Thomas Jefferson to George Washington, December 10, 1779
Thomas Jefferson Papers, Library of Congress
Thomas Jefferson informs George Washington of a conflict in Congress over reimbursing Colonel Theodrick Bland for expenses incurred at the Barracks at Albemarle. Jefferson encloses important extracts from an act in the Virginia Assembly that ensures land issued to officers, soldiers, and sailors will remain unsettled until the veterans, or their heirs, are able to take possession.
I take the liberty of putting under cover to your Excellency some letters to Genl. Phillips & Reidesel uninformed wether they are gone into N. York or not & knowing that you can but forward them in either case.
I also trouble you with a letter form the master of the flag
in this State to the British commissary of prisoners in
N. York trusting it will thus be more certainly conveyed than
if sent to Mr. Adams. 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 the present flag is not unattended with
circumstances of suspicioun & of certain information of
the situation of ourselves & our allies here might influence
the measures of the Enemy.
Perhaps your commissary of prisoners can effect
the former method of answer.
I enclose to you part of an act of Assembly ascertaining the quantity of Land which shall be al
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to the officers and soldiers at the close of the war and providing means of keeping that country vacant which has been allotted for them.
I am advised to ask you Excellenceys attention to the caus of Colo: Bland late commander of the Barracks in Albermarle when that Gentle man was appointed to that command he attended the Executive here & informed them 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 he would be exposed to great and unavoidable expence: they observed his command would be
in a department seperate from any other & that he
actually relieved a Majr. 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 he ought to be allowed a decent table. On this he undertook the
office & in the course of it incurred expences
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which seemed to have been un avoidable unless he would have lived in a such a way as is hardly reconcilable to the spirit of an officer or the reputation of those in whose service he is. Gov. Henry wrote on the subject to Congress Colo: Bland did the same but we learn they have concluded the allowance to be unprecedented & inadmissible in the case of an officer of his rank. The commissaries on this have called on Colo. Bland for reimbursements. 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 so far with Congress as you may think it right otherwise the ruin of a very worthy Officer must inevitably follow.
I have honour to be with the greatest respect & esteem your Excellency's most obedt. servt. Th: Jefferson His Excellency Genl Washington
An act for more effectually conveying to the Officers & soldiers of the Virginia line the lands reserved to them & for discouraging present settlements on the south west side of the Ohio river Maps: Joshua Fry-Peter Jefferson (1751) John Mitchell (1755) Antoine-Simon Le Page du Pratz (1763) Thomas Hutchins (1778) Lewis Evans (1755) and for punishing persons attempting to prevent the execution of land office warrants.
Whereas all the lands lying between the Green river Maps:
Aaron Arrowsmith (1811)
Aaron Arrowsmith (1802)
and the Tenissee river from the Alleghany mountains Maps:
Joshua Fry-Peter Jefferson (1751)
John Mitchell (1755)
Thomas Hutchins (1778)
to the Ohio river Maps:
Joshua Fry-Peter Jefferson (1751)
John Mitchell (1755)
Antoine-Simon Le Page du Pratz (1763)
Thomas Hutchins (1778)
Lewis Evans (1755)
except the tract granted unto
Richard Henderson Esq and company have been
reserved for the Officers & soldiers of the Virginia line
on Continental and State establishment to
give them choice of good lands not only for the
publick bounty due to them for military service but also in their private adventures as citizens & no persons was allowed by law to enter
any of the said lands until they shall have
been first satisfied: and it is now represented
to the Genl Assembly that some [unclear] persons are
notwithstanding settling on the lands so reserved
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whereby the said officers and soldiers may be in danger of losing the preference & benefits intended for them by the Legislature.
Be it enacted by the Genl' Assembly that
any person hereafter settling on the lands
reserved for the officers & solders as aforesaid
or who having already settled thereon shall
not remove from the said lands within six
months next after the end of the this present session of Assembly, shall forfeit all his or her goods,
& chattels ot the Commonwealth; for the recovery of which the Attorney for the state in the
county of Kentucky for the time being is here- by required immediately after the expiration of
the said term to enter prosecution by way of
information in the court of the said county in
behalf of the Commonwealth, & on judgement
being attained immedeately to issue excon[unclear] & proceed to the sale of such goods and chattels & if the person or persons so prosecuted
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refuse to remove from the said lands in those months after prosecution entered by the attorney the attorney shall certify to the Governor the name or names of such persons so refusing to remove, who with the advise of the Council may, & he is hardly required, to issue orders to the Commanding officer, of the said County, or to any other officer in the pay of the State, to remove such person, or persons, or any others that may be settled thereon from off the said lands by force of arms except such as were actually settled prior to the the first day of Jan. 1778. And whereas no law of this Commonwealth has yet ascertained the proportion or quantity of land to be granted at the end of the war to the Officers of the Virginia line on Continental or State establishment or to the Officers of the Virginia navy & doubts may arise respecting the particular quantity of land due to the Soldiers & Sailors from
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the different times of their enlistments.
Be it enacted that the Officers who have served
in the Virginia line on Continental establishment or in the navy upon state establishment to the end of the present war: & the
non commissioned officers, soldiers & sailors from
either of the said establishments their heirs or legal
representatives shall respectively be entitled to
& receive the proportion & quantities of land
felt owing; that is to say, every Colo: five thousand acres every Lieutenant Colonel four thousand five hundred acres every majr four
thousand acres every capt three thousand acres
every Subaltern two thousand acres every non
commissioned officer who having enlisted for
the war or who shall have served to the end
thereof four hundred acres & every soldier and
sailor under the like circumstances one
hundred acres every officer of the navy the
same quantity of land as an officer of
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rank in the army. And provided any officer soldier or sailor shall have fallen or died in the service his heirs or legal representatives shall be entitled to and receive the same quantity of land as would have been due to such officer soldier or sailor respectively had he been living.