to george wythe
Forest, March 1, 1779.
—Since I left you I have reflected on the bill regulating the practising of attornies, & of our omitting to continue the practitioners at the County & General Courts separate. I think the bar of the General Court a proper & an excellent nursery for future judges if it be so regulated as that science may be encouraged & may live there. But this can never be if an inundation of insects is permitted to come from the county courts & consume the harvest. These people traversing the counties seeing the clients frequently at their own courts, or, perhaps at their own houses must of necessity pick up all the business. The convenience of frequently seeing their counsel without going from home cannot be withstood by the country people. Men of science then (if there were to be any) would only be employed as auxiliary counsel in difficult cases. But can they live by that? Certainly not. The present members of that kind therefore must turn marauders in the county courts; & in future none will have leisure to acquire science. I should therefore be for excluding the county court attorneys, or rather for taking the general court lawyers from the incessant drudgery of the county courts & confining them to their studies that they may qualify themselves as well to support their clients as to become worthy successors to the bench. I hope to see the time when the election of Judges of the Supreme Courts shall be restrained to the bars of the General Court & High Court of Chancery, for when I speak of the former above, I mean to include the latter. I should even in our present bills have no objections to inserting such a restriction to take place seven or fourteen years hene. Adieu.
to the governor of virginia. (patrick henry)
Albemarle, March 27, 1779.
—A report prevailing here, that in consequence of some powers from Congress, the Governor and Council have it in contemplation to remove the Convention troops, either wholly or in part, from their present situation, I take the liberty of troubling you with some observations on that subject. The reputation and interest of our country, in general, may be affected by such a measure: it would, therefore, hardly be deemed an indecent liberty in the most private citizen, to offer his thoughts to the consideration of the Executive. The locality of my situation, particularly in the neighborhood of the present barracks, and the public relation in which I stand to the people among whom they are situated, together with a confidence which a personal knowledge of the members of the Executive gives me, that they will be glad of information from any quarter, on a subject interesting to the public, induce me to hope that they will acquit me of impropriety in the present representation.
By an article in the Convention of Saratoga, it is stipulated, on the part of the United States, that the officers shall not be separated from their men. I suppose the term officers, includes general as well as regimental officers. As there are general officers who command all the troops, no part of them can be separated from these officers without a violation of the article: they cannot, of course, be separated from one another, unless the same general officer could be in different places at the same time. It is true, the article adds the words, “as far as circumstances will admit.” This was a necessary qualification; because, in no place in America, I suppose, could there have been found quarters for both officers and men together; those for the officers to be according to their rank. So far, then, as the circumstances of the place where they should be quartered, should render a separation necessary, in order to procure quarters for the officers, according to their rank, the article admits that separation. And these are the circumstances which must have been under the contemplation of the parties; both of whom, and all the world beside (who are ultimate judges in the case), would still understand that they were to be as near in the environs of the camp, as convenient quarters could be procured; and not that the qualification of the article destroyed the article itself, and laid it wholly at our discretion. Congress, indeed, have admitted of this separation; but are they so far lords of right and wrong as that our consciences may be quiet with their dispensation? Or is the case amended by saying they leave it optional in the Governor and Council to separate the troops or not? At the same time that it exculpates not them, it is drawing the Governor and Council into a participation in the breach of faith. If indeed it is only proposed, that a separation of the troops shall be referred to the consent of their officers; that is a very different matter. Having carefully avoided conversation with them on public subjects, I cannot say, of my own knowledge, how they would relish such a proposition. I have heard from others, that they will choose to undergo anything together, rather than to be separated, and that they will remonstrate against it in the strongest terms. The Executive, therefore, if voluntary agents in this measure, must be drawn into a paper war with them, the more disagreeable, as it seems that faith and reason will be on the other side. As an American, I cannot help feeling a thorough mortification, that our Congress should have permitted an infraction of our public honor; as a citizen of Virginia, I cannot help hoping and confiding, that our Supreme Executive, whose acts will be considered as the acts of the Commonwealth, estimate that honor too highly to make its infraction their own act. I may be permitted to hope, then, that if any removal takes place, it will be a general one; and, as it is said to be left to the Governor and Council to determine on this, I am satisfied that, suppressing every other consideration, and weighing the matter dispassionately, they will determine upon this sole question, Is it for the benefit of those for whom they act, that the Convention troops should be removed from among them? Under the head of interest, these circumstances, viz., the expense of building barracks, said to have been £25,000, and of removing the troops backwards and forwards, amounting to, I know not how much, are not to be permitted, merely because they are Continental expenses; for we are a part of the Continent; we must pay a shilling of every dollar wasted. But the sums of money which, by these troops, or on their account, are brought into, and expended in this State, are a great and local advantage. This can require no proof. If, at the conclusion of the war, for instance, our share of the Continental debt should be twenty millions of dollars, or say that we are called on to furnish an annual quota of two millions four hundred thousand dollars, to Congress, to be raised by tax, it is obvious that we should raise these given sums with greater or less ease, in proportion to the greater or less quantity of money found in circulation among us. I expect that our circulating money is [increased?], by the presence of these troops, at the rate of $30,000 a week, at the least. I have heard, indeed, that an objection arises to their being kept within this State, from the information of the commissary that they cannot be subsisted here. In attending to the information of that officer, it should be borne in mind that the county of King William and its vicinities are one thing, the territory of Virginia another. If the troops could be fed upon long letters, I believe the gentleman at the head of that department in this country, would be the best commissary upon earth. But till I see him determined to act, not to write; to sacrifice his domestic ease to the duties of his appointment, and apply to the resources of this country, wheresoever they are to be had, I must entertain a different opinion of him. I am mistaken if, for the animal subsistence of the troops hitherto, we are not principally indebted to the genius and exertions of Hawkins, during the very short time he lived after his appointment to that department, by your board. His eye immediately pervaded the whole State, it was reduced at once to a regular machine, to a system, and the whole put into movement and animation by the fiat of a comprehensive mind. If the Commonwealth of Virginia cannot furnish these troops with bread, I would ask of the commissariat, which of the thirteen is now become the grain colony? If we are in danger of famine from the addition of four thousand mouths, what is become of that surplus of bread, the exportation of which used to feed the West Indies and Eastern States, and fill the colony with hard money? When I urge the sufficiency of this State, however, to subsist these troops, I beg to be understood, as having in contemplation the quantity of provisions necessary for their real use, and not as calculating what is to be lost by the wanton waste, mismanagement, and carelessness of those employed about it. If magazines of beef and pork are suffered to rot by slovenly butchering, or for want of timely provision and sale; if quantities of flour are exposed, by the commissaries entrusted with the keeping it, to pillage and destruction; and if, when laid up in the Continental stores, it is still to be embezzled and sold, the land of Egypt itself would be insufficient for their supply, and their removal would be necessary, not to a more plentiful country, but to more able and honest commissaries. Perhaps the magnitude of this question, and its relation to the whole State, may render it worth while to await the opinion of the National Council, which is now to meet within a few weeks. There is no danger of distress in the meantime, as the commissaries affirm they have a great sufficiency of provisions for some time to come. Should the measure of removing them into another State be adopted, and carried into execution, before the meeting of Assembly, no disapprobation of theirs will bring them back, because they will then be in the power of others, who will hardly give them up.
Want of information as to what may be the precise measure proposed by the Governor and Council, obliges me to shift my ground, and take up the subject in every possible form. Perhaps, they have not thought to remove the troops out of this State altogether, but to some other part of it. Here, the objections arising from the expenses of removal, and of building new barracks, recur. As to animal food, it may be driven to one part of the country as easily as to another: that circumstance, therefore, may be thrown out of the question. As to bread, I suppose they will require about forty or forty-five thousand bushels of grain a year. The place to which it is to be brought to them, is about the centre of the State. Besides, that the country round about is fertile, all the grain made in the counties adjacent to any kind of navigation, may be brought by water to within twelve miles of the spot. For these twelve miles, wagons must be employed; I suppose half a dozen will be a plenty. Perhaps, this part of the expense might have been saved, had the barracks been built on the water; but it is not sufficient to justify their being abandoned now they are built. Wagonage, indeed, seems to the commissariat an article not worth economizing. The most wanton and studied circuity of transportation has been practised: to mention only one act, they have bought quantities of flour for these troops in Cumberland, have ordered it to be wagoned down to Manchester, and wagoned thence up to the barracks. This fact happened to fall within my own knowledge. I doubt not there are many more such, in order either to produce their total removal, or to run up the expenses of the present situation, and satisfy Congress that the nearer they are brought to the commissary’s own bed, the cheaper they will be subsisted. The grain made in the western counties may be brought partly in wagons, as conveniently to this as to any other place; perhaps more so, on account of its vicinity to one of the best passes through the Blue Ridge; and partly by water, as it is near to James river, to the navigation of which, ten counties are adjacent above the falls. When I said that the grain might be brought hither from all the counties of the State adjacent to navigation, I did not mean to say it would be proper to bring it from all. On the contrary, I think the commissary should be instructed, after the next harvest, not to send one bushel of grain to the barracks from below the falls of the rivers, or from the northern counties. The counties on tide water are accessible to the calls for our own army. Their supplies ought, therefore, to be husbanded for them. The counties in the northwestern parts of the State are not only within reach for our own grand army, but peculiarly necessary for the support of Macintosh’s army; or for the support of any other northwestern expedition, which the uncertain conduct of the Indians should render necessary; insomuch, that if the supplies of that quarter should be misapplied to any other purpose, it would destroy, in embryo, every exertion, either for particular or general safety there. The counties above tide water, in the middle and southern and western parts of the country, are not accessible to calls for either of those purposes, but at such an expense of transportation as the article would not bear. Here, then, is a great field, whose supplies of bread cannot be carried to our army, or rather, which will raise no supplies of bread, because there is nobody to eat them. Was it not, then, wise in Congress to remove to that field four thousand idle mouths, who must otherwise have interfered with the pasture of our own troops? And, if they are removed to any other part of the country, will it not defeat this wise purpose? The mills on the waters of James river, above the falls, open to canoe navigation, are very many. Some of them are of great note, as manufacturers. The barracks are surrounded by mills. There are five or six round about Charlottesville. Any two or three of the whole might, in the course of the winter, manufacture flour sufficient for the year. To say the worst, then, of this situation, it is but twelve miles wrong. The safe custody of these troops is another circumstance worthy consideration. Equally removed from the access of an eastern or western enemy; central to the whole State, so that should they attempt an irruption in any direction, they must pass through a great extent of hostile country; in a neighborhood thickly inhabited by a robust and hardy people zealous in the American cause, acquainted with the use of arms, and the defiles and passes by which they must issue: it would seem, that in this point of view, no place could have been better chosen.
Their health is also of importance. I would not endeavor to show that their lives are valuable to us, because it would suppose a possibility, that humanity was kicked out of doors in America, and interest only attended to. The barracks occupy the top and brow of a very high hill, (you have been untruly told they were in a bottom.) They are free from bog, have four springs which seem to be plentiful, one within twenty yards of the piquet, two within fifty yards, and another within two hundred and fifty, and they propose to sink wells within the piquet. Of four thousand people, it should be expected, according to the ordinary calcalutions, that one should die every day. Yet, in the space of near three months, there have been but four deaths among them; two infants under three weeks old, and two others by apoplexy. The officers tell me, the troops were never before so healthy since they were embodied.
But is an enemy so execrable, that, though in captivity, his wishes and comforts are to be disregarded and even crossed? I think not. It is for the benefit of mankind to mitigate the horrors of war as much as possible. The practice, therefore, of modern nations, of treating captive enemies with politeness and generosity, is not only delightful in contemplation, but really interesting to all the world, friends, foes, and neutrals. Let us apply this: the officers, after considerable hardships, have all procured quarters, comfortable and satisfactory to them. In order to do this, they were obliged, in many instances, to hire houses for a year certain, and at such exorbitant rents, as were sufficient to tempt independent owners to go out of them, and shift as they could. These houses, in most cases, were much out of repair. They have repaired them at a considerable expense. One of the general officers has taken a place for two years, advanced the rent for the whole time, and been obliged, moreover, to erect additional buildings for the accommodation of part of his family, for which there was not room in the house rented. Independent of the brick work, for the carpentry of these additional buildings, I know he is to pay fifteen hundred dollars. The same gentleman, to my knowledge, has paid to one person three thousand six hundred and seventy dollars for different articles to fix himself commodiously. They have generally laid in their stocks of grain and other provisions, for it is well known that officers do not live on their rations. They have purchased cows, sheep, &c., set in to farming, prepared their gardens, and have a prospect of comfort and quiet before them. To turn to the soldiers: the environs of the barracks are delightful, the ground cleared, laid off in hundreds of gardens, each enclosed in its separate paling; these well prepared, and exhibiting a fine appearance. General Riedezel alone laid out upwards of two hundred pounds in garden seeds for the German troops only. Judge what an extent of ground these seeds would cover. There is little doubt that their own gardens will furnish them a great abundance of vegetables through the year. Their poultry, pigeons and other preparations of that kind, present to the mind, the idea of a company of farmers, rather than a camp of soldiers. In addition to the barracks built for them by the public, and now very comfortable, they have built great numbers for themselves, in such messes as fancied each other; and the whole corps, both officers and men, seem now happy and satisfied with their situation. Having thus found the art of rendering captivity itself comfortable, and carried it into execution, at their own great expense and labor, their spirits sustained by the prospect of gratifications rising before their eyes, does not every sentiment of humanity revolt against the proposition of stripping them of all this, and removing them into new situations, where, from the advanced season of the year, no preparations can be made for carrying themselves comfortably through the heats of summer; and when it is known that the necessary advances for the conveniences already provided, have exhausted their funds and left them unable to make the like exertions anew. Again, review this matter, as it may regard appearances. A body of troops, after staying a twelvemonth at Boston, are ordered to take a march of seven hundred miles to Virginia, where, it is said, they may be plentifully subsisted. As soon as they are there, they are ordered on some other march, because, in Virginia, it is said, they cannot be subsisted. Indifferent nations will charge this either to ignorance, or to whim and caprice; the parties interested, to cruelty. They now view the proposition in that light, and it is said, there is a general and firm persuasion among them, that they were marched from Boston with no other purpose than to harass and destroy them with eternal marches. Perseverance in object, though not by the most direct way, is often more laudable than perpetual changes, as often as the object shifts light. A character of steadiness in our councils, is worth more than the subsistence of four thousand people.
There could not have been a more unlucky concurrence of circumstances than when these troops first came. The barracks were unfinished for want of laborers, the spell of weather the worst ever known within the memory of man, no stores of bread laid in, the roads, by the weather and number of wagons, soon rendered impassable: not only the troops themselves were greatly disappointed, but the people in the neighborhood were alarmed at the consequences which a total failure of provisions might produce. In this worst state of things, their situation was seen by many and disseminated through the country, so as to occasion a general dissatisfaction, which even seized the minds of reasonable men, who, if not affected by the contagion, must have foreseen that the prospect must brighten, and that great advantages to the people must necessarily arise. It has, accordingly, so happened. The planters, being more generally sellers than buyers, have felt the benefit of their presence in the most vital part about them, their purses, and are now sensible of its source. I have too good an opinion of their love of order to believe that a removal of these troops would produce any irregular proofs of their disapprobation, but I am well assured it would be extremely odious to them.
To conclude. The separation of these troops would be a breach of public faith, therefore I suppose it is impossible; if they are removed to another State, it is the fault of the commissaries; if they are removed to any other part of the State, it is the fault of the commissaries; and in both cases, the public interest and public security suffer, the comfortable and plentiful subsistence of our own army is lessened, the health of the troops neglected, their wishes crossed, and their comforts torn from them, the character of whim and caprice, or, what is worse, of cruelty, fixed on us as a nation, and, to crown the whole, our own people disgusted with such a proceeding.
I have thus taken the liberty of representing to you the facts and the reasons, which seem to militate against the separation or removal of these troops. I am sensible, however, that the same subject may appear to different persons, in very different lights. What I have urged as reasons, may, to sounder minds, be apparent fallacies. I hope they will appear, at least, so plausible, as to excuse the interposition of
Your Excellency’s most obedient and most humble servant.
to richard henry lee
Monticello, April 21, 1779.
—Among the convention prisoners in this neighborhood is a Baron de Geismar of the Germans, brigade major to Genl. Gall, whose situation I would wish to make you acquainted with. He is the only son of a German nobleman, and has I believe an only sister; his father, now 70 years of age, if living; and excessively anxious to see him before his death. His Patrimonial expectations in danger of being transferred to others in the weak state of his father, or perhaps plundered in the case of his death; the footing on which he stands with his prince such as might give him reason to hope for protection were he on the spot, but everything of that kind certain of passing by him as long as he is absent. Under the circumstances, captivity is peculiarly injurious to him, & he petitions Congress to exchange him if possible, or otherwise permit him to return home on any parole they will describe. I am satisfied he will carry with him no disposition to injure us; and his personal merit, with which I am become intimately acquainted, entitles him to every indulgence consistent with the indispensable rules of Congress. I take the liberty of recommending his request to your sollicitations, as from a knowledge of the man I am become interested in his happiness. Whatever you can do for him will be considered as a peculiar obligation on Dr. Sir, Your friend & serv’t.
to gabriel jones
Monticello, April 29, 1779.
—By Mrs. Harvey I inclose to you the principle and interest of the money you were so kind as to lend me some years ago. It furnishes me also with an occasion of acknowledging, with this, the many other obligations under which you have laid me, of which I shall always be proud to shew a due sense, whenever opportunities shall offer. I am, dear sir, with much esteem, your friend and servant.
a bill concerning escheats and forfeitures from british subjects
v. s. a.
[May 27, 1779.]
Whereas during the connection which subsisted between the now United States of America and the other parts of the British empire, & their subjection to one common prince the inhabitants of either part had all the rights of natural born subjects in the other, & so might lawfully take & hold real property, and transmit the same by descent to their heirs in fee simple, which could not be done by mere aliens; and the inhabitants on each part had accordingly acquired real property in the other: and in like manner had acquired personal property which by their common laws might be possessed by any other than an alien enemy & transmitted to executors & administrators: but when by the tyrannies of that prince, & the open hostilities committed by his armies & subjects inhabitants of the other parts of his dominions on the good people of the sd United States they are obliged to wage war in defense of their rights & finally to separate themselves from the rest of the British empire, to renounce all subjection to their common prince, and to become sovereign & independent states, the sd inhabitants of the other parts of the British empire become aliens & enemies to the sd states, & as such, incapable of holding the property real or personal so acquired therein & so much thereof as was within this commonwealth became by the laws vested in the commonwealth.
Nevertheless the General assembly, tho’ provoked by the example of their enemies to a departure from that generosity which so honourably distinguishes the civilized nations of the present age, yet desirous to conduct themselves with moderation & temper, by an act passed at their session in the year 1777 took measures for preventing what had been the property of British subjects within this commonwealth from waste & destruction, by putting the same into the hands & under the management of commissioners appointed for that purpose, that so it might be in their power, if reasonable at a future day, to restore to the former proprietors the full value thereof:
And whereas it is found that the sd property is liable to be lost, wasted & impaired without greater attention in the officers of government than is consistent with the discharge of their public duties and that from the advanced price at which the same would now sell, it may be most for the benefit of the former owners if the same should be restored to them hereafter, or to the public if not so restored, that the sale thereof should take place at this time, & the proceeds be lodged in the public treasury.
Be it therefore enacted by the General assembly that so much of the act before mentioned as may be supposed to have suspended the operation of the law of escheats & forfeitures shall be hereby repealed & that all the property, real & personal within this commonwealth belonging at this time to any British subject, or which did belong to any British subject at the time such escheat or forfeiture may have taken place, shall be deemed to be vested in the commonwealth, the sd real estate by way of escheat & the said personal estate by forfeiture.
The Governor with the advice of council so far as their information will enable them, & the commissioners of the tax within their several counties aided by their assessors shall forthwith institute proper proceedings of escheat & forfeiture for all such property real & personal in which they shall be advised and assisted by the several attornies for the commonwealth.
Where any office in the cases before mentioned shall be found for the commonwealth & returned to the General court, it shall remain there but one month for the claim of any pretending right to the estate, and if within that time no such claim be made, or being made if it be found & discussed for the commonwealth, the title of the owner to such estate real or personal shall be forever barred, but may be afterwards asserted as to the money proceeding from the sale thereof with equal force & advantage as might have been to the thing itself; and such further proceedings shall be had for making sale, of the lands so found, in parcels not greater than 400 acres (to be described by the commissioners hereafter mentioned and measured & marked by metes & bounds by a surveyor where they shall think necessary) and of the other property, as in the cases of escheat & forfeiture; save only that the Governor with advice of council, for every such sale shall appoint two commissioners to superintend & control the proceedings of the sd escheators, which commissioners shall be sworn to use their best endeavors to have the estate to which their trust extends sold to the best advantage. The sd sales shall be for ready money to be paid to the Escheator, who shall retain thereof five per centum for his trouble. His certificate of such paiment in the case of lands, and of the person purchasing, to the register of the land office, shall entitle the purchaser to a grant of the sd lands, if the sd Escheator shall fail to pay the sd money into the hands of the Treasurer within a reasonable time after any such sale (which reasonable time shall be accounted one day for every 20 miles such sale was distant from the public treasury and days of grace in addition thereto) he shall pay interest thereon from the time of the sd sale at the rate of 20 per centum per annum; & moreover it shall be lawful for the Auditors on the last day but one of any General court, or at any court to be held for the county wherein such property was sold, after the expiration of the time allowed for paiment to obtain judgment on motion against such Escheator his heirs executors & administrators for the principal sum and such interest, together with costs. And for the information of the Auditors, the commissioners of the sale shall immediately on such sale certify to whom & for how much such sale was made & transmit such certificate by some safe & early conveyance to the Auditors; which certificate shall be legal evidence against such Escheator. The Auditors shall allow the commissioners so appointed the expences of the surveys by them directed & made, & other their reasonable expenses; and such compensation for their trouble as to them shall seem proper. Where the commissioners shall be of opinion that it will be more to the interest of the owner or public that possession of such property real or personal should be retained for finishing & removing a crop or other purpose, it shall be lawful for them to stay the possession as it is now until the day of next, giving notice of such their intentions at the time of sale.
And for preventing doubt who shall be deemed British subjects within the meaning of this act, it is hereby declared & enacted that (1) all persons, subjects of his Britannic majesty, who on the day of April in the year 1775, when hostilities were commenced at Lexington between the United States of America & the other parts of the British empire, were resident or following their vocations in any part of the world other than the sd United states, and have not since either entered into public employment of the sd states, or joined the same and by overt act adhered to them; and (2.) all such subjects inhabitants of any of the sd United States, as were out of the sd states on the same day, & have since by overt act adhered to the enemies of the sd states; and (3) all inhabitants of the sd states who after the sd day and before the commencement of the act of the General assembly intituled ‘an act declaring what shall be treason’ departed from the sd states & joined the subjects of his Britannic majesty of their own free will, or who by any county court within this commonwealth were declared to be British subjects within the meaning & operation of the resolution of the General assembly of and the Governor’s proclamation founded thereon; shall be deemed British subjects within the intention of this act.
But this act shall not extend to debts due to British subjects & paiable into the loan office according to the act of General assembly for sequestering British property; nor take effect on the property of such British subjects as are infants, femes covertes, or insane mind, who within one year after their disability removed and hostilities suspended between his Britannic majesty and the United states shall become citizens of any of the sd states; nor on any lots of land within the town of Richmond as the limits of sd town now are, or shall be at the time of the inquest found, which by the directors of the public buildings shall be included within the squares appropriated for such buildings further than that an office shall be found as to such lots of land and the estimated value thereof be disposed of hereafter as the price would have been by this act had they been exposed to public sale; nor on any other such lots within the same town as shall by the sd directors be declared proper for the public use until buildings be erected on the squares before mentioned, & so long as they shall be applied to such public use.
speech to general assembly
Wednesday, June 2, 1779.
—The honor which the General assembly have been pleased to confer on me, by calling me to the high office of Governor of this Commonwealth, demands my most grateful acknowledgments, which I desire, through you, gentlemen, to tender to them with the utmost respect. In a virtuous and free State no rewards can be so pleasing to sensible minds, as those which include the approbation of our fellow-citizens. My great pain is, lest my poor endeavors should fall short of the kind expectations of my country. So far as impartiality, assiduous attention, and sincere affection to the great American cause, shall enable me to fulfil the duties of my appointment, so far I may with confidence undertake; for all beyond, I must rely on the wise counsels of the General assembly, and of those whom they have appointed for my aid in those duties.
To you, gentlemen, I return my particular thanks for the polite terms in which you have been pleased to notify the will of the General assembly.
to john page
—I received your letter by Mr. Jamieson. It had given me much pain, that the zeal of our respective friends should ever have placed you and me in the situation of competitors. I was comforted, however, with the reflection, that it was their competition, not ours, and that the difference of the numbers which decided between us, was too insignificant to give you a pain, or me a pleasure, had our dispositions towards each other been such as to admit those sensations. I know you too well to need an apology for anything you do, and hope you will forever be assured of this; and as to the constructions of the world, they would only have added one to the many sins for which they are to go to the devil. As this is the first, I hope it will be the last, instance of ceremony between us. A desire to see my family, which is in Charles City, carries me thither to-morrow, and I shall not return till Monday. Mrs. Jefferson I believe will not come shortly to town. When she does however she has too much value for Mrs. Page not to consider her acquaintance as a principal among those circumstances which are to reconcile her to her situation. A knowledge of her sentiments on this subject renders it safe in undertaking that she shall do her part in cultivating a friendly intercourse. Be pleased to present my compliments to Mrs. Page, and add this to the assurances I have ever given you, that I am, dear Page, your affectionate friend.
to william fleming
Williamsburgh, June 8, 1779.
—I received your letter and have now to thank you for it. Some resolutions of Congress came to hand yesterday desiring an authentic state to be sent them of the cruelties said to have been committed by the enemy during their late invasion. The council had already taken measures to obtain such a state. Tho’ so near the scene where these barbarities are said to have been committed I am not able yet to decide within myself whether they were such or not. The testimony on both sides is such as if heard separately could not admit a moment’s suspension of our faith.
We have lately been extremely disturbed to find a pretty general opinion prevailing that peace and the independence of the thirteen states are now within our power, and that Congress have hesitations on the subject, and delay entering on the consideration. It has even been said that their conduct on this head has been so dissatisfactory to the French minister that he thinks of returning to his own country, ostensibly for better health, but in truth through disgust. Such an event would be deplored here as the most dreadful calamity. It is in contemplation of some gentlemen who conferred on the subject to propose the re-establishment of our committees of correspondence; others thought this too slow for the emergency and that plenipotentiary deputies should be sent to satisfy the mind of the French minister, and to set on foot proper measures for procuring the genuine sense of the several states. The whole however subsided on a supposition that the information might not be true, and that our delegates in Congress would think no obligations of secrecy under which they may have been laid sufficient to restrain them from informing their constituents of any proceedings which may involve the fate of their freedom and independence. It would surely be better to carry on a ten years’ war some time hence than to continue the present an unnecessary moment.
Our land office I think will be opened; the sale of British property take place, and our tax bill put on a better footing. These measures I hope will put our finances into a better way and enable us to cooperate with our sister states in reducing the enormous sums of money in circulation. Every other remedy is nonsensical quackery. The house of delegates have passed a bill for removing the seat of government to Richmond. It hesitates with the Senate. We have established a board of war and a board of trade. I hear from your quarter that Genl. Sullivan is marching with a large army against the Indians. If he succeeds it will be the first instance of a great army doing anything against Indians and his laurels will be greater. We have ever found that chosen corps of men fit for the service of the woods, going against them with rapidity, and by surprize, have been most successful. I believe that our Colo. Clarke if we could properly reinforce him, would be more likely to succeed against those within his reach than Genl. Macintosh’s regular method of proceeding. I shall hope to hear from you often. I put no name to this letter, because letters have miscarried, and if it goes safely you know the hand.
to theodorick bland, jr.
Williamsburg, June 8th, 1779.
—Your letter to Governor Henry, of the 1st instant, came to hand yesterday, and I immediately laid it before the council. It gave them pain to hesitate on any request from General Phillips, whose polite conduct has disposed them to every indulgence consistent with the duties of their appointment. The indiscriminate murder of men, women and children, with the horrid circumstances of barbarity practised by the Indian savages, was the particular task of Governor Hamilton’s employment; and if anything could have aggravated the acceptance of such an office, and have made him personally answerable in a high degree, it was that eager spirit with which he is said to have executed it, and which, if the representations before the council are to be credited, seems to have shown that his own feelings and disposition were in unison with his employment. The truth of these representations will be the subject of their inquiry shortly, and the treatment of Governor Hamilton will be mild or otherwise, as his conduct shall appear to merit, upon a more intimate examination. We trust it must furnish a contemplation highly pleasing to the generous soldier, to see honorable bravery respected, even by those against whom it happens to be enlisted, and discriminated from the cruel and cowardly warfare of the savage, whose object in war is to extinguish human nature.
By a letter dated May 27th, you were desired to discharge the militia under your command as soon as you judged it proper; lest that letter should have miscarried, I now enclose you a copy. Colonel Finnie informs me he has written to you to apply for clothes at Winchester, for the use of your regiment of guards, and of the horse now with you. He yesterday showed me a letter from the continental board of war, giving the same directions; he says also that he had lately written to you on the subject of the articles desired for your particular use, and that he is not enabled to procure them more fully.
As to putting the horse now with you on the same pay-roll with the regiment of guards, the council are of opinion that either your own powers are competent to it, or at least that it may be done in concert with the continental paymaster. The regiment of guards is recognized as continental; the duty they are jointly engaged in is continental; they therefore wish that this matter should go into the continental line altogether, rather than be controlled by their interference, where it is not absolutely necessary. I am your most obedient servant, &c.
to richard henry lee
Williamsburg, June 17, 1779.
—I received your letter, and kind congratulations, for which I return you my thanks. In a virtuous government, and more especially in times like these, public offices are, what they should be, burthens to those appointed to them, which it would be wrong to decline, though foreseen to bring with them intense labour, and great private loss. I am, also, still to thank you for a former favour, enclosing a song and receipt. We have little new here. Colonel Clarke’s expedition against St Vincents you know of; his prisoners are arrived at Chesterfield, and three of them brought to this place to be severely dealt with; the enclosed paper will explain that matter. We have 300 men, under Colonel Bowman, in the Shawnee county, of whom we hope to receive good accounts: the destruction of the villages of the Cherokees, at Chuchamogga, and taking their goods, &c., has brought them to sue for peace; but the happiest stroke was the burning twenty-thousand bushels of corn, collected there for the use of the expeditions, which were to have been adopted at the great council. Governor Hamilton had called at the mouth of the Tanissee, as mentioned in the within paper. It is a cruel thought, that, when we feel ourselves standing on the firmest ground, in every respect, the cursed art of our secret enemies, combining with other causes, should effect, by depreciating our money, what the open arms of a powerful enemy could not. What is to be done? Taxation is become of no account, for it is foreseen, that, notwithstanding its increased amount, there will still be a greater deficiency than ever. I own I see no assured hope, but in peace, or a plentiful loan of hard money.
I shall be obliged by your letters, when convenient to you to write. I never was a punctual correspondent to any person, as I must own to my shame; perhaps my present office will put it more out of my power; however as it may sometimes furnish me with matter which may induce me to hope my letters may be worth sending, I may venture to say, you shall hear from me whenever I can get over the twofold difficulty of many letters of absolute necessity, to write, and an innate aversion to that kind of business.
to theodorick bland, jr.
Williamsburgh, June 18th, 1779.
—Yours of the 14th instant came to hand this day. * * * With respect to Col. Finnie, as a continental officer, [we decline med]dling with his conduct; being yourself in the continental service, [we] take it for granted, that if he fails in his duty you will [put] him under a proper train of enquiry? His assurances to us are fair; one thing only I am to inform you, that however true it may be that he is without money, it is no just excuse for failing to do anything for the public service, because that was never permitted by the executive here, to be on sufferance for want of money. He never applied in vain, and we still are, as we ever have been, ready to lend him (as a continental officer) any monies, which the due discharge of his office may call [for] * * * and politeness at the [least] hardly permits them to suppose the duties of the [post can be as] well discharged by any other, as by yourself. But your health for that very reason is the more to be taken care of. You will please to permit Capt. Bertling and Lieutenant Campbell to pass by land to the lower ferry of the Chickahominy, [where the Flag] lies, and finally settle the business, on which he came, according [to the rules] usual in their service. I enclose you the reasons, which have induced the council to [act] with such rigor with Governor Hamilton and the others there. It is impossible for any generous man to disapprove his sentence. I am, sir, with much [respect,] your most obedient and most humble servant, &c.
REPORT OF THE REVISORS
REPORT OF THE REVISORS
In 1776, as Jefferson states in his Autobiography, (i., 66), he introduced a bill in the General Assembly, creating a committee to revise and codify the laws of the state. The committee, consisting of Jefferson, Pendleton, Wythe, George Mason, and Thomas L. Lee, met at Fredericksburg, Jan. 13, 1777, and outlined a plan (partly printed in Rowland’s Life of Mason, i., 276) settling certain details, and apportioning the work among the revisors. Both Mason and Lee resigned before the code was fairly commenced; but the remaining three worked on the revisal for over two years, finally meeting again at Williamsburg in Feb., 1779, where, Jefferson states (Autobiography), they “examined critically our several parts, sentence by sentence, scrutinizing and amending until we had agreed on the whole. We then returned home, [and] had fair copies made of our several parts.” A letter of Pendleton, however, gives a different version of this (Pendleton to Jefferson, May 11, 1779):
“I immediately wrote to our friend W. to be informed if anything had happen’d, or passed between you & him, which made it necessary for me to attend further to the work of Revisal, contrary to what had been agreed to between Us, that you should settle our diversity of Opinions upon the Bills he had prepared, as well as mine, which he chose to consider by himself, & Point out for your Examination any alterations he judged proper, & then they were to be fairly transcribed as well as yours, which we had before gone through & reported. I let him know that I was ready to attend him at any time, if such Occurrences had made it necessary; he answered that no Alteration was made in that plan & I was satisfied.”
Finally they reported the results of their work to the Assembly in the following letter:
Williamsburg, June 18, 1779.
—The committee appointed in pursuance of an act of General Assembly, passed in 1776 intituled “An act for the revision of the laws,” have according to the requisitions of the said act, gone through that work, and prepared 126 bills, the titles of which are stated in the enclosed catalogue. Some of these bills have been presented to the House of Delegates in the course of the present session, two or three of them delivered to members of that House at their request to be presented, the rest are in the two bundles which accompany this; these we take the liberty through you of presenting to the General Assembly.
In the course of this work we were unfortunately deprived of the assistance and abilities of our associates appointed by the General Assembly, of the one by death, of the other by resignation. As the plan of the work had been settled, and agreeable to that plan it was in a considerable degree carried into execution before that loss, we did not exercise the powers given us by the act, of filling up the places by new appointment, being desirous that the plan agreed on by members who were specially appointed by the Assembly, might not be liable to alteration from others who might not equally possess their confidence, it has therefore been executed by the three remaining members, one of whom being prevented from putting his signature hereto, by the great distance of his residence from this city, has by letter authorized us to declare his concurrence in the report.
We have the honor to be with the utmost respect, sir, your most obedient and most humble servants,
For some reason the Assembly neglected the Report of the Revisors for some years; but finally, in 1784, Madison succeeded in getting 500 copies of it printed, and at the sessions of 1785 and 1786, fifty-six out of the one hundred and twenty-six bills, which constituted the collection, were, after amendment, made laws (see Hening, xii.).
The part assigned to Jefferson in this work was “to undertake the first part (‘the first period in the division of the statutes to end with 25th, H. 8th’) with the law of descents.”
After consideration, the editor has concluded to print only the most notable of the bills Jefferson drafted for this Revisal, as many are of a merely formal and routine character, and he himself wrote of the collection (to Hogendorp, Oct. 13, 1785):
“If you had formed any considerable expectations from our revised code of laws you will be much disappointed. It contains not more than three or four laws which could strike the attention of a foreigner. Had it been a digest of all our laws, it would not have been comprehensible or instructive but to a native. But it is still less so, as it digests only the British statutes & our own acts of assembly, which are but a supplementary part of our law. The great basis of it is anterior to the date of the Magna charta, which is the oldest statute extant. The only merit of this work is that it may remove from our book shelves about twenty folio volumes of our statutes, retaining all the parts of them which either their own merit or the established system of our laws required.”
For further information concerning this Report of the Revisors, see Jefferson’s Autobiography, i., 66-78; Notes on Virginia, Query XIV., in vol. iv.; Letters to Madison, Feb. 20, Apr. 25, 1784; Hening, xii., 8, 409; Rowland’s Life of Mason, i., 276; and Letters of James Madison, i., 199, 203, 207, 212, 260, 268, 270, 273, 366; iii., 532, 580, 583, 612.
a bill for withholding british property (chapter xxxvi )
For securing to the citizens of this commonwealth an indemnification out of the property of British subjects here, in case the sovereign of the latter should confiscate the property of the former in his dominions, as well as to prevent that accession of strength which the enemy might derive by withdrawing their property from hence: Be it enacted by the General Assembly, that the lands, slaves, flocks, implements of husbandry, and other estate except what is otherwise hereinafter provided for, within this commonwealth, of British subjects, shall be sequestered, and remain in possession of the commissioners heretofore for that purpose appointed, or be put into the possession of such as shall be from time to time, appointed, by the Governor, with advice of the Council of State. The said commissioners shall have power, and are required, to place, and keep the said estates under any management and direction of proper agents, stewards, or overseers, and dispose of the produce thereof, and to demand, receive, and, by actions in the names of the proprietors, recover monies and other things which are and shall become due to them, and, after defraying the expenses incurred in the management of the said estates, and applying so much of the profits thereof, as the Governor, with the advice aforesaid, shall judge reasonable and direct to be allowed, towards maintaining the wives and children, if any there be residing here, of the proprietors, and pay the balances of such profits and receipts into the loan-office of this commonwealth, taking certificates in the proprietors names, and delivering the certificates, and annually rendering accounts of their respective transactions to the Governor, who, with the advice aforesaid, may cause the said accounts to be adjusted, and, in the names of the proprietors, recover any arrears from the commissioners, and pay the same into the said loan-office.
A citizen of the commonwealth, who is debtor to a British subject, may lodge the money due, or any part thereof, in the said loan-office, accounting sixteen pence of the lawful money of the commonwealth, or two-thirds of a dollar in bills of credit there current, equal to twelve pence of any such debt payable in the debtor’s name, signed by the commissioner of the office, and delivering the same to the Governor, whose receipt shall discharge the debt, wholly or partly as the case may be. A state of all which matters shall be laid before the General Assembly, whenever they shall require it. If a citizen of the commonwealth, being a coparcener, join-tenant, or tenant in common, with a British subject, bring a writ de partitione facienda in the General Court, or a suit for a partition by bill in equity, if that be the proper remedy in the High Court of Chancery, service of the process, against the tenant or defendant, upon the commissioner, for his estate, personally shall be deemed equivalent to service upon the party himself, and be as effectual to all purposes, save that if the partition thereupon made be without title, or unequal, which the commissioner shall endeavor to prevent, entering into the defence, or answering, and contesting the matter, for the tenant or defendant, and at his costs, the tenant or defendant shall not be concluded by the partition, unless the purparty assigned or allotted to the demandant or plaintiff shall be afterwards sold to a purchaser for valuable consideration, bonafide paid or agreed to be paid, in which case the tenant or defendant shall have redress against the demandant or plaintiff, or his representatives, when the General Assembly shall hereafter allow suit to be brought for that purpose.
Suits between British subjects only, demandants or plaintiffs and citizens of the commonwealth, tenants or defendants, which have not been, or shall not be, discontinued by acts of the parties, or abated by death, shall stand continued in the same condition as they were in on the twelfth day of April, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy four; and in suits between subjects and citizens, joint demandants or plaintiffs, and citizens, tenants or defendants, execution, as to the parts recovered on behalf of the subjects, shall be suspended, until further provision be made in the cases of both those classes: And in suits between such citizens only, or citizens and subjects jointly, tenants or defendants, the benefit of new trials or re-hearings, with future Legislative permission and direction, if it be then judged reasonable, shall be saved to the latter.
a bill concerning slaves (chapter li )
Be it enacted by the General Assembly, that no persons shall, henceforth, be slaves within this commonwealth, except such as were so on the first day of this present session of Assembly, and the descendants of the females of them.
Negroes and mulattoes which shall hereafter be brought into this commonwealth and kept therein one whole year, together, or so long at different times as shall amount to one year, shall be free. But if they shall not depart the commonwealth within one year thereafter they shall be out of the protection of the laws.
Those which shall come into this commonwealth of their own accord shall be out of the protection of the laws; save only such as being seafaring persons and navigating vessels hither, shall not leave the same while here more than twenty four hours together.
It shall not be lawful for any person to emancipate a slave but by deed executed, proved and recorded as is required by law in the case of a conveyance of goods and chattels, on consideration not deemed valuable in law, or by last will and testament, and with the free consent of such slave, expressed in presence of the court of the county wherein he resides. And if such slave, so emancipated, shall not within one year thereafter, depart the commonwealth, he shall be out of the protection of the laws. All conditions, restrictions and limitations annexed to any act of emancipation shall be void from the time such emancipation is to take place.
If any white woman shall have a child by a negro or mulatto, she and her child shall depart the commonwealth within one year thereafter. If they shall fail so to do, the woman shall be out of the protection of the laws, and the child shall be bound out by the Aldermen of the county, in like manner as poor orphans are by law directed to be, and within one year after its term of service expired shall depart the commonwealth, or on failure so to do, shall be out of the protection of the laws.
Where any of the persons before described shall be disabled from departing the commonwealth by grievous sickness, the protection of the law shall be continued to him until such disability be removed: And if the county shall in the meantime, incur any expense in taking care of him, as of other county poor, the Aldermen shall be intitled to recover the same from his master, if he had one, his heirs, executors and administrators.
No negro or mulatto shall be a witness except in pleas of the commonwealth against negroes or mulattoes, or in civil pleas wherein negroes or mulattoes alone shall be parties.
No slave shall go from the tenements of his master, or other person with whom he lives, without a pass, or some letter or token whereby it may appear that he is proceeding by authority from his master, employer, or overseer: If he does, it shall be lawful for any person to apprehend and carry him before a Justice of the Peace, to be by his order punished with stripes, or not, in his discretion.
No slave shall keep any arms whatever, nor pass, unless with written orders from his master or employer, or in his company, with arms from one place to another. Arms in possession of a slave contrary to this prohibition shall be forfeited to him who will seize them.
Riots, routs, unlawful assemblies, trespasses and seditious speeches by a negro or mulatto shall be punished with stripes at the discretion of a Justice of the Peace; and he who will may apprehend and carry him before such Justice.
a bill for proportioning crimes and punishments (chapter lxiv )
Whereas it frequently happens that wicked and dissolute men, resigning themselves to the dominion of inordinate passions, commit violations on the lives, liberties, and property of others, and the secure enjoyment of these having principally induced men to enter into society, government would be defective in its principal purpose, were it not to restrain such criminal acts by inflicting due punishments on those who perpetrate them; but it appears at the same time equally deducible from the purposes of society, that a member thereof, committing an inferior injury, does not wholly forfeit the protection of his fellow citizens, but after suffering a punishment in proportion to his offence, is entitled to their protection from all greater pain, so that it becomes a duty in the Legislature to arrange in a proper scale the crimes which it may be necessary for them to repress, and to adjust there a corresponding gradation of punishments. And whereas the reformation of offenders, though an object worthy the attention of the laws, is not effected at all by capital punishments which exterminate instead of reforming, and should be the last melancholy resource against those whose existence is become inconsistent with the safety of their fellow citizens; which also weaken the State by cutting off so many, who, if reformed, might be restored sound members to society, who, even under a course of correction, might be rendered useful in various labours for the public, and would be living and long-continued spectacles to deter others from committing the like offences. And forasmuch as the experience of all ages and countries hath shewn, that cruel and sanguinary laws defeat their own purpose, by engaging the benevolence of mankind to withhold prosecutions, to smother testimony, or to listen to it with bias; and by producing in many instances a total dispensation and impunity under the names of pardon and privilege of clergy; when, if the punishment were only proportioned to the injury, men would feel it their inclination, as well as their duty, to see the laws observed; and the power of dispensation, so dangerous and mischievous, which produces crimes by holding up a hope of impunity, might totally be abolished, so that men while contemplating to perpetrate a crime would see their punishment ensuing as necessarily as effects follow their causes ; for rendering crimes and punishments, therefore, more proportionate to each other.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly, that no crime shall be henceforth punished by the deprivation of life or limb, except those herein after ordained to be so punished.
If a man do levy war against the Commonwealth [in the same], or be adherent to the enemies of the Commonwealth [within the same], giving to them aid or comfort in the Commonwealth, or elsewhere, and thereof be convicted, of open deed, by the evidence of two sufficient and lawful witnesses, or his own voluntary confession, the said cases, and no others, shall be adjudged treasons which extend to the commonwealth, and the person so convicted shall suffer death, by hanging, and shall forfeit his lands and goods to the commonwealth.
If any person commit petty treason, or a husband murder his wife, a parent his child, or a child his parent, he shall suffer death, by hanging, and his body be delivered to Anatomists to be dissected.
Whosoever committeth murder by poisoning, shall suffer death by poison.
Whosoever committeth murder by way of duel, shall suffer death by hanging; and if he were the challenger, his body, after death, shall be gibbetted. He who removeth it from the gibbet shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and the officer shall see that it be replaced.
Whosoever shall commit murder in any other way shall suffer death by hanging.
And in all cases of Petty treason and murder, one half of the lands and goods of the offender shall be forfeited to the next of kin to the person killed, and the other half descend and go to his own representatives. Save only, where one shall slay the challenger in a duel, in which case, no part of his lands or goods shall be forfeited to the kindred of the party slain, but instead thereof, a moiety shall go to the commonwealth.
The same evidence shall suffice, and order and course of trial be observed in cases of Petty treason as in those of other murders.
Whosoever shall be guilty of manslaughter, shall, for the first offence, be condemned to hard labour for seven years in the public works; shall forfeit one half of his lands and goods to the next of kin to the person slain; the other half to be sequestered during such term, in the hands, and to the use, of the commonwealth, allowing a reasonable part of the profits for the support of his family. The second offence shall be deemed murder.
And where persons meaning to commit a trespass only, or larceny, or other unlawful deed, and doing an act from which involuntary homicide hath ensued, have heretofore been adjudged guilty of manslaughter or of murder, by transferring such their unlawful intention to an act, much more penal than they could have in probable contemplation; no such case shall hereafter be deemed manslaughter unless manslaughter was intended, nor murder, unless murder was intended.
In other cases of homicide the law will not add to the miseries of the party, by punishments or forfeitures.
Whenever sentence of death shall have been pronounced against any person for treason or murder, execution thereof shall be done on the next day but one, after such sentence, unless it be Sunday, and then on the Monday following.
Whosoever shall be guilty of rape, [polygamy, ] or sodomy with man or woman, shall be punished; if a man, by castration, if a woman, by boring through the cartilage of her nose a hole of one half inch in diameter at the least.
Whosoever on purpose, shall disfigure another, by cutting out or disabling the tongue, slitting or cutting off a nose, lip, or ear, branding, or otherwise, shall be maimed, or disfigured in like sort; or if that cannot be, for want of the same part, then as nearly as may be, in some other part of at least equal value and estimation, in the opinion of a jury, and moreover, shall forfeit one half of his land and goods to the sufferer.
Whosoever shall counterfeit any coin current by law within this commonwealth, or any paper bills issued in the nature of money, or of certificates of loan, on the credit of this commonwealth, or of all or any of the United States of America, or any Inspectors’ notes for tobacco, or shall pass any such counterfeited coin, paper bills, or notes, knowing them to be counterfeit; or, for the sake of lucre, shall diminish each, or any such coin, shall be condemned to hard labour six years in the public works, and shall forfeit all his lands and goods to the commonwealth.
The making false any such paper bill, or note, shall be deemed counterfeiting.
Whosoever committeth arson, shall be condemned to hard labour five years in the public works, and shall make good the loss of the sufferers threefold.
If any person shall, within this Commonwealth, or, being a citizen thereof, shall without the same, wilfully destroy or run away with any sea-vessel, or goods laden on board thereof, or plunder or pilfer any wreck, he shall be condemned to hard labour five years in the public works, and shall make good the loss of the sufferers threefold.
Whosoever committeth a robbery, shall be condemned to hard labour four years in the public works, and shall make double reparation to the persons injured.
Whatsoever act, if committed on any mansion-house, would be deemed a burglary, shall be burglary, if committed on any other house; and he who is guilty of burglary, shall be condemned to hard labour four years in the public works, and shall make double reparation to the persons injured.
Whatsoever act, if committed in the night time, shall constitute the crime of burglary, shall, if committed in the day, be deemed housebreaking ; and whoever is guilty thereof, shall be condemned to hard labour three years in the public works, and shall make reparation to the persons injured.
Whosoever shall be guilty of horse-stealing, shall be condemned to hard labour three years in the public works, and shall make reparation to the person injured.
Grand larceny shall be where the goods stolen are of the value of five dollars; and whosoever shall be guilty thereof, shall be forthwith put in the pillory for one half hour, shall be condemned to hard labour two years in the public works, and shall make reparation to the person injured.
Petty larceny shall be, where the goods stolen are of less value than five dollars; whosoever shall be guilty thereof, shall be forthwith put in the pillory for a quarter of an hour, shall be condemned to hard labour for one year in the public works, and shall make reparation to the persons injured.
Robbery or larceny of bonds, bills obligatory, bills of exchange, or promissory notes, for the payment of money or tobacco, lottery tickets, paper bills issued in the nature of money, or certificates of loan on the credit of this commonwealth, or of all or any of the United States of America, or inspectors notes for tobacco, shall be punished in the same manner as robbery or larceny of the money or tobacco due on, or represented by such papers.
Buyers and receivers of goods taken by way of robbery or larceny, knowing them to have been so taken, shall be deemed accessaries to such robbery or larceny after the fact.
Prison-breakers, also, shall be deemed accessaries after the fact, to traitors or felons whom they enlarge from prison.
All attempts to delude the people, or to abuse their understanding by exercise of the pretended arts of witchcraft, conjuration, enchantment, or sorcery, or by pretended prophecies, shall be punished by ducking and whipping, at the discretion of a jury, not exceeding fifteen stripes.
If the principal offenders be fled, or secreted from justice, in any case not touching life or member, the accessaries may, notwithstanding, be prosecuted as if their principal were convicted.
If any offender stand mute of obstinacy, or challenge peremptorily more of the jurors than by law he may, being first warned of the consequence thereof, the court shall proceed as if he had confessed the charge.
Pardon and privilege of clergy, shall henceforth be abolished, that none may be induced to injure through hope of impunity. But if the verdict be against the defendant, and the court, before whom the offence is heard and determined, shall doubt that it may be untrue for default of testimony, or other cause, they may direct a new trial to be had.
No attainder shall work corruption of blood in any case.
In all cases of forfeiture, the widow’s dower shall be saved to her, during her title thereto; after which it shall be disposed of as if no such saving had been.
The aid of Counsel, and examination of their witnesses on oath, shall be allowed to defendants in criminal prosecutions.
Slaves guilty of any offence punishable in others by labour in the public works, shall be transported to such parts in the West-Indies, South-America, or Africa, as the Governor shall direct, there to be continued in slavery.
a bill for the more general diffusion of knowledge (chapter lxxix)
Whereas it appeareth that however certain forms of government are better calculated than others to protect individuals in the free exercise of their natural rights, and are at the same time themselves better guarded against degeneracy, yet experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms, those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny; and it is believed that the most effectual means of preventing this would be, to illuminate, as far as practicable, the minds of the people at large, and more especially to give them knowledge of those facts, which history exhibiteth, that, possessed thereby of the experience of other ages and countries, they may be enabled to know ambition under all its shapes, and prompt to exert their natural powers to defeat its purposes; And whereas it is generally true that that people will be happiest whose laws are best, and are best administered, and that laws will be wisely formed, and honestly administered, in proportion as those who form and administer them are wise and honest; whence it becomes expedient for promoting the publick happiness that those persons, whom nature hath endowed with genius and virtue, should be rendered by liberal education worthy to receive, and able to guard the sacred deposit of the rights and liberties of their fellow citizens, and that they should be called to that charge without regard to wealth, birth or other accidental condition or circumstance; but the indigence of the greater number disabling them from so educating, at their own expence, those of their children whom nature hath fitly formed and disposed to become useful instruments for the public, it is better that such should be sought for and educated at the common expense of all, than that the happiness of all should be confined to the weak or wicked:
Be it therefore enacted by the General Assembly, that in every county within this commonwealth, there shall be chosen annually, by the electors qualified to vote for Delegates, three of the most honest and able men of their county, to be called the Alderman of the county; and that the election of the said Aldermen shall be held at the same time and place, before the same persons, and notified and conducted in the same manner as by law is directed, for the annual election of Delegates for the county.
The person before whom such election is holden shall certify to the court of the said county the names of the Aldermen chosen, in order that the same may be entered of record, and shall give notice of their election to the said Aldermen within a fortnight after such election.
The said Aldermen on the first Monday in October, if it be fair, and if not, then on the next fair day, excluding Sunday, shall meet at the court-house of their county, and proceed to divide their said county into hundreds, bounding the same by water courses, mountains, or limits, to be run and marked, if they think necessary, by the county surveyor, and at the county expence, regulating the size of the said hundreds, according to the best of their discretion, so as that they may contain a convenient number of children to make up a school, and be of such convenient size that all the children within each hundred may daily attend the school to be established therein, and distinguishing each hundred by a particular name; which division, with the names of the several hundreds, shall be returned to the court of the county and be entered of record, and shall remain unaltered until the increase or decrease of inhabitants shall render an alteration necessary, in the opinion of any succeeding Alderman, and also in the opinion of the court of the county.
The electors aforesaid residing within every hundred shall meet on the third Monday in October after the first election of Aldermen, at such place, within their hundred, as the said Aldermen shall direct, notice thereof being previously given to them by such person residing within the hundred as the said Aldermen shall require who is hereby enjoined to obey such requisition, on pain of being punished by amercement and imprisonment. The electors being so assembled shall choose the most convenient place within their hundred for building a school-house. If two or more places, having a greater number of votes than any others, shall yet be equal between themselves, the Aldermen, or such of them as are not of the same hundred, on information thereof, shall decide between them. The said Aldermen shall forthwith proceed to have a school-house built at the said place, and shall see that the same shall be kept in repair, and, when necessary, that it be rebuilt; but whenever they shall think necessary that it be rebuilt, they shall give notice as before directed, to the electors of the hundred to meet at the said school-house on such a day as they shall appoint, to determine by vote, in the manner before directed, whether it shall be rebuilt at the same, or what other place in the hundred.
At every of those schools shall be taught reading, writing, and common arithmetick, and the books which shall be used therein for instructing the children to read shall be such as will at the same time make them acquainted with Græcian, Roman, English, and American history. At these schools all the free children, male and female, resident within the respective hundred, shall be intitled to receive tuition gratis, for the term of three years, and as much longer, at their private expence, as their parents, guardians, or friends shall think proper.
Over every ten of these schools (or such other number nearest thereto, as the number of hundreds in the county will admit, without fractional divisions) an overseer shall be appointed annually by the aldermen at their first meeting, eminent for his learning, integrity, and fidelity to the commonwealth, whose business and duty it shall be, from time to time, to appoint a teacher to each school, who shall give assurance of fidelity to the commonwealth, and to remove him as he shall see cause; to visit every school once in every half year at the least; to examine the scholars; see that any general plan of reading and instruction recommended by the visitors of William and Mary College shall be observed; and to superintend the conduct of the teacher in everything relative to his school.
Every teacher shall receive a salary of — by the year, which, with the expences of building and repairing the school-houses, shall be provided in such manner as other county expences are by law directed to be provided and shall also have his diet, lodging, and washing found him, to be levied in like manner, save only that such levy shall be on the inhabitants of each hundred for the board of their own teacher only.
And in order that grammer schools may be rendered convenient to the youth in every part of the commonwealth, be it therefore enacted, that on the first Monday in November, after the first appointment of overseers for the hundred schools, if fair, and if not, then on the next fair day, excluding Sunday, after the hour of one in the afternoon, the said overseers appointed for the schools in the counties of Princess Ann, Norfolk, Nansemond and Isle-of-Wight, shall meet at Nansemond court-house; those for the counties of Southampton, Sussex, Surry and Prince George, shall meet at Sussex court-house; those for the counties of Brunswick, Mecklenburg and Lunenburg, shall meet at Lunenburg court-house; those for the counties of Dinwiddie, Amelia and Chesterfield, shall meet at Chesterfield court-house; those for the counties of Powhatan, Cumberland, Goochland, Henrico and Hanover, shall meet at Henrico court-house; those for the counties of Prince Edward, Charlotte and Halifax, shall meet at Charlotte court-house; those for the counties of Henry, Pittsylvania and Bedford, shall meet at Pittsylvania court-house; those for the counties of Buckingham, Amherst, Albemarle and Fluvanna, shall meet at Albemarle court-house; those for the counties of Botetourt, Rockbridge, Montgomery, Washington and Kentucky, shall meet at Botetourt court-house; those for the counties of Augusta, Rockingham and Greenbriar, shall meet at Augusta court-house; those for the counties of Accomack and Northampton, shall meet at Accomack court-house; those for the counties of Elizabeth City, Warwick, York, Gloucester, James City, Charles City and New-Kent, shall meet at James City court-house; those for the counties of Middlesex, Essex, King and Queen, King William and Caroline, shall meet at King and Queen court-house; those for the counties of Lancaster, Northumberland, Richmond and Westmoreland, shall meet at Richmond court-house; those for the counties of King George, Stafford, Spotsylvania, Prince William and Fairfax, shall meet at Spotsylvania court-house; those for the counties of Loudoun and Fauquier, shall meet at Loudoun court-house; those for the counties of Culpeper, Orange and Louisa, shall meet at Orange court-house; those for the county of Shenandoah and Frederick, shall meet at Frederick court-house; those for the counties of Hampshire and Berkeley, shall meet at Berkeley court-house; and those for the counties of Yohogania, Monongalia, and Ohio, shall meet at the Monongalia court-house; and shall fix on such place in some one of the counties in their district as shall be most proper for situating a grammer school-house, endeavoring that the situation be as central as may be to the inhabitants of the said counties, that it be furnished with good water, convenient to plentiful supplies of provision and fuel, and more than all things that it be healthy. And if a majority of the overseers present should not concur in their choice of any one place proposed, the method of determining shall be as follows: If two places only were proposed, and the votes be divided, they shall decide between them by fair and equal lot; if more than two places were proposed, the question shall be put on those two which on the first division had the greater number of votes; or if no two places had a greater number of votes than the others, then it shall be decided by fair and equal lot (unless it can be agreed by a majority of votes) which of the places having equal numbers shall be thrown out of the competition, so that the question shall be put on the remaining two, and if on this ultimate question the votes shall be equally divided, it shall then be decided finally by lot.
The said overseers having determined the place at which the grammer school for their district shall be built, shall forthwith (unless they can otherwise agree with the proprietors of the circumjacent lands as to location and price) make application to the clerk of the county in which the said house is to be situated, who shall thereupon issue a writ, in the nature of a writ of ad quod damnum, directed to the sheriff of the said county commanding him to summon and impannel twelve fit persons to meet at the place, so destined for the grammer school-house, on a certain day, to be named in the said writ, not less than five, nor more than ten, days from the date thereof; and also to give notice of the same to the proprietors and tenants of the lands to be viewed if they be found within the county, and if not, then to their agents therein if any they have. Which freeholders shall be charged by the said sheriff impartially, and to the best of their skill and judgment to view the lands round about the said place and to locate and circumscribe, by certain meets and bounds, one hundred acres thereof, having regard therein principally to the benefit and convenience of the said school, but respecting in some measure also the convenience of the said proprietors, and to value and appraise the same in so many several and distinct parcels as shall be owned or held by several and distinct owners or tenants, and according to their respective interests and estates therein. And after such location and appraisement so made, the said sheriff shall forthwith return the same under the hands and seals of the said jurors, together with the writ, to the clerk’s office of the said county and the right and property of the said proprietors and tenants in the said lands so circumscribed shall be immediately devested and be transferred to the commonwealth for the use of the said grammer school, in full and absolute dominion, any want of consent or disability to consent in the said owners or tenants notwithstanding. But it shall not be lawful for the said overseers so to situate the grammer school-house, nor to the said jurors so to locate the said lands, as to include the mansion-house of the proprietor of the lands, nor the offices, curtilage, or garden, thereunto immediately belonging.
The said overseers shall forthwith proceed to have a house of brick or stone, for the said grammer school, with necessary offices, built on the said lands, which grammer school-house shall contain a room for the school, a hall to dine in, four rooms for a master and usher, and ten or twelve lodging rooms for the scholars.
To each of the said grammer schools shall be allowed out of the public treasury, the sum of pounds, out of which shall be paid by the Treasurer, on warrant from the Auditors, to the proprietors or tenants of the lands located, the value of their several interests as fixed by the jury, and the balance thereof shall be delivered to the said overseers to defray the expense of the said buildings.
In either of these grammer schools shall be taught the Latin and Greek languages, English Grammer, geography, and the higher part of numerical arithmetick, to wit, vulgar and decimal fractions, and the extrication of the square and cube roots.
A visiter from each county constituting the district shall be appointed, by the overseers, for the county, in the month of October annually, either from their own body or from their county at large, which visiters, or the greater part of them, meeting together at the said grammer school on the first Monday in November, if fair, and if not, then on the next fair day, excluding Sunday, shall have power to choose their own Rector, who shall call and preside at future meetings, to employ from time to time a master, and if necessary, an usher, for the said school, to remove them at their will, and to settle the price of tuition to be paid by the scholars. They shall also visit the school twice in every year at the least, either together or separately at their discretion, examine the scholars, and see that any general plan of instruction recommended by the visiters, of William and Mary College shall be observed. The said masters and ushers, before they enter on the execution of their office, shall give assurance of fidelity to the commonwealth.
A steward shall be employed, and removed at will by the master, on such wages as the visiters shall direct; which steward shall see to the procuring provisions, fuel, servants for cooking, waiting, house cleaning, washing, mending, and gardening on the most reasonable terms; the expence of which, together with the steward’s wages, shall be divided equally among all the scholars boarding either on the public or private expence. And the part of those who are on private expence, and also the price of their tuitions due to the master or usher, shall be paid quarterly by the respective scholars, their parents, or guardians, and shall be recoverable, if withheld, together with costs, on motion in any Court of Record, ten days notice thereof being previously given to the party, and a jury impannelled to try the issue joined, or enquire of the damages. The said steward shall also, under the direction of the visiters, see that the houses be kept in repair, and necessary enclosures be made and repaired, the accounts for which, shall, from time to time, be submitted to the Auditors, and on their warrant paid by the Treasurer.
Every overseer of the hundred schools shall, in the month of September annually, after the most diligent and impartial examination and inquiry, appoint from among the boys who shall have been two years at the least at some one of the schools under his superintendance, and whose parents are too poor to give them farther education, some one of the best and most promising genius and disposition, to proceed to the grammer school of his district; which appointment shall be made in the court-house of the county, and on the court day for that month if fair, and if not, then on the next fair day, excluding Sunday, in the presence of the Aldermen, or two of them at the least, assembled on the bench for that purpose, the said overseer being previously sworn by them to make such appointment, without favor or affection, according to the best of his skill and judgment, and being interrogated by the said Aldermen, either on their own motion, or on suggestions from their parents, guardians, friends, or teachers of the children, competitors for such appointment; which teachers the parents shall attend for the information of the Aldermen. On which interrogatories the said Aldermen, if they be not satisfied with the appointment proposed, shall have right to negative it; whereupon the said visiter may proceed to make a new appointment, and the said Aldermen again to interrogate and negative, and so toties quoties until an appointment be approved.
Every boy so appointed shall be authorized to proceed to the grammer school of his district, there to be educated and boarded during such time as is hereafter limited; and his quota of the expences of the house together with a compensation to the master or usher for his tuition, at the rate of twenty dollars by the year, shall be paid by the Treasurer quarterly on warrant from the Auditors.
A visitation shall be held, for the purpose of probation, annually at the said grammer school on the last Monday in September, if fair, and if not, then on the next fair day, excluding Sunday, at which one third of the boys sent thither by appointment of the said overseers, and who shall have been there one year only, shall be discontinued as public foundationers, being those who, on the most diligent examination and enquiry, shall be thought to be the least promising genius and disposition; and of those who shall have been there two years, all shall be discontinued save one only the best in genius and disposition, who shall be at liberty to continue there four years longer on the public foundation, and shall thence forward be deemed a senior.
The visiters for the districts which, or any part of which, be southward and westward of James river, as known by that name, or by the names of Fluvanna and Jackson’s river, in every other year, to wit, at the probation meetings held in the years, distinguished in the Christian computation by odd numbers, and the visiters for all the other districts at their said meetings to be held in those years, distinguished by even numbers, after diligent examination and enquiry as before directed, shall chuse one among the said seniors, of the best learning and most hopeful genius and disposition, who shall be authorized by them to proceed to William and Mary College; there to be educated, boarded, and clothed, three years; the expence of which annually shall be paid by the Treasurer on warrant from the Auditors.
a bill for the amending the constitution of the college of william and mary (chapter lxxx)
Whereas a scheme for cultivating and disseminating useful knowledge in this country, which had been proposed by some of its liberal minded inhabitants, before the year 1690 of the Christian epocha, was approved, adopted, and cherished, by the General Assembly, upon whose petition King William and Queen Mary of England, to the crown whereof the people here at that time acknowledged themselves, as a colony, to be subject, by their charter bearing date the seventh day of February, in the fourth year of their reign, gave license, in due form, to Francis Nicholson, Esquire, Lieutenant Governor of the colony, and seventeen other trustees, particularly named, to found a place of universal study, or perpetual college, in such part of the country as the General Assembly should think fit, consisting of a President, six Professors, and an hundred scholars, more or less; enabled the trustees, and their survivors, to take and hold lands, tenements, and hereditaments, to the yearly value of two thousand pounds, with intention, and in confidence, that, after application of the profits thereof, with such donations as by themselves and others might be made for that purpose, to the erecting, founding, and adorning the college, they should transfer the same to the President and Professors; appointed James Blair, clerk, the first President, and empowered the trustees, and their successors, to elect the succeeding President, and the Professors; willed the college after it should be founded, to be called the College of William and Mary in Virginia; and incorporated the President and masters, enabling them and their successors to take and hold lands, tenements, hereditaments, goods and chattels, to the yearly value of two thousand pounds, of lawful money of England; appointed the trustees and their successors, to be elected in the manner therein prescribed, so as not to be less than eighteen, visiters of the College, with power to nominate one of themselves a rector annually and to ordain statutes for the government of the College, not contrary to the royal prerogative, the laws of England or Virginia, or the canons of the Church of England; willed that the President and Professors should have a Chancellor, to be nominated, every seventh year, in the manner therein prescribed; granted to the trustees a sum of money, then in the hands of William Byrd, Esquire, the Auditor, received for quitrents, to be applied towards erecting, founding and adorning the College; and also granted to the trustees, to be transferred to the President and Professors, in like manner as before directed, part of the then royal revenue, arising from the duty on tobacco exported; and also granted to the said trustees the office of surveyor general of Virginia, with intention, and in confidence, that they and their successors, or the longest livers of them, should receive the profits thereof, until the foundation of the College, and when that should be affected, account for and pay the same or the surplus above what should have been expended in that work, to the President and Professors; and that thereafter the said office should be held by the said President and Professors. And the said King and Queen, by their said charter, granted to the said trustees ten thousand acres of land, on the south side of the Blackwater swamp, and also other ten thousand acres of land in Pamunkey neck, between the forks or branches of the York river, with this intention, and in confidence, that the said trustees, or the longest livers of them, should transfer the said twenty thousand acres of land, after the foundation of the College, to the President and Professors; as by the said charter, among other things, relation being thereupon had, may more fully appear. And whereas voluntary contributions towards forwarding this beneficial scheme, the sum whereof exceeded two thousand pounds, sterling, was received by the said trustees, with one thousand pounds, sterling, out of the money arising from the quitrents granted to the use of said College by Queen Anne, part whereof was applied to the purchase of three hundred and thirty acres of land at the middle plantation, being the same place where the General Assembly, by their act, passed in the year 1693, had directed the said College to be built, and whereon the same was accordingly built, and the General Assembly, by one other act, passed in the same year 1693, intitled an Act for laying an imposition upon skins and furs, for the better support of the College of William and Mary in Virginia, endowed the said College with certain duties on skins and furs therein specified, which duties were afterwards enlarged and confirmed to the use of the said College, and made payable to the President and Professors by divers other acts of General Assembly. And by one other act passed in the year 1718, the said College was further endowed by the General Assembly with the sum of one thousand pounds, out of the public funds, in the hands of the Treasurer, which was directed to be laid out for the maintaining and educating scholars, and to be accounted for to the General Assembly, from time to time, when required: Which sum was accordingly paid to the said visiters and by them invested in the purchase of two thousand one hundred and nineteen acres of land, on both sides of the Nottoway river, in the counties of Prince George, Surrey, and Brunswick, and seventeen negro slaves, to be employed in tilling and manuring the same, and certain scholarships were accordingly established on the said funds; and the General Assembly, by their act, passed in the year 1726, and entitled an Act for laying a duty on liquors, further endowed the said College with an annual revenue of two hundred pounds, for twenty-one years, to be paid out of certain duties thereon imposed on liquors, and by one other act passed in the year 1734, endowed it with the whole of the said duties, during the residue of the said term then unexpired, a part or the whole thereof to be expended in purchasing a library for the said College: And by divers other acts, passed at subsequent times, the Assemblies, for the time being, having continued to the said College the whole of the annual revenues, arising from the said duties, until the first of June, which shall be in the year 1780, to be applied to the funding scholarships, and other good uses, for the support of the said College, and to be accounted for to the General Assembly; and the General Assembly by of in the year gave a further donation to the said College of to be laid out in purchasing a mathematical apparatus for the said College, which was accordingly purchased. And the said trustees, in pursuance of the trust reposed in them, proceeded to erect the said College, and established one school of sacred theology, with two professorships therein, to wit, one for teaching the Hebrew tongue, and expounding the holy scriptures; and the other for explaining the common places of divinity, and controversies with heretics; one other school for philosophy, with two professorships therein, to wit, one for the study of rhetoric, logic, and ethics, and the other of physics, metaphysics, and mathematics; one other school for teaching the Latin and Greek tongues; and one other for teaching Indian boys reading, writing, vulgar arithmetic, the catechism and the principles of the Christian religion; which last school was founded on the private donation of the honorable Robert Boyle, of the kingdom of England, and, by authority from his executors, submitted to the direction of the Earl of Burlington, one of the said executors, of the bishop of London, for the time being, and in default thereof, to the said trustees, and over the whole they appointed one president as supervisor.
And whereas the experience of near an hundred years hath proved, that the said College, thus amply endowed by the public, hath not answered their expectations, and there is reason to hope, that it would become more useful, if certain articles in its constitution were altered and amended, which being fixed, as before recited, by the original charters, cannot be reformed by the said trustees whose powers are created and circumscribed by the said charters, and the said College being erected and constituted on the requisition of the General Assembly, by the Chief Magistrate of the state, their legal fiduciary for such purposes, being founded and endowed with the lands and revenues of the public, and intended for the sole use and improvement, and no wise in nature of a private grant, the same is of right subject to the public direction, and may by them be altered and amended, until such form be devised as will render the institution publicly advantageous, in proportion as it is publicly expensive; and the late change in the form of our government, as well as the contest of arms in which we are at present engaged, calling for extraordinary abilities both in council and field, it becomes the peculiar duty of the Legislature, at this time, to aid and improve that seminary, in which those who are to be the future guardians of the rights and liberties of their country may be endowed with science and virtue, to watch and preserve the sacred deposit; Be it therefore enacted by the General Assembly, that, instead of eighteen visiters or governors of the said College, there shall in future be five only, who shall be appointed by joint ballot of both houses of Assembly, annually, to enter on the duties of their office on the new year’s day ensuing their appointment, having previously given assurance of fidelity to the commonwealth, before any Justice of the Peace; and to continue in office until those next appointed shall be qualified, but those who shall be first appointed after the passing of this act, and all others appointed, during the course of any year to fill up vacancies happening by death, resignation, or removal out of the commonwealth, shall enter on duty immediately on such appointment; any four of the said visiters may proceed to business; they shall chuse their own Rector, at their first meeting, in every year, and shall be deemed the lawful successors of the first trustees, and invested with all the rights, powers, and capacities given to them, save only so far as the same shall be abridged by this act, nor shall they be restrained in their legislation, by the royal prerogative, or the laws of the kingdom of England; of the canons or the constitution of the English Church, as enjoined in the said charter. There shall be three Chancellors, in like manner appointed by joint ballot of both houses, from among the Judges of the High Court of Chancery, or of the General Court, to enter on that office immediately on such appointment, and to continue therein so long as they remain in either of the said courts; any two of whom may proceed to business; to them shall belong solely the power of removing the Professors, for breach or neglect of duty, immorality, severity, contumacy, or other good cause, and the judiciary powers in all disputes, which shall arise on the statutes of the College, being called on for that purpose by the Rector, or by the corporation of President and Professors, a copy of their sentence of deprivation, being delivered to the sheriff of the county wherein the College is, he shall forthwith cause the Professor deprived to be ousted of his chambers, and other freehold appertaining to the said College, and the remaining Professors to be reseized thereof, in like manner and form, and subject, on failure to the like fines by the said Chancellors, as in cases of writs of habere facias seisinam issued from Courts of Record. But no person shall be capable of being both visiter and Chancellor at the same time; nor shall any Professor be capable of being at the same time, either visiter or Chancellor. Instead of the President and six Professors, licensed by the said charter, and established by the former visiters, there shall be eight Professors, one of whom, shall also be appointed President, with an additional salary of one hundred pounds a year, before they enter on the execution of their office, they shall give assurance of fidelity to the commonwealth, before some justice of the Peace. These shall be deemed the lawful successors of the President and Professors appointed under the said charter, and shall have all their rights, powers and capabilities, not otherwise disposed of by this act; to them shall belong the ordinary government of the College, and administration of its revenues, taking the advice of the visiters on all matters of great concern. There shall, in like manner, be eight Professorships, to wit, one of moral philosophy, and the laws of nature and of nations, and of the fine arts; one of law and police; one of history, civil and ecclesiastical; one of mathematics; one of anatomy and medicine; one of natural philosophy and natural history; one of the ancient languages, oriental and northern; and one of modern languages. The said Professors shall likewise appoint, from time to time, a missionary, of approved veracity, to the several tribes of Indians, whose business shall be to investigate their laws, customs, religions, traditions, and more particularly their languages, constructing grammars thereof, as well as may be, and copious vocabularies, and, on oath to communicate, from time to time, to the said President and Professors the materials he collects, to be by them laid up and preserved in their library; for which trouble the said missionary shall be allowed a salary at the discretion of the visiters, out of the revenues of the College. And forasmuch as the revenue, arising from the duties on skins and furs, and those on liquors, with which the said College was endowed, by several acts of General Assembly, is subject to great fluctuations, from circumstances unforseen, insomuch that no calculation of foresight can enable the said visiters or Professors to square thereto the expenditures of the said College, which being regular and permanent should depend on stable funds; Be it therefore enacted, that the revenue arising from the said duties, shall be henceforth transferred to the use of the public, to be applied towards supporting the contingent charges of government, and that, in lieu thereof, the said College shall be endowed with an impost of five pounds of tobacco, on every hogshead of tobacco, to be exported from this commonwealth, by land or by water, to be paid to the inspectors accounted for, on oath, to the said President and Professors on or before the 10th day of October, in every year, with an allowance of six per centum for their trouble; and if the said tobacco be not carried to any public ware-house then the said impost shall be paid, collected and accounted for to the said President and Professors, by the same persons, at the same times, in and under the like manner, penalties and conditions, as prescribed by the laws, which shall be in force at the time, for collecting the duties imposed on exported tobacco, towards raising supplies of money for the public exigencies. And that this commonwealth may not be without so great an ornament, nor its youth such an help towards attaining astronomical science, as the mechanical representation, or model of the solar system, conceived and executed by that greatest of astronomers, David Ryttenhouse; Be it further enacted, that the visiters, first appointed under this act, and their successors, shall be authorized to engage the said David Ryttenhouse, on the part of this commonwealth, to make and erect in the said College of William and Mary, and for its use, one of the said models, to be called by the name of the Ryttenhouse, the cost and expence of making, transporting and erecting whereof shall, according to the agreement or allowance of the said visiters, be paid by the Treasurer of this commonwealth, on warrant from the Auditors.
a bill for establishing a public library (chapter lxxxi)
Be it enacted by the General Assembly, that on the first day of January, in every year, there shall be paid out of the treasury the sum of two thousand pounds, to be laid out in such books and maps as may be proper to be preserved in a public library, and in defraying the expences necessary for the care and preservation thereof; which library shall be established at the town of Richmond.
The two houses of Assembly shall appoint three persons of learning and attention to literary matters, to be visiters of the said library, and shall remove them, and fill any vacancies, from time to time, as they shall think fit; which visiters shall have power to receive the annual sums beforementioned, and therewith to procure such books and maps as aforesaid, and shall superintend the preservation thereof. Whensoever a keeper shall be found necessary they shall appoint such keeper, from time to time, at their will, on such annual salary (not exceeding one hundred pounds) as they shall think reasonable.
If during the time of war the importation of books and maps shall be hazardous, or if the rate of exchange between this commonwealth and any state from which such articles are wanted, shall from any cause be such that they cannot be imported to such advantage as may be hoped at a future day, the visiters shall place the annual sums, as they become due, in the public loan office, if any there be, for the benefit of interest, or otherwise shall suffer them to remain in the treasury until fit occasions shall occur of employing them.
It shall not be lawful for the said keeper, or the visiters themselves, or any other person to remove any book or map out of the said library, unless it be for the necessary repair thereof; but the same be made useful by indulging the researches of the learned and curious, within the said library, without fee or reward, and under such rules for preserving them safe and in good order and condition as the visiters shall constitute.
The visiters shall annually settle their accounts with the Auditors and leave with them the vouchers for the expenditure of the monies put into their hands.
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.