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The Election of Governor Thomas Nelson; an excerpt from the Journal of the House of Delegates (June 12, 1781)

In this excerpt from the Journal of the House of Delegates, from June 12, 1781, the House elects Thomas Nelson to replace Thomas Jefferson as governor of Virginia.

Transcription from Original

TUESDAY, June 12, 1781.

The Speaker laid before the House several letters from the Hon. Major General Marquis La Fayette, commanding the army in this State, stating sundry matters for the consideration of the General Assembly; which were read, and ordered to be referred to the committee of the whole House on the state of the Commonwealth.

The House, according to the order of the day, resolved itself into a committee of the whole House on the state of the Commonwealth; and after some time spent therein, Mr. Speaker resumed the chair, and Mr. Page reported, that the committee had, according to order, again had the state of the Commonwealth under their consideration, and agreed to several resolutions thereupon, which he read in his place, and afterwards delivered in at the clerk's table, where the same were again twice read, and agreed to by the House, as followeth:

Resolved, That the members of the Executive Council be desired to call immediately into service, as many of the militia as can be properly armed and accoutered; and that they do join the army under the Marquis La Fayette as soon as possible.

Resolved, That as many of the men called out under the foregoing resolution, as conveniently can, ought to be mounted and supplied with as much provision as they can carry.

Ordered, That Mr. Page do carry the resolutions to the Senate, and desire their concurrence.

Resolved, That this House will, to-morrow, again resolve itself into a committee of the whole House on the state of the Commonwealth.

A message from the Senate by Mr. Harrison:

Mr. Speaker,—The Senate do agree to proceed to-morrow, by joint ballot with this House, to the choice of five delegates to represent this Commonwealth in Congress for one year from the first Monday in November next; they have added the names of sundry persons to the nomination for a Governor or Chief Magistrate of the Commonwealth, and of three members of the Privy Council; also, they have agreed to the resolution, respecting the impress of horses for public service; and they have agreed to the bill "concerning the adjournment of the Supreme Courts." And then he withdrew.

A message from the Senate by General Stevens:

— page 15 —

Mr. Speaker,—The Senate have agreed to the resolution for calling forth a body of militia to reinforce the army under command of the Marquis La Fayette. And then he withdrew.

The House then, according to the order of the day, proceeded by joint ballot with the Senate, to the choice of a Governor or Chief Magistrate of the Commonwealth for the ensuing year; and the members having prepared tickets with the name of the person to be appointed, and deposited the same in the ballot boxes, Messrs. Nicholas, Page, Lee, Burwell, Dulaney, and McCartey, were nomi[n]ated a committee to meet a committee from the Senate, and jointly with them to examine the ballot boxes, and report to the House on whom a majority of votes should fall.

The committee then withdrew; and after some time returned to the House and reported, that they had, according to order, met a committee from the Senate in the conference chamber, and jointly with them examined the ballot boxes, and found a majority of votes in favor of Thomas Nelson, jun. Esq.

Resolved, That Thomas Nelson, jun. Esq. be appointed Governor or Chief Magistrate of the Commonwealth for one year, he having been so elected by joint ballot of both Houses of Assembly.

Ordered, That Mr. Nichols do carry the resolution to the Senate, and desire their concurrence.

Resolved, That at the next session of Assembly an inquiry be made into the conduct of the Executive of this State for the past twelve months.

The Speaker made his resignation to the House, of his appointment to be a delegate to represent this State in Congress until the first day of November next; which was accepted.

The House then, according to the order of the day, proceeded by joint ballot with the Senate, to the choice of three members of the Privy Council or Council of State; and the members having prepared tickets with the names of the persons to be appointed, and deposited the same in the ballot boxes, Messrs. Page, Tyler, Travis, Lee, and Mountjoy, were nominated a committee to meet a committee from the Senate, and jointly with them to examine the ballot boxes, and report to the House on whom the majority of votes should fall.

The committee then withdrew; and after some time returned to the House and reported, that they had, according to order, met a committee from the Senate in the conference chamber, and jointly with them examined the ballot boxes, and found a majority of votes in favor of William Cabell, Samuel Hardy and Samuel McDowell, Esquires.

Resolved, That William Cabell, Samuel Hardy and Samuel McDowell, Esquires, be appointed members of the Privy Council or Council of State, in the room of those who have resigned, they having been so elected by joint ballot of both Houses of Assembly.

Ordered, That Mr. Page do carry the resolution to the Senate, and desire their concurrence.

A motion was made, that the House do come to the following resolution:

Resolved, That the Executive be desired to present to Captain Jack Jouett, an elegant sword and pair of pistols, as a memorial of the high sense which the General Assembly entertain of his activity and enterprize, in watching the motions of the enemy's cavalry on their late incursion to Charlottesville, and conveying to the Assembly timely information of their approach, whereby the designs of the enemy were frustrated, and many valuable stores preserved.

And the said resolution being read a second time, was, on the question put thereupon, agreed to by the House.

Ordered, That Mr. Henry do carry the resolution to the Senate, and desire their concurrence.

The House proceeded to nominate persons proper to be ballotted for as delegates to represent this Commonwealth in Congress for one year from the first day of November next.

Ordered, That Mr. Henry do carry lists of the persons so nominated, to the Senate.

A motion was made, that the House do come to the following resolution:

Resolved, That the Executive be desired to purchase for General Edward Stevens, an elegant gelding, to replace one lost by him in battle at Guilford Courthouse; and also a set of furniture.

And the said resolution being read a second time, was, on the question put thereupon, agreed to by the House.

Ordered, That Mr. Taylor of Caroline, do carry the resolution to the Senate, and desire their concurrence.

A motion was made, that the House do come to the following resolution:

Resolved, That the Honorable Major General Marquis La Fayette, be empowered to impress such, and so many horses for the public service as he may find necessary.

And the said resolution being read a second time, was, on the question put thereupon, agreed to by the House.

Ordered, That Mr. Henry do carry the resolution to the Senate, and desire their concurrence.

A motion was made, that the House do come to the following resolution:

Resolved, That the Honorable Major General Marquis La Fayette, be empowered to dispose of the public arms and ammunition, by ordering the same to be delivered to the well-affected citizens at large, or otherwise, as he may judge most conducive to the public safety.

And the said resolution being read a second time, was, on the question put thereupon, agreed to by the House.

Ordered, That Mr. Henry do carry the resolution to the Senate, and desire their concurrence.

A message from the Senate by Mr. Fitzhugh:

Mr. Speaker,—The Senate have agreed to the resolution appointing Thomas Nelson, jun. Esq. Governor of the Commonwealth; and to the resolution appointing Wm. Cabell, Samuel Hardy and Samuel McDowell, Esquires, members of the Privy Council or Council of State. And then he withdrew.

Resolved, That this House will, on Thursday next, proceed by joint ballot with the Senate, to the choice of a delegate to represent this Commonwealth in Congress until the first day of November next, in the room of Benjamin Harrison, Esq. who hath resigned.

— page 16 —

Ordered, That Mr. Tyler do acquaint the Senate therewith.

The orders of the day, for the House to resolve itself into a committee of the whole House, on the bills "for establishing martial law within [ ] miles of the American army, or the enemy's camp;" and "for calling in and exchanging this State's quota of continental money," being read;

Ordered, That the same be put off till to-morrow.

And then the House adjourned till to-morrow morning, 10 o'clock.