« ForrigeFortsett »
their Government, was most likely, to supply magazines of flour, both to the main army and to the northwestern posts. The settlement of Schoharie, which alone was able to furnish, according to a letter from General Washington, eighty thousand bushels of grain for the public use, has been totally laid in ashes.
I make no apology for inaccuracies and bad writing, because you know the manner in which we are obliged to write for the post, and having been prevented by company from doing any thing last night, I am particularly hurried this morning.
TO JOSEPH JONES.
Philadelphia, November 21, 1780. Dear Sir,
I am glad to find you have at last got a House of Delegates, and have made so auspicious a beginning, as an unanimous vote to fill up our line for the war. This is a measure which all the States ought to have begun with. I wish there may not be some that will not be prevailed on even to end with it. It is much to be regretted that you are not in a condition to discontine another practice equally destructive with temporary enlistments. Unless an end can by some means or other be put to State emissions and certificates, they must prove the bane of every salutary regulation. The depreciation in this place has lately run up as high as one hundred for one, and it cannot be satisfactorily accounted for, on any other principle than the substitution of certificates in the payment of those taxes which were intended to reduce its quantity and keep up a demand for it. The immediate cause of this event is said to have been the sudden conversion of a large quantity of paper into specie, by some tories lately ordered into exile by this State. It is at present on the fall, and I am told the merchants have associated to bring it down and fix it at 75. The fate of the new money is as yet suspended. There is but too much reason, however, to fear that it will follow the fate of the old. According to the arrangement now in force, it would seem impossible for it to rise above one for forty. The resolutions of Congress which establish that relation between the two kinds of paper, must destroy the equality of the new with specie, unless the old can be kept down at forty for one. In New Jersey, I am told, the Legislature has lately empowered the Executive to regulate the exchange between the two papers, according to the exchange between the old and the new, in order to preserve the equality of the latter with specie. The issue of this experiment is of consequence, and may throw light perhaps on our paper finance. The only infallible remedy, whilst we cannot command specie, for the pecuniary embarrassments we labor under, will, after all, be found to be a punctual collection of the taxes required by Congress.
I hope you will not forget to call the attention of the Assembly, as early as the preparations for defence will admit, to the means of ratifying the Confederation, [by a cession of territory,] nor to remind it of the conditions which prudence requires should be annexed to any territorial cession that may be agreed on. I do not believe there is any serious design in Congress to gratify the avidity of land mongers, but the best security for their virtue, in this respect, will be to keep it out of their power. They have been much infested, since you left us, with memorials from these people; who appear to be equally alarmed and perplexed. Mr. G. Morgan, as agent for the Indiana claimants, after memorializing Congress on the subject, has honored the Virginia delegates with a separate attention. He very modestly proposes to them a reference of the controversy between the company and Virginia to arbitration, in the mode pointed out in the Confederation for adjusting disputes between State and State. We have given him for answer, that as the State we represent had finally determined the question, we could not, with any propriety, attend to his proposition; observing at the same time, that if we were less precluded, we could not reconcile with the sovereignty and honor of the State an appeal from its own jurisdiction to a foreign tribunal, in a controversy with private individuals.
TO JOSEPH JONES.
Philadelphia, November 25, 1780. Dear SIR,
I informed you some time ago that the instructions to Mr. Jay had passed Congress (on the fourth of October,] in a form which was entirely to my mind. I since informed you that a committee was preparing a letter to him explanatory of the principles and objects of the instructions. This letter also passed
[on the seventeenth] in a form equally satisfactory. I did not suppose that any thing further would be done on the subject, at least till further intelligence should arrive from Mr. Jay. It now appears that I was mistaken. The Delegates from Georgia and South Carolina, apprehensive that a uti possidetis may be obtruded on the belligerent powers by the armed neutrality in Europe, and hoping that the accession of Spain to the alliance will give greater concert and success to the military operations that may be pursued for the recovery of their States, and likewise add weight to the means that may be used for obviating a uti possidetis, have moved* for a reconsideration of the instructions in order to empower Mr. Jay, in case of necessity, to yield to the claims of Spain in consideration of her guaranteeing our independence, and affording us a handsome subsidy. The expediency of such a motion is further urged, from the dangerous negociations now on foot, by British emissaries, for detaching Spain from the war. Wednesday last was assigned for the consideration of this motion, and it has continued the order of the day ever since, without being taken up. What the fate of it will be I do not predict; but, whatever its own fate may be, it must do mischief in its operation. It will not probably be concealed that such a motion has been made and supported, and the weight which our demands would derive from unanimity and decision must be lost. I flatter myself, however, that Congress will see the impropriety of sacrificing the acknowledged limits and
See in the Appendix a full explanation of this subject in a letter from Mr. M. to Hezekiah Niles, of January 8, 1822.
claims of any State, without the express concurrence of such State. Obstacles enough will be thrown in the way of peace,
if it is to be bid for at the expense of particular members of the Union. The Eastern States must, on the first suggestion, take the alarm for their fisheries. If they will not support other States in their rights, they cannot expect to be supported themselves when theirs come into question.
In this important business, which so decply affects the claims and interests of Virginia, and which I know she has so much at heart, I have not the satisfaction to harmonize in sentiment with my colleague. He has embraced an opinion that we have no just claim to the subject in controversy between us and Spain, and that it is the interest of Virginia not to adhere to it. Under this impression, he drew up a letter to the Executive, to be communicated to the Legislature, stating in general the difficulty Congress might be under, and calling their attention to a revision of their instructions to their delegates on the subject. I was obliged to object to such a step, and, in order to prevent it, observed that the instructions were given by the Legislature of Virginia on mature consideration of the case, and on a supposition that Spain would make the demands she has done; that no other event has occurred to change the mind of our constituents, but the armed neutrality in Europe, and the successes of the enemy to the southward, which are as well known to them as to ourselves; that we might every moment expect a third delegate here, who would either adjust or decide the difference in opinion between us, and that whatever went from the Delegation would then go
in its proper