Notes on the State of Virginia, by Thomas Jefferson

Re: Notes on the State of Virginia, by Thomas Jefferson

Postby admin » Wed Jul 29, 2015 3:56 am



Under the latitude of this query, I will presume it not improper nor unacceptable to furnish some data for estimating the climate of Virginia. [i] Journals of observations on the quantity of rain, and degree of heat, being lengthy, confused, and too minute to produce general and distinct ideas, I have taken five years observations, to wit, from 1772 to 1777, made in Williamsburgh and its neighborhood, have reduced them to an average for every month in the year, and stated those averages in the following table, adding an analytical view of the winds during the same period.


[Supposed to have been made at Monticello.]


In the month of August, 1801, I carefully examined the temperature of my well water in the District of Maine, and found it at 52 degrees of Fahrenheit's thermometer.

The depth of the well is 28 feet; the depth of the water at this time was 4 feet; the latitude of the place is 44 22 North; longitude about 69 40 W.

In September 1802 I examined with the same instrument, and with equal care, the temperature of the well water, where I live, on the Capitol hill, and found it at 59° of Fahrenheit. This well is upwards of 40 feet in depth, and had at the time about 7 or 8 feet of water.

My well, in Maine, is an open draw well, without a pump; the well on the Capitol hill has a pump, and is close covered.

The temperature of the water of Kennebeck river, the latter part of August, was 72-1/2 by Fahrenheit.


The rains of every month, (as of January for instance,) through the whole period of years, were added separately, and an average drawn from them. The coolest and warmest point of the same day in each year of the period were added separately, and an average of the greatest cold and greatest heat of that day was formed. From the averages of every day in the month, a general average for the whole month was formed. The point from which the wind blew was observed two or three times in every day. These observations, in the month of January for instance, through the whole period, amounted to 337. At 73 of these the wind was from the North; at 47 from the Northeast, &c. So that it will be easy to see in what proportion each wind usually prevails in each month; or, taking the whole year, the total of observations through the whole period having been 3,698, it will be observed that 611 of them were from the North, 558 from the Northeast, &c.

Though by this table it appears we have on an average 47 inches of rain annually, which is considerably more than usually falls in Europe, yet from the information I have collected, I suppose we have a much greater proportion of sunshine here than there. Perhaps it will be found there are twice as many cloudy days in the middle parts of Europe as in the United States of America. I mention the middle parts of Europe, because my information does not extend to its Northern or Southern parts.

In an extensive country, it will, of course, be expected that the climate is not the same in all its parts. It is remarkable that, proceeding on the same parallel of latitude westwardly, the climate becomes colder in like manner as when you proceed northwardly. This continues to be the case till you attain the summit of the Alleghaney, which is the highest land between the ocean and the Missisipi. From thence, descending in the same latitude to the Missisipi, the change reverses; and, if we may believe travelers, it becomes warmer there than it is in the same latitude on the sea side. Their testimony is strengthened by the vegetables and animals which subsist and multiply there naturally, and do not on our sea coast. Thus Catalpas grow spontaneously on the Missisipi, as far as the latitude of 37°, and reeds as far as 38°. Perroquets even winter on the Sioto, in the 39th degree of latitude. In the Summer of 1779, when the thermometer was at 90° at Monticello, and 96 at Williamsburgh, it was 110° at Kaskaskia. Perhaps the mountain, which overhangs this village on the North side, may, by its reflection, have contributed somewhat to produce this heat. The difference of temperature of the air at the sea coast, or on Chesapeak Bay, and at the Alleghaney, has not been ascertained; but cotemporary observations, made at Williamsburgh, or in its neighborhood, and at Monticello, which is on the most eastern ridge of mountains, called the Southwest, where they are intersected by the Rivanna, have furnished a ratio by which that difference may in some degree be conjectured. These observations make the difference between Williamsburgh and the nearest mountains, at the position before mentioned, to be on an average 6-1/8 degrees of Fahrenheit's thermometer. Some allowance however is to be made for the difference of latitude between these two places, the latter being 38° 8' 17", which is 52' 22" North of the former. By cotemporary observations of between five and six weeks, the averaged and almost unvaried difference of the height of mercury in the barometer, at those two places, was .784 of an inch, the atmosphere at Monticello being so much the lightest, that is to say, about 1/37 of its whole weight. It should be observed, however, that the hill of Monticello is of 500 feet perpendicular height above the river which washes its base. This position being nearly central between our Northern and Southern boundaries, and between the bay and Alleghaney, may be considered as furnishing the best average of the temperature of our climate. Williamsburgh is much too near the Southeastern corner to give a fair idea of our general temperature.

But a more remarkable difference is in the winds which prevail in the different parts of the country. The following table exhibits a comparative view of the winds prevailing at Williamsburgh, and at Monticello. It is formed by reducing nine months observations at Monticello to four principal points, to wit, the Northeast, Southeast, Southwest, and Northwest: these points being perpendicular to, or parallel with our coast, mountains and rivers; and by reducing, in like manner, an equal number of observations, to wit, 421, from the preceding table of winds at Williamsburgh, taking them proportionably from every point:


By this it may be seen that the Southwest wind prevails equally at both places; that the Northeast is, next to this, the principal wind towards the sea coast, and the Northwest is the predominant wind at the mountains. The difference between these two winds to sensation, and in fact, is very great. The Northeast is loaded with vapor, insomuch that the salt-makers have found that their crystals would not shoot while that blows; it brings a distressing chill, is heavy and oppressive to the spirits; the Northwest is dry, cooling, elastic and animating. The Eastern and Southeastern breezes come on generally in the afternoon. They have advanced into the country very sensibly within the memory of people now living. They formerly did not penetrate far above Williamsburgh. They are now frequent at Richmond, and every now and then reach the mountains. They deposit most of their moisture, however, before they get that far. As the lands become more cleared, it is probable they will extend still further westward.

Going out into the open air, in the temperate, and in the warm months of the year, we often meet with bodies of warm air, which, passing by us in two or three seconds, do not afford time to the most sensible thermometer to seize their temperature. Judging from my feelings only, I think they approach the ordinary heat of the human body. Some of them perhaps go a little beyond it. They are of about 20 or 30 feet diameter horizontally. Of their height we have no experience; but probably they are globular volumes wafted or rolled along with the wind. But whence taken, where found, or how generated? They are not to be ascribed to volcanoes, because we have none. They do not happen in the Winter when the farmers kindle large fires in clearing up their grounds. They are not confined to the Spring season, when we have fires which traverse whole counties, consuming the leaves which have fallen from the trees. And they are too frequent and general to be ascribed to accidental fires. I am persuaded their cause must be sought for in the atmosphere itself, to aid us in which I know but of these constant circumstances: a dry air, a temperature as warm at least as that of the Spring or Autumn, and a moderate current of wind. They are most frequent about sunset; rare in the middle parts of the day; and I do not recollect having ever met with them in the morning.

The variation in the weight of our atmosphere, as indicated by the barometer, is not equal to two inches of mercury. Du- ring twelve months observation at Williamsburgh, the extremes were 29, and 30.86 inches, the difference being 1.86 of an inch; and in nine months, during which the height of the mercury was noted at Monticello, the extremes were 28.48 and 29.69 inches, the variation being 1.21 of an inch. A gentle- man, who has observed his barometer many years, assures me it has never varied two inches. Cotemporary observations, made at Monticello and Williamsburgh, proved the variations in the weight of air to be simultaneous and corresponding in these two places.

Our changes from heat to cold, and cold to heat, are very sudden and great. The mercury in Fahrenheit's thermometer has been known to descend from 92° to 47° in thirteen hours; and in a single and most remarkable instance, on the 4th of July, 1793, in Orange county, it fell from 84° to 74° in ten minutes.

It is taken for granted, that the preceding table of averaged heat will not give a false idea on this subject, as it proposes to state only the ordinary heat and cold of each month, and not those which are extraordinary. At Williamsburgh in August, 1766, the mercury in Fahrenheit's thermometer was at 98°, corresponding with 29-1/3 of Reaumur. At the same place in January, 1780, it was at 6°, corresponding with 11-1/2 below 0 of Reaumur. I believe [ii] these may be considered to be nearly the extremes of heat and cold in that part of the country. The latter may most certainly, as at that time York river, at York town, was frozen over, so that people walked across it; a circumstance which proves it to have been colder than the Winter of 1740, 1741, usually called the cold Winter, when York river did not freeze over at that place. In the same season of 1780, Chesapeak Bay was solid, from its head to the mouth of Patowmac. At Annapolis, where it is 5-1/4 miles over between the nearest points of land, the ice was from 5 to 7 inches thick quite across, so that loaded carriages went over on it. Those, our extremes of heat and cold, of 6° and 98° were indeed very distressing to us, and were thought to put the extent of the human constitution to considerable trial. Yet a Siberian would have considered them as scarcely a sensible variation. At Jenniseitz, in that country, in latitude 58° 27', we are told that the cold in 1735 sunk the mercury, by Fahrenheit's scale, to 126° below nothing; and the inhabitants of the same country use stove rooms two or three times a week, in which they stay two hours at a time, the atmosphere of which raises the mercury to 135° above nothing. Late experiments shew that the human body will exist in rooms heated to 140° of Reaumur, equal to 347° of Farenheit, and 135° above boiling water. [iii] The hottest point of the 24 hours is about 4 o'clock, P. M., and the dawn of day the coldest.

The access of frost in Autumn, and its recess in the Spring, do not seem to depend merely on the degree of cold; much less on the air's being at the freezing point. White frosts are frequent when the thermometer is at 47°, have killed young plants of Indian corn at 48°, and have been known at 54°. Black frost, and even ice, have been produced at 38-1/2°, which is 6-1/2 degrees above the freezing point. [iv] That other circumstances must be combined with the cold to produce frost, is evident from this also, that on the higher parts of mountains, where it is absolutely colder than in the plains on which they stand, frosts do not appear so early by a considerable space of time in Autumn, and go off sooner in the Spring, than in the plains. I have known frosts so severe as to kill the hiccory trees round about Monticello, and yet not injure the tender fruit blossoms then in bloom on the top and higher parts of the mountain; and, in the course of 40 years, during which it has been settled, there have been but two instances of a general loss of fruit on it; while, in the circumjacent country, the fruit has escaped but twice in the last seven years. The plants of tobacco, which grow from the roots of those which have been cut off in the Summer, are frequently green here at Christmas. This privilege against the frost is undoubtedly combined with the want of dew on the mountains. That the dew is very rare on their higher parts I may say with certainty, from 12 years observations, having seldom, during that time, seen them at Monticello during Summer. Severe frosts in the depth of Winter prove that the region of dews extends higher in that season than the tops of the mountains; but certainly, in the Summer season, the vapors, by the time they attain that height, are become so attenuated as not to subside and form a dew when the sun retires.

The weavil has not yet ascended the high mountains.

A more satisfactory estimate of our climate to some may perhaps be formed, by noting the plants which grow here, subject, however, to be killed by our severest colds. These are the fig, pomegranate, artichoke, and European walnut. In mild Winters lettuce and endive require no shelter; but generally they need a slight covering. I do not know that the want of long moss, reed, myrtle, swamp laurel, holly and cypress, in the upper country, proceeds from a greater degree of cold, nor that they were ever killed with any degree of cold in the lower country. The aloe lived in Williamsburgh in the open air through the severe Winter of 1779, 1780.

A change in our climate, however, is taking place very sensibly. Both heats and colds are become much more moderate within the memory even of the middle-aged. Snows are less frequent and less deep. They do not often lie below the mountains more than one, two or three days, and very rarely a week. They are remembered to have been formerly frequent, deep, and of long continuance. The elderly inform me the earth used to be covered with snow about three months in every year. The rivers, which then seldom failed to freeze over in the course of the Winter, scarcely ever do so now. This change has produced an unfortunate fluctuation between heat and cold, in the Spring of the year, which is very fatal to fruits. From the year 1741 to 1769, an interval of twenty-eight years, there was no instance of fruit killed by the frost in the neighborhood of Monticello. An intense cold, produced by constant snows, kept the buds locked up till the sun could obtain, in the Spring of the year, so fixed an ascendancy as to dissolve those snows, and protect the buds, during their development, from every danger of returning cold. The accumulated snows of the Winter remaining to be dissolved all together in the Spring, produced those overflowings of our rivers, so frequent then, and so rare now.

Having had occasion to mention the particular situation of Monticello for other purposes, I will just take notice that its elevation affords an opportunity of seeing a phenomenon which is rare at land, though frequent at sea. The seamen call it looming. Philosophy is as yet in the rear of the seamen, for so far from having accounted for it, she has not given it a name. Its principal effect is to make distant objects appear larger, in opposition to the general law of vision, by which they are diminished. [v] I knew an instance, at York Town, from whence the water prospect eastwardly is without termination, wherein a canoe with three men, at a great distance, was taken for a ship with its three masts. I am little acquainted with the phenomenon as it shews itself at sea; but at Monticello it is familiar. There is a solitary mountain about 40 miles off, in the South, whose natural shape, as presented to view there, is a regular cone; but, by the effect of looming, it sometimes subsides almost totally into the horizon; sometimes it rises more acute and more elevated; sometimes it is hemispherical; and sometimes its sides are perpendicular, its top flat, and as broad as its base. In short, it assumes at times the most whimsical shapes, and all these perhaps successively in the same morning. The Blue Ridge of mountains comes into view, in the Northeast, at about 100 miles distance, and, approaching in a direct line, passes by within 20 miles, and goes off to the Southwest. This phenomenon begins to shew itself on these mountains, at about 50 miles distance, and continues beyond that as far as they are seen. I remark no particular state, either in the weight, moisture, or heat of the atmosphere, necessary to produce this. The only constant circumstances are, its appearance in the morning only, and on objects at least 40 or 50 miles distant. In this latter circumstance, if not in both, it differs from the looming on the water. Refraction will not account for this metamorphosis. That only changes the proportions of length and breadth, base and altitude, preserving the general outlines. Thus it may make a circle appear elliptical, raise or depress a cone, but by none of its laws, as yet developed, will it make a circle appear a square, or a cone a sphere.



i. Musschenb., 23, 65.

ii. At Paris, in 1753, the mercury in Reaumur's thermometer was at 30-1/2 above 0, and in 1776 it was at 16 below 0. The extremities of heat and cold therefore at Paris are greater than at Williamsburgh, which is in the hottest part of Virginia.

iii. The following observations on heat and cold, as they affect the animal body, may not be unacceptable to those who have not paid particular attention to the subject.

The living body, (not like the dead one, which assumes the temperature of the surrounding atmosphere,) maintains within itself a steady heat of about 96° of Fahrenheit's thermometer, varying little with the ordinary variations of the atmosphere. This heat is principally supplied by respiration. The vital air, or oxygen of the atmospheric fluid inhaled, is separated by the lungs from the azotic and carbonic parts, and is absorbed by them; the caloric is disengaged, diffused through the mass of the body, and absorbed from the skin by the external air coming into contact with it. If the external air is of a high temperature, it does not take up the superfluous heat of the body fast enough, and we complain of too much heat; if it is very cold, it absorbs the heat too fast, and produces the sensation of cold. To remedy this, we interpose a covering, which, acting as a strainer, lets less air come into contact with the body, and checks the escape of the vital heat. As the atmospheric air becomes colder, more or thicker coverings are used, till no more than the requisite portion of heat is conducted from the body. As it would be inconvenient in the day to be burthened with a mass of clothing entirely equivalent to great degrees of cold, we have resort to fires and warm rooms to correct the state of the atmosphere, as a supplement to our clothing. If we have not the opportunity, and the cold is excessive, the thinner parts, as the ear, the nose, the fingers and toes lose heat till they freeze, and, if the cold be sufficient, the whole body is reduced in heat, till death ensues; as sailors experience who escape from shipwreck, in Winter storms, on desert shores, where no fire can be found.

Of the substances we use for covering, linen seems the openest strainer for admission of air to the body, and the most copious conductor of heat from it; and is therefore considered as a cool clothing. Cotton obstructs still more the passage of both fluids, and wool more than cotton: it is called therefore a worse conductor of heat, and warmer clothing. Next to this are the furs, and the most impermeable of all for heat and air are feathers and down, and especially the down of the Eider duck. — (Anas mollissima.) Hence the insensibility to cold of the beasts with shaggy hair, or fine fur, and of the birds in proportion as they are provided with down and soft feathers: as the swan, goose and duck.

Among the substances which, as being bad conductors of heat, foment and warm the animal body, are the leaves of the Espeletia Frailexon, a plant newly discovered by the great naturalist and traveler Baron Humboldt, on the mountains of South America, at the height of 2,450 toises above the sea. These leaves being furnished abundantly with a soft down, restore immediately to their due warmth the hands, feet, or other members benumbed with cold; and collected as a bed, protect from death the Indian benighted in those regions of extreme cold. The same scientific traveler, by analysis of the air, at different heights on the mountain of Chimborazo which he ascended to the height of 3,036 toises, (546 toises higher than had ever been done by man before, and within 224 toises of its top) found that the oxygen being specifically heavier than the azotic part of the atmosphere, its proportion lessened in that ascent 27 or 28 to 19-1/2 hundredth parts. The same circumstance had been before observed by Saussure, Pini and Rebout, on the high mountains of Europe, and must be among the principal causes of the degree in which the animal body is affected with cold in situations more or less elevated.

In addition to the effect of vital air, as the vehicle of animal heat, we may note that it is also the immediate cause, or primum mobile of life. For, entering by respiration into the air-cells of the lungs, divided from those of the blood but by a thin membrane, it infuses through that a stimulus into the blood, which, acting on the irritable fibres of the heart, excites mechanically the action and reaction of that muscle. By these the blood is propelled, and received again in a course of constant circulation and vital action communicated and maintained through all the system. Intercept vital air from the lungs, the action of the heart ceases for want of stimulus, the current of the blood, unaided, yields to the resistance of its channels, all the vital motions are suspended, and the body becomes an inanimated lump of matter.

iv. Mueschenb. has seen ice produced at 41°. — 2. Muss., 1,507.

v. Dr. Shaw in his physical observations on Syria, speaking of the easterly winds, called by seamen Levanters, says " We are likewise to observe further with regard to these strong easterly winds, that vessels, or any other objects which are seen at a distance, appear to be vastly magnified, or loom, according to the mariners expression." — Shaw's travels, 362.
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Re: Notes on the State of Virginia, by Thomas Jefferson

Postby admin » Wed Jul 29, 2015 3:56 am



The following table shows the number of persons imported for the establishment of our colony in its infant state, and the census of inhabitants at different periods, extracted from our historians and public records, as particularly as I have had opportunities and leisure to examine them. Successive lines in the same year shew successive periods of time in that year. I have stated the census in two different columns, the whole inhabitants having been sometimes numbered, and sometimes the tythes only. This term, with us, includes the free males above 16 years of age, and slaves above that age of both sexes. A further examination of our records would render this history of our population much more satisfactory and perfect, by furnishing a greater number of intermediate terms:



[See Boston Patriot, Sept. 16, 1809.] Pounal's authority quoted in J. Adams' 17th letter.

Those, however, which are here stated, will enable us to calculate, with a considerable degree of precision, the rate at which we have increased. During the infancy of the colony, while numbers were small, wars, importations, and other accidental circumstances render the progression fluctuating and irregular. By the year 1654, however, it becomes tolerably uniform, importations having in a great measure ceased from the dissolution of the company, and the inhabitants become too numerous to be sensibly affected by Indian wars. Beginning at that period, therefore, we find that from thence to the year 1772, our tythes had increased from 7209 to 153,000. The whole term being of 118 years, yields a duplication once in every 27-1/4 years. The intermediate enumerations taken in 1700, 1748, and 1759, furnish proofs of the uniformity of this progression. Should this rate of increase continue, we shall have between six and seven millions of inhabitants within 95 years. If we suppose our country to be bounded, at some future day, by the meridian of the mouth of the Great Kanhaway, (within which it has been before conjectured, are 64,491 square miles,) there will then be 100 inhabitants for every square mile, which is nearly the state of population in the British islands.

Here I will beg leave to propose a doubt. The present desire of America is to produce rapid population by as great importations of foreigners as possible. But is this founded in good policy? The advantage proposed is the multiplication of numbers. Now let us suppose (for example only) that in this State we could double our numbers in one year by the importation of foreigners; and this is a greater accession than the most sanguine advocate for emigration has a right to expect. Then I say, beginning with a double stock, we shall attain any given degree of population only 27 years and 3 months sooner than if we proceed on our single stock. If we propose four millions and a half as a competent population for this State, we should be 54-1/2 years attaining it, could we at once double our numbers; and 81-3/4 years, if we rely on natural propagation, as may be seen by the following table:


In the first column are stated periods of 27-1/4 years; in the second are our numbers, at each period, as they will be if we proceed on our actual stock; and in the third are what they would be, at the same periods, were we to set out from the double of our present stock. I have taken the term of four millions and a half of inhabitants for example's sake only. Yet I am persuaded it is a greater number than the country spoken of, considering how much inarable land it contains, can clothe and feed, without a material change in the quality of their diet. But are there no inconveniences to be thrown into the scale against the advantage expected from a multiplication of numbers by the importation of foreigners? It is for the happiness of those united in society to harmonize as much as possible in matters which they must of necessity transact together. Civil government being the sole object of forming societies, its administration must be conducted by common consent. Every species of government has its specific principles. Ours perhaps are more peculiar than those of any other in the universe. It is a composition of the freest principles of the English constitution, with others derived from natural right and natural reason. To these nothing can be more opposed than the maxims of absolute monarchies. Yet, from such, we are to expect the greatest number of emigrants. They will bring with them the principles of the governments they leave, imbibed in their early youth; or, if able to throw them off, it will be in exchange for an unbounded licentiousness, passing, as is usual, from one extreme to another. It would be a miracle were they to stop precisely at the point of temperate liberty. These principles, with their language, they will transmit to their children. In proportion to their numbers, they will share with us the legislation. They will infuse into it their spirit, warp and bias its direction, and render it a heterogeneous, incoherent, distracted mass. I may appeal to experience, during the present contest, for a verification of these conjectures. But, if they be not certain in event, are they not possible, are they not probable? Is it not safer to wait with patience 27 years and 3 months longer, for the attainment of any degree of population desired, or expected? May not our government be more homogeneous, more peaceable, more durable? Suppose 20 millions of Republican Americans thrown all of a sudden into France, what would be the condition of that kingdom? If it would be more turbulent, less happy, less strong, we may believe that the addition of half a million of foreigners to our present numbers would produce a similar effect here. If they come of themselves, they are entitled to all the rights of citizenship; but I doubt the expediency of inviting them by extraordinary encouragements. I mean not that these doubts should be extended to the importation of useful artificers. The policy of that measure depends on very different considerations. Spare no expense in obtaining them. They will after a while go to the plough and the hoe; but, in the mean time, they will teach us something we do not know. It is not so in agriculture. The indifferent state of that among us does not proceed from a want of knowledge merely; it is from our having such quantities of land to waste as we please. In Europe the object is to make the most of their land, labor being abundant: here it is to make the most of our labor, land being abundant.

It will be proper to explain how the numbers for the year 1782 have been obtained; as it was not from a perfect census of the inhabitants. It will at the same time develope the proportion between the free inhabitants and slaves. The following return of taxable articles for that year was given in:

53,289 free males above 21 years of age.
211,698 slaves of all ages and sexes.
23,766 not distinguished in the returns, but said to be titheable slaves.
195,489 horses.
609,734 cattle.
5,126 wheels-of riding carriages.
191 taverns.

There were no returns from the 8 counties of Lincoln, Jefferson, Fayette, Monongalia, Yohogania, Ohio, Northampton, and York. To find the number of slaves which should have been returned instead of the 28,766 titheables, we must mention that some observations on a former census had given reason to believe that the numbers above and below 16 years of age were equal. The double of this number, therefore, to wit, 47,582 must be added to 211,698, which will give us 259,230 slaves of all ages and sexes. To find the number of free inhabitants, we must repeat the observation, that those above and below 16 are nearly equal. But as the number 53,289 omits the males between 16 and 21, we must supply them from conjecture. On a former experiment it had appeared that about one-third of our militia, that is, of the males between 16 and 50, were unmarried. Knowing how early marriage takes place here, we shall not be far wrong in supposing that the unmarried part of our militia are those between 16 and 21. If there be young men who do not marry till after 21, there are as many who marry before that age. But as the men above 50 were not included in the militia, we will suppose the unmarried, or those between 16 and 21, to be one-fourth of the whole number above 16, then we have the following calculation:

53,289 free males above 21 years of age.
17,763 free males between 16 and 21.
71,052 free males under 16.
142,104 free females of all ages.
284,208 free inhabitants of all ages.
259,230 slaves of all ages.
543,438 inhabitants, exclusive of the 8 counties from which were no returns. In these 8 counties in the years 1779 and 1780 were 3,161 militia. Say then,

3,161 free males above the age of 16.
3,161 ditto under 16.
6,322 free females.
12,644 free inhabitants in these 8 counties. To find the number of slaves, say, as 284,208 to 259,230, so is the 12,644 to 11,532. Adding the third of these numbers to the first, and the fourth to the second, we have,

296,852 free inhabitants.
270,762 slaves.
567,614 inhabitants of every age, sex, and condition. But 296,852, the number of free inhabitants, are to 270,762, the number of slaves, nearly as 11 to 10. Under the mild treatment our slaves experience, and their wholesome, though coarse food, this blot in our country increases as fast, or faster, than the whites. During the regal government, we had at one time obtained a law, which imposed such a duty on the importation of slaves as amounted nearly to a prohibition, when one inconsiderate assembly, placed under a peculiarity of circumstance, repealed the law. This repeal met a joyful sanction from the then sovereign, and no devices, no expedients which could ever after be attempted by subsequent assemblies, and they seldom met without attempting them, could succeed in getting the royal assent to a renewal of the duty. In the very first session held under the Republican Government, the assembly passed a law for the perpetual prohibition of the importation of slaves. This will, in some measure, stop the increase of this great political and moral evil, while the minds of our citizens may be ripening for a complete emancipation of human nature. [i]



i. The first settlement of Europeans in America was by the Spaniards in St. Domingo in 1493. So early as 1501 we find they had already got into the habit of carrying the negroes there as slaves, and in 1503 they had become so inconvenient, that Ovando, the Governor, put a stop to their importation. Herrera. Dec. 1, B. 2, ch. 10; B. 4. ch. 12; B. 5, ch. 12 ; but in 1511 they were again fully in the same habit. The king's instructions at that date were "Que se buscasse forma como se llevassen muchos negros de Guinea, porque era mas util el trabajo de un negro, que de quatro Indios. — Herrera. Dec. 1, L. 9, c. 5 ; Dec. 2, L. 2, c. 8, 20.
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Re: Notes on the State of Virginia, by Thomas Jefferson

Postby admin » Wed Jul 29, 2015 3:57 am



The following is a state of the militia, taken from returns of 1780 and 1781, except in those counties marked with an asterisk, the returns from which are somewhat older.


See Topographical Analysis in App. IV.

Every able-bodied freeman, between the ages of 16 and 50, is enrolled in the militia. Those of every county are formed into companies, and these again into one or more battalions, according to the numbers in the county. They are commanded by Colonels, and other subordinate officers, as in the regular service. In every county is a County-Lieutenant, who commands the whole Militia of his county, but ranks only as a Colonel in the field. We have no general officers always existing. These are appointed occasionally, when an invasion or insurrection happens, and their commission determines with the occasion. The Governor is head of the military, as well as civil power. The law requires every Militia-man to provide himself with the arms usual in the regular service. But this injunction was always indifferently complied with, and the arms they had have been so frequently called for to arm the Regulars that in the lower parts of the country they are entirely disarmed. In the middle country a fourth or fifth part of them may have such firelocks as they had provided to destroy the noxious animals which infest their farms; and on the western side of the Blue Ridge they are generally armed with rifles. The pay of our Militia, as well as of our Regulars, is that of the Continental Regulars. The condition of our Regulars, of whom we have none but Continentals, and part of a battalion of State troops, is so constantly on the change that a state of it at this day would not be its state a month hence. It is much the same with the condition of the other Continental troops, which is well enough known.
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Re: Notes on the State of Virginia, by Thomas Jefferson

Postby admin » Wed Jul 29, 2015 3:57 am



Before the present invasion of this State by the British under the command of General Phillips, we had three vessels of 16 guns, one of 14, five small galleys, and two or three armed boats. They were generally so badly manned as seldom to be in condition for service. Since the perfect possession of our rivers assumed by the enemy, I believe we are left with a single armed boat only.
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Re: Notes on the State of Virginia, by Thomas Jefferson

Postby admin » Wed Jul 29, 2015 3:57 am



When the first effectual settlement of our Colony was made, which was in 1607, the country from the sea-coast to the mountains, and from Patowmac to the most southern waters of James River, was occupied by upwards of forty different tribes of Indians. Of these the Powhatans, the Mannahoacs, and Monacans, were the most powerful. Those between the sea-coast and falls of the rivers, were in amity with one another, and attached to the Powhatans as their link of union. Those between the falls of the rivers and the mountains, were divided into two confederacies; the tribes inhabiting the head waters of Patowmac and Rappahanoc being attached to the Mannahoacs, and those on the upper parts of James River to the Monacans. But the Monacans and their friends were in amity with the Mannahoacs and their friends, and waged joint and perpetual war against the Powhatans. We are told that the Powhatans, Mannahoacs, and Monacans, spoke languages so radically different that interpreters were necessary when they transacted business. Hence we may conjecture that this was not the case between all the tribes, and probably that each spoke the language of the nation to which it was attached, which we know to have been the case in many particular instances. Very possibly there may have been anciently three different stocks, each of which multiplying in a long course of time, had separated into so many little societies. This practice results from the circumstance of their having never submitted themselves to any laws, any coercive power, any shadow of government. Their only controls are their manners, and that moral sense of right and wrong which, like the sense of tasting and feeling, in every man makes a part of his nature. An offence against these is punished by contempt, by exclusion from society, or, where the case is serious, as that of murder, by the individuals whom it concerns. Imperfect as this species of coercion may seem, crimes are very rare among them: insomuch that were it made a question, whether no law, as among the savage Americans, or too much law, as among the civilized Europeans, submits man to the greatest evil, one who has seen both conditions of existence would pronounce it to be the last, and that the sheep are happier of themselves than under care of the wolves. It will be said that great societies cannot exist without government : the savages, therefore, break them into small ones.

The territories of the Powhatan confederacy south of the Patowmac, comprehended about 8,000 square miles, 30 tribes, and 2,400 warriors. Capt. Smith tells us, that within 60 miles of Jamestown were 5,000 people, of whom 1,500 were warriors. From this we find the proportion of their warriors to their whole inhabitants, was as 3 to 10. The Powhatan confederacy, then, would consist of about 8,000 inhabitants, which was one for every square mile: being about the twentieth part of our present population in the same territory, and the hundredth of that of the British Islands. Besides these were the Nottoways, living on Nottoway River, the Meherrins and Tuteloes on Meherrin River, who were connected with the Indians of Carolina, probably with the Chowanocs.


The preceding table contains a state of these several tribes, according to their confederacies and geographical situation, with their numbers when we first became acquainted with them, where these numbers are known. The numbers of some of them are again stated as they were in the year 1669, when an attempt was made by the assembly to enumerate them. Probably the enumeration is imperfect, and in some measure conjectural, and that a further search into the records would furnish many more particulars. What would be the melancholy sequel of their history may however be augured from the census of 1669; by which we discover that the tribes therein enumerated were, in the space of 62 years, reduced to about one-third of their former numbers. Spirituous liquors, the small pox, war, and an abridgment of territory, to a people who lived principally on the spontaneous productions of Nature, had committed terrible havoc among them, which generation, under the obstacles opposed to it among them, was not likely to make good. That the lands of this country were taken from them by conquest, is not so general a truth as is supposed. I find in our historians and records repeated proofs of purchase, which cover a considerable part of the lower country; and many more would doubtless be found on further search. The upper country we know has been acquired altogether by purchases made in the most unexceptionable form.

Westward of all these tribes, beyond the mountains, and extending to the great lakes, were the Massawomecs, a most powerful confederacy, who harrassed unremittingly the Powhatans and Manahoacs. These were probably the ancestors of the tribes known at present by the name of the Six Nations.

Very little can now be discovered of the subsequent history of these tribes severally. The Chickahominies removed, about the year 1661, to Mattapony River. Their chief, with one from each of the tribes of the Pamunkies and Mattaponies, attended the treaty of Albany in 1685. This Seems to have been the last chapter in their history. They retained however their separate name so late as 1705, and were at length blended with the Pamunkies and Mattaponies, and exist at present only under their names. There remain of the Mattaponies three or four men only, and they have more negro than Indian blood in them. They have lost their language, have reduced themselves by voluntary sales to about fifty acres of land, which lie on the river of their own name, and have, from time to time, been joining the Pamunkies, from whom they are distant but 10 miles. The Pamunkies are reduced to about 10 or 12 men, tolerably pure from mixture with other colors. The older ones among them preserve their language in a small degree, which are the last vestiges on earth, as far as we know, of the Powhatan language. They have about 300 acres of very fertile land, on Pamunkey River, so encompassed by water that a gate shuts in the whole. Of the Nottoways, not a male is left. A few women constitute the remains of that tribe. They are seated on Nottoway River, in Southampton county, on very fertile lands. At a very early period, certain lands were marked out and appropriated to these tribes, and were kept from encroachment by the authority of the laws. They have usually had trustees appointed, whose duty was to watch over their interests, and guard them from insult and injury.

The Monacans and their friends, better known latterly by the name of Tuscaroras, were probably connected with the Massawomecs, or Five Nations. For though we are told [i] their languages were so different that the intervention of interpreters was necessary between them, yet do we also learn [ii] that the Erigas, a nation formerly inhabiting on the Ohio, were of the same original stock with the Five Nations, and that they partook also of the Tuscarora language. Their dialects might, by long separation, have become so unlike as to be unintelligible to one another. We know that in 1712 the Five Nations received the Tuscaroras into their confederacy, and made them the Sixth Nation. They received the Meherrins and Tuteloes also into their protection; and it is most probable that the remains of many other of the tribes, of whom we find no particular account, retired westwardly in like manner, and were incorporated with one or other of the Western tribes. [iii] (5.)

I know of no such thing existing as an Indian Monument; for I would not honor with that name arrow points, stone hatchets, stone pipes, and half-shapen images. Of labor on the large scale, I think there is no remain as respectable as would be a common ditch for the draining of lands, unless indeed it be the Barrows, of which many are to be found all over this country. These are of different sizes, some of them constructed of earth, and some of loose stones. That they were repositories of the dead has been obvious to all; but on what particular occasion constructed was matter of doubt. Some have thought they covered the bones of those who have fallen in battles fought on the spot of interment. Some ascribed them to the custom, said to prevail among the Indians, of collecting, at certain periods, the bones of all their dead, wheresoever deposited at the time of death. Others again supposed them the general sepulchres for towns, conjectured to have been on or near these grounds; and this opinion was sup- ported by the quality of the lands in which they are found, (those constructed of earth being generally in the softest and most fertile meadow-grounds on river sides) and by a tradition, said to be handed down from the Aboriginal Indians, that, when they settled in a town, the first person who died was placed erect, and earth put about him, so as to cover and sup- port him; that, when another died, a narrow passage was dug to the first, the second reclined against him, and the cover of earth replaced, and so on. There being one of these in my neighborhood, I wished to satisfy myself whether any, and which of these opinions were just. For this purpose I deter- mined to open and examine it thoroughly. It was situated on the low grounds of the Rivanna, about two miles above its principal fork, and opposite to some hills, on which had been an Indian town. It was of a spheroidical form, of about 40 feet diameter at the base, and had been of about twelve feet altitude, though now reduced by the plough to seven and a half, having been under cultivation about a dozen years. Before this it was covered with trees of twelve inches diameter, and round the base was an excavation of five feet depth and width, from whence the earth had been taken of which the hillock was formed. I first dug superficially in several parts of it, and came to collections of human bones, at different depths, from six inches to three feet below the surface. These were lying in the utmost confusion, some vertical, some oblique, some horizontal, and directed to every point of the compass, entangled, and held together in clusters by the earth. Bones of the most distant parts were found together, as, for instance, the small bones of the foot in the hollow of a scull, many sculls would sometimes be in contact, lying on the face, on the side, on the back, top or bottom, so as on the whole to give the idea of bones emptied promiscuously from a bag or basket, and covered over with earth, without any attention to their order. The bones of which the greatest numbers remained were sculls, jaw bones, teeth, the bones of the arms, thighs, legs, feet, and hands. A few ribs remained, some vertebrae of the neck and spine, without their processes, and one instance only of the bone [iv] which serves as a base to the vertebral column. The sculls were so tender, that they generally fell to pieces on being touched. The other bones were stronger. There were some teeth which were judged to be smaller than those of an adult; a scull, which, on a slight view, appeared to be that of an infant, but it fell to pieces on being taken out, so as to prevent satisfactory examination; a rib, and a fragment of the under jaw of a person about half grown; another rib of an infant, and part of the jaw of a child, which had not yet cut its teeth. This last furnishing the most decisive proof of the burial of children here, I was particular in my attention to it. It was part of the right half of the under jaw. The processes, by which it was articulated to the temporal bones, were entire, and the bone itself firm to where it had been broken off, which, as nearly as I could judge, was about the place of the eye-tooth. Its upper edge, wherein would have been the sockets of the teeth, was perfectly smooth. Measuring it with that of an adult, by placing their hinder processes together, its broken end extended to the penultimate grinder of the adult. This bone was white, all the others of a sand color. The bones of infants being soft, they probably decay sooner, which might be the cause so few were found here. I proceeded then to make a perpendicular cut through the body of the barrow, that I might examine its internal structure. This passed about three feet from its centre, was opened to the former surface of the earth, and was wide enough for a man to walk through and examine its sides. At the bottom, that is, on the level of the circumjacent plain, I found bones; above these a few stones, brought from a cliff a quarter of a mile off, and from the river one-eighth of a mile off; then a large interval of earth, then a stratum of bones, and so on. At one end of the section were four strata of bones plainly distinguishable; at the other three; the strata in one part not ranging with those in another. The bones nearest the surface were least decayed. No holes were discovered in any of them, as if made with bullets, arrows, or other weapons. I conjectured that in this barrow might have been a thousand skeletons. Every one will readily seize the circumstances above related, which militate against the opinion, that it covered the bones only of persons fallen in battle; and against the tradition also, which would make it the common sepulchre of a town, in which the bodies were placed upright, and touching each other. Appearances certainly indicate that it has derived both origin and growth from the accustomary collection of bones, and deposition of them together; that the first collection had been deposited on the common surface of the earth, a few stones put over it, and then a covering of earth, that the second had been laid on this, had covered more or less of it in proportion to the number of bones, and was then also covered with earth, and so on. The following are the particular circumstances which give it this aspect: 1. The number of bones. 2. Their confused position. 3. Their being in different strata. 4. The strata in one part having no correspondence with those in another. 5. The different states of decay in these strata, which seem to indicate a difference in the time of inhumation. 6. The existence of infant bones among them. [v]

But on whatever occasion they may have been made, they are of considerable notoriety among the Indians; for a party passing, about thirty years ago, through the part of the country where this barrow is, went through the woods directly to it, without any instructions or enquiry, and having staid about it some time, with expressions which were construed to be those of sorrow, they returned to the high road, which they had left about half a dozen miles to pay this visit, and pursued their journey. There is another barrow, much resembling this in the low grounds of the South branch of Shenandoah, where it is crossed by the road leading from the Rockfish Gap to Staunton. Both of these have, within these dozen years, been cleared of their trees and put under cultivation, are much reduced in their height, and spread in width by the plough, and will probably disappear in time. There is another on a hill in the Blue Ridge of mountains, a few miles North of Wood's Gap, which is made up of small stones thrown together. This has been opened, and found to contain human bones, as the others do. There are also many others in other parts of the country.

Great question has arisen from whence came those aboriginal inhabitants of America, [vi] Discoveries, long ago made, were sufficient to shew that a passage from Europe to America was always practicable, even to the imperfect navigation of ancient times. In going from Norway to Iceland, from Iceland to Groenland, from Groenland to Labrador, the first traject is the widest; and this having been practised from the earliest times of which we have any account of that part of the earth, it is not difficult to suppose that the subsequent trajects may have been sometimes passed. Again, the late discoveries of Captain Cook, coasting from Kamschatka to California, have proved that, if the two continents of Asia and America be separated at all, it is only by a narrow strait. So that from this side also inhabitants may have passed into America; and the resemblance between the Indians of America and the Eastern inhabitants of Asia would induce us to conjecture, that the former are the descendants of the latter, or the latter of the former, excepting indeed the Eskimaux, who, from the same circumstance of resemblance, and from identity of language, must be derived from the Groenlanders, and these probably from some of the Northern parts of the old continent. A knowledge of their several languages would be the most certain evidence of their derivation which could be produced. In fact, it is the best proof of the affinity of nations which ever can be referred to. How many ages have elapsed since the English, the Dutch, the Germans, the Swiss, the Norwegians, Danes and Swedes have separated from their common stock? Yet how many more must elapse before the proofs of their common origin, which exist in their several languages, will disappear ? It is to be lamented then, very much to be lamented, that we have suffered so many of the Indian tribes already to extinguish, without our having previously collected and deposited in the records of literature the general rudiments at least of the languages they spoke. Were vocabularies formed of all the languages spoken in North and South America, preserving their appellations of the most common objects in Nature, of those which must be present to every nation, barbarous or civilized, with the inflections of their nouns and verbs, their principles of regimen and concord, and these deposited in all the public libraries, it would furnish opportunities to those skilled in the languages of the old world to compare them with these, now, or at any future time, and hence to construct the best evidence of the derivation of this part of the human race. It will be seen that in several of these vocabularies there is a remarkable resemblance in the numbers when there is not a trace of it in the other parts of the languages. When a tribe has gone farther than its neighbors in inventing a system of numeration, the obvious utility of this will occasion it to be immediately adopted by the surrounding tribes with only such modifications of the sounds as may accommodate them to the habitual pronunciations of their own language.

But imperfect as is our knowledge of the tongues spoken in America, it suffices to discover the following remarkable fact. [vii] Arranging them under the radical ones to which they may be palpably traced, and doing the same by those of the red men of Asia, there will be found probably twenty in America for one in Asia of those radical languages so called, because, if they were ever the same, they have lost all resemblance to one another. A separation into dialects may be the work of a few ages only, but for two dialects to recede from one another till they have lost all vestiges of their common origin, must require an immense course of time; perhaps not less than many people give to the age of the earth. A greater number of those radical changes of language having taken place among the red men of America, proves them of greater antiquity than those of Asia.

I will now proceed to state the nations and numbers of the Aborigines which still exist in a respectable and independent form. And as their undefined boundaries would render it difficult to specify those only which may be within any certain limits, and it may not be unacceptable to present a more general view of them, I will reduce within the form of a catalogue all those within, and circumjacent to, the United States, whose names and numbers have come to my notice. These are taken from four different lists, the first of which was given in the year 1759 to General Stanwix by George Croghan, deputy agent for Indian affairs under Sir William Johnson; the second was drawn up by a French trader of considerable note, resident among the Indians many years, and annexed to Colonel Bouquet's printed account of his expedition in 1764. The third was made out by Captain Hutchins, who visited most of the tribes by order, for the purpose of learning their numbers in 1768. And the fourth by John Dodge, an Indian trader, in 1779, except the numbers marked *, which are from other information.


The following tribes are also mentioned:


But apprehending these might be different appellations for some of the tribes already enumerated, I have not inserted them in the table, but state them separately, as worthy of further inquiry. The variations observable in numbering the same tribe may sometimes be ascribed to imperfect information, and sometimes to a greater or less comprehension of settlements under the same name. (7.)



i. Smith.

ii. Evans.

iii. See Maps No. 3, 4, Appendix iv., left by the author with the notes for the present edition, and. apparently intended for this portion of it.

iv. The 08 sacrum.

v. The custom of burying the dead in barrows was anciently very prevalent. Homer describes the ceremony of raising one by the Greeks.


And Herodotus 7, 117, mentions an instance of the same practice in the army of Xerxes on the death of Artachaeas.

vi. In the notes on Virginia, the great diversity of languages appearing radically different, which are spoken by the red men of America, is supposed to authorize a supposition that their settlement is more remote than that of Asia by its red inhabitants; but it must be confessed that the mind finds it difficult to conceive that so many tribes have inhabited it from so remote an antiquity as would be necessary to have divided them into language so radically different. I will therefore hazard a conjecture as such, and only to be estimated at what it may be worth. We know that the Indians consider it as dishonorable to use any language but their own. Hence in their councils with us, though some of them may have been in situations which, from convenience or necessity, have obliged them to learn our language well, yet they refuse to confer in it, and always insist on the intervention of an intepreter, though he may understand neither language so well as themselves; and this fact is as general as our knowledge of the tribes of North America. When therefore a fraction of a tribe from domestic feuds has broken off from its main body, to which it is held by no law or compact, and has gone to another settlement, may it not be the point of honor with them not to use the language of those with whom they have quarreled, but to have one of their own. They have use but for few words, and possess but few. It would require but a small effort of the mind to invent these, and to acquire the habit of using them. Perhaps this hypothesis presents less difficulty than that of so many radically distinct languages, preserved by such handfuls of men, from an antiquity so remote that no data we possess will enable us to calculate it.

vi. Lettere di Amer. Vesp. 81.— Ib. 11, 12. 4. Clavigero, 21.
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Re: Notes on the State of Virginia, by Thomas Jefferson

Postby admin » Wed Jul 29, 2015 3:58 am



The counties have been enumerated under Query IX. They are 74 in number, of very unequal size and population. Of these 35 are on the tide waters, or in that parallel; 23 are in the Midlands, between the tide waters and Blue Ridge of mountains; 8 between the Blue Ridge and Alleghaney; and 8 westward of the Alleghaney.

The State, by another division, is formed into parishes, many of which are commensurate with the counties; but sometimes a county comprehends more than one parish, and sometimes a parish more than one county. This division had relation to the religion of the State, a parson of the Anglican Church, with a fixed salary, having been heretofore established in each parish. The care of the poor was another object of the parochial division.

We have no townships. Our country being much intersected with navigable waters, and trade brought generally to our doors, instead of our being obliged to go in quest of it, has probably been one of the causes why we have no towns of any consequence. Williamsburgh, which, till the year 1780, was the seat of our Government, never contained above 1800 inhabitants; and Norfolk, the most populous town we ever had, contained but 6,000. Our towns, but more properly our villages or hamlets, are as follows:

On James River and its waters, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Hampton, Suffolk, Smithfield, Williamsburgh, Petersburgh, Richmond, the seat of our Government, Manchester, Charlottesville, New London.

On York River and its waters, York, Newcastle, Hanover.

On Rappahannoc, Urbanna, Port Royal, Fredericksburg, Falmouth.

On Patowmac and its waters, Dumfries, Colchester, Alexandria, Winchester, Staunton.

On Ohio, Louisville.

There are other places at which, like some of the foregoing, the laws have said there shall be towns; but Nature has said there shall not, and they remain unworthy of enumeration. Norfolk will probably be the emporium for all the trade of the Chesapeak Bay and its waters; and a canal of 8 or 10 miles will bring to it all that of Albemarle Sound and its waters. Secondary to this place are the towns at the head of the tide waters, to wit, Petersburgh, on Appomattox, Richmond, on James River, Newcastle, on York River, Alexandria, on Patowmac, and Baltimore, on the Patapsco. From these the distribution will be to subordinate situations in the country. Accidental circumstances, however, may control the indications of Nature, and in no instances do they do it more frequently than in the rise and fall of towns.
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Re: Notes on the State of Virginia, by Thomas Jefferson

Postby admin » Wed Jul 29, 2015 3:58 am



Queen Elizabeth, by her letters patent, bearing date March 25, 1584, licensed Sir Walter Raleigh to search for remote heathen lands not inhabited by Christian people, and granted to him in fee simple all the soil within 200 leagues of the places where his people should within 6 years make their dwellings or abidings, reserving only to herself and her successors their allegiance, and one-fifth part of all the gold and silver ore, they should obtain. Sir Walter immediately sent out two ships, which visited Wococon Island, in North Carolina, and the next year dispatched seven, with 107 men, who settled in Roanoke Island, about latitude 35° 50'. Here Okisko, King of the Weopomeiocs, in a full council of his people, is said to have acknowledged himself the homager of the Queen of England, and after her of Sir Walter Raleigh. A supply of 50 men were sent in 1586, and 150 in 1587. With these last Sir Walter sent a Governor, appointed him twelve assistants, gave them a charter of incorporation, and instructed them to settle on Chesapeak Bay. They landed, however, at Hatorask. In 1588, when a fleet was ready to sail with a new supply of colonists and necessaries, they were detained by the Queen, to assist against the Spanish Armada. Sir Walter having now expended £40,000 in these enterprises, obstructed occasionally by the crown, without a shilling of aid from it, was under a necessity of engaging others to adventure their money. He therefore, by deed bearing date the 7th of March, 1589, by the name of Sir Walter Raleigh, Chief Governor of Assamcomoc, (probably Acomac,) alias Wingadacoia, alias Virginia, granted to Thomas Smith and others, in consideration of their adventuring certain sums of money, liberty of trade to his new country, free from all customs and taxes for seven years, excepting the fifth part of the gold and silver ore to be obtained; and stipulated with them, and the other assistants then in Virginia, that he would confirm the deed of incorporation which he had given in 1587, with all the prerogatives, jurisdictions, royalties and privileges granted to him by the Queen. Sir Walter, at different times, sent five other adventures hither, the last of which was in 1602; for in 1603 he was attainted, and put into close imprisonment, which put an end to his cares over his infant colony. What was the particular fate of the colonists he had before sent and seated has never been known; whether they were murdered or incorporated with the savages. Some gentlemen and merchants, supposing that by the attainder of Sir Walter Raleigh the grant to him was forfeited, not enquiring over carefully whether the sentence of an English Court could affect lands not within the jurisdiction of that court, petitioned King James for a new grant of Virginia to them. He accordingly executed a grant to Sir Thomas Gates and others, bearing date the 9th of March, 1607, under which, in the same year, a settlement was effected at James Town, and ever after maintained. Of this grant, however, no particular notice need be taken, as it was superseded by letters patent of the same King, of May 23, 1609, to the Earl of Salisbury and others, incorporating them by the name of "the Treasurer and Company of Adventurers and Planters of the City of London for the first Colony in Virginia," granting to them and their successors all the lands in Virginia from Point Comfort along the sea coast to the northward 200 miles, and from the same point along the sea coast to the southward 200 miles, and all the space from this precinct on the sea coast up into the land. West and Northwest, from sea to sea, and the islands within one hundred miles of it, with all the commodities, jurisdictions, royalties, privileges, franchises and pre-eminences within the same, and thereto and thereabouts, by sea and land, appertaining, in as ample manner as had before been granted to any adventurer; to be held of the King and his successors, in common soccage, yielding one-fifth part of the gold and silver ore to be therein found, for all manner of services; establishing a council in England for the direction of the enterprise, the members of which were to be chosen and displaced by the voice of the majority of the company and adventurers, and were to have the nomination and revocation of governors, officers and ministers, which by them should be thought needful for the colony, the power of establishing laws, and forms of government, and magistracy, obligatory not only within the colony, but also on the seas in going, and coming to, and from it; authorizing them to carry thither any persons who should consent to go, freeing them forever from all taxes and impositions on any goods or merchandize on importation into the colony, or exportation out of it, except the five per cent, due for custom on all goods imported into the British dominions, according to the ancient trade of merchants; which five per cent, only being paid, they might, within 13 months, re-export the same goods into foreign parts, without any custom, tax, or other duty to the King, or any of his officers or deputies; with powers of waging war against those who should annoy them; giving to the inhabitants of the colony all the rights of natural subjects, as if born and abiding in England; and declaring that these letters should be construed, in all doubtful parts, in such manner as should be most for the benefit of the grantees.

Afterwards, on the 12th of March, 1612, by other letters patent, the King added to his former grants all islands in any part of the ocean between the 30th and 41st degrees of latitude, and within 300 leagues of any of the parts before granted to the treasurer and company, not being possessed or inhabited by any other Christian Prince or State, nor within the limits of the Northern colony.

In pursuance of the authorities given to the company by these charters, and more especially of that part in the charter of 1609, which authorized them to establish a form of government, they on the 24th of July, 1621, by charter under their common seal, declared that from thenceforward there should be two supreme councils in Virginia, the one to be called the Council of State, to be placed and displaced by the treasurer, council in England, and company, from time to time, whose office was to be that of assisting and advising the Governor; the other to be called the General Assembly, to be convened by the Governor once yearly or oftener, which was to consist of the Council of State, and two burgesses out of every town, hundred, or plantation, to be respectively chosen by the inhabitants. In this all matters were to be decided by the greater part of the votes present, reserving to the Governor a negative voice; and they were to have power to treat, consult, and conclude all emergent occasions concerning the public weal, and to make laws for the behoof and government of the colony, imitating and following the laws and policy of England as nearly as might be, providing that these laws should have no force till ratified in a general quarter court of the company in England, and returned under their common seal; and declaring that, after the government of the colony should be well framed and settled, no orders of the council in England should bind the colony unless ratified in the said General Assembly. The King and company quarrelled, and, by a mixture of law and force, the latter were ousted of all their rights, without retribution, after having expended £100,000 in establishing the colony, without the smallest aid from Government. King James suspended their powers by proclamation of July 15, 1624, and Charles I. took the Government into his own hands. Both sides had their partizans in the colony; but, in truth, the people of the colony in general thought themselves little concerned in the dispute. There being three parties interested in these several charters, what passed between the first and second it was thought could not affect the third. If the King seized on the powers of the company, they only passed into other hands, without increase or diminution, while the rights of the people remained as they were. But they did not remain so long. The Northern parts of their country were granted away to the Lords Baltimore and Fairfax, the first of these obtaining also the rights of separate jurisdiction and government. And in 1650 the Parliament, considering itself as standing in the place of their deposed King, and as having succeeded to all his powers, without as well as within the realm, began to assume a right over the colonies, passing an act for inhibiting their trade with foreign nations. This succession to the exercise of the kingly authority gave the first color for parliamentary interference with the colonies, and produced that fatal precedent which they continued to follow after they had retired, in other respects, within their proper functions. When this colony, therefore, which still maintained its opposition to Cromwell and the Parliament, was induced in 1651 to lay down their arms, they previously secured their most essential rights, by a solemn convention, which having never seen in print, I will here insert literally from the records:

ARTICLES agreed on & concluded at James Cittie in Virginia for the surrendering and settling of that plantation under e/y obedience & goverment of the common wealth of England by the Commissioners of the Councill of state by authoritie of the parliamt. of England & by the Grand assembly of the Governour, Councill & Burgesses of that countrey.

First it is agreed and consted that the plantation of Virginia, and all the inhabitants thereof shall be and remaine in due obedience and subjection to the Comon wealth of England, according to e/y lawes there established, and that this submission and subscription bee acknowledged a voluntary act not forced nor constrained by a conquest upon the countrey, and that they shall have & enjoy such freedomes and priviledges as belong to the free borne people of England, and that the former government by the Comissions and Instructions be void and null.

2ly, Secondly that the Grand assembly as formerly shall convene & transact the affairs of Virginia wherein nothing is to be acted or done contrarie to the government of the Comon wealth of England & the lawes there established.

3ly, That there shall be a full & totall remission and indempnitie of all acts, words, or writeings done or spoken against the parliament of England in relation to the same.

4ly, That Virginia shall have & enjoy e/y antient bounds and Lymitts granted by the charters of the former kings, and that we shall seek a new charter from the parliament to that purpose against any that have intrencht upon e/y rights thereof.

5ly, That all the pattents of land granted under the collony scale by any of the precedent governours shall be & remaine in their full force & strength.

6ly, That the priviledge of haveing ffiiftie acres of land for every person transported in that collonie shall continue as formerly granted.

7ly, That e/y people of Virginia have free trade as e/y people of England do enjoy to all places and with all nations according to e/y lawes of that common wealth, and that Virginia shall enjoy all priviledges equall with any English plantations in America.

8ly, That Virginia shall be free from all taxes, customs & impositions whatsoever, & none to be imposed on them without consent of the Grand assembly. And soe that neither ffortes nor castles bee erected or garrisons maintained without their consent.

9ly, That noe charge shall be required from this country in respect of this present ffleet.

10ly, That for the future settlement of the countrey in their due obedience, the Engagement shall be tendred to all e/y inhabitants according to act of parliament made to that purpose, that all persons who shall refuse to subscribe the said engagement, shall have a yeare's time if they please to remove themselves & their estates out of Virginia, and in the mean time during the said yeare to have equall justice as formerly.

11ly, That e/y use of the booke of common prayer shall be permitted for one yeare ensueinge with referrence to the consent of e/y major part of the parishes, provided that those things which relate to kingshipp or that government be not used publiquely, and the continuance of ministers in their places, they not misdemeaning themselves, and the payment of their accustomed dues and agreements made with them respectively shall be left as they now stand dureing this ensueing yeare.

12ly, That no man's cattell shall be questioned as e/y companies unles such as have been entrusted with them or have disposed of them without order.

13ly, That all ammunition, powder & armes, other then for private use, shall be delivered up, securitie being given to make satisfaction for it.

14ly, That all goods allreadie brought hither by e/y Dutch or others which are now on shoar shall be free from surprizall.

15ly, That the quittrents granted unto us by the late kinge for seaven yeares bee confirmed.

16ly, That e/y commissioners for the parliament subscribeing these articles engage themselves & the honour of the parliament for the full performance thereof; and that the present governour & y councill & the burgesses do likewise subscribe & engage the whole collony on their parts.

Rich. Bennett. Seale.
Wm. Claiborne.— Seale.
Edmond Curtis. Seale.

Theise articles were signed & sealed by the Commissioners of the Councill of state for the Commonwealth of England the twelveth day of March 1651.

Then follow the articles stipulated by the Governor and Council, which relate merely to their own persons and property, and then the ensuing instrument:

An act of indempnitie made att the surrender of the countrey.

Whereas by the authoritie of the parliament of England wee the commissioners appointed by the councill of state authorized thereto having brought a fleete & force before James cittie in Virginia to reduce that collonie under the obedience of the commonwealth of England, & findeing force raised by the Governour and countrey to make opposition against the said ffleet whereby assured danger appearinge of the ruine & destruction of e/y plantation, for prevention whereof the Burgesses of all the severall plantations being called to advise & assist therein, uppon long & serious debate, and in sad contemplation of the greate miseries & certaine destruction which were soe neerely hovering over the whole countrey; Wee the said Comissioners have thought fitt & condescended & granted to signe & confirme under our hands, scales, & by our oath. Articles bearinge date with theise presents, and do further declare that by y authoritie of the parliament & commonwealth of England derived unto us theire Comissioners, that according to the articles in generall wee have granted an act of indempnitie and oblivion to all the inhabitants of this colloney from all words, actions, or writings that have been spoken, acted or writt against the parliament or commonwealth of England or any other person from the beginning of the world to this daye. And this wee have done that all the inhabitants of the collonie may live quietly & securely under the comonwealth of England. And wee do promise that the parliament and commonwealth of England shall confirme & make good all those transactions of ours. Wittnes our hands & scales this 12th of March 1651. Richard Bennett — Seale. Wm. Claiborne — Seale. Edm. Curtis — Seale."

The colony supposed that by this solemn convention, entered into with arms in their hands, they had secured the ancient limits of their country, [i] its free trade, [ii] its exemption from taxation [iii], but by their own assembly, and exclusion of military force [iv] from among them. Yet in every of these points was this convention violated by subsequent kings and parliaments, and other infractions of their constitution, equally dangerous, committed. Their General Assembly, which was composed of the Council of State and Burgesses, sitting together and deciding by plurality of voices, was split into two houses, by which the council obtained a separate negative on their laws. Appeals from their Supreme Court, which had been fixed by law in their General Assembly, were arbitrarily revoked to England, to be there heard before the King and Council. Instead of four hundred miles on the sea coast, they were reduced, in the space of thirty years, to about one hundred miles. Their trade with foreigners was totally suppressed, and when carried to Great Britain was there loaded with imposts. It is unnecessary, however, to glean up the several instances of injury, as scattered through American and British history, and the more especially as, by passing on to the accession of the present King, we shall find specimens of them all, aggravated, multiplied and crowded within a small compass of time, so as to evince a fixed design of considering our rights natural, conventional and chartered as mere nullities. The following is an epitome of the first fifteen years of his reign. The colonies were taxed internally and externally; their essential interests sacrificed to individuals in Great Britain; their Legislatures suspended; charters annulled; trials by juries taken away; their persons subjected to transportation across the Atlantic, and to trial before foreign judicatories; their supplications for redress thought beneath answer; themselves published as cowards in the councils of their mother country and courts of Europe; armed troops sent among them to enforce submission to these violences; and actual hostilities commenced against them. No alternative was presented but resistance, or unconditional submission. Between these could be no hesitation. They closed in the appeal to arms. They declared themselves independent States. They confederated together into one great Republic; thus securing to every State the benefit of an union of their whole force. In each State separately a new form of government was established. Of ours particularly the following are the outlines. The Executive powers are lodged in the hands of a Governor, chosen annually, and incapable of acting more than three years in seven. He is assisted by a Council of eight members. The judiciary powers are divided among several courts, as will be hereafter explained. Legislation is exercised by two houses of assembly, the one called the House of Delegates, composed of two members from each county, chosen annually by the citizens possessing an estate for life in 100 acres of uninhabited land, or 25 acres with a house on it, or in a house or lot in some town: the other called the Senate, consisting of 24 members, chosen quadrennially by the same electors, who for this purpose are distributed into 24 districts. The concurrence of both houses is .necessary to the passage of a law. They have the appointment of the Governor and Council, the Judges of the Superior Courts, Auditors, Attorney General, Treasurer, Register of the Land Office, and Delegates to Congress. As the dismemberment of the State had never had its confirmation, but, on the contrary, had always been the subject of protestation and complaint, that it might never be in our own power to raise scruples on that subject, or to disturb the harmony of our new confederacy, the grants to Maryland, Pennsylvania, and the two Carolinas, were ratified.

This constitution was formed when we were new and unexperienced in the science of government. It was the first too which was formed in the whole United States. No wonder then that time and trial have discovered very capital defects in it:

1. The majority of the men in the State, who pay and fight for its support, are unrepresented in the Legislature, the roll of freeholders entitled to vote, not including generally the half of those on the roll of the militia, or of the tax gatherers.

2. Among those who share the representation, the shares are very unequal. Thus the county of Warwick, with only one hundred fighting men, has an equal representation with the county of Loudon, which has 1746. So that every man in Warwick has as much influence in the government as 17 men in Loudon. But lest it should be thought that an equal interspersion of small among large counties, through the whole State, may prevent any danger of injury to particular parts of it, we will divide it into districts,, and shew the proportions of land, of fighting men, and of representation in each.


An inspection of this table will supply the place of commentaries on it. It will appear at once that nineteen thousand men, living below the falls of the rivers, possess half the Senate, and want four members only of possessing a majority of the House of Delegates; a want more than supplied by the vicinity of their situation to the seat of Government, and of course the greater degree of convenience and punctuality with which their members may and will attend in the Legislature. These nineteen thousand, therefore, living in one part of the country, give law to upwards of thirty thousand, living in another, and appoint all their chief officers, executive and judiciary. From the difference of their situation and circumstances, their interests will often be very different.

3. The Senate is, by its constitution, too homogeneous with the House of Delegates. Being chosen by the same electors, at the same time, and out of the same subjects, the choice falls of course on men of the same description. The purpose of establishing different houses of legislation is to introduce the influence of different interests or different principles. Thus in Great Britain it is said their constitution relies on the House of Commons for honesty, and the Lords for wisdom, which would be a rational reliance if honesty were to be be bought with money, and if wisdom were hereditary. In some of the American States the delegates and senators are so chosen, as that the first represent the persons, and the second the property of the State. But with us wealth and wisdom have equal chance for admission into both houses. We do not therefore derive from the separation of our Legislature into two houses, those benefits which a proper complication of principles is capable of producing, and those which alone can compensate the evils which may be produced by their dissensions.

4. All the powers of Government, legislative, executive and judiciary, result to the legislative body. The concentrating these in the same hands is precisely the definition of despotic government. It will be no alleviation that these powers will be exercised by a plurality of hands, and not by a single one. One hundred and seventy-three despots would surely be as oppressive as one. Let those who doubt it turn their eyes on the Republic of Venice. As little will it avail us that they are chosen by ourselves. An elective despotism was not the government we fought for, but one which should not only be founded on free principles, but in which the powers of government should be so divided and balanced among several bodies of magistracy, as that no one could transcend their legal limits without being effectually checked and restrained by the others. For this reason that convention, which passed the ordinance of government, laid its foundation on this basis, that the legislative, executive and judiciary departments should be separate and distinct, so that no person should exercise the powers of more than one of them at the same time. But no barrier was provided between these several powers. The judiciary and executive members were left dependent on the legislative for their subsistence in office, and some of them for their continuance in it. If therefore the Legislature assumes executive and judiciary powers no opposition is likely to be made, nor if made can it be effectual, because in that case they may put their proceedings into the form of an act of assembly, which will render them obligatory on the other branches. They have accordingly, in many instances, decided rights which should have been left to judiciary controversy; and the direction of the executive, during the whole time of their session, is becoming habitual and familiar. And this is done with no ill intention. The views of the present members are perfectly upright. When they are led out of their regular province, it is by art in others, and inadvertence in themselves. And this will probably be the case for some time to come. But it will not be a very long time. Mankind soon learn to make interested uses of every right and power which they possess, or may assume. The public money and public liberty, intended to have been deposited with three branches of magistracy, but found inadvertently to be in the hands of one only, will soon be discovered to be sources of wealth and dominion to those who hold them; distinguished too by this tempting circumstance, that they are the instrument as well as the object of acquisition. With money we will get men, said Caesar, and with men we will get money. Nor should our assembly be deluded by the integrity of their own purposes, and conclude that these unlimited powers will never be abused, because themselves are not disposed to abuse them. They should look forward to a time, and that not a distant one, when corruption in this, as in the country from which we derive our origin, will have seized the heads of government, and be spread by them through the body of the people, when they will purchase the voices of the people, and make them pay the price. Human nature is the same on every side of the Atlantic, and will be alike influenced by the same causes. The time to guard against corruption and tyranny, is before they shall have gotten hold on us. It is better to keep the wolf out of the fold, than to trust to drawing his teeth and talons after he shall have entered. To render these considerations the more cogent, we must observe in addition,

5. That the ordinary Legislature may alter the constitution itself. On the discontinuance of assemblies, it became necessary to substitute in their place some other body, competent to the ordinary business of government, and to the calling forth the powers of the State for the maintenance of our opposition to Great Britain. Conventions were therefore introduced, consisting of two delegates from each county, meeting together and forming one house, on the plan of the former house of Burgesses, to whose places they succeeded. These were at first chosen anew for every particular session. But in March, 1775, they recommended to the people to choose a convention, which should continue in office a year. This was done accordingly in April, 1775, and in the July following, that convention passed an ordinance for the election of delegates in the month of April annually. It is well known, that in July, 1775, a separation from Great Britain, and establishment of Republican Government, had never yet entered into any person's mind. A convention therefore, chosen under that ordinance, cannot be said to have been chosen for purposes which certainly did not exist in the minds of those who passed it. Under this ordinance, at the annual election in April, 1776, a convention for the year was chosen. Independence, and the establishment of a new form of government, were not even yet the objects of the people at large. One extract from the pamphlet, called Common Sense, had appeared in the Virginia papers in February, and copies of the pamphlet itself had got into a few hands. But the idea had not been opened to the mass of the people in April, much less can it be said that they had made up their minds in its favor. So that the electors of April, 1776, no more than the legislators of July, 1775, not thinking of independence and a permanent Republic, could not mean to vest in these delegates powers of establishing them, or any authorities other than those of the ordinary Legislature. So far as a temporary organization of government was necessary to render our opposition energetic, so far their organization was valid. But they received in their creation no powers but what were given to every Legislature before and since. They could not therefore pass an act transcendent to the powers of other Legislatures. If the present assembly pass any act, and declare it shall be irrevocable by subsequent assemblies, the declaration is merely void, and the act repealable, as other acts are. So far, and no farther authorized, they organized the government by the ordinance entitled a Constitution or Form of Government. It pretends to no higher authority than the other ordinances of the same session; it does not say that it shall be perpetual; that it shall be unalterable by other Legislatures; that it shall be transcendent above the powers of those who they knew would have equal power with themselves. Not only the silence of the instrument is a proof they thought it would be alterable, but their own practice also; for this very convention, meeting as a House of Delegates in General Assembly with the new Senate in the Autumn of that year, passed acts of assembly in contradiction to their ordinance of government; and every assembly from that time to this has done the game. I am safe, therefore, in the position that the constitution itself is alterable by the ordinary Legislature. Though this opinion seems founded on the first elements of common sense, yet is the contrary maintained by some persons: 1. Because, say they, the conventions were vested with every power necessary to make effectual opposition to Great Britain. But to complete this argument, they must go on, and say further, that effectual opposition could not be made to Great Britain without establishing a form of government perpetual and un- alterable by the Legislature, which is not true. An opposition which, at some time or other, was to come to an end, could not need a perpetual institution to carry it on; and a government, amendable as its defects should be discovered, was as likely to make effectual resistance, as one which should be unalterably wrong. Besides, the assemblies were as much vested with all powers requisite for resistance as the conventions were. If, therefore, these powers included that of modelling the form of government in the one case, they did so in the other. The assemblies then, as well as the conventions, may model the government; that is, they may alter the ordinance of government. 2. They urge that if the convention had meant that this instrument should be alterable, as their other ordinances were, they would have called it an ordinance; but they have called it a constitution, which, ex vi termini, means " an act above the power of the ordinary Legislature." I answer, that constitutio, constitutum, statutum, lex, are convertible terms. "Constitutio dicitur jus quod a principe conditur." "Constitutum, quod ab imperatoribus rescriptum statutumve est." "Statutum, idem quod lex." Calvini Lexicon juridicum. Constitution and statute were originally terms of the civil law, [vii] and from thence introduced by Ecclesiastics into the English law. Thus in the statute 25 Hen. 8, c. 19, § 1, "Constitutions and ordinances" are used as synonymous. The term constitution, has many other significations in physics and in politics; but in jurisprudence, whenever it is applied to any act of the Legislature, it invariably means a statute, law, or ordinance, which is the present case. No inference then of a different meaning can be drawn from the adoption of this title : on the contrary, we might conclude that, by their affixing to it a term synonymous with ordinance, or statute, they meant it to be an ordinance or statute. But of what consequence is their meaning, where their power is denied? If they meant to do more than they had power to do, did this give them power? It is not the name, but the authority, which renders an act obligatory. Lord Coke says, " an article of the statute 11 R. 2, c. 5, that no person should attempt to revoke any ordinance then made, is repealed, for that such restraint is against the jurisdiction and power of the parliament." — 4. Inst. 42. And again, "though divers parliaments have attempted to restrain subsequent parliaments, yet could they never effect it; for the latter parliament hath ever power to abrogate, suspend, qualify, explain, or make void the former in the whole or in any part thereof, notwithstanding any words of restraint, prohibition, or penalty, in the former; for it is a maxim in the laws of the parliament, quod leges posteriores priores contrarias abrogant." — 4. Inst. 43. To get rid of the magic supposed to be in the word constitution, let us translate it into its definition, as given by those who think it above the power of the law; and let us suppose the convention instead of saying, "We, the ordinary Legislature, establish a constitution,'" had said, "We, the ordinary Legislature, establish an act above the power of the ordinary Legislature.'' Does not this expose the absurdity of the attempt? 3. But, say they, the people have acquiesced, and this has given it an authority superior to the laws. It is true, that the people did not rebel against it; and was that a time for the people to rise in rebellion? Should a prudent acquiescence, at a critical time, be construed into a confirmation of every illegal thing done during that period? Besides, why should they rebel? At an annual election they had chosen delegates for the year, to exercise the ordinary powers of legislation, and to manage the great contest in which they were engaged. These delegates thought the contest would be best managed by an organized government. They therefore, among others, passed an ordinance of government. They did not presume to call it perpetual and unalterable. They well knew they had no power to make it so; that our choice of them had been for no such purpose, and at a time when we could have no such purpose in contemplation. Had an unalterable form of government been meditated, perhaps we should have chosen a different set of people. There was no cause then for the people to rise in rebellion. But to what dangerous lengths will this argument lead? Did the acquiescence of the colonies, under the various acts of power exercised by Great Britain in our infant state, con- firm these acts, and so far invest them with the authority of the people as to render them unalterable, and our present resistance wrong? On every unauthorative exercise of power by the Legislature, must the people rise in rebellion, or their silence be construed into a surrender of that power to them? If so, how many rebellions should we have had already? One certainly for every session of assembly. The other States in the Union have been of opinion, that to render a form of government unalterable by ordinary acts of assembly, the people must delegate persons with special powers. They have accordingly chosen special conventions to form and fix their governments. The individuals then who maintain the contrary opinion in this country should have the modesty to suppose it possible that they may be wrong, and the rest of America right. But if there be only a possibility of their being wrong, if only a plausible doubt remains of the validity of the ordinance of government, is it not better to remove that doubt, by placing it on a bottom which none will dispute? If they be right, we shall only have the unnecessary trouble of meeting once in convention. If they be wrong, they expose us to the hazard of having no fundamental rights at all. True it is, this is no time for deliberating on forms of government. While an enemy is within our bowels, the first object is to expel him. But when this shall be done, when peace shall be established, and leisure given us for intrenching within good forms, the rights for which we have bled, let no man be found indolent enough to decline a little more trouble for placing them beyond the reach of question. If any thing more be requisite to produce a conviction of the expediency of calling a convention at a proper season to fix our form of government, let it be the reflection,

6. That the assembly exercises a power of determining the quorum of their own body which may legislate for us. After the establishment of the new form they adhered to the Lex majoris partis, founded in common law as well as common right. [viii] It is the natural law of every assembly of men, whose numbers are not fixed by any other law. [ix] They continued for some time to require the presence of a majority of their whole number, to pass an act. But the British Parliament fixes its own quorum: our former assemblies fixed their own quorum; and one precedent in favor of power is stronger than an hundred against it. The House of Delegates, therefore, have lately [x] voted that, during the present dangerous invasion, forty members shall be a house to proceed to business. They have been moved to this by the fear of not being able to collect a house. But this danger could not authorize them to call that a house, which was none; and if they may fix it at one number, they may at another, till it loses its fundamental character of being a representative body. As this vote expires with the present invasion, it is probable the former rule will be permitted to revive, because at present no ill is meant. The power, however, of fixing their own quorum has been avowed, and a precedent set. From forty it may be reduced to four, and from four to one; from a house to a committee, from a committee to a chairman or speaker, and thus an oligarchy or monarchy be substituted under forms supposed to be regular: "Omnia mala exempla ex bonis orta sunt: sed ubi imperium ad ignaros aut minus bonos pervenit, novum illud exemplum ab dignis et idoneis ad indignos et non idoneos fertur." When, therefore, it is considered that there is no legal obstacle to the assumption by the assembly of all the powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, and that these may come to the hands of the smallest rag of delegation, surely the people will say, and their representatives, while yet they have honest representatives, will advise them to say, that they will not acknowledge as laws any acts not considered and assented to by the major part of their delegates.

In enumerating the defects of the constitution, it would be wrong to count among them what is only the error of particular persons. In December, 1776, our circumstances being much distressed, it was proposed in the House of Delegates to create a dictator, invested with every power legislative, executive, and judiciary, civil and military, of life and of death, over our persons and over our properties; and in June, 1781, [xi] again under calamity, the same proposition was repeated, and wanted a few votes only of being passed. One who entered into this contest from a pure love of liberty, and a sense of injured rights, who determined to make every sacrifice, and to meet every danger, for the re-establishment of those rights on a firm basis, who did not mean to expend his blood and sub- stance for the wretched purpose of changing this master for that, but to place the powers of governing him in a plurality of hands of his own choice, so that the corrupt will of no one man might in future oppress him, must stand confounded and dismayed when he is told that a considerable portion of that plurality had meditated the surrender of them into a single hand, and, in lieu of a limited monarch, to deliver him over to a despotic one! How must we find his efforts and sacrifices abused and baffled, if he may still by a single vote be laid prostrate at the feet of one man! In God's name, from whence have they derived this power? Is it from our ancient laws? None such can be produced. Is it from any principle in our new constitution, expressed or implied? Every lineament of that, expressed or implied, is in full opposition to it. Its fundamental principle is, that the State shall be governed as a Commonwealth. It provides a Republican organization, proscribes under the name of prerogative the exercise of all powers undefined by the laws; places on this basis the whole system of our laws; and, by consolidating them together, chooses that they shall be left to stand or fall together, never providing for any circumstances, nor admitting that such could arise, wherein either should be suspended, no, not for a moment. Our ancient laws expressly declare, that those who are but delegates themselves shall not delegate to others powers which require judgment and integrity in their exercise. Or was this proposition moved on a supposed right in the movers of abandoning their posts in a moment of distress? The same laws forbid the abandonment of that post, even on ordinary occasions; and much more a transfer of their powers into other hands and other forms, without consulting the people. They never admit the idea that these, like sheep or cattle, may be given from hand to hand without an appeal to their own will. Was it from the necessity of the case? Necessities which dissolve a government, do not convey its authority to an oligarchy or a monarchy. They throw back, into the hands of the people, the powers they had delegated, and leave them as individuals to shift for themselves. A leader may offer, but not impose himself, nor be imposed on them. Much less can their necks be submitted to his sword, their breath be held at his will or caprice. The necessity which should operate these tremendous effects should at least be palpable and irresistible. Yet in both instances where it is feared, or pretended with us, it was belied by the event. It was belied too by the preceding experience of our sister States, several of whom had grappled through greater difficulties without abandoning their forms of government. "When the proposition was first made, Massachusetts had found even the government of committees sufficient to carry them through an invasion. But we at the time of that proposition were under no invasion. When the second was made, there had been added to this example those of Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, in all of which the Republican form had been found equal to the task of carrying them through the severest trials. In this State alone did there exist so little virtue, that fear was to be fixed in the hearts of the people, and to become the motive of their exertions and the principle of their government? The very thought alone was treason against the people; was treason against mankind in general; as rivetting forever the chains which bow down their necks, by giving to their oppressors a proof, which they would have trumpeted through the universe, of the imbecility of Republican Government, in times of pressing danger, to shield them from harm. Those who assume the right of giving away the reins of government in any case, must be sure that the herd, whom they hand on to the rods and hatchet of the dictator, will lay their necks on the block when he shall nod to them. But if our assemblies supposed such a resignation in the people, I hope they mistook their character. I am of opinion that the government, instead of being braced and invigorated for greater exertions under their difficulties, would have been thrown back upon the bungling machinery of county committees for administration, till a convention could have been called, and its wheels again set into regular motion. What a cruel moment was this for creating such an embarrassment, for putting to the proof the attachment of our countrymen to Republican Government. Those who meant well of the advocates for this measure, (and most of them meant well, for I know them personally, had been their fellow laborers in the common cause, and had often proved the purity of their principles,) had been seduced in their judgment by the example of an ancient Republic, whose constitution and circumstances were fundamentally different. They had sought this precedent in the history of Rome, where alone it was to be found, and where at length too it had proved fatal. They had taken it from a Republic, rent by the most bitter factions and tumults, where the government was of a heavy-handed, unfeeling aristocracy, over a people ferocious, and rendered desperate by poverty and wretchedness; tumults which could not be allayed under the most trying circumstances, but by the omnipotent hand of a single despot. Their constitution, therefore, allowed a temporary tyrant to be erected, under the name of a dictator; and that temporary tyrant, after a few examples, became perpetual. They misapplied this precedent to a people, mild in their dispositions, patient under their trial, united for the public liberty, and affectionate to their leaders. But if from the constitution of the Roman Government there resulted to their Senate a power of submitting all their rights to the will of one man, does it follow that the assembly of Virginia have the same authority ? What clause in our constitution has substituted that of Rome, by way of residuary provision, for all cases not otherwise provided for? Or, if they may step, ad libitum, into any other form of government for precedents to rule us by, for what oppression may not a precedent be found in this world of the bellum omnium in omnia? Searching for the foundations of this proposition, I can find none which may pretend a color of right or reason, but the defect before developed, that there being no barrier between the legislative, executive, and judiciary departments, the Legislature may seize the whole; that having seized it, and possessing a right to fix their own quorum, they may reduce that quorum to one, whom they may call a chairman, speaker, dictator, or by any other name they please. Our situation is, indeed, perilous, and I hope my countrymen will be sensible of it, and will apply at a proper season the proper remedy; which is a convention to fix the constitution, to amend its defects, to bind up the several branches of government by certain laws, which, when they transgress, their acts shall become nullities; to render unnecessary an appeal to the people, or, in other words, a rebellion, on every infraction of their rights, on the peril that their acquiescence shall be construed into an intention to surrender those rights.



i. Art. 4.

ii. Art. 7.

iii. Art. 8.

iv. Art. 8.

v. Of these, 542 are on the Eastern Shore.

vi. Of these, 22,616 are Eastward of the meridian of the mouth of the Great Kanhaway.

vii. To bid, to set, was the ancient legislative word of the English. LI. Hlotharii & Eadrici. LI. Inae. LI. Eadwerdi. LI. Aathelstani.

viii. Bro. abr. Corporations, 31, 34. Hakewell, 93.

ix. Puff. Off. hom., L. 2, c. 6, § 12.

x. June 4, 1781.

xi. The delegates were then sitting at Staunton, and had voted that 40 of their number should make a house. There were between 40 and 50 present when the motion for the dictator was made, and it was rejected by a majority of 6 only.
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Re: Notes on the State of Virginia, by Thomas Jefferson

Postby admin » Wed Jul 29, 2015 3:58 am



The State is divided into counties. In every county are appointed magistrates, called Justices of the Peace, usually from eight, to thirty or forty in number, in proportion to the size of the county, of the most discreet and honest inhabitants. They are nominated by their fellows, but commissioned by the Governor, and act without reward. These magistrates have jurisdiction, both criminal and civil. If the question before them be a question of law only, they decide on it themselves; but if it be of fact, or of fact and law combined, it must be referred to a jury. In the latter case, of a combination of law and fact, it is usual for the jurors to decide the fact, and to refer the law arising on it to the decision of the judges. But this division of the subject lies with their discretion only. And if the question relate to any point of public liberty, or if it be one of those in which the judges may be suspected of bias, the jury undertake to decide both law and fact. If they be mistaken, a decision against right, which is casual only, is less dangerous to the State, and less afflicting to the loser, than one which makes part of a regular and uniform system. In truth, it is better to toss up cross and pile in a cause, than to refer it to a judge whose mind is warped by any motive whatever, in that particular case. But the common sense of twelve honest men gives still a better chance of just decision, than the hazard of cross and pile. These judges execute their process by the sheriff or coroner of the county, or by constables of their own appointment. If any free person commit an offence against the Commonwealth, if it be below the degree of felony, he is bound by a justice to appear before their court, to answer it on indictment or information. If it amount to felony, lie is committed to jail, a court of these justices is called; if they on examination think him guilty, they send him to the jail of the General Court, before which court he is to be tried first by a grand jury of 24, of whom 13 must concur in opinion; if they find him guilty, he is then tried by a jury of 12 men of the county where the offence was committed, and by their verdict, which must be unanimous, he is acquitted or condemned without appeal. If the criminal be a slave, the trial by the County Court is final. In every case however, except that of high treason, there resides in the Governor a power of pardon. In high treason, the pardon can only flow from the General Assembly. In civil matters these justices have jurisdiction in all cases of whatever value, not appertaining to the department of the admiralty. This jurisdiction is two fold. If the matter in dispute be of less value than 4-1/6 dollars, a single member may try it at any time and place within his county, and may award execution on the goods of the party cast. If it be of that or greater value, it is determinable before the County Court, which consists of four at the least of those justices, and assembles at the court house of the county on a certain day in every month. From their determination, if the matter be of the value of ten pounds sterling, or concern the title or bounds of lands, an appeal lies to one of the Superior Courts.

There are three Superior Courts, to wit, the High Court of Chancery, the General Court, and Court of Admiralty. The first and second of these receive appeals from the County Courts, and also have original jurisdiction where the subject of controversy is of the value of ten pounds sterling, or where it concerns the title or bounds of land. The jurisdiction of the admiralty is original altogether. The High Court of Chancery is composed of three judges, the General Court of five, and the Court of Admiralty of three. The two first hold their sessions at Richmond at stated times, the Chancery twice in the year, and the General Court twice for business, civil and criminal, and twice more for criminal only. The Court of Admiralty sits at Williamsburgh whenever a controversy arises.

There is one Supreme Court, called the Court of Appeals, composed of the judges of the three Superior Courts, assembling twice a year at stated times at Richmond. This court receives appeals in all civil cases from each of the Superior Courts, and determines them finally. But it has no original jurisdiction.

If a controversy arise between two foreigners of a nation in alliance with the United States, it is decided by the Consul for their State, or, if both parties choose it, by the ordinary courts of justice. If one of the parties only be such a foreigner, it is triable before the courts of justice of the country. But if it shall have been instituted in a County Court, the foreigner may remove it into the General Court, or Court of Chancery, who are to determine it at their first sessions, as they must also do if it be originally commenced before them. In cases of life and death, such foreigners have a right to be tried by a jury, the one-half foreigners, the other natives.

All public accounts are settled with a Board of Auditors, consisting of three members, appointed by the General Assembly, any two of whom may act. But an individual, dissatisfied with the determination of that board, may carry his case into the proper Superior Court.

A description of the laws:

The General Assembly was constituted, as has been already shewn, by letters patent of March 9th, 1607, in the 4th year of the reign of James the First. The laws of England seem to have been adopted by consent of the settlers, which might easily enough be done whilst they were few and living altogether. Of such adoption, however, we have no other proof than their practice, till the year 1661, when they were expressly adopted by an act of the assembly, except so far as "a difference of condition" rendered them inapplicable. Under this adoption, the rule, in our courts of judicature was, that the common law of England, and the general statutes previous to the fourth of James, were in force here; but that no subsequent statutes were, unless we were named in them; said the judges and other partizans of the crown, but named or not named, said those who reflected freely. It will be un- necessary to attempt a description of the laws of England, as that may be found in English publications. To those which were established here, by the adoption of the Legislature, have been since added a number of acts of assembly passed during the monarchy, and ordinances of convention and acts of assembly enacted since the establishment of the Republic. The following variations from the British model are perhaps worthy of being specified.

Debtors unable to pay their debts, and making faithful delivery of their whole effects, are released from confinement, and their persons forever discharged from restraint for such previous debts; but any property they may afterwards acquire will be subject to their creditors.

The poor, unable to support themselves, are maintained by an assessment on the titheable persons in their parish. This assessment is levied and administered by twelve persons in each parish, called vestrymen, originally chosen by the housekeepers of the parish, but afterwards filling vacancies in their own body by their own choice. These are usually the most discreet farmers, so distributed through their parish, that every part of it may be under the immediate eye of some one of them. They are well acquainted with the details and economy of private life, and they find sufficient inducements to execute their charge well, in their philanthrophy, in the approbation of their neighbors, and the distinction which that gives them. The poor who have neither property, friends, nor strength to labor, are boarded in the houses of good farmers, to whom a stipulated sum is annually paid. To those who are able to help themselves a little, or have friends from whom they derive some succors, inadequate, however, to their full maintenance, supplementary aids are given, which enable them to live comfortably in their own houses, or in the houses of their friends. Vagabonds, without visible property or vocation, are placed in workhouses, where they are well clothed, fed, lodged, and made to labor. Nearly the same method of providing for the poor prevails through all our States; and from Savannah to Portsmouth you will seldom meet a beggar. In the larger towns, indeed, they sometimes present themselves. These are usually foreigners, who have never obtained a settlement in any parish. I never yet saw a native American begging in the streets or highways. A subsistence is easily gained here; and if by misfortunes they are thrown on the charities of the world, those provided by their own country are so comfortable and so certain, that they never think of relinquishing them to become strolling beggars. Their situation, too, when sick, in the family of a good farmer, where every member is emulous to do them kind offices, where they are visited by all the neighbors, who bring them the little rarieties which their sickly appetites may crave, and who take by rotation the nightly watch over them, when their condition requires it, is, without comparison, better than in a general hospital, where the sick, the dying, and the dead, are crammed together in the same rooms, and often in the same beds. The disadvantages, inseparable from general hospitals, are such as can never be counterpoised by all the regularities of medicine and regimen. Nature and kind nursing save a much greater proportion in our plain way, at a smaller expense, and with less abuse. One branch only of hospital institution is wanting with us; that is, a general establishment for those laboring under difficult cases of chirurgery. The aids of this art are not equivocal. But an able chirurgeon cannot be had in every parish. Such a receptacle should, therefore, be provided for those patients; but no others should be admitted.

Marriages must be solemnized either on special license, granted by the first magistrate of the county, on proof of the consent of the parent or guardian of either party under age, or after solemn publication, on three several Sundays, at some place of religious worship, in the parishes where the parties reside. The act of solemnization may be by the minister of any society of Christians, who shall have been previously licensed for this purpose by the court of the county. Quakers and Menonists, however, are exempted from all these conditions, and marriage among them is to be solemnized by the society itself.

A foreigner of any nation, not in open war with us, becomes naturalized by removing to the State to reside, and taking an oath of fidelity; and, thereupon, acquires every right of a native citizen; and citizens may divest themselves of that character, by declaring by solemn deed, or in open court, that they mean to expatriate themselves, and no longer to be citizens of this State.

Conveyances of land must be registered in the court of the county wherein they lie, or in the General Court, or they are void as to creditors and subsequent purchasers.

Slaves pass by descent and dower as lands do. Where the descent is from a parent, the heir is bound to pay an equal share of their value in money to each of his brothers and sisters.

Slaves, as well as lands, were entailable during the monarchy; but, by an act of the first Republican assembly, all donees in tail, present and future, were vested with the absolute dominion of the entailed subject.

Bills of exchange being protested, carry 10 per cent, interest from their date.

No person is allowed, in any other case, to take more than five per cent, per annum, simple interest, for the loan of moneys.

Gaming debts are made void, and moneys actually paid to discharge such debts (if they exceeded 40 shillings) may be recovered by the payer within three months, or by any other person afterwards.

Tobacco, flour, beef, pork, tar, pitch, and turpentine, must be inspected by persons publicly appointed, before they can be exported.

The erecting iron works and mills is encouraged by many privileges, with necessary cautions, however, to prevent their dams from obstructing the navigation of the water courses. The General Assembly have, on several occasions, shewn a great desire to encourage the opening the great falls of James and Patowmac rivers. As yet, however, neither of these have been effected.

The laws have also descended to the preservation and improvement of the races of useful animals, such as horses, cattle, deer; to the extirpation of those which are noxious, as wolves, squirrels, crows, blackbirds; and to the guarding our citizens against infectious disorders, by obliging suspected vessels coming into the State, to perform quarantine, and by regulating the conduct of persons having such disorders within the State.

The mode of acquiring lands, in the earliest times of our settlement, was by petition to the General Assembly. If the lands prayed for were already cleared of the Indian title, and the assembly thought the prayer reasonable, they passed the property by their vote to the petitioner. But if they had not yet been ceded by the Indians, it was necessary that the petitioner should previously purchase their right. This purchase the assembly verified, by enquiries of the Indian proprietors; and being satisfied of its reality and fairness, proceeded further to examine the reasonableness of the petition, and its consistence with policy, and, according to the result, either granted or rejected the petition. The company also sometimes, though very rarely, granted lands, independently of the General Assembly. As the colony increased, and individual applications for land multiplied, it was found to give too much occupation to the General Assembly to enquire into and execute the grant in every special case. They therefore thought it better to establish general rules, according to which all grants should be made, and to leave to the Governor the execution of them under these rules. This they did by what have been usually called the land laws, amending them from time to time, as their defects were developed. According to these laws, when an individual wished a portion of unappropriated land, he was to locate and survey it by a public officer, appointed for that purpose; its breadth was to bear a certain proportion to its length; the grant was to be executed by the Governor; and the lands were to be improved in a certain manner within a given time. From these regulations there resulted to the State a sole and exclusive power of taking conveyances of the Indian right of soil; since, according to them, an Indian conveyance alone could give no right to an individual, which the laws would acknowledge. The State, or the Crown thereafter, made general purchases of the Indians from time to time, and the Governor parcelled them out by special grants, conformed to the rules before described, which it was not in his power, or in that of the Crown, to dispense with. Grants, unaccompanied by their proper legal circumstances, were set aside regularly by scire facias, or by bill in chancery. Since the establishment of our new government, this order of things is but little changed. An individual, wishing to appropriate to himself lands still unappropriated by any other, pays to the public treasurer a sum of money proportioned to the quantity he wants. He carries the treasurer's receipt to the auditors of public accounts, who, thereupon, debit the treasurer with the sum, and order the register of the land office to give the party a warrant for his land. With this warrant from the register, he goes to the surveyor of the county where the land lies on which he has cast his eye. The surveyor lays it off for him, gives him its exact description, in the form of a certificate, which certificate he returns to the land office, where a grant is made out, and is signed by the Governor. This vests in him a perfect dominion in his lands, transmissible to whom he pleases by deed or will, or by descent to his heirs if he die intestate.

Many of the laws which were in force during the monarchy being relative merely to that form of government, or inculcating principles inconsistent with Republicanism, the first assembly which met after the establishment of the Common- wealth, appointed a committee to revise the whole Code, to reduce it into proper form and volume, and report it to the assembly. This work has been executed by three gentlemen, and reported; but probably will not be taken up till a restoration of peace shall leave to the Legislature leisure to go through such a work.

The plan of the revisal was this: The common law of England, by which is meant that part of the English law which was anterior to the date of the oldest statutes extant, is made the basis of the work. It was thought dangerous to attempt to reduce it to a text; it was therefore left to be collected from the usual monuments of it. Necessary alterations in that, and so much of the whole body of the British statutes, and of acts of assembly, as were thought proper to be retained, were digested into 126 new acts, in which simplicity of style was aimed at, as far as was safe. The following are the most remarkable alterations proposed:

To change the rules of descent, so as that the lands of any person dying intestate shall be divisible equally among all his children, or other representatives, in equal degree:

To make slaves distributable among the next of kin, as other moveables:

To have all public expenses, whether of the general treasury, or of a parish or county, (as for the maintenance of the poor, building bridges, court houses, &c.,) supplied by assessments on the citizens, in proportion to their property:

To hire undertakers for keeping the public roads in repair, and indemnify individuals through whose lands new roads shall be opened:

To define with precision the rules whereby aliens should become citizens, and citizens make themselves aliens:

To establish religious freedom on the broadest bottom:

To emancipate all slaves born after passing the act. The bill reported by the revisers does not itself contain this proposition; but an amendment containing it was prepared, to be offered to the Legislature whenever the bill should be taken up, and further directing that they should continue with their parents to a certain age, then be brought up, at the public expense, to tillage, arts or sciences, according to their geniuses, till the females should be eighteen, and the, males twenty-one years of age, when they should be colonized to such place as the circumstances of the time should render most proper, sending them out with arms, implements of household, and of the handicraft arts, seeds, pairs of the useful domestic animals, &c., to declare them a free and independent people, and extend to them our alliance and protection, till they shall have acquired strength; and to send vessels at the same time to other parts of the world for an equal number of white inhabitants; to induce whom to migrate hither, proper encouragements were to be proposed. It will probably be asked, Why not retain and incorporate the blacks into the State, and thus save the expense of supplying, by importation of white settlers, the vacancies they will leave? Deep-rooted prejudices entertained by the whites; ten thousand recollections by the blacks of the injuries they have sustained; new provocations; the real distinctions which Nature has made; and many other circumstances, will divide us into parties, and produce convulsions, which will probably never end but in the extermination of the one or the other race. To these objections, which are political, may be added others, which are physical and moral. The first difference which strikes us is that of color. Whether the black of the negro resides in the reticular membrane between the skin and scarf skin, or in the scarf skin itself; whether it proceeds from the color of the blood, the color of the bile, or from that of some other secretion, the difference is fixed in Nature, and is as real as if its seat and cause were better known to us. And is this difference of no importance? Is it not the foundation of a greater or less share of beauty in the two races? Are not the fine mixtures of red and white, the expressions of every passion by greater or less suffusions of color in the one, preferable to that eternal monotony which reigns in the countenances, that immovable veil of black which covers all the emotions of the other race? Add to these flowing hair, a more elegant symmetry of form, their own judgment in favor of the whites, declared by their preference of them, as uniformly as is the preference of the Oranootan [orangutan] for the black women over those of his own species. The circumstance of superior beauty is thought worthy attention in the propagation of our horses, dogs, and other domestic animals; why not in that of man? Besides those of color, figure and hair, there are other physical distinctions proving a difference of race. They have less hair on the face and body. They secrete less by the kidneys, and more by the glands of the skin, which gives them a very strong and disagreeable odor. This greater degree of transpiration renders them more tolerant of heat, and less so of cold, than the whites. Perhaps, too, a difference of structure in the pulmonary apparatus, which a late ingenious experimentalist [i] has discovered to be the principal regulator of animal heat, may have disabled them from extricating, in the act of inspiration, so much of that fluid from the outer air, or obliged them in expiration, to part with more of it. They seem to require less sleep. A black, after hard labor through the day, will be induced by the slightest amusements to sit up till midnight, or later, though knowing he must be out with the first dawn of the morning. They are at least as brave, and more adventuresome. But this may perhaps proceed from a want of forethought, which prevents their seeing a danger till it be present. When present, they do not go through it with more coolness or steadiness than the whites. They are more ardent after their female; but love seems with them to be more an eager desire than a tender delicate mixture of sentiment and sensation. Their griefs are transient. Those numberless afflictions, which render it doubtful whether Heaven has given life to us in mercy or in wrath, are less felt, and sooner forgotten with them. In general, their existence appears to participate more of sensation than reflection. To this must be ascribed their disposition to sleep when abstracted from their diversions, and unemployed in labor. An animal whose body is at rest, and who does not reflect, must be disposed to sleep of course. Comparing them by their faculties of memory, reason, and imagination, it appears to me that in memory they are equal to the whites; in reason much inferior, as I think one could scarcely be found capable of tracing and comprehending the investigations of Euclid; and that in imagination they are dull, tasteless and anomalous. It would be unfair to follow them to Africa for this investigation. We will consider them here on the same stage with the whites, and where the facts are not apocryphal on which a judgment is to be formed. It will be right to make great allowances for the difference of condition, of education, of conversation, of the sphere in which they move. Many millions of them have been brought to, and born in America. Most of them, indeed, have been confined to tillage, to their own homes, and their own society; yet many have been so situated, that they might have availed themselves of the conversation of their masters; many have been brought up to the handicraft arts, and from that circumstance have always been associated with the whites. Some have been liberally educated, and all have lived in countries where the arts and sciences are cultivated to a considerable degree, and have had before their eyes samples of the best works from abroad. The Indians, with no advantages of this kind, will often carve figures on their pipes not destitute of design and merit. They will crayon out an animal, a plant, or a country, so as to prove the existence of a germ in their minds which only wants cultivation. They astonish you with strokes of the most sublime oratory; such as prove their reason and sentiment strong, their imagination glowing and elevated. But never yet could I find that a black had uttered a thought above the level of plain narration; never seen even an elementary trait of painting or sculpture. In music they are more generally gifted than the whites with accurate ears for tune and time, and they have been found capable of imagining a small catch. [ii] Whether they will be equal to the composition of a more extensive run of melody, or of complicated harmony, is yet to be proved. Misery is often the parent of the most affecting touches in poetry. Among the blacks is misery enough, God knows, but no poetry. Love is the peculiar oestrum of the poet. Their love is ardent, but it kindles the senses only, not the imagination. Religion, indeed, has produced a Phyllis Whately; but it could not produce a poet. The compositions published under her name are below the dignity of criticism. The heroes of the Dunciad are to her as Hercules to the author of that poem. Ignatius Sancho has approached nearer to merit in composition; yet his letters do more honor to the heart than the head. They breathe the purest effusions of friendship and general philanthropy, and shew how great a degree of the latter may be compounded with strong religious zeal. He is often happy in the turn of his compliments, and his style is easy and familiar, except when he affects a Shandean fabrication of words. But his imagination is wild and extravagant, escapes incessantly from every restraint of reason and taste, and, in the course of its vagaries, leaves a tract of thought as incoherent and eccentric as is the course of a meteor through the sky. His subjects should often have led him to a process of sober reasoning; yet we find him always substituting sentiment for demonstration. Upon the whole, though we admit him to the first place among those of his own color who have presented themselves to the public judgment, yet when we compare him with the writers of the race among whom he lived, and particularly with the epistolary class in which he has taken his own stand, we are compelled to enroll him at the bottom of the column. This criticism supposes the letters published under his name to be genuine, and to have received amendment from no other hand; points which would not be of easy investigation. The improvement of the blacks in body and mind, in the first instance of their mixture with the whites, has been observed by every one, and proves that their inferiority is not the effect merely of their condition of life. We know that among the Romans, about the Augustan age especially, the condition of their slaves was much more deplorable than that of the blacks on the continent of America. The two sexes were confined in separate apartments, because to raise a child cost the master more than to buy one. Cato, for a very restricted indulgence to his slaves in this particular, took [iii] from them a certain price. But in this country the slaves multiply as fast as the free inhabitants. Their situation and manners place the commerce between the two sexes almost without restraint. The same Cato, on a principle of economy, always sold his sick and superannuated slaves. He gives it as a standing precept to a master visiting his farm, to sell his old oxen, old wagons, old tools, old and diseased servants, and every thing else become useless: "Vendat boves vetulos, plaustrum vetus, serramenta Vetera, servum senem, servum morbosum, & si quid aliud supersit vendat." — Cato de re rustica, c. 2. The American slaves cannot enumerate this among the injuries and insults they receive. It was the common practice to expose in the island of Aesculapius, in the Tyber, diseased slaves, whose cure was like to become tedious. [iv] The Emperor Claudius by an edict gave freedom to such of them as should recover, and first declared that if any person chose to kill rather than to expose them, it should be deemed homicide. The exposing them is a crime, of which no instance has existed with us; and were it to be followed by death, it would be punished capitally. We are told of a certain Vedius Pollio, who, in the presence of Augustus, would have given a slave as food to his fish for having broken a glass. [v] With the Romans, the regular method of taking the evidence of their slaves was under torture. Here it has been thought better never to resort to their evidence. When a master was murdered, all his slaves in the same house, or within hearing, were condemned to death. Here punishment falls on the guilty only, and as precise proof is required against him as against a freeman. Yet notwithstanding these and other discouraging circumstances among the Romans, their slaves were often their rarest artists. They excelled, too, in science, insomuch as to be usually employed as tutors to their master's children. Epictetus, Diogenes, Phaedon, Terence, and Phaedrus, were slaves. But they were of the race of whites. It is not their condition then, but Nature, which has produced the distinction. Whether further observation will or will not verify the conjecture, that Nature has been less bountiful to them in the endowments of the head, I believe that in those of the heart she will be found to have done them justice. That disposition to theft with which they have been branded, must be ascribed to their situation, and not to any depravity of the moral sense. The man, in whose favor no laws of property exist, probably feels himself less bound to respect those made in favor of others. When arguing for ourselves, we lay it down as a fundamental, that laws to be just must give a reciprocation of right; that, without this, they are mere arbitrary rules of conduct, founded in force, and not in conscience; and it is a problem which I give to the master to solve, whether the religious precepts against the violation of property were not framed for him as well as his slave? And whether the slave may not as justifiably take a little from one who has taken all from him, as he may slay one who would slay him? That a change in the relations in which a man is placed should change his ideas of moral right and wrong, is neither new nor peculiar to the color of the blacks. Homer tells us it was so 2,600 years ago:

Od. 17. 323.

Jove fix'd it certain, that whatever day Makes man a slave, takes half his worth away.

But the slaves of which Homer speaks were whites. Notwithstanding these considerations, which must weaken their respect for the laws of property, we find among them numerous instances of the most rigid integrity, and as many as among their better instructed masters, of benevolence, gratitude, and unshaken fidelity. The opinion that they are inferior in the faculties of reason and imagination, must be hazarded with great diffidence. To justify a general conclusion, requires many observations, even where the subject may be submitted to the anatomical knife, to optical glasses, to analysis by fire, or by solvents. How much more then where it is a faculty, not a substance, we are examining; where it eludes the research of all the senses; where the conditions of its existence are various, and variously combined; where the effects of those which are present or absent bid defiance to calculation; let me add too, as a circumstance of great tenderness, where our conclusion would degrade a whole race of men from the rank in the scale of beings which their Creator may perhaps have given them. To our reproach it must be said, that though for a century and a half we have had under our eyes the races of black and of red men, they have never yet been viewed by us as subjects of natural history. I advance it therefore as a suspicion only, that the blacks, whether originally a distinct race, or made distinct by time and circumstances, are inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind. It is not against experience to suppose that different species of the same genus, or varieties of the same species, may possess different qualifications. Will not a lover of natural history then, one who views the gradations in all the races of animals with the eye of philosophy, excuse an effort to keep those in the department of man as distinct as Nature has formed them? This unfortunate difference of color, and perhaps of faculty, is a powerful obstacle to the emancipation of these people. Many of their advocates, while they wish to vindicate the liberty of human nature, are anxious also to preserve its dignity and beauty. Some of these, embarrassed by the question, "What further is to be done with them?" join themselves in opposition with those who are actuated by sordid avarice only. Among the Romans emancipation required but one effort. The slave, when made free, might mix with, without staining the blood of his master. But with us a second is necessary, unknown to history. When freed, he is to be removed beyond the reach of mixture.

The Revised Code further proposes to proportion crimes and punishments. This is attempted on the following scale:

I. Crimes whose punishment extends to life:

1. High treason. Death by hanging. Forfeiture of lands and goods to the Commonwealth.

2. Petty treason. Death by hanging. Dissection. Forfeiture of half the lands and goods to the representatives of the party slain.

3. Murder.

1. By poison. Death by poison. Forfeiture of one-half as before.

2. In Duel. Death by hanging. Gibbeting, if the challenger. Forfeiture of one-half as before, unless it be the party challenged, then the forfeiture is to the Commonwealth.

3. In any other way. Death by hanging. Forfeiture of one-half as before.

4. Manslaughter. The second offence is murder.

II. Crimes whose punishment goes to limb:

1. Rape. Dismemberment.
2. Sodomy. Dismemberment.
3. Maiming. Retaliation, and the forfeiture of half the lands and goods to the sufferer.
4. Disfiguring. Retaliation, and the forfeiture of half the lands and goods to the sufferer.

III. Crimes punishable by labor:

1. Manslaughter, 1st offence.: Labor seven years for the public. Forfeiture of half as in murder
2. Counterfeiting money.: Labor six years. Forfeiture of lands and goods to the Commonwealth.
3. Arson.: Labor five years. Reparation three-fold.
4. Asportation of vessels.: Labor five years. Reparation three-fold
5. Robbery.: Labour four years. Reparation double.
6. Burglary.: Labour four years. Reparation double.
7. House-breaking.: Labor three years. Reparation.
8. Horse-stealing.: Labor three years. Reparation.
9. Grand Larceny. Labor two years. Reparation. Pillory.
10. Petty Larceny. Labor one year. Reparation. Pillory.
11. Pretensions to witchcraft, &c. Ducking. Stripes.
12. Excusable homicide.: To be pitied, not punished.
13. Suicide.: To be pitied, not punished.
14. Apostacy. Heresy.: To be pitied, not punished.

Pardon and privilege of clergy are proposed to be abolished; but if the verdict be against the defendant, the court, in their discretion, may allow a new trial. No attainder to cause a corruption of blood, or forfeiture of dower. Slaves guilty of offences punishable in others by labor, to be transported to Africa, or elsewhere, as the circumstances of the time admit, there to be continued in slavery. A rigorous regimen proposed for those condemned to labor.

Another object of the revisal is, to diffuse knowledge more generally through the mass of the people. This bill proposes to lay off every county into small districts of five or six miles square, called hundreds, and in each of them to establish a school for teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic. The tutor to be supported by the hundred, and every person in it entitled to send their children three years gratis, and as much longer as they please, paying for it. These schools to be under a visitor, who is annually to choose the boy, of best genius in the school, of those whose parents are too poor to give them further education, and to send him forward to one of the grammar schools, of which twenty are proposed to be erected in different parts of the country, for teaching Greek, Latin, geography, and the higher branches of numerical arithmetic. Of the boys thus sent in any one year, trial is to be made at the grammar schools one or two years, and the best genius of the whole selected, and continued six years, and the residue dismissed. By this means twenty of the best geniuses will be raked from the rubbish annually, and be instructed, at the public expense, so far as the grammar schools go. At the end of six years' instruction, one-half are to be discontinued, (from among whom the grammar schools will probably be supplied with future masters.) and the other half, who are to be chosen for the superiority of their parts and disposition, are to be sent and continued three years in the study of such sciences as they shall choose, at William and Mary College, the plan of which is proposed to be enlarged, as will be hereafter explained, and extended to all the useful sciences. The ultimate result of the whole scheme of education would be the teaching all the children of the State reading, writing, and common arithmetic: turning out ten annually of superior genius, well taught in Greek, Latin, geography, and the higher branches of arithmetic; turning out ten others annually of still superior parts, who, to those branches of learning, shall have added such of the sciences as their genius shall have led them to; the furnishing to the wealthier part of the people convenient schools, at which their children may be educated, at their own expense. The general objects of this law are to provide an education adapted to the years, to the capacity, and the condition of every one, and directed to their freedom and happiness. Specific details were not proper for the law. These must be the business of the visitors entrusted with its execution. The first stage of this education being the schools of the hundreds, wherein the great mass of the people will receive their instruction, the principal foundations of future order will be laid here. Instead, therefore, of putting the Bible and Testament into the hands of the children at an age when their judgments are not sufficiently matured for religious enquiries, their memories may here be stored with the most useful facts from Grecian, Roman, European, and American history. The first elements of morality, too, may be instilled into their minds: such as, when further developed as their judgments advance in strength, may teach them how to work out their own greatest happiness, by shewing them that it does not depend on the condition of life in which chance has placed them, but is always the result of a good conscience, good health, occupation, and freedom in all just pursuits. Those whom either the wealth of their parents or the adoption of the State shall destine to higher degrees of learning, will go on to the grammar schools, which constitute the next stage, there to be instructed in the languages. The learning Greek and Latin, I am told, is going into disuse in Europe. I know not what their manners and occupations may call for, but it would be very ill-judged in us to follow their example in this instance. There is a certain period of life — say from eight to to fifteen or sixteen years of age — when the mind, like the body, is not yet firm enough for laborious and close operations. If applied to such, it falls an early victim to premature exertion; exhibiting, indeed, at first, in these young and tender subjects, the flattering appearance of their being men while they are yet children, but ending in reducing them to be children when they should be men. The memory is then most susceptible and tenacious of impressions; and the learning of languages being chiefly a work of memory, it seems precisely fitted to the powers of this period, which is long enough, too, for acquiring the most useful languages, ancient and modern. I do not pretend that language is science. It is only an instrument for the attainment of science. But that time is not lost which is employed in providing tools for future operation: more especially as in this case the books put into the hands of the youth for this purpose may be such as will at the same time impress their minds with useful facts and good principles. If this period be suffered to pass in idleness, the mind becomes lethargic and impotent, as would the body it inhabits if unexercised during the same time. The sympathy between body and mind during their rise, progress, and decline, is too strict and obvious to endanger our being misled while we reason from the one to the other. As soon as they are of sufficient age, it is supposed they will be sent on from the grammar schools to the university, which constitutes our third and last stage, there to study those sciences which may be adapted to their views. By that part of our plan which prescribes the selection of the youths of genius from among the classes of the poor, we hope to avail the State of those talents which nature has sown as liberally among the poor as the rich, but which perish without use if not sought for and cultivated. But of all the views of this law, none is more important, none more legitimate, than that of rendering the people the safe, as they are the ultimate, guardians of their own liberty. For this purpose the reading in the first stage, where they will receive their whole education, is proposed, as has been said, to be chiefly historical. History, by apprising them of the past, will enable them to judge of the future; it will avail them of the experience of other times, and other nations; it will qualify them as judges of the actions and designs of men; it will enable them to know ambition under every disguise it may assume: and knowing it, to defeat its views. In every Government on earth is some trace of human weakness, some germ of corruption and degeneracy, which cunning will discover, and wickedness insensibly open, cultivate, and improve. Every Government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves, therefore, are its only safe depositories. And to render even them safe, their minds must be improved to a certain degree. This, indeed, is not all that is necessary, though it be essentially necessary. An amendment of our Constitution must here come in aid of the public education. The influence over Government must be shared among all the people. If every individual which com- poses their mass participates of the ultimate authority, the Government will be safe; because the corrupting the whole mass will exceed any private resources of wealth : and public ones cannot be provided but by levies on the people. In this case every man would have to pay his own price. The Government of Great Britain has been corrupted, because but one man in ten has a right to vote for members of Parliament. The sellers of the Government, therefore, get nine-tenths of their price clear. It has been thought that corruption is restrained by confining the right of suffrage to a few of the wealthier of the people; but it would be more effectually restrained by an extension of that right to such numbers as would bid defiance to the means of corruption.

Lastly, it is proposed, by a bill in this revisal, to begin a public library and gallery, by laying out a certain sum annually in books, paintings, and statues.



i. Crawford.

ii. The instrument proper to them is the banjo, which they brought hither from Africa, and which is the original of the guitar, its chords being precisely the four lower chords of the guitar.

iii. Image Plutarch. Cato.

iv. Suet. Claud. 25.

v. Seneca de ira, L. 3, 40; de Clementia 1, 18; Xiphil. Aug., p. 76.
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Re: Notes on the State of Virginia, by Thomas Jefferson

Postby admin » Wed Jul 29, 2015 3:59 am



The College of William and Mary is the only public semi- nary of learning in this State. It was founded in the time of King William and Queen Mary, who granted to it 20,000 acres of land, and a penny a pound duty on certain tobaccos exported from Virginia and Maryland, which had been levied by the statute of 25 Car. 2. The Assembly also gave it, by temporary laws, a duty on liquors imported, and skins and firs exported. From these resources it received upwards of £3,000 communibus annis. The buildings are of brick, sufficient for an indifferent accommodation of perhaps an hundred students. By its charter it was to be under the government of twenty visitors, who were to be its legislators, and to have a president and six professors, who were incorporated. It was allowed a representative in the General Assembly. Under this charter, a professorship of the Greek and Latin languages, a professorship of mathematics, one of moral philosophy; and two of divinity, were established. To these were annexed, for a sixth professorship, a considerable donation by Mr. Boyle of England, for the instruction of the Indians, and their conversion to Christianity. This was called the professorship of Brafferton, from an estate of that name in England, purchased with the moneys given. The admission of the learners of Latin and Greek filled the College with children. This rendering it disagreeable and degrading to young gentle- men already prepared for entering on the sciences, they were discouraged from resorting to it, and thus the schools for mathematics and moral philosophy, which might have been of some service, became of very little. The revenues, too, were exhausted in accommodating those who came only to acquire the rudiments of science. After the present revolution, the visitors, having no power to change those circumstances in the constitution of the College which were fixed by the charter, and being, therefore, confined in the number of professorships, undertook to change the objects of the professorships. They excluded the two schools for divinity, and that for the Greek and Latin languages, and substituted others; so that at present they stand thus:

A Professorship for Law and Police; A Professorship for Anatomy and Medicine; A Professorship for Natural Philosophy and Mathematics; A Professorship for Moral Philosophy, the Law of Nature and Nations, the Fine Arts; A Professorship for Modern Languages; A Professorship for the Brafferton.

And it is proposed, so soon as the Legislature shall have leisure to take up this subject, to desire authority from them to increase the number of professorships, as well for the purpose of subdividing those already instituted as of adding others for other branches of science. To the professorships usually established in the Universities of Europe, it would seem proper to add one for the ancient languages and literature of the North, on account of their connection with our own language, laws, customs, and history. The purposes of the Brafferton Institution would be better answered by maintaining a perpetual mission among the Indian tribes, the object of which, besides instructing them in the principles of Christianity, as the founder requires, should be to collect their traditions, laws, customs, languages, and other circumstances which might lead to a discovery of their relation with one another, or descent from other nations. When these objects are accomplished with one tribe, the missionary might pass on to another.

The roads are under the government of the county courts, subject to be controlled by the general court. They order new roads to be opened wherever they think them necessary. The inhabitants of the county are by them laid off into precincts, to each of which they allot a convenient portion of the public roads to be kept in repair. Such bridges as may be built without the assistance of artificers, they are to build. If the stream be such as to require a bridge of regular workmanship, the court employs workmen to build it, at the expense of the whole county. If it be too great for the county, application is made to the General Assembly, who authorize individuals to build it, and to take a fixed toll from all passengers, or give sanction to such other proposition as to them appears reasonable.

Ferries are admitted only at such places as are particularly pointed out by law, and the rates of ferriage are fixed.

Taverns are licensed by the courts, who fix their rates from time to time.

The private buildings are very rarely constructed of stone or brick : much the greatest proportion being of scantling and boards, plastered with lime. It is impossible to devise things more ugly, uncomfortable, and happily more perishable. There are two or three plans, on one of which, according to its size, most of the houses in the State are built. The poorest people build huts of logs, laid horizontally in pens, stopping the interstices with mud. These are warmer in winter, and cooler in summer, than the more expensive constructions of scantling and plank. The wealthy are attentive to the raising of vegetables, but very little so to fruits. The poorer people attend to neither, living principally on milk and animal diet. This is the more inexcusable, as the climate requires indispensably a free use of vegetable food for health as well as comfort, and is very friendly to the raising of fruits. The only public buildings worthy of mention are the Capitol, the Palace, the College, and the Hospital for Lunatics, all of them in Williams- burg, heretofore the seat of our government. The Capitol is a light and airy structure, with a portico in front of two orders, the lower of which, being Doric, is tolerably just in its proportions and ornaments, save only that the intercolonnations are too large. The upper is Ionic, much too small for that on which it is mounted, its ornaments not proper to the order, nor proportioned within themselves. It is crowned with a pediment, which is too high for its span. Yet, on the whole, it is the most pleasing piece of architecture we have. The Palace is not handsome without, hut it is spacious and commodious within; is prettily situated, and, with the grounds annexed to it, is capable of being made an elegant seat. The College and Hospital are rude, misshapen piles, which, but that they have roofs, would be taken for brick-kilns. There are no other public buildings but churches and court houses, in which no attempts are made at elegance. Indeed, it would not be easy to execute such an attempt, as a workman could scarcely be found here capable of drawing an order. The genius of architecture seems to have shed its maledictions over this land. Buildings are often erected, by individuals, of considerable expense. To give these symmetry and taste would not increase their cost. It would only change the arrangement of the materials, the form and combination of the members. This would often cost less than the burthen of barbarous ornaments with which these buildings are sometimes charged. But the first principles of the art are unknown, and there exists scarcely a model among us sufficiently chaste to give an idea of them. Architecture being one of the fine arts, and as such within the department of a professor of the college, according to the new arrangement, perhaps a spark may fall on some young subjects of natural taste, kindle up their genius, and produce a reformation in this elegant and useful art. But all we shall do in this way will produce no permanent improvement to our country, while the unhappy prejudice prevails that houses of brick or stone are less wholesome than those of wood. A dew is often observed on the walls of the former in rainy weather, and the most obvious solution is, that the rain has penetrated through these walls. The following facts, however, are sufficient to prove the error of this solution: 1. This dew on the walls appears when there is no rain, if the state of the atmosphere be moist. 2. It appears on the partition as well as the exterior walls. 3. So also on pavements of brick or stone. 4. It is more copious in proportion as the walls are thicker; the reverse of which ought to be the case, if this hypothesis were just. If cold water be poured into a vessel of stone, or glass, a dew forms instantly on the outside; but if it be poured into a vessel of wood, there is no such appearance. It is not supposed, in the first case, that the water has exuded through the glass, but that it is precipitated from the circumambient air; as the humid particles of vapor, passing from the boiler of an alembic through its refrigerant, are precipitated from the air, in which they were suspended, on the internal surface of the refrigerant. Walls of brick or stone act as the refrigerant in this instance. They are sufficiently cold to condense and precipitate the moisture suspended in the air of the room, when it is heavily charged therewith. But walls of wood are not so. The question then is, whether air in which this moisture is left floating, or that which is deprived of it, be most whole- some ? In both cases the remedy is easy. A little fire kindled in the room, whenever the air is damp, prevents the precipitation on the walls; and this practice, found healthy in the warmest as well as coldest seasons, is as necessary in a wooden as in a stone or a brick house. I do not mean to say that the rain never penetrates through walls of brick. On the contrary, I have seen instances of it. But with us it is only through the Northern and Eastern walls of the house, after a northeasterly storm, these being the only ones which continue long enough to force through the walls. This, however, happens too rarely to give a just character of unwholesomeness to such houses. In a house, the walls of which are of well-burnt brick and good mortar, I have seen the rain penetrate through but twice in a dozen or fifteen years. The inhabitants of Europe, who dwell chiefly in houses of stone or brick, are surely as healthy as those of Virginia. These houses have the advantage, too, of being warmer in Winter and cooler in Summer than those of wood; of being cheaper in their first construction, where lime is convenient, and infinitely more durable. The latter consideration renders it of great importance to eradicate this prejudice from the minds of our countrymen. A country, whose buildings are of wood, can never increase in its improvements to any considerable degree. Their duration is highly estimated at 50 years. Every half century then our country becomes a tabula rasa, whereon we have to set out anew, as in the first moment of seating it. Whereas when buildings are of durable materials, every new edifice is an actual and permanent acquisition to the State, adding to its value as well as to its ornament.
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Re: Notes on the State of Virginia, by Thomas Jefferson

Postby admin » Wed Jul 29, 2015 3:59 am



A Tory has been properly defined to be a traitor in thought, but not in deed. The only description by which the laws have endeavored to come at them, was that of non-jurors, or persons refusing to take the oath of fidelity to the State. Persons of this description were at one time subjected to double taxation, at another to treble, and lastly were allowed retribution, and placed on a level with good citizens. It may be mentioned as a proof both of the lenity of our government and unanimity of its inhabitants, that though this war has now raged near seven years, not a single execution for treason has taken place.

Under this query I will state the measures which have been adopted as to British property, the owners of which stand on a much fairer footing than the Tories. By our laws, the same as the English in this respect, no alien can hold lands, nor alien enemy maintain an action for money or other movable thing. Lands acquired or held by aliens become forfeited to the State; and, on an action by an alien enemy to recover money, or other movable property, the defendant may plead that he is an alien enemy. This extinguishes his right in the hands of the debtor or holder of his movable property. By our separation from Great Britain, British subjects became aliens, and, being at war, they were alien enemies. Their lands were of course forfeited, and their debts irrecoverable. The assembly, however, passed laws, at various times, for saving their property. They first sequestered their lands, slaves, and other property on their farms, in the hands of commissioners, who were mostly the confidential friends or agents of the owners, and directed their clear profits to be paid into the treasury; and they gave leave to all persons owing debts to British subjects to pay them also into the treasury. The moneys so to be brought in were declared to remain the property of the British subject, and, if used by the State, were to be re-paid, unless an improper conduct in Great Britain should render a detention of it reasonable. Depreciation had at that time, though unacknowledged and unperceived by the Whigs, begun in some small degree. Great sums of money were paid in by debtors. At a later period the assembly, adhering to the political principles which forbid an alien to hold lands in the State, ordered all British property to be sold; and become sensible of the real progress of depreciation, and of the losses which would thence occur, if not guarded against, they ordered that the proceeds of the sales should be converted into their then worth in tobacco, subject to the future direction of the Legislature. This act has left the question of retribution more problematical. In May, 1780, another act took away the permission to pay into the public treasury debts due to British subjects.
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