself & his savage allies carried on in our western frontier. 3d. For particular acts of barbarity of which he himself was personally guilty to some of our citizens in his power. Any one of these charges was sufficient to justify the measures we took. Of the truth of the first yourselves are witnesses. Your situation indeed seems to have been better since you were sent to New York, but reflect on what you suffered before that & knew others of your countrymen to suffer & what you know is now suffered by that more unhappy part of them who are still confined on board the prison ships of the enemy. Proofs of the second charge we have under Hamilton’s own hand: And of the third as sacred assurances as human testimony is capable of giving. Humane conduct on our part was found to produce no effect: the contrary therefore was to be tried: If it produces a proper lenity to our citizens in captivity it will have the effect we meant: if it does not we shall return a severity as terrible as universal. If the causes or our rigour against Hamilton were founded in truth that rigour was just & would not give right to the Enemy to commence any new hostilities on their part; and all such new severities are to be considered, not as retaliation but as original and unprovoked. If those causes were not founded in truth they should have denied them. If declining the tribunal of truth & reason they chuse to pervert this into a contest of cruelty and destruction we will contend with them in that line, & measure out misery to those in our power in that multiplied proportion which the advantage of superior numbers enables us to do. We shall think it our particular duty after the information we gather from the papers which have been laid before us to pay very constant attention to your situation & that of your fellow prisoners. We hope that the prudence of the Enemy will be your protection from injury, & we are assured that your regard for the honour of your country would not permit you to wish we should suffer ourselves to be bullied into an acquiescence under every insult & cruelty they may chuse to practice, & a fear to retaliate lest you should be made to experience additional sufferings. Their officers & soldiers in our hands are pledges for your safety: we are determined to use them as such. Iron will be retaliated by iron but a great multiplication on distinguished objects; prison ships by prison ships, and like for like in general. I do not mean by this to cover any officer who has acted or shall act improperly. They say Capt. Willing was guilty of great cruelties at the Natches: if so they do right in punishing him. I would use any powers I have for the punishment of any officer of our own who should be guilty of excesses unjustifiable under the usages of civilized nations. However I do not find myself obliged to believe the charge against Capt. Willing to be true on the affirmation of the British commissary because in the next breath he affirms no cruelties have as yet been inflicted on him. Capt. Willing has been in irons.
I beg you to be assured there is nothing consistent with the honor of your country which we shall not at all times be ready to do for the relief of yourself & companions in captivity. We know that ardent spirit and hatred for tyranny which brought you into your present situation will enable you to bear up against it with the firmness which has distinguished you as a soldier, and to look forward with pleasure to the day when events shall take place against which the wounded spirits of your Enemies will find no comfort even from reflections on the most refined of the cruelties with which they have glutted themselves.
to the speaker of the house of delegates (benjamin harrison)
v. s. a.
In Council, Oct. 22d, 1779.
—Since the date of my former letter to you, I have recd. the inclosed resolutions of Congress containing a requisition of additional supplies of money. The General Assembly in considering this subject will naturally cast their eyes on the funds already provided for the Supply of their public treasury. As a principal branch of these was in some degree under the care and direction of the executive, I mean the proceeds of the estates of British subjects, it becomes my duty to guard the assembly against relying in their calculations for any great & immediate supplies from hence. Facts have come to our notice which give great reason to believe that the transverse & other pleadings justly allowed by the law for saving the rights of those who have real or probable appearance of right is perverted to frustrate or delay its effects, by being put in on grounds either frivolous or false and by that means throwing the subject into a course of legal contestation which under the load of business now on the docquet of the general Court, may not be terminated in the present age. In one instance we are certified by the clerk of the general Court that the estate is claimed by the steward; tho’ this very man undertook to act as Commissioner of the estate under the sequestration law by our appointment, and has himself personally rendered annual accounts to us of the proceeds of the estate as the estate of a British subject. Yet his claim palpably false as it is, in order to obtain the ceremony of being adjudged so, is to go through all the formalities of regular litigation before the estate can be exposed to sale. Perhaps the aids expected from this law might still be obtained however, and as perfect justice done to every individual by a legislative provision for determining these pleadings in a speedy way. I thought it my duty to guard the general assembly against any deception in their expectations from these funds, that no disappointments may accrue in the measures they shall be pleased to adopt.
While on the subject of Continental demands for supplies from this State I am to inform you, sir, of an unfortunate delay in the settlement of the Continental accounts. Immediately on the rising of the general assembly the Executive proceeded without intermission to put into a course of execution the several things made incumbent on them, it was the 17th July before, according to their arrangements, they could proceed to appoint a Commissioner to settle the Continental account. They then appointed a gentleman fully qualified in every point of view to discharge this duty perfectly. His first letter, dated three days after the appointment, gave reason to hope he would undertake the charge. Ill health however and other subsequent circumstances obliged him to decline, and the letter notifying that did not come to hand till the 10th of the last month. Since this no person has been found competent to the business & willing to undertake it. We are in hopes that the more extensive acquaintance of the members of General assembly may enable them to appoint a person equal to this very difficult business.
A book of military institutions written by Major General Steuben and recommended for general use by Congress has been transmitted to me. I take the liberty of depositing it with the general assembly as on future revisions of their militia laws they may be able perhaps to extract some useful matters from it. Or it may be thought worth printing & dispersing among the officers of ye militia.
to the speaker of the house of delegates (benjamin harrison)
v. s. a.
In Council, Oct. 29, 1779.
—The Executive in the Month of March 1778, in order to secure the acquisition & proper choice of a supply of Arms, Ordnance & Military implements sent a Mr. Le Mair of the Kingdom of France their Agent express for that purpose to Europe. He executed his commission with a zeal and assiduity which we have rarely met with, having traversed for fourteen months those parts of Europe backwards & forwards where there was a hope of getting the articles wanted, and after eighteen months’ absence returned himself in the last of three Vessels which he charged with ordnance and other necessities. His reasonable expenses we mean to pay and were about making him a proper pecuniary compensation for his time and great labour but he prays rather to be rewarded with military rank unattended by either pay or command; expecting to reap greater benefit from this in his own Country to which he is about to return. The Executive apprehending they have no authority to grant brevet commissions, refer to the general assembly the expedience of authorizing them to give to this gentleman a Lieutenant Colonel’s commission by way of brevet. They shall not indeed then think themselves discharged from making him some pecuniary compensation tho’ a much smaller may be given than they had before proposed.
to the speaker of the house of delegates (benjamin harrison)
v. s. a.
In Council, Oct. 30th, 1779.
—In pursuance of a resolution of the last session of General assembly the Executive proceeded to form a contract with Messrs. Penet Windel & Co. for the establishment of a manufactury of fire arms & foundery of ordnance on James river and for extending navigation through its falls. The several preliminary papers which passed between them are now transmitted to the general assembly that they may be enabled to judge of the obstacles the executive had to encounter, and to see the reasons explained which led them to the several conclusions. These articles also, as ultimately concluded, accompany this, together with a subsequent letter from Mr. Penet and memorial from Mr. Savarit desiring some alterations in two of the articles.
The several objects of this contract must be admitted of the last importance: The depending on the transportation of arms across an element on which our enemies have reigned, for the defence of our own country, has been already found insecure & distressing. The endeavours of five years aided with some internal manufacturers have not yet found a tolerable supply of arms. To make them within ourselves then as well as the other implements of war, is as necessary as to make our bread within ourselves. The present contract seems really to afford a promising appearance of future supply. Should these articles meet with ratification from the general assembly, I must still inform them that obstacles are likely to arise, of a very perplexing nature, from an unlucky connection of the public with a certain Mr. Ballendine who has entangled himself into every part of the subjects of this contract. Some of his rights are real; some only pretended. Unless they can be cleared away by legislation in a speedy mode, liberal compensation being first allowed him for such of them as shall be found just, the length of time which would be required to follow him through Courts of Justice in the ordinary course of proceedings, will defeat every hope which might be entertained from this Contract. The duty imposed upon the executive by the resolution of assembly led them necessarily to an investigation of this man’s rights & pretensions. That the assembly may have proper lights to conduct their enquiries I will analyse his claims as they have appeared to us. They refer to three several subjects, which I will endeavour to keep distinct, to avoid that confusion they might otherwise throw on one another. 1. To the furnace in Buckingham. 2. To the Foundary at Westham. 3. To the construction of a navigable Canal at the falls of James river.
1. Mr. Ballendine with a partner Mr. Reveley received by order from the assembly £5000 in the year 1776 for the purpose of erecting a furnace in Buckingham & stipulated to repay it in pigiron at seven pounds ten shillings the ton, which in fact amounted to a contract to pay the public 666⅔ tons of pigiron. In December 1777 he received a further sum of £2500. In May 1778 he petitioned the assembly to release him from the obligation of paying his Debt in iron at £7.10/ the ton, and to take it at the Market price at the time of delivery of the iron, the assembly agreed that he should be allowed more than £7,10. but not the market price at the time of delivery, thus signifying their sense that there was some intermediate ground on which they meant to take their stand, but not pointing out what that was. This led us to suppose that the Market price of iron at the time of the paiment of the money to Ballendine might be what the assembly had probably in view. On settlement of his several accounts with the Commissioners whom we appointed according to the resolution of assembly for that purpose & whose report is transmitted herewith, there arose on one of them a balance in his favor for part of T C qr/3 10 2 of pigiron delivered. The Commissioners had extended it in money at £30. the ton, and transferred the balance of £42-5 which that produced to the Credit of his account for the £5000. or 666⅔ tons of iron. We think they should have credited so much of the T C qr/3 10 2 of iron at £30 as would have balanced that account and transferred the residue, in iron, to the credit of his debt due in iron. This error would have been too trivial to have noted to you Sir, but as it tended to induce a false principle into the account, & to prevent us from informing you precisely that of the 666⅔ tons due to the public for the £5000. there has been paid only T C/1 3′, and nothing paid towards discharging the additional £2500. To secure these balances the lands in which the money was invested were conveyed to the trustees themselves, but under an implied trust, that on payment of the debt conveyances should be made to Ballendine and Reveley: so that it is apprehended that they amount in fact to nothing more than mortgages There is little hope that the balance will ever be paid; an opportunity now occurs not only of making the securities produce to the public the real worth of what was advanced on them, but also of producing it in arms & implements of war, the very articles originally proposed to be obtained by it, and which of all others are most immediately essential to the public safety. But a bill for foreclosing the trust to pass through the usual forms of proceedings in a Court of Chancery will hardly bring us relief till I hope we shall not need it.
2. The general assembly in May 1776 having determined to erect a foundry at Westham for casting ordnance appointed Commissioners for that purpose. For the sum of £242.10, which they paid Mr. Ballendine they purchased from him for situating the foundry three acres & an half of land adjacent to a Canal he was opening from Westham, and a right to deduce water from the Canal for turning a boring mill & other works necessary for finishing the Cannon—They were also to have free navigation down the canal to the foundry on contributing one moeity to the repairs of that part of the Canal, after it should have been once completed, as he bound himself to compleat it. They erected their foundery and found it necessary to make advances of money to Ballendine to enable him to complete his Canal & dam on which alone they depended for water. The balance due the Commonwealth on these advances is £2051-2-5½ as appears by one of the accounts transmitted herewith: for securing which payments a mortgage had been taken on 46½ acres of land, the whole of the real property of the said Ballendine at that place, so that the public possessions & interests at this place are the 3½ acres of land with the foundry on it, a right to draw off water for working their machines for completing the Cannon, a common in the navigation, paying one half the expense of keeping that part of the Canal in repair, & a mortgage on 46½ acres of land for securing the payment of £2051-2-5½. But for the state of Mr. Ballendines Dam & Canal & the prospect of obtaining water as long as he is to be depended on for it, I beg leave to refer you to the report of the same commissioners.
3. The extending navigation from Westham to Richmond, besides its other very general importance, being extremely requisite to promote the success of the proposed manufactory by reducing the difficulty & expence attending the transportation of the bulky articles of Coal, wood & other things necessary to be expended on it, and its own very weighty produce, we were led to inquire by what means Mr. Ballendine had got foothold there and on what pretensions he founds a right of constructing the navigable canal. In 1764 the assembly passed an act authorising the opening the falls of James river by subscription of money from individuals and appointing Trustees to take such subscriptions. Some persons accordingly subscribed, but no appearance of the arising of the works, being ever compleated in this way, the assembly after waiting 8 years, to wit, in 1772, passed another act for putting the business into a different train. They directed that as soon as the former & subsequent subscribers or a majority of them should think a sufficient sum raised any ten of them, being subscribers of £100 each at last, might appoint a general meeting at which a president & 11 directors should be elected, who should have power to agree with an undertaker to cut the canal proposed, provided such undertaker should first give sufficient security to perform his agreement: they gave to the adventurers authority to carry the canal through any persons lands, paying the worth of them, allowed them certain tolls, and pointed out the precise mode in which they might transfer their shares in the undertaking, to wit, by deed executed by the president, the subscriber having first tendered his share to the directors who were to have the refusal at the same price: very considerable sums were engaged under this act: but there never was a meeting of the subscribers to elect a president & Directors, nor an undertaker employed. While this was in agitation Mr. Ballendine proposing to clear the falls of James river & the falls of Potowmack, set on foot subscriptions for enabling him to go to England to learn how to do it. Great sums were subscribed, he went, returned & brought some workmen. He purchased at the head of the falls of James river the 50 acres of land, three & a half of which were conveyed as before mentioned to the public for the foundery, and the other 46½ mortgaged to them. He opened a Canal through this land and then of his own authority, without any act of assembly or even an order of Court, as we are told, he made a dam across an arm of James river & drew off 50 feet width of water along his canal. In November 1777 by Petition to the assembly he informs them that the subscribers under the last act of assembly had transferred their interests to him, that he had made considerable progress in the Canal & should finish it if he met with no interruption from those through whose lands it must pass & prays an act might pass vesting him with the former subscribers. Had the allegation in his petition been true, that the former subscribers had transferred their interests to him, such an act would have been unnecessary, because he would have stood on their footing; but it could not be true, because the transfer being to be executed by the president after a tender & refusal of the share to the Company, & no president having ever been elected, there could have been no such transfer to him as he alleged. I have been thus particular, Sir, in order to show you that Mr. Ballendine has no legal right to the conducting the Canal which can stand in the way of the present Contract. He has an equity of redemption in the 46½ acres of land before mentioned, and so far stands on the footing of every other landholder through whose lands the Canall must pass. He prayed earnestly that their rights might be sacrificed to him, on his paying them the value: can he then with modesty now say that his rights shall not be sacrificed to others, paying him the value of the injury done him? It is now four years since he begun his Canal; he has conducted it about one twentieth part of the whole distance: and this too while his workmen were with him, & his means, if he had any, were fresh.
A very simple calculation then will inform us, that, in his hands the completion of this Work will require near a century, and then a question arises whether Mr. Ballendine will live so long. I think we may fairly conclude that he will never complete it. It is right that in cases of such general importance, the interests of a few individuals should give way to the general good, full compensation being made them; and as right that Mr. Ballendine’s should, as those of the others whose Lands were to have been laid open to him. He has had a long enough trial to convince the whole world he never will complete it. Other Gentlemen now offer to do it within a reasonable term. As the assembly then after an eight years trial & failure of the act of 1764 made another experiment in 1772 it seems reasonable, after other seven years patience, to try yet other means. It is possible the present undertakers may not find it necessary to make use of Mr. Ballendine’s Canal at all, but may take out the water elsewhere. But should they find that it can be taken off no where else, it is submitted to the assembly, whether his having dug a Canal along grounds thro’ which the navigable canal must necessarily pass, shall privilege those grounds, more than the meadows & grounds of others are privileged, and for ever obstruct the opening that river, and whether there can be any sound objection to the having in his case, as well as in those of others, a just valuation made of ye injury he will sustain by the use which shall be made of his Canal, and after withholding the £2501.2.5½ due from him to the public, on that particular account, to pay him the balance if the injury shall be found to exceed that sum.
In stating to you the several obstacles which oppose themselves to the execution of the resolution of assembly, I have been necessarily led to mention circumstances which are to be found among your own journals & acts, & of which therefore you had knowledge before. They were necessary to continue the thread of the relation so as to render it intelligible, and are desired to be considered only as references to your own Records for more authentic and precise information.
to the french minister (chevalier de la luzerne)
In Council, Nov. 10, 1779.
—In compliance with the request which you were pleased to lay before us, I am now to authorize the forces of his most Christian majesty to land in such place, and his vessels to withdraw into such harbors of this Commonwealth as the Admiral or other Commanding Officer shall think proper, and to procure houses for the purpose of hospitals. In determining on the place of his debarkation & encampment, he will be pleased to follow his own judgment; receiving from us his information that the farther he can withdraw his vessels up our rivers into the country, the more it would be in our power to assist in defending them against any attack from the enemy.
York river according to our present idea would offer itself as the most defencible, but in this, &c., the board of war will issue orders for their immediate supply of provisions from our magazines, and will aid them with such of our vessels as may be necessary for procuring further supplies and landing their sick & other purposes.
These general resources seem to be all we can take for their present relief, till their wants shall be more particularly laid before us. We beg leave to take this early occasion to assure you that we shall receive into our state the forces of his most Christian majesty with the utmost cordiality and spare nothing which shall be within our power to aid and accomodate them in whatever situation they shall choose.
But in this or any other we greatly apprehend the difficulties and distresses which may arise from the want of proper houses for hospitals.
I shall take great pleasure in showing on every occasion which shall occur, my personal gratitude and affection to your nation, and the particular esteem with which I am, Sir,
Your most obedient and most humble ser’t.
to the governor of north carolina (richard caswell)
Wms.burg, November 11, 1779.
—I have lately received Messages and information from the Cherokee nation of Indians, painting their nakedness and general distress for want of European Goods, so strongly as to call for pity and all possible relief. Their several Settlements being contiguous to the two Carolinas & to Virginia they have at times received Supplies I believe from each of these States. Their great numbers however & the extent of their Settlements, when taken into view by any one of our States, bear a discourageing proportion to the moderate aids we can singly furnish and render a general distribution of them very troublesome. These considerations have induced me to take the Liberty of submitting to your Excellency a proposition (as I do to Governor Rutledge also by a letter of this day’s date) to divide the trouble and task of supplying them among our three States.
The division of those Indians into Southern, Middle & Northern Settlements, renders the apportionment of them obvious. The protecting from intrusion the lands of the Southern Cherokees & furnishing them with Goods seems most convenient to South Carolina, the same friendly offices to the Middle settlements seem most within your power & the Northern Settlements are most convenient to us. The attachment which each settlement will by these means acquire to the particular State which is it’s immediate patron and benefactor, will be a bond of peace, and will lead to a separation of that powerfull people. If this distribution should happily meet the approbation of your Excellency & of Governor Rutledge, we shall do every thing in our power for discharging our Duties to the Northern settlement. Knowing your disposition to have these people protected in the possession of their unpurchased lands, I also take the liberty of mentioning to you that the old Tassel in a late Message to me complains of intrusions on their lands, and particularly of some attempts to take from them the great island. This, by the late extension of our boundary, falling, as I understand, within your State, removes the application for protection to your Excellency, whose power alone can extend to the removal of intrusions from thence. As to so much of their lands as lie within our latitudes, as well as the lands of other Indians generally, our assembly now sitting has in contemplation to authorise the Executive to send patrols of the military through them from time to time to destroy the habitations which shall be erected in them by intruders. The bearer of this Letter is a Major Martin, our agent residing with the Cherokees who will be able to inform your Excellency of any particulars you may wish to learn. We have reason to believe him a good kind of man & worthy of credit. In tending to fix a post and small Garrison in Powell’s valley, we have ordered part of a battalion thither to erect a stockade. But as it would be proper for them first to assemble together (being not yet embodied) at a nearer Station, and there being a fort and houses at the great island, we have taken the liberty of appointing their rendezvous at that fort, till there shall be so many embodied as may proceed with safety to Powell’s valley. We have reason to expect that their stay at that place will be very short and hope it will not be disagreeable to your Excellency. The necessity of immediate orders, put it out of our power to apply for your previous approbation: We consider the measure still however subject to your pleasure and therefore take this early opportunity of acquainting you with it.
to the president of congress (samuel huntington)
Wmsburg, Novr. 16th, 1779.
—Colo. Bland being about to retire from his Command at the Barracks in Albemarle, and desirous to withdraw at the same time the party of his horse which has hitherto been stationed there, wished that we should supply their place by sending thither about twenty or five and twenty of the horse of this State. Our horse being as yet not very well trained, the officers represented that it would much impede that work, and leave the remaining fragment in a very awkward situation should we divide a troop. We have therefore ordered a complete troop to that station; but wish Congress would be pleased to notify as soon as convenient whether they approve of this or not.
We have hitherto been unable to raise more than about the half of a Battalion of infantry for guarding the Convention Troops at the same Post. The deficiencies have been endeavoured to be supplied with Militia. Congress have had too much experience of the radical defects and inconveniences of militia service to need my enumerating them. Our assembly now sitting, have in contemplation to put the garrison regiment on such a footing as gives us hopes of filling it by the next summer. In the meantime a Battalion which we are raising for our immediate defence may be spared to do garrison duty this winter, and as but a small part of it is raised, as yet, and not probable that it will be completed within any short time, we suppose that with Colo. Taylor’s regiment it will not exceed the number required to guard the Troops.
I would observe to you that the Captains and Subalterns of this new Battalion are not to be called into service but as their men are raised; so that the burthen which has sometimes been incurred of paying officers without men need not be apprehended in this instance. We have therefore Ordered this Battalion to rendezvous at the Barracks and do duty there this winter; and that the Battalion should be discharged in proportion as these come in, on this measure also we ask the pleasure of Congress.
The appointment of a successor to Colo. Bland will give us great satisfaction and we hope Congress will take it into early consideration. The duties of that post call for respectable Abilities and an uncommon vigilance and firmness of character.
to general washington
Williamsburg, Nov. 20, 1779.
—Your Excellency’s letter on the discriminations which have been heretofore made between the troops raised within this state and considered as part of our quota, & those not so considered, was delivered me four days ago. I immediately laid it before the Assembly, who thereupon came to the resolution I now do myself the honor of enclosing you. The resolution of Congress of Mar. 15. 1779 which you were so kind as to inclose was never known in this state till a few weeks ago when we received printed copies of the journals of Congress. It would be a great satisfaction to us to receive an exact return of all the men we have in Continental service who come within the descriptions of the resolution, together with our state troops in Continental service. Colo. Cabell was so kind as to send me a return of Octob. 1779. of the Continental regiments commanded by Lord Sterling, of the 1st & 2d Virginia state regiments, and of Colo. Gist’s regiment. Besides these are the following viz., Colonel Harrison’s regiment of artillery, Colonel’s Baylor’s horse, Colonel Bland’s horse, General Scott’s new levies, part of which are gone to Carolina, and part are here, Colonel Gibson’s regiment stationed on the Ohio, Heath and O’Hara’s independent companies at the same stations, Colonel Taylor’s regiment of guards to the Convention troops: of these, we have a return.
There may possibly be others not occurring to me. A return of all these would enable us to see what proportion of the Continental army is contributed by us. We have at present very pressing calls to send additional numbers of men to the Southward. No inclination is wanting in either the legislature or Executive powers to aid them or to strengthen you: but we find it difficult to procure men. I herewith transmit to your Excellency some recruiting commissions to be put into such hands as you may think proper for re-enlisting such of our soaldiery as are not engaged already for the war. The act of assembly authorizing these instructions requires that the men enlisting should be reviewed & received by an officer to be appointed for that purpose; a caution less necessary in the case of men now actually in service, & therefore doubtless able bodied, than in the raising new recruits. The direction however goes to all cases, and therefore we must trouble your Excellency with the appointment of one or more officers of review. Mr. Moss our agent receives orders, which accompany this, to pay the bounty money & recruiting money, & to deliver the clothing. We have however certain reason to fear he has not any great sum of money on hand: and it is absolutely out of our power at this time to supply him, or to say with certainty when we shall be able to do it. He is instructed to note his acceptances under the draughts and to assure payment as soon as we shall have it in our power to furnish him, as the only substitute for money. Your Excellency’s directions to the officer of review will probably procure us the satisfaction of being informed from time to time, how many men shall be re-enlisted.
By Colo. Mathews I informed your Excellency fully of the situation of Governor Hamilton & his companions. Lamothe, & Dejean have given their paroles, and are at Hanover court-house: Hamilton, Hay, and four others are still obstinate; they therefore are still in close confinement; tho their irons have never been on, since your second letter on the subject. I wrote full information of this matter to General Phillips also, from whom I had received letters on the subject. I cannot in reason believe that the enemy, on receiving this information either from yourself or General Phillips, will venture to impose any new distresses on our officers in captivity with them. Yet their conduct hitherto has been most successfully prognosticated by reversing the conclusions of right reason. It is therefore my duty, as well as it was my promise, to the Virginia captives to take measures for discovering any change which may be made in their situation. For this purpose I must apply for your Excellency’s interposition. I doubt not but you have an established mode of knowing at all times through your commissary of prisoners, the precise state of those in the power of the enemy. I must therefore pray you to put into motion any such means you have of obtaining knowledge of the situation of the Virginia officers in captivity. If you should think proper, as I could wish, to take upon yourself to retaliate, any new sufferings which may be imposed on them, it will be more likely to have due weight, and to restore the unhappy on both sides to that benevolent treatment for which all should wish.
proclamation laying embargo
[Nov. 30, 1779.]
By His Excellency Thomas Jefferson, Esq.; Governour or Chief Magistrate of the Commonwealth of Virginia
Whereas the exportation of provisions from the State will be attended with manifest injury to the United States, by supplying the enemy, and by rendering it difficult for the publick agents and contractors to procure Supplies for the American troops, and will moreover give encouragement to engrossers and monopolizers to prosecute their baneful practices, I have thought fit by and with the advice and consent of the Council of State, to issue this my proclamation for laying an embargo on provisions; and I do hereby lay an embargo on provisions, viz., on all beef, pork, bacon, wheat, Indian corn, pease or other grain, or flour or meal made of the same; to continue until the first of May next. And I do hereby strictly prohibit all mariners, masters, and commanders of vessels, and all other persons whatsoever within this State, from loading on board any vessel for exportation, and from exporting all or any of the above species of provisions, by land or water from the date hereof, during the term aforesaid, under pain of incurring the penalties inflicted by the act of Assembly intitled An Act to empower the Governour and Council to lay an embargo for a limited time, except as in the said act is excepted. And I do hereby strictly charge and command all naval officers and others, in their respective departments, to exert their best endeavours to the end that this embargo be strictly observed.
Given under my hand this 30th day of November, 1779.
to the president of congress (samuel huntington)
Wmsburg, Decr. 16, 1779.
—We have information from our Delegates in Congress that the detention of some continental arms by the executive of this State during the course of the last summer has given considerable umbrage to Congress. I beg leave therefore, thro’ you Sir, to lay before that honorable body facts, simply as they occurred, hoping that these will satisfy them that, the arms being justly due to this State, necessity alone dictated the measure, and that no sentiment of disrespect to Congress entered into the transaction. This State in an early part of the present contest raised at first two, and soon afterwards seven Battalions for its particular defence. Finding however that the dangers of our being invaded became less, our legislature made a tender of these Battalions for the Continental service. The tender was accepted of by Congress only on condition that we would permit them to carry their arms with them. They were accordingly marched to the grand army, time after time, as we could get them armed. I think this condition was dispensed with as to two Battalions only which Congress, induced by their increasing wants of men, permitted to march on without their arms. This is one of the articles of Debit in our account of arms against the Continent, which I state particularly, in order to bring it into recollection with some of your honorable members, and because, being recollected, it will go far in our justification as to the number of arms retained with us. Since this however, at different times, and for different corps, many smaller parcels of arms have been sent to Congress by us. It is a fact, which we are to lament, that, in the earlier part of our struggles, we were so wholly occupied by the great object of establishing our rights, that we attended not at all to those little circumstances of taking receipts, and vouchers, keeping regular accounts, and preparing subjects for future disputes with our friends. If we could have supported the whole Continent, I believe we should have done it, and never dishonored our exertions by producing accounts; sincerely assured that, in no circumstances of future necessity or distress, a like free application of any-thing theirs would have been thought hardly of, or would have rendered necessary an appeal to accounts. Hence it has happened that, in the present case, the collection of vouchers for the arms furnished by this State has become tedious and difficult.
Our board of war has been attending to this business a considerable time, but have as yet authenticated the loan of only 5664 stand of arms and 580 rifles. They seem however to believe that (exclusive of considerable numbers delivered where no receipts were taken and the officers to whom delivered are dead or not to be found, which of course we shall lose) they will be able to establish a right to 10,000 stand. These arms were most of them of the very best quality, imported from Great Britain, by the State, for its own use. After the loan of so many to the continent, the loss of a considerable number put into the hands of the militia during the short invasion of the last spring, many of which we were never able to recover, and a very recent loan of 1000 stand, to be sent on, at the request of Congress, to South Carolina, we were reduced to not more than 3,000 stand in all our magazines. Rumors were spread of an intended invasion by the enemy for the purpose of rescuing the convention Troops: that body of men were in the heart of our Country under a guard not able to furnish centinels for ordinary duty; congress had just recommended to us to prepare for the most immediate and most vigorous operations, and to have our militia ready to march at the shortest warning; the knolege of the low state of our magazines had by some means got abroad, and spread a general alarm among our people: in this situation of things a vessel, loaded with arms, seemed to be guided by the hand of providence into one of our harbours. They were it’s true the property of our friends, but of friends indebted to us for those very articles. They were for the common defence too, and we were a part of the Body to be defended. An officer came for the purpose of removing them out of the State. Would circumstances have permitted a previous application to congress, tho’ not present myself, I so thoroughly know the respect which the executive bears for congress, that I am safe in affirming that such an application would most certainly have been made. But had they awaited that ceremony, the arms would have been gone: the continent of course would have been at the expence, and the arms exposed to the injury, and risk of, a double transportation: for I cannot but take for granted that congress would on such an application, in the case of a State so reduced in her magazines, and reduced by Loans to them, have ordered the arms to be replaced. Time however did not admit of this ceremony; the executive therefore retained 5000 stand. We shall not draw examples of similar liberties taken by other States, we shall never recapitulate aids granted to, or taken by our brethren, from the common stock, because we wish it to be freely used for their service, and to draw nothing from it for ourselves unless our distresses should at any time be such as to point us out to them as objects needing the common aid. But we will observe in general, that, between congress and this State, similar freedoms in other articles, had been repeatedly and mutually taken, on many former occasions, and never had been the cause of discontent to either party. This precedent then, strengthened by the existence of an actual Debt, seemed to give a Double sanction to the executive for what they did: nor did any instance occur to them of unreadiness at any time to spare freely on continental requisition any articles within possession or power, which might expose them to experience in turn the disregard of congress. I flatter myself therefore that that honorable Body whenever this matter shall be the subject of their deliberations will be of opinion that the proceedings of the Lieutenant Governor and Council were substantially justifiable. They hope that no want of ceremony, or other smaller circumstance may have been matter of Offence to congress. If in this they should be mistaken, feeling the most real respect for that body, impressed with the idea that its authority can never be wounded without injury to the present union, they are to lament the misapprehension & wish to remove it by assuring you, as they may with truth, that no sentiment of theirs, either on this, or any other occasion, has justified it. A motive of duty and respect to the collective council of our union has led me into this detail to remove all grounds of discontent from among us, and to assure you Sir at the same time that I shall consider as occasions of manifesting my zeal for our sacred cause.
to general washington
Williamsburg Decr. 16, 1779.
—I take the liberty of putting under cover to your Excellency some Letters to Generals Phillips and Reidesel, uninformed whether they are gone into New York or not, and knowing that you can best forward them in either case.
I also trouble you with a letter from the Master of the Flag in this State to the British Commissary of Prisoners in New York, trusting it will thus be more certainly conveyed than if sent to Mr. Adam. It is my wish the British Commissary should return his answer through your Excellency or your Commissary of Prisoners, and that they should not propose under this pretext to send another Flag, as the mission of this Flag is not unattended by circumstances of suspicion, and a certain information of the Situation of ourselves and our allies here might influence the measures of the enemy. Perhaps your Commissary of Prisoners can effect the former method of answer.
I inclose to you part of an act of Assembly ascertaining the quantities of Land which shall be allowed to the officers and soldiers at the close of the war, and providing means of keeping that country vacant which has been allotted to them.
I am advised to ask the attention of your Excellency to the case of Colo. Bland, late commander at the Barracks in Albemarle. When that Gentleman was applied to, to take that Command, he attended the Executive here, and informed them, that he must either decline it, or be supported in such a way as would keep up that respect which was essential to his command without at the same time ruining his private fortune.
The Executive were sensible that he would be exposed to very great and unavoidable expence, they observed that his Command would be in a department separate from any other, and that he actually relieved a Major General from the same service. They did not think themselves authorized to say what should be done in this case, but undertook to represent the matter to Congress and in the mean time gave it as their opinion that a decent table ought to be found for him. On this he undertook the command, and in the course of it incurred expenses which seem to have been unavoidable unless he would have lived in such a way as is hardly reconcilable to the spirit of an officer, or the reputation of those in whose service he is. Governor Henry wrote on the subject to Congress. Colo. Bland did the same; but we learn that they have concluded the allowance to be unprecedented and inadmissable, in the case of an officer of his rank. The Commissaries on this have called on Colo. Bland for reimbursement. A sale of his Estate was about to take place, when we undertook to recommend to them to suspend their demand till we could ask the favor of you to advocate this matter with Congress so far as you think it right, otherwise the ruin of a very worthy officer must inevitably follow.
to the speaker of the house of delegates (benjamin harrison)
v. s. a.
In Council Dec. 23, 1779.
—The inclosed letter from Governor Lee and intelligence accompanying it, gives reason to apprehend that the enemy meditate an invasion of this state. The reasons which support this opinion as well as those which oppose it will occur to the General Assembly. It is our duty to provide against every event and the Executive are accordingly engaged in concerting proper measures of defence. Among others we think to call an immediate force from the militia to defend the post at York, and to take a proper post on the South side of James river, but the expence, the difficulties which attend a general call of the militia into the field, the disgust it gives them more especially when they find no enemy in place, and the extreme rigor of the season, induce us to refer to the decision of the general assembly, whether we shall on the intelligence already received & now communicated to them, call a competent force of militia to oppose the numbers of the enemy spoken of; or whether we shall make ready all orders & prepare other circumstances, but omit actually issuing these orders till the enemy appear or we have further proof of their intentions? The assembly will also please to determine whether, in case the enemy should make a lodgement in the country, it would be expedient to avail ourselves of the laudable zeal which may prevail on their first landing and enlist a sufficient number to oppose them & to continue in service during the invasion or for any other term. Perhaps it may not be amiss to suggest to the assembly the tardiness of collecting even small numbers of men by divisions, that if any better method should occur to them they may prescribe it. The present state of the Treasury in more points than one, will no doubt be thought an absolute obstacle to every military endeavor which may be necessary.
to the president of congress (samuel huntington)
Wmsburg, Decr. 30th, 1779.
—Your letter inclosing the resolutions of Congress relating to the capture of the Portuguese Snow by Captain Cunningham has remained hitherto unanswered because I hoped Daily to be enabled to write more fully on that subject. The resolutions and documents accompanying them, as soon as received, were put into the hands of our Attorney General for his opinion, with intention to have such proceedings at Law instituted as he should advise. You will see that, by his opinion, which I do myself the honor of inclosing you, the Offence could not be prosecuted here criminally; our act of Assembly, establishing a Court of Admiralty, having, in conformity with the Articles of Confederation, expressly inhibited it from criminal jurisdiction. The General Assembly being then to meet in the month of October, I reserved the subject to be laid before them, which was accordingly done. A great variety however of other Business, which would not admit of being postponed, occasioned them to pretermit this til their next session. So that if the offenders be within the Cognizance of the criminal Law at all (which the attorney seems to doubt) we have as yet no court wherein they may be prosecuted. A Civil action for Damages may be instituted; and if the sufferers shall think proper to direct it, the countenance and protection of Government here shall not be wanting so far as propriety will admit or justice require.
I am to acknowledge the receipt of your Letter of December 10th, inclosing resolutions of Congress of the same Date, approving our measures for guarding the Convention Troops, and accepting the resignation of Colo. Bland. I hope that, ere this, his place has been supplied, as the constant attention of an officer of knowledge and understanding is requisite there. Perhaps his troubles might be lessened and his office more fully discharged, by residing at the Barracks, rather than at Charlottesvile; these posts being five or six miles apart.
The resolutions of the 11th & 14th inst, inclosed in your letter of the 14th unfortunately came not to hand till two Days after the rising of the General Assembly, which was on the 24th, and they will not meet again before the period for the delivery of the Indian Corn will be passed. They had however, early in the present year, laid a Tax payable in specific commodities; and, in their late session, directed the Executive to raise from the proceeds of that Tax, six hundred thousand pounds, towards making up the quota’s of money for which they were called on by Congress. The articles specified were Wheat, Indian Corn, rye, Barley, Oats, hemp and Tobacco at the option of the payer, but it is conjectured that paiment will be made almost wholly in Indian Corn & Tobacco. I am in hopes that, on those acts of the legislature, we shall be enabled to comply with your requisition as to the specific article and quantity required, as we may retain the Tax in its specific form instead of converting it into money: but we shall fail in point of time; because it happens, that the ultimate term of paiment allowed for this Tax is the Day on which your resolutions require delivery of it to your Commissary at such places as he shall appoint. In this point then will be felt the misfortune of the legislature’s separation before receipt of the resolutions; the Executive having no powers to shorten the Day of paiment. I thought it my duty to give you this early notice of the particular part of that requisition, with which, from these circumstances we shall be unable to comply, that the ill effects of disappointment may be lessened by other timely measures.
The resolution of the 15th Instant recommending the continuance of embargoes is also received, that measure had been adopted some time ago as you will see by the proclamation inclosed.