PRIMARY DOCUMENT

Letter from Thomas Jefferson to the Speaker of the House of Delegates (May 28, 1781)

SUMMARY

In this letter to the Speaker of the House of Delegates, dated May 28, 1781, Thomas Jefferson tries to convince the General Assembly to help enforce both the milita’s attendance in the field and the citizens’ cooperation.

FULL TEXT

Charlottesville May 28th. 1781

Sir

Since I had the honour of addressing the General Assembly by Letter of the 14th instant I have received a second Letter from the Honble. Major General Greene on the subject of cavalry and another in answer to one I had written communicating to him information I had recived as to the conduct of a particular officer employed by him in impressing, which I transmit herewith.

I also inclose a Letter which I have received since the same date from the Honble. Dudley Digges resigning the office of Member of the Council of State.

Further experience, together with recent information from the Commanding Officer within this State, convince me that something is necessary to be done to enforce the calls of the Executive for militia to attend in the field. Whether the deficiencies of which we have had reason to complain proceeded from any backwardness in the militia themselves or from a want of activity in their principal officers, I do not undertake to decide. The Laws also to which they are Subject while in the field seem scarcely coercive enough for a state of war.

The Commanding Officer also represents that great evils and dangers are to be apprehended from the total want of authority of the military power over citizens within the vicinities of his and of the enemy’s encampments. Many of them tho’ well disposed are led by an attachment to their property to remain within the power of the enemy, and are then compelled to furnish horses, procure provisions, serve as guides and to perform other offices in aid of their operations: while others of unfriendly disposition become spies and intelligencers and if taken in the very fact are not subject to that speedy justice which alone can effectually deter. He supposes that the lives of our soldiers and citizens entrusted to his care might be rendered much more secure by some legal provision against the unrestrained right of passing to and fro in the neighborhood of the encampments and by subjecting the inhabitants within some certain distance to such immediate trial and punishment for leading attempts against the safety of our army or in aid of that of our enemies, as the rights of the citizens on the one hand and necessities of war on the other may safely admit. I have the honor to be with very great respect Sir your mo: obt & mo: hble. servt.,

Th: Jefferson

FURTHER READING

The Constitution of Virginia (1776) An act for better securing the payment of levies and restraint of vagrants, and for making provision for the poor (October 1776) An Act for speedily recruiting the Virginia Regiments on the continental establishment, and for raising additional troops of Volunteers (May 20, 1777) A Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom (1779) An Act establishing a Board of War (June 1779) The Election of Jefferson as Governor: an excerpt from the Journal of the House of Delegates (June 1, 1779) Thomas Jefferson’s Acceptance Speech for the Position of Governor: an excerpt from the Journal of the House of Delegates (June 2, 1779) An act for the removal of the seat of government (June 18, 1779) An act for re-enlisting the troops of this state in the continental army, and for other purposes (October 1779) Thomas Jefferson’s Election to a Second Term as Governor: an excerpt from the Journal of the House of Delegates (June 2, 1780) Letter from Thomas Jefferson to William Preston (June 15, 1780) An act to revive and amend an act entitled ‘An act for giving farther powers to the governour and council’ (October 1780) Letter from Thomas Jefferson to George Washington (October 26, 1780) Letter from Thomas Jefferson to the Virginia Delegates in Congress (October 27, 1780) Remonstrance to Congress (1781) Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Horatio Gates (February 17, 1781) Letter from George Washington to Thomas Jefferson (February 21, 1781) Letter from Lafayette to Thomas Jefferson (February 21, 1781) Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Lafayette (March 10, 1781) Letter from Edmund Pendleton to James Madison (March 26, 1781) Letter from Thomas Jefferson to George Washington (May 28, 1781) The Need for a New Governor of Virginia: an excerpt from the Journal of the House of Delegates (May 29, 1781) The Election of Governor Nelson: an excerpt from the Journal of the House of Delegates (June 12, 1781) An Investigation into the Conduct of Thomas Jefferson: an excerpt from the Journal of the House of Delegates (December 12, 1781) Letter from Thomas Jefferson to James Monroe (May 20, 1782) “Life of Isaac Jefferson of Petersburg, Virginia, Blacksmith” by Isaac Jefferson (1847)

CITE THIS ENTRY
APA Citation:
Jefferson, Thomas. Letter from Thomas Jefferson to the Speaker of the House of Delegates (May 28, 1781). (2020, December 07). In Encyclopedia Virginia. https://encyclopediavirginia.org/entries/letter-from-thomas-jefferson-to-the-speaker-of-the-house-of-delegates-may-28-1781.
MLA Citation:
Jefferson, Thomas. "Letter from Thomas Jefferson to the Speaker of the House of Delegates (May 28, 1781)" Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Humanities, (07 Dec. 2020). Web. 25 Feb. 2021
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